Congress

House Science Committee organizes for the new Congress

The House Science Committee held a brief organizational meeting Wednesday to formally confirm its membership, rules, and subcommittee assignments. The Subcommittee on Space (as it is now simply known; all the committee’s subcommittees now have one-word names) is the committee’s largest subcommittee, with 12 Republican and 9 Democrats:

Republicans Democrats
Chairman Steven Palazzo (Mississippi)
Ralph Hall (Texas)
Dana Rohrabacher (California)
Frank D. Lucas (Oklahoma)
Michael McCaul (Texas)
Mo Brooks (Alabama)
Larry Bucshon (Indiana)
Steve Stockman (Texas)
Bill Posey (Florida)
David Schweikert (Arizona)
Jim Bridenstine (Oklahoma)
Chris Stewart (Utah)
Donna Edwards (Maryland) (Ranking Member)
Frederica Wilson (Florida)
Suzanne Bonamici (Oregon)
Dan Maffei (New York)
Joe Kennedy (Massachusetts)
Derek Kilmer (Washington)
Ami Bera (California)
Marc Veasey (Texas)
Julia Brownley (California)

Several NASA centers are represented in the subcommittee roster. Stephen Palazzo, returning as committee chairman, has Stennis Space Center in his district. Bill Posey comes to the committee after redistricting put Kennedy Space Center in his district (he previously represented Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, but not KSC itself), while Mo Brooks’s district includes Marshall Space Flight Center. Steve Stockman, returning to Congress after serving a term in the House in the mid-1990s, has the Johnson Space Center just inside his new district; it previously had been in Rep. Pete Olson’s (R-TX) district. Ranking member Donna Edwards’s district surrounds the Goddard Space Flight Center on three sides.

Edwards, the new ranking member of the subcommittee, welcomed her appointment to the position in a statement yesterday. “Having worked years ago on NASA’s Spacelab project, I look forward to the opportunity to develop a pioneering space policy that will uphold our international competitiveness, spur innovation in the United States, and build the jobs and workforce that have contributed so greatly to our economy, including in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District,” Edwards, representing Maryland’s 4th district, said.

In his opening statement, full committee chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) included an new NASA authorization bill as a committee priority. “From reauthorizing NASA to advocating for robust research and development,” he said, “we have much to do.” The committee’s oversight plan goes into more details, including NASA’s human spaceflight program “it undergoes a period of uncertainty and transition following various Administration proposals.” In space science, the plan calls out for special attention unspecified “programs that exceed cost estimates to ensure they do not adversely impact the development and launch of other missions,” a possible reference to the James Webb Space Telescope. Other efforts “warranting further review” at NASA, in the eyes of the committee, “include costs associated with cancellation of the Constellation program, NASA’s approach to develop and fund a successor to the Space Shuttle, and investment in NASA launch infrastructure.”

75 comments to House Science Committee organizes for the new Congress

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “The Subcommittee on Space (as it is now simply known; all the committee’s subcommittees now have one-word names) is the committee’s largest subcommittee”

    Follow the money…

    From the “Committee Oversight Plan”:

    “National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) human space flight program… Specific attention will be paid to the feasibility of NASA’s plans and priorities relative to their resources and requirements.”

    “NASA Space Science… Particular attention will be paid to programs that exceed cost estimates to ensure they do not adversely impact the development and launch of other missions.”

    Right… because this committee has been so effective in the past at making sure human space flight plans match resources and in containing science mission overruns.

    I mean, SLS isn’t underfunded by a billion-plus dollars per year, right?

    And JWST’s costs havn’t multiplied more the eight-fold, right?

    Right…

    “Several NASA centers are represented in the subcommittee roster.”

    No conflicts of interest here at all.

    After all, a chairman whose Mississipi district is dependent on SSC testing of unnecessary rocket engines for an unnecessary heavy lift launch vehicle is going to be critical of spending tens of billions of taxpayer dollars on that same launch vehicle, right?

    And a ranking member with constituents who work at GSFC, who herself used to work at GSFC, and who probably still holds LockMart stock from the time she worked at GSFC, is going to be critical of GSFC’s inept management of and massive overruns on the agency’s largest science mission, right?

    Right…

    “In his opening statement, full committee chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) included an new NASA authorization bill as a committee priority.”

    Funny how it was a priority the last time around, yet the House never managed to pass the committee’s version of the bill.

    Keep up the good work, you ineffective, conflicted, and hypocritical overseers of the nation’s space program.

    Bleah…

    • Malmesbury

      How bizarre that you are surprised.

      The original deal in setting up NASA was -

      1) Beat the Russians at something other than a nice game of ThermonuclearWar
      2) Spend all the money in the districts of politicians who have played the game right.
      3) As a side effect, some science and exploration stuff that make the politicians look visionary and soulful.

      Notice what happens when (1) is removed?

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “How bizarre that you are surprised.”

        Where did I say that I was surprised?

        Your irony detector may be set too high. (Or mine is if you’re being ironic.)

        Agree with the rest of your post.

      • Robert G. Oler

        You wrote “Notice what happens when (1) is removed?

        I suspect that in 20-30 years we are going to see a completely new “world” develop because in large measure the difficult journey that the US has been on in the last 20 or so years has been coming to grips with that one fact.

        Bush41 and Clinton (maybe “the first”) were dealing with the aftermath of the end of the cold war on a case by case basis and without any overarching theme…but they were in the process of “demilitarizing” our entire economy…when Bush43 got in and with his Presidency floundering found 9/11 and reinvented the cold war.

        Bush43′s space policy is nothing but a cold war program without really Russian/Soviet competition. It is like the massive military buildup that bush did…done more to feed the various military industrial complexes this time with no real overarching reason..but always sort of couched in the notion of cold war politics.

        Now with the 12 results in we are starting the march back down the road of demilitarizing the economy…and that includes space policy and politics.

        OLD habits die hard but in this case they are dying simply because these programs have reached a level where they are simply not performing. That was tolerated during the Bush43 years because he was deficit spending…but for instance during the cold war it was not because the government (of both political parties) was unwilling to do that…so programs like the XB-70 the varions MOL concepts etc just got canned when their cost simply soared.

        They would not have under Bush43…that is why Cx was tolerated, a missile defense that does not work had tens of billions spent deploying it…and hte F-35 churns on.

        The odd thing, for me at least since I spent sometime first supporting it, then oppossing it and when it started to fly recognizing that things had changed…is that the lasting contribution to humanity that the cold war NASA may make is not the trips to the Moon…

        But strangely ISS.

        ISS maybe the thing that because of what it enables in private space development…that pulls the nation into a space age.

        We still have some way to go, but the hearings recently with Secretary Clinton showed he last gasp of the “we must have an enemy” crowd…and the American people are as a large majority ready to invent a new America. A post cold war one.

