Congress, NASA

A tale of two congresspeople

On Wednesday evening, the American Astronomical Society (AAS) hosted a “Space Science and Public Policy” event as part of its conference this week in Long Beach, California. The featured speakers were two members of Congress: Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). Their comments on policy issues for space science and related issues were markedly different and, in Rohrabacher’s case, generated some controversy.

Chu, whose new district now includes the city of Pasadena, spoke primarily in general terms about supporting NASA and science research. “I do not believe that research and development in science or space exploration is a luxury. It should never be an afterthought” even in current austere fiscal times, she said. “That’s why I’m deeply committed to protecting the funding for NASA this year and many years to come.”

One space topic she spoke specifically about was restoring funding for NASA’s Mars program. “This is one area where there is bipartisanship. It was very, very interesting to see how people from both parties did embrace this particular cause,” she said. The originally proposed cut, she said, “shows we have a public relations job to do about space exploration, about the Mars program, and about NASA as a whole.” Later, she argued that if the public knew more about the technological spinoffs from NASA, “I think that they would definitely be enthusiastic about funding for space exploration.”

Rohrabacher offered a very different message to attendees about funding. The growing national debt “is part of our life, and those who choose to ignore are going to face some serious consequences,” he warned. Scientists, he said, can’t expect to get “a little bit more” each year in the future. “That doesn’t work anymore for the scientific community or any other community that relies on federal funds. What we have to do now is find out how we can do the job that’s necessary more cost effectively, and eliminate things that are not necessary.”

If that message wasn’t clear, he was more blunt a short time later. “Saying ‘NASA deserves more money’ ain’t going to cut it,” he said. “The fact is, NASA does not have a good track record” in managing major programs. He expressed particular opposition to plans for the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket, claiming it will cost at least $30 billion to develop. “This is going to defund every other space and science program that you can imagine. It’s up to you to know the sad details that we can’t afford everything.”

Rohrabacher covered some familiar ground later in his talk, supporting increased commercialization and international partnerships as ways for NASA to be more efficient, and promoting concepts such as orbital debris cleanup, planetary defense, and propellant depots. His comments, through, probably weren’t that familiar to many of the scientists in the audience, who reacting with varying degrees of bewilderment as he went on. He also ruffled some feathers when he said NASA shouldn’t be tasked with “feel-good responsibilities” like education. “NASA’s job is not to educate the children of the United States,” he said. Later, when he claimed that many scientists had doubts about global warning, the audience reacted with groans. (On top of that, the brief question-and-answer session that followed was dominated by a couple of people representing 21st Century Science and Technology, a magazine affiliated with Lyndon LaRouche.)

After the talk, I asked Rohrabacher about one particular issue of interest to those attending the AAS meeting: the James Webb Space Telescope. He indicated he wasn’t confident that the program was back on track after cost and schedule overruns. “We will hold hearings on that early on, and we’ll find out” how well it’s doing, he said, referring to the House Science Committee, of which he is the new vice-chairman.

153 comments to A tale of two congresspeople

  • Guest

    I’ve recommended this to others and I would recommend this to Mr. Rohrabacher as well. He needs to drop the global warming and climate change denialism because it is going to cripple his scientific and technical and indeed social credibility far worse in the future than it already has now. I guess he hasn’t noticed or doesn’t care what is happening in Australia.

    Even his ET beliefs have more scientific and technical credibility.

    • amightywind

      Seems to me the credibility of global warming hysterics is already gone, and the world is ignoring them. Conspiring to fudging results and making predictions that stand in the face of reality will do that. I congratulate Rohrabacher on his candor. Climate science may be the most corrupt science of all time.

      I guess he hasn’t noticed or doesn’t care what is happening in Australia.

      Citing singular anecdotal events as evidence of climate change is what doomed the political movement. Keep doing it!

      • Coastal Ron

        amightywind moaned:

        Seems to me the credibility of global warming hysterics deniers is already gone, and the world is ignoring them.

        There, I fixed it for you.

        Citing singular anecdotal events as evidence of climate change is what doomed the political movement.

        Denying reality is what has doomed the deniers. Even former deniers are stepping forward to say they were wrong.

  • E. P. Grondine

    It is interesting to watch China’s response to global warming, including their Thorium reactor program.

  • About 30% of the man-made CO2 has been emitted since 2000. Yet temperatures haven’t gone up in a corresponding manner. If this continues, it is the CO2 theory’s credibility that will be in question.

    But, it is refreshing to see a plain-spoken politician. My nits with him are:
    – “international partnerships as ways for NASA to be more efficient” – Yeah, like the ISS is efficient?
    – orbital debris cleanup – We don’t need to spend money cleaning up, just make sure future launches don’t clutter LEO but deorbit.
    – planetary defense – The smallest meteors don’t do much damage. Small asteroids are being detected days in advance and can be evacuated from. Large asteroids are being detected years in advance thereby giving time to deflect slightly. Yes, we should have a B612 satellite but wait before spending a lot of money because the risk is quite small.

    He’s spot on re: SLS, funding levels, and commercial space. For that reason, he’s the best representative on that committee, IMO.

    • Guest

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      • Coastal Ron

        Guest offered:

        The recommendations I have just made here are also available to anyone else who may wish to make use of them.

        Whew, I was afraid of lawyers knocking on my door to sue me for using your recommendations. Do you have a collection of them that you’ll be offering on cassette tapes and CD’s?

      • Bennett In Vermont (@BennettVermont)

        Is that all you’ve got? No refutation of DougSpace’s comment about CO2?

        With more and more articles coming out like this one from the Daily Mail in the UK about the MET offices latest prediction of no further global warming for at least 5 more years, it gets harder and harder to “believe” in AGW.

        I know you’ll keep trying. Good luck with that.

    • Coastal Ron

      DougSpace said:

      About 30% of the man-made CO2 has been emitted since 2000. Yet temperatures haven’t gone up in a corresponding manner.

      Your assertion doesn’t pass the smell test. Besides questionable claims, it also ignores a whole host of other factors, both good and bad.

      – “international partnerships as ways for NASA to be more efficient” – Yeah, like the ISS is efficient?

      Efficient use of money – leveraging the investment of others to do what you can’t do alone. Is this a new concept for you?

    • Paul

      About 30% of the man-made CO2 has been emitted since 2000.

      This is wrong. Annual global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption may have increased about 30% from 2000, but the change in the cumulative emissions is a much smaller percentage.

      • Paul & Ron,

        From this graph we can see:
        http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/graphics/lawdome.gif
        280 ppm = pre-industrial CO2 levels

        From this graph we can see:
        http://www.planetforlife.com/images/keeling2.gif
        367 = year 2000 CO2 levels
        394 = approx current CO2 levels

        Now, I believe that the primary claim of the advocates of the CO2 theory is that anthropogenic CO2 was the cause of the global warming in the 20th century. So, the 87 ppm increase was the primary cause of the 0.6C increase in temperatures.

        What I am saying is that, if CO2 levels went up anything more than half that increase (i.e. about 44 ppm) without any increase in global surface temperature, then it would reasonably call into question whether CO2 was the major cause of the global warming witnessed in the 20th century and hence it would draw into question the CO2 theory itself. Granted, Ron, there are all sorts of relevant complexities. But again, I’m addressing what seems to be the primary argument posited by the CO2 theorists.

        There has been about a 27 ppm increase in CO2 since the year 2000. That calculates to about 31% of the CO2 increase in the 20th century. That puts us about 61% of the way towards the 44 ppm point or 8 yrs 4 months.

        There needs to be some type of criteria for falsifying the CO2 and/or falsifying the criticism of it. I am suggesting that the things which have been most commonly argued (CO2 levels and global surface temperatures) be the data upon which to falsify either position.

        ————

        Ron, it is not obvious to me that we (the United States) spent less money on the ISS because we had international partners than if we had developed it alone (e.g. Space Station Freedom). Maybe so, but it is not obvious to me. However, using the SAA approach seems (by a NASA study) to show that development costs using that method is much lower. So I am not so sure about international cooperation but I do support the SAA approach. I have no problem with international cooperation on missions which by their nature are not conducive to profit (e.g. planetary probes, going to an asteroid, or Mars). But for those missions where we can hope to see competitive market forces I would like to see commercial companies supported to develop those markets.

        • Coastal Ron

          DougSpace said:

          it is not obvious to me that we (the United States) spent less money on the ISS because we had international partners than if we had developed it alone (e.g. Space Station Freedom).

          I never said we spent less money. I talked about – “leveraging the investment of others to do what you can’t do alone.

          The U.S. may have even spent exactly what it might have spent if we went it alone (with a much small station because of that), but we’ll never know. However I do believe that the ISS would not have been the success it is today without our partners.

    • @DougSpace
      “About 30% of the man-made CO2 has been emitted since 2000. Yet temperatures haven’t gone up in a corresponding manner. If this continues, it is the CO2 theory’s credibility that will be in question.”
      Ever hear of hysteresis?

      • Delayed response (or threshholds) is a possibility. But so could be the effects of the sun’s increasingly rapid cycling in the 20th century. I don’t think that we can say for sure. But time will bear out which theories cannot be sustained. Fortunately (for determining which theory is correct), CO2 levels continue to increase while the solar cycle length is slowing down. It shouldn’t be too long before it becomes clear what the truth is.

        • Paul

          Of course there is delayed response. This is due to the very large heat capacity of the upper layers of the oceans. The impulse response of the global climate system to CO2 additions is not a step function in temperature.

    • E. P. Grondine

      Hi Doug –

      “Large asteroids are being detected years in advance thereby giving time to deflect slightly.”

      Ooops – you’re not right there.

  • “NASA’s job is not to educate the children of the United States”

    No, he believes education should come from a church or on a factory floor. Baffles me why they invites speakers like him when his agenda is clear.

    • Bennett In Vermont (@BennettVermont)

      Given the likelihood of reduced budgets, and the dismal job NASA has done in publicizing its work (see NASA Watch), why would we want NASA to take on a job it is obviously incapable of doing?

      We have enough incompetent government agencies doing nothing good very badly. NASA should be focused on aeronautics, space, and technology development.

    • amightywind

      No, he believes education should come from a church or on a factory floor. Baffles me why they invites speakers like him when his agenda is clear.

      I wonder how many government agencies believe that they have an education mandate? It should be zero. Again, kudos to DR.

      • Even the department of education?

        NASA need to better communicate what they do, we all agree on that. So why not let them help with educational programmes? Seems pretty simple to me.

