NASA, Other, White House

Undue credit (and blame) for the Obama Administration and CRS

This week marked a major milestone for utilization of the International Space Station and for commercial spaceflight: the (largely) successful Falcon 9 launch of a Dragon cargo spacecraft, which berthed with the station on Wednesday. (The successful launch is caveated because of the failure of one of the nine engines on the Falcon 9′s first stage during ascent, which did not affect the Dragon but led to the rocket’s secondary payload, an ORBCOMM OG2 demonstration satellite, being placed in a low orbit; the spacecraft lasted there only a few days before deorbiting.) The political reaction to the launch was limited: among the few statements about the launch was a press release Wednesday by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), who called the Dragon mission “a triumph of America’s ingenuity and the free market system.”

Shortly after liftoff Sunday night, President Obama’s Florida campaign issued a statement about the launch, tying it to the administration’s space policy. “Tonight’s launch of the Space X, [sic] Falcon 9 rocket and the autonomous Dragon spacecraft marks another extraordinary new milestone in space, further demonstrating the advances we have seen in just four short years on Florida’s Space Coast,” it reads. Claiming that the president “inherited a program in crisis” when he took office, now “the International Space Station has an extended life, there is growth in the country’s commercial space industry, and a promise to continue a commitment of human exploration, science, and other aeronautic programs.”

Contrast that with an article Thursday published by the Washington Examiner that attempts to tie the mission to SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s political contributions to the Obama campaign. The article makes some odd claims (including suggesting that because the Falcon lost an engine it “only delivered 882 of the promised 1,800 pounds of resupply cargo for the space station”; Dragon delivered all 400 kilograms of cargo it was loaded with to the ISS) and then goes on mention Musk’s contributions to the Obama campaign and perceived flaws in the use of Space Act Agreements (“a carte blanche handover of public money without litmus tests”) to support such efforts.

The problem with both the Obama campaign release and the Examiner article is that the Obama Administration had little to do with the Dragon cargo mission to the ISS. The Dragon and Falcon 9 were developed under a COTS award made in August 2006, during the Bush Administration. That, too, was a Space Act Agreement, which makes former NASA administrator Mike Griffin’s criticism of such agreements, mentioned in the Examiner article, look odd, since the administrator at the time of the COTS award was… Mike Griffin. In addition, the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract, which this Dragon mission is the first of twelve, was awarded by NASA to SpaceX in December 2008, a month before President Obama took office.

While the success of this mission helps validate the commercial crew approach that this administration has championed (especially since SpaceX is one of the companies developing such systems, based on the Falcon 9 and Dragon), the role the administration played—either good or bad, depending on your point of view—of enabling the mission itself appears to be overstated.

97 comments to Undue credit (and blame) for the Obama Administration and CRS

  • Coastal Ron

    I think the situation our host points out reinforces how out of whack politics has become.

    For instance, Michael Griffin (who is now outside the government) is now against something he championed when he was inside the government. He’s vehemently against something that Ronald Reagan (the conservative god) was very much for – letting the private sector do what NASA doesn’t need to do. How whacky is that?

    A stretch could be made for the Obama Administration in that they have promoted (with measurable political capital) the idea that commercial companies should take over the routine job of transporting cargo and crew to LEO. They can also take full credit for keeping the ISS in orbit beyond 2015, which again demonstrates the amount of political capital that they have been willing to expend.

    This is all really just a minor perception game, since people aren’t going to be voting for Obama because the Dragon docked with the ISS. But the perception Obama and Romney are fighting over is whether they support jobs, and the jobs they are both saying they support are middle-class put-food-on-the-table type of jobs, which is the byproduct of companies like SpaceX.

  • adastramike

    I think the Obama folks are being a little disingenuous by suggesting the SpaceX docking Wed is a result of their space policy, even if it is in line with that policy. As we all know, this cargo supply contract was awared in 2008, before the current Administration. They should give credit where it is due, to the previous Administration. Of course they won’t do that, because it would go against the “blame the guy before me” mode of operation. At least they should acknowledge this CRS/COTS program started before Obama took office, and he simply didn’ cancel it because he wanted to extend it to crew.

    As for Griffin, I think he’s still upset about Constellation being canceled. And while Griffin did start/support COTS/CRS using the Space Act Agreement, I don’t think he intended it to be used as a model for LEO crew. Whatever the merits of handing over LEO crew to commercial folks, I also don’t think he intended it to act as a replacement for the return to the Moon program. In my opinion, returning to the Moon to learn how to live and operate a base on another celestial body is vastly more inspiring and exciting than leaping for joy that commerical is now “taking over” HSF cargo/crew in LEO. I understand the benefit, that it potentially opens up HSF to commercial companies, and lets NASA focus on beyond LEO, and can help reduce launch costs, but it pails in comparison for me to beyond LEO missions — unless of course a commercial company has the guts, money, and knowhow to design, build, launch, and operate a beyond LEO HSF mission. But I doubt they, even Space X, are there yet. On that note, why don’t commercial companies try to break into the space science mission arena on their own dime by sending robots to the lunar surface, for technology maturation, science & exploration, and maybe even prospecting, and selling results to NASA, researchers, etc? That would make me celebrate, since it would mean we haven’t abandoned the Moon (not again! doh). There are resources up there, and clues into how Earth and perhaps even life, formed. But who needs to know that?

  • DCSCA

    “Claiming that the president “inherited a program in crisis…”

    Underfunding is hardly a ‘crisis.’ One of Mr. Obama’s glaring flaws– Romney, Dubya, et al.- is to label every challenge as a national crisis. This isn’t missiles in Cuba..

    Embracing– and flag waving– ‘contracts’ to claim political ownership and validiity of status cuts both ways. “Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), …. called the Dragon mission “a triumph of America’s ingenuity and the free market system.” Except Space X failed a customer; delivered sub-standard service for a contracted client. OC’s satellite burned up. Yep, Dana the Dinosaur is a conservative Republican for sure. And probably drives an Edsel– or a Tucker.

    “…the Obama Administration had little to do with the Dragon cargo mission to the ISS.”.

    Except it does.

    We’re four years into the Obama administration. The O Team could have terminated the deal and esten the costs for same just as definitively as they did scuttling Constellation in that increasingly forgotten KSC spectacle three years ago- or just as definitively pushed to keep shuttle fltying on a quarterly or semi-annual schedule to minimize the effects of the ‘gap.’ But that was not fiscally prudent in a depression. The flawed Falcon was launched only because the Obama Administration supported the policy recommendations as contracted for the service. It’s far down the agenda.

    “While the success of this mission helps validate the commercial crew approach”

    In fact, it waves a red flag.

    “only delivered 882 of the promised 1,800 pounds of resupply cargo for the space station.” Roughly 1,000 lbs. of cargo is lousy service. That’s less than the total weight of Sputnik II, lofted by the Soviets 55 years ago which carried Laika the pooch into fiery history. Such is the ‘promise’ of the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision. And bear in mind, Orbcomm’s doomed bird- a Space X payload for profit- was that much less life-sustaining payload the Falcon could have lofted in Dragon to the ISS crew.

    The ‘mission’ was not a success for customer Orbcomm. and labeling these as ‘mission’s is a misnomer. Hiring a cab to get you cross town for a meeting isn’t a ‘mission.’ Posting a parcel w/FedEx in Florida to a client in Norway isn’t a ‘mission.’ This was a service contraced to provided another service in the marketplace. And the contractor delivered sub-standard service.

    Space X is pedding sub-standard performance in the marketplace and trying to dismiss it hardly helps the crew approach. They’ve failed secondary payload customers before w/Falcon. So let the customer beware. Space X would be wiser to hang a lantern on it and make noise about fixing the problem, especially as they plan to try to fly crews on top of their bird. But that runs contrary to standard business practice. Highlighting a weakness in a product you’ve brought to market is bad for business, as incinerated Ford Pinto owners learned all too late.

    This is business enterprise, not an experimental program to test market a product, Customers don’t buy tickets to fly aboard Delta Airlines as guinea pigs for Boeing test flights. Space X has brought a still flawed product to market. Excuse makers keep applying experimental rocket program parameters to a commerical enterprise. It’s a bad mind set. OC managers might accept sub-standard performance, and that’s a managerial decision by that firm, but NASA shouldn’t so easily accept it with taxpayer dollars involved and in the future, potentially, the lives of crews on the line, especially given their managerial history w/Challenger and Columbia.- and even Apollo 1. You want to hold any contractor, including Space X, to high standards, especially if they ever try to fly crewed spacecraft w/NASA personnel on board.

    If Space X carried a NASA crew on a Falcon/Dragon stack and lost them, the public will blame NASA for not properlty vetting the contractor, not the contractor, Space X. Back in ’67, NA didn’t take the nearly the level of public heat NASA did. In ’86 Thiokol didn’t take the bulk of the public heat for a flawed SRB design, NASA did. And it was NASA management practices which were rightly slammed for Columbla. No sir, if Space X is going to try to fly crews on top of Falcons, their QA has to improve and the Obama Administrtion– or the Romney Administration– must press it. But then, QA is usually a place to cut corners– and costs- in profit-driven private sector, isn’t it.

    Have you driven a Ford– Pinto or Edsel– lately? No. The VW has been successful for decades. And like Soyuz [and Progress], they’re ugly, but they get you there. Safely. To a doomed space platform in LEO going in circles, no place ,fast.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Obama should and does deserve a reasonable to a lot of credit for the success of the COTS policy…Bush and his troglodytes might have started it; but we have all head Griffin’s enthusiasim for it…and while Griffin might just be sounding the policy and viewpoint of the moment (ie he shifts with whatever politics he is trying to curry favor with) if Griffin is speaking his mind; its clear that the policy went somewhere inspite of him.

    Plus the current administration has made sure that the Commercial haters at NASA (and there are a lot of them) have been held in check.

    Look all administrations acquire legacies from the previous one. The trick is how the current administration evolves things that were handed to them. Obama and Bolden have made this happened…it could have been derailed a thousand ways but its stayed on track.

    In a second Obama term (which is still likely to happen even more so after Biden spanked Paul Ryan) what they do with the COTS and commercial crew assets (or more important what is allowed at ssay ISS) is going to be the test of the next space policy.

    LOOK EML stations, trips to Mars etc even SLS/Orion are going to all die..there is no support for them. The test of policy of the next four years is making something useful from ISS

    Orion and Dragon more or less were born in the same year. Look how much money Orion has consumed and not flown…Dragon…flies.

    RGO

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Richard Pollock is identified as a DC editor for PJ Media. That explains a lot about what one might consider to be “odd claims”.

    He has a correction posted now, which says that the 1,800 pounds of cargo he was referring to were the ones “promised” by SpaceX to NASA, per launch, as part of their resupply contract. This would suggest, he’s saying, that this Falcon 9 launch was not compliant with the contract, in that it brought only 400 pounds to ISS. Does anyone know enough about that contract to understand this better? What exactly is SpaceX obligated to do as part of the contract? Pollock is making an accusation of a contract violation.

  • Fred Willett

    It seems to me that Commercial cargo has succeeded very much inspite of political support and inspite of NASA.
    This article in The Space Review
    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2166/1
    makes the point that there has been legislative support for commercial space going back a long way. But that has never translated into actual support by NASA. Indeed at times NASA has vigoursly opposed commercialisation – see MIR.
    Even COTS is not a triumph of NASA support for commercial space. COTS was grossly under funded. $500M to develop 2 brand new launch vehicles AND two brand new space craft. That’s $125M a vehicle.
    Recall that in this report on the development of the Falcon 9
    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/543572main_Section%20403%28b%29%20Commercial%20Market%20Assessment%20Report%20Final.pdf
    NASA admitted that for them to develop an equivalent vehicle to the Falcon 9 would have cost them between $1.7B and $4B.
    So why was COTS funded so poorly?
    I believe it was because NASA wanted the COTS program to fail. It threatened the NASA way. The right way. The only way to space. So they chose two companies that had never flown anything to orbit. Never even had a partially successful launch. Then sat back and hoped they’d fail. Indeed Kistler did fail, and SpaceX came within a whisker of failure as Musk admitted. After 3 failure of Falcon 1 the company could not have survived a fourth failure.
    Ultimately COTS only succeeded because NASA found itself without any program at all. Shuttle has been cancelled. Constellation was a disaster. If NASA didn’t have COTS it had nothing. No way to get to space till well into the 2020s.
    So now politicians fall over themselves to claim credit?
    Really?