        Robert G. Oler

        • Malmesbury

          XB-70 and MOL were cancelled at the height of the cold war. Kennedy was doing the massive arms build up. He and McNamara agreed that what the US needed was fewer types of weapons – so that they could afford many, many more of them. The plan was or 10,000 Minutemen missiles at one point… So, when Mac the Knife cancelled programs by the score, there was not too much squeaking – the same firms were being given massive contracts to build other things.

          Nowadays – well, if SRBs go away, a whole division of ATK gets shut down….

    • Guest

      I’m not a big fan of the SLS, but clearly Stennis, Michoud, MSFC, KSC and JSC et al. need a task that both needs to be done and can be done. SLS as designed is not it.

      This committee needs to pay close attention to what can be done on the poles of the moon with uncrewed all liquid powered versions of the SLS using reusable LRBs because that more or less is what very near future reusable HLVs are going to look like.

      No this is not a big press conference for cubesats, this is a peer review thing.

      • Coastal Ron

        Guest said:

        because that more or less is what very near future reusable HLVs are going to look like.

        There is no need for HLV’s at all, regardless if they are reusable. The only way to lowers costs is through high volume, and there are no high-volume SLS-sized payloads that need to get to space. Reusable or not, the SLS will end up sitting on the ground for years before it will have anything to launch.

        Our current terrestrial transportation systems can’t even handle moving the proposed 8.4m diameter SLS payloads to a launch location, which is yet another hidden cost of going forwards with the SLS. The SLS is so wrong on so many levels, that it can’t help but come crashing down when the curtain is pulled back and people really understand what it is (and isn’t).

  • I think that JPL is in Brownley’s district, but if not, it’s right near the border, and she must have a lot of constituents who work there.

  • Coastal Ron

    …NASA’s approach to develop and fund a successor to the Space Shuttle…

    I assume this means the SLS, since not even the pork-crazy politicians currently in Congress would think that NASA could support yet another useless transportation system.

    But it’s funny how myopic this group is. How do they think we’ll increase our capabilities in space if all we ever do is replace one transportation system with another transportation system. That’s just a 1-for-1 exchange.

    The only way we’ll be able to increase our capabilities is to increase the number of transportation options we have, and lower the overall cost to do things in space. That is why two or more crew transportation systems are needed, as well as two or more cargo transportation systems. We already have more than two options for lifting heavy payloads to space, which is why the SLS is completely unneeded.

    Of course this is Congress we’re talking about, and with the lineup of committee members shown above, there is little hope of any real progress being made on refilling NASA’s bare technology cupboard.

    PORK SHALL PREVAIL!!

  • amightywind

    It is important for this committee to shine the light of truth on the budgetary shenanigans of the leftist activists that run NASA. They cannot be trusted with SLS development.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      Yeah, you don’t want Bill Gerstenmaier, who ran STS and ISS under Griffin, running HEOMD. He’s such a “lefty”.

    • Robert G. Oler

      amightywind
      January 24, 2013 at 12:48 pm · Reply

      It is important for this committee to shine the light of truth on the budgetary shenanigans of the leftist activists that run NASA. They cannot be trusted with SLS development.>>

      Yes lets instead trust the people who are causing SLS and Orion to falter mechanically and go over budget and slide to the right timewise…real men/people of genius RGO

  • Guest

    there are no high-volume SLS-sized payloads that need to get to space

    Not if the SLS core stages are the payloads going to the moon, you’re missing that.

    Our current terrestrial transportation systems can’t even handle moving the proposed 8.4m diameter SLS payloads to a launch location

    I think that’s why they use barges in the Gulf of Mexico and inland canals. Also, this scales down so you could just as easily use Blue Origin core stages in the future. It would be quicker and easier to start with the rocket that is funded. Regardless of what you think, these are the kinds of rockets that are going to happen.

    • Coastal Ron

      Guest said:

      Not if the SLS core stages are the payloads going to the moon, you’re missing that.

      There is nothing to miss. Who is the customer for SLS cores stages on the Moon?

      What’s missing is demand for anything the SLS is supposed to lift.

      I think that’s why they use barges in the Gulf of Mexico and inland canals.

      Back in the Apollo days, yes, that’s what they did, as well as using the Panama Canal. But that was for rocket assemblies, not complex payloads. The current factories that build space-rated hardware are not next to waterways, and the factories are not currently set up to build 8.4m diameter 70mt complex payloads. We’re talking about a lot of money to do all that – where is that money coming from? Republican’s in Congress?

      To understand why the SLS – reusable or not – is not needed, just answer these questions:

      1. Why can’t we do whatever it is we want to do in space with the current 5m diameter payload limitation?

      2. Why can’t we do whatever it is we want to do in space with the current 20mt-to-LEO capability (i.e. Delta IV Heavy-class launchers)?

      3. Why can’t we use the same assembly techniques that we already mastered with the 450mt ISS to assemble far large vehicles than the small 70-130mt ones the SLS is supposed to carry?

      The answers to all three is that we can do everything we need to do today – and into the foreseeable future – with existing launchers. No one has a demonstrated need for a rocket the size of the SLS, and certainly not a government-only rocket.

      • Guest

        Who is the customer for SLS cores stages on the Moon?

        The public, presumably, since they are the ones funding the big beyond low earth orbit rocket.

        What’s missing is demand for anything the SLS is supposed to lift.

        Fuel, and itself! You should be able to shoe horn on some solar panels and a communications link and navigational aids as well, for the lunar polar robots.

        Why can’t we do whatever it is we want to do in space with the current 5m diameter payload limitation?

        Because they aren’t as dramatic and useful as several hundred foot tall operational lunar bases sitting on the pole of the moon?

        Why can’t we do whatever it is we want to do in space with the current 20mt-to-LEO capability (i.e. Delta IV Heavy-class launchers)?

        Because they aren’t reusable.

        Why can’t we use the same assembly techniques that we already mastered with the 450mt ISS to assemble far large vehicles than the small 70-130mt ones the SLS is supposed to carry?

        The only assembly I’m talking about is in the VAB where it is much cheaper to perform.

        I’m just trying to stir things up a bit for the new presidential term. It’s going to peer review so your comments are welcome, of course, but not necessary relevant.

        No one has a demonstrated need for a rocket the size of the SLS, and certainly not a government-only rocket.

        I just did. SEP and GCR protection clinches it. It’s the pole of the moon.

        Even the Russians have figured that out now.

        • Coastal Ron

          Guest said:

          The public, presumably, since they are the ones funding the big beyond low earth orbit rocket.