        Don’t let you’re hatred of government blind you to some good ideas.

      • Adastramike

        You know, the majority used to believe the Earth was flat only 500+ years ago. Then evidence came along and shattered that theory eventually. The same will likely happen with climate change. There are many variables and perhaps it’s difficult to distinguish the effect of one versus the other. People who deny the human activity has n effect on global climate are just playing politics at worst, or are misinformed at bet. I’m sorry but don’t play politics with the future of the planet’s climate. I for one think man made CO2 DOES have a significant effect on climate and weather. Whether the planet can absorb the current rate of CO2 increase is still TBD in my opinion but I don’t think it’s wise to say there is no effect. We need to study this problem more not less. Assign it to the right agencies and avoid duplication yes, but don’t eliminate the study of it.

        For education, I do believe NASA has a role in it. One of the things kids need in order to get into the sciences are examples of current science and engineering in practice. Some kids will be attracted to science no matter what. Even they still need inspiration. But we can inspire more to join STEM fields using NASA as an example of missions we can accomplish. Nothing is perfect in the natural world, so NASA will be imperfect and have its crtics. This doesn’t mean it’s not a good instrument to teach kids. NASA should get more schools involved in its missions to help kids learn critical thinking skills by applying them to something cool, and to learn the scientific method and rationality and skepticism of wild claims.perhaps what NASA’s education initiatives need are more of the right people, trained educators, not less.

    • No, he believes education should come from a church or on a factory floor.

      Really? Do you have any evidence for that?

      I would imagine he thinks that education should come from schools.

    • Tom Billings

      I’d rather comments concentrated more on Space, folks. The diversions to what you don’t like about people who refuse to put broader power in the hands of government is not really what *Space* Politics is about. The arrogant assumptions of guest, that appeasing alarmists is vital to any science and technology related activity are simply not agreed with by many who are strongly in favor of space settlement. Get used to it, because not listening to them will mean shutting out the majority of people who will support space settlement. Here in ever so Blue, ever so educated Portland, the response to Space Activism has been tepid, while in the mining areas in the Rouge River Valley, we have been called in to give the same presentation 5 times in one day, because of overflow crowds.

      The desire to concentrate all authority over education in the hands of NEA locals and their political handmaidens in government does not justify the idea that anyone opposed to them is not making a valid contribution to the education debate. The focus on preparing *everyone* for college has not only left millions unemployed after getting useless degrees, it has left companies with deep problems in finding skilled tradesmen wherever the economy is still growing. Once we are smart enough to begin manufacturing spacecraft for Deep Space actually *in*Space*, we will find we need those tradesmen up there rather more often than we need someone who’s piled it higher and deeper. If churches and factory floors do the job in getting us the people both able and willing, where public schools certainly have not, then use them by all means!

      If we insist on subordinating support for the elected official with the strongest record of supporting commercial settlement of Space to snide elitism, then space settlement will wait yet more generations, till industrial culture digs out from under the academic reactionaries against it. I’d rather not wait.

      • Guest

        I don’t see much space policy in your post. My point is that the science now unequivocally states that the long term problems with climate and the environment are now so severe, that only space based geoengineering solutions are capable of bringing the problem under control in any reasonable timeframe, thus demonstrating the implicit connection between planetary science and space policy. I don’t see how I can be much clearer about this. From here on out, climate science will be the primary reason we will be going into deep space. Now that is one delicious irony.

        Orbital debris and planetary protection are just icing on that cake. Mr. Rohrabacher would be well advised to take this point under consideration.

        • Ed Minchau

          “science now unequivocally states…”

          Science “states” nothing. Scientists make hypotheses. On a long enough timeline, the *vast majority* of scientific hypotheses turn out to be incorrect or at best incomplete. The sum total of all scientific Laws known to date would fit on a single sheet of paper.

          Climate science is so new that the predictive models rest on shakier ground than Ptolemy. Stop pretending there is any predictive power there.

          • Coastal Ron

            Ed Minchau said:

            Science “states” nothing. Scientists make hypotheses. On a long enough timeline, the *vast majority* of scientific hypotheses turn out to be incorrect or at best incomplete. The sum total of all scientific Laws known to date would fit on a single sheet of paper.

            How ironic that you are using an unproven hypothesis to state that the “*vast majority* of scientific hypotheses turn out to be incorrect or at best incomplete”. ;-)

  • yg1968

    I kind of agree with Rohrabacher on just about everything. I believe that global warming does exist but it’s obvious that it’s a political football. It is either being exagerated or downplayed by each political party.

    • Guest

      You can think whatever you want to and all I can do is remind you that science doesn’t care a bit about what you think and it certainly isn’t going to adjust itself to your beliefs. In addition to that, the peer reviewed scientific literature is freely available at your fingertips. It is your choice whether you choose to read it or not, or believe it or not.

      • yg1968

        I said that I believe that global warning does exist! But I also don’t believe that the Earth will die in 10 years if nothing is done. People like Al Gore have politicized the debate by making exagerated claims not actually supported by the scientific data. It has become more of a political debate than a scientific one. But it’s your choice to believe that people like Al Gore don’t have a political agenda.

        • Guest

          I wasn’t aware the Mr. Gore was a published scientist. If you wish I can point you to the works of published physicists, professional statisticians and planetary scientists whose views on the problem are considerably less optimistic than Mr. Gore’s opinions on this matter.

          On the other hand, if you look at one of the most recent presentations given by Mr. Gore, he clearly indicates that he believes that space science and space development are more or less the primary solutions to this problem. So the connection to space policy is well established.

          • DCSCA

            Civil “space policy’ has little to do with ‘science’ and everything to do w/geo-politics and the sub-set of economics. The United States’ civil ‘space policy’ has always been reactive to external, geopolitical events which forced expenditures rather than proactive as investment to shape same. And thre is little evidence that will change in the forseeable future.

  • amightywind

    Scientists, he said, can’t expect to get “a little bit more” each year in the future

    There has been no more corrosive force in politics in the forty years than baseline budgeting. It has to end. NASA must shrink.

  • Jeff Foust

    A reminder that this is a place for the discussion of space policy, not climate change science. Thank you for your cooperation.

    • Guest

      Thanks Jeff, when I want space policy information, I only visit space policy blogs. The mistake Mr. Rohrabacher made was mixing up planetary science with space policy, while being on the wrong side of the discussion with respect to his audience, when obviously the two subjects are highly compatible and complementary. He would go much farther with his space policy arguments if he could grasp the great opportunity he is missing.

      It’s not too late for him to change, I’m just saying the sooner the better.

    • Oops. Sorry, I posted before seeing this.

  • DCSCA

    “[Chu said] I do not believe that research and development in science or space exploration is a luxury.”

    Except it is. and saying it is not, in a vain attempt to redefine it, won’t make it so. Expenditures for research in general and exploration in particular have always been discretionary luxuries with indeterminate ROI investments from same. Get with the program, Chu. The immediate imperative is to define and expouse a coherent rationale for human and robotoc spaceflight ops. A rationale valid through fat and lean times. Other nations have, or are in the process of, incorporating this into their national characters. The United States has yet to do so.

    [Dinosaur Dana said,]“The fact is, NASA does not have a good track record in managing major programs…”

    The FACT is, NASA does, when properly funded and not nickel-and-dimed to death. See Project Apollo for details, Dinosaur Dana; a program that was a truimph of organization and planning which achieved its goal ahead of schedule and under projected budget. A program ultimately truncated in the end by his own party by short-sighted petty politics of that era. Or look at the Voyagers; or the Pathfinder, Spirit, Opportunity and other cost-effecive space projects of scale.

    Of course there are examples of poor project management in government run ops; Dinosaur Dana only need look to the recent fiscal cliff fiasco, the debt ceiling debacle or the unfunded wars his own party has championed.

    NASA always runs into problems when projects are grossly underfunded or have projected funding for projects in work drastically reduced. And before you get your knickers in a twist, we’re not talking levels of funding like the $2 billion a week on the cuff, that the Afghan War is costing U.S. taxpayers.

    Yes, HST was a screw-up; short-sighted cuts in funding forced cost-cuting in ground testing and produced a near sighted telescope and an expensive repair on orbit, Yes, shuttle was underfunded, designed by committee and forced (by your own party) to play at being a ‘profit center’ like the postal service with disasterous results. Yes, like all bureaucracies, it had some calcified deadwood management after three decades of ops. So does Congress. Yes, the Reagan era ISS saw its budget balloon and purpose distorted; but Congress kept redirecting NASA on the purposes for it requiring near yearly redesigns for a long time. And lest you forget, it only survived by one vote to begin with during the GHWB days, thanks to your party and VP Quayle. Yes, JWST is a sloppy, big science project (as was the supercollider 20 years ago.) But part of the job of Congress is fiscal oversight. Guess you blew it. Curiosity, a mess as well. Guess you blew that, too. And Constellation was choked to death by underfunding, needing $3 billion/year to press on; that’s about 10 days of war costs in Afghanastan, Dinosaur Dana. Just ten days.

    It’s easy to find the few failures when you’ve come to expect stellar successes from a fifty year old agency like NASA working in an area on the cutting edge of progress.

    So taking pot-shots at America’s space agency is just bogus, Dinosaur Dana. Adequately, not lasvishly, fund NASA and they’ll ‘dazzle’ you, as Reagan boasted in 1986. Underfund them, and they’ll work just like Congress: poorly.

    • E. P. Grondine

      Hi DCSCA –

      Let us review. What got us into this mess was that ATK was a crummy company which could not deliver a crummy rocket anywhere near on time or on budget.

      We could have had DIRECT and two manned launch systems with no disruption to our technical base for the money that was wasted on the Ares 1.

      • DCSCA

        No. What ‘got us into this mess’ is the failure of the United States to define a rationale for human spaceflight and incorporate it into the national character. It never has. And until it does, U.S. civil space ops will always be reactive, never pro-active, to geo=political events outside the U.S. and limited to LEO with minimsl ROi. Space exploitation is not space exploration’

        • E. P. Grondine

          Hi DCSCA –

          To sum your comment up in s fancy words, most citizens here think it would be a waste of their tax dollars to spend billions to fly a few men to Mars.

          Is that what you’re trying to say? If it is, then you agree with the findings the NRC published a few weeks back.

    • Bennett In Vermont (@BennettVermont)

        
      What complete and total hogwash.
       
      via Stephen Smith:

      “NASA To Review SLS Core Stage, Orion Weight Issues*rdquo;

      “Specifications call for the Orion capsule and its service module to weigh 73,500 lb. at liftoff. Lately the capsule has been running “something like 4,000” lb. over its allotted weight, Dumbacher says. The service module is about 1,200 lb. too heavy.

