Congress, NASA

Shelby vows to protect the SLS

Responding to what is at least a somewhat manufactured controversy, a key senator said Tuesday that he will continue to support NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift launch vehicle. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) told the Huntsville Times that he will “continue to fight hard to ensure that taxpayer dollars are invested wisely in SLS so that we maintain our nation’s leadership role in human spaceflight,” according to a statement furnished to the newspaper. Shelby’s statement was apparently prompted by a Wall Street Journal op-ed Monday that called on canceling the SLS and turning over all space transportation systems to the private sector. Shelby noted that “the so-called commercial space industry is funded in large measure by taxpayers through NASA.”

In addition to covering Shelby’s comments, the Times also reported on the “public debate over killing” the SLS, including debate here (even if, in his haste, the reporter misidentified one of the people participating in the comments.) Yet, there’s little, if any, evidence that the Obama Administration is willing to act on the proposal in the original WSJ op-ed to cancel the SLS and expend the necessary political capital to get past SLS supporters like Shelby (who, in addition to being the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he plans to serve as ranking member of that committee’s Commerce, Justice, and Science subcommittee, with oversight of NASA’s budget.) However, even without an explicit administration effort to kill SLS this year or later in the president’s second term, pressure from sequestration or other budget-cutting initiatives could put the SLS on a collision course with commercial crew or other NASA programs.

143 comments to Shelby vows to protect the SLS

  • amightywind

    The problem is those who would cancel SLS have no plan at all. Nada. Been there, done that. ISS will be gone in 2020. That leaves a maximum of 3 years of ‘commercial servicing’ before ISS comes down. That is not a program. I support Senator Shelby. I hope you will too.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “The problem is those who would cancel SLS have no plan at all.”

      A lie. There are plenty of human space exploration plans that don’t involve SLS:

      http://images.spaceref.com/news/2011/F9Prop.Depot.pdf

      http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/docs/publications/AffordableExplorationArchitecture2009.pdf

      http://goldenspikecompany.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/French-et-al.-Architecture-Paper-in-AIAA-Journal-of-Spacecraft-and-Rockets.pdf

      They’re all billions cheaper and get astronauts on the Moon or at NEOs years earlier than SLS.

      “ISS will be gone in 2020.”

      Not according to the international partners:

      http://www.space.com/8034-international-space-station-fly-2028-nasa-partners.html

      “I support Senator Shelby. I hope you will too.”

      If you support SLS, why would you support Shelby? For all his chest-thumping as a big, bad appropriations subcommittee ranking member, he reduced MPCV/SLS by $1.35 billion (with a “b”) last year:

      “Orion and SLS funding are considerably below levels authorized in the agency’s 2010 authorization act: in FY2012, for example, NASA received approximately $1.2 billion for Orion and $1.5 billion for SLS, but was authorized to spend $1.4 billion for Orion and $2.65 billion for SLS. Unless one believes the authorization bill figures overestimate the costs of these systems, there’s potential schedule or other risks with their development, particularly with the SLS.”

      http://www.spacepolitics.com/2013/01/17/asap-report-focuses-on-commercial-crew-funding-and-contracting-risk/

      Sen. Shelby, the great defender of SLS, actually _cut_ MPCV and SLS by 33% last year!

      (And he’s on track to do the same this year, even before sequestration hits.)

      Shelby is either an ineffective joke of an appropriator who can’t get even his top priorities properly funded on the Hill. Or Shelby is a lying hypocrite who is cutting MPCV and SLS at the same time he claims that he’s “protecting” them.

      Either way, SLS isn’t benefitting and is in deep programmatic trouble thanks to Shelby’s “protection”. It’s idiotic to support a congressman who is “protecting” your favorite program by whacking a third of its required budget.

      • common sense

        “Sen. Shelby, the great defender of SLS, actually _cut_ MPCV and SLS by 33% last year!”

        Yeah!!! I support Sen. Shelby too!!!!!

        Now let’s hope he continues on and not support commercial space!

        You have to love politics.

      • It would be horrific news if the ISS gets further extensions past 2020, but it’s totally unsuprising at the same time: Why would Commercial Space EVER want to kill its Golden-egg Goose?! If the ISS were sunk tomorrow, Commercial Crew would be as good as dead ducks! “Oh my Lord, now WHAT are we going to build spacecrafts to fly to?!”—-would be their exclamation. Guys, guys, the Apollo Lunar program DIDN’T need an ISS to reach: There was a big old Moon out there in the distance to reach for!

        • “Guys, guys, the Apollo Lunar program DIDN’T need an ISS to reach: There was a big old Moon out there in the distance to reach for!”
          Did you know that von Braun’s original plan for going to the Moon involved a space station acting as a sort of depot? The idea was that this alternate method would be the infrastructure that would allow continuous return to the Moon. However, it was decided that in order to save time, the Apollo rendezvous system would be used instead, even though they knew that it would allow only a few landings and would not be sustainable in the long run. The most important thing was simply beating the Russians. Some people (like you) don’t learn from history and thus are determined to relive it.
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zjs3nBfyIwM

          • pathfinder_01

            “ The idea was that this alternate method would be the infrastructure that would allow continuous return to the Moon. However, it was decided that in order to save time, the Apollo rendezvous system would be used instead, even though they knew that it would allow only a few landings and would not be sustainable in the long run.”

            Amen. It was like the Doolittle raid. An amazing achievement but if your goal is to bomb a country into submission not recovering your bombers after the mission and having to smuggle your pilots out a 3rd oountr(China), is going to be costly, expensive and unsustainable.

            There are multiple ways to get to the moon. Apollo choose what they thought was the best way given the technology and knowledge of the day. I mean If your job were to send people to an island somewhere and it is 1830 your options are boat or build a bridge(for horse or for rail). Today your options would be boat, hover craft , build a bridge(for car or for rail), build a long underwater tunnel, use a airplane, or use an helicopter. Totally different. If you had to produce a document on the road circa 1970 I would suggest getting a portable typewriter. Nowdays that would be a very bad idea.

            Here is one way you could say use the ISS or a Bigloew station to head to the moon. If you need to launch both your capsule (CM) and lander(LM) to the moon at the same time you need a massive HLV that has absolutely no other use by anyone else and thus NASA pays 100% for its use. Currently Orion is supposed to mass about 21MT. Let say you get Orion’s current mass problem fixed (and ignore it’s cost problem) and send it to the ISS.

            A Delta, or FH and perhaps an Atlas could lift it there. You could even send it unmanned saving the mass of the LAS system and the cost of man rating the rocket and use commercial crew to crew it. You could also preposition a lunar Lander at EML-1/EMl-2 using current rockets(and docking) or using SEP.

            The station can support the crew while a 2nd launch of an exploration stage is lifted. This stage only needs to be about 20MT or so if it is LOH/LOX and uses efficient engines but that would be enough to push Orion from the ISS’s orbit to EML-1 or EML-2 where it docks with the lander.

            If your choose to skip the station via the FH lifting both Orion and a 30MT stage at once, remember the station’s cargo needs as well as other commercial needs drive the production of the Falcon 9 which in turn makes up FH(again far cheaper than NASA having a single task rocket that does not launch other Govermnet cargo(DOD), private cargo, or even LEO space missions!).

            Or again you could use FH in two launches and use the excess capabilty to launch a larger EDS stage and more cargo.

            Because you are not pushing both capsule and lander through TLI at the same time, you no longer need a rocket that lifts both at once. In addition you can use lower delta V trajectories to move cargo like propellant or an unmanned lander there are trajectories to the moon that can take say three, but allow you to send double the amount mass vs. the kind of trajectory Apollo used.

            With this sort of approach NASA’s focus is where it needs to be on spacecraft, not rockets and this approach can easily coexist with a LEO program because NASA isn’t spending money to keep up the army needed to produce and launch the HLV and this approach handles low funding better(they could slow down the pace and not need to pay the upkeep on Delta or FH).

            • Those are all pretty well-thought of ideas & concepts. Certainly a new Moon-oriented manned space program should be just what we are shooting for. Unfortunately the powers-that-be think that the elimination of the government space program & the propping-up of a commercial entrepreneurial legion would at last make Sci-Fi real; but they are flat wrong!! The Commercial Crew approach keeps NASA perched in Low Earth Orbit, for decades to come, because LEO is ALL that the entrepreneurs are able to deliver. This means further extentions of the ISS, more LEO space stations after that, and more ignoring of the Moon. Hence, I am very leery, when I hear all the talk about using space stations & in-orbit fuel depots to reach deep space, because there is ZERO sign that any of these proposals will actually go anywhere. Commercial Space merely exists because there’s an ISS for them to taxi & truck to; courtesy of the (much-maligned) civil space program. I still firmly believe that Heavy-Lift is the way to eventually go: provided that the HL rocket is built with a specified cargo & game plan, NOT JUST FOR NOTHING.

              • “Commercial Space merely exists because there’s an ISS for them to taxi & truck to”
                That’s the method it is getting stated; however, at least in Musk’s case, that is not the ultimate reason.

                ” I am very leery, when I hear all the talk about using space stations & in-orbit fuel depots to reach deep space, because there is ZERO sign that any of these proposals will actually go anywhere.”
                No advanced transportation system ever created really became practical until its fundamental infrastructure was created. So yes while the infrastructure is being built you will see “ZERO sign” that the proposals are leading anywhere.

                You’re just ignoring history again in your same old ignorant fashion.

              • pathfinder_01

                Yeap.

                Auto and trucks: before paved roads and esp. highways mostly limited to cities. Gasoline came in a can purchased at the hardware store. Speeds much slower.