          You are confused. The people’s representatives in Congress are the ones that are funding the SLS – the public has no direct say over the program. And if you were to ask average citizens on the street, I doubt a majority of them would want to send empty SLS core stages to the poles of the Moon.

          Because they aren’t as dramatic and useful as several hundred foot tall operational lunar bases sitting on the pole of the moon?

          You’re confused again. I was talking diameter, and you’re answering in height. Besides, using modular assembly we can build whatever size structures we need on the Moon, all without the SLS.

          Because they [i.e. Delta IV Heavy-class launchers] aren’t reusable.

          The SLS isn’t reusable either. You ASSUME it would be, but that is an unsupported supposition.

          Besides, if all you’re looking for is a rocket that uses reusable boosters, then why not just wait a couple of years for the reusable version of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy?

          Congress won’t even fully fund the expendable version of the SLS, and you think they are going to add lots more money to make the SLS reusable? You do know how delusional that makes you sound, right?

          It’s going to peer review…

          That and $1.50 will get you a cup of coffee at a Starbucks.

          • Guest

            if you were to ask average citizens on the street, I doubt a majority of them would want to send empty SLS core stages to the poles of the Moon.

            I think quite the opposite. Once they see it happen I’m positive they will view large operating lunar bases on the moon to be much more valuable than SLS core stages reentering into the atmosphere, burning up and crashing into the ocean.

            The SLS isn’t reusable either.

            But it easily could be. You could take away the crew, and the payload and all the the excess weight and put it wherever you want by flying it around the moon and back. That’s the point I am making. As it stands now it’s dead, but as an actual reusable space development vehicle it could easily justify itself, and future space development launchers are going to look just like it no matter what you claim. Expendable rockets are going to be the dinosaurs.

            Like I said, my intention is to stir things up with entirely new approaches.

            I believe we’ve already established you aren’t in that peer group.

            • Coastal Ron

              Guest said:

              Once they see it happen I’m positive they will view large operating lunar bases on the moon to be much more valuable than SLS core stages reentering into the atmosphere, burning up and crashing into the ocean.

              Uh, the public is not likely to really care, and likely won’t even see the 1st stage “burning up and crashing into the ocean”.

              But OK, you have a theory. But in order for you to test your theory, you need to convince the people with the power over the money to fund this “little” experiment in the first place. It’s the classic Chicken vs Egg problem.

              There are also “inertia” issues you have to overcome, including:

              A. Expendable rockets are the norm, so everyone accepts the current situation. Even the work SpaceX has done hasn’t generated much excitement.

              B. Why should the U.S. Taxpayer pay for a “large operating lunar base”? Isn’t that the role of the private sector?

              But it easily could be. You could take away the crew, and the payload and all the the excess weight and put it wherever you want by flying it around the moon and back.

              We don’t need the SLS to send up empty shells to the Moon. You must think money grows on trees because even a reusable SLS will still cost far more $/lb to send mass to the Moon than using existing commercial launchers. And isn’t that the bottom line, the total cost to accomplish a task?

              Like I said, my intention is to stir things up with entirely new approaches.

              Or you could propose something realistic…

              I believe we’ve already established you aren’t in that peer group.

              Well, based on what I’ve read, I guess I am not too hurt about that… ;-)

              • Guest

                Or you could propose something realistic…

                Like a long, expensive and unfunded campaign with expendable launch vehicles and payloads that don’t exist? No thank you. I’ll stick with the authorized and funded launch vehicle as payload in a one up uncrewed zero risk shot to the pole of the moon, thank you. It has a better chance than most proposals I’ve seen come out of the deep space crowd.

                But like I said. I’m just agitating. With a purpose.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                Like a long, expensive and unfunded campaign with expendable launch vehicles and payloads that don’t exist?

                If you mean the SLS, it will crash and burn under it’s own weight soon enough. The rocket development portion is underfunded, and there is no funding for actually using it without it sitting on the ground for a decade. The sooner it dies the better.

                But what you seem to be proposing is keeping the SLS around, and spending even MORE money on it in some quixotic quest for doing something on the Moon no one with money has said they want.

                Don’t you notice the disconnect? I see this all the time with entrepreneurs, where they fall in love with a solution before they even understand what the problem is. Whatever problem you are trying to solve, what happens if the SLS is cancelled? Can it still be solved using your solution? What happens to the overall costs to accomplish the same task, and who pays for it?

                You’re not focused enough on money.

                But like I said. I’m just agitating. With a purpose.

                I see one, but not both.

              • Guest

                some quixotic quest for doing something on the Moon no one with money has said they want.

                I just happen to know enough about physics and technology and existing programmatic resources and capabilities to understand the folly of man on Mars or an asteroid as opposed to a communications and navigation satellite sitting on the pole of the moon, integrated into its launcher. The latter is both useful and necessary, no matter how you spin it.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                I just happen to know enough about physics and technology and existing programmatic resources and capabilities to understand the folly of man on Mars or an asteroid…

                Really?

                And here you are suggesting Congress spend more money to make an unneeded rocket reusable? I think there are still some things you don’t understand…

                …as opposed to a communications and navigation satellite sitting on the pole of the moon, integrated into its launcher.

                I hate to break it to you, but commercial companies already develop and launch satellites for communications and navigation. Why would the U.S. Taxpayer need to pay for that? Where is the need?

                Regardless what you THINK you know (and what I don’t), all your thinking is for naught unless Congress sees that there is a need to spend ten’s of $Billions on your idea.

                The current SLS program would not have been created if a handful of Senators hadn’t wanted to keep jobs going from the cancelled Constellation program, and they even stated that. It’s widely recognized that NASA doesn’t have enough funding, and yet the SLS program is underfunded. There is no enthusiasm for efforts that go beyond NASA’s recognized needs, and the SLS is not even on that list.

                Hence my “quixotic” description.

              • Guest

                And here you are suggesting Congress spend more money to make an unneeded rocket reusable? I think there are still some things you don’t understand

                On the contrary, I am here suggesting that congress and the executive office make the authorized and funded launch vehicle they have much more valuable, useful and affordable by eliminating the things we don’t need and applying that which we do need to the problem before us, which is, how to transform something that doesn’t work into something that does. We don’t need a gold plated capsule, five segment SRBs, a huge payload fairing for huge payloads that don’t exist nor do we even need huge payloads, but we do need to put something on the lunar pole. Reusable heavy lift launch vehicles of the near future will have the capability of putting very large core stages on the pole of the moon. That’s a fact you need to start wrapping your mind around – IMHO. So like all good space advocates, I am here – agitating.

                I wouldn’t want the comments to be boring.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                …and applying that which we do need to the problem before us, which is, how to transform something that doesn’t work into something that does.

                Congress doesn’t see that problem. Or at least, the few that make the decisions about these things.