  • Fred Willett

    If you need any further proof to the above post consider the funding for Commercial Crew.
    NASA proposed to fund it at $6B, though congress’ actual funding is somewhat lower. That’s $2B each for 3 vehicles compared to the $125M each for cargo vehicles. Was it because crew is so much harder or because NASA can not afford to have commercial crew fail that the funding is so much more realistic?

  • vulture4

    Elon Musk said it best. “The main reason they [Republicans in Congress] were against it was because the President was for it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ October 12th, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Underfunding is hardly a ‘crisis.’ ”

    Cx’s problems are hardly under funding.

    The tragedy of deficit spending is that today almost anything can be built…ie if a program is sold at8 billion as we go past the 8 billion mark with no real success insight the cry becomes “if we quit now we lose everything”…and in most cases there is little to lose.

    When Cx went away after 15 billion dollars it was going to take AT LEAST 3 times that to get to some flying vehicle…

    it was all in all time to quit.

    “Customers don’t buy tickets to fly aboard Delta Airlines as guinea pigs for Boeing test flights”

    LOL what the public doesnt know…I love it when people who have no clue of airplane cert make statements like that. I am a certification test pilot…you are not RGO

    as for “

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “On that note, why don’t commercial companies try to break into the space science mission arena on their own dime by sending robots to the lunar surface, for technology maturation, science & exploration, and maybe even prospecting, and selling results to NASA, researchers, etc?”

    That’s already in work. Here are two such U.S. companies

    http://www.odysseymoon.com/

    http://astrobotic.net/

    They’re competing for the privately funded Google Lunar X Prize:

    http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/

    NASA has awarded contracts to these companies to purchase up to $10 million worth of engineering data from them as they make progress towards, and after they achieve, lunar robotic landings:

    http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2010/oct/HQ_10-259_ILDD_Award.html

    “That would make me celebrate”

    I’d save the champagne until one of these teams lands, but that’s just me.

  • GUEST

    Ultimately COTS only succeeded because NASA found itself without any program at all.
    Shuttle has been cancelled.
    Constellation was a disaster.
    If NASA didn’t have COTS it had nothing. No way to get to space till well into the 2020s.

    You’re right about that!
    Maybe if the Europeans are signed up to build the Orion SM the craft will really be built, though once again the US gave up a leadership role in designing, developing and building. But otherwise it was likely that Orion would never fly. The manned Dragon is the US manned spacecraft for the next decade.

  • Justin Kugler

    Pollock doesn’t know what he’s talking about. All of the cargo that NASA handed off to SpaceX for this flight was delivered. It’s not SpaceX’s fault that NASA didn’t fully utilize the available capacity.

  • Coastal Ron

    Heinrich Monroe wrote @ October 12th, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    He has a correction posted now, which says that the 1,800 pounds of cargo he was referring to were the ones “promised” by SpaceX to NASA, per launch, as part of their resupply contract. This would suggest, he’s saying, that this Falcon 9 launch was not compliant with the contract, in that it brought only 400 pounds to ISS. Does anyone know enough about that contract to understand this better? What exactly is SpaceX obligated to do as part of the contract? Pollock is making an accusation of a contract violation.

    Per the NASA announcement for the CRS contract awards:

    These fixed-price indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity [IDIQ] contracts will begin Jan. 1, 2009, and are effective through Dec. 31, 2016. The contracts each call for the delivery of a minimum of 20 metric tons of upmass cargo to the space station. The contracts also call for delivery of non-standard services in support of the cargo resupply, including analysis and special tasks as the government determines are necessary.

    If you look up the definition for “indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity” (IDIQ), it says the Government uses that type of contract “when it cannot predetermine, above a specified minimum, the precise quantities of supplies or services that the Government will require during the contract period

    This is not some obscure contracting method – IDIQ contracts are very prevalent, and necessary, otherwise the Government would be wasting money revising contracts all the time and THAT would be the headline.

    So botton line is that it’s not the job of SpaceX to “promise” what they are going to deliver to the ISS, it’s up to NASA to fill the 12 CRS missions with a minimum of 20,000 kg (or not if they don’t really need it). The Dragon can carry up to 6,000 kg per flight, so NASA has lots of flexibility when they use SpaceX. Not so for Orbital Sciences, which needs to max out each of it’s eight Cygnus flights in order to meet it’s 20,000 kg minimum.

    The other thing Richard Pollock probably doesn’t realize is that because the ISS is fairly well stocked, NASA is likely looking forward more to what Dragon is bringing back instead of what it took up. They have science samples that have been waiting for a ride since July 2011, and that science could validate zero-G mitigation techniques – pretty important.

    In fact in his update, Richard conflates the upmass requirement with what SpaceX is bringing back to Earth – he thinks SpaceX is required to take “1,833 pounds of cargo, each way”. What a maroon.

  • DCSCA

    Justin Kugler wrote @ October 12th, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    “All of the cargo that NASA handed off to SpaceX for this flight was delivered.”

    And there could have been more, save the for ptofi secondary payload- you know, the one Space X failed to deliver. Two customers serviced; one was completed, the other failed.. 50% performance is sub-standard peroflrmance for any business concern.

    OC’s payload was vaporized thanks to sub-standard performance from contractor, Space X. A for profit payload which subtracted from the total payload which could have been carried up to the ISS. These COTS flights should be totally dedicaed to ISS resupply and not larded up with secondary payloads. It’s poor customer serivce by Space X.

    GUEST wrote @ October 12th, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    ‘The manned Dragon is the US manned spacecraft for the next decade.’

    Except it’s not.

  • Robert G. Oler

    The real “victory lap” that can occur with COTS or commercial crew is if and when the US launcher industry starts launching commercial payloads that are now going overseas.

    While there isa good possibility that Falcon9 and its derivatives can indeed change the commercial launch industry in terms of people…the real dollars and game changers for a bit are going to be the ability to give the Europeans/Chinese/etc a run for their money or beat them in commercial lift to orbit.

    The job potential here is enormous…and we should know he answer to “does this work” by 2014…or so.

    SLS/Orion has no chance to create jobs passed the government dole, meaning whenever the federal dollars end…the project goes into the history books.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ October 12th, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    In ’86 Thiokol didn’t take the bulk of the public heat for a flawed SRB design, NASA did.”

    Sorry you are mistaken.

    the design of the O rings was in and of itself “not flawed” as long as the system was operated in the environment in which operational testing had demonstrated it was safe. Now the O rings clearly did not meet specs but where the “heat” was generated is that by the time Challenger became a flaming ball…

    it was clear to all but theidiots at NASA management that the O rings were not capable of operating with any margin of safety or even within safe margins at the temps that the AGENCY was determined to operate them.

    This is not just the fine point of the matter but it is THE ENTIRE Point of the matter…NASA KNEW the design was satisfactory at certain temperatures in terms of its functionality, but below a range of temps (and a lot of this depended on a few other factors like time of exposure) that the O rings could not work.

    Put another way they could launch all day long with Pad temps at 80 degrees F…but the instant they sailed down below 42 degrees F…due to the tank and other factors…the O rings started to “not work”.

    The design was no more flawed then say the design of the B-737 rudder system as long as it was operated inside a certain range.

    What the “fix” did was idiot proof the O rings.

    Sadly the management flaws remained to kill another day.

    RGO

  • E.P, Grondine

    Anybody who read AW’s posts here is long familiar with the coherent delusional framework that the neocons have been promoting. It should come as no surprise to anyone to hear other idiots spewing it now.

    The bottom line is that the reason why our space program was in a real mess when Obama walked in the door is that ATK is a crummy company which could not deliver a really crummy rocket anywhere near on time or on budget.

    Rocket science and malarkey do not mix.
    Reality intrudes quickly and rudely.
    You can’t handwave it away, and you can’t sugar coat malarkey.

    I’m glad that US satellite manufacturers now have a very low cost launcher available to them. I am also glad that Ares 1 is dead, and I hope it stays that way.

    Does anyone know where a .7 G comustion oscillation simulator is where Griffin could go for a demonstration ride? For that matter, does anyone know what Griffin was thinking when he chose the Ares1/Ares5 architecture?

    If these “journalists” wern’t so pathetic, you’d think at least one of them would have guts enough to ask Griffin how we ended up wasting some $9 billion and loosing 6 years.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    If you look up the definition for “indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity” (IDIQ) …

    Thank you. So Richard Pollack accuses SpaceX of contract violation without justification. That seemed pretty fishy.

    Since this seems like Mr. Pollack’s first-ever article ever on space issues, we probably ought to cut him some slack. It’s not as if he brings any critical experience or insight to the table. Well, he did do an article on NASA Muslim outreach once, which I suppose helped him cut his teeth for this one. Keep trying, Richard!

    The test of policy of the next four years is making something useful from ISS

    Probably true, in a pragmatic way. But we’ll stop using the word “exploration” to describe doing that useful stuff. In the minds of human space flight advocates, “exploration” isn’t about small distances and circles. They just can’t handle that kind of thing.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ October 12th, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    And there could have been more, save the for ptofi secondary payload>>

    I dont get your point here.

    I dont know who wrote the COTS contract but whoever did either just got very lucky or knew some history and put that knowledge to good use.

    To help “settle” the west the US Army of “The Western Frontier” used “mostly” private supply providers…and the contracts were purposely written in such a manner as to create “surplus’ payload capability for the private providers…the Army paid a pretty fair price for the cargo which itself kept the suppliers in business…but the “margin” payload not only made the suppliers a lot of money but also then allowed excess material to the “Fort cities” (and other locals) which spurred settlement.

    Towns from El Paso to Fort Worth to well lots in the “west” started this way…some are not ghost towns (or small towns) but some are major cities.

    The contracts were always carefully written, the Army goods had priority…so for instance if the army contract required 12 wagons and there were 14 if you lost two wagons, what went over the side were the “extra” stuff…and that happened…but the folks who were the extra..knew where they stood.

    If you dont think Orbcomm knew the risk then you place a low wattage on their management…and clearly based on the insurance “deal” that was not the case. Having said that I am pretty sure OC got a lot of what they wanted…

    other then just to complain I dont see the point. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Heinrich Monroe wrote @ October 12th, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    I wrote:

    The test of policy of the next four years is making something useful from ISS

    You replied:
    Probably true, in a pragmatic way. But we’ll stop using the word “exploration” to describe doing that useful stuff. In the minds of human space flight advocates, “exploration” isn’t about small distances and circles. ”

    I am not a big fan of human exploration of space places anyway just now. Its not an effort that has any value so far worth the cost.

    to borrow a line from Dr. Strangelove “one can call it “now now” for all I care” RGO

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 13th, 2012 at 1:14 am

    “I am not a big fan of human exploration of space places anyway just now. Its not an effort that has any value so far worth the cost.”

    I am perplexed. Elon has developed a business in hope that it would sustain his desire for human space exploration with a declared goal of Mars. Now you may not like human space exploration as defined by SLS/MPCV and nor do I anymore since it really is not exploration as we all know. But. NASA, yes NASA, has established a program with COTS and its descendants by which we can hope to develop a new form of market. If NASA and its partners are successful human space exploration will soon take a new turn. It might be a self sustaining market in a (hopefully) not too far future. It is not worth denying the human need for knowledge, for exploration and possibly for enlightenment beyond any form of market. I am sure Boeing, Northrop and all the others were savvy business men but they had to be driven by a dream. And I offer they were driven by the dream of flight. The dream of exploring new surroundings. The dream of the possibilities opened by flight. Such dream does not negate commerce. Commerce is the basis of our society therefore any dream worth its while must be supported by commerce or is doomed to fail, eventually.

    Anyway. SpaceX is a dream. It is a dream supported by commerce, And if commerce eventually fails the dream will fail. Our society today has no immediate need for human exploration of space and it cannot be a government enterprise alone any longer – save for some cosmic danger for our species. That is why SLS/MPCV and other L-2 nonsense are doomed to fail as a government endeavor alone.

    But I still support human exploration of space as a worthy endeavor.

  • Fred Willett

    DCSCA wrote @ October 12th, 2012 at 10:52 pm
    “All of the cargo that NASA handed off to SpaceX for this flight was delivered.” And there could have been more,
    Actually if you look at the video of Suni openning the Dragon when it reached the ISS it was pretty chocka. This cargo is bulky rather than heavy. Other cargos will be different. Ms Stockwell said at one of the press conferences associated with this flight that rather than just 20t SpaceX expects to haul around 60t over it’s 12 flights.
    I don’t know, but I presume that’s up and down cargo.

  • pathfinder_01

    “And there could have been more, save the for ptofi secondary payload- you know, the one Space X failed to deliver. Two customers serviced; one was completed, the other failed.. 50% performance is sub-standard peroflrmance for any business concern.”

