Congress

Rohrabacher formally enters the House Science Committee chairmanship race

A day after Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) formally declared his interest in becoming the next chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, another candidate threw his hat into the ring. On Thursday, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) declared his interest in the position, as expected, joining Sensenbrenner and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).

Rohrabacher, whose experience on the committee includes eight years as chairman of the space subcommittee, said space would be a priority for him if selected as chairman, specifically, “making certain NASA has a real, achievable plan for near-term human space exploration.” Rohrabacher is best known as a staunch advocate of commercial space and critical of big government programs, including the Space Launch System (SLS). In past statements, such as a press release about the administration’s fiscal year 2013 budget request, he likened the SLS to the Titanic and said that “continuing to shovel resources into the SLS money pit is a travesty.”

Rohrabacher also makes the case in his statement for the chairmanship by noting his experience on the committee: “Going into the 113th Congress, Rep. Rohrabacher will have the most years of active experience on the Committee, excluding those who have already been Chairman.” Of course, one of the other members seeking the chairmanship, Sensenbrenner, served as chairman of the committee from 1997 until 2001.

92 comments to Rohrabacher formally enters the House Science Committee chairmanship race

  • Dark Blue Nine

    All three are lousy choices from a space policy/industry viewpoint. Hall is an unprincipled, parochial legislator from the old school (literally, he’s 89), and has helped pushed billions in SLS/MPCV taxpayer dollars to Texas while doing his best to suppress commercial cargo/crew. Sensenbrenner helped move satellite export control from Commerce to State, doing great harm to the competitiveness of the U.S. industry and giving foreign firms a built-in competitive advantage. And Rohrbacher, despite his verbal support for commercial space, has been utterly ineffective in getting anything material done in this area for more than a decade.

    I don’t know who a good alternative would be, but the current choice is between awful (Hall), bad (Sensenbrenner), and useless (Rohrbacher). Not much of a choice.

  • “And Rohrbacher, despite his verbal support for commercial space, has been utterly ineffective in getting anything material done in this area for more than a decade.”
    Because his influence was suppressed by each committee chairman one after the other of whom had an opposite stance from him. If given the chairmanship, he would then have a bully pulpit and more influence to get things done.

  • josh

    rohrabacher is the only one who knows what he is talking about, i.e. the only competent candidate. sensenbrenner and smith don’t have a clue and/or are in the pocket of big aerospace.

  • Al Fansome

    Hall (Ralph Hall) is not a candidate. Rep. Hall has served 6 years as Chairman, and is now term limited out of the Chairmanship.

    The three candidates are Lamar Smith (TX), James Sensenbrenner (WI) and Dana Rohrabacher (CA).

    I don’t see how you can say Rohrabacher is “useless”, when he has been the biggest champion in the House for COTS, which is the ONE bright shining success in space policy these days. When the House Republican Conference takes a look at choosing among these three gentlemen, they should look at:

    1) Which of them has supported “effective” policies like COTS. Look to the facts. When the fight was going on over COTS (and Commercial Crew), what did each of the three candidates say and do?

    2) Which of them has a credible plan to help get our national space agenda back on course, within the existing (and perhaps reduced) budgets.

    These are the right questions for a real Republican party, which cares about enabling and supporting commercial industry, and about our nation’s future in space.

    FWIW,

    - Al

  • Robert G. Oler

    This is the same committee Tod Akin was on right? So sad we will not his “expertise” to fall back on…

    Dana would in my view be the best choice…give him a chance to see if he really is one of us RGO

  • Dark Blue Nine

    AF: “I don’t see how you can say Rohrabacher is “useless”, when he has been the biggest champion in the House for COTS”

    I say it because his support has resulted in nothing material. No legislation. No amendments. No budget increase. No protection from budget cuts. He’s ineffectual.

    This goes back years and years. Rohrbacher once sponsored an amendment to split X-33 into two competing projects. He failed to show up on the floor when his amendment came to a vote. Needless to say, it went nowhere.

    AF: “1) Which of them has supported “effective” policies like COTS. Look to the facts. When the fight was going on over COTS (and Commercial Crew), what did each of the three candidates say and do?”

    Sure, I like what Rohrbacher has to say, and he makes a great gadfly. But his support is limited to press releases and verbal statements. “Do” isn’t part of his vocabulary, at least on this issue. I admit that I don’t have a better suggestion, but I’d prefer someone who can actually get something done.

    AF: “2) Which of them has a credible plan to help get our national space agenda back on course, within the existing (and perhaps reduced) budgets.”

    None of them has presented a plan for NASA (or anything else), and they won’t. They don’t need to to get the chair.

    Rohrbacher is only the least bad of three awful options.

    RB: “Because his influence was suppressed by each committee chairman one after the other of whom had an opposite stance from him. If given the chairmanship, he would then have a bully pulpit and more influence to get things done.”

    Maybe, but I doubt it given his track record.

    Not that I expect the other two to produce an authorization bill, either, given their outstanding legislative achievements…

  • common sense

    Just FWIW.

    It is not that important to have the right plan. What is important is to make it happen. If Rohrbacher had no influence until now, what makes you think he will now? How effective a chairman can he be if no one listens? Politics is not about committees, not only. It is about the ability to make deals. Anyone watched “Charlie Wilson’s War” movie? We need a space policy Charlie Wilson type but such a person would not care less about space. How much political capital would any one of them expand on space policies and why? I do not believe for a second that whoever will get the Chairmanship will be that effective if the likes of Nelson, Shelby or Hutchison are around.

    What matters is power, hence money, hence votes, and conversely.

    For anything else you have Master Card.

    • Fred Willett

      Charlie Wilson’s influence came because of where he sat in the committee system

      • common sense

        I won’t disagree with you of course but I think what was highlighted, in the movie anyway, is the ability of Wilson to make deals, not so much the fact he was seating on different committees. Okay actually both. But I just watched the movie recently again and I enjoyed the questions as to why *he* could get those deals as a not so significant politician. And he replies something like he was able to give a lot of “yes” since his constituents would not care one way or another. Hence the power. And his power was applied to things quite more important than NASA or space politics in general. So where is the Charlie Wilson for NASA and Space we need? Until you have some one like Wilson all the others are going to do whatever it is they please.

        FWIW and YMMV all at once ;)

  • Vladislaw

    Can anyone on this committee get something done? Is there enough room, budget wise, to do serious horsetrading for votes? It is not a approprations committee and NASA’s budget is only big enough to be an asterick, if it is represented at all, on budget graphs.

    If all three are ineffectual, then at least I want the want who, at the very least, is verbally advocating what I want. Lamar Smith and James Sensenbrenner and I share VERY LITTLE of policy, that I am aware of.

    Dana at least fought to get the data on fuel depots made public and they did. It makes for the base of a good arguement when it is time to defund SLS.

  • Coastal Ron

    Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, and I agree with Vladislaw on this – Rohrabacher has publicly advocated for fuel depots and commercial transportation, and been publicly against the SLS. That’s good enough for me.

    Look, no politician of any flavor is perfect, so I’m more concerned about the broad strokes here, which strongly points to Rohrabacher.

    In any case, Sensenbrenner appears to be a grownup version of a petulant child, and Lamar Smith is more interested in taking away personal rights and collecting donations from the beer and wine lobbies to be interested in what’s a cost-effective plan for our efforts in space.