                Trains: Limited by rail, but steam technology also need some sort of fuel and water(trains needed watering stops some of which evolved into towns).

                Airplanes: Needed wide open fields or be built to land on water. Few paved runways before WWII, after WWII paved runways along with greater range eliminated the need for seaplanes. Higher speeds required runways(try landing a jet on an open field today!).

                In the case of space travel we need systems that move mass between earth and LEO and out into space cheaply. If you can do that then you are no longer limited by how much you can fit on an single flight like Apollo and having more people, more cargo more anything to your destination becomes much easier. Cargo can be sent via methods that optimize cost(like on earth while you can fly cargo, rail and boats are often cheaper means to move cargo over long distances) instead of crammed into the cabin for a single launch like Apollo.

    • Robert G. Oler

      amightywind
      January 30, 2013 at 8:47 am · Reply

      The problem is those who would cancel SLS have no plan at all. Nada. Been there, done that. ISS will be gone in 2020>>

      more right wing goofiness

      The problem with people who support SLS is that other then pork, they have no plan no plan at all for anything other then “build the rocket” (and capsule)

      There is no money for building ANYTHING else…the 1.5 billion a year being used to build SLS is the 1.5 billion a year needed to launch “1″ a year and the 1.5 billion a year to build Orion is the 1.5 billion a year needed to build “it”

      there is no money for anything else. There are a lot of view graphs, but almost immediately after the “SLS” configs with SSME’s are flown off, we have to go back to spending 1.5 billion a year to bild whatever is next (ie new engines, new straps etc)

      You are like the idiots were before the Iraq war…just lying RGO

    • DCSCA

      The problem is those who would cancel SLS have no plan at all. Nada.” says Windy.

      That’s essentally correctm Windy.

      ‘NADA’ is their idea of a “NASA”– the press-release space program.

      And through false-equivalency, fueled with a more general,, more insidious anti big government ideology, they spend more time trying to stop SLS than to simply start flying crews. That speaks volumes.

      Geo-politics trumps the business economics of SLS, just as it has since the space program was started. SLS is a ‘go.’

      • Justin Kugler

        That’s patently absurd. The Army’s Future Combat Systems program was ten times the size of Constellation and it was also canceled because of failure to control cost, scope, and schedule. If the Army had to go back to the drawing board to develop next-generation systems that fit within the Pentagon’s budget, why should NASA be immune?

        • DCSCA

          Apples/orsnges. DoD vs. ‘cicvil’ space. DoD space ops budgets are more than flush compared to the civl ops- and quite secretive for the most part.The eo-politicas value isd what keeps SLS a ‘go.’

          • Justin Kugler

            What geopolitical value? There’s nothing to go on top of SLS besides MPCV. There is no ESA commitment for sustained service module production.

      • I’m with you, DCSCA! But with some reservations: the original Ares 5 should be what we are building, and the goal of returning mankind Moonward should be restored! A Heavy-Lift rocket should NOT be built blindly just for whatever possible use MIGHT materialize seven years from now. NO, it should be built with a specific purpose. THEN, after it proves itself capable of its primary mission, via the first few new expeditions to Luna, then and only then should we be re-configuring it for other more exotic purposes. This was the story with the Saturn 5: after Kennedy’s Moon goal was proven viable, it subsequently was utilized to launch the Skylab station.

    • The 70 ton SLS will cost between $1.3 and $2.5 billion PER LAUNCH. It will launch ONCE PER YEAR. This is NASA’s official plan. I’m not seeing the value for the money. I’ll bet Elon Musk could put five tons into orbit for the same cost as NASA putting up 1 ton. But he wouldn’t, because there is no commercial justification for doing it. If it wasn’t for the ISS (have they delivered the promised science yet?), there would be no Elon Musk. But the ISS provides no return on investment at all, either scientific or financial. So we have Musk and the Falcon going to LEO, and SLS and Orion looping around the moon with nobody on board. This isn’t a space program, it’s a financial catastrophe.

  • Joe Russo

    I support the Senator as well. Those who want to basically make NASA an R&D agency are against the space program and don’t want to come out and say so. They hide behind the budget arguments until their pet projects are touched.

    • Coastal Ron

      Joe Russo said:

      Those who want to basically make NASA an R&D agency…

      Which is part of it’s charter. Where in it’s charter does it say that NASA should be a transportation entity? Nowhere. In fact Reagan specifically wanted NASA to stop doing everything itself, and use commercial services as much as practical. Since the SLS has no mission, NASA has never been allowed to seek out commercial alternatives, but there is no doubt that ULA could do what NASA needs, and SpaceX has become a potential provider too (Musk’s proposal to build a 150mt launcher for $3B vs the SLS $30B).

      In fact NASA has said their technology cupboard is bare, and that it needs to build up the technology that we’ll need to leave LEO. So yes, NASA doing more R&D, being more NACA-like, would be a good thing.

      …are against the space program and don’t want to come out and say so.

      What do you imagine NASA will use to explore with? There are no exploration vehicles waiting for the SLS. There is nothing for the SLS to lift, other than the Orion, and even the Orion can’t really do any exploration until the ESA decides to fully fund a Service Module.

      The way I see it (and apparently many others too), the SLS is not needed, so spending $30B for something that isn’t needed means there is $30B that can’t be spent on actual exploration hardware that can be launched on existing 20mt launchers. Since we know how to do modular space assembly (the 450mt ISS is proof of that), we should use that as the basis for our near-term exploration architecture. Only until we know why the current 5m diameter, 20mt mass sizes are too constricting should we spend our limited resources to move to a larger architecture – and at the commercial launch industry should be part of that discussion, since they will be the ones to provide the new launchers.

      The SLS way of doing things is completely backward and wrong – it’s “Build it and they will come”. Didn’t work for the Shuttle, so you think we would have learned the lesson. Hence the reason why it’s just a pure pork program, nothing else.

      • E. P. Grondine

        CR –

        Let me caution you. You’re making the assumption that if SLS were shut down, $30 Billion would be available for other space purposes.

        I don’t know if that would be true, but it seems likely to me it would not be true.

        • Coastal Ron

          E. P. Grondine said:

          You’re making the assumption that if SLS were shut down, $30 Billion would be available for other space purposes.

          You’re right E.P., it may not revert to NASA for NASA to use for other programs.

          However the SLS is like a huge unfunded mandate from Congress, in that NASA will be obligated to pay for the SLS regardless if it’s used, and so far Congress has given no indication that it ever will be used for operational missions (beyond sending the Orion around the Moon endlessly). So from that perspective, NASA is worse off with the SLS than without it and it’s budget.

          But I think Congress would let NASA’s budget stay at it’s current levels, so killing the SLS would provide a huge boost to the R&D programs NASA really needs to spend time and money on in order to get ready for human exploration missions beyond LEO.

        • Fred Willett

          This is an argument that is often advanced by SLS proponents (and before them proponents of Constellation.
          To me it’s nonsense.
          Cancellation of Constellation did not result in a fall in NASA’s budget. In fact Obama proposed a $1B increase in NASA’s budget (voted down by congress). The plan being to spend 5 years on technology development in the hope of bringing down the cost of starting a new, and hopefully this time an affordable, heavy lift.
          Thus it seems to me a proposal to direct NASA to concentrate on payloads for existing LV’s would not go unfunded.

          • E. P. Grondine

            Hi CR, Fred –

            I think that both of you are missing a critical point in all of this. The fabrication facilities at Michoud should be developing advanced technologies for all US companies, and Marshall should be working on advanced engines for all US companies. NASA’s robotic program does not feed into US manufacturing, and ISS connections to our labs have not been as good as they could be either.

            This is systemic.

            I am wondering if a downsized SLS would make the best use of our technology base, But once again, I have very pressing work on Holocene impacts to help along as best I can.

            • common sense

              They cannot launch MPCV at the current size, why would they downsize it? To do what?

              Our technology base would be better served if we could use this workforce to develop new technologies rather than incompetently re-hash what was done in the 60s through 80s. Get some innovation out of these people, challenge them rather than let them make the same things over and over again, things that do not even work!!!!

            • Coastal Ron

              E. P. Grondine said:

              The fabrication facilities at Michoud should be developing advanced technologies for all US companies, and Marshall should be working on advanced engines for all US companies.

              I disagree. The job of the government is not to do the R&D for commercial companies. However the government should do what people and companies won’t or can’t. For space related stuff, that means NASA should be doing R&D for technologies that are needed next if we want to expand our exploration envelope. But NASA should only do what the commercial sector is not able or willing to do on their own, but NASA knows it will need.

              Regarding “advanced engines for all US companies”, there has to be an established need first, and that gets back to what is the forecast for payloads. As of today, there are no forecasted needs for launchers larger than the current 20mt to LEO class (Delta IV Heavy, Ariane 5, Proton, H-IIB). Using those launchers, we could build another ISS, or even larger structures and vehicles in space. Modular construction obviates the need for the SLS, which is why it needs to be killed off. [The Falcon Heavy is not needed for larger payloads at this point, but will get business because of it's low price point, even if it's capacity is fully utilized]

              So what new engine is needed, and what is it’s goal? That is undefined, and until there is a defined need, spending significant amounts of money would be a waste (or a sign of a Congressional earmark).

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “Those who want to basically make NASA an R&D agency are against the space program…”

      No, we’re for a NASA program that’s actually in space, preferably deep space, not stuck on the ground, poorly and interminably reinventing the heavy lift and space capsule wheel.

      We want NASA mission control running ops for a Phobos rendezvous, not interrupting launch countdowns due to leaky LH2 lines.