      While the baseline SLS probably can handle the extra weight, the parachutes that will bring the capsule back to a water landing after re-entry cannot, Dumbacher says. Going into the integrated review, design teams have been wringing out the extra weight on the capsule, he says, and an upcoming flight test atop a Delta IV heavy may allow engineers to cut their margins to save more weight.”
       

      Via Robert Oler, who is actually qualified to speak to this issue:

      “If you look at a 20K to 13K (Orion to Apollo) weight gain for about a meter of diameter and 2.75 m3 of volume and one person…with a fairly simple metric of dividing the weight by people…well what they have somehow managed to do, even with modern electrics etc to add another person and fairly modest volume increases come close to an add on weight that IS ALMOST THE WEIGHT OF THE ENTIRE CM.

      That is just engineering incompetence.”

       

      Via Dark Blue Nine:

      “It’s ridiculously backwards. Orion PDR was in 2009. CDR for MPCV isn’t until 2015. The project should have mass margins of at least 10% (preferably 20-25% for a project of this scale) at this point so that managers can absorb (and absorb intelligently) the inevitable mass growth through CDR. Instead, not only does MPCV have no mass margins, it’s actually almost 10% in the hole years before CDR. It’s Bizarro World engineering. There are high school students applying to college-level A&A programs who know better.”
       

      But you’ve read these comments from the previous thread, and yet you have the nerve to claim NASA is somehow superior to the very best of their engineers, who now work at SpaceX, Blue Origin, Orbital, etc?

      Face it. The NASA you envision is far from the reality that we see with our own eyes. At least as far as HSF is concerned.

      • When I read the Aviation Week article, a Machiavellian thought ran through my mind.

        What if NASA executive management is allowing SLS/MPCV to fall flat on its face, forcing Congress to acknowledge that Congress doesn’t know how to design a space ship?

        SLS/MPCV was all about protecting jobs in the states and districts represented by certain members of Congress. It was never about ever actually doing anything with it.

        Orion (AKA MPCV) has been around since 2005. It was initially intended for Ares I, an entirely different launch vehicle. Congress told NASA to put it on top of the SLS.

        So NASA goes along just to prove how stupid this was, biding its bureaucratic time until Congress finally admits that Congress shouldn’t design a space ship.

        If so, NASA still has a long wait because they will never admit it.

        Still, I just don’t see how a vehicle originally intended to carry six people can be 4,000 lbs. overweight now that it carries four people. NASA people are not stupid. So maybe they’re just doing the aerospace version of running the ball into the line at the end of a football game to run out the clock.

        • Bennett In Vermont (@BennettVermont)

          I like the way you think. Surely management couldn’t trust Charlie Bolden to go along with the plan. Garver may have embraced it. Still, it’s an expensive way to move forward, but it sets precedence.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “Still, I just don’t see how a vehicle originally intended to carry six people can be 4,000 lbs. overweight now that it carries four people.”

          The other change besides crew size going from Orion to MPCV is the destination. Instead of Orion going to LEO/ISS, MPCV is going around the Moon. That puts MPCV on a more difficult velocity and trajectory during Earth reentry, which requires a thicker heat shield and likely beefed up structure. There are probably other additions in terms of avionics, comm, and rad protection to operate MPCV and keep the crew safe beyond LEO. I think what’s happened is that the mass of all these destination-driven increases far outweigh the savings from the smaller crew, with the resulting total mass exceeding the limits of any conceivable parachutes.

          (Also, even Orion to LEO/ISS was down to four crew in its final, chaotic days to accommodate Ares I underperformance, so there may be no savings to be had, depending on which version of Orion you’re baselining MPCV from.)

          Given how long the Orion/MPCV team has had to realize and work this issue — eight years since the Constellation rollout and three years since the 2010 NASA Authorization Act — it may be that Orion simply doesn’t close for Earth reentry from lunar or any other non-LEO/ISS trajectory. If the team has been banging up against this for three to eight years now, it may be that it’s impossible build a capsule that large with four crew using heavy Apollo-era heatshields, 1980s structural materials, and stay within the limits of known parachute technology. Former Exploration AA Scott Horowitz was pushing for Orion to have a lighter composite structure at one point, which the ATK Liberty proposal picked up, and this may have been why. Too bad he didn’t follow through on the details like in so much of his Constellation analysis and execution.

          “NASA people are not stupid.”

          It is shocking the amount of time the Orion/MPCV team has had to learn of and work this problem — a problem which has nothing to do with the shifting Ares I requirements that impacted Orion during Constellation. This is the sort of thing that you figure out in the first year of a program, during your pre-Phase A/early Phase A analysis, and it’s been eight years since Constellation kicked off and three years since the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. It’s also not bleeding edge or cloistered/closeted technology that only a few have access to — Al-Li structures have been around since the 1980s, Avcoat heat shields have had references since Apollo, and the military has regularly updated and published the latest in parachute engineering references since WWII. The requirements (big capsule, four crew, reentry from lunar trajectory) and technology (aluminum-lithium structure, Avcoat heat shield, and existing parachutes) for deep space Orion/MPCV must not close.

          The only other explanation is that the Orion/MPCV team has been egregiously lazy and/or stupid in their analysis of what it takes to bring Orion back from trajectories other than LEO. But like you, I find it hard to believe that the NASA/LockMart team could possibly be that lazy and/or stupid, especially for that length of time.

          Actually, another explanation would be that Exploration Deputy AA Dan Dumbacher simply misrepresented the situation during the AvWeek interview. But I’ve worked with Dumbacher before. To say he’s not innovative would be an understatement, but he’s not dumb enough to claim that a vehicle is overweight when it’s not.

          If I have to assign anyone the “dumb” moniker in this fiasco, it’s Griffin and/or the ESAS team. ESAS should have picked up on lunar Orion’s mass being too much for any conceivable parachutes before the study was released. Either they dropped the ball, or Griffin didn’t give them enough time, resources, and/or flexibility to uncover and resolve these kinds of issues. Given that ESAS tried to do in 90 days what took Apollo a year-plus and given that Constellation had to revisit ESAS’s work regarding the upper and lower stage engines for Ares I, I think it’s the latter. It’s painful that Griffin’s early hubris and overreach as Administrator are still holding back civil human space exploration almost a decade later, but I think that’s the case.

          “What if NASA executive management is allowing SLS/MPCV to fall flat on its face, forcing Congress to acknowledge that Congress doesn’t know how to design a space ship?… maybe they’re just doing the aerospace version of running the ball into the line at the end of a football game to run out the clock.”

          I doubt a conspiracy scenario. NASA senior management can’t manufacture a design/engineering dead end like this and fool a multi-thousand person team into believing it. And even if they could, they would have played that card three years ago before Orion got written into the 2010 NASA Authorization Act as MPCV. Either the Orion/MPCV team totally dropped the ball over the past 3-8 years, and they’re just now realizing this problem. Or the team (and maybe NASA senior management) knew about it, didn’t think it was a deal-breaker, saluted ESAS and the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, and tried their best to make it work.

          Either way, MPCV is fubar. You’re never suppossed to have negative mass margin (obviously). But you especially can’t have it, and have it in this magnitude, when you have years of mass growth ahead of you before finalizing the production design.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if they wind up back at a less capable, three-person, Apollo-sized capsule for all this effort.

          • Robert G. Oler

            Dark Blue Nine
            January 11, 2013 at 10:34 am · Reply
            . The requirements (big capsule, four crew, reentry from lunar trajectory) and technology (aluminum-lithium structure, Avcoat heat shield, and existing parachutes) for deep space Orion/MPCV must not close.>>

            I was puttering around this afternoon and a document showed up in my in box…”Orion flight loads” …and so after about 30 minutes of perusing it and then digging out some of my Apollo stuff..

            What they have is a structure problem. From the escape tower to docking loads to reentry loads, what they did was pick the Apollo CM mold lines and not recreate the Apollo CM load paths most likely from launch to landing.

            How the flight loads move through the vehicle(s) including the Service module is completely different then Apollo.

            I would suspect that they were unable to use anything from Apollo per se and are stuck trying to reconcile the loads that they were seeing in the Abort test with pressurization forces and entry forces…and it got heavy.

            I’ve seen this before. The Piper Tripacer/Colt design is of a fabric cover over tubes and spars etc …a few years ago someone thinking that the aerodynamics would already be mastered with the Trike, tried to remake a composite model of it…but the loads are all different and this person was more or less ‘on their own” in terms of trying to work their way through fuselage and lifting control devices..

            the design such as it was got reasonably heavy and then the guy gave up…he donated the “hulk” to an engineering school (TAMU) which essentially pulled the thing apart in testing and found “significant load path issues”

            This would seem to go along with the structural issues that they had in the press test.

            Amazing incompetence. RGO

            • Dark Blue Nine

              “I would suspect that they were unable to use anything from Apollo per se and are stuck trying to reconcile the loads that they were seeing in the Abort test with pressurization forces and entry forces…and it got heavy…

              This would seem to go along with the structural issues that they had in the press test.”

              Good lord I hope that you’re wrong. If the Orion/MPCV team has been assuming Apollo load paths instead of doing their own finite element analysis, it would be hard to trust NASA or LockMart with the development of a new vehicle for a generation or more.

              • Coastal Ron

                I wouldn’t be surprised if part of the weight issue is related to the massive abort tower the Orion has. By comparison (and scale), the Apollo tower was much smaller, which may get back to the load path issue Robert is talking about.

              • Robert G. Oler

                Dark Blue Nine
                January 12, 2013 at 12:17 pm · Reply

                Good lord I hope that you’re wrong. If the Orion/MPCV team has been assuming Apollo load paths instead of doing their own finite element analysis,>>

                I probably was not clear. What “I” think that they did was stick themselves with the APollo CM “mold lines” to save a lot of atmospheric reentery and perhaps launch data…and use a lot of the “flight data” from the Apollo days…

                And once stuck with the mold lines then starting making changes to “it” that forced an independent load path analysis; made a lot of optimistic assumptions with the “new materials” and have gotten their rear ends bitten…

                when they went into Orion they changed “a lot” of the assumptions used in Apollo that in my view dictated the shape…ie the tower installation, the docking system etc (at least if you read the documents from Apollo) as well as the return energy situation. As long as the heat shield works they are probably good on the “flying ability” of the capsule; the question is however can they close the circle on the load paths with towers connecting different places and different docking setups…

                In other words if you took an Apollo CM did nothing to it but put a current docking system on it; the tower/chute arrangement doesnt work. If you change the assumptions of what flight range the tower works in, you need a new tower, if you attach the tower through a protective “shell” around the capsule then you need to do a lot of reconfiguring of the load paths.