    However logic doesn’t enter into the equation for who gets picked for the position, so likely it will not be Rohrabacher…

  • Robert G. Oler

    well timing is everything….wont the House reorganize itself next year? IE dont the standing committee chairs serve until the new Congress? If so most of the fireworks will be over and a lot of the things will be done deals by Jan…

    What have I missed here? RGO

  • DCSCA

    The lasr thing this committee needs is a donosaur chairing it.

    • Coastal Ron

      What is a “donosaur”, and is it the petulant man-child or the closet wino?

      • Well, a “Donorsaur” would be all those billionaires who poured money into the Romney campaign. :-)

        (Sorry, Jeff, couldn’t resist.)

        Space.com is reporting (via Yahoo News) that the Obama administration is about to formally announce the L-2 mission as a go:

        http://news.yahoo.com/nasa-may-unveil-manned-moon-missions-soon-230049291.html

        Kinda doubt Rohrabacher would support it. Sensenbrenner would as he thinks NASA is a waste of money. Smith would support it because he sees jobs in Houston.

        • Egad

          Smith would support it because he sees jobs in Houston.

          Probably that’s right, though Smith’s own District 21 is only mildly spacey.

          http://lamarsmith.house.gov/district/interactivemap.htm

          I get the impression that he, FWIW, might have some actual interest in science stuff. Again, FWIW.

        • Robert G. Oler

          Here is the line (I added the caps)

          “The new plans have PROBABLY already been cleared with the Obama Administration but have been kept under wraps in case Republican candidate Mitt Romney won Tuesday night’s (Nov. 6) presidential election, said space policy expert John Logsdon, a professor emeritus at George Washington University.”

          more “faith based” politics

          The ONLY way this sees the light of day is as a shiney toy to distract the need to kill SLS and Orion (but certainly SLS)…because if they announce this there is no money to do this…and hence well SLS has to go (besides it is over budget and already off schedule…end of 2018 now which wont even put it in Obama’s second term)

          Look it is not that hard to see where things are going.

          The GOP got flattened at the polls (had it not been for gerry mandering the House would have likely gone Blue), their notions rejected and the mechanisms are in place to do it all…the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of the year and Sequestration is coming…and really is not that bad…

          Plus the House will give Obama a whipping boy to beat up on…namely itself as it lurches into a sort of “permanent denial” phase about what the election illustrated on behalf of the American people.

          most of the right wing needs serious deprogramming THESE FOOLS bought the lines about a landslide and “Mitmentum” and the babble by the adults like Barone (we have Brother Mark W on this) and Will…all “faith based” politics.

          In the end SLS will go and probably Orion; we will start building some modules to go on ISS and Obama is about to announce (well next year) some deal to bring India for instance in on the space station..probably through a Bigelow module and the Nautilus X effort.

          AS for chair…Dana then Smith. Sennsy is an idiot. He is stuck in the faith based world RGO

    • Googaw

      Well said. Like Gingrich, Rohrbacher has been getting his space advice from sci-fi-addled crackpots who have filled his head with retro-futuristic fantasies. Imaginary markets-of-the-future and “infrastructure” that serves only vacuum. If Rohrbacher kicked his recent space advisors out the door and started listening to people in actual, financially self-sufficient space industries like communications, then he’d make a good choice to promote space commerce. As it stands he’s just promoting yet more wasteful pork and damaging financially sound space commerce under duplicitous pseudo-libertarian language.

  • E.P. Grondine

    AS I’ve said before, Musk waas going to do what he was going to do, and just needed a level playing field and no obstacles.

    I want to start by pointing out that Rohrabachgr kept the big boys(including ATK) from screwing with Musk’s startup. That’s far from “useless or “ineffective”. As I pointed out before, he was able to work with Bush4, Griffin, and Obama. Clearly he is able to work both sides of the aisle.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi DBN –

    “I say it because his support has resulted in nothing material. No legislation. No amendments ”

    Factually wrong. Rohrabhser worked both sides of the aisle to get the George Brown Jr. amendment passed, amending NASA’s charter to find the next piece of stuff from space before it hits. Obama’s OSTP still has a report due to the Congress, which should have been delivered in September.

    He and his colleagues moved that through the House and Senate, and Griffin hated it. That’s a pretty good endorsement right there.

  • E.P. Grondine

    First off, the news. The EU has expressed interest in building the support module for Orion.

    Let’s say ATK calls in its chips, and the GOP will continue to try to prevent anything from being done, in other words they hate bi-parisan efforts.

    Rohrabacher is blocked.

    I met another private pilot forced to give up flying because of the insurance mess. Sen. Dole worked this before bi-partisanly. It desperately needs more to be done. Perhaps Hall might do the same, and preserve our freedom of the air.

    • E.P. Grondine

      Correction: Rep. Smith, not Hall.
      RGO, you are more current on the GA industry than I am, you want to try to bring others here up to speed on it?

      • Robert G. Oler

        E.P. I am happy to discuss the General Aviation industry including insurance…my insurance situation is not typical for most pilots; I have 16000 hours, 12000 hours turbojet of weights from 500K to 13000, 7000 or so hours as an instructor pilot in flight and simulation; a graduate of the Navy Test Pilots school..a designated examiner with an FAA number (not a PPE) CFII/MEI….its not hard for me to get insurance…it is actually quite cheap for me. RGO

        • E.P. Grondine

          RGO –

          Thanks, because someone needs to inform the space “enthusiasts” and their reporters about the “difficulties” facing the GA industry.

          (Do you ever use an Ercoupe to get to airports?)

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “First off, the news. The EU has expressed interest in building the support module for Orion.”

      Not true.

      To date, despite the confidence of the ESA Director-General, the ESA member states have yet to sign off on the project, forget the EU.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19920265

      Moreover, the agreement is for only one service module in 2017 (probably later given that SLS is slipping at least another year). There’s no production to support multiple flights. Even if ESA’s member states agree to fund an ATV-derived service module, it won’t sustain an ongoing human space exploration program. It will only support an Apollo 8-type unmanned flight of MPCV around the Moon, and then MPCV will be stuck in LEO again.

  • common sense

    “The EU has expressed interest in building the support module for Orion.”

    Now we’re saved. Great.

    But just to put things in perspective. The Service (not “support”) Module will be designed with what version of the MPCV? On what launcher?

    My friend you really need to understand that those efforts must be concurrent. Until there is a time when they define the LV for Orion all of this is just vaperware. And therefore it does not matter for anyone to “express interest”. Nothing. Then of course remain the task of system integration for which NASA has absolutely no expertise. None. When was it they assemble such a large system of systems across the US, let alone across continents. ISS? If you think that ISS was difficult then you have no idea what it is to do the same thing for a LV/RV/LAS vehicle…

    Just watch the whole thing die a slow death.

    FWIW, Europe will never commit to anything like this. Especially the way it is being currently done here…

  • Coastal Ron

    OT, but if ESA is going to build a Service Module, then I hope they are smart enough to make it usable for more than just the MPCV. If they do that, then maybe Boeing or SpaceX could use it and cut out the MPCV, which is really just destined to be a glorified lifeboat.