    Secondary payload was not a Nasa Payload. From NASA’s point of view it made it there even with an engine failure.

    “OC’s payload was vaporized thanks to sub-standard performance from contractor, Space X. A for profit payload which subtracted from the total payload which could have been carried up to the ISS. These COTS flights should be totally dedicaed to ISS resupply and not larded up with secondary payloads. It’s poor customer serivce by Space X.”

    By taking secondary payloads it increases Space X’s Profit which in turn can help lower the price per flight(depends on how the contract is written). It also helps stimulate the commercial use of space(since not everyone is paying the full cost of the ride to space). A good example would be the ESA probe smart-1, it rode into space with another cargo. If a rocket can carry two or more cargos it can be profitable to lift both at once. The payload did not subtract from the total. Basically what lots of people don’t understand is that life support stuff isn’t very heavy but it does take up a lot of space. It basically means that a cargo carrier is going to be volume limited not mass limited. That is why Orbital’s Cygnus only carries 2MT(but has much more volume).

    NASA is the primary customer, which basically means Space X can only sell the leftover capacity of the rocket. Rather like having a contract with the military to transport 20 troops to Japan. The military does not care that you used a plane able to carry much more than 20 and sold the extra seats or that you stranded paying passengers in US because you under estimated the weight of the troops luggage. It cares that the 20 troops make it to Japan.

  • Martijn Meijering

    On that note, why don’t commercial companies try to break into the space science mission arena on their own dime by sending robots to the lunar surface, for technology maturation, science & exploration, and maybe even prospecting, and selling results to NASA, researchers, etc?

    What hypocrisy.

  • E.P, Grondine

    Hi Heinrich

    “The test of policy of the next four years is making something useful from ISS.”

    Sweet Baby Jesus!

    The test of policy of the next four years is mking sure that nothing hits and kills a lot of people.

  • MaDeR

    @DCSCA: ““only delivered 882 of the promised 1,800 pounds of resupply cargo for the space station.” Roughly 1,000 lbs. of cargo is lousy service.”
    Dragon have to deliver about 22k pounds (20 metric tons) over 12 missions, NOT exactly 1800 for each flight. “Promised 1800 pounds” is blatant lie. Pollack is just journalist whore, writing paid pieces for folks like you to fawn over.

    NASA decides what to put on each flight – so if you are angry that NASA did not add a few hundred pounds of lead to fully utilize Dragon upmass, complain to NASA.

    “secondary payload- you know, the one Space X failed to deliver. Two customers serviced; one was completed, the other failed.. 50% performance is sub-standard peroflrmance for any business concern.”
    Primary payload will always take precedence over secondary payload. Orbcomm folks knew very well what they get into, if only by paid price (few milions versus 133kk$ for ISS-bound flight). What you expected, that SpaceX will endanger ISS trying to save secondary payload?

    About Griffin, his comercial competition program was just thrown bone. He did not believed anyone would succeed. Everyone was supposed to fail like Kistler – and then Griffin would return with his very big compensation for something and say “see? I let those private fixed-cost contractors try and they FAILED! pork way is only way!”. As we all know, it backfired in his face very, very badly. I almost pity him. Almost.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Two customers serviced; one was completed, the other failed.. 50% performance is sub-standard peroflrmance for any business concern.

    Falcon 9 is advertised by SpaceX as costing NASA an average of $133 per launch for cargo delivery to ISS. Orbcomm is getting $10M from their insurance for their loss. So I look at that as $133M success, and $10M failure, as does most everyone else. Your math doesn’t add up. But I thought it was “end of story” on this for you.

  • Coastal Ron

    I know this will cut down the arguments made by some (DCSCA being one of them), but here is the SpaceX statement on the Orbcomm payload:

    SpaceX spokeswoman Katherine Nelson on Oct. 11 issued a follow-up statement that dealt with the Orbcomm payload.

    “The goal of this mission was to transport cargo to the international space station for NASA,” SpaceX’s Oct. 11 statement said. “Orbcomm requested that SpaceX carry one of their small satellites (weighing a few hundred pounds, vs. Dragon at over 12,000 pounds) on this flight so that they could gather test data before we launch their full constellation next year.

    “The higher the orbit, the more test data they can gather, so they requested that we attempt to restart and raise altitude. NASA agreed to allow that, but only on condition that there be substantial propellant reserves, since the orbit would be close to the space station.

    “It is important to appreciate that Orbcomm understood from the beginning that the orbit-raising maneuver was tentative. They accepted that there was a high risk of their satellite remaining at the Dragon insertion orbit. SpaceX would not have agreed to fly their satellite otherwise, since this was not part of the core mission and there was a known, material risk of no altitude raise.”

  • Coastal Ron

    MaDeR wrote @ October 13th, 2012 at 8:37 am

    NASA decides what to put on each flight – so if you are angry that NASA did not add a few hundred pounds of lead to fully utilize Dragon upmass, complain to NASA.

    DCSCA is not very good at math, otherwise he’d be able to figure out that since a Dragon can carry up to 6mt of pressurized cargo, the SpaceX CRS contract could be satisfied by just four Dragon flights. However the CRS contract calls out for 12 flights, so NASA only needs SpaceX to average 1.8mt of cargo per flight, which means there is more than enough capacity on future flights to reach their 20mt contract commitment.

    As Fred Willett pointed out, this trip was focused on bulky items, not heavy cargo, and NASA is also likely more focused on what Dragon will bring back, than what it will take up. If you listen to what NASA talked about at their press briefing for the mission, I heard more emphasis on the 14 months of science samples that are coming back than anything else they were taking up.

    And as Justin Kugler pointed out, SpaceX is contracted for 12 trips to the ISS, and it’s up to NASA, not SpaceX, to fill the vehicle with whatever they want.

    And to refute what DCSCA implied, if NASA wasn’t being allowed to pack what they want in each Dragon flight, if they felt that SpaceX was emphasizing other customers over NASA, then they wouldn’t authorized the flight. It’s that simple. SpaceX knows that too, so it’s pretty easy to see that NASA got what it wanted on this flight, and only because there was leftover capacity was the Orbcomm satellite allowed to ride along (see my previous post). End of story.

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ October 13th, 2012 at 2:48 am

    I AGREE COMPLETELY With everything you wrote. Look thoughts are hard to convey totally in the written media there is a give and take there which speech is better at.

    I tried to chose my words carefully but …space exploration by humans is the dream and I think that Musk and some others keep that dream alive, my point inelegantly stated was that “as things are now” this minute (SLS/Orion multi billion dollar efforts to now here) all operating under the banner of “exploration” I dont see the point.

    this may well change for my 2 year old daughters generation and I hope it does. I think a pretty quick change (like Obama’s second term) will be that ISS will open up.

    RGO

  • And there could have been more, save the for ptofi secondary payload- you know, the one Space X failed to deliver.

    The secondary payload had nothing to do with how much cargo the Dragon delivered with ISS. I’d ask you to stop flaunting your ignorance, but I know it’s futile.

    Here’s my response, over at PJMedia.

  • @ adastramike:
    “On that note, why don’t commercial companies try to break into the space science mission arena on their own dime by sending robots to the lunar surface, for technology maturation, science & exploration, and maybe even prospecting,”

    Why should they?

    Do we expect other kinds of transportation providers to generate their own payloads first? We already know that potential research payload customers (mostly, but not entirely governmental) exist, let them step up.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    On that note, why don’t commercial companies try to break into the space science mission arena on their own dime by sending robots to the lunar surface, for technology maturation, science & exploration, and maybe even prospecting, and selling results to NASA, researchers, etc?

    Curiosity about the world we live in is a national endeavor. In many respects, it’s about national pride. Understanding how the Earth formed, or how life formed on it is not going to lead directly to any marketable products. So the business case for what you suggest is hollow.

    High priority space science questions can change pretty quickly, partly as they are answered, and partly as others become more relevant. So a commercial company may leap ahead and, ten years later, have some answers, but they may be answers to dated questions. The nimbleness of space science research is not aided by commercializing it. The space science community should have no obligation to pay for answers to ten year old questions.

    Take, for example, the Hubble constant, which quantifies the scale of the universe. As little as ten years ago, determining that number was an absolute, #1 priority. It isn’t any longer. At least partly because we managed to get a pretty good number, but especially because it’s the deviations from the Hubble law, rather than the Hubble constant itself, that are turning out to be most exciting. The question has changed.

    From a commercial perspective, you make a product, and if someone beats you to it, you diddle to make a better product you can sell for less. Diddling is really hard in space science missions.

    Commercial access to space is really very different than commercial space science would be.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ October 13th, 2012 at 1:46 pm >>

    the response was a little wordy but so am I at times…

    A very very nice job RGO

  • DCSCA

    @Fred Willett wrote @ October 13th, 2012 at 3:10 am

    C’mon, Freddo. You’ve packed a trunk for vacation. How product is packed for shipment is pretty much a mattter of design based on available modes of transport. You can get beer in kegs, cans, bottles– or, as Arnold Palmer gets ihis– piped in directly from a Latrobe, Pa brewery. -eyeroll=

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 13th, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Don’t be so myopic. How you package product is a matter of choice and design– and engineering. You can design/pack T-shirts in a bulky satchel– or in a tube and fire them out of a gun at crowds at a sporting event. You can deliver soap, coffee, even shrimp cocktail in relative flat packets. =eyeroll= Even hardware can be designed to fit the carrier container. You’re making excuses for sub-standard performance by Space X.

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ October 13th, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    “The secondary payload had nothing to do with how much cargo the Dragon delivered with ISS.”

    Except it did.

    Anything aboard that stack had everything to do with affecting how that paypload reached orbit. =eyeroll= The mass/weight of OCs payload was that much LESS payload capacity which could have been alotted to payload for ISS ops. And ANY failure to perform affects overall product and service rep in the marketplace as well as P/L. Bottom line: Space X FAILED to deliver satisfactory service as contracted for 50% of the customer-base on that flight manifest. End of story. Nobody cares how you shill spin Space X’s failure to perform for a commercial customer- again- in conservative blogo-nut-land. As far as Orbcomm is concerned, the Space X launch was a 100% failure.

    @Heinrich Monroe wrote @ October 13th, 2012 at 9:54 am

    =eyeroll= Except it does. 50% failure. And the i/rates rise. They don’t talk about real world business costs in the faculty lounge around the coffee maker much, eh. Explains why runaway waste on $18 billion telescopes escape you. Go back a school yourself correctly on the Palapa/Westar incident and how insurers dealt w/that. And FYI, shuttles stopped carrying communications sat payloads post Challenger, not due to the mishap of the P/W foul up– as Rand noted as well on another thread.

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 12th, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    In fact, you are. And the news/video records vividly and xlearly support it– there are literally days of it- not to mention the hearings. NASA took the bulk and brunt of the public heat. It’s a matter of record.

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 13th, 2012 at 1:12 am

    That’s because you’re labor. Not management.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ October 13th, 2012 at 10:43 am

    “SpaceX spokeswoman Katherine Nelson on Oct. 11 issued a follow-up statement that dealt with the Orbcomm payload “The goal of this mission was to transport cargo to the international space station for NASA.””

    No. The goal was/is to generate profit from a contracted service sold to customers in the free market. There’s no difference between hiring FedEx, or Space X to move your goods. Both provide a contracted service in the free market to make a buck. And Space X has delivered sub-standard service for 50% of the contracted customers on this flight manifest and a 100% failure for customer Orbcomm.

    Space X is pitching the same lame excuse NASA used to sweep criticism of shuttle away: ‘Nobody cares what it costs as long as the flight is successful.’ This business transaction was a 50% failure and cost Orbcomm- their insurers (who’ll recalibrate premiums) and whether they realize it or not, cost credbility for Space X as well

    SpaceX had best learn fast these aren’t ‘missions’ (a disingenuous, flawed nomenclature to spin a sense of one-off experimentation BTW) but business transactions- commerce in the marketplace. And Space X has brought a flawed product to market which has repeatedly delivered sub-standard service to- what they blandly label ‘secondary payload’ customers. Paying customers– or is it really ‘costomers.’. Insurers take note.

    And let the buyer beware– especially NASA. Space X best hang a lantern on it, admit they failed; that 50% failure for their customers on this flight is unacceptable and show the marketplace they’ll do better. Fix your Falcons.

    Otherwise, the kind of management mind set emerging at Space X, a for profit firm competing in the free market with plans to try to loft crews on its birds, can lead to disinformation, no information, cover-ups and cost-cutting sacrificing QA and, as NASA knows all too well, lives.

  • Robert G. Oler

    The big test of Obama policy is going to be in the second term when something useful must be made of ISS. If ISS flounders there will be no other large space efforts by the industrialized world for sometime.