                I suspect that they tried all that but that killed the notion of simply scaling the CM design in terms of mass.

                To not have expected that is simply incompetence.

                I stopped paying attention to the Orion design effort a long time ago other then to mock it as I thought it was a waste from the word go…but

                Perhaps you or someone else can answer this..

                Is the “shell” around the capsule a function simply of the docking system on the nose or is it a residue of having to ride on an SRB and trying to protect the capsule from an Ares 1 type explosion?

                Thanks

                RGO

            • pathfinder_01

              Apollo’s shape was determined before the lunar program. Basically the shape of Apollo is one of the secrets of going to the moon. One problem with reentry at lunar velocities is that the G-forces would kill the crew if you perform a ballistic reentry. There are two ways around this problem, the skip reentry which the soviets tried (and sometimes failed at) for Zond and the lifting reentry of Apollo (Apollo could also perform a skip but that was not the norm). The danger of the skip reentry is that you can wind up in Orbit (which with the limited resources of a capsule would be fatal…you would run out of life-support before the orbit decayed). The problem was in making the shape larger. One issue they ran into early was that there was not enough space in the capsule for the amount of parachute material needed. Apollo was about 3MT whereas Orion is 8MT. Orion would need a larger parachute than Apollo to land. Basically the shape does not scale well.

        • Robert G. Oler

          Stephen C. Smith
          January 10, 2013 at 9:28 pm · Reply

          When I read the Aviation Week article, a Machiavellian thought ran through my mind.>>

          Well there would probably be two or maybe three levels of this.

          It is kind of the space equivalent of “peace with honor”. It is hard for programs and projects and strategeries in the federal government to die; because they pick up constituencies which have no real detrimental skin in the game and they more ore less pick up political followings.

          Vietnam was our first deal with that (at least in my lifetime) but we are now going through it in Afland, went through it with the Bush tax cuts…etc. When policies have failed it is “hard” to simply kill them. As I said in the above graph they pick up followers who are not bearing really any sacrifices for them and of course political pushers. We could have gotten in 69 exactly what we got in 72 in Vietnam…we could have left 4 years ago in Afland with the same result we are going to have when we leave in what 14 months…

          but you cant…same with SLS/Orion. It was a done deal when these programs emerged out of Cx that they would flounder and how they would, but you had Whittington, Wind and all the other hangers on; coupled with the political people saying “we are losing our leadership in space”…and so the trick these days is to simply squander the money and in some efforts the lives…to let them end with a whimper not a clear cut decision.

          There are some programs and efforts where mistakes were made so early on, and the people who run the programs at almost all levels are so “second string”…that even when top notch people (if they ever do) come into the program all the good solutions are in the rear view mirror.

          One does not have to observe many things at NASA for to long to recognize that “torpor and timidity” are the monikers of all most the leadership in the SES level and below there. They deal constantly with the same old solutions in the same old boxes, …and how you can see this is simply read on NASAspaceflight.com the process stories of how the Orion people want to do mission control…in the age of “computers” that are more then sequencers they still are fashioning on well Mercury control.

          There is nothing special about how Orion got fat. Go look at the “propulsion module” for ISS that finally afer 1.X billion was cancelled and you see the same exact problems.

          its not consumables or the extended mission…those are service module problems and issues…none of this is cutting edge hardware…the avionics come from the 787…or at least the 787 of several versions ago.

          The only thing in my view that one can give Obama a bit of a pass on this fiasco, is that it is not his. He tried to kill the entire Cx program…and the political people mostly Republicans are who did this.

          They dont give a fig…really they dont they are all good with spending money, and if necessary lives to play with a constituency that consist of mind numbing brilliants like Todd Akin and Wind/Whittington.

          Nike

          RGO

      • DCSCA

        It is the shills for Space X that peddle the hyped hogweash. Be advices, Space X has flown nobody. NASA has been putting people into space for half a century. The fools who embrace the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision all but condem American space efforts to LEO ops for another generation or more. LEO is a ticket to no where, gonig no place, fast.

        • Fred Willett

          SpaceX has only been in existence since 2002. They’re all ready flying cargo to ISS.
          What’s NASA’s excuse for not flying anybody anymore? They’ve been around since the 60′s. Surely they could manage a follow on program BEFORE they retired Apollo or the shuttle.
          What sort of HSF gap is NASA planning on from the wheel stop on shuttle till the first flight of MPCV? 10 years?
          A 10 year gap in HSF?
          Is that a program or a farce? Tick tock.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA moaned:

          The fools who embrace the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision all but condem American space efforts to LEO ops for another generation or more.

          I guess those “fools” would be the 20 Congresses that didn’t provide any funding for leaving LEO after Apollo, or the last two that didn’t either (especially the one that cancelled Constellation, eh?).

          Or, an alternative theory would be the real fools, the ones that “embrace the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision”, are the ones that think the Apollo way of exploration is what the norm should be. For it’s because of them that many people think gigantic government-built, government-run rockets must be built before humans can leave LEO – which is ridiculous.

    • Coastal Ron

      DCSCA gushed:

      The FACT is, NASA does, when properly funded and not nickel-and-dimed to death. See Project Apollo for details

      Using the Apollo program as a current example of good management practices is like using Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) as an example of a successful computer company – both are generations out of date and no longer applicable to today.

      Don’t you read any current books or magazines so you can at least appear to “up to date”?

      And as to “nickel-and-dimed to death”, apparently you are unaware that lots of programs go over the budgets that THEY THEMSELVES SET. And sure, sometimes doing things that have never been done takes more than planned, but Griffin’s NASA institutionalized the art of going over budget and expecting the U.S. Taxpayer to blindly give them more money. That is why canceling programs – no matter how “great” they are – is needed occasionally to keep the fear of cancellation real.

      I volunteer the SLS program to be the next random cancellation…

  • josh

    there might be another push to cancel sls:

    http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/AW_12_31_2012_p24-531578.xml

    let’s hope this time it works…

    • amightywind

      Congress is consistently appropriating $300 million less that NASA claims they need to continue paying 3 bidders. It is a luxury NASA simply doesn’t have. If NASA funded 1 entrant properly we might have a few manned missions to ISS before it is deorbited. Can you no see how much of a dead end this is?

      SLS is the only path forward. Set priorities NASA. Cut out the dead weight.

      • josh

        sls is the dead weight and the luxury nasa can’t afford. btw: the iss will still be operational in 2030.

      • Coastal Ron

        amightywind bleated:

        Congress is consistently appropriating $300 million less that NASA claims they need to continue paying 3 bidders.

        Congress is underfunding Commercial Crew, yet SpaceX and Boeing are still planning on being ready to fly NASA crew to the ISS by the end of 2016. I predict Congress will finally decide to support American aerospace, instead of propping up the Russian space industry.

        By comparison, the SLS program will have burned through $6B during that same period of time, and likely still won’t have found a customer that can afford to fly on it.

        SLS is the only path forward.

        For what? What is the problem that only the SLS can solve? And why does the SLS have to be a government-built, government-run transportation system? You don’t even like Amtrak, yet you are advocating for a space version of Amtrak, only there are no paying passengers.

        In business world parlance, the SLS doesn’t have a valid business case…

        • DCSCA

          “Congress is underfunding Commercial Crew” squawked Ron.

          Alas, Ron has it backwards; they’re overfunding it. It doesn’t deserve a cent. Sourcing financing for ‘commercial crew’ belongs totally in the commercial sector- the private sector– and not tapping the limiteed resources of the U.S. Treasury.

          • josh

            sls and its contractors don’t deserve a cent.

          • Fred Willett

            For just $500M investment in COTS NASA gets 2 LV’s Antares and Falcon 9, as well as 2 cargo vehicles, Cygnus and Dragon. That’s $125M a vehicle. The rest of the costs and any cost over runs are entirely picked up by the commercial partners Orbital and SpaceX.
            Now that’s a bargain.
            Compare this to the cost of SLS which is to be north of $18B for a single vehicle. No funding provided by industry and NASA to pick up the full ammount of any cost over runs.
            Which do you think represents the better value?

            • Malmesbury

              SLS obviously – home grown failure is better than buying something that works. And is cheaper as well.

              Remember it is “Crony capitalism” to spend $500 million on something that actually exists at the end of the process and you need.

              $50 billion on “development” by the usual suspects is “Wise investment in the future of America ™”

      • Dark Blue Nine

        Congress is consistently appropriating $1 billion (with a “b”) less than what MPCV/SLS needs in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. (And that’s before sequestration or a budget deal.) And unlike commercial crew, there is no industry cost-sharing on MPCV/SLS to take up the slack. If “dead end” and “dead weight” are defined by funding gaps, then MPCV/SLS is beating commercial crew by a factor of more than three.

    • josh wrote:

      there might be another push to cancel sls …

      Thanks for the Aviation Week link. I missed that one.

      Interesting, the speculation that Bolden and Garver are at odds. I’ve heard all sorts of rumors but the only folks who really know are the two of them.

      But as one observer commented recently, unless the White House can find someone else to take the Administrator job, it’s probably Charlie’s until he doesn’t want it any more. Neither the NASA old guard nor the politicians guarding the space-industrial complex in Congress will accept Lori.

      The next Administrator would probably have to be another blue-suit like Charlie, and most of them know better than to accept a no-win job like Administrator.

      • Bennett In Vermont (@BennettVermont)

        On a positive note, at least we aren’t looking at a second term for Mike Griffin…

        • DCSCA

          Griffin thought of himself as another Von Braun. He’s not. And the friction between he and Garver still simmers. Garver’s useless; little more than a lobbyist. Trouble is, given recent criticisms of the Obama Administration over putting women in top administration jobs, she might very well be in a position to replace Bolden when he departs, which would be a disaster for NASA. Hillary Clinton has a personal interest in the space program and it likely will fall to her administration to revitalize NASA with purpose, funding and direction. The Obama years are nothing more than an era of free drift.

        • amightywind

          Isn’t four years and re-election enough to get you past, “It’s Bush’s fault!” By any measure this has been a dismal period for the space program. Mike Griffin was an engineer with drive and an opinion. I am still trying to figure out what Bolden and Garver have ever been good at except using their race and gender to maneuver within the bureaucracy.