    Or, if ESA can get just a little ambitious, then they could build a reusable transport that capsules could dock to that would shuttle between LEO and EM-L1/L2. THAT would be money well spent, and it would provide ESA a niche to support NASA’s plans for the EM-L1/L2.

    • common sense

      What they might use are the subsystems from the SM, not the SM as a whole. The structure(s) must meet the loads on given trajectories. Loads equate with mass and so on and so forth…

      SpaceX will never use it since Elon builds everything in-house. Period.

      Boeing might.

      Europe will never build a LEO-EML transport. Never, ever.

      • Coastal Ron

        common sense said:

        Loads equate with mass and so on and so forth…

        Agreed, but if fuel is available (fuel depots, tankers, etc.), then the extra mass to make a such a vehicle reusable and flexible is acceptable. It is primarily our lack of fuel in space that currently limits the mass of our beyond-LEO systems, not our ability to get mass to space.

        Europe will never build a LEO-EML transport. Never, ever.

        Well, maybe unlikely, but I would never say never.

        But if the ISS partners were able to agree on “the next step” beyond the ISS, then I could see ESA signing up to develop an LEO-EML transport for a NASA-built EML outpost. This gets back to getting everyone to agree to a “Vision”, which in itself a pretty difficult thing to happen, so you may be right. But I hope not.

        SpaceX will never use it since Elon builds everything in-house. Period.

        I don’t think that. So far Musk has done what he sees others not doing, but I don’t see him feeling the need to do everything himself. His desire is to make humanity multi-planetary, and I don’t think he feels the need to do that all by himself. Time will tell.

        • Robert G. Oler

          The EML station has no chance of being built right now RGO

        • common sense

          “Agreed, but if fuel is available (fuel depots, tankers, etc.), then the extra mass to make a such a vehicle reusable and flexible is acceptable. It is primarily our lack of fuel in space that currently limits the mass of our beyond-LEO systems, not our ability to get mass to space.”

          I did not say it is not feasible. I said it needs to be specifically designed for a LV. If you are not familiar with aero and aerothermal loads it may take a little while to explain. However, simply put the drivers for the structure are the max-Q (may dynamic pressure) and max-Q-alpha (max bending moment), for the heating is will max-heating (drives the type of thermal protection system TPS) and max-heat-load (drives the thickness of TPS). I think it is simple enough to understand that the mass you put in your structure is the mass you will not put in you capsule or LAS. So if you do not design specifically to the trajectory(ies) loads then you are not doing a good job for mass bookkeeping.

          “Well, maybe unlikely, but I would never say never.”

          Very safe to say NEVER <<< Note the upper case ;)

          "But if the ISS partners were able to agree on “the next step” beyond the ISS, then I could see ESA signing up to develop an LEO-EML transport for a NASA-built EML outpost. This gets back to getting everyone to agree to a “Vision”, which in itself a pretty difficult thing to happen, so you may be right. But I hope not."

          Let me be pompously presumptuously arrogant. I am right. HSF is not a priority of ESA, never was, never will be.
          "I don’t think that. So far Musk has done what he sees others not doing, but I don’t see him feeling the need to do everything himself. His desire is to make humanity multi-planetary, and I don’t think he feels the need to do that all by himself. Time will tell."

          Oh yes, all by himself. I know it is difficult to convince you just like that. But it is Elon's way. So I would be very, very, VERY surprised otherwise.

          • Coastal Ron

            common sense said:

            I did not say it is not feasible. I said it needs to be specifically designed for a LV. If you are not familiar with aero and aerothermal loads it may take a little while to explain…

            If I recall, the ATV (which I’m assuming would be used as a building block for an LEO-EML transport) is launched within a faring, so I don’t think this is an issue. In fact I’m not even sure why you bring this up, since I wasn’t advocating a bare-bones vehicle structure.

            Let me be pompously presumptuously arrogant.

            I always do… ;-)

            I am right. HSF is not a priority of ESA, never was, never will be.

            There are priorities, and then there are “priorities”. I never said HSF was a “priority” for ESA, but I will point out that they are spending significant amounts of money participating in the ISS, which is HSF.

            Given the right path forward, and given the right combination of costs and national interest, I could see them participating with NASA on the next incremental step beyond LEO – IF they feel it benefits them, AND they feel it has a good chance of “success”, whatever measure they use for that.

            Oh yes, all by himself. I know it is difficult to convince you just like that. But it is Elon’s way. So I would be very, very, VERY surprised otherwise.

            Well we’re both reading tea leaves here, so I’ll let you believe you know better, while I smile knowing I know better. Again, time will tell.

        • Googaw

          It is primarily our lack of fuel in space that currently limits the mass of our beyond-LEO systems, not our ability to get mass to space.

          Yea, there’s no such thing as a budget.

          • Coastal Ron

            Googaw said:

            Yea, there’s no such thing as a budget.”

            It’s cheaper to refuel a vehicle than it is to build a brand new one.

            I know you’re stuck using only one reference model (disposable telecommunications satellites), but most of the real world uses refuel-able & repairable transportation systems.

          • Googaw

            Again Coastal Ron deems himself more of an expert than the people who actually do this for a living, and actually do it in a financially self-sufficient way rather than perpetually begging for government handouts. There are very good reasons comsat people do things the way they do, rather than investing in your doll house “infrastructure.” One of them is basic financial arithmetic which you refuse to do.

        • common sense

          “If I recall, the ATV (which I’m assuming would be used as a building block for an LEO-EML transport) is launched within a faring, so I don’t think this is an issue. In fact I’m not even sure why you bring this up, since I wasn’t advocating a bare-bones vehicle structure.”

          Unclear if the ATV would qualify, but as I told you they have plans that date back several years to turn it into a crewed capsule. Well just like SLS/MPCV plans they do have. But that’s about it. The most likely crewed vehicle is a Soyuz launch from French Guyana… We shall see.

          “There are priorities, and then there are “priorities”. I never said HSF was a “priority” for ESA, but I will point out that they are spending significant amounts of money participating in the ISS, which is HSF.”

          Yes but ISS is not HSF. See there is HSF and then there is HSF ;) HSF is a political of soft power left over from the Cold War. And we were all together in defeating the USSR and making sure they would just not go right away to helping Iran and the likes…

          “Given the right path forward, and given the right combination of costs and national interest, I could see them participating with NASA on the next incremental step beyond LEO – IF they feel it benefits them, AND they feel it has a good chance of “success”, whatever measure they use for that.”

          Oh come on. How many IFs do you really need before you realize it won’t be? I thought you were a savvy businessman ;) NASA is not doing any incremental anything toward BEO. They have no budget for that. Now IF ;) they cancel SLS/MPCV then maybe something is possible… But we are so far from anything like that…

          “Well we’re both reading tea leaves here, so I’ll let you believe you know better, while I smile knowing I know better. Again, time will tell.”

          Okay for you to know better than I means a couple of things to me. You are *currently* associated with SpaceX one way or another. Or you are Elon!!! I suspect though that you are not Elon for some strange reason that I only know. ;) So I will stick to my comment but you are welcome to believe otherwise. We shall see.

          • Coastal Ron

            common sense said:

            Oh come on. How many IFs do you really need before you realize it won’t be? I thought you were a savvy businessman

            Being a savvy business person has nothing to do with how our space program runs – it’s all political, just as all the national space programs are. The SLS even proves that logic isn’t even involved.