      If we want deep space ops, NASA has to get out of the Earth-to-orbit business. NASA is not efficient or effective at it, especially compared to industry, and NASA does not have Apollo-era budgets to cover the largesse and still have enough resources left over to build transit stages, mission modules, rendezvous vehicles, landers, and rovers. NASA has to focus its limited budgetary and human resources on R&D to enable actual deep space systems and operations.

      • DCSCA

        “No, we’re for a NASA program that’s actually in space, preferably deep space, not stuck on the ground, poorly and interminably reinventing the heavy lift and space capsule wheel…”

        That sounds reasonable, except, we know what’s really in play here, and it isn’t a concern about NASA. It has little do w/spaceflight ops and everything to do w/the invasive, conservative philosophy of privatizing government services pushed by Walker, et al., hence the op-ed. If this forum was about philatelics these same privateers would be rooting for FedEx and UPS over the USPS. SLS is a geo-political project of scale, not a business enterprise. But that shouldn’t be stopping commercial from flying crews. Only the risk of failure is doing that. So the clock ticks… and tocks. And government policy ‘muddles on.’ .

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “SLS is a geo-political project of scale”

          Here comes Tinkerbell again spending lots of other people’s money on big programs that go nowhere.

          If only Tinkerbell had more faerie dust. Then we’d have enough money and “scale”. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

          “rooting for FedEx and UPS over the USPS”

          What’s there to root for in the postal service? It can’t meet its retirement fund commitments, can’t break even, and is slowly going out of business.

          “So the clock ticks… and tocks.”

          There goes your Tourette’s again, Tinkerbell. Time to take your meds.

    • common sense

      Gotta love this.

      Yeah I am against the space program. I mean against THE Space Program. You know THE program to go to space. Of course, commercial space is not THE space program, it is possibly A space program. Same goes for Mars rovers another space program, Titan exploration, another one. Ah yeah Keppler, another one, but who cares of Earth-like planets when we can get a giant rocket to go to the ISS??? Hmm, who cares? Now I won’t bother you with a laundry list of space program*s* though.

      And worse I am hiding behind a pseudonym. Darn.

      NASA as an R&D agency? Interesting. Guess a few people gonna have to change jobs at KSC, JSC, MSFC, JPL… Long live ARC, LaRC, GRC! Can you imagine a senator saying we need to close JSC???? What a nice change it would be? Because closing ARC is kinda a becoming old.

      Well. Thanks for the enlightening comment and conversation. Useful.

    • Robert G. Oler

      Joe goofy its like “if you are not for the Iraq war you are not for getting the evil doers from 9/11″ and of course Iraq had as much to do with 9/11 as SLS has to do with a space program.

      Most of us who dont want SLS want a space program that well flies things in space; not does view graphs. RGO

      • amightywind

        Hey dude, the Iraq War is over. We won. Unfortunately in the Age of Obama it has become fashionable for the left to impugn the motives of the opposition. Iraq and space policy are not related.

        • common sense

          The Iraq “war” is far from over and we have “won” nothing. Only in your dreams. Off topic so I won’t bother to try and make you understand the generational damages we created over there that will be detrimental to us and our allies for the foreseeable future.

        • Robert G. Oler

          amightywind
          January 30, 2013 at 1:54 pm · Reply

          Hey dude, the Iraq War is over.>>

          No, it is not, we have inflicted chaos upon those people and we will be reaping that “whirlwind” for decades to come

          But SLS and the Iraqi war have a lot in common.

          They are in the box solutions for out of the box problems and show exactly the same floundering.

          The US needs another expensive “big rocket” like it needs another war in the mideast…neither thing has done the country any good, we have to get out of the mentalities of the cold war…

          You folks need symbols of power when all they are doing is costing us the US our power. RGO

    • DCSCA

      “I support the Senator as well. Those who want to basically make NASA an R&D agency are against the space program and don’t want to come out and say so.” say,s Joe.

      Well said, Joe. That’s pretty much it.

    • “Those who want to basically make NASA an R&D agency…”

      That is what they do, you know. If you think they’re something else, please explain what that is.

      “… are against the space program and don’t want to come out and say so.”

      And what is this ‘space program’ of which you speak? Those two words don’t seem to mean the same thing to everybody. What is it to you?

      I’m not for a ‘space program,’ I’m for spacefaring of all kinds.

      • DCSCA

        “That is what they do”== yes, but not exclusively and actual flight operationd are a part of that. What’s in play here is to marginalize the agency and essentially tuen it ino paper planners like the STG was back in the day– when the military beleived they were they, alone, ones who had the right-of-way to space ops, Commercial doesnt have a leg to stand on until it goes operation with orbital HSF. When they start going routine w/that- say, on aflight rate similar to the Gemini program, then support will swell. Until then, the only thing flying for them– is time.

  • Coastal Ron

    The SLS will die because of the lack of money Congress has provided (that would include Senator Shelby), both for the rocket itself and the two missions per year, every year for decades, that the SLS would need to justify it’s need and to keep it’s crews operationally competent.

    Shelby is just protecting jobs in his state.

    • common sense

      The SLS will die because it is stupid, same goes for MPCV.

      • Guest

        The MPCV is stupid. SLS is merely terribly misdirected and very badly designed as well as hugely over budget and well behind schedule. But the last time I checked, it was still understood that any cost effective and timely near Earth space development program that I’ve looked at is going to require a reusable heavy lift launch vehicle that more or less looks just like the SLS except for … oh, forget it. Wasted effort.

        • common sense

          I stick to my comments. SLS and MPCV are stupid. A big rocket without budget, without requirements and without missions is stupid. A big capsule without budget, without requirements and without mission is stupid. Both are stupid. Both will go. No matter how many fictitious scenarios one can come up with to justify their existence. You cannot save them, you cannot use them. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

          And no, you cannot make SLS reusable. You cannot, mostly not, make a capsule reusable. An entire LV??? And I mean that with some budget constraints or at least those budget constraints we know of which are not limited to how much but also ho we spend the money we have. Otherwise we could be on Mars or sailing Titan’s ocean below in a submarine. But we can’t. And that is that.

  • Crash Davis

    No, we’re for a NASA program that’s actually in space, preferably deep space, not stuck on the ground, poorly and interminably reinventing the heavy lift and space capsule wheel.

    Which is what SLS is built for, deep space, you Tool.

    We want NASA mission control running ops for a Phobos rendezvous, not interrupting launch countdowns due to leaky LH2 lines.

    Or engine fairings failing on ascent, you Nimrod.

    If we want deep space ops, NASA has to get out of the Earth-to-orbit business

    What do you think CRS is, Von Braun of his Mother’s basement?

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “Which is what SLS is built for, deep space”

      SLS doesn’t go to deep space or even Earth orbit. (Due to the disposal constraints imposed by its large core stage, SLS only pushes payloads to apogee and the payloads have to perform their own circularization or transit burns after that.) Unfortunately, SLS is so damned expensive, there is no funding for any actual deep space exploration payloads to put on top of SLS.

      In fact, between the high costs of SLS development and the high costs of MPCV development, NASA is so strapped for funding that it has no budget for the MPCV’s service module. If ESA doesn’t come through on funding for the first SM and if NASA doesn’t find some way to afford follow-on production, MPCV will be stuck in LEO with no SM.

      “Or engine fairings failing on ascent”

      Non-sequitur?

      “What do you think CRS is”

      CRS doesn’t get NASA out of the launch business. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have SLS.

      “you Tool… you Nimrod… Von Braun of his Mother’s basement”

      I’m not the idiot who thinks SLS is a deep space vehicle, you dummy.

      How stupid can you be? The SLS acronym stands for “Space _Launch_ System”.

      Cripes…

      • E. P. Grondine

        Hi DBN –

        How would a smaller core with 2 or 4 of the ATK 4 seg composite case boosters attached work?

        In any case, I want to see ULA working on a flyback first stage.

        I do not want to see our program single threaded through SpaceX.

        • common sense

          Okay. Here read this for example http://www.ssdl.gatech.edu/papers/mastersProjects/HellmanB-8900.pdf

          Flyback boosters are one of the many space exploration holy grails.

          Nobody has been able to make it work so far for a variety of reasons and SpaceX is far, far from done with this challenge.

          Trade studies have shown that depending on the number of flights for example an expendable is more cost effective. Manufacturing is important too. Just look at how the Russians build the Soyuz.

          Before we go reusable there is a lot of room to reduce cost to something manageable and that is one of the most important things that SpaceX has been successful at. So far.

          ULA developing a reusable booster will not help the problem in the way they stand so far. They are too expensive and there are no 1000s launches per year. It is not economical to even build a reusable launcher.

          Some day in the future? Sure. But let’s get the commercial market going so that we can start to see all those launches that make a reusable vehicle viable.

          A reusable capsule or reentry vehicle is slightly easier to make reusable but nonetheless challenging within contained cost.

          FWIW

          • E. P. Grondine

            Yeah, I know the mass margins are tight. And I know that SpaceX has low launch costs now.

            But re-usable first stages are where I think things will go, regardless of whether the US or our competitors lead.

    • DCSCA

      “Which is what SLS is built for, deep space…” says Crash.
      That’s about right, but it’s part of the package- the launch system which provides access. The economics of it make commercialists balk but the geo-politics win out.

      • Coastal Ron

        DCSCA wrote:

        The economics of it make commercialists balk but the geo-politics win out.

        Only in your mind.

        Since NASA has never sent out an RFQ (the official way the government determines whether the commercial market can take care of the governments needs) for SLS-sized payload missions, NASA has no idea whether the commercial launchers can or can’t take care of their forecasted (and currently fictitious) SLS-sized payload needs.