                So you are trying to solve a problem that is not an acknowledged problem. Now that’s a problem.

                …but we do need to put something on the lunar pole.

                Where do you get this from? The President wants to go to an asteroid, and that is what he has directed NASA to plan for.

                Congress wants NASA to do a number of things, but not to put “something” on the lunar pole of our Moon. And they recently cancelled a return to the Moon program without any debate on the floor of Congress, so they have not demonstrated any particular fondness for the Moon.

                Who is this “we” you are talking about?

                Reusable heavy lift launch vehicles of the near future will have the capability of putting very large core stages on the pole of the moon.

                So instead of dumping SLS cores in the ocean here on Earth, you’re going to dispose of them on the pole of the Moon? What a brilliant plan!

                That’s a fact you need to start wrapping your mind around…

                I think you are having a problem separating fact from fiction.

              • Guest

                Who is this “we” you are talking about?

                We the people, of the United States of America, the people funding the giant rocket to nowhere. I’m just giving it a destination based upon current understanding of SEP and GCR events. Asteroids are great, even better considering you can cram all that material into the SLS tank for shielding and not have it collapse the entire stack into a heap. But they are distant. The moon is right there in the middle of our space. With fully reusable liquid hydrocarbon boosters it is reachable.

                So instead of dumping SLS cores in the ocean here on Earth, you’re going to dispose of them on the pole of the Moon? What a brilliant plan!

                We’re flying forty old legacy engines that have been taking out of cold storage, so I’m confident that in another forty years those engines will be good to go on the moon. Evidence is on my side there.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                We the people, of the United States of America, the people funding the giant rocket to nowhere.

                Last I looked, “We The People” haven’t said that we want to go to the Moon. That kind of invalidates your assumption right there.

                I’m just giving it a destination based upon current understanding of SEP and GCR events.

                “SEP and GCR events”? More made up reasons?

                Asteroids are great, even better considering you can cram all that material into the SLS tank for shielding and not have it collapse the entire stack into a heap. But they are distant.

                According to Deep Space Industries, they can get to 700-800 NEOs with less energy than getting to the Moon.

                The moon is right there in the middle of our space. With fully reusable liquid hydrocarbon boosters it is reachable.

                The Moon isn’t going anywhere, and it will wait for us until we can get there in an affordable way – which is not what you are proposing.

                Evidence is on my side there.

                Eh, not so much. But whatever keeps you off the street and out of trouble…

              • Guest

                Last I looked, “We The People” haven’t said that we want to go to the Moon. That kind of invalidates your assumption right there.

                We the people haven’t even figured out how to get to the moon, or anywhere else for that matter, but are building the rocket to nowhere nevertheless. I have. Using their rocket, no less, with a bunch of other useful cost saving and value and job creating caveats. So right there I’m speaking from a position of authority on this matter. If you have something to bring to the table besides ‘cancel SLS’ I’d love to hear about it.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                We the people haven’t even figured out how to get to the moon…

                Um, did you miss Apollo in the 60′s?

                We know how to get to the Moon safely, and even return. We just don’t have a reason to go back, or at least not one that is worth lots and lots of money.

                …but are building the rocket to nowhere nevertheless.

                I know you’re having a hard time with this concept, but the reason the SLS is being funded is not because the Senators that pushed for it have grand plans for the Moon. If they hadn’t been canceling the Constellation program, they wouldn’t have lobbied for the SLS. The SLS right now is just a jobs program.

                Using their rocket, no less, with a bunch of other useful cost saving and value and job creating caveats.

                You can’t have “cost savings” for something that is pure spending. Besides, in order to get your supposed “cost savings”, first Congress has to cough up even MORE money to develop your supposed improvements.

                If you have something to bring to the table besides ‘cancel SLS’ I’d love to hear about it.

                Glad you asked.

                I would reprogram the SLS funding stream to the priorities that the NASA Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group outlined in their March 7, 2012 presentation called “NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities“.

                As the Augustine Commission stated in the final report, NASA’s technology cupboard is bare. We don’t currently have the technology necessary to go beyond LEO, and sending empty SLS core stages to the Moon doesn’t do anything to address that lack of preparedness.

              • Fred Willett

                Guest said
                If you have something to bring to the table besides ‘cancel SLS’ I’d love to hear about it.
                Think about it in terms of money.
                1/ Cancel SLS. It’s due to cost north of $1B a flight for 70t to LEO.
                2/ buy 2 Falcon Heavies for $125M each. That gives you 106t to LEO for $250M.
                Wow.
                You’ve saved $750M which you can use for actually building payloads and (in lieu of steak knives) you get an extra 30t to orbit as well.
                And if all that’s not enough you can fly 5, maybe 10 years sooner!!!

              • Guest

                buy 2 Falcon Heavies for $125M each.

                You don’t seem to understand the concept. That’s what I am proposing. That’s small change, and that’s essentially what is happening here. Using liquid reusable booster systems that will be online after 2015 to launch huge amounts of cryogenic fuels, and hence water and/or carbon dioxide, to the moon. I’m just using an uncrewed SLS core stage as the upper stage and lander. It saves a lot of trouble and increases efficiency in usable payload delivered to the surface of the poles of the moon.

                Don’t get your knickers into a twist, I’m just pushing a new concept. The question still remains, what will the committees do, with the newbies on one side and the hard cores on the other. It’s their rocket. And then there is the destination/slash policy thing, I watched the webcast last night, but it was pretty pathetic. I had to quit.

                Here’s the rub. With seven to nine billion people and twenty trillion dollars of US public debt, plus a whole slew of environmental problems, these people have no other choice but to fund something like this.

                It will be interesting to see if and how quickly they get on board.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                You don’t seem to understand the concept. That’s what I am proposing.

                Using the SLS core and using a SpaceX Falcon Heavy are two completely different things.

                Using liquid reusable booster systems that will be online after 2015 to launch huge amounts of cryogenic fuels, and hence water and/or carbon dioxide, to the moon.

                I guess you’re not an ISRU supporter, huh?

                With seven to nine billion people and twenty trillion dollars of US public debt, plus a whole slew of environmental problems, these people have no other choice but to fund something like this.

                Uh huh. Sure. Forced immigration to the Moon, funded and paid for by the U.S. Taxpayer. Yep, that is going to go over well on the floor of Congress… ;-)

              • Guest

                Using the SLS core and using a SpaceX Falcon Heavy are two completely different things.

                In this case, using a highly modified SLS core and two Falcon Heavies are the same thing. Certainly Mr. Musk is going to use this same technique to go to Mars, and he gets the added benefit of aerobraking to save several thousand km/s of propulsion fuel. No doubt this was the reason for his switch to methane propulsion. I am merely proposing to do the same thing with hydrogen, and the moon, where aerobraking is not an option and hydrogen fuels are almost a necessity to deliver the water.