            As to the “IFs”, the future of our efforts in space is all a bunch of “IFs”, haven’t you noticed? Other than the ISS being around till at least 2020 and Commercial Cargo and Crew, I don’t see anything else in the HSF realm that is anything but a bunch of “IFs”.

            So instead of moaning about a lack of a plan, I have been advocating for what I think would be a good way forward if Congress and the President want the U.S. to leave LEO. Even that statement is a big “IF”.

            Okay for you to know better than I means a couple of things to me.

            I don’t know, but I don’t think you know either, and your reasoning is not persuasive.

          • common sense

            “I don’t know, but I don’t think you know either, and your reasoning is not persuasive.”

            I cannot convince you since it would require finding references and making a case and I don’t have time nor the will and therefore I won’t.

            All I am saying is that:

            – ESA funding any form of HSF vehicle, let alone a LEO-EML transport, is not going to happen. Ever.

            – Elon will never, ever, buy anything such as a Service Module outside of SpaceX. He will build it and he can and for much cheaper than buying it.

            You believe me or not I don’t know what I could do. So time will tell.

            Your opinion vs mine.

          • Coastal Ron

            common sense said:

            Elon will never, ever, buy anything such as a Service Module outside of SpaceX. He will build it and he can and for much cheaper than buying it.

            Is that what you’ve been talking about? No wonder you are so confused.

            I never said, nor implied, that Musk would “buy” a service module. I only said that a Dragon could be one of a number of vehicles that could ride the LEO-EML transport (which I envision as kind of a ferry). The ferry would include the functions of a service module, which is why I think an ATV could be the basis for a 1st generation version of such a vehicle (it’s autonomous, already carries fuel, and has large cargo spaces).

          • Googaw

            NASA is not doing any incremental anything toward BEO. They have no budget for that.

            An astute observation. NASA is doing now what it has been doing for the last forty years, and will be doing for the next forty — writing sci-fi stories in PowerPoint (and before that photocopied overhead slides, if I remember my museum technology correctly) about sending astronauts to the moon, Mars, and asteroids, while falling orders of magnitude short of actually being able to fund such an effort (with the brief and bizarre exception of the abortive Bush/Griffin project to “return to the moon”).

            But the dirty little secret is that mere sci-fi stories dressed up as NASA plans are enough to keep the support of the astronaut cultists. They’ve been enough for the last four decades and they will be enough for the next four decades at minimum. They don’t actually have to fly astronauts BEO, or have anything like the ability to do so. PowerPoint is orders of magnitude cheaper than putting tin cans on the moon, and yet the cult still mindlessly cheerleads for NASA because they don’t have any alternative other than the even more bizarre proposals to “privatize” these economic fantasies.

            A few dollars for a PowerPoint slide vs. a few hundred billion dollars to “return to the moon” or “go to Mars”. The cult faithful is satisfied either way. Which will be chosen in these budget-conscious times? You do the math.

            At least the technology to make the presentations has progressed. The astronauts themselves have been obsolete far longer than the now-forgotten machines that made photocopies onto overhead slides, but the astronauts, unlike those contraptions, steamships, and buggy whips, have a Luddite lobbying cult that has kept their diapered heroes flush with federal funds until the current crisis.

          • common sense

            Hey I won’t deny I can be easily confused – old age and all – but here is what you wrote… Not that Dragon might be the EML transport.

            “OT, but if ESA is going to build a Service Module, then I hope they are smart enough to make it usable for more than just the MPCV. If they do that, then maybe Boeing or SpaceX could use it and cut out the MPCV, which is really just destined to be a glorified lifeboat.”

          • Coastal Ron

            No doubt both of us didn’t fully write out what was in our heads, but now you know what I mean, so we can stop talking about what was talked about, and start talking about what we want in the future.

          • common sense

            All right then. If we are in the wishes department.

            ESA could take their head out of their you know. There are people in Europe interested in Space, for example EADS (ATV and crewed ATV and suborbital vehicle and yes NASA CEV Phase 1 with LockMart) and long ago even Dassault (Hermes, X-38). There is an expertise as well at Alenia (ISS). So there is an ongoing interest in the european industry. However ESA has never ever demonstrated any real committed interest to HSF. The only possible opportunity that I know that has some potential is the Soyuz launches from Guyana.

            On top of that there was (is?) a strong relationship between France and Russia. Chretien flew first with Soyuz (USSR), Baudry second with Shuttle as crazy as it may seem since it was during the Cold War.

            So don’t get me wrong there is a group of people very interested in seeing something happen. But ESA as an entity??? Not a chance.

            Furthermore the UK may be onto something now with the hypersonic “airplane” if they can make it work, which may be a long way away, but the effort is very nice, again industry.

            So how do we work all those things out? I mean including what is happening here in the US. Unlike what many think the US leads space activities. Today the commercial servicing of the ISS is the next step along with suborbital flights. Europe may be able to follow as industrial partners rather than as a government partner. BUT what if ESA was to establish a similar program as COTS/CCDev? What if Russia, Japan and the others were to do that? However, Europe will see similar challenges with Ariane as NASA with SLS. Ariane is government supported. Okay the difference with SLS is that it actually works and ironically enough its success is most likely due to the failure of Shuttle. Airbus comes to mind…

            So before they even come up with an EML transport, Europe has a lot of stuff they need to take care of. If we are successful they just might follow the lead yet again. It will require quite a bit of pushing though.

            However, note that if they find a little breach in the system (e.g. Ariane and Airbus) they may just go it alone.

            So who will wake up first???? We’ll see.

            FWIW.

          • Coastal Ron

            common sense @ November 13, 2012 at 6:46 pm

            So before they even come up with an EML transport, Europe has a lot of stuff they need to take care of. If we are successful they just might follow the lead yet again. It will require quite a bit of pushing though.

            I’ll agree with that. I never said it was a high probability, and certainly it would take many things to happen, especially the U.S. getting our act together (a low probability in itself).

            Still, if it were to unfold the way I would hope it would, I think ESA would be a natural for building the EML transport because of their success with the ATV.

    • Martijn Meijering

      Or, if ESA can get just a little ambitious, then they could build a reusable transport that capsules could dock to that would shuttle between LEO and EM-L1/L2.

      That’s unnecessarily inefficient with hypergolics, it would make more sense to do EOR with a suitable modified Centaur for that, which would in itself be a step towards depots.

      A refuelable storable transfer stage derived from the Orion SM and avionics or from ATV could be very useful, but mostly for propulsion from L1/L2 to all kinds of further destinations: the moon, NEOs, Mars or Mars orbit, main belt asteroids or even the outer solar system.

      Such a system would be another giant step towards depots, and would be capable of producing a large and fiercely competitive propellant launch market.

      • Coastal Ron

        Martijn Meijering said:

        That’s unnecessarily inefficient with hypergolics, it would make more sense to do EOR with a suitable modified Centaur for that, which would in itself be a step towards depots.

        Inefficiency can be tolerated if it costs less overall, and efficiency is not required. For instance, LH2/LOX engines are far more efficient, but SpaceX is using RP-1/LOX because overall it’s less expensive.