    Killing SLS/Orion should free up 12 billion dollars over 4 years…if one assumes that 1 billion is the sacrifice to the budget gods (ie 4 billion over four yeas) there is an enormous amount that using a COTS/crew model can be accomplished…

    this is how I would spend the 8 billion.

    First push commercial crew…this should over four years consume an additional 2 billion dollars

    As much as it is money it is almost some management decisions. While I agree with Simberg (hearts stop beating around the globe) that we should discuss what an “astronauts life is worth”…the reality is that an LAS is going to be part of things…so the money for commercial crew should go to companies that are hungry to make a go of it. Lets face it Boeing is not. So cut the awards to two and drive both SpaceX and SNC to completion. There may have to be more money if SNC has issues with the Atlas (ie its not affordable)…

    Second…push ISS completion for commercial ops. This is going to mean more modules for visiting commercial folks…and some other expansion (mostly power). 2 billion should go to developing a Bigelow module and the artificial gravity module that Mark Holderman et al have proposed. I dotn have a clue how power gets added to the station but someone can figure out how…but 2 to maybe 3 billion over 4 years should do it.

    Third push some technology experiments at ISS. Fuel depots, the Vasimer (spell probably) this would be 1-2 billion including some build of “interstation” vehicles …ie vehicles to service these experiment stations…

    Fourth whatever is left over should go to either Nautilus…it is worth some experimentation and could be part of the technology effort at ISS or if that is premature we should use the money to 1) service and do something useful with Hubble and 2) launch the telescopes that were gifts from NRO….

    It might be possible to do both if Nautilus money works into the gravity modules at ISS.

    Tight management could make this happen…it couldnt be done as a traditional “Jobs are us” program at NAsA but we should start to wean the old contractors off the tit and move to groups that are hungry and willing.

    It could be an exciting four years. Comments? RGO

  • Heinrich Monroe

    =eyeroll= Except it does. 50% failure.

    Keep rolling your eyes, repeating yourself, and get your troll food elsewhere. If you want to look at it that way, you’re welcome to do so. Just don’t think that NASA or Orbcomm look at it that way. They don’t. Seriously. You think that Orbcomm is going to call this a 50% failure for SpaceX? Hilarious. In fact, Orbcomm is looking forward to future F9 launches for its satellites.

    Your BBQ host has your food on the grill. Some big steaks and a small mushroom cap appetizer he stuck in between them. Oops! The cap fell through the grill. Yep, he screwed up on half the courses. 50% failure on that barbeque, sez you, as you roll your eyes and stomp out!

    No steak for you.

    Of course, this has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 13th, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    “The big test of Obama policy is going to be in the second term when something useful must be made of ISS.”

    Nonsense. He’s not going to do a thing. Obama’s space policy was set at KSC three years ago in that speech and he has no reason to change it ibn the next four. Like the ISS, it will go no place, fast. Hillary Clinton’s presidency will rekindle more proactive space ops. There is nothing worse than having expensive hardware laying around that’s outlived its purpose — and trying to search out a new purpose for it just to justify paying for it. The blimp hanger in Irvine, CA rests empty– rented out for commercials and as a sound stange for film and TV programs; the Queen Mary is a dated, stank, rusting hotel in Long Beach; the military sold off useless Minuteman missile silos to a firm trying to turn them into stylish, doomsday condos. (Maybe there’s a special this week for the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis!)

    The ISS’s usefulness ended w/t ending of the Cold War. It’s a dinosaur. A politically driven, aerospace WPA project from the Reagan era as obsolete as the Berlin Wall, rotary phones, the typewriter and John McCain. It’;s a drain of dwindling resources and piping more billions into LEO ops to a doomed space platform will leave space ops going in circles, trapped in LEO for an other decades.

    Time to disengage and plan on splashing this aerospace WPA project. It returns little to nothing for it’s $100 beillion cost beyons what it was intended to be as a Cold War make work projecty. It’s a turkey. An ‘orbiting zombie’ as Googaw callas it. Too bad it can’t be trundled to a museum or set up as theme park in Texas. CNN has made quite a spectacle today airing Endeavour being hauled to a museum through the poorer neighborhoods of South LA. Still, tens of thousands have shown up along the route to watch the $4 billion orbiter heading to a museum. full of other 20th Century relics.

  • Fred Willett

    DCSCA wrote @ October 13th, 2012 at 2:56 pm
    C’mon, Freddo. You’ve packed a trunk for vacation.
    And I’ve learnt a little about physics. Mass is not the same as volume.
    A ton of feathers has the same mass as a ton of lead. One will fit into the Dragon easily. One won’t.
    Guess which one.
    The point is the Dragon is volume limited.
    Check out the video of Dragon’s hatch openning at the ISS. The dragon was fully loaded. Yes the mass was only 400 kilograms. But the same volume will contain a greater mass on the flight down.
    As has been reported elsewhere
    both NASA and SpaceX attributed the low mass to the selection of cargo it’s carrying. “The cargo up that we’re taking is not quite as dense as some of the cargo that we will be taking on successive missions,” said SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell at a pre-launch press conference on Saturday. She added that SpaceX’s CRS contract with NASA requires it to carry at least 20 metric tons of cargo to the station over 12 flights; she estimates that SpaceX will carry a combined 60 metric tons up to and down from the station on those missions.

  • common sense

    Robert even though I tend to agree with what you re proposing in principles you must understand how difficult it will be. I don’t even think that Bolden has the power to make it happen. Old habits live long inside NASA. Way long. We saw what happened with FY-11. It’s bound to reoccur just watch. The transition will not come from within… What comes to mind is ‘fester’.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ October 13th, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Wow, paragraph breaks. Now if you could just work on the typos…

    No. The goal was/is to generate profit from a contracted service sold to customers in the free market.

    Hmm, so calling this launch “CRS-1″ has nothing to do with a $1.6B contract that NASA has with SpaceX? And the 2nd stage re-ignition constraint had nothing to do with the $1.6B contract NASA has with SpaceX?

    See this just shows how divorced from reality you are on this. Everyone in the press knows that this was a mission for NASA, and that it has been planned for a long time as a mission for NASA. And everyone also knows that the Orbcomm satellite was a secondary payload – which means that the NASA contract had priority over the Orbcomm contract. And that’s what happened. I guess SpaceX really does want their $133.3M “free market” payment for this mission.

    In any case, you’re just pissing in the wind on this one, since Orbcomm was able to validate a number of things that wanted to validate in advance of their constellation launch next year, so they have already stated that this mission was a partial success.

    So to summarize, NASA is happy, Orbcomm is satisfied, and you are the only one that sees the situation as a failure. Luckily Orbcomm and NASA don’t listen to you – come to think of it, does anyone listen to your empty arguments? ;-)

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ October 13th, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    How you package product is a matter of choice and design– and engineering.

    Just an observation, but you have no expertise in any of that (i.e. design and engineering), so why you think you know more than NASA about what they decided to ship to the ISS is really funny. And by funny I mean hilariously funny.

    If you look at the manifest for the CRS-1 mission (which I doubt you have), you’d see that there is material that is both bulky and delicate. And if you don’t think a freezer that can store samples at -301 F is not bulky, then you clearly don’t know anything about design and engineering.

    And just as a reminder, NASA is pretty happy so far, so you’re just sounding like sour grapes.

  • tps

    DCSCA:

    Just curious but what do you want to do? Besides junk ISS.

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ October 13th, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Robert even though I tend to agree with what you re proposing in principles you must understand how difficult it will be. >>

    Yes…it will require something heretofore unseen mostly in the Obama administration and that is well drum roll “Leadership”.

    It is in my view to bad that the GOP in general and its Presidential picks in specific have just gone so far “right” that I would vote for Bubu the dancing bear before voting for Romney (or Rick or….Newt might have actually had me a little perplexed or anguished for a tad)…because really Obama is just about as weak a leader for the most part that I have seen.

    My hope is that his reelection breaks the back of the “nut job right” (and thats possible) and we start to see some both leadership on Obama’s part (the tin man gets courage) and less of a “No No NO’ attitude on the GOP’s part.

    But in any event Obama in General and Charlie Bolden in specific should advance such a program because it is 1) likely to be successful (SpaceX has been and perhaps OSC will be) and 2) otherwise its just another drag four years not affecting the economy all that much.

    At the very least it should be put out there and the people who argue for SLS/Orion etc should be made to feel the shame of the pork that they support

    I am sanguine of all this but we should at least give it a try. RGO

  • Justin Kugler

    He wants to turn it all over to the military, tps. As if a Hillary Clinton administration would do that. He can’t even keep his arguments consistent, just his rhetoric against fixed-price contracting by NASA with companies like SpaceX.

  • Vladislaw

    DC from fairy land wrote:

    “The goal was/is to generate profit from a contracted service sold to customers in the free market. There’s no difference between hiring FedEx, or Space X to move your goods. Both provide a contracted service in the free market to make a buck. And Space X has delivered sub-standard service for 50% of the contracted customers on this flight manifest and a 100% failure for customer Orbcomm.”

    You keep refering to fed ex and UPS like they are somehow the GODS of delivery and if only SpaceX could deliver like them… of course you never seem to mention the literally THOUSANDS of youtube videos of screw ups, broken goods and lost items that happen with your gods of 100% perfect delivery services.

    FedEx Delivery Mayhem
    Caught On Camera: FedEx Delivery Captured with Motion Detection
    Confessions of a FedEx Employee

    I could have sat here, literally, all day, posting links for youtube videos of packages not getting to where they are supposed to with the gods of 100% perfect delivery … it is a suprise anyone even uses them.

  • pathfinder_01

    “As for Griffin, I think he’s still upset about Constellation being canceled. And while Griffin did start/support COTS/CRS using the Space Act Agreement, I don’t think he intended it to be used as a model for LEO crew. Whatever the merits of handing over LEO crew to commercial folks, I also don’t think he intended it to act as a replacement for the return to the Moon program.”

    Ever heard of COTS-D that would have been ability to carry people to the ISS. As for replacement for the moon program, I think the moon program was ill conceived. Cxp was slipping year for year. Griffin imho ran the space program into the ground by not scaling what could be done to the available funding and not using commercial spaceflight to save time and money. What congress wanted was the Apollo program, but on a Shuttle sized budget. NASA’S budget at the time of Apollo was double what it is today and although spaceflight has gotten cheaper it has not gotten cheaper by half.

    “In my opinion, returning to the Moon to learn how to live and operate a base on another celestial body is vastly more inspiring and exciting than leaping for joy that commerical is now “taking over” HSF cargo/crew in LEO.”

    The only way to get there or anywhere else is going to be thru commercial spaceflight. If you want to do more than Apollo style camping trips you need to be able to send both crew and cargo cheaply to the moon. With commercial spaceflight you have a possibility of that happening, with government owned spaceflight all you get are expensive stunts.

    “On that note, why don’t commercial companies try to break into the space science mission arena on their own dime by sending robots to the lunar surface, for technology maturation, science & exploration, and maybe even prospecting, and selling results to NASA, researchers, etc? That would make me celebrate, since it would mean we haven’t abandoned the Moon (not again! doh).”

    As Dark Blue Nine already mentioned they already have and these mission although far from there yet are thinking of using the F9. Additional private mission include one the B612 foundation’s plan to launch a space telescope. If you can lower the cost of access then it becomes much more feasible for private missions to occur.

  • joe

    Heinrich Monroe wrote @ October 12th, 2012 at 6:36 pm
    “What exactly is SpaceX obligated to do as part of the contract?”

    As usual the real situation is somewhat complicated:

    Space X contract is to deliver 20 metric tons to the station in 12 flights for $1.6 Billion.
    http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=20081223

    That would average 3,667 lbs. per launch.

    As per the Space X fact sheet on the launch the up mass on the first mission is only 882 lbs. (page 10). That is only 25% of the average requirement.

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/694166main_SpaceXCRS-1PressKit.pdf

    But now another interesting issue has arisen. What is the meaning of “20 Metric Tons”? From the same fact sheet (same page) you will notice that the total mass including packaging is 1995 lbs. so the packaging is 55% of the total mass. The claim has been made that Space X can count the packaging as part of the 20 Metric Tons. If true that means that the actual cargo requirements of the contract are to deliver only 9,000 kilograms to the ISS for their $1.6 B (about $177,000/kg. or if you prefer about $80,500/lb.).

    Sweet deal if you can get it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    joe wrote @ October 14th, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    this is doubtless a lawyer issue but this fact is clear.

    If SpaceX flies when NASA says to fly and carries the payload NASA says to carry NASA will not say they are in ab oration of contract.