        However what is known is that ULA and SpaceX have publicly stated that they can take care of NASA’s SLS-sized payload needs, and for far less than what the SLS is costing us taxpayers (which in case you didn’t know, 42 cents of each dollar is borrowed).

        As to the “geo-politics” angle you keep pushing, so far you are the only one to push that idea, and you have yet to justify what you mean. The SLS does not have a defined mission, so there is no way it could be used to satisfy a geo-political need. Again, this exists only in your mind…

        • DCSCA

          “The SLS does not have a defined mission” whines Ron.

          It is called ‘The Space Launch System” – fairly self-explanatory– and since when have you suddenly become a destinationist, Ron. LOL

          The geo-politics of this bigfoot the business overlay; government is not a business, no matter how many op-eds Walker, Gingrich et al pen.

          • Yeah, and space is a damn big place. Why do you think they call it space? No destination in space has been defined for the Space Launch System, thus no defined mission. And just because a particular name is chosen for it, doesn’t mean that will actually be going there. The Booz-Allen-Hamilton report points out that that name is probably oxymoronic.

          • Coastal Ron

            DCSCA mused:

            It is called ‘The Space Launch System” – fairly self-explanatory…

            LOL. You must be the real life incarnation of “Buddy” from Will Ferrell’s movie Elf. Buddy goes into a local coffee shop that has a sign up that says “Worlds Best Coffee”, and he believes them!

            As anyone that can look up things knows, the SLS is supposed to reach LEO. But so do lots of other rockets, so the SLS is not special in that regard at all, except for it’s exceptionally high cost per launch (according to NASA, around $1.5-2.5B).

            The real question is “what will the SLS carry that only the SLS can carry?”

            Until you can provide detailed answers for that question, you are the same as all the other ignorant believers of the SLS – that if you build it, something requiring it will eventually show up. That, of course, is completely bassackwards. First you define the need, review your options, and then decide if something new is the only way to solve the defined need. Building something before you even know what the requirements are is really stupid, and wasteful of taxpayer money.

            Is that simple enough for you “Buddy”? ;-)

  • I have a very simple question for the people blindly defending SLS:

    What is it going to be used for?

    Congress has not authorized any missions or destinations. Until they do, it’s workfare.

    So I ask again … What is it going to be used for?

    We know what commercial cargo and crew are going to be used for.

    What is SLS going to be used for?

    • Guest

      I have proposed several uses for the SLS core stages if and only if it completely redesigned to use liquid reusable boosters and the insulation shedding problem is solved so that it can be propelled to geosynchronous orbit or escape velocity.

      For instance, it can be used to store SSMEs in deep space. Cores can be attitude stabilized and used to salvage and aggregate dead communications satellites so that they can be robotically refueled or otherwise incorporated into vast space stations in geosynchronous orbit. I have designed a method by which docking ports, airlocks and hatches leading to spherical inflatable habitats may be incorporated into the nose of the upper oxygen tank and ‘dry launched’ and then deployed directly into the tanks without astronaut assistance, and then shielded with water or regolith stored between the habitats and tank walls. This technique is particularly appropriate for asteroids, but the need for shielding led me directly to the concept of direct lunar landings of the core stages on the surface of the poles of the moon, where the same techniques can be applied to immediate regolith shielding of the interior inflatable habitats. The only reason I have proposed this scenario is to sell the concept to an astronaut worshipping public and government, since astronauts are not required to execute regolith shielding, but are merely the benefactors of the technique. I have further proposed lunar circumnavigation orbits to redirect the SLS core stages to wherever you want them, including back to Earth for aerobraking, or on to Mars or the asteroids or any of the coplanar Lagrange points, where again, they can be used to store legacy hydrolox assets in deep space for future reuse, once space based propellants become available. Space based propellents themselves and their storage in deep space requires advances in thermoelectric device efficiencies, which we now know are theoretically possible in the very near future, as well as the extremely cold thermal reservoirs readily available on the poles of the moon. In the meantime empty hydrolox tanks make excellent storage containers for regolith shielding.

      The LEO orbital debris problem and the need for continuous reboost and attitude control fuel, as well as the insulation shedding problem, and the need for SEP and GCR shielding, plus the desire of the stakeholders, indicates that the direct lunar landings of the SLS core stages is the most cost effective method to proceed with space development. This would require much more efficient and reusable liquid booster enhancement with crossfeeding, and fuel settling and tank pressurization throughout the short flight to the moon, as well as the incorporation of the upper stage propulsion into the base of the core stage, since the SSMEs cannot be restarted. By upper stage I mean lunar orbit insertion and landing, because the SSMEs are capable of TLI by themselves. RL-10s are capable of setting the core stage down onto the surface and could easily be used as steering engines as well.

      The problems I have described are challenging enough, but so was going to the moon in the first place. If your desire is to develop space, go back to the moon to stay, explore uncharted territory (the lunar poles) and challenge your engineers, this is my recommendation on how to go about it, and still keep intransigent senators and representatives in congress happy with their pork. If that is NOT what you want, then my suggestion is to keep muddling along with the space policy that you have. It has worked well in the past keeping hundred billion dollar space projects afloat, and so it should continue to work well far into the future, or until fiscal default, whichever comes first. The SLS as designed is destined for cancellation, so I recommend either cancelling it now, or start thinking rationally and critically about the hard things that need to be done to bootstrap interest and enthusiasm for space development and solve many of the outstanding problems in rocket science.

      • common sense

        I am afraid this is not the NASA procurement website. Let me kindly suggest you write a proposal to NASA. Or even better seek private investors to help you out. But no matter how many times you repeat your “technical” suggestions it won’t make SLS or any of the zombie Constellation program works. And please let’s not get into another sub-thread on how we can go back to the Moon if only NASA listened to me. Please.

        • Guest

          The proposal was submitted on January 30 and is available online. Thanks for your interest.

          • Justin Kugler

            Where online can people find this proposal?

          • common sense

            Would love to read your proposal. In response to what RFP? A link? An official document somewhere? And of course you proposed with SpaceX as partner right?

            Anyway. I assume it was submitted to NASA. So crossing fingers then that someone at NASA sees the light.

            You never know where reviewers hide these days.

      • DCSCA

        Well said, Guest. Once SLS is operational, it’ll be put to use.

      • Guest wrote:

        I have proposed several uses for the SLS core stages if and only if it completely redesigned to use liquid reusable boosters and the insulation shedding problem is solved so that it can be propelled to geosynchronous orbit or escape velocity.

        I appreciate the effort you put into writing your response, but again, what will it be used for?

        Congress determines that. Congress has not authorized or funded any uses. Until they do, SLS is workfare.

        And I see none of the other SLS defenders on this site has answered the question.

        • Guest

          Sitting on the moon it will be used for volatiles storage at the very least, but human habitation is also possible. The tankage with be used for oxygen production and carbon dioxide sequestration in lunar resource processing, which are minimum prerequisites for human habitation of the moon.

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “I have proposed several uses for the SLS core stages if and only if it completely redesigned to use liquid reusable boosters and the insulation shedding problem is solved so that it can be propelled to geosynchronous orbit or escape velocity.”

        SLS doesn’t even go to LEO. The core stage pushes its payload towards some apogee and reenters. To circularize the core stage into an orbit (any orbit) or put it on some escape trajectory, the RS-25 engines are going to have to be fired multiple times. But as Griffin found out on the first incarnation of Ares I, the RS-25s are designed only to be started on the ground. The RS-25s can’t be restarted in flight without fundamentally redesigning them as some other engine. At that point, you no longer have an SLS.

        You can’t leave the SLS core stage in space because the RS-25 engines can’t perform the necessary restarts to put it there in the first place.

        (I’ll note that none of this has anything to do with reusable boosters or insulation and that adding reusability to the boosters would worsen the chances of achieving the necessary mass fractions.)

        “For instance, it can be used to store SSMEs in deep space.”

        Which is useless since, again, the SSMEs (RS-25s) can’t be restarted in space. They require equipment at the pads at KSC in order to be lit.

        “Cores can be attitude stabilized and used to salvage and aggregate dead communications satellites”

        Although the image of an SLS core being used as some orbital trash can is both fitting and amusing, dead comsats are either parked in graveyard orbits or reenter. There are proposals to reduce space debris by accelerating reentry through a variety of means, but none of these concepts collect debris at a central point before reentry.

        In fact, the biggest space debris threat (aside from Chinese ASAT stupidity) is large spent launch stages, especially old Soviet ones, very similar to the SLS core. They’re the objects that active space debris management advocates want brought down first, and they wouldn’t want to just replace those spent Soviet stages with more SLS cores.

        “lunar landings of the core stages on the surface of the poles of the moon”

        Even if you could magically get an SLS core into LLO, it couldn’t land itself on the lunar surface. Its RS-25s can’t be restarted in space.

        “I have further proposed lunar circumnavigation orbits to redirect the SLS core stages to wherever you want them, including back to Earth for aerobraking, or on to Mars or the asteroids or any of the coplanar Lagrange points”

        Again, you need engines that can be restarted in space multiple times to do any of this, and the RS-25s are the opposite of that.

        (Also, the SLS cores have the wrong shape and have no ablative material for aerobraking. That’s pure engineering crack you’re smoking.)

        “direct lunar landings of the SLS core stages is the most cost effective method to proceed with space development”

        Well, to the extent that “impossible” is the same as “cost effective”, you have an argument.

        “This would require much more efficient and reusable liquid booster enhancement with crossfeeding”

        With or without crossfeeding, you pay a mass penalty for reusability, which directly cuts into the propellant your core has left over to get it somewhere in space.