        One other thing to keep in mind for what I’m proposing is that the LEO-EML transport would be a carrier vehicle, separate from the spacecraft that it shuttles around. That means it can be easily replaced with a newer version when they are available. A mature version of this would be the yacht carriers used here on Earth, where the both the carrier and the yachts can be upgraded as desired, but the other vehicles are not affected.

        For instance, do you care that the car ferry you use is powered by diesel, gasoline or jet fuel? That’s an economic decision by the ferry company, and it doesn’t affect the design of your car or truck. And that’s really what I’m advocating for, is the creation of a ferry service between LEO and EML when we open up an EM-L1/L2 outpost. A small ferry to start, but it could be upgraded as demand increase, and it could be operated by a country or a company.

        This is an exact analogy of how all exploration has occurred, with transportation operators popping up to help traders and settlers cross rivers and oceans. This is just the space version of it.

        • Paul

          LOX/LH2 engines are not “more efficient”. They have higher Isp, but Isp and efficiency are two different things. A lower Isp engine can be more efficient (in the sense of energy consumed) than a higher Isp engine, in certain parts of the flight profile.

          • Googaw

            And depending on the relative costs of propellant and the energy to impart velocity to that propellant. With traditional chemical rockets where the propellant is also they energy source and launched from earth, they are both expensive and we don’t bother to distinguish them. But with lower relative energy costs (e.g. solar powered ion rockets) higher Isp becomes more attractive. With lower relative propellant costs (e.g. hypothetical future ISRU propellant) lower Isp becomes more attractive.

  • Bennett In Vermont

    Common Sense and Coastal Ron, please do debate. DCSCA, irrelevant
    as usual.

    • Robert G. Oler

      This election has done some really good things for The Republic but in large measure what it has also done as Cx or even the War in Iraq or all their other goofy policies could not…is that the GOP Numbers simply DONT ADD UP.

      Mike Griffin and Pace and the other jerks (including the tea party people) fit in well with Romney because in the end their numbers or aspirations have no reality to them.

      And this piece is a realization of that. There is no more money for NASA, there is probably less, the halcyon days of the 60′s are gone, all the mthods of reinventing it are toast…

      What this election did hopefully in space policy is what it did in the national dialouge is kill the lies, the propaganda of the right wing…I even see today Bill Kristol has come around to abandoning the bush tax cuts for the rich…Hannity is changing on “immigration”…

      lets see if Mike Griffin gets religion on reality in terms of space policy. I doubt it; but lets see.

      Robert G. Oler

    • Googaw

      If even Florida Today is saying this, then the reality is that NASA is headed for big budget cuts. NASA, and especially NASA HSF, is going to have to learn to do with much less money, or its employees and contractors will have to find something new to do for a living.

  • Al Fansome

    ““I say it because (ROHRABACHER’S) support has resulted in nothing material. No legislation. No amendments ”

    You are wrong. Suggest you study up on space policy a little more before making such statements.

    Rohrabacher was the sponsor of the “Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004″, which was passed into law, and limited liability to enable private development of commercial suborbital RLVs, such as the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, XCOR Lynx, and many other entrepreneurial firms.

    This legislation had strong opposition led by Rep. Oberstar who represented the interests of the legal lobby. He got it passed.

    Rohrabacher was also a principal sponsor and champion of the Commercial Space Act of 1998, as Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Space, which is the enabling legislation that led directly to COTS and ISS Commercial Resupply Services. The CSA98 created a legal requirement to purchase commercial ISS cargo resupply. It explicitly mandates “FAR part 12 commercial terms”. It included exceptions for “Shuttle unique”, and as soon as the decision to retire the Shuttle was made (6 years later), then it became a very powerful law.

    That took some vision and foresight.

    FWIW, – Al

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “Rohrabacher was also a principal sponsor and champion of the Commercial Space Act of 1998″

      Like I originally wrote:

      “Rohrbacher, despite his verbal support for commercial space, has been utterly ineffective in getting anything material done in this area for more than a decade.”

      It’s been 14+ years since CSA. Since then, we’ve been through X-33, EELV, SLI, OSP, CEV, Constellation, COTS, CCDev, and SLS/MPCV. Since CSA, I can’t think of anything Rohrbacher has done that has affected any of these programs, legislatively or fiscally.

      “which is the enabling legislation that led directly to COTS and ISS Commercial Resupply Services. The CSA98 created a legal requirement to purchase commercial ISS cargo resupply. It explicitly mandates ‘FAR part 12 commercial terms’.”

      This is inaccurate. CSA did not lead to COTS. Decisions in the late Clinton Administration (the Alternate Access Program) and in the early Bush II Administration (VSE policy) led to COTS. In fact, NASA and DOD routinely flaunt CSA, even to this day.

      This is part of my criticism of Rohrbacher. CSA says all the right things. But it has no teeth and is never enforced, by Rohrbacher or anyone else.

      I agree that Rohrbacher got a bill passed 14 years ago. But since then, it’s been a lot of talk, and little to no action.

      “Rohrabacher was the sponsor of the “Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004″

      I guess you have me there. But I really had NASA and orbital/deep space flight in mind, not suborbital.

      I’m all for the suborbital efforts, but aside from Blue Origin, it’s hard to see how they’re going to lead to orbital launch beyond smallsats or change the path of the vast majority of our civil space activity any time soon.

      Again, I agree that Rohrbacher is the least bad of a lousy bunch. But it’s like deciding between an ineffective worker and a couple embezzling workers. I’d prefer to not have to choose either. There’s a lot of room for improvement, and I don’t think it’s wrong to point out the deficiencies and wish for better.

      And regardless, the decision by the Republican leadership won’t be made on this basis, anyway.

      • It should be noted that the Democrats controlled by the majority in the House 2007-2011. Minority members rarely propose legislation that gets adopted by the majority.

      • Al Fansome

        FANSOME SAID: “CSA98 … is the enabling legislation that led directly to COTS and ISS Commercial Resupply Services. The CSA98 created a legal requirement to purchase commercial ISS cargo resupply. It explicitly mandates ‘FAR part 12 commercial terms’.”

        DARK BLUE NINE SAID:“This is inaccurate. CSA did not lead to COTS. Decisions in the late Clinton Administration (the Alternate Access Program) and in the early Bush II Administration (VSE policy) led to COTS. In fact, NASA and DOD routinely flaunt CSA, even to this day.

        The CSA98, which was signed by the Clinton Administration, was the beginning of the Clinton Administration’s push to create Alternate Access to Station. The link was direct and unbroken, as Rohrabacher’s staff met with OMB staffers in charge of NASA (Isakowitz, et al) to discuss this exact issue. OMB created AAS, which was later cancelled by NASA Code R in the FY04 budget request (released in February 2003, right after Columbia accident.)

        AAS was then re-created by the Bush Administration as the Commercial-Crew-Cargo program in the VSE. A year later when Griffin came on board, he decided to use NASA’s “other transactions authority” to create COTS as interim step before using the FAR part 12 Firm-Fixed-Price services acquisition that was mandated by CSA98 (which was the ISS Commercial Resupply Services program.)

        Again, CSA98 was the foundation for AAS, which was the foundation of COTS/CRS. Rohrabacher’s support was instrumental. The linkage is clear and direct.

        However, you are correct. Since Griffin took charge, and created the abomination called Constellation with the primary purpose of recreating Apollo on steroids, Dana has been relegated to the loyal opposition and has not passed a major piece of legislation. He opposed the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, but failed to prevent it.