    RGO

  • joe

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 14th, 2012 at 6:42 pm
    “If SpaceX flies when NASA says to fly and carries the payload NASA says to carry NASA will not say they are in ab oration of contract.”

    I could not care less about lawyers or lawyer terminology, what I do care about is every time a new level of detail is revealed Space X seems to be delivering less and charging more for it.

  • pathfinder_01

    “issue has arisen. What is the meaning of “20 Metric Tons”? From the same fact sheet (same page) you will notice that the total mass including packaging is 1995 lbs. so the packaging is 55% of the total mass. The claim has been made that Space X can count the packaging as part of the 20 Metric Tons. If true that means that the actual cargo requirements of the contract are to deliver only 9,000 kilograms to the ISS for their $1.6 B (about $177,000/kg. or if you prefer about $80,500/lb.).
    Sweet deal if you can get it.”

    Ah the packageing is being transported with the cargo and has mass too. So what on earth is unusual about that? I mean you usually put the item you wish to ship in a box along with packing and weigh both the item and the packing…It would be kind of messy to just send food, clothing ect without packaging….and sending water or a liquid or gas without some kind of packaging impossible.

    Anyway yes they can and should count it towards the 20MT requirment, it is common sense! Also NASA plans to send more than 20MT it is just that amount is the min. that must be transported within the terms of the contract.

  • common sense

    “As usual the real situation is somewhat complicated:”

    Oh yeah very complicated. NASA told SpaceX to carry some cargo to the ISS. SpaceX said yes and successfully complied and delivered.

    Indeed very complicated.

    Now of course one might argue the arrogance of this new company to take a secondary payload on a commercial mission to the ISS. And I am sure the situation is even more complicated. Especially that the customer plans to send the remaining satellites with SpaceX. Crony capitalism at work!!!

    Now a subtle question. What would that company have done if SpaceX had been able to not only service the ISS but also deliver the secondary payload to the right orbit? Want to venture a guess? Maybe they would pay more in the future? Nah. Why in hell would they do that?

    Oh well. Tough luck SpaceX. Bad SpaceX.

  • NeilShipley

    RGO Agreed. It doesn’t matter whether it’s packaging or toilet paper, it’s just cargo that NASA wants delivered and returned from the ISS. You’re arguing semantics.

  • As usual the real situation is somewhat complicated

    It is not complicated at all. They are to deliver exactly what NASA asks them to deliver, and delivers to their payload processing facility. They did that. The notion that because they didn’t deliver some arbitrary number of pounds of payload on this particular flight they are in violation of their contract is ludicrously stupid.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “But now another interesting issue has arisen. What is the meaning of “20 Metric Tons”? From the same fact sheet (same page) you will notice that the total mass including packaging is 1995 lbs. so the packaging is 55% of the total mass. The claim has been made that Space X can count the packaging as part of the 20 Metric Tons. If true that means that the actual cargo requirements of the contract are to deliver only 9,000 kilograms to the ISS for their $1.6 B (about $177,000/kg. or if you prefer about $80,500/lb.).

    Sweet deal if you can get it.”

    This is disingenuous and misleading. For example, when quoting the upmass or downmass capabilities and per unit mass costs of the Space Shuttle, we don’t subtract the mass of the unpressurized or pressurized payload carriers. These types of packaging vary wildly from flight to flight but are always required. Subtracting them out of one mission that requires a lot of packaging to pump up the per unit mass cost for the vehicle is deceptive. And blaming the carrier for this pumped up cost, when it was the customer’s decision to use so much packaging, is deceitful.

    “Space X contract is to deliver 20 metric tons to the station in 12 flights for $1.6 Billion.”

    Maintaining this capability over the CRS contract length from 2012-2016 (4 years) with the Space Shuttle would have cost the taxpayer at least $16 billion ($4 billion run rate per year), probably more given recertification costs. Even with prior COTS investment and the OSC CRS contract folded in, CRS is creating something on the order of a five-fold savings for NASA and the taxpayer versus the alternative.

  • Justin Kugler

    Getting stuff up to the Station isn’t the problem, anyways. Getting powered payloads back down is the bottleneck and SpaceX is providing the only service that can do that until either the CCDev vehicles come online or NASA decides to invest in a quick return capsule for payloads.

    DBN is absolutely right that CRS is enabling that capability at far less than it would have cost NASA to do it in-house. Remember that the contract covers the cost of the capsules, too, because NASA doesn’t want refurbished units.

  • Robert G. Oler

    joe wrote @ October 14th, 2012 at 8:11 pm
    “I could not care less about lawyers or lawyer terminology, what I do care about is every time a new level of detail is revealed Space X seems to be delivering less and charging more for it.”

    sometimes practical excersizes help.

    Go buy something very expensive; get its mass then prepare it for shipping to someone very far away.

    Now go to any shipper of your choice and see if you can get them to ship it for charges that only relate to the mass of the “thing” itself not the total mass of it and the packaging.

    When you find that organization let me know. I have a friend who has come upon a DX-100 Heathkit that weighs over 100 pounds and its packaging is probably another 50 or so. the savings would be helpful. He is in Virginia. I am in zip code 77510.

    RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    joe wrote @ October 14th, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Joe you actually asked a good question concerning whether packaging is part of the 20mt contract. It would be.

    Of course then you jumped to the conclusion that SpaceX had hidden the fact that packaging was supposed to be included, alluded that NASA originally assumed that packaging wasn’t, and then assumed that SpaceX would have the final say on how the CRS contract would be interpreted. Wow, what a torturous logic path.

    Why wouldn’t you assume that everyone would use the same method of determining cargo capacity as the rest of the transportation industry – that packaging IS included?

    You probably have never shipped anything on a commercial truck, but just take something to your local FedEx, UPS or USPS office and ask them whether packaging is included in the shipping weight. Now ask yourself why that is.

    As others have pointed out, the SpaceX CRS contract is more than just transporting stuff up to the ISS, it also included safely transporting stuff back from the ISS. That would be part of the sentence in the CRS contract award announcement that says:

    The contracts also call for delivery of non-standard services in support of the cargo resupply, including analysis and special tasks as the government determines are necessary.

    Since you looked at the CRS-1 manifest, you would have seen the GLACIER freezers that were included, which were not cargo but equipment. They will be used for transporting science samples back from the ISS. Test tubes of blood and urine samples don’t weigh much, but they require a lot of “packaging” in order to survive the trip back home.

    It is up to NASA to determine how best to package their stuff, so of course they would know how much packaging it takes to ship cargo up and back to space, not SpaceX. Yet another reason why your tortured logic failed, because you assumed that NASA didn’t know anything about shipping cargo to space, or would forget to bring up the need for packaging in their contract. If you didn’t hate SpaceX so much, most of the answers to your questions would be pretty self-evident…

  • joe

    Funny thing is, if my post was so meritless why it requires so many redundant (and sometimes self-contradictory) rebuttals.

  • common sense

    “Funny thing is, if my post was so meritless why it requires so many redundant (and sometimes self-contradictory) rebuttals.”

    Your post does not “require” anything but I for one think it’s just fun. I just enjoy the way you tell us good night and that there is nothing more to talk about and that you will never come back.

    And then of course you come back.

    Cheers.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Funny thing is, if my post was so meritless why it requires so many redundant (and sometimes self-contradictory) rebuttals.”

    Because you are trying to bend the truth and people see right throught that.

    When you tranport items packaging counts too. I mean I would love to see you state that becuase the vase is only 3 pounds I should not be charged for the 2 pounds of boxing and shipping peanuts. Does not work that way.

    Or that charge that is is more expensive per pound while ignoring that fact that the shuttle cost 3-4 billion a year if you used it or not. Nasa pays per flight here and $158 mill or so is a lot cheaper than 3 billion.

  • common sense

    “$158 mill or so is a lot cheaper than 3 billion”

    Really? Even if you account for packaging?

    Come on 10 pounds of feathers way the same as 10 pounds of lead, yet which one is better to happen under??? Clearly you don’t understand how transport and packaging and how NASA and SpaceX actually miscalculate their numbers in the already signed contract!!!!

    What do you mean there is no link between feather, lead and SpaceX CRS flight???? What? My post does not make any sense???

    You cannot be serious!

  • MaDeR

    @DCSCA: “Insurers take note.”
    Yes, they will. Lower insurance rates for primary payload (as engine-out was proven) and higher for secondary payload. BTW primary payload counts for way more than 50% share – by very definintion of words “primary” and “secondary”.

    @joe: “The claim has been made that Space X can count the packaging as part of the 20 Metric Tons.”
    You JUST NOW discovered that package itself have actual weight? Really? Oh, and earthly transportation services can and DO count weight of packaging. They do not give rat’s ass about what is packaging and what is actual thing in your cargo. You did not knew this either? Really?

    How dumb you can be?

    “if my post was so meritless why it requires so many redundant (and sometimes self-contradictory) rebuttals.”
    Whining why everyone beats you to pulp is not, uhm, very good argument for anything.

    Okay, enough feeding trolls from me. I have to try those strychnine-laced breadcrumbs next time.

  • joe

    MaDeR wrote @ October 15th, 2012 at 6:44 pm
    “How dumb you can be?”
    “Whining why everyone beats you to pulp…”

    If juvenile insults and empty school yard bully tough talk translated into cash you guys would be able to finance your own space program, even at Space X prices.

  • pathfinder_01

    “ If juvenile insults and empty school yard bully tough talk translated into cash you guys would be able to finance your own space program, even at Space X prices.”

    Perhaps, but if someone does not reduce the cost of access to space for crew and for cargo mankind will never be able to expand into space. There isn’t enough cash on this planet to finance that and governments can only spend so much on any one thing. Manned spaceflight and everything related to it must come down in price or forever be in danger of becoming a foot note in human history.

  • joe

    pathfinder_01 wrote @ October 16th, 2012 at 9:09 pm
    “Perhaps, but if someone does not reduce the cost of access to space for crew and for cargo mankind will never be able to expand into space. There isn’t enough cash on this planet to finance that and governments can only spend so much on any one thing. Manned spaceflight and everything related to it must come down in price or forever be in danger of becoming a foot note in human history.”

    I basically agree with that statement.

    The trouble is as the real numbers become clearer that is not Space X. If you look at the actual numbers for their first operational ISS resupply mission it comes down to this:
    - They have a contract to fly 12 missions for $1.6 Billion. That is (rounded down to the nearest million) $133 Million per flight.
    - They delivered (by their own count) 882 lbs. of cargo. That is (rounded down to the nearest dollar) $150, 793/lb.

    $150, 793/lb. is (to put it mildly) not going to revolutionize the cost of space transport. The local bully boy want to be’s calling people names and trying to sound tough and threatening (over the internet no less) is not going to change that fact.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “$150, 793/lb.”

    You’re still omitting packaging and your figure is based on one, low mass-to-volume flight, making your figure disingenuous and misleading. We didn’t subtract the mass of the Shuttle’s unpressurized or pressurized payload carriers, or pick one, low mass-to-volume flight, when calculating the upmass or downmass capabilities and per unit mass costs of the Space Shuttle. Pumping up the per unit mass cost for a vehicle by cherry picking mission data is deceptive. And blaming the carrier for this pumped up cost, when it’s the customer’s decisions that determine payload mass and packaging, is deceitful.

    “is (to put it mildly) not going to revolutionize the cost of space transport.”

    When fully loaded to its mass limit (and not discounting packaging), the CRS Falcon 9/Dragon costs one-third what a fully loaded Space Shuttle cost on per unit mass basis, or a ~66% decrease.

    The Space Shuttle averaged $1.5 billion per launch over its lifetime. With 24,400kg (53,600lb) of upmass, the taxpayer is paying $61,475 per kilogram ($27,985 per pound) for a fully loaded Shuttle.

    http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2011/04/adding-up-the-final-tab-for-the-space-shuttle-program-1-5-billion-per-launch/

    Using your $133 million per launch figure for Falcon 9/Dragon under the CRS contract and Dragon’s 6,620kg (14,592lb) of upmass, the taxpayer is paying $20,090 per kilogram ($9,114 per pound) for a fully loaded Dragon.

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/10/falcon-9loft-dragon-crs-1-mission-iss-attempt1/

    $20,090 per kilogram (or $9,114 per pound) is 32.6% of $61,475 per kilogram (or $27,985 per pound). That’s a 66% drop in per unit mass cost going from the Space Shuttle to the CRS contract for Falcon 9/Dragon.

    Whether it meets some arbitrary definition of revolutionary or not, in most industries, a 66% reduction in costs is remarkable. I’m certain we’d both notice if our commuting costs (new car, gas, maintenance, or public transport) dropped by 66%.