        “as well as the incorporation of the upper stage propulsion into the base of the core stage, since the SSMEs cannot be restarted. By upper stage I mean lunar orbit insertion and landing, because the SSMEs are capable of TLI by themselves. RL-10s are capable of setting the core stage down onto the surface and could easily be used as steering engines as well.”

        First, you likely can’t add anymore engines to the base of the core stage without having the four or five RS-25s melt them. NASA is not even sure that current thermal blanket technology can protect four or five RS-25s from each other, nevertheless other engines:

        “It has been noted by sources that the behavior of the blankets is something that will be assessed to make sure the ignition overpressure (IOP) does not cause the blanket to contact the engine powerhead components.

        Testing may also be required if the environment at the base of the SLS core is worse than what the existing materials have been certified for. Even if the thermal environment is not worse, the debris or pressure environment may be a relevant area of evaluation.”

        http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/09/sls-program-core-engine-heat-shield-change/

        Second, even if the RL-10s could magically survive the thermally insane environment of four to five RS-25s, by the time you pay for the mass of the RL-10s, their thrust structure, their power systems, their gimbaling systems, their fuel lines, and their avionics, you’re unlikely to have spare propellant in the SLS tanks for circularization, transit, or landing burns. Adding an RL-10 and all the wrapping it requires is like adding the mass of a service module. Throw just a couple of them on, and you’ve exceeded the mass of the MPCV payload on “normal” SLS launches.

        • Guest

          SLS doesn’t even go to LEO. The core stage pushes its payload towards some apogee and reenters. To circularize the core stage into an orbit (any orbit) or put it on some escape trajectory, the RS-25 engines are going to have to be fired multiple times.

          I don’t know why I bother.

          The SSMEs simply run until escape velocity is reached. The payload is fuel.

          Second, even if the RL-10s could magically survive the thermally insane environment of four to five RS-25s

          The SSME thermal enviroment is not ‘insane’, these are deeply cryogenic regenerative engines and nozzles. Musk has nine engines packed into an even smaller space.

          If you think you can rationally discuss technological design options then you need to be informed about the topic. We’ve already simmed this stuff out completely.

          • Dark Blue Nine

            “The SSMEs simply run until escape velocity is reached. The payload is fuel.”

            They’re still going to need to fire multiple times to enter lunar orbit and land. And they can’t.

            “The SSME thermal enviroment is not ‘insane’, these are deeply cryogenic regenerative engines and nozzles.”

            Shuttle had TPS installed between its engines to protect them from each other. SLS is resorting to thermal blankets for four RS-25s in the Block I vehicle. They’re uncertain that they can protect a fifth engine in that space.

            “Musk has nine engines packed into an even smaller space.”

            They’re much smaller and they’re not LOX/LH2 engines.

            “We’ve already simmed this stuff out completely.”

            Bull. Provide a link to an article about your “sims”.

            • Guest

              Assuming we are speaking about a jobs programs and keeping in the spirit of congressional intent for legacy STS and Apollo hardware and JSC/KSC/MSFC/Michoud?Stennis involvement, then I’m leaning toward ten meter solutions with SRBs and liquid hydrocarbon booster augmentation and possibly some kind of modified deep throttlable J2-XS with the idle mode landing. The problem is the attachment points preferably want to be at the intertank segment and so that is problematic for big stretched tanks with the extra fuel load. So obviously we’re looking at what kind of aerodynamic loads would be invoked by switching the order of the fuel and oxidizer tanks. You can also run the center engine right up to the end of lunar terminal landing and then land horizontally using distributed hypergolics, which solves a lot of exhaust blast ejecta problems. But nobody cares because it is an unmanned kamikaze mission anyways. It’s all good.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest rambled on about:

                Assuming we are speaking about a jobs programs and keeping in the spirit of congressional intent for legacy STS and Apollo hardware and JSC/KSC/MSFC/Michoud?Stennis involvement, then I’m leaning toward ten meter solutions with SRBs and liquid hydrocarbon booster augmentation and possibly some kind of modified deep throttlable J2-XS with the idle mode landing.

                Sometimes it just seems like you want to write something in a public forum, so you just happen to choose Space Politics, but otherwise it really doesn’t matter since it’s just an urge to write, not to engage in conversation or discussion.

                You can also run the center engine right up to the end of lunar terminal landing and then land horizontally using distributed hypergolics…

                ULA proposes a similar arrangement for their proposed space and lunar transportation architecture, but theirs uses existing launchers and tooling, while you are off proposing an even larger version of an unsustainable transportation system. I wonder which one is more doable?

      • “For instance, it can be used to store SSMEs in deep space.”

        For what purpose? They can only be started with external support equipment on the ground. The inability to make an air-startable upper stage SSME was (to me) the first nail in the Ares-I coffin. That’s what led to downsizing Orion (from 5.5 to 5 meters) and an additional SRB segment to try to make up for the reduced performance of its replacement.

        If you hope to re-light an SSME in space for something, doing it in microgravity won’t be any easier than on ascent…

        • Guest

          For the purpose of reverse engineering by future generations because this generation can’t seem to get it’s space program together. And the moon is ‘the ground’ when it comes to lunar base operations.

          Again, the main question I ask myself, is why do I bother to explain the most simple concept imaginable to those who can’t even understand the folly of their position. The SLS core stage is slated for destruction. It is easily deep space capable if rationally redesigned for deep space mission where the payload is fuel and the vehicle itself. If that deep space destination is not the moon, upper stage engines aren’t even required. If it is the moon, then boosters are simply added until the mass capability is achieved. If you think that many different combinations of five segment SRBs and SpaceX LRBs are not capable of delivering 150 klb to the surface of the moon, then I have a symplectic integrator that I can give you, for free. Falcon 9s with crossfeeding can do it alone and also provide superb acceleration management for the SRBs.

          • Dark Blue Nine

            “For the purpose of reverse engineering by future generations”

            This is nuts. Just put the RS-25s in storage. There’s no need to spend $10-20 billion-plus developing and launching an HLV.

            “Again, the main question I ask myself, is why do I bother to explain the most simple concept imaginable”

            Your “concept” is batshit crazy.

            • Guest

              Right, we should just put the legacy engines in storage on Earth and never fly them. And I’m crazy. That sounds a lot like DSCOVR. Thanks for that.

              The proposal is on NSPIRES if you wish to review it.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                The proposal is on NSPIRES if you wish to review it.

                I’m not familiar with NSPIRES, but when Iooked I found a solicitation for “NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts” (Solicitation: NNH13ZUA001N). Is that what you are submitting your proposal to?

          • “For the purpose of reverse engineering by future generations because this generation can’t seem to get it’s space program together.”

            Seriously?

            Engineers at Marshall are arguably doing this with the F-1, and they hardly had to go to the Moon to find pristine samples…

            http://www.space.com/19379-saturn-5-f1-engines-test-firing.html

    • Coastal Ron

      Stephen, I haven’t been able to get anyone to answer that question in the years since the SLS was approved. Even “Guest” can only things for it to do only if it’s completely redesigned, and that’s not likely to happen.

      Unfortunately Shelby et al don’t use logic.

      Oh, and congrats on the mention in the other media.

      • Coastal Ron wrote:

        Oh, and congrats on the mention in the other media.

        Are you referring to the Huntsville Times? That was inadvertent at best. The reporter thought I was someone else. I didn’t know about it until Jeff tipped me on Twitter. I e-mailed the reporter and he updated the article, but he didn’t mention my blog so … eh. :-)

  • Joe Russo

    It always is amazing to me how many pro-space people hate NASA. While I am pro-NASA, I also support the efforts of private industry.

    • I am very pro-space, very pro-NASA, and very private space industry. Because I want both NASA and the private space industry to thrive, I am very anti-SLS.

    • common sense

      Yet another great, profound comment. A specialty? Nobody hates NASA, nobody that I know anyway. It is not about hating or being pro-NASA. It is about making NASA successful. And NASA is not equal to Human Space Flight. Grow up! Darn.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    I only have to say that this is obviously not a “manufactured controversy” except on the part of anti-SLS jihadis. I have long since concluded that people who want to scrap SLS are functionally opposed to beyond LEO space exploration. One would only wish that they would be more honest about that.

    • common sense

      One would only wish you post your nonsense elsewhere so that we could have a constructive debate. Hope springs eternal though.

    • Mark, I am one of the most ardent beyond LEO people there is. You have been guided to the source material over and over again (from NASA itself no less) that proves SLS is not necessary for beyond LEO, yet you continue to propagate B.S. to the contrary. Do you have no conscience?

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “anti-SLS jihadis”

      When you can’t win an argument on logic and evidence, resort to inflammatory labels.

      “I have long since concluded that people who want to scrap SLS are functionally opposed to beyond LEO space exploration. One would only wish that they would be more honest about that.”

      Or attack the integrity of a whole group of people.

      Ugh…

    • JimNobles

      “I have long since concluded that people who want to scrap SLS are functionally opposed to beyond LEO space exploration.”

      .

      I’m sorry Mark, but that’s an inaccurate conclusion. I don’t think SLS will ever result in any meaningful beyond LEO space exploration. It reality it has so many things stacked against it I don’t believe it can possibly survive. It simply costs too much to build and operate.

      I think the smart thing to do would be to put the requirements for a next generation heavy lifter out for bid and see if anyone commercial wants to make a bid on the system using milestone-based pay-for-results contracting. Similar to COTS. The same people who are working on SLS now would be welcome to enter the bidding process. If no one credible wants to take a shot at it then NASA could do it in-house albeit much more expensively.