        FWIW,

        - Al

      • Vladislaw

        Dark Blue Nine do you have a republican in mind that could really be effective and put teeth, so to speak, in the CSA?

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “Dark Blue Nine do you have a republican in mind that could really be effective and put teeth, so to speak, in the CSA?”

          No, despite my lamentations about how lousy I think the choices are, I don’t have a better choice, Republican or Democrat, anywhere in the House (or Senate). I wish that I did.

  • vulture4

    There may be better choices if the Dems win a majority. http://science.house.gov/about/membership

  • Martijn Meijering

    Inefficiency can be tolerated if it costs less overall, and efficiency is not required.

    Agreed, but I’m not sure that’s the case here. It’s not something I would be opposed to, as this too could be used to create a large and fiercely competitive propellant launch market, but I think we can do better.

    And that’s really what I’m advocating for, is the creation of a ferry service between LEO and EML when we open up an EM-L1/L2 outpost.

    Sure, and I don’t really care which propellant is used, I think such decisions should be left to the market, it’s just that I expect they would choose something else. And looking at the difference between a hypergolic refuelable spacecraft and a cryogenic one I think that an unmanned ferry service from L1/L2 to all kinds of interesting destinations would be a better place to get started, as that is a much better fit for a hypergolic spacecraft.

    In other words I see two useful markets: crew and / or heavy cargo to L1/L2 or unmanned cargo from L1/L2 to beyond and I think the latter is the more useful of the two by far.

    • Coastal Ron

      Martijn Meijering said:

      Sure, and I don’t really care which propellant is used

      Neither do I. I guess you started talking about hypergolics because that’s what the ATV uses?

      However, I am biased towards quicker imperfect systems than perfect ones that take much longer (and more money). We know the first transport systems won’t be perfect, so let’s plan on a “fast” iteration/evolution so we’re not wasting money early on.

      In other words I see two useful markets: crew and / or heavy cargo to L1/L2 or unmanned cargo from L1/L2 to beyond and I think the latter is the more useful of the two by far.

      Crew and cargo are two different markets, and cargo beyond L1/L2 is a third – so that’s three markets total.

      I’m hoping that cargo to L1/L2 can be done using modified version of the current CRS vehicles, so most of the development money will need to go to crew transportation.

      I guess I also advocate for a dedicated LEO-EML transport because otherwise we’ll have to rely on heavy rockets to send crew to L1/L2, and that’s not cheap. We could rely on current Commercial Crew vehicles (+ their current medium-heavy rockets) that have the proper shielding for returning from the Moon (Dragon only right now) and use a disposable EDS like a Centaur (launched on a separate rocket), and that’s OK for the short-term, but still expensive.

      I want to see the U.S. become a space-faring nation as soon as possible, and for the least practical sustaining cost. I’d also like other nations to join us, which should spread the cost and speed up what can be done. This is the path I see we need to take to get there, and it echo’s how humanity has spread previously, so I think it would work here.

  • Martijn Meijering

    However, I am biased towards quicker imperfect systems than perfect ones that take much longer (and more money).

    Same here, which is why I favour the cargo from L1/L2 to beyond route. Actually, I meant the L1/L2 route to be done with an ATV / Orion derived spacecraft, with commercial propellant deliveries to L1/L2. This can be done without needing larger launch vehicles.

    We could rely on current Commercial Crew vehicles (+ their current medium-heavy rockets) that have the proper shielding for returning from the Moon (Dragon only right now) and use a disposable EDS like a Centaur (launched on a separate rocket), and that’s OK for the short-term, but still expensive.

    We could contract for transport from ISS to L1/L2 instead, or for transport from Earth to L1/L2, with an optional stop at the ISS, or even a future private station. The details could be left to the market. Initially this would likely work with EOR with a prefueled stage, with storable propellant transfer being a second option. Later on it could be replaced by cryogenic propellant transfer.

    As I said, I’d be happy with a hypergolic LEO to L1/L2 crew ferry, even a government-built one, provided it used commercially launched propellant, precisely because like you I prefer quicker imperfect systems than perfect ones that take much longer and more money. But I think we can do better by procuring propellant for an unmanned, possibly government-built, L1/L2 to beyond ferry at L1/L2. The advantages are that it wouldn’t require live astronauts as cargo, just hopefully already planned science spacecraft, and could still provide a large propellant launch market with a much smaller performance penalty than a LEO-based craft.

    This is the path I see we need to take to get there, and it echo’s how humanity has spread previously, so I think it would work here.

    I think the crucial component is to provide lots of demand for launch services, and I think storable propellant is the ideal payload. So as long as what you’re proposing does that, I’d be happy with it. Still, I think it’s better to optimise it further as I tried to detail above.

    • Coastal Ron

      Martijn Meijering said:

      We could contract for transport from ISS to L1/L2 instead, or for transport from Earth to L1/L2, with an optional stop at the ISS, or even a future private station. The details could be left to the market.

      I hope we’re at this point, but if not, then a COTS/CRS type contract could be used.

      I think the crucial component is to provide lots of demand for launch services…

      You’ve been very consistent on this point over time, and I agree.

      • Martijn Meijering

        You’ve been very consistent on this point over time, and I agree.

        You, sir, are a diplomat. :-)

        • Coastal Ron

          I think between you, Martijn, and Vladislaw, you two have been very good at continuing to remind us of the basics that we need if we’re going to expand our presence out into space. And that is demand, markets and property laws.

          • Googaw

            Except the “demand” and “market” for this doll-house “infrastructure” is over 99.5% from the government, the remainder only paying the marginal costs of marginal costs. The whole bizarre fantasy goes away as soon as the government funding goes away. The property is only worth anything beyond its scrap value as long as the federal coffers remain open.

            The most important thing the private sector does better than government is not to cut costs here or there. The most important thing it does is to choose which businesses to go into and from which to refrain. All this prophecying about and subsidizing of retro-futuristic doll houses and infrastructure to nowhere is about as far from free enterprise as one can get, all the euphemisms about “commerce”, “markets”, and “demand” when refering to government subsidies notwithstanding.

          • common sense

            Googaw, it’d be nice you make an effort. You’re mixing up stuff again.

            Today, there is one market for HSF: ISS resupply. And that’s it. No one is saying there is a market for HSF outside of it that I know.

            However, if the government is so inclined as to explore the Moon, NEOs, Mars, Alpha Centauri thereby creating a market then we are saying it is better to use a commercial, competed approach to answer that need.

            All the while if the industry can use all those resources as a ladder to figure if there is a market beyond the government needs then so much the better. Tourism might be one and ISRU may be another one, e.g. http://www.planetaryresources.com/.

            If the industry decides what they want to do, nobody is going to tell them if crewed or uncrewed vehicles are best. They will make that determination themselves. In the end we all know it might be uncrewed at least for the short term. Does that mean we should let go of all crewed activities???? I think not. But again it might.

            It would be nice that we interact with the Googaw who can make constructive conversation not the Diaper-Googaw. Sitting on your hands and hoping for a market or senselessly bringing up telecommunication is not going to do it. The satellite market does not really need any government help at this time that I know so the point is moot. On the other hand if they do so then please bring us a good, well reasoned argument in its favor.