          • Dark Blue Nine

            “Mike Griffin was an engineer with drive and an opinion.”

            Good engineers base decisions on reality, not opinion. Griffin did the latter and drove VSE over the cliff with ESAS and Constellation.

            “I am still trying to figure out what Bolden and Garver have ever been good at except using their race and gender to maneuver within the bureaucracy.”

            Digging NASA out of the hole Griffin created. To name a few:

            - Killing Ares I.

            - Getting JWST back in a box.

            - Getting multiple human space transport replacements for Shuttle and the failed LEO/ISS version of Orion underway.

          • josh

            “their race and gender”

            stay classy, windy. or maybe drop the mask entirely and tell us how you *really* feel…

          • DCSCA

            The damage done by O’Keefe and Griffin will linger for years, Windy.

  • vulture4

    If ISS and JWST are retained, where will the money come from for SLS? I just don’t see it. It’s interesting to see a Republican opposing it, though the program continues to have powerful supporters.

    Commercial (at least SpaceX) has the potential to generate new commercial launch contracts and US-based tourist flights, so subsidies there are likely to at least produce some return on investment.

  • JimNobles

    ISS, love it or hate it, probably isn’t going to get splashed if there is any way at all to avoid that situation. None of the partners want to get rid of it.

    I think it cost too much to build and, given current launch expense, it costs too much to operate but it is an actual space station in orbit. Hardly anyone involved with HSF thinks it needs to go away. A lot of people have ideas about how it should be used differently though.

    How do they do long-term microgravity research without some kind of orbiting facility?

    • DCSCA

      Rutan isn’t a fan of it, that’s for sure.

    • amightywind

      It is important to ask what long term micro gravity is worth and start there. I know one thing. It isn’t worth the $100 billion spent on ISS or the $3 billion per year to operate it. ISS might be the greatest misallocation of resources of all time.

      • E. P. Grondine

        Hi AW –

        I am sure that if you try real hard, returns from ISS other than micro-gravity will come to you.

        As far as how valuable micro-gravity is, the answer is we don’t know yet.

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “It is important to ask what long term micro gravity is worth and start there.”

        What’s the worth of treatments for severe asthmatics, vaccines for botulism and staph infections, early detection of shingles infections, more effective cancer delivery platforms, more accessible water purification techniques for developing countries, and better neurosurgery tools?

        ===============

        Are You Asthmatic? Your New Helper Comes From Space

        Kalle, a 10-year-old boy, is already in favor of space technology. In the future, he could control his asthma with a small device also used by crew members on board the International Space Station.

        http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/benefits/asthma.html

        International Space Station Plays Role in Vaccine Development

        Have you ever been afflicted with a case of food poisoning so awful it made you stop to wonder why no one’s found a cure or sure-fire preventative for it yet? And chances are you or someone you know has experienced a bacterial staph infection so aggressive it was resistant to nearly every antibiotic used by the medical profession. The development of vaccines to different pathogens has impacted our global health in ways we could have never anticipated as recently as the early 20th century, and there are still plenty of pathogens to protect ourselves from. The evolution of vaccine development is being streamlined with the help of the microgravity environment exhibited on the International Space Station.

        http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/benefits/vaccine_development.html

        Early Detection of Immune Changes Prevents Painful Shingles in Astronauts and Earth-Bound Patients

        The physiological, emotional and psychological stress associated with spaceflight can result in decreased immunity that reactivates the virus that causes shingles, a disease punctuated by painful skin lesions. NASA has developed a technology that can detect immune changes early enough to begin treatment before painful lesions appear in astronauts and people here on Earth. This early detection and treatment will reduce the duration of the disease and the incidence of long-term consequences.

        http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/benefits/shingles.html

        Cancer Treatment Delivery

        Humanity is on the constant search for improvements in cancer treatments, and the International Space Station has provided a microgravity platform that has enabled advancements in the treatment process.

        http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/benefits/cancer_treatment.html

        Advanced NASA Technology Supports Water Purification Efforts Worldwide

        Whether in the confines of the International Space Station or a tiny hut village in sub-Saharan Africa, drinkable water is vital for human survival. Unfortunately, many people around the world lack access to clean water. Using technology developed for the space station, at-risk areas can now gain access to advanced water filtration and purification systems, making a life-saving difference in these communities.

        http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/benefits/water_purification.html

        neuroArm: Robotic Arms Lend a Healing Touch

        The delicate touch that successfully removed an egg-shaped tumor from Paige Nickason’s brain got a helping hand from a world-renowned arm — a robotic arm, that is. The technology that went into developing neuroArm, the world’s first robot capable of performing surgery inside magnetic resonance machines, was born of the Canadarm (developed by MDA for the U.S. Space Shuttle Program) as well as Canadarm2 and Dextre, the Canadian Space Agency’s family of space robots performing the heavy-lifting and maintenance on board the International Space Station.

        http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/benefits/neuro_Arm.html

        • amightywind

          It is not surprising that NASA would try to toot their own horn for their own scientific research on their own web site. But who else would? I find this list paltry and trivial. I would argue that the Sub-Saharans would prefer a gift of modern ground wells over NASA’s billion dollar, pie-in-the-sky, gold plated research. They won’t soon be urinating into a million dollar NASA filtration device and drinking the results.

          As for robotics. I have a lot of experience in medical applications. Zero G was never a requirement in their development.

          • Dark Blue Nine

            “It is not surprising that NASA would try to toot their own horn for their own scientific research on their own web site. But who else would?”

            The Space Policy Institute at George Washington University did an independent economic analysis of the return on NASA biomedical investments going back a couple decades. They interviewed 41 companies, of which 15 provided useful data for the study. NASA invested $64 million in R&D at those companies. Conservatively, that investment has generated $1.5 billion in value added to the economy.

            http://www.gwu.edu/~spi/assets/docs/lifesci.htm

            “I find this list paltry and trivial.”

            I’m sure that the shingles, asthma, staph, neurosurgery, and cancer patients don’t.

            And they’re the ones that matter.

            “I would argue that the Sub-Saharans would prefer a gift of modern ground wells over NASA’s billion dollar, pie-in-the-sky, gold plated research.”

            The ground well in the article had failed, and surface-level water was contaminated.

            “They won’t soon be urinating into a million dollar NASA filtration device and drinking the results.”

            No one was urinating into anything. It was just a pump derived from the ISS ECLSS that dispensed iodine.

            “As for robotics. I have a lot of experience in medical applications. Zero G was never a requirement in their development.”

            You’ve had experience with this robot-assisted neurosurgery? Really?

            On the other hand, you having experience with neurosurgery shouldn’t be surprising.

          • Paul

            Good grief, I’m agreeing with windy on something.

            Yes, the importance of microgravity has been vastly overstated.

            BTW, it has recently been shown that simple changes in configuration can completely eliminate convection during protein crystallization down here on the ground. Just grow the crystals at the top of the container, not the bottom, and the less dense depletion zone is at the top, suppressing convection.

            Needless to say, it doesn’t cost $100 B to do this, and it didn’t cost $100 B to discover this.

            http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121221113949.htm

            • Coastal Ron

              Paul said:

              Needless to say, it doesn’t cost $100 B to do this, and it didn’t cost $100 B to discover this.

              Keep in mind the justification for the ISS wasn’t to do protein crystallization – that just happened to be one of the experiments that they thought would have important applications. That was their supposition, and now they have more information about it.

              But the real value of the ISS is in learning how to live AND work in space, both to figure out if there is a way to monetize zero-G (the protein crystallization work for instance), and to find the solutions to the problems of keeping humans alive and healthy as we expand our presence into space (by exploration initially).

              I think some people think a National Laboratory is like a McDonald’s restaurant, where once the construction is complete all you have to do is open the doors and you get the results you want. Science results are not predictable, which is why it costs so much money sometimes to test out ideas.

              But since getting to space and staying there long-term was the hardest and most expensive part of doing tests in space, now the ISS is the right facility to answer the many questions we have. Some of those answers will come back as negative, some we’ll compare with similar tests done on Earth and find that they are not worth doing in space, and some we will get positive results with hints of what we should try next.

              You can follow what experiments have been done, and some of the results, here.

              • Paul

                The problem with the “learning to live and work in space” is that it’s a self-licking ice cream cone, a circular justification that begs the question of what it’s all for. The ISS doesn’t appear to have uses external to the space program that would justify its, and the manned space program’s, existence.

                The external uses that were trumpetted (like protein crystallization) were always more rationalization than reality. And at this point, I think they’ve fallen into the category of outright falsehood. From the point of view of external value, the ISS is a boondoggle.

        • DCSCA

          “What’s the worth of treatments for severe asthmatics, vaccines for botulism and staph infections, early detection of shingles infections, more effective cancer delivery platforms, more accessible water purification techniques for developing countries, and better neurosurgery tools?”

          Tinkerbell has arrived.

          Certainly private firms can affix a value against any ROI in the metrics of the free market for research in those areas. Research financed by profit-driven, private enterprised firms.

          To paint the ISS as some grand medical research lab circling above us is bogus. The ISS was little more than a geo-political WPA project when finally signed, sealed and delivered on orbit; a $100 billion boondoggle born of Cold War strategies and planning from the last quarter of the last century; an era long over.

          It has minimal value in the geopolitics of today and does not fit with BEO planning ofr space ops of the future. Its ROI does not justify its $100 billion cost in commercial terms nor its continuing expense to the taxpayer in this fiscal era. The ISS is an orbiting dinosaur akin to museum pieces like space shuttle orbiters, fragments of the Berlin Wall, typewriters and the Macintosh. The ISS represents past planning from the last century for an era long over.

          And sustaining it as taxpayer’s expense as a ‘faux market’; a ‘destination,’ for fledgling private enterpriseed firms, even as those same firms seek government subsidies, taps the taxpayer coming and going to access a platform literally gonig no where, in circles, no place fast, al lbut doomed to a Pacific grave by 2020 or so.

          If private firms within the international partnership want to establish a consortium, pay off contractors and maintain operation costs, sell the taxpayer’s share to them, eat the contract costs and get out of it. Otherwise, splash it. It’s doomed anyway. As current costs siphon off dwindling resources for BEO planning and hardware development. Space exploitation is not space exploration. And LEO is a ticket to no where; going in circles, no place, fast.

          • Dark Blue Nine

            “Tinkerbell has arrived.”

            You’re misusing the term. Albrecht coined it to describe those who wish hopelessly for a bigger NASA budget, like you did earlier.