      I honestly can’t see how anyone can look at how SLS was born and how it is progressing and the costs associated with it can logically conclude this is the way to go in obtaining our next heavy lifter. It defies logic.

      We’ve all seen the advantages of milestone-based pay-for-results contracting methods. It should be used whenever practical. Our next generation heavy lifter program begs for it. It was made for it. To do things the old fashion cost-plus way is without value now that we have found there is a better way.

      I think some SLS supporters are doing the very things that some of them are accusing SLS non-supporters of doing, trying to hold back our efforts towards BEO activities. I don’t understand them. Their arguments defy logic and common sense. I can understand that some of them are invested emotionally and/or materially in SLS and that is part of their motivation. I won’t call them names for that because if I was them I might be the same way.

      But to those that don’t have some sort of investment in SLS, where is your logic? Where is your common sense? Where is your dream to get us into the solar system in the soonest and most cost efficient way?

      • common sense

        “Their arguments defy logic and common sense.”

        Yep I know what you mean.

        “Where is your common sense?”

        Love to be quoted. Only my ego.

      • DCSCA

        I’m sorry Mark, but that’s an inaccurate conclusion. I don’t think SLS will ever result in any meaningful beyond LEO space exploration…” mused Jim.

        Then why concern yourself w/it; just press on w/your commercial efforts, dource financing in the private sector and get flying- and leave the government space ops to its own fate- for it has little do do w/commerce and everything to do w/geo-politics.

        • Neil Shipley

          Yep, that’s what SpaceX is doing, continuing to sign up additional customers i.e. IAI’s ATMOS-6 satellite, as well as supporting NASA’s leo efforts. In the longer run, they will by default, support NASA’s beo efforts as well when SLS gets cancelled and MPCV changes form yet again, or gets cancelled. End result will be the same.

          • DCSCA

            Neil, they’ve flown nobody. But their hype excels– no surprise there given Musk’s history. Siemens software is using on-orbot Dragon footage from last year in commercials now; while Toyota is using shuttle in commercials showing their truck towing an orbiter in transit to a museum.

            • Chris B

              DCSCA, the truth is that Musk’s history is four medium launch vehicles and three reusable capsules in orbit, and two docked to ISS. He has a brand new company starting entirely from scratch from no experience, using an amount of money that the space world considers to be petty cash.

              And this year he’s testing a modified version of the capsule with escape motors.

        • “Then why concern yourself w/it; just press on w/your commercial efforts, dource financing in the private sector and get flying- and leave the government space ops to its own fate- for it has little do do w/commerce…”

          So, we should stand back and see how many billions it burns through, before collapsing under its own weight? All the commercial Space in the Universe doesn’t excuse the ‘government space ops’ from doing something in a manner that’s actually affordable and useful.

          “…and everything to do w/geo-politics.”

          The sixties and the ‘Moon Race’ are over. China isn’t the new Soviet space competitor, no matter ho much some want it to be. They will do what they think they need to do, regardless of our plans and policies. To whom does SLS matter in a ‘geopolitical’ sense? Who is it supposed to impress, shame, or deter?

          • DCSCA

            So, we should stand back and see how many billions it burns through, before collapsing under its own weight? asks Frank.

            Why should it concern you- your focus is on LEO commercial ops, hopefully HSF some dat. And the irony is, the quicker you start taking the risk and flying crews, the more leverage you’d have to propose an alternative to SLS. Instead, it’s obvious that what’s in play here has very little to so with space ops and everything to do with the ideologues pressing to privatizse as many government service as possible. The politics of the writers, not to mention the ideology of the editorial board of the venue that published it, is self-explanatory, Frank.

            • DCSCA

              A postscript- geo-politics is on-going, amd not exclusive to the 1960′s, Frank. =eyeroll=

              • “A postscript- geo-politics is on-going, amd not exclusive to the 1960′s, Frank. =eyeroll=”

                Nor did I say or imply that it was in any sense done (or did you miss my assertion that Chinese space policy is likely to go at its own pace, regardless of what we do?)…

                But:

                “To whom does SLS matter in a ‘geopolitical’ sense? Who is it supposed to impress, shame, or deter?”

                That was my question. You’ve still not said what benefits SLS will allegedly give us in current geopolitics. Certainly not that which Saturn-V gave in the schedule-driven 60′s, in which we unarguably no longer live.

            • “Why should it concern you- your focus is on LEO commercial ops…”

              My ‘focus’ includes, but is not limited to that. Neither do I assume that the best or most affordable means of doing manned ops beyond LEO requires SLS or any other HLV in the near or medium term. Your assumption (and that of several others here) appears to be that anyone who opposes SLS is opposed to that.

    • I have long since concluded that people who want to scrap SLS are functionally opposed to beyond LEO space exploration.

      One more demonstration of your ignorance and lack of ability to think critically. Anyone who supports SLS is (as Marx would say) objectively opposed to beyond-LEO space exploration because a) SLS is not needed for it and b) it is taking all of the budget for the hardware that is.

    • DCSCA

      “I have long since concluded that people who want to scrap SLS are functionally opposed to beyond LEO space exploration. One would only wish that they would be more honest about that.”

      There’s more to it that that, Mark. They’re opposed to ‘big government’ and advocate privatizing as many government services as possible. If this forum was about philatelics, they’d be rooting for UPS and FedEx over the USPS.

      • Neil Shipley

        So what’s wrong with that? I thought that the U.S. was the home of democracy and free enterprise. Where governments provided minimal services and business enterprises and entrepreneurs provided the majority of goods and services.

        • DCSCA

          So what’s wrong with that?: asks Neil.

          Government is nto a business. If it was, they’re be four post offices in Wyoming, pennies, which cost three cents to mint, would no longer be made; paper money would be scrapped for more durable– and efficient– longer lasting coins; tobbaco growers would not be subsidized, etc., etc. Gvoernment is not a business.

          • pathfinder_01

            Your knowledge of the US is a bit off. USPS is not subsidized by the US government (it sometimes operates at a profit but has been operating at a loss mostly due to a law requiring it to pre fund some pensions –something businesses do not do.). While USPS does deliver mail, it does not ship mail (it uses private companies to do so just as NASA uses private companies to send supplies to the ISS and plans to do the same for crew and if they wanted to go on an NEO mission, you could use those same private cargo carriers to send up food, water to a manned spacecraft being assembled in LEO or modify them and use EELV to send those craft to an HEO).

            “would no longer be made; paper money would be scrapped for more durable– and efficient– longer lasting coins”

            Paper money is lighter to carry (it is in fact what replaced coinage), however in the past there were coins worth up to $20 and there have been several attempts at replacing the $1 with coins. The attempts tend to fail due to stupidity on the part of the government and hoarding of individuals. In the 70ies they tried the Eisenhower dollar which is large heavy and no vending machine takes it, the Cater quarter(same size and color as a .25 and easy to mix up with a quarter. In the 90ies a gold colored coin that is still made today, but the coating wore off early and hoarding is a major problem (I rarely get $1 coins). Also the $1000 bill is no longer printed. Like the paper money was hundreds of years ago and coins were there have been innovations in spaceflight since Apollo…like say PICA heat shields and reasons no longer do things they way we used to (with electronic transfer of money no need for $1000 bills to ship money between banks.) and likewise with cheaper commercial companies no need for NASA to do the launching.

            “pennies, which cost three cents to mint, would no longer be made”

            There has been talk of eliminating it, but if you do then prices need to be rounded up to a nickel as there is no way to make .29 cents in US coins without a penny(all other coins in the US are multiples of 5(.5, .10, .25,. 50, $1..00)

            “it was, they’re be four post offices in Wyoming”

            Even UPS and FEDEX ship door to door to Wyoming. Anyway the USPS also uses FEDEX for some services and FEDEX uses USPS for others like say shipping door to door (to a residential house) since residential pickup and delivery is an expense.

            UPS is insured postage allowing you to ship good with insurance for much higher rated than the post office(USPS limit is $100), with UPS if you $500 part gets damaged in shipping you can be reimbursed via insurance. USPS handles mostly letters and some boxed items while the other two are mostly boxed items and rarely documents that need to go to other businesses. FEDEX is overnight shipping (something USPS does not do—and the provide 1-2 day shipping via USPS. USPS shipping is usually 3-4 days in the US unless you are sending it in town or perhaps not very far.)

            Likewise the role for NASA is no longer launching rockets. Just as in shipping in the US, NASA should find tasks like R/D that it can provide value for the tax payer and not handle all tasks in spaceflight.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Rick, Common, cancelling SLS in favor of vague promises of commercial fuel depots is functionally abandoning beyond LEO space exploration. The economic and technical case for that architecture has not and IMHO cannot be made in the foreseeable future. I’m sorry that you want to suppress dissent, which demonstrates how really confident you are in your position.

    • Vague promises? Really, Booz-Allen-Hamilton stated that SLS is likely not to be finished because there won’t be enough money. That means is SLS is no promise deal.

      “The economic and technical case for that architecture has not and IMHO cannot be made in the foreseeable future.”
      In your opinion? Since when is your opinion more valid than the professional scientists and engineers who did those studies, whose very living is made working in that field? Of all of the arrogant, egotistical, small minded attitudes. Even I am more qualified than you are in that respect, at least I have two physical science degrees rather than your bachelor’s in history. But I still don’t claim to be better than the people behind those reports who have a complex technical degree outside of my field.
      You are absolutely unbelievable, both literally and figuratively.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “cancelling SLS in favor of vague promises of commercial fuel depots is functionally abandoning beyond LEO space exploration”

      Then buy rational HLVs that leave some budget for service modules, mission modules, transit stages, and landers.