    More importantly for NASA, in terms of budget flexilibity, CRS is certainly revolutionary compared to what came before.

    Regardless of how often the Space Shuttle flew each year, NASA had to spend about $4 billion per year to keep the program intact. So running the Space Shuttle over the 2012-2016 period covered by the CRS contracts would have cost the taxpayer at least $20 billion to supply ISS, probably more with recertification, a shrinking industrial base, and recertification.

    The two CRS contracts (SpaceX and OSC) total $3.5 billion. By retiring the Space Shuttle and moving to CRS, NASA has freed up at least $16.5 billion to spend on something other than supplying ISS from 2012-2016. That’s almost an entire year of NASA spending. I’d argue that’s revolutionary.

    (Unfortunately, SLS development alone is going to eat all that up and more, but that’s another issue.)

    “The local bully boy want to be’s calling people names and trying to sound tough and threatening (over the internet no less) is not going to change that fact.”

    It’s okay to be offended, but when you make disingenuous and misleading statements, you shouldn’t be surprised if some folks mistake your deception for stupidity. If you want to be taken honestly and seriously, then don’t cherry pick your data.

  • JimNobles

    Whenever SpaceX or any other launch company advertises their cost per pound to orbit capability it is understood that this is the cost for an ideal situation for the customer. In the case of SpaceX the vehicle has a pressurized capacity of so many pounds/kilograms within so many cubic meters of volume. In addition, the system also has an unpressurized capacity of so many pounds/kilograms within so many cubic meters of volume.

    When a customer buys a launch it is up to them to make the best use of the capacity they purchased. If their payload requires less mass than the total capacity they purchased then they are obviously not getting the best price per pound/kilogram to orbit that the system offers. It’s not the system operators fault. The system operator didn’t fail to meet any obligations. To suggest something like that happened is silly.

  • Coastal Ron

    joe wrote @ October 17th, 2012 at 11:13 am

    The trouble is as the real numbers become clearer that is not Space X. If you look at the actual numbers for their first operational ISS resupply mission it comes down to this…

    Joe, the numbers don’t change unless the contract NASA has with SpaceX changes. And it hasn’t changed.

    SpaceX is committed to delivering a minimum of 20,000 kg of cargo to the ISS on 12 flights for $1.6B, which works out to $80,000/kg. That is the only number that counts.

    If you want to use a meaningless metric then you could take the total mass delivered per flight and divide it into an average price per flight. But NASA isn’t paying for averages.

    Will you be coming back to this forum and update us on the averages when SpaceX carries MORE than the average cargo amount? So far that hasn’t been your M.O., which is only to report information that portrays SpaceX is the least flattering condition. I would imagine you would call that “Fair And Balanced Reporting”? ;-)

  • joe

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ October 17th, 2012 at 2:29 pm
    It is interesting that as Space X cost increase the alleged cost of shuttle launches increase.

    Only a few weeks ago it was supposedly $1.2 Billion. Now it is $1.5 Billion.

    In fact during its last full year of operation (2009) the shuttle budget was $3 Billion (rounded up to the nearest billion – see page 4 of link below).

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/420990main_FY_201_%20Budget_Overview_1_Feb_2010.pdf

    In 2009 the shuttle flew 5 times.

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/list_2009.html

    That would make the operational cost of the shuttle at that time (as compared to the Space X charging price now) $600 Million. That would make the shuttle cost in actuality $11,194/lb.

    You’re Space X number depends on believing that the Falcon 9/Dragon can actually deliver 14,592lb someplace besides their website. But an interesting question, if it can really deliver that much payload up mass, why did Space X only sign up to deliver 3,667 lbs. per flight in the contract and actually deliver only 882 lbs. in their first operational flight?

    Nothing I said was “disingenuous and misleading” and I cherry picked no numbers.

    The way this is going by spring you are going to have to be claiming the cost of a Shuttle launch was $3 Billion per flight.

  • joe

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 17th, 2012 at 3:01 pm
    “SpaceX is committed to delivering a minimum of 20,000 kg of cargo to the ISS on 12 flights for $1.6B, which works out to $80,000/kg.”

    Well at least you have now accepted the $80,000/kg. number. I will take little bits of good news as I can get them.

    “Will you be coming back to this forum and update us on the averages when SpaceX carries MORE than the average cargo amount? So far that hasn’t been your M.O., which is only to report information that portrays SpaceX is the least flattering condition. I would imagine you would call that “Fair And Balanced Reporting”? ”

    Yes a Fox News reference, meant to mark me as a knuckle dragging troglodyte. Trouble is you do not have any idea what my general politics are.

  • Coastal Ron

    joe wrote @ October 17th, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    But an interesting question, if it can really deliver that much payload up mass, why did Space X only sign up to deliver 3,667 lbs. per flight in the contract and actually deliver only 882 lbs. in their first operational flight?

    Because that’s what their customer wanted Joe.

    Who do you think determines what is required on the ISS – NASA or SpaceX?

    You seem to think that SpaceX is responsible for ISS operations. You know how that makes you look, right?

  • joe

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 17th, 2012 at 4:42 pm
    “You know how that makes you look, right?”

    It makes me look like a reasonable skeptic, who wonders why Space X promises so much – when push comes shove – delivers so little.

  • common sense

    “It makes me look like a reasonable skeptic, who wonders why Space X promises so much – when push comes shove – delivers so little.”

    SpaceX, not Space X, promises nothing. NASA signed a contract with SpaceX and they both are honoring the contract. Otherwise lawyers will gladly jump in. I know, not your expertise, unlike GN&C but simple enough.

    Skeptic? Yeah sure.

  • joe

    common sense wrote @ October 17th, 2012 at 6:09 pm
    “SpaceX, not Space X…”

    Thank you for the very pertinent correction that changes everything.

  • common sense

    “Thank you for the very pertinent correction that changes everything.”

    You are welcome, always a pleasure to be of help.

  • Coastal Ron

    joe wrote @ October 17th, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    It makes me look like a reasonable skeptic

    You’re skeptical about who, between NASA and SpaceX, is responsible for ISS operations? Really?

    Are you also skeptical about whether there is a legally enforceable contract between the U.S. Government and SpaceX for the delivery of 20mt of cargo over 12 flights? That seems to be the source of your skepticism, that you don’t believe that the U.S. Government has any recourse to receive the minimum service that they contracted to have done.

    Next you’ll be telling us that the President of the United States was not really born in the U.S., and that the Republican Governor of Hawaii was in on the cover-up…

  • pathfinder_01

    Joe, you there is an old saying “You don’t buy tires by the pound”. It is like arguing that because the mansion is cheaper per square foot, you should buy it instead of the Cottage(Without regard as to affordability and suitability of the Mansion).

    1) $158 million on so per flight vs. 3-4 billion a year(wither it flew 0 times or 6).

    2) Sure the shuttle can carry more per launch, but it is meaningless if you don’t need 10MT worth of equipment at once. Progress has been able to supply Russia for years with a crew of 2-3 and it only carries 2MT worth of stuff at most. Dragon’s or Cygnus is way more than enough to keep a space station supplied.

    3) The MPLM was probably very handy when building the ISS, those ISS racks for instance would not fit in Dragon (but can fit in HTV—but HTV is Japanese and is launched once a year!). For instance the destiny module was lifted with only five racks installed. Seventeen of them were carried via the shuttle on latter missions. Now that the station is past construction most of the items are going to be things like food, water, clothing and some experiments (where as before it as all that plus major pieces for the ISS).

    4) Launching the shuttle is very expensive and frankly wasteful for almost any operation besides construction that involves on orbit assembly. I mean to send people to the station, you would need a crew of at least two for the shuttle. The shuttle cannot serve as lifeboat. The shuttle shares no costs with any other program because NASA is the sole user. The commercial crew craft should more than be able to get a price lower than 3 billion a year.

    5) The less it costs to crew and supply the ISS the more you can spend elsewhere. In the unlikely event that NASA ever gets a budget increase it can do more with $1 billion using commercial launcher like Space X and ULA than it could ever do with the shuttle. I mean to the total amount for 2 space X flights and 2 Cygnus flights is about $794 million a year. That is a whole lot less than 3 billion bucks and leaves a little more than 2 billion left for Commercial Crew to come under per year and be cheaper than the shuttle for the job of crew transfer and cargo. Given that price of Atlas is around $200 million a launch that is a lot of room.

    6) A good example of 5 was Obama’s willingness to give NASA $1 billion more a year. If Congress had gone along NASA would have $1billlion more but even then if it did get $1 billion more that would not be enough to fund CXP. Augustine conculed that you need to raise NASA’s budget up 3 billion bucks a year for the foreseeable future in order to fund a CXP like program.

    $1 billion a year was almost politically viable, $3 billion a year NO ONE, no member of Congress or President stuck their necks out to push for that and the same Congress that decided for SLS gave NASA less than what the President asked for total. Sure SLS and the Shuttle buy you votes and some funding, but not enough funding to do anything viable with and in terms of votes a commercial program can too generate political funding but it would be a program better able to generate results for the money put into it.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “It is interesting that as Space X cost increase the alleged cost of shuttle launches increase. Only a few weeks ago it was supposedly $1.2 Billion. Now it is $1.5 Billion.”

    I transposed a “5″ with a “2″. So sue me.

    It remains a fact that Shuttle cost $1.5 billion per launch over the life of the program. The figure comes from Drs. Byerly and Pielke, who have tracked and projected Shuttle costs for 20-odd years. Here’s the Houston Chronicle source again, along with Pielke’s blog entry on the Nature article that generated the Chronicle source and a related Forbes article:

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2011/04/space-shuttle-costs-1971-2011.html

    http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2011/04/adding-up-the-final-tab-for-the-space-shuttle-program-1-5-billion-per-launch/

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolpinchefsky/2012/04/18/5-horrifying-facts-you-didnt-know-about-the-space-shuttle/

    All Byerly and Pielke did was add up the program’s total life-cycle cost and divide by the number of launches. It’s hard to see how anyone could have an issue with their idiot-proof methodology or figures, but if you do, you should take it up with them. I’m just the messenger.

    “In fact during its last full year of operation (2009) the shuttle budget was $3 Billion”

    You’re cherry picking data again. The last full year of operation is going to cost less because the program is in shutdown mode, not steady state. Contracts have been turned off and workers have been let go. Without those bills to pay and payrolls to meet, any program is going to cost less in its last years. When you get outside the shutdown years that started in FY 2008, direct Shuttle costs (not including civil servant and overhead costs) are always above $4 billion. Often, they’re well above $4 billion, as recent history shows:

    FY 2007 Actual –> $4,017.6M (see p. 3 in PDF below)
    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/168653main_NASA_FY08_Budget_Summary.pdf

    FY 2006 Actual –> $4,777.5M (see p. 1 in PDF below)
    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/142458main_FY07_budget_full.pdf

    FY 2005 Actual –> $4,669.0M (see p. 1 in PDF below)
    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/107492main_FY06_2_ec.pdf

    FY 2004 Actual –> $3,945.0M (see p. 3 in PDF below)
    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/55412main_29%20SSP.pdf

    Your $3 billion figure is also inaccurate for FY 2009. It does not include the NASA civil servant and overhead costs assigned to the Shuttle program. Those costs are incorporated in the Center Management and Operations and the Agency Management and Operations lines under the Cross-Agency Support budget. The Shuttle’s share of those costs add hundreds of millions to the Shuttle’s FY 2009 and FY 2010 budgets, pushing the figure closer to $4 billion than $3 billion.

    This is reflected in the chart at the top of Pielke’s blog (at the link above), which shows the annual Shuttle budget near or above $4 billion per year in every year from 1976-2010, including 2009. The only years that the Shuttle budget fell well below $4 billion are during its early design/development prior to 1976 and during the program’s last couple shutdown years after 2010.

    “In 2009 the shuttle flew 5 times.”

    No, it didn’t. You’re mixing fiscal years and calendar years. STS-129 launched in November 2009, which is two months after the end of the federal fiscal year for 2009.

    “You’re [sic] Space X number depends on believing that the Falcon 9/Dragon can actually deliver 14,592lb someplace besides their website. But an interesting question, if it can really deliver that much payload up mass, why did Space X only sign up to deliver 3,667 lbs. per flight in the contract”

    SpaceX did not sign up to deliver exactly 3,667lbs per flight. That figure does not appear in their contract. The mass figure that SpaceX signed up for and that appears in their contract is 20 metric tons (or 26,455lbs) over a dozen flights:

    http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2008/dec/HQ_C08-069_ISS_Resupply.html

    They’re not going to hit 2,205lbs (26,455lbs divided by 12 flights — or 3,667lbs or whatever figure we artificially calculate) exactly each flight. Some flights, like CRS-1 currently aloft, are going to be less. Some are going to be more, much more, and push the limits of Falcon 9/Dragon’s capabilities.