            “Certainly private firms can affix a value against any ROI in the metrics of the free market for research in those areas. Research financed by profit-driven, private enterprised firms.”

            This is gibberish.

            “To paint the ISS as some grand medical research lab”

            Who did that?

            I only pointed to some biomedical products that have come out of ISS R&D and asked what the value of the benefits of those products is.

            “boondoggle born of Cold War strategies and planning”

            Wrong. The space station we have in orbit today was designed after the Cold War. Russia was even brought into the partnership in a highly visible display of post-Cold War cooperation.

            “al lbut [sic] doomed to a Pacific grave by 2020 or so”

            Wrong again. The ISS partnership is actively certifying hardware for 2028 or beyond.

            http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?do=main.textpost&id=e4c8415b-61c8-4627-908d-6f814593e142

            “As current costs siphon off dwindling resources for BEO planning and hardware development.”

            There’s plenty of resources for exploration if we don’t spend $25+ billion on the heavy lift vehicle and capsule.

            “Space exploitation is not space exploration. And LEO is a ticket to no where; going in circles, no place, fast.”

            Tinkerbell has Tourette’s.

            • Dark Blue Nine quoted and wrote:

              “To paint the ISS as some grand medical research lab”

              Who did that?

              I only pointed to some biomedical products that have come out of ISS R&D and asked what the value of the benefits of those products is.

              The ISS is officially designated a U.S. National Laboratory:

              The 2005 NASA Authorization Act designated the U.S segment of the ISS as a national laboratory and directed NASA to develop a plan to “increase the utilization of the ISS by other Federal entities and the private sector…” As the Nation’s newest national laboratory, the ISS will further strengthen relationships among NASA, other Federal entities, and private sector leaders in the pursuit of national priorities for the advancement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The ISS National Laboratory will also open new paths for the exploration and economic development of Space.

              1. The National Laboratory concept is an opportunity to expand the US economy in space-based research, applications and operations.

              2. The International Space Station represents a unique and highly visible national asset with surplus capacity available for a wide spectrum of applications.

              3. NASA will continue to cover cost of operating and maintaining the ISS, and is highly motivated to work with other agencies and organizations to pursue applications.

              The troll, of course, wouldn’t know that.

              Why everyone continues to respond to it is beyond me. You only give it what it wants. Attention.

            • DCSCA

              “Why everyone continues to respond to it is beyond me.”

              Seems many things are, Smitty. Like Garver’s history. If Congress puts lipstick on a pig and labels it an enhanced porkchop, that doesn’t change the fact it’s still a pig in a poke. A Congress w/9% populsarity BTW. Next you’ll pitch a decrease in a projected budget increase is actually a budget cut.

              But if you want to cheapen the value of geunine research installations that actually produce results, go for it. Otherwise, desperate commercialists trying to claim the ISS is anything but a relic of the Cold War and is a faux destination ripe for commercial development ain’t fooling anybody. Pouring more resources down the LEO hole so five people can spend more time doing maintenence than “science” is a waste.

              Shovelled dbn: “boondoggle born of Cold War strategies and planning… Wrong.”

              Except it is right. And for you to claim otherwise is weak commercialist spin at best or at worst, just a simple lie.

              “all but doomed to a Pacific grave by 2020 or so. Wrong again. The ISS partnership is actively certifying hardware for 2028 or beyond.” =yawn= Which is meaningless prattle. You can certify anything, to be anything–but that does’t change the economics or the fiscal reality of this era, especially when the bills come due. Orbiters were ‘certified’ for 100 flights. That went well until they cost too much to fly. The Supercollider was pitched as a must for America–except it wasn’t; the science stil lgets done in Europe and it is an expense not missed.

              You can “certifiy” the ISS as anything you want, an asset, a liability or a Cold War artifact, doomed to a Pacific grave, but it is already a certified $100 billion boondoggle, an “aerospace WPA project” as the late Deke Slayton labeled it. It represents geo-political strategy and planning from the last century- an era long over. It has as much relevence to today’s world as the Berlin Wall and Minuteman missile silos. It is, as Googaw so aptly labeled it, “an orbiting zombie.” Even Rutan scoffs at it.

              “As current costs siphon off dwindling resources for BEO planning and hardware development. There’s plenty of resources for exploration if we don’t spend $25+ billion on the heavy lift vehicle and capsule.”

              Except there’s not. But we can have much more once the ISS is splashed and LEO is left behind for commercialists to develop on their own and BEO HSF ops can press onward and outward.

              We want a HLV and general purpose spacecraft for BEO HSF ops capabilities for the United States. Of course, that cuts out the LEO commercial start-ups from government resource,s doesn’t it. Awww. Sooner or later you commercialists will learn that space exploitation is not space exploration, and piggybacking on the taxpayer isn’t going to fly– especlally to fly in LEO circles for another decade, going no place, fast. Denied private sector financing due to low to no ROI servicing a minimal market, seeking government financing to socialize the risk on the many, to benefit a select few isn’t popular with the American people, as the bank bailouts demonstrated.

              And using Albrecht, a GHWB era advisor, doesn’t carry much weight in this century. Pappy’s space initiative fizzled just like Dubya’s. Albrect, Griffin… all proponets of past planniug from the last century.

      • Robert G. Oler

        amightywind
        January 11, 2013 at 8:25 am · Reply

        It is important to ask what long term micro gravity is worth and start there. I know one thing. It isn’t worth the $100 billion spent on ISS or the $3 billion per year to operate it. ISS might be the greatest misallocation of resources of all time.”

        No there are far worse ones then ISS, although it is far to expensive…

        Iraq was a 2.X trillion dollar effort that did not pay for itself, and then there are those KIA, WIA and not killing themselves…and we wont even talk about the Iraqis who were toasted.

        Thats probably the top of misallocation of resources but there are others.

        SLS/Orion. this “effort” is consuming fully 1/6 of the NASA budget and it is becoming the equivelent of our effort in Afland…completely useless. Even if we managed to get vehicles out of it, we cannot afford them and then after 4 or so flights we have to start all over again with new engines…and maybe new strap ons.

        At least in the build of ISS they were headed toward some goal. One might quibble with it (and I have the print pieces to prove I did) but at LEAST they were headed to some goal, some mission some thing it did. There is not a single authorized mission for SLS/Orion other then some test flights in some future.

        We have ISS…its not some viewgraph presentation that Boeing/NASA Lockmart are putting together at rapid rates. I think it is to expensive to operate and needs to accomplish more…

        But if it is a flop then by that metric alone SLS/Orion is a catastrophe.

        In the end ISS can be fixed…It is as hard to see how SLS/Orion get on track as how we leave Afland after nearly 14 years of money and blood and have anything but monuments to show for it.

        GOP leadership…Nike RGO

        • Robert G. Oler

          ” not killing themselves” should be “the ones now killing themselves”

          The editor regrets the error RGO

        • amightywind

          What was the long term economic cost of Saddam Hussein to the US economy? He had already seized Kuwait, a reliable source of oil from a country friendly to the US. Think of what an emboldened Saddam could have done to the Saudi Peninsula. $1 trillion was a bargain.

          • Robert G. Oler

            amightywind
            January 12, 2013 at 6:44 pm · Reply

            What was the long term economic cost of Saddam Hussein to the US economy? >>

            before Bush came along it was less then 10 billion a year…that is what the no flys that kept Saddam clearly in his box and stopped him from being “emboldened” cost.

            When what you did cost more then what you were doing and only prevented things that exist in the mind of the dull, it is a clear sign that things are not all that balanced.

            YOu defend SLS/Orion…by now they have consumed 25 billion dollars together. IN constant dollars that is five times what the entire Gemini program cost.

            The notion of a right wing Republican being fiscally conservative is nonsense. RGO

            • E. P. Grondine

              Hi RGO –

              “When what you did cost more then what you were doing and only prevented things that exist in the mind of the dull, it is a clear sign that things are not all that balanced.”

              You don’t remember the Kemal brothers. Tenent and a lot of other people were not “dull”, though the final response was “dull”.
              That said, and despite the costs of the Iraq war, I won’t be using the Space Politics board for a discussion of Israeli intelligence operations and their effects on the US.

              • Robert G. Oler

                E. P. Grondine

                although it is fiction; there is a great line from the character of “Tony Dinozo” (spell) on NCIS…seeing that the people from Israel are in the US he goes “Oh good the Israelis are back”.

                In my world (and actually I suspect the world of BHO) we are headed toward a more regional approach to regional problems and less a world where superpower politics are the lens through which those problems are seen from. That includes the Mideast…meaning in my world the money (nearly 30 billion a year) spent propping up Israel goes way way down…ie they would be lucky if they got 2.

                Israel is another “red state” in terms of contributions…they indulge themselves in a lot of things due to US Largess.

                and we get little in return

                I find their space program “entertaining” particularly their liason with the Indians…whose space program I find “exciting”

                I see Apophis is going to miss us for a few decades. RGO

        • DCSCA

          “It is important to ask what long term micro gravity is worth and start there.”

          What’s you metric for “long term” in the first place, as humans have been accumulating microgravity LEO data for over 40 years. It’s value is relative to the ultimate goal it is applied to- the highest being HSF.

          Falling from one gravity field to another – say, from the Earth to Luna, is an established reality for humans and with adequate radiation protection, a well supplied expedition can establish a permanent human presence on Luna. It is feasable. But is it of value— Seward was ridiculed over Alaska in his time and the value only seen in later times.

          As far the the United States is concerned, the immediate core question must be answered: why send Americans into space- whether by public financed or private enterprised efforts. Once a rationale for it is established, the other pieces fall into place. And until it is, U.S. civil space efforts, public and private, are essentially groping in the dark, grasping for an answer to same. The Cold War is over and the cry, “because it is there” simply doesn’t fly anymore as a valid response in American society.

          And efforts will remain expensively spasmodic and reactive through decades to come until a concise rationale for civilian HSF is woven into the fabric of the American character. Other nations have or are in the process of doing so. The United States has not.

          • Coastal Ron

            DCSCA wrote:

            As far the the United States is concerned, the immediate core question must be answered: why send Americans into space- whether by public financed or private enterprised efforts.

            The motives of the U.S. Government do need to be clarified enough so the American public can have a say if they want (they still may not care).

            But there are two parallel efforts currently going on. The ISS and it’s support efforts (Commercial Cargo & Crew) are science oriented, not exploration, and the public sees science in a different light than exploration. For exploration, there hasn’t been an acknowledged “reason”, although I think there too the public is OK with incremental steps.