      ULA can produce an EELV Phase 2 with the same throw weight as the 70-ton Phase I SLS for $2.3 billion in 2004 dollars or about one-fourth the cost of the $9-10 billion Phase I SLS:

      http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/docs/publications/EELVPhase2_2010.pdf

      SpaceX can produce a Falcon Super Heavy with more throw weight than the 130-ton Phase II SLS for $2.5 billion or about one-eighth the cost of the $20 billion-plus Phase II SLS.

      http://www.nss.org/articles/falconheavy.html

      Either of these options save $6 billion to $16 billion-plus (rounded down) over SLS. $6 billion is more than enough enough to build the service module for MPCV, a lunar lander, and a rover at a minimum. At the $16 billion level, you could add a deep space mission module and proximity vehicle for NEO missions, with change to spare. These are the deep space architecture elements that the NASA workforce should be working on, not a heavy launcher that industry can build much more efficiently.

      SLS is an enormous, expensive waste that stands in the way of actual human space exploration. Replace it with any of the much less expensive options and all sorts of possibilities emerge.

      • amightywind

        ULA can produce an EELV Phase 2 with the same throw weight as the 70-ton Phase I SLS for $2.3 billion in 2004 dollars or about one-fourth the cost of the $9-10 billion Phase I SLS:

        Thanks for the links. 50 years ago the RL-10 was abandoned on the upper stages of Apollo because they are too small. So they are today. The J2-X is a better solution.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “RL-10 was abandoned on the upper stages of Apollo because they are too small… The J2-X is a better solution.”

          You should let the SLS program know because their Block I second stage employs the RL-10B2 engine. I’m sure they’ll revisit their decision to go with the RL-10 over the J-2X in the Block I second stage.

          (Duh…)

    • common sense

      Your language “jihadis” is not that of dissent it is that of inflammation. I favor dissent always have.

      In the particular cases of SLS and commercial fuel depot both are vague. But at least no one has spent so far $15B on vaporware fuel depot.

      Beyond LEO can be done without SLS and without MPCV. There is a capsule, SpaceX’s Dragon, whether you like it or not, that flies today and that is not that difficult to modify into a beyond LEO vehicle. MPCV cannot even get the structural test right. And that after only 9 years of work. 9 YEARS!!!!!!! Is it that difficult to understand that MPCV does not work. 9 YEARS, did I mention 9 YEARS? If I did not mention 9 YEARS maybe I should mention the billions of dollars invested in it. Should I? Nah I am sure you can run a search and find the exact number for yourself.

      Budget matters. For a super conservative republican you don’t seem to abide by your own rules. A company like SpaceX has required what about $1B total so far. So for every billion, BILLION, we spend doing nothing we could invest in a 10 year company with about 2,000 people creating rockets and capsules if that were the problem.

      But let’s think for a minute, for a change. How many provider do we need for LV and RV? 2, 3 at most. Okay then. It leaves ample room to provide $1B here and there to companies to create the departure stage, the lunar lander, the service module, you name it. All of which are not being programmed at NASA. Can you understand that? And you would transfer the workforce to the private sector hence reducing NASA overall cost.

      Make an effort.

      Jihadi????

    • Justin Kugler

      Name-calling, strawman arguments, and casting aspersions on the motivations of SLS critics abundantly illustrate how confident you are in your position.

    • DCSCA

      “..cancelling SLS in favor of vague promises of commercial fuel depots is functionally abandoning beyond LEO space exploration. The economic and technical case for that architecture has not and IMHO cannot be made in the foreseeable future.” mused Mark.

      That’s about right- in tems of space ops. But thi has little to do w/space ops and everything to do with those advocating the ideology of privatizing as many government services as possible. Look where the op=eds run- th WSJ, w/an editorial board akin to the Club For Growth. These critics spend more time trying to stop SLS than than do getting started flying crews– which speaks volumes. The privateers simply want access to gov’t financing denied in the private sector while failing to take the risk and fly somebody. When NASA accepted the risk and orbited Glenn in 1962, two of the five previous Mercury/Atlas systems experienced failures. Yet NASA pressed on, flying Gleen facing the risk of it being the third bad one or the fourth success. Fear of failure keeps commercial from taking that level of calculated risk or even less, 50 years on– and until they do they have little credibility– but plenty of false equivalency.

  • Whittington is another Windy, only less entertaining, lol.

    On a more serious note, Shelby will keep SLS on a slow intravenous drip as long as possible, until the schedule goes so far to the right that cancelling it will be a tender mercy.

    By then the pork train and the votes will end and Shelby will retire into lobbying for LockMart.

    • JimNobles

      On a more serious note, Shelby will keep SLS on a slow intravenous drip as long as possible, until the schedule goes so far to the right that cancelling it will be a tender mercy.
      .

      Unfortunately I think you may be correct. In such a case NASA will probably get the blame and will lose their chance at a supportable heavy lift system because you know Congress isn’t going to take the blame for the mess. Besides the lost money we don’t even know how many years we may lose as well.

      Congress will probably say, “Well, we gave them orders to buld the big lifter they have always wanted and they couldn’t do it. Why should we give them any more?”

  • josh

    as long as the people of alabama are stupid enough to reelect corrupt, incompetent politicians like shelby they deserve what’s coming to them.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington
    January 30, 2013 at 2:53 pm · Reply

    Rick, Common, cancelling SLS in favor of vague promises of commercial fuel depots is functionally abandoning beyond LEO space exploration. >>

    the great lie.

    there is no beyond LEO space exploration with SLS..NONE, right now there are a lot of powerpoints but there is no hint how they would turn into vehicles, much less how one would afford to fly SLS.

    there really is no SLS…what you are supporting is development of a vehicle which after 3-4 flights has to change its total configuration…ie new engines and probably new side boosters…allwith more money

    Why do you lie like this Mark? There are no plans for beyond Earth exploration with SLS/Orion because in large measure 1) they will never be built and 2) its unaffordable.

    What a goof bag. RGO

    • Robert G. Oler wrote:

      Why do you lie like this Mark?

      That question should be more generic … Just my anecdotal impression, but it seems that most of the people trying to support SLS (and the space-industrial complex in general) have to fib in order to defend their position.

      If you notice, I’ve asked them several times now in this thread to answer one simple question — what will SLS be used for?

      They can’t answer it.

      We knew what Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Shuttle and ISS would be used for.

      We don’t know what SLS will be used for.

      They know they can’t lie about it, because it’s common knowledge that Congress has given no use for it.

      If you can’t support your position without even one simple truth, i.e. what will it be used for, then your position doesn’t deserve support. ‘Nuff said.

      • Robert G. Oler

        Stephen C. Smith
        January 31, 2013 at 6:55 am · Reply

        Robert G. Oler wrote:

        Why do you lie like this Mark?

        That question should be more generic … Just my anecdotal impression, but it seems that most of the people trying to support SLS (and the space-industrial complex in general) have to fib in order to defend their position.>>

        Stephen

        I left the GOP as the GOP left results based politics and instead started focusing on politics and policy justified by rhetoric alone; with rhetoric the explanation when the results were bad.

        All politicans (and that includes national ones) have politics of both dogma politics and rhetoric; but somewhere down the line almost everyone at some point bows to reality and looks at results…and starts to modify policy and politics with those things in hand.

        The best space example (concerning human spaceflight) is the space station. Dan Goldin finally convinced (with Al Gore’s help) the Clinton administration to tie the station to cooperation with the Russians that came after the station had floundered for almost a decade under Reagan and Bush41 with fundamentally no purpose. Psycho Dan for all his folks, narrowed the focus of the station; and got it built.

        Under the GOP, starting with “Mr. Newt” in 1994 results simply stopped mattering across the board. They pulled an impeachment of Clinton with no public support, with no hope of a guilty verdict and with Mr. Newt doing the exact same thing that Clinton was doing; lying about a consensul out of marriage relationship. “The lie” that they had Clinton on was told to a third party in a non government deposition…and the American people (nor really the US government) cared. People “Lie” in these things all the time. Mr. Newt was.

        David Frum in his book “Dead Right” gives an excellent sort of analysis of how the GOP went from the world of reality to the world it was in when he wrote the book, and under Bush43 it simply got worse.

        We are coming up on the anniversary of Bush43′s speech…about “the vision”. Say what “one” would about that speech, the reality is that Mike Griffin had 15 billion dollars before his sorry ass left office; and he couldnt get a thing flying..That is easily twice what (in real dollars) Gemini spent to actually do the entire program.

        Now why couldnt Mike do that? Under the GOP these programs simply dont have to work; they just have to fill some hole of policy and then funnel money to the folks who the GOP has made a pretty good show of funneling money to…

        Ask Shelby if there is any amount of money that could be spent on SLS with no results before he would 1) urge the programs cancelling or 2) simply go to the leaders of NASA and industry involved in the darn thing and say “Fellow you have to make this work”?

        He wont do any of those because results to the GOP simply no longer matter.
        The policy keeps the low information voters like Whittington and Wind in place and the politics keep the money flowing.

        Or at least have. Mark Whittington doesnt care if the SLS ever does a thing; all he is about is trying to be 1) anti Obama and 2) pro Bush43. But Mark and Wind and all the other right wingers are drifting so far “right” that the American people are leaving them. An excellent, though non space example is the Libya hearings. The American people see this for what it is; an attempt to keep the war machine genned up…and have greated the entire affair with a yawn.

        Plus SLS/Orion are simply going no where in terms of actually being built. We are well now into having spent mid 20′s on the two programs combined and all that is happened is what is happening across the board to these programs…the project(s) are floundering.