    The same is true of any mode of transportation. The average car has to handle anywhere from 1-5 people, depending on how many kids are being driven to school during that day’s commute. The average subway has to handle anywhere from zero to hundreds of people, depending on whether it’s operating at peak weekday rush hour or in the wee hours of Sunday night.

    “and actually deliver only 882 lbs. in their first operational flight?”

    You’re being obtuse. Different materials have different densities. A cubic meter of cotton, a cubic meter of water, and a cubic meter of steel have different masses. Clearly, for CRS-1, ISS cargo needs/availability fell on the lighter end of the spectrum. For later CRS flights, ISS cargo needs/availability will obviously have to fall on the heavier end of the spectrum if NASA is to fully utilize the 20 metric ton figure they put in the SpaceX contract.

    Regardless, within the limits of Falcon 9/Dragon capabilities, the exact payload mass lofted on each CRS flight is driven by ISS cargo needs and availability, not by arbitrarily dividing the total mass on the contract by the number of flights. Our anal-retentive, grade-school math does not reflect the realities of ISS cargo needs and availability.

    “Nothing I said was ‘disingenuous and misleading’ and I cherry picked no numbers.”

    If you’re not cherry picking and not trying to be misleading, then why are you trying to represent Shuttle’s annual budget with one of its last years of operation, when the program was shutting down and costs were falling accordingly?

    If you’re not cherry picking and not trying to be misleading, then why are you omitting civil servant and overhead costs from your Shuttle figures?

    If you’re not cherry picking and not trying to be misleading, then why are you trying to represent Falcon 9/Dragon’s per unit mass costs using only one mission with a low mass-to-volume?

    If you’re not cherry picking and not trying to be misleading, then why are you using a fixed, artificial, average upmass per flight as the yardstick for Falcon 9/Dragon performance under CRS when the upmass on each CRS flight will be determined by ISS needs?

    Either you’re cherry picking your data in an attempt to mislead or you’re ignorant and dense. It’s one or the other. Unlike the other poster who implied the latter, I think you’re doing the former. But you can pick your poison.

    “The way this is going by spring you are going to have to be claiming the cost of a Shuttle launch was $3 Billion per flight.”

    You actually can generate a figure like that for Shuttle if you cherry-picked the few years when Shuttle only managed one or a couple launches. But I’m not cherry-picking data for Shuttle. I’m using the average over the life-cycle of the program from Byerly and Pielke’s work.

  • Vladislaw

    Spaceflight Now has a manifest of what the Dragon carried:
    http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/004/returnmanifest.html

    “Launch Cargo 1,673 pounds (1,995 pounds w/ packaging)

    Crew supplies (163 pounds)
    Crew preference items
    Official flight kit items
    ESA PAO items

    Flight crew equipment
    Utilization payloads (866 pounds for NASA, ESA, JAXA)
    Double Cold Bags – Five cold bags used to refrigerate samples for transport.

    UMS – Urine Monitoring System (UMS) is designed to collect an individual urine void, gently separate liquid from air, accurately measure the liquid volume of the urine, allow sample packaging, and discharge remaining urine into the Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC).

    MELFI EU – Electronics unit for Minus Eighty-degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI), an ultra-cold storage unit for experiment samples.

    GLACIER – General Laboratory Active Cryogenic ISS Experiment Refrigerator

    BioLab – Biological Experiment Laboratory in Columbus (BioLab) is a multiuser research facility located in the European Columbus laboratory. It will be used to perform space biology experiments on microorganisms, cells, tissue cultures, small plants, and small invertebrates.

    Energy – Astronaut’s Energy Requirements for Long-Term Space Flight (Energy) wil measures changes in energy balance in crew members.

    CSPINS – Dynamism of Auxin Efflux Facilitators, CsPINs, Responsible for Gravity-regulated Growth and Development in Cucumber (CsPINs) uses cucumber seedlings to analyze the effect of gravity on gravimorphogenesis (peg formation) in cucumber plants.

    Hicari – Materials science investigation Growth of Homogeneous SiGe Crystals in Microgravity by the TLZ Method (Hicari) aims to verify crystal-growth by traveling liquidous zone method, and to produce high-quality crystals of silicon-germanium (SiGe) semiconductor using the Japanese Experiment Module-Gradient Heating Furnace (JEM-GHF).

    Marangoni – Marangoni convection is the flow driven by the presence of a surface tension gradient which can be produced by temperature difference at a liquid/gas interface.

    Resist Tubule – Role of Microtubule-Membrane-Cell Wall Continuum in Gravity Resistance in Plants (Resist Wall) investigation was conducted to determine the importance of the structural connections between microtubules, plasma membrane, and the cell wall as the mechanism of gravity resistance.

    MICROBE III – Microbe-III experiment monitors microbes on board the ISS which may affect the health of crew members.

    MYCO – Mycological evaluation of crew exposure to ISS ambient air (Myco) evaluates the risk of microorganisms via inhalation and adhesion to the skin to determine which fungi act as allergens.

    IPU Power Supply Module – Image Processing Unit (IPU) is a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) subrack facility that receives, records, and downlinks experiment image data for experiment processing.
    Vehicle hardware (518 pounds)
    CHeCS – Crew Health Care System (Compound Specific Analyzer-Combustion Products)

    ECLSS – Fluids Control and Pump Assembly; Catalytic Reactor; Hydrogen sensor

    CSA-Camera Light Pan Tilt Assembly

    Electrical Power System

    Pump package for JAXA

    Cabin filter and ATV cabin fan for ESA
    Computers resources (11 pounds)

    Russian cargo (44 pounds)

    Spacewalk hardware (68 pounds)

    EMU hardware and gloves for previous crew members “

    2000 pounds went up almost that much is coming down. That 800 pound number is pretty freakin’ misleading.

    You should take a look at the GLACIER freezer unit, I can not imagine that not needing more packing weight then the actual unit weighs.
    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/GLACIER.html

  • Coastal Ron

    joe wrote @ October 17th, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Only a few weeks ago it was supposedly $1.2 Billion. Now it is $1.5 Billion.

    According to Pielke, if you don’t consider DDT&E, then historically it averaged $1.2B per flight. If you add in the DDT&E, then it is $1.5B.

    Oh, and NASA pretty much agrees with his numbers.

  • joe

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ October 18th, 2012 at 1:02 am
    “It remains a fact that Shuttle cost $1.5 billion per launch over the life of the program. The figure comes from Drs. Byerly and Pielke, who have tracked and projected Shuttle costs for 20-odd years. Here’s the Houston Chronicle source again, along with Pielke’s blog entry on the Nature article that generated the Chronicle source and a related Forbes article”

    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/admin/publication_files/2003.05.pdf

    The above is a post to an editorial Professor Byerly wrote in January 2003. Ordinarily I would not go back to a source that old, but he still has a link to it prominently displayed on his website.

    You will notice that he claims to be supporting a direct Human Mars Mission until he gets near the end of the article. Then toward the bottom of the next to the last column he “pulls the hook” saying “if Mars lacks support go to plan B” (of course a human Mars program did not have support in 2003 any more than it does now). Therefore his “plan B” is obviously his real objective. Here is how he then describes “plan B”: “…focus on space science, aeronautics: Phase out the Space Shuttle, the International Spaces Station, and other unjustifiable programs, and several related NASA centers, such as Marshall, Johnson, most of Kennedy; cutting roughly half of the U.S. space agency’s budget.”

    Notice that ends all American HSF activity – period.

    I will leave it to the individual reader to decide for themselves if the good professor is a neutral economist seeking data or and anti HSF activist seeking to construct a polemic.

    Given that a number of the local posters seem (at times at least) to agree with Byerly about wanting to end American HSF, remember the question is not whether or not you want to see an end to all American HSF activity, but whether or not you believe the professor is being honest about his motives.

  • joe

    Vladislaw wrote @ October 18th, 2012 at 10:40 am
    Spaceflight Now has a manifest of what the Dragon carried:

    http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/004/returnmanifest.html

    “Launch Cargo 1,673 pounds (1,995 pounds w/ packaging)

    Actually the very first paragraph says: ” NOTE: On its first operational resupply flight to the International Space Station, the Dragon spacecraft will launch with 882 pounds of crew supplies, experiments and spare parts.”

    Your 1673 figure is proposed dwon mass.

  • joe

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 17th, 2012 at 11:25 pm
    “Next you’ll be telling us that the President of the United States was not really born in the U.S., and that the Republican Governor of Hawaii was in on the cover-up…”

    I realize that it is getting close to an election and people (apparently especially you) are getting really tense, but I have never said anything (on this website or any other) that would justify you (or anyone else) drawing such conclusions. All of my comments here have related to Space X efficiency. You need to get a grip.

  • joe

    pathfinder_01 wrote @ October 18th, 2012 at 12:35 am
    “Sure the shuttle can carry more per launch, but it is meaningless if you don’t need 10MT worth of equipment at once. Progress has been able to supply Russia for years with a crew of 2-3 and it only carries 2MT worth of stuff at most. Dragon’s or Cygnus is way more than enough to keep a space station supplied.”

    Once again I agree with you. If we have so reduced our ambitions in space that they only mean flying out our minimal commitments to the ISS through 2020, then we certainly do not need a vehicle with shuttle like capabilities. It is like using an eighteen wheeler to deliver a package that can be carried on the passenger seat of a compact car.

    What I am saying is, if that is the case, let’s at least be honest about it. Stop all the happy talk about how we are creating a bold, innovative, twenty first century, game changing, paradigm shifting program that is going to reduce the generic cost of space launch dramatically ushering in a new era of private spaceflight. Admit what we are really doing. We are ending the American HSF program (in stages) and as we need less and less capability to meet out constantly shrinking needs we are shrinking those capabilities.

    Trouble is, if that is the case why do we need Space X/Orbital Sciences. It would probably be cheaper to buys the limited launch services required from the Russians and just admit we are abandoning space activities.

  • common sense

    ” It would probably be cheaper to buys the limited launch services required from the Russians and just admit we are abandoning space activities.”

    Great logic.

    Yeah sure rather the Russians than SpaceX or Orbital!!!! After all if we use US companies we are abandoning HSF.

    And I for one like the Russians. At least they can display some character despite what they have been put through.

  • pathfinder_01

    Joe the shuttle was supposed to be more than just HSF. It at one time was supposed to carry all US spacecraft. It failed at being cheaper than an expendable and frankly had it been an unmanned system, it would never have survived past the Challenger Accident. The only reason why the shuttle survived was because having spent billions on the shuttle the country was in no mood to spend billions more to replace the HSF of the shuttle at the time. It limped along even longer due to political inertia. I view this time period as a delayed economization. People do support spaceflight but $3 billion a year should buy a lot more than a few flights a year.

    It’s also a period of transition. When space was deregulated, NASA HSF should have concentrated on finding ways to integrate commercial capacities into HSF- which means a focus on spacecraft instead of rockets. The EELV could have saved all those MPLM shuttle flights(8 of them) and gotten the ISS up sooner. It would have also allowed a smoother transition. Honestly there was no way to transition a system that required 10,000-20,000 workers into a system that only had at most 3,000 per company(ULA). However NASA HSF’s resistance to commercialization in the past has left in a more painful position than it needed to be. Imagine if we had a small space plane able to launch on an EELV that could carry crew and act as a lifeboat or just act as a lifeboat!

    It isn’t the end of human spaceflight, the only capability that the shuttle has that no system can match is large down mass. Dragon brings some down mass and in terms of up mass the EELV can match that. In terms of on orbit assembly the space station itself could do that (or you could launch a small contruction stack).

    The plan was to use the shuttle to service the ISS…4 flights a year(which is almost a normal launch year). 4 flights a year would pretty much tie up the shuttle.

    “Trouble is, if that is the case why do we need Space X/Orbital Sciences. It would probably be cheaper to buys the limited launch services required from the Russians and just admit we are abandoning space activities.”
    Because they are not domestic. Because Progress cannot carry as much as Dragon or Cgynus. Because the Russians can only produce so many Soyuz and Progress a year(they share an assembly line). Because Flying the shuttle another 20 years is unrealistic esp. after the Columbia accident. Because we are not abandoning spaceflight, we are retooling.

    “We are ending the American HSF program (in stages) and as we need less and less capability to meet out constantly shrinking needs we are shrinking those capabilities.”