            As to the motives of private firms, the obvious answer is eventual profits. That certainly is what is driving Planetary Resources, as well as Golden Spike. Of course it doesn’t hurt that the people backing those companies have a passion for space, and passion is a necessary ingredient for just about any private enterprise.

            Musk of course is the exception, since he is driven primarily by passion. But he is also an entrepreneur and a smart businessman, and knows that he needs a profitable enterprise to fund his ultimate goals. Luckily he is multi-talented… ;-)

  • Breaking news … The NASA/Bigelow deal is official:

    http://www.space.com/19236-space-station-inflatable-module-bigelow.html

    Press conference on Wednesday at 1:30 PM EST in Las Vegas.

    • DCSCA

      “This partnership agreement for the use of expandable habitats represents a step forward in cutting-edge technology that can allow humans to thrive in space safely and affordably, and heralds important progress in U.S. commercial space innovation,” NASA deputy chief Lori Garver said in a statement

      =yawn= Old habits die hard for Lori. Another government works project contract allocated w/her fingerprints on it. Once a DC lobbyist, always a DC lobbyist.

    • Robert G. Oler

      Stephen…this could become annoying if I have to do to much of it, but it is seeming like Lori Garver is the driving force behind this…RGO

      • Lori Garver visited the plant two years ago. February 4, 2011 to be exact.

        Just my opinion, but I think we may look back at this as one of those seminal moments when the history of human spaceflight took a turn in the right direction.

        If this demonstration proves the technology, then we can add more modules to the ISS for a fraction of the cost. The ISS cost the U.S. and its partners about $100 billion. This demo module will cost $17 million. A full-blown (no pun intended) Bigelow habitat has nearly three times the volume of an ISS module.

        The Bigelow habitats are made out of Vectran, which is ten times stronger than aluminum and five times stronger than steel. But they’re much lighter than ISS modules and therefore cheaper to launch.

        Most folks here know about the Nautilus-X concept. The BEAM will be a big step towards determining if this technology might work. Bigelow has suggested using them as lunar colonies.

        What I’d like to know is how well Vectran would shield inhabitants from solar radiation. Here’s one article I found suggesting a way to use a lunar-based Vectran habitat in a scheme to protect from radiation.

        Many space advocates know about commercial cargo and crew, but not many know about Bigelow. I’ve long believed that Bigelow is what will make commercial space viable. SpaceX and Boeing already have agreements with Bigelow to deliver customers to Bigelow habitats. Seven nations have signed MOUs to use the habitats. So the business model for SpaceX and Boeing commercial crew isn’t just ISS, it’s also Bigelow.

        In fact, today I was telling people about the rumors that NASA will announce a new station at the L-2 Legrangian Point. The rumors have been about using spare ISS modules here on the ground. But if BEAM proves the technology, the L-2 station could be one or more Bigelow habitats — at a fraction of the cost.

        This is game-changing technology. The U.S. is going to have an entirely new economy based upon commercial launches to commercial space stations. No other nation will have it. No other nation can come close to having it. The rest of the world will come here to go to LEO.

        Have I mentioned that this is a big deal? :-)

        • Robert G. Oler

          Stephen C. Smith
          January 12, 2013 at 8:49 pm · Reply

          Lori Garver visited the plant two years ago. February 4, 2011 to be exact.

          Just my opinion, but I think we may look back at this as one of those seminal moments when the history of human spaceflight took a turn in the right direction.>>

          Yeah we might not only in spaceflight but well in so many things national.

          I wish sometimes that Dale Gray who use to hang out on the Compuserve space forum would come here (I dont see him on any space blog so if anyone knows where he or Mark Ruckman are…)…because it is times like this that DG would add a pretty good historical perspective…

          BUT we are in my view at a national inflection point for both space politics and national politics in general that will reverse a trend that although trending upward during Clinton was slowing its slope…and under Bush43 just reversed…and now we might finally be coming out of it

          What I have been a little shocked with is that all the information I am getting is that it is not Charlie behind this thing, it is Garver and that is a geniune reversal for her. Lori use to have never met a space effort she didnt like, but was in love with big government big corporation programs and the Upstarts could vanish and that would be sad but if major corporation projects went under then it was catastrophic.

          Humans in space is all about technology…there is nothing “natural” about it. IE it is in most settled parts of the world easy to find air to breath and mostly water to drink and in the past food to eat and the later could be had “low tech”…thereis nothing natural about space ie it all requires technology and the trick is to get a grip on that technology and its cost.

          SpaceX seems to be doing that in lift and Bigelow might be on the verge of doing that for modules…and if that happens the one two punch is a big deal.

          I dont know what a full module for Bigelow outfitted etc would cost…but the Russians are charging 50 million for a ride to ISS

          its 20 million or so for this module and I cant recall what Musk said he would charge for seats…but a plan can emerge here.

          I agree with you this is a big deal..(and for the first time since Bush43 election I have general hope for The Republic)

          IF Garver did this…its a good hit. RGO

          • amightywind

            and now we might finally be coming out of it

            Yeah, looks like we have come out of a period fiscal solvency, economic growth, stock market gains, full employment, and human spaceflight. But the indolent are making more from food stamps than ever. You are ridiculous. You hate George Bush. We get it. But your hate leads you to some bizarre conclusions.

            • Robert G. Oler

              amightywind
              January 13, 2013 at 8:47 pm · Reply

              and now we might finally be coming out of it

              Yeah, looks like we have come out of a period fiscal solvency, economic growth, stock market gains, full employment, and human spaceflight>>

              we did that when Bush took over from Clinton

              Or are you so inept that you think massive deficits which were institutionalized under Bush are “fiscal solvency” and “human spaceflight” was defined by theh waste of CX?

              The falcon 9 second stage is spinning out of control…lol RGO

            • josh

              hmm, i think the problem here is your hate of president obama (clearly illustrated by yet another one of your counterfactual rants)…

          • Fred Willett

            SpaceX = $20M a seat.
            The logic is that crewed dragon is going to cost about the same as cargo dragon.
            Cargo dragon is currently $133M a mission so say $140M for a crew dragon of 7 seats = $20M a seat.
            To a Bigelow station on a reusable dragon expect $80M a launch = $12M a seat.

            • Coastal Ron

              Fred Willett said:

              To a Bigelow station on a reusable dragon expect $80M a launch = $12M a seat.

              No. What Musk said is that they could do $20M per seat if seven people flew, which equals $140M per flight – but it will be $140M regardless how many fly.

              NASA plans to fly four people per flight to start, which will lower the cost per person from the June 2016 Soyuz price of $62.75M to the SpaceX forecasted price of $35M. However that forecasted price is just for the basic transportation service, and likely there will be additional costs for training and other pre-flight services, but still should be significantly lower than what we’re paying today.

        • Coastal Ron

          Have I mentioned that this is a big deal?

          I agree. It’s on par with getting Commercial Cargo and Crew going.

          Even though the module will likely be no more than a shell with power outlets, it’s the first step in proving out both non-NASA space station hardware, and the (hoped for) next generation of space building blocks.

          The price is pretty impressive too, although I look forward to more details from the press conference.

      • DCSCA

        Yep. You can spot her ‘MO’ from 300 miles up.

        • Robert G. Oler

          DCSCA
          January 12, 2013 at 9:49 pm · Reply

          Yep. You can spot her ‘MO’ from 300 miles up.>>

          Well not so much

          Look, under my actual name I have in the past written op eds in NSS magazines (which to their credit they published when Garver ran the organization) calling for her resignation; I’ve made that speech at NSS gatherings…I’ve been critical of her in op eds in real space publications under MY REAL NAME…

          Thats in the past, I am not sure that your statement “her MO” does not belong there. People change…or they are like Mike Griffin and dont…

          We will see. RGO

  • vulture4

    The price NASA is paying for the module is remarkably low when compared with other ways to increase ISS living space, and Bigelow has invested a lot of private capital and has the potential to generate commercial sales. This seems like a reasonable investment in making the ISS and human spaceflight more productive.

    • DCSCA

      In fact, the cost is figuratlviely speaking, ‘astronomical’ as every penny wasted on toying with the ISS, arelic of 20th century CVold War planning, and LEO ops condemns U.S. space efforts to more LEO HSF ops well into the 21st century.

      • Robert G. Oler

        DCSCA
        January 13, 2013 at 9:16 pm · Reply

        In fact, the cost is figuratlviely speaking, ‘astronomical’ as every penny wasted on toying with the ISS, arelic of 20th century CVold War planning, and LEO ops condemns U.S. space efforts to more LEO HSF ops well into the 21st century.>>

        this statement seems particularly “free of content” in terms of trying to make a point.

        If there is a “cold war” planning template to use, it is the notion that is exemplified by SLS/Orion and Apollo. On Sept 18, 1963 just a few weeks before his death, Jack Kennedy met with Webb in the oval office. Already it is clear that Kennedy is getting cold feet on the Apollo effort…Support is low for the effort, the GOP is oppossing it…but really Kennedy is trying to understand (you can tell by the words and the tone, there is a tape at the Kennedy Library …link on request) what the lasting value of the Apollo effort is.

        Webb really cannot find one.

        It (the Apollo effort) only makes sense if one looks at it as a notion of cold war national competition.

        It is hard to see “competition” in the space station; but it is easy to see it in SLS/Orion …because again that is the only way those two projects survive.

        It is hard today even amidst the waste internally of ISS to see how having spent (but the spending is done) 100-200 billion on the effort that any “deep space” (or just outside LEO) effort that is a government effort gets traction.

        NASA cannot justify in any coherent terms the L2 station its all about “warmed over cold war rhetoric’ (My phrase working on a piece to publish)

        In the end what the stations value is going to be 9if it can be found) in is what efforts (products) and technology in the business of spaceflight that it enables.

        to not grasp that is cold war thinking.

        RGO

        BTW saying I write things under my real name (“I sign everything I write”) is only about “me” to someone who post nothing under their own name…Robert Gayle Oler

        • DCSCA

          =yawn= The station’s ‘value’ was as instrument of Cold War planning and strategy as the era melted away.

          The JFK-Webb discussion is a dated Oval Office red herring, particularly as he was killed all of two months later. Kennedy was concerned about the long gap between Mercury, which had ended and the first Gemini flights and losing public support while Soviets kept lofting ‘firsts.’ And as we know, the GOP opposed it from the get-go, even as contracting was being let across the land to enrich constituerncies. Rightly so. And of course, you should be aware of JFK’s management style; and that it was LBJ that pushed Apollo across the goal line. -sigh- We’re all aware of your disdain for HSF on this forum as it is well documented. And your passion for self; of hearing and seeing your name(s) in print. =yawn= Years ago, DCSCA has challenged Garver in the nat’l press, so your effort is not unique.