                I guess you’re not an ISRU supporter, huh?

                Of course I am, but why take chances when the targets and deposits are unknown? The alternative ‘Ron’ way of doing things would be to dump the fuel to purge the engines I suppose, after making all that effort to deliver it to its destination. Can you understand the folly of your position in these matters? Let me try to explain it to you one last time. The rocket is authorized and funded. They plan to destroy it on test flights that serve no purpose. What is so hard to understand here?

                No matter. You don’t sit on the relevant congressional committees.

                Forced immigration to the Moon, funded and paid for by the U.S.

                I guess real time STEM education of your constituency with a vibrant robotic lunar polar exploration program would be just unthinkable. And I guess soft and hard power and international cooperation just sucks.

                You don’t appear to be thinking this through at all, sorry.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                In this case, using a highly modified SLS core and two Falcon Heavies are the same thing.

                As Fred Willett pointed out, they are not anywhere near the same amount of money, so no, they are not the same thing.

                The alternative ‘Ron’ way of doing things would be to dump the fuel to purge the engines I suppose, after making all that effort to deliver it to its destination.

                You’re assuming it’s going there anyways. It’s not. And that’s pretty much the stark difference here:

                - You think Congress will see a brilliant plan to do something on the moon using your suggestions, and gladly add more money to NASA in order to do it.

                - Myself (and many, many others) understand that the SLS is primary just a jobs program at this point, and that Congress is not only underfunding the development portion of the program, but has had no interest in funding any missions for it either. For instance, looking at the cost of prior NASA programs, an SLS-sized mission payload would likely take at least $10B and 10 years to get ready. But here we are just 9 years away from when the SLS is supposed to be operational, and there has been no indication from Congress that they care about the SLS being used. The only acknowledged use for the SLS is to carry the Orion and it’s service module to space, and that’s not enough to fully justify it’s existence.

                No matter. You don’t sit on the relevant congressional committees.

                I don’t see you up there either… ;-)

                I guess real time STEM education of your constituency with a vibrant robotic lunar polar exploration program would be just unthinkable.

                STEM education happened to be one of the topics at my regular business social gathering, and no one was saying the SLS was required to get robotic systems to the Moon. In fact, no non-governmental organization could afford to send them to the Moon on the SLS. In fact using the Falcon Heavy is likely to be the prime way for robotic explorers to get into space, not government-run transportation.

                And I guess soft and hard power and international cooperation just sucks.

                Last I looked, no other country was begging to join the SLS program…

              • Guest

                You seem to be entirely missing the point. The intent is to get very basic power, navigation, communications and observational infrastructure onto the pole of the moon to OFFER to many other governments, NGOs and corporations for use by their own rovers and landers. A much better investment than weapons and sanctions in my honest opinion, and about as good as a carrot on a stick that you can get with what we have now. I am truly sorry you are not thinking this through. Hopefully the committee members can do better. Just trying to keep it on topic. In the future small rovers will be able to hitch a ride on lunar development flights.

              • Fred Willett

                You seem to be entirely missing the point.
                Your proposal fails on so many levels.
                1/ Costs. Not using SLS saves a fortune and enables so much more.
                2/ Getting SLS first stage to the moon is impossible.
                Just getting SLS 1st stage to orbit implies Single Stage To Orbit which has never been done. It’s why rockets have second stages, and sometimes third and even fourth stages. Single Stage to the Moon is an impossibility piled on top of an absurdity.
                So why not 2 Falcon Heavies carrying a Bigelow module to set on the moon. Now that you could do for a fraction of the cost of 1 SLS.
                And it’s practical.

              • Guest

                Getting SLS first stage to the moon is impossible. Just getting SLS 1st stage to orbit implies Single Stage To Orbit which has never been done.

                I guess I need a better simulator then. First of all, the Falcon 9 Version 1.1 has a 30 to 1 structural efficiency in mass ratio. It’s SSTO capable all by itself. The SSMEs and any reasonable structural efficiency approaching 10 to 1 is SSTO capable, thus, by definition, a reasonably designed and constructed (fuel only) aerodynamic SLS core stage is SSTO capable, whether it has been done before or not. But that’s not the point, the point is that these two structural elements combined with multiple pairs of boosters has an enormous delta V, far more than you would imagine, especially with high g burns close to the earth or moon. You can simulate it yourself. You will be surprised.

                But I agree, staging is more mass efficient, so when I stage, I choose to stage early and land downrange, or stage into low earth orbit and escape velocity. Everything can then be reused in space development. But direct flights to the pole of the moon are the most favorable because they land the largest possible amount of reusable space infrastructure onto a weak gravity oriented surface and islands of near perpetual light, with superb radiation protection over half the sky, and ease of resource acquisition for further radiation protection schemes, and ZERO attitude control fuel necessary after landing.

                So why not 2 Falcon Heavies carrying a Bigelow module to set on the moon. Now that you could do for a fraction of the cost of 1 SLS.

                Because it is not logistically supportable. I can just as easily ship a Bigelow inflatable sphere integrated into the nose of the oxygen tank of an SLS and deploy it inside the tank in a pressurized environment, far from the hazards of any lunar dust, and support it, with water derived from residual fuel and power produced in a radial fashion around the intertank segment of the vehicle. A Falcon Heavy would require an upper stage and a lander which doesn’t exist and then lots of external work which is just too difficult and expensive to perform with humans. I want working systems plopped right down there. Believe it or not, it is a lot cheaper to build and design on Earth.

                Do you think this kind of stuff is too technical for the committee? Trying to keep it on topic here.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                The intent is to get very basic power, navigation, communications and observational infrastructure onto the pole of the moon to OFFER to many other governments, NGOs and corporations for use by their own rovers and landers.

                Have you even determined that there is a demand for such a service?

                Because that’s my reticence to your whole plan – that the U.S. Taxpayer will spend ten’s of $Billions to send all that infrastructure to the Moon, and no one will be able to afford to use it.

                And if you think there is a demonstrated need, why should the U.S. Taxpayer support it? Why not let the private market do what they do best – make a business out of the (supposedly) demonstrated demand?

                A much better investment than weapons and sanctions in my honest opinion

                You are falling into the logic trap that many do when they talk about grand plans of any type. You think defunding the Department of XXX will mean more funding for NASA. That’s not how Congress works, so you are deluding yourself.

                Do you think this kind of stuff is too technical for the committee?

                I think there are only two or three people that would understand anything close to technical on the relevant space-related panels, but most of the people that show up are only there to protect dollars going to their districts.

                So YES, it’s too technical.