            Diapers can only go so far as you probably know now after such extensive study on your part.

          • Coastal Ron

            common sense @ November 13, 2012 at 2:44 pm

            A very good summary of where things are at, on all subjects.

          • Googaw

            They will make that determination themselves.

            All the space industries that are not 99.5%+ government subsidized have already made this determination. They made it long ago. And they have continued to make it even more clearly every year: real space commerce — the kind of commerce that pays more taxes than it consumes — is 100% unmanned commerce. Always has been, and the gap between the cost effectiveness of unmanned spacecraft vs. your heroes only continues to grow every year.

            Astronauts are astronomically far from being worth their cost, as are space tourists who aren’t paying for the marginal costs of marginal costs on 99.5%+ government funded capsules. It is only a bizarre federally funded Luddite cult, that has nothing whatsoever to do with private enterprise, and indeed makes 99.5%+ of its revenue by taxing private enterprise, that promotes this diapered (there you go) “infrastructure”.

            Meanwhile, you justify lobbying for tens of billions of federal dollars worth of this “infrastructure” based on the idea that in the future governments will spend hundreds of billions of increasingly scarce taxpayer dollars on the increasingly obsolete retro-futuristic hallucinations of a Luddite cult.

          • Neil Shipley

            Yes agreed. Just missed out Bigelow wrt potential HSF markets. He seems to believe there are other markets in industry, education and sovereign governments that will provide a customer base for his habitats. Seven MOU’s signed so far. I know they are intentions but still it’s interest.

          • Neil Shipley

            That’s agreed with CR not Googaw who is always mixing things up and also seems fixated on astronauts !!

          • Vladislaw

            “Except the “demand” and “market” for this doll-house “infrastructure” is over 99.5% from the government, the remainder only paying the marginal costs of marginal costs. ”

            Can you provide quotes where I suggest 99.5% of the cost is born by the taxpayer? If there is one thing I have been absolutely clear on is lower the taxpayer to private sector ratio of funding. Tactics for achieving higher multiplier effects and technics for private sector capital movement.

            The congress, through NASA, is going to provide funds for NASA to burn up. What is the cheapest items you can launch into space, that will be needed and push the development of human spaceflight?

            Hardware is expensive, so minimize the hardware, like a Nautilus – X. The cheapest thing to burn up after that is fuel. No matter what we do in manned spaceflight, fuel handling will be a factor. The sooner we learn it the better.

            The farther away you fly the more expensive. So where is the end of our frontier? GEO, also where all our assets are. Short LEO2GEO flights burning up one of the cheapest cargos we can put in space. Hell put up a platform and they can swap out experiments, test closed loop life support, power, reusable propulsion, fuel storage and handling, create a new commercial sector for fuel station activities.

            Cost estimates for the Nautilus was 6 billion, plus a 50% cost overrun and you are at 9 billion with traditional FAR, we already know we can do better with SAA’s. We blew through 12 billion for Constellation. No new market, no space based infrastructure, not even one orbital test launch.

            We could have a competitive launch market for fuel. Anyone could launch. NASA doesn’t even have to be involved at all. They just have to be the anchor customer and be a bulk purchaser.

            All this falls easily in NASA’s current budget and the Nation would be seeing a constant increase is infrastructure at realistic costs. If NASA is only allowed to lease the vehicles the commercial sector would be positioned for dual use. Something I have hammered on from day one.

          • Googaw

            Can you provide quotes where I suggest 99.5% of the cost is born by the taxpayer?

            The >99.5% is the historical and current fact of how HSF has been and is funded. You have put forward no credible evidence that your “infrastructure” to nowhere would be any less heavily subsidized, much much less producing a net return of tax revenue to justify such a government investment.

            Of course I have never claimed that you have expressed awareness of these basic financial facts regarding HSF. In fact, I have often and quite accurately complained that you don’t bother to look at even the basic financial facts and don’t bother to even do the even the basic financial arithmetic. Instead, you perpetually fantasize about the astronomically lowballed balloons promoted by a UFO chaser, and you see yourself as having perpetual cosmic source of free money:

            The congress, through NASA, is going to provide funds for NASA to burn up.

            What a whoppingly bad assumption to make, especially in these budgetary times — that government funding is just there to be had to “burn up”, without even a modicum of justification needed, except that in the future you have dreams of burning up far more fantastic amounts still.

            Is that what you write when you write letters to Congress? “Dear Congressperson: I and my special friends have a vision of the future. It’s a vision where we import lots of oil and turn it into lots of propellant and burn it in space. And to do that we will so need to burn tens of billions of taxpayer dollars that you must provide us here on earth. We have to burn all this money so that we that we can burn far more of your money still in the future to send my diapered heroes back to the moon or to Mars. Or maybe an asteroid. I heard we are facing a fiscal cliff but nevertheless government money is just there to burn so fund this infrastructure to nowhere now. Disrespectively yours, ….”

          • Vladislaw

            goo wrote:

            “What a whoppingly bad assumption to make, especially in these budgetary times”

            Are you insane? I do not mean figuratively, I mean really .. are you nuts?

            The Nation has spent money on mannned spaceflight, for 1/2 a century. I am willing to assume The Nation will be spending money on manned spaceflight tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, next decade.

            The person making the insane assumption is the person suggesting that manned spaceflight spending by the United States of America Inc. is going to ZERO OUT every dollar of manned spaceflight funding anytime in the for seeable future.

            Now if you have a crystal ball, can you tell me what year I can expect a ZERO manned spaceflight budget? Give me that year, and I will adjust my assumptions on how much bang for the buck the Nation could be generating utilizing different economic strategies.

            We have three, Atlas V, Delta IV, Falcon 9 examples of companies putting their own skin in the game. This weird freakin’ assumption, that seems to be unique to NASA, that companies will absolutely refuse to bid on a contract because they have to fund part of it, well it is crazy. In a cut throat economy we are in right now competition would be fierce. Just because congress devises a contracting system to maximize revenues for their districts does not mean it is the only option they have.

          • Googaw

            I suppose to people hopelessly mired in the cult, people who bring normal, common-sense, or economically rational thinking to space-related topics sound insane. Of course, you should realize that the reverse is true also, as well as being a perception that is whoppingly more likely to reflect reality.

            So no, I don’t think that federal funding for buggy whips, coal-powered battleships, astronauts, or any other such ephemera is inevitable. Call me crazy. (Oh wait, you just did that).

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “The CSA98, which was signed by the Clinton Administration, was the beginning of the Clinton Administration’s push to create Alternate Access to Station. The link was direct and unbroken, as Rohrabacher’s staff met with OMB staffers in charge of NASA (Isakowitz, et al) to discuss this exact issue. OMB created AAS,”

    The White House does not need Congressional legislation to direct departments and agencies on programmatic execution. (It’s the Executive Branch, after all.) Isakowitz (and Comstock, Sponberg, etc. and the OMB and White House political appointees they worked for) did not need CSA to direct NASA to execute a program to provide backup transport to ISS in the event of another Shuttle standown (AAS). They did need funding, in the form of appropriations legislation (the primary legislative check on executive power when it comes to federal programs), but they didn’t need the CSA.

    I know they met with Muncy or his replacement, but it was a matter of coordination — so that they didn’t step on each other’s toes — not legislative prerequisites.

