Congress, NASA

All space sequestration politics is local

With the deadline for budget sequestration now just over a week away, Congress is… on break this week. As members of Congress spend time in their home districts this week, some are offering varying perspectives of what budget sequestration would be for NASA, and the centers in their districts.

In Huntsville, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) offered some relatively good news. The Marshall Space Flight Center “is going to survive sequestration a little bit better than most of the centers around the country,” he said in a speech to community leaders, the Huntsville Times reported. That assessment is not surprising, since Marshall’s key programs, notably the Space Launch System, were not singled out for reductions in NASA’s sequestration plan released last week.

Brooks, though, warned of long-term budget trends that work against NASA as a whole. “The short time I’ve been in Congress, I have noticed a disturbing trend that the budget for NASA is getting harder and harder to sustain it or even keep it from dropping too much,” he said, adding he would work with other members of the state’s congressional delegation to secure funding for the space agency.

In the Houston area, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), whose district includes the Johnson Space Center, was also advocating for NASA funding, putting the blame for cuts squarely on the White House. “Obama’s proposed sequester would be disastrous for NASA, which is already his punching bag,” he claimed in comments to the Bay Area Citizen.

Stockman visited with JSC officials and “outlined his plans to stop proposed cuts to NASA funding,” according to the report. Exactly what those plans are weren’t clear in the article, although Stockman indicated he preferred to fund NASA over some social programs. “I am working with other Texas members of Congress to stop sequester and instead focus the cuts on wasteful or unnecessary spending,” he said.

In Florida, the concern is about commercial crew, a program that would, under the proposed sequestration plan, grind to a halt, at least temporarily, later this year. All three companies currently funded under NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) program plan to eventually launch from the Cape, and some have plans for nearer-term tests there as well as development of facilities to support those efforts.

“This is going to push out that much longer the amount of time before we can have our own U.S.-built vehicle launching U.S. astronauts from U.S. soil, and I think that’s unsatisfactory,” former astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, said in a speech Wednesday on Florida’s Space Coast, Florida Today reported. A delay in commercial crew, he warned, meant spending more money on Russian crew transportation services later this decade. However, few in Congress or elsewhere are thinking much beyond March 1 right now.

170 comments to All space sequestration politics is local

  • It’s endlessly amusing — and appalling — to watch members of Congress blame the White House for their budget misdeeds. The budget is enacted and funded by Congress. It’s in the U.S. Constitution.

    They claim the White House has provided NASA with no “vision” even though NASA has provided Congress with one “vision” document after another, all of which have been ignored. The most recent one went to Congress in August, suggesting uses for SLS. It was ignored too. So the White House is forced to continue a NASA boondoggle that has no missions or destinations, and is funded just enough by Congress to keep employed voters in the states and districts of those Congresscritters making the false accusations.

    The sooner that NewSpace is up and running full-time, the better off for all humanity. Take Congress out of the equation and we’re on our way to the rest of the solar system.

  • amightywind

    Agencies should be given the authority to exercise discretion to transfer funds. It is up to the Senate to pass that bill. It’s hard ball time, boys and girls. IMHO, NASA should cut 20% of their staff, give the remaining workers a raise and tell them they have the same job to do. That’s the way we do it in corporate America!

    • Hiram Jones

      Quite right. That way, NASA could transfer all SLS funding into the Science Directorate, which actually has been producing regularly. NASA and the administration fundamentally don’t want SLS, so that would make it easy for them to kill it off.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    Between the hits to commercial crew milestones and SLS/MPCV facilities construction, KSC actually takes a big one-two punch, while MSFC and JSC get away with very little in the way of reductions. Hope Sen. Nelson is still happy with his “Big Monster Rocket”. Appropriators like Shelby and Mikulski certainly played him for a fool.

    • Ben Russell-Gough

      FWIW, I suspect that the SLS project has always been about the building, not the flying.

      Well, there is a very real possibility that Dennis Tito will be radioing back photos of Mars in five years time whilst the EM-2 Orion is still half-built. NASA will still be promising ‘cool things soon’ without any real hint of what they are and where the money is coming from.

      • joe

        “Well, there is a very real possibility that Dennis Tito will be radioing back photos of Mars in five years time …”

        Question: is that meant to imply that Mr. Tito will be either on the Martian Surface or in Mars orbit “in five years time”?

        If so what transportation system will he be using to get to Mars in 2018?

        • Ben Russell-Gough

          Flying past Mars at interplanetary speed in a Crewed Dragon, launched by a Falcon Heavy, if he has his way. We’ll learn more when the Inspiration Mars Foundation make their formal announcement later.

          • joe

            Of course, I should have known.

            • Coastal Ron

              joe said:

              Of course, I should have known.

              You didn’t expect him to propose using the MPCV and SLS, did you? Too expensive, and who knows if they will ever be ready to fly, and certainly not by 2018…

          • JimNobles

            Flying past Mars at interplanetary speed in a Crewed Dragon, launched by a Falcon Heavy, if he has his way.

            I’m a SpaceX fan and I even think that’s a crazy idea. I think he needs a Dragon, a hab module (Bigelow?) and a bunch of supplies and fuel. I’m not smart enough to do the math but it sounds like about four FH launches to me. Unless he’s going on a one way mission to Die With Glory!

          • JimNobles

            So now Alan Boyle is reporting it’s going to be two other people and not Tito. I prophecy that they’re not going to do this with one Falcon Heavy. Not and come back anyway.

            • Robert G. Oler

              I prophecy that they’re not going to do this with one Falcon Heavy. Not and come back anyway”

              Probably two although one could see it happening a lot easier with three..

              I’ve been playing with the old orbit program…and making some “modest” assumptions one could see this being done with a Dragon/a Bigelow module and “change”…ie a supply module that gets emptied…it would be “spartan” (I think that word is creeping in) but it could be done.

              kind of exciting actually