              • Guest

                Have you even determined that there is a demand for such a service

                The idea is to create a demand for constructive services rather than destructive devices and activities. So given the amount of money spent and damage done by the the manufacture, sale and purchase of weapons of war by elected governments, NGOs and corporations around the world lately, then I’d have to answer that with an big affirmative there.

                Big 10 4 on the demand for activities that don’t wreak havoc on man. Besides, the money for this system is already spent. And it is going to continue to be spent until default can no longer be postponed. You have exactly that long to get a workable space development system operating. Good luck. Any ideas you have would be most welcome.

                Thanks in advance.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                The idea is to create a demand for constructive services rather than destructive devices and activities.

                You are conflating NASA with the Department of Defense.

                So given the amount of money spent and damage done by … weapons of war …, then I’d have to answer that with an big affirmative there.

                Since NASA didn’t do any of that, you are only going to confuse people if you bring this up as part of your justification.

                Besides, the money for this system is already spent.

                Your ignorance about how our government works is still continuing to confuse you. A spending bill has been approved, but the money has not been fully spent. We still have 9+ years to kill it before it becomes operational, but I doubt it will take that long.

                You have exactly that long to get a workable space development system operating.

                There is no competition going on here – it’s all in your mind. Besides, you still have to get Congress to make a major change to the SLS program, whereas those of us that recognize that the SLS is the wrong rocket to build at this time, know that it will get cancelled because it is as unsustainable as the Constellation program was.

                Any ideas you have would be most welcome.

                Create plans that don’t depend on U.S. Taxpayer money.

              • Guest

                We still have 9+ years to kill it before it becomes operational, but I doubt it will take that long.

                Good luck with that. This has been going on for seven years already. That’s close to fifty billion when said and done. For what?

                There is no ‘operational’ when developing space. Nor should there be. What you have is three or possibly four flight opportunities for legacy hydrolox core stages somewhere into deep space. Make the most of it. After that, it will indeed be all commercial, or nothing at all.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                What you have is three or possibly four flight opportunities for legacy hydrolox core stages somewhere into deep space. Make the most of it. After that, it will indeed be all commercial, or nothing at all.

                I’d rather it be all commercial. A commercial operation has the motivation to make sure they have real demand before they start sending metal to the Moon, and they wouldn’t be wasting so much taxpayer money.

                On the other hand, you want to throw more good taxpayer money after the wasted money that has been spent so far, for what can only be described as some quixotic mission to stop war and send the excess population of the world to the Moon.

                You don’t lack enthusiasm, but you do lack a clear message and a viable plan.

              • Guest

                You don’t lack enthusiasm, but you do lack a clear message and a viable plan.

                On the contrary, my message is crystal clear and my plan is rock solid for those who wish to read it, and have the requisite scientific and technical skills to understand the ramifications of an interdisciplinary problem that spans economics through condensed matter physics. And I’ve left an opening bigger than an aircraft carrier for the committee chairman and the committee et al, and this administration as well, and I’m extremely interested in finding out in the very near future whether they will take the hint (bait), or not.

                I predict the same old thing, but there are many new young members and very soon now the same old thing will no longer fly with the public. Including your plan that we can do the same old thing with the same old launchers and still come up with something that might contribute to solving the myriad problems of economic stagnation and financial default in an era of disruptive technologies and world wide strife.

                The asteroids and Mars are great, but they don’t solve the problem like the solar Lagrange point one or geosynchronous orbit can, and to do Solar L1 and GEO we need the moon. I do, however, remain envious of Mr. Musk’s methane to Mars plan and its great fuel saving aerobraking solutions, but I’m looking for Earth based solutions that include the moon and the sun. And we’re stuck with the legacy hydrolox anyways.

                Any way you look at it, we’re going methane, hydrolox and reusable, so the sooner the rest of the world gets on board, the better AFAIAC. That world definitely includes the science and technology committees.

                some quixotic mission to stop war and send the excess population of the world to the Moon.

                You just aren’t getting it. An educated and scientifically literate and technologically adept population is capable of solving its own population problem, and if you were a member of that crowd, you would easily understand that we are overpopulated by an order of magnitude, due directly to our use of inefficient cheap polluting carbon energy.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                On the contrary, my message is crystal clear and my plan is rock solid for those who wish to read it, and have the requisite scientific and technical skills to understand the ramifications of an interdisciplinary problem that spans economics through condensed matter physics.

                Successful presenters have to “know their audience”. However if your plan requires Congress to understand what it is you propose, you have already failed because they DON’T “have the requisite scientific and technical skills to understand the ramifications of an interdisciplinary problem that spans economics through condensed matter physics“.

                Of course I haven’t seen your full plan, but I hear enough business proposals to know that you don’t have a message that resonates with any of the stakeholders you need to move your plan forward. You are proposing solutions to problems that are not acknowledged to be very big problems – whether they really are or not doesn’t matter, it’s whether perceive them to be problems that need to be solved. That is the essence of marketing, and that is what you are failing at.

                All of the “solutions” you propose? Sure they are probably doable technically, but that doesn’t mean they merit the money to make them happen, or that a significant amount of people agree with your assessment and solutions.

                Heck, once you are able to finally get people to understand what it is your are trying to solve, they may come up with a completely different set of solutions than what you propose, so it’s not just a simple thing.

                Notice how much enthusiasm you have generated here on Space Politics? And we love a good space-related idea.

                Solutions don’t matter if no one recognizes there is a problem, and so far you have failed to identify one that requires lots of attention.

              • Guest

                Of course I haven’t seen your full plan, but I hear enough business proposals to know that you don’t have a message that resonates with any of the stakeholders you need to move your plan forward.

                I’ve already explained that my stakeholders are the science and technology committee members, and perhaps the signers of the death star petition and the oval office, as they are the ones that control the money, have the rocket and claim they want to do something like this. Shackleton Energy got something like five grand sourcing this to the public and they don’t have a clue how to proceed, so I have no choice but to resort to overt committee influence. The public is no longer the customer here, nor even the stakeholders, they are the mere beneficiaries of any benefits to society and the environment that may result from the technology developed during the course of this project. I think this discussion has run its course, even with my best efforts to drag congressional science and technology committee members into the fray. I thank you for your participation.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                I’ve already explained that my stakeholders are the science and technology committee members, and perhaps the signers of the death star petition and the oval office…

                None of which currently work together.

                And how do you propose to get in front of them? Submit a petition to the White House? Protest? Send them a copy in the mail? Quixotic.

                …as they are the ones that control the money, have the rocket and claim they want to do something like this.

                They haven’t claimed they want to do something like you propose. A few Senators and Representatives want the SLS for jobs, and the Administration is focused on going to an asteroid and then to Mars orbit – no one is talking about the Moon.

                The public is no longer the customer here, nor even the stakeholders…

                Weird. Then why are you asking them to fund your project?