        When Bush43 came out with “his vision” I was pretty unpopular here calling it for what it was…a fraud. There was never any real intent to go back to the Moon much less use its resources, all it was was simply a way to end the shuttle program which even the idiots in the Bush43 administration had figured out was to dangerous…and yet keep all the “stakeholders” with a seat at the table…even better it was unlikely that we would fly anything anytime soon…so less risk.

        No one knows what SLS would be used for; because that up till now has not been important…

        Meanwhile FAlcon9 is doing something SLS will never do…its generating paying customers

        The Mark Whittington who asked to be included in TWS piece where we urge what is more or less Obama’s space policy …would be pleased. But that was before Bush43 and the end of the GOP. RGO

        • E. P. Grondine

          Hi RGO –

          Your history of Russian involvement in ISS is wrong.

          As for Newt, his goal was to turn Clinton’s coat-tails into tar rags, and he did that.

          We still do not know with certainty why Griffin decided on the Ares 1 and Ares 5 architecture.

          We have no idea what W. thought, and won’t until his papers are declassified.

          Democrats as well as Republicans signed off on Griffin’s plan.

          Mark thinks modularity can not work; I strongly disagree.

          That said, we are loosing sight of the fundamentals in all of the vitriol.

    • To be fair to Mark, I don’t think he’s lying. He’s just ill informed and illogical.

      • Neil Shipley

        I don’t think so. He’s been informed and linked to ad nauseum on this blog regarding the arguments per SLS and Orion. He’s simply choosing to ignore rather than debate.

        • Robert G. Oler

          Mark W doesnt want to see…there are none that are so blind…RGO

        • Rand, may be at least half right on this one. Whittington could just be illogical, but not ill informed (considering all of the evidence he’s been given). Or maybe Rand is totally right, if he is talking about other sources with a vested interest in SLS who keep pouring their poison into a mind that desperately wants to believe them.

        • Would it make people happy if I said that Mark is delusional?

          My point is that I don’t think he’s lying. He probably actually believes the insane nonsense he types. I’m always loath to accuse someone of lying, because I can’t get into their mind.

          Just as he probably really believes that I “rage,” and “scream,” and “leap the length of my chain,” when I calmly point out falsities and logical inconsistencies. In addition to his other delusions, he seems to suffer from a form of autism that is unable to accurately discern others’ emotional states, at least on line.

  • Some topic drift, with Jeff’s indulgence.

    Last night Siemens ran an ad on The Rachel Maddow Show promoting its partnership with SpaceX.

    The extended version, which runs nearly two minutes, is on YouTube. Click here to watch. Very cool.

    Click here for the 30-second version that ran on TV.

    Siemens’ marketing people must think Rachel’s audience demographic is comprised of space geeks. Rachel is one, so that figures. :-)

    • DCSCA

      FYI Stephen, that spot has been airing locally in LA for a while. They made a nat’l cable buy. There’s little doubt SpaceX is good at hype– Musk excells at it. At HSF ops, nto so much; in fact, not at all.

      TRMS has a relatively narrow demographics profile and is the highest rated program on MSNBC but gets crushed in the numbers by her competitors- Hannity- and Piers morgan.

      • Neil Shipley

        “At HSF ops, nto so much; in fact, not at all.’ Well duh again! No one has asked him to at the moment apart from CCiCap along with the other two companies and they’re all doing very well as per their milestone progress.
        Of course you have to consider that the CRS contract could also be considered part of HSF due to the fact that it interracts with the ISS and the Dragon Cargo spacecraft must be HSF rated for ISS crews to enter, retrieve, and repack cargo. IIRC, ISS crews were very complementary concerning the Dragon Cargo spacecraft in terms of production standards, layout, roominess and so on.
        This is slightly different to the purely HSF slaint which is all about flying crews.
        Just a small point.

    • DCSCA

      BTW Stephen, there’s nothing all that special about Siemens hyping product association w/space ops in a corporate ad. Rockwell and TRW did it for years in WSJ tombstone ads. Back in the day, Actifed used Schirra in print and broadcast [as did CBS in the Cronkie days, 'Walter to Walter' coverage]; Chrysler briefly employed Armstrong; McDonnell/Douglas used Conrad; Oldsmobile used Carpenter; Eastern featured its then ‘earn their wings every day’ president, Borman in their marketing; Von Braun lent his likeness to pitch encyclopedias; Lovell endorsed the Boy Scouts… and even Yeager was pitching aircraft, liquor and Rolex watches years ago. And most famously, General Foods pitched its Tang aboard Gemini, Apollo and into shuttle- you know, ‘for space men and Earth families.’ In ’09, Ride, Lovell and Aldrin were even pitching Louis Vitton for a campaign. In fact, Aldrin attaches his name to a lot of products and services.

  • Joe Russo

    Why can’t we have an intelligent give-and-take without the nasty comments? We are just as bad as Congress and as dysfunctional when it comes to discussing our differences of opinion.

    • Robert G. Oler

      Joe…look at which side is pushing facts and which side is pushing rhetoric. RGO

    • DCSCA

      This has very little do do w/space ops, Joe, and everything to do w/t ideologues advoicating the philosophy of privatizing as many government services as possible. They’ve been hard at it sonce January 20, 1981. Unfortunatly for NASA, it’s a soft target for those attacking discretionary government spending.

  • kevin J waldroup

    to Robert G. Oler
    what a right wing believe in do way all government agency but not the DOD.
    I think SLS sure cancellation.

    • Neil Shipley

      I think so too but it will take time due to the jobs tied to the program. The reality is that the program is really only about jobs, not actually producing anything that will actually fly.

      Personally I think that the real nail in the coffin for SLS will be when the SpaceX FH flies successfully sometime in 2014 IIRC. Scaling up is difficult so it’s not a forgone conclusion. SpaceX is innovative however so you have to give them odds on that they will deliver this project. I’d reckon it’s also one of the strategic steps for them on the way to Mars.

    • Robert G. Oler

      The right wing loves the various “industrial complexes”. RGO

  • common sense

    “I support the Senator as well. Those who want to basically make NASA an R&D agency are against the space program and don’t want to come out and say so. They hide behind the budget arguments until their pet projects are touched.”

    “It always is amazing to me how many pro-space people hate NASA. While I am pro-NASA, I also support the efforts of private industry.”

    “Why can’t we have an intelligent give-and-take without the nasty comments? ”

    Read your posts above for your review. What is intelligent about them? Are they inflammatory? What do you think?

    My advice: Change the tone of your posts and maybe, just maybe people will be nice enough to answer your concerns. Or you will be just another amightywind, DCSA and the likes.

    When our friend MrEarl (long time no see btw, how’ve you been? how’s the new job?) tries the moderate tone he gets a lot more response with which he does not agree of course… But that’s okay. I am sure he will somehow join our group sometime soon.

    Your choice.

  • If actually developed, the 70 ton SLS will cost between 1.3 and 2.5 billion dollars per launch. It will be launched once per year per the plans NASA currently has. That is as far from “cost effective” and “efficient” as you could possible get. Elon Musk could probably put 400 tons into orbit per year for the same billion bucks with multiple launches and 1/10th the staff. But most of all, why would you spend a billion bucks to put 70 or 400 tons into orbit? There is no rational economic justification. And what about all the science on the $100 billion dollar space station – nothing for the money that you could not have done on earth for 1/10,000th the cost. And where are we going? To land on an asteroid?! Send a robot. Or don’t go at all – whatever is in an asteroid is in the earth’s crust in spades, and a lot easier to mine. The only justification for the SLS is “welfare jobs program” – no other rational analysis, either exploration or economically based, holds water. So let’s be honest and call welfare, welfare. And I’m OK with welfare, but we must be honest in the discussion.

    • Coastal Ron

      George Campbell said:

      But most of all, why would you spend a billion bucks to put 70 or 400 tons into orbit?

      That is the question. As of now, the only new program being worked on is the Obama plan to send a crew to an asteroid in 2025, but it does not have money from Congress, so it’s just initial planning only at this point.

      There is no rational economic justification.

      Well to be fair, the goal of government spending is not necessarily because there is an economic justification. For instance, the DoD and NPS are not funded because there is an economic justification for waging war, or for keeping forests free of development.

      And what about all the science on the $100 billion dollar space station – nothing for the money that you could not have done on earth for 1/10,000th the cost.

      I don’t think you know anything about what is happening on the ISS. Have you even looked at the list of experiments that have been done on the ISS, or that are planned? You can’t do long term zero-g experiments in a 1g environment.

      For instance, scientists are just now learning how to keep humans healthy while they are in zero-g for six month periods of time, and the ISS partners are planning to test the same techniques on two astronauts that stay in space for one year.

      If your goal is to learn how to live and work in space, then the only way to do that is to live and work in space. Earth is not a substitute.

  • Scott Rankine

    This is pure nonsense and pork barrel politics at its worse. All the SLS will achieve is to burn thru billions of taxpayer dollars without ever leaving the launch pad. NASA should be focusing on advanced propulsion systems for deep space exploration and get out of the ‘air mail’ business (ferry cargo and people to and from low earth orbit). Anyone with any sense of history knows that the Federal government has always played a key role in kickstarting expansion into new frontiers by supporting western expansion, railroads, aviation and space exploration then steps aside and hands the ball to private enterprise as it should.

    SpaceX and other entrepreneurs will leave the SLS in the dust as they should.

    The aerospace lobbyists and political hack in Congress need to get on the right side of history and embrace change, not work to undermine it for selfish, short-sighted reasons.

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