    “which was later cancelled by NASA Code R in the FY04 budget request”

    I think the NASA alphabet soup is a little mixed up here. Code R was Aerospace Technology (now Aeronautics). Karen Poniatowski in Code M (Human Exploration and Development of Space, now Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate) was put in charge of AAS.

    “AAS was then re-created by the Bush Administration as the Commercial-Crew-Cargo program in the VSE.”

    Mainly because Isakowitz became NASA Comptroller and NASA’s lead negotiator with the White House on the VSE budget. Isakowitz brought Comstock, Sponberg, et al. with him to, among other things, help develop the VSE programmatics, budget, and document.

    “A year later when Griffin came on board, he decided to use NASA’s ‘other transactions authority’ to create COTS”

    Actually, that decision was made under Steidle, who wanted a dark horse competitor to keep CEV honest. After Poniatowski/Code M slow-rolled AAS into post-Columbia obsolescence, Isakowitz et al. gave it to the new ESMD to backup CEV. Isakowitz later joined as Steidle’s deputy, and his staff yet again took up the charge on this post-AAS/proto-COTS program. They pushed the use of NASA’s FAR authority, not Griffin.

    Griffin effectively fired Steidle and Isakowitz when he came on board, cut the budget for what became COTS in half (from $1 billion to $500 million), and pushed out the crew requirements. It’s a miracle that the program that became COTS survived, partly because Griffin couldn’t directly touch Isakowitz’s old GS staff (although they were made to feel very uncomfortable and eventually left) and partly because Griffin probably saw it as a sop to quiet the anti-Constellation crowd. Griffin made a nice speech or two to the STA on COTS, but he nearly killed the program behind the scenes.

    “Again, CSA98 was the foundation for AAS, which was the foundation of COTS/CRS. Rohrabacher’s support was instrumental. The linkage is clear and direct.”

    Again, I disagree. The Clinton Administration didn’t need CSA to create AAS. They needed appropriations.

    CSA was a nice, parallel statement from authorizers in support of the direction AAS was headed. But neither was dependent on the other.

    The fact that NASA/Code M/Poniatowski was able to slow-roll AAS for so many years despite the existence of the CSA demonstrates how independent the two were of each other. It also demonstrates how ineffective Rohrbacher and the Hill have been in enforcing the CSA. And it demonstrates how ineffective Isakowitz et al. were at OMB in getting NASA to execute AAS. They literally had to join NASA, resurrect the program, and formulate/start it themseves to make it happen. It says a lot about how intransgient the NASA bureaucracy is and how hard it is to effect reforms there.

  • Robert G. Oler

    A tad off topic but I am curious

    Does anyone have some cost figures on the proposed liquid F1 derivative side booster for “SLS” as oppossed to the ATK solids?

    It looks like to me what the folks there are trying to do is recreate either the “S3″ Or “JARVIS” ….

    RGO

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “Does anyone have some cost figures on the proposed liquid F1 derivative side booster for ‘SLS’ as oppossed to the ATK solids?”

      I don’t have cost data for the proposed F-1 derived SLS boosters, and I doubt Dynetics/P&W/NASA are going to share given how early in design they are.

      However, I do have a couple historical data points to start getting in the ballpark.

      The old F-1 cost $1.8 billion to develop in 1991 dollars:

      http://www.rocketshoppe.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=8681

      Assuming 3% annual inflation, that’s $3.3 billion in 2012 dollars.

      I think development costs for the new F-1 are going to be at least a majority of what the original F-1 cost. Dynetics isn’t talking about just dusting off the old F-1 prints, putting them into the P&W CAD/CAM system, and putting the engine into production. They want to update it with “state-of-the-art manufacturing and processing techniques” and note that they are going to have to “prepare current suppliers to produce large cryogenic components” for the new F-1′s LOX needs:

      http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/11/dynetics-pwr-liquidize-sls-booster-competition-f-1-power/

      Reworking any high-performance system with new manufacturing techniques is expensive and carries more unknowns than designing a new system to existing techniques. Recreating the system’s industrial base is even more fiscally daunting. Based on that, I’d bet development of the new F-1 approaches at least $2 billion. If they encounter problems on the scale of the J-2 to J-2X conversion, where practically every part had to be rescaled, then I’d bet the new F-1 will cost even more to develop than the old F-1, probably pushing $4 billion.

      Tack on another $1 billion for the rest of the booster, and we’re probably looking at $3-5 billion to get an F-1 derived booster for SLS. If I’m right, I think that would be insane. We got two EELV families for $1 billion in taxpayer dollars, and we (almost) have two launchers and capsules for $500 million in COTS.

      Hopefully they’re honest about costing these issues over the next 2.5-year effort ground demo effort. But given that the demo won’t really push manufacturability or suppliers in an ongoing multi-unit run and given the involvement of Steve Cook at Dynetics, I doubt it.

      FWIW, my thumnail cost on ATK’s composite case SRB-derived booster estimate puts it in the same ballpark as the F-1-derived booster. The old Shuttle ASRM program was coming in at $3.3 billion in 1992:

      161.203.16.4/d36t11/148147.pdf

      In 2012 dollars, that would be $6 billion.

      “It looks like to me what the folks there are trying to do is recreate either the ‘S3′ Or ‘JARVIS’”

      Yes, with two F-1 engines, the booster looks like a S-IV-B stage from Saturn C-3 or the JARVIS first-stage. And the article above has images of a single-stick launcher using the booster as the first-stage.

      JARVIS was suppossed to cost $300 million per launch according to an old 1986 AW&ST article. That’s $647 million per launch in 2012 dollars. Not competitive even with Delta IV Heavy.

      • Warsley Hammer

        Besides all of that – nobody even calls those things F-1s anymore. Nowadays we refer to them as F9s, and they come complete with a tank and attachment points all good to go with thrust to weight ratios and structural efficiencies that make the original F-1 look pretty silly. And get this … you get them back, if you can find a place to land them. The only vaguely suitable KSC/SLC 39 landing spot in the Atlantic ocean happens to be some hard up little cays in the Northern Bahamas.

      • Mary

        I posted that link the other day but it was deleted by the moderators. Over 9 billion has already been spent on SRB development but the 5 segment has yet to be proven. The F-1 had a 100% success rate and the F-1A was ground tested for 4 years.

        • Warsley Hammer

          That may have been true forty years ago, but today the F9 has more or less the same thrust, a much higher thrust to weight ratio (I’m guess at least twice the F-1) and the tank itself has an extraordinary structural efficiency, and a prototype is flying right now. Plus you get the engine out capability that has been demonstrated in flight. If you lose an F-1 in flight with a parallel booster configuration, a really bad day ensues.

          Since the SLS will never fly as designed, the point is moot.

      • Robert G. Oler

        I was hoping you would lend your expert opinion on this and thank you for it.

        Still thinking about what is going on

        BTW everyone have a Happy Hijri New Year…make 1434 the best year ever RGO

  • vulture4

    @DB9: That’s an amazing story. In a revisionist era, we need accounts of what really happened, or we will repeat the mistakes of the past.

  • Space Cadet

    Excuse me, but Rohrabacher is an infamous climate change denier. Makes one wonder what he would do to NASA’s Earth Science division – flat out eliminate it perhaps.

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