                …they are the mere beneficiaries of any benefits to society and the environment that may result from the technology developed during the course of this project.

                I’m not sure you understand how you sound about this – kind of like a movie villain that wants to take over the world because “they know better”, and “people will come to appreciate what only they can provide”.

                I think this discussion has run its course, even with my best efforts to drag congressional science and technology committee members into the fray.

                Did you think any “congressional science and technology committee members” were reading this?

                I thank you for your participation.

                My pleasure.

              • Guest

                Submit a petition to the White House? Protest? Send them a copy in the mail?

                Peer review and publication. I already explained that.

                Then why are you asking them to fund your project?

                They are already funding it. I explained that. My job is just to present the physics and engineering of the task with an eye on value and cost.

                Did you think any “congressional science and technology committee members” were reading this?

                No, but others are, and many read the briefs. They’ll get feedback. And there are also the ‘in your face’ issues that are sure to appear. Things aren’t going to get better. They are only going to get worse.

                Like I said, I look forward observing in real time any improvement in quality that may or may not appear in these congressional hearings with respect to the problems with the SLS and particularly MPCV Orion. I’m just giving them the benefit of doubt at this point in time, but I wanted to make sure they get the latest critical thinking in this area. We are at a point in the evolution of space thinking that very few changes are expected from here on out. The bulk of the work needed to sort this out has more or less been accomplished in the last year.

                You could participate in that thinking but you’re a one trick pony. The elephant hasn’t expired in the last seven years and so I hardly think it will collapse in the next nine years. But we need some change. The GOP has to decide, do they want a smart elephant or a stupid one? I’m starting to see hints that they may want to rethink it but I don’t see any evidence thus far that they want to cancel it. In fact I’m starting to believe the only thing that will do away with the elephant is a fiscal default of the US government, a real possibility.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                They are already funding it.

                Not what you describe.

                My job is just to present the physics and engineering of the task with an eye on value and cost.

                Using your definition of “job”, my job is to make sure that my tax dollars are not wasted on efforts like yours that are ill-defined and not the responsibility of the U.S. Government.

                We are at a point in the evolution of space thinking that very few changes are expected from here on out.

                In 1899, the Commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office said “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” You are likely as wrong as he was.

                The bulk of the work needed to sort this out has more or less been accomplished in the last year.

                Maybe the theory has been developed, but my background is manufacturing, and even though someone imagines a new product, it may take a lot of innovation in order to make that product work. So it is with any type of exploration. If you need any validation of that, just look at the history of the urine recycling system on the ISS – nice theory, but it didn’t work as planned.

                You could participate in that thinking but you’re a one trick pony.

                Hardly. You don’t even know me.

                The GOP has to decide, do they want a smart elephant or a stupid one?

                Oh, now you’re going to fix the political system with your plan? Wow. Not only is it a plan to save Earth, but it’s also a plan to get rid of the Tea Party. You must be the smartest person on Earth… ;-)

              • Guest

                Using your definition of “job”, my job is to make sure that my tax dollars are not wasted on efforts like yours that are ill-defined and not the responsibility of the U.S. Government.

                You seem a little overly obsessed with the SLS and Constellation as opposed to lots of other ripe low hanging fruit, but how has that ‘job’ been going the last seven years? Any word on a cancellation yet? All I can say is that the ‘job’ of trying to fix it has been very productive.

                Oh, now you’re going to fix the political system with your plan?

                Reality is working out well enough. I’m just the guy with a plan when reality finally catches up with them. Same thing applies to Democrats.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                You seem a little overly obsessed with the SLS and Constellation…

                Hardly. Focused maybe. Wanting to educate, yes. But unlike the 2012 Presidential election where I self-paid to go work for Obama in Ohio, I don’t spend any money on Constellation and SLS, just time educating people here and on other blogs.

                …as opposed to lots of other ripe low hanging fruit…

                The low hanging fruit is to use what we have first, and only build what we need, when we need it. The SLS, and any plans you propose for it, are not “low hanging fruit”.

                …but how has that ‘job’ been going the last seven years?

                You seem to be confusing me with someone else. But if you are referring to Constellation, it was cancelled, and the SLS is being set up for failure by Congress, so I don’t have to wait too long for that to go away. In the meantime, there is lots of innovation coming up through our aerospace industry, both small and large.

                This is actually one of the most exciting times for space enthusiasts, since we are seeing the transition of responsibility from government to private industry for transport to LEO, and the beginning of many foundational technologies that even NASA recognizes is far ahead of what it can do.

                The challenge is getting Congress to stop using NASA as a way to fund jobs in certain districts, and to get NASA back to it’s NACA roots. That is coming slowly, but it would come a lot faster if the SLS died sooner. But like I said, it will die, it’s just a matter of time, since Congress and the President won’t bump up NASA’s budget just to cover an unneeded program.

                All I can say is that the ‘job’ of trying to fix it has been very productive.

                Well, not me directly, since space is just a passion for me, not a job. But thanks… ;-)

                I’m just the guy with a plan when reality finally catches up with them.

                Yes, but your reality is, I think, in another dimension. Time will tell.

              • Guess

                But if you are referring to Constellation, it was cancelled, and the SLS is being set up for failure by Congress, so I don’t have to wait too long for that to go away.

                SLS is Constellation, just with a bigger rocket. It hasn’t gone away for seven years, even after its cancellation after four years, and still has staunch bipartisan support in congress. I guess you just missed that.

                I hope Obama cancels it. But they will just reinstate it with another round of hearings and legislation. As much as that would be fun to watch again, I would rather they just cancel Orion and make it a reusable uncrewed heavy lift launch vehicle so we can get on with it.

  • E. P. Grondine

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

    The question is how do we move forward from here. Administrator Bolden’s European engagement has been brilliant, but it is not enough.

    I believe we should be focusing on implementing fly-back first stages from our old line companies so that there is an alternative to SpaceX. I do not want to single thread our space program.

    But I’ve had a stroke, and can not see how to get there from here right now.

    • Fred Willett

      If SpaceX does succeed in doing a reusable first stage you will see a sudden splurge of activity as everyboidy and their dog rushes to catch up. Because it will have become patently obvious tha you either develop a reusable launch vehicle or you go out of business.
      At the moment everybody has their eyes wide shut and their fingers crossed and they’re praying:
      “Please god, let Elon fail.”

      • E. P. Grondine

        Yes, Fred.

        If it works (and most likely it will) then it will be a Boeing 262 kind of moment in launch vehicles.

        If you have really good eyes you can see some of the major players pre-positioning.

        One ironic thing for me is that it is likely that no one will remember Dr. Aldrin’s early proposals when it happens.