    In terms of the shuttle it’s needs had been shrinking since 1986! After Challenger Regan banned commercial launches from the shuttle. That relegated the shuttle to the role of a psedo spacestation for science. Once the ISS was built you no longer needed the shuttle for the manned zero-g research (an experiment on the ISS could last years, one on the shuttle is limited to 2 weeks). The shuttle often flew with an very empty cargo bay. In short part of the reason why the thing was so expensive is that it was oversized for the role (and rendered even more oversized by moving commercial and miltary launcher over to the ELV. ).

    There is an old song called Ford has made a lady out of lizzy. It is about the model T. The model T might have been a great car, but if Ford had continued making it, he would have run out of business. He laid off his entire work force to retool his plants to make the model A. While it was ugly for the worker, it would have been even uglier for Ford had it not updated.

    Even locally political forces had prevented the EL from updating till the CTA take over. The CTA closed lines and stations, but Chicago got a El system that was relevant to the age of the auto vs. One that had mostly been built to compete with horse carriage and electric street cars owned by other companies. It sound ugly but they closed about ¼ of the system at the time(it was latter extended to places that parts of the old system did not serve).

    I view the shuttle as something like the Great Eastern. A ship perhaps too far ahead of it’s time that did some remarkable work and showed what NOT to do also.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Therefore his ‘plan B’ is obviously his real objective.”

    You’re putting words in Byerly’s mouth that are not in his editorial. In his own words, he desires “a better space program” than Shuttle/ISS and offers two possibilities, one a manned Mars exploration program and the other a better funded unmanned space exploration program. Byerly expresses no preference between the two.

    “I will leave it to the individual reader to decide for themselves if the good professor is a neutral economist seeking data or and anti HSF activist seeking to construct a polemic.”

    An “anti HSF [sic] activist” is not invited to write encyclopedia articles on the Challenger and Columbia accidents or on NASA (especially for an encyclopedia on technology and ethics):

    http://find.galegroup.com/gic/infomark.do?contentSet=EBKS&docType=EBKS.Article&idigest=fb720fd31d9036c1ed2d1f3a0500fcc2&type=retrieve&tabID=T001&prodId=GIC&docId=CX3434900645&userGroupName=itsbtrial&version=1.0&searchType=BasicSearchForm&source=gale

    http://find.galegroup.com/gic/retrieve.do?qrySerId=&inPS=true&prodId=GIC&userGroupName=itsbtrial&tabID=T001&searchId=&searchType=BasicSearchForm&contentSet=EBKS&relatedDocId=3434900447

    Nor is an “anti HSF [sic] activist” invited to edit major collections of space policy issue papers from tens of contributors:

    sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/…/space_policy_alternatives_contents.pdf

    sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/…/space_policy_considered_contents.pdf

    And even if Byerly is an “anti HSF [sic] activist”, he and Pielke’s numbers come straight from NASA’s annual budget submissions, the CAIB report, OMB budget deflators, and the Shuttle manifest. There may be something you want to debate in Byerly’s opinions, but there’s nothing to debate about Shuttle launch costs using these primary sources.

    “Given that a number of the local posters seem (at times at least) to agree with Byerly about wanting to end American HSF”

    Googaw is the only poster here who wants to “end American HSF” (in favor of satellite applications). I think everyone else would like a vibrant program making obvious progress and generating clear benefits. But the traditional way that the U.S. has approached human space flight has not produced such a program. Case in point, it’s beginning to leak that SLS is facing another schedule slip into 2018, its second year-long slip in as many years:

    “SLS is currently scheduled to launch in 2017, but recently started to show signs it will slip into 2018 – even at this early stage of development – after a core stage design issue was revealed.”

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/10/atlas-v-saa-milestones-preparation-crewed-launches/

    Some or most of us are dissatisfied with the lack of progress in NASA’s human space flight program currently and historically and the enormous sums of taxpayer money being spent to generate so little in benefits. But that doesn’t mean we oppose human space flight. The two are not synonymous. We could have a (much) better program.

    “whether or not you believe the professor is being honest about his motives.”

    Someone who cherry picks data and falsely accuses another individual of being an “anti HSF [sic] activist” really shouldn’t be questioning other people’s motives.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Some or most of us are dissatisfied with the lack of progress in NASA’s human space flight program currently and historically and the enormous sums of taxpayer money being spent to generate so little in benefits.”

    Amen. I could buy an argument that NASA needed its own launch system if they used their launcher a lot say the shuttle had flown 10 times a year (or more). However 4-6 manned flights to the ISS could be handled by using existing rockets. And BEO spaceflight by it nature is going to be something done rarely (you are not going to afford moon landings like you could shuttle flight). You should build systems that take thoose considerations in mind. However they choose political considerations far over practical ones. Sure it is nice to have something politically catchy, but it also needs to be something that can be done within a reasonable timeframe and budget.

    You could do a fair amount with Orion and exsisting EELV if they choose to. You could develop exsisitng launcher into a HLV if they wanted to. They could even have gone for prop depot technology and/or SEP but instead they are attempting to develop a rocket(something industry could do by itself).

  • joe

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ October 18th, 2012 at 11:57 pm
    “You’re putting words in Byerly’s mouth that are not in his editorial.”

    No I quoted his own words from his own editorial accurately. The editorial is a classic “bait and switch”. Published in Space News (an industry publication – where it can be presumed most readers will be pro space) he first offers them a grand vision of Human Mars Missions, then at the very end he changes course

    “In his own words, he desires “a better space program” than Shuttle/ISS and offers two possibilities, one a manned Mars exploration program and the other a better funded unmanned space exploration program.”

    No he was not holding out the prospect of a “better funded unmanned space exploration program”. Just to repeat his words: “…focus on space science, aeronautics: Phase out the Space Shuttle, the International Spaces Station, and other unjustifiable programs, and several related NASA centers, such as Marshall, Johnson, most of Kennedy; cutting roughly half of the U.S. space agency’s budget.”

    If you intend “cutting roughly half of the U.S. space agency’s budget” that means any money “saved” by cancelling the entire HSF program would come out of NASA’s budget not be transferred to unmanned projects. Plan B according to Byerly (his words not mine) was to completely eliminate the HSF program take that money out of NASA and give unmanned projects absolutely nothing extra.

    “An “anti HSF [sic] activist” is not invited to write encyclopedia articles…”

    “Nor is an “anti HSF [sic] activist” invited to edit major collections of space policy issue papers…”

    The idea that a politically motivated academic never gets to write “encyclopedia articles” or “edit major collections of space policy issue papers” is countered by the practical experience of any one who follows general news. How many times have we all seen some esteemed professors representing highly reputable organizations present dueling studies supposedly proving diametrically opposed points?

    I do not begrudge Byerly the right to make his case (even if he has to “cook the books” to do it). I do maintain that anyone who wants to be well informed and think for themselves should know where the good professor is coming from.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “No I quoted his own words from his own editorial accurately.”

    I’m not doubting your quotes. I’m doubting your conclusion that Byerly prefers one option over the other. He never states such in the editorial. It’s an inference you’re making that has no basis in what Byerly has actually written.

    “No he was not holding out the prospect of a ‘better funded unmanned space exploration program’.”

    Yes, he did. In that editorial, Byerly wrote:

    “After space science demonstrates exciting results within budget it can argue for growth.”

    You’re selectively quoting (and make accusations about intent where none is apparent in the actual text) as much as you cherry-pick data.

    “The idea that a politically motivated academic never gets to write ‘encyclopedia articles’ or ‘edit major collections of space policy issue papers’ is countered by the practical experience of any one who follows general news. How many times have we all seen some esteemed professors representing highly reputable organizations present dueling studies supposedly proving diametrically opposed points?”

    None of which means that Byerly is the “anti HSF [sic] activist” that you accuse him of being.

    And again, if Byerly has an “activist” axe to grind against NASA’s human space flight program, other people in positions of responsibility are not going to invite him to write articles about the most sensitive of NASA human space flight topics (Challenger and Columbia) or edit major space policy tomes with a couple dozen contributers. Your accusations about Byerly’s suppossed agenda require tens of other editors and contributors to share his agenda. It strains credulity that such a conspiracy against “American human space flight” is afoot among so many who write on space policy.

    “I do not begrudge Byerly the right to make his case (even if he has to ‘cook the books’ to do it).”

    If Byerly has “cooked the books”, then you should be able to challenge his data. You’ve provided no such evidence. Stop throwing false accusations about Byerly’s motives, and prove your case quantitatively. If you can’t, then you’ve lost the debate.

    Debate the man’s argument, not the man.

  • joe

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ October 19th, 2012 at 12:51 pm
    “Yes, he did. In that editorial, Byerly wrote:
    “After space science demonstrates exciting results within budget it can argue for growth.””

    They could argue for whatever they want (if they demonstrate “exciting results within budget”) but when as Byerly says the money “saved” from cancelling the HSF program is removed from the NASA Budget (“cutting roughly half of the U.S. space agency’s budget”) there will be no money to give them unless it is taken away from aeronautics (the only other remaining part of NASA under the Byerly Plan B).

    “And again, if Byerly has an “activist” axe to grind against NASA’s human space flight program, other people in positions of responsibility are not going to invite him to write articles about the most sensitive of NASA human space flight topics (Challenger and Columbia) or edit major space policy tomes with a couple dozen contributers.”

    There is no conspiracy needed Byerly shares an ideological position shared by many in academia since the days of the Apollo Project. His position is just natural background to them.

    This conversation is going nowhere. I will leave you (and others) two questions to ponder. If the positions that Byerly expressed in the editorial had come to pass NASA would be approximately half the size it is now:
    - There would be no HSF Program but there would be no extra money for robotics either. So what would you do to improve robotic exploration, rob money from aeronautics research?
    - There would be no ISS (remember he wanted it shut down as well). So there would be no goal for anything like commercial crew/cargo. What rationales (if any) would you be using to attempt to justify them?

  • common sense

    ” I will leave you (and others)”

    Oh thank Lord!

    “two questions to ponder. ”

    He’ll be back…

    Oh well.

  • joe

    common sense wrote @ October 19th, 2012 at 2:23 pm
    “He’ll be back…”

    If there is something pertinent to be said on another topic.
    Glad you are looking forward to it.

  • common sense

    @ joe wrote @ October 19th, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    “Glad you are looking forward to it.”

    Well. Allow my surprise. But I am glad we are making progress. See I always look forward to different views. I wish though yours would not be as fact-less as they often are. I would rather debate you a lot more on facts. I understand the emotional content of the current status of our space program(s) but we can lament forever or go forward. I chose to go forward. Can you?

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “If the positions that Byerly expressed in the editorial had come to pass NASA would be approximately half the size it is now:”

    That’s not a foregone conclusion.

    What killed SEI was it’s pricetag — the piling of one uncompleted, multi-ten billion dollar human space flight project on top of another until decisionmakers were looking at a half-trillion dollar effort — not the Mars goal. In Byerly’s editorial, he replaces STS/ISS with humans-to-Mars, instead of piling their budgets on top of each other, and restricts the effort to the $7 billion per year STS/ISS budget wedge, instead of expecting the White House and Congress to fund major NASA budget increases annually ad infinitum.

    In doing so, Byerly removes the major argument against SEI.

    “- There would be no HSF Program but there would be no extra money for robotics either. So what would you do to improve robotic exploration, rob money from aeronautics research?”

    Egregious cost estimating, poor management, multi-year slips, and multi-billion dollar overruns on flagship projects from MSL to JWST offer many, big opportunities to improve robotic exploration/science. In planetary exploration alone, the competitive Discovery and New Frontiers Programs offers a proven and much better model for encouraging mission innovation and selecting missions that will perform to budget and schedule than assigning a flagship to a NASA field center in the absence of competition. New capabilities are also coming to the fore, like the Red/Ice Dragon study, that could dramatically drop the cost of getting missions to planets and allow more missions within the existing budget profile.

    “- There would be no ISS (remember he wanted it shut down as well). So there would be no goal for anything like commercial crew/cargo. What rationales (if any) would you be using to attempt to justify them?”

    There was no ISS for the first decade and a half of the Space Shuttle program. You don’t need a space station or other destination to justify a human space flight capability, whether its government or commercial. If there was a need to start reconstituting a human space flight capability down the line, there’s no reason that NASA couldn’t rapidly do so with DragonLab and Dragon equivalents. And if a space station was needed after that, Sundancer equivalents could also be rapidly fielded.

    It’s actually an attractive hypothetical — zero out the Apollo/Shuttle infrastructure and workforce that requires ~$7-8 billion per year no matter what it does — and then rebuild it for pennies on the dollar half a decade later with competed, commercial elements.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

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