          However, DCSCA (who is DCSCA BTW) agrees w/you on the necessity in this era to produce a viable rationale for putting Americans into space.

          In Kennedy’s time, he was reacting to events- and the competition, enhanced by the poetry of ‘because it is there’ worked. But it was reactive all the same. Not proactive. Other nations have or are in the process of incorporating a rationale for HSF into their national characters. The united States has yet to do so.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      Inflatable/expandable habitat technology may also be critical to radiation protection during long-duration deep space missions when teamed with superconducting tape:

      http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/AW_01_14_2013_p31-535211.xml

    • Fred Willett

      They have had 2 prototypes on orbit for a while now. According to their instrumentatiuon they are still going great.
      This will give the chance to have actual eyes on board.

  • DCSCA

    “Look, under my actual name I have in the past written op eds in NSS magazines (which to their credit they published when Garver ran the organization) calling for her resignation; I’ve made that speech at NSS gatherings…I’ve been critical of her in op eds in real space publications under MY REAL NAME…”

    Tes, regulars are aware of how muhc you like to talk about… you. Which, of course, has little to do w/space policy.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Except it is right. And for you to claim otherwise is weak commercialist spin at best or at worst, just a simple lie.”

    Evidence? Give us a link to a reference stating that the ISS was built during the Cold War and that the Russians never joined the partnership.

    “Which is meaningless prattle. You can certify anything, to be anything–but that does’t change the economics or the fiscal reality of this era, especially when the bills come due.”

    Wrong again. Multiple nations are spending lots of engineering dollars at their space agencies certifying their ISS components through 2028.

    “Orbiters were ‘certified’ for 100 flights. That went well until they cost too much to fly.”

    Wrong, on two counts, again. Only the airframes had a 100 flight lifetime, not all the other subsystems on the orbiter. And the Bush II Administration made the decision to set a date for Shuttle shutdown because of the Columbia tragedy.

    “The Supercollider was pitched as a must for America–except it wasn’t; the science stil lgets done in Europe and it is an expense not missed.”

    Wrong yet again. You’re confusing budget reductions with spiralling costs. The Supercollider fell into the latter category.

    “Except there’s not.

    Earlier in this thread you wanted the White House and Congress to give NASA $25 billion a year and get out of the way. Now you claim there’s too little funding to even support ISS.

    Do we need to throw more tax dollars at NASA? Or does NASA need to tighten its belt?

    Which is it, Tinkerbell?

    “We want a HLV and general purpose spacecraft for BEO HSF ops capabilities for the United States. Of course, that cuts out the LEO commercial start-ups from government resource,s doesn’t it.”

    ULA has a 70-ton launcher and SpaceX has a 140-ton launcher, either of which come in at or under $2.5 billion, a fraction of SLS costs. If NASA is going to have to tighten its belt, the economics of the commercial HLV solutions are irresistable.

    “And using Albrecht, a GHWB era advisor, doesn’t carry much weight in this century.”

    The label remains accurate. You’re still a Tinkerbell.

    • DCSCA

      =yawn= Please continue to deny the ISS, originally pitched to the public nearly 30 years ago in a Reagan SOTU speech, ain’t a Cold War relic, the final evolution of which representing strategies and planning from an era long over. We’re still laughing at sneezing over that handful of pixie dust. Or the famed marketing of same in print and broadcast media using featuring a red-starred Russian space station w/t voice over: ‘Shouldn’t we be there too?’ Dismissed.

      • vulture4

        DCSCA: “ISS, originally pitched to the public nearly 30 years ago in a Reagan SOTU speech”

        The Reagan proposal was minimally funded and generated only paper. The Space Station was originally proposed in 1969 as part of the STS, or Space Transportation System, long before Reagan. The “system” included the Shuttle, the Station, and the Space Tug. The Station was actually funded during the Clinton administration, with the rationale of building a partnership with Russia that would build trust between adversaries and reduce the likelihood of Russian scientists ending up in countries aiding terrorists.

        So it is not a relic of the last cold war, but rather a strategy to prevent the world from falling into another nuclear standoff between superpowers.

        • DCSCA

          So it is not a relic of the last cold war,” cried vulture4

          Except it is. The whole space program is for goodness sake.

          But you go on trying to say station is not. And we’ll keep smiling.

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “the ISS, originally pitched to the public nearly 30 years ago in a Reagan SOTU speech”

        Please, find the state of the union where Reagan uttered the words “International Space Station” or the acronym “ISS”.

        “print and broadcast media using featuring a red-starred Russian space station w/t voice over: ‘Shouldn’t we be there too?’”

        McDonnell Douglas ran that campaign back in 1989. The intergovernmental agreement that initiated the International Space Station program wasn’t created until nearly a decade later (1998).

        “Dismissed.”

        Isn’t that cute? Tinkerbell thinks he’s a teacher.

  • With Jeff’s continued indulgence …

    In the vein of discussing ISS, CASIS has released its 2012 Annual Report. Click here to read the report.

    For the uninitiated, CASIS runs the U.S. National Laboratory aboard the ISS for NASA.

  • Popeye

    after working on the shuttle program for 9 years at Kennedy Space Center I’ve come to one conclusion instead of doing so much exploration with robotic Vehicles and trying to design 19 sixties style bottle rocket spacecraft for low Earth orbit missions why doesn’t NASA do what it should be doing by designing real spacecraft for human exploration of space. what happened to our exploration spirit??? did we leave it all behind with the Apollo program???? I’m 62 years old and if they ask me to go to Mars tomorrow I would jump at the opportunity. but sadly bureaucrats and scientist would rather take the easy way and explore other worlds by remote control or better yet just hide their heads in the sand like politicians.

    • pathfinder_01

      From a technical view point machines are much easier to explore with. They can withstand high g-forces, high radiation, extreme temperature and they don’t need food, water, oxygen, or return trips home.

      From a political point of view NASA was the US’s public sector launcher till Regan signed the commercial space act allowing private companies to perform launch services. The problem with the deregulation of space is that it left the Shuttle in NASA’s hands. The shuttle was never meant to be just a manned spacecraft. It was meant to replace all US launchers with a cheaper reusable spacecraft and when it failed at being both cheaper and having enough capacity(i.e. you need a system able to do about 20 flights a year and the shuttle couldn’t do that.), NASA was stuck with a rocket that divorced manned spaceflight from unmanned spaceflight esp. to LEO and no role when it came to launching anyting other than the shuttle.

      Creates a nasty political situation where NASA needs to do something(build and operate rockets) that really does not equal exploration(i.e. You would focus on payloads and buy launch services instead of operating an rocket). Hence the support of SLS, despite the fact that it can be done cheaper through the private sector and NASA lacks payloads.

  • Coastal Ron

    Popeye said:

    why doesn’t NASA do what it should be doing by designing real spacecraft for human exploration of space. what happened to our exploration spirit?

    New to Space Politics, eh?

    OK, here is the quick update – the President proposes, but Congress disposes.

    That means no matter what the President and the NASA Administrator want to do, Congress ultimately decides. That is why 1/6th of NASA’s budget is being consumed by the Space Launch System (SLS), which doesn’t have any known customers, and no funded payloads.

    If NASA didn’t build the SLS (also known as the Senate Launch System), and still kept the same level budget, it would have plenty of money to use for starting to build BEO hardware that can be launched using existing (and far lower cost) launch systems. For instance, we built the 990,000 lb ISS using modules less than 40,000 lbs, and there are four launchers that can haul that much to LEO, and another (Falcon Heavy) coming soon that can haul almost 3X that amount to LEO.

    Now there still exists an enthusiasm gap. Probably most of us here that comment on this blog would love to get a real BEO HSF program going, especially one that is sustainable going forward. But the public in general is not enthusiastic about spending much on space, so cost has to be one of the most important issues we have to manage.

  • DCSCA

    “what happened to our exploration spirit??? did we leave it all behind with the Apollo program????” asks Popeye.

    Well, keep in mind Apollo was spawned as another battlefront of the Cold War, not launched out of any grand, primary motivation to explore. In 1989, the late Neil Armstrong eloquently stated, “The Apollo program enjoyed a certain nobility of purpose. A program not to conquer enemies but to conquer ignorance. A program not to exploit but to explore. A program not to take from others but to give to all.” And there may be some truth to that. However, the very down-to-Earth Frank Borman was more blunt: “Anybody who thinks Apollo was about exploration is nuts. It was about beating the Russians.”

    Shuttle was saved (and redesigned) w/DoD funds and requirements in mind. The HSF space projects of scale you want were and will be fueled by geo-politics interests in this era as elements of projecting national interests and economic power on Earth. The commerical HSF ‘bottle rockets’ on the drawing boards are quaint, but magnified in importance by the interests seeking government financing denied in the private sector for same. They’re ultimately short-sighted; for as we know, LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles, no where, fast.

    When the PRC launches out to Luna, we’ll see how Americans react. And that’s the point, U.S. space efforts have always been reactive, not proactive. The only space projects satisfying the appetite for exploration these days are the robots. And as the rising costs for Curiosity have shown, even they are not immune to the possibility of pricing themselves out of the game.

    “Congress ultimately decides. That is why 1/6th of NASA’s budget is being consumed by the Space Launch System (SLS), which doesn’t have any known customers, and no funded payloads.” kvetched Ron.

    Poor Ron. Apparently he doesn’t understand geo-politics. Congress is not supposed to finance ‘business enterprises’ which can seek financing in the private sector to ‘service customers’– a venue which remains wary of commercial HSF ventures w/a limited market and low to no ROI. Space exploitation is not space exploration.

  • Popeye

    I agree with Paul the space station is a boondoggle the whole thing was designed around world politics when I said spirit of exploration I think of Columbus the Vikings Captain Cook and any of the other explorers misguided or not. would anyone of you
    the willing to live on a moon base? I would……

    • Coastal Ron

      Popeye said:

      would anyone of you the willing to live on a moon base? I would…

      Elon Musk wants to retire on Mars, but instead of waiting for the government to get there, he created a company to provide the transportation he thinks will be needed for the settlement of Mars.

      If this were a competition, who do you think would get there first, you or Musk?

  • Popeye

    I would like to get there side by side with him.of course with his money he’ll get there before me.but I have to credit him for having his head in the right place.like a preacher would say( he has the spirit)!

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