        Why do I have this feeling that when a person becomes NASA Administrator, they get an envelop with a message like this inside
        “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”?

  • E. P. Grondine

    I need to add that what resources I have will be spent on work on recent impacts, and by this work trying to help B612 in raising raising the money necessary for the Sentinel warning telescope, as well as seeing that the money necessary for the required data processing will be there, as well as the required civil warning systems.

    But right now I am going to take a nap.

  • Interesting that Chaka Fattah (D-PA) is not on the subcommittee. He seemed to be one of the few committee members in the last session that was rational.

  • vulture4

    Safety was certainly a high priority. It never reached the desired level because of design decisions made decades ago in the Shuttle program, when the failure modes were unanticipated and the need for actual prototype test flights before finalizing the design were not appreciated.

  • From Marcia Smith over at SpacePolicyOnline.com:

    The committee’s 113th Congress Oversight Plan lays out the key issues it will monitor over the next two years … The Space subcommittee will monitor the broadest range of these issues. Human spaceflight program is at the top of the list. The committee asserts that “NASA has not clearly articulated what types of future human space flight missions it wishes to pursue, or their rationale.” It plans to “further review … costs associated with cancellation of the Constellation program, NASA’s approach to develop and fund a successor to the Space Shuttle, and investment in NASA launch infrastructure.” It also plans to examine the “feasibility of NASA’s plans and priorities relative to their resources and requirements.”

    Are we still going to debate Constellation?!

    • Jim Muncy

      No. Read my comment to Keith’s story on NASA Watch.

      • Just read it. I hope you’re right.

        But I have such little faith in these clowns to do anything constructive that I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they bring up Constellation again.

        More importantly, I wish they’d take up the “vision” document delivered to Congress in August and actually do something with it. Once again, they falsely claim that NASA has articulated a vision. NASA has done so, over and again, and Congress continues to ignore it.

      • Dark Blue Nine

        Great. Not only has Chris Shank brought the the bumbling incompetence he put on display during the Griffin era to the House, he’s now too lazy to even write his own entries into the committee’s oversight plan.

        We taxpayers are supporting this loser’s salary so that he can cut and paste from documents that other staffers wrote years ago? Really?

    • vulture4

      We should be debating the SAVINGS from the cancellation of Constellation. But of course Constellation is continuing in all but name, and its supporters can be expected to push for even more.

      In human spaceflight the question is a reasonable one. NASA is pursuing two courses with very different rationales, either working with industry to lower cost and try to make human spaceflight a viable commercial industry, or perform a decades-long taxpayer-funded lunar base and possible Mars flight for national prestige purposes. These goals are incompatible rather than complementary, because there is very little overlap in terms of use of resources.

      • Egad

        > NASA is pursuing two courses with very different rationales, either working with industry to lower cost and try to make human spaceflight a viable commercial industry, or perform a decades-long taxpayer-funded lunar base and possible Mars flight for national prestige purposes.

        Is there any evidence that NASA is actually working toward a lunar base or Mars? Congress ordered NASA to produce a BFR, but AFAIK there’s no indication as yet that it’s going to be used for anything specific.

  • Martijn Meijering (@mmeijeri)

    Interesting, a Kennedy from Massachusetts on the Subcommittee on Space…

  • I decided to pen another blog screed about the congressional space committee. It’s at:

    http://spaceksc.blogspot.com/2013/01/not-another-space-policy-forum.html

    Enough with the space policy forums and panels, already. We know Congress won’t do their job and will blame everyone else. Time to find a private sector option and leave behind the government.

    By the way, regarding the committee’s false claim that NASA has failed to articulate a vision, I’ll remind everyone that the last session made the same claim and ordered NASA to give them a report articulating a vision. NASA did that in August. Congress ignored it.

    Apparently they’re going to keep ignoring it.

    • Robert G. Oler

      Stephen…I linked the blog on my facebook page, there are at least two people on my page who were on the panel.

      in my view NASA is just another cold war agency that cannot find its way into a post cold war environment and is being held up by a space industrial complex. RGO

  • DCSCA

    “Time to find a private sector option and leave behind the government…” squeaks Smitty.

    Where were you in ’62 when ‘government’ aka NASA, not the ‘private sector,’ assumed the financial burdens and technical risks and orbited Glenn. =eyeroll= Dissing government space ops while seeking government subsidies for “private sector” forays into spaceflight ops (chiefly replicating what has been done already half a century past) isn’t too smart, Smitty. Biting the hand that feeds and funds you, etc., and so on.

    “Governments,” American and others, have been putting people into space for over half a century. It is nearly February, 2013, 51 years after Glenn’s three orbits, and the “private sector” has failed to launch, orbit and safely return anybody from LEO.

    And over the 80-plus year history of modern rocketry, every time the opportunity presented itself, the “private sector” balked, chiefly due to the risks and largess of investment resources necessary and the uncertainity of ROI. So it has been “government,” in various guises, with mainly geo-political motives, which stepped in and moved the technology forward. Goddard was all but starved of financing, save help from Guggenheim w/t help of Lindy. In the same era, it was the German government which kept Von Braun’s team flush w/Reichmarks, and the technology advanced. When the Soviet government-financed Korolev’s team and Sputnik flew, the ‘private sector’ in the West balked when the “opportunity” to respond presented itself and it was “government” -NASA- that stepped in, assumed the financial burden and technical risks associated w/same and responded.

    Because there is a limited market w/a low to no ROI, the ‘private sector,’ motivated by profit, not politics, will never lead in this field in this era. . Spaceflight is an exercise in geo-political projection of economic power and prowess on Earth.

    You declare ‘it is time’… “time,” eh, Smitty. Convince (or sucker) the private capital markets there’s a viable demand for it w/a ROI, cajole the same private capital markets to invest and go fly. What is inhibiting you is the gravity of the very market forces you’re seek to service. Such is the nature of the ‘free market.’ What it is ‘time’ for, Smitty, is for NewSpace to stop talking and start flying somebody. Take the ultimate risk and get a few crews up around and down safely. Get some skin in the game. Earn some street cred. Time’s a wasting, Smitty. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

  • E. P. Grondine

    I am wondering if the only way to save Michoud, Marshall, and ATK is to downsize the SLS to something like the French proposal for Ariane in the last round.

    Ideas, anyone?

    • NeilShipley

      No, you can’t save those who don’t want to be saved and who aren’t prepared to help themselves.

    • pathfinder_01

      ATK does things other than for NASA like build the GEM motors on solids, solar panels, 2nd stage of Orbital’s upcoming antares rocket. SLS really has not future if downsized. By law the federal government must buy launches from commercail space(ULA, Orbital, Space X) and by law NASA can’t launch commercail payloads with a downsized SLS, and so the point of making it smaller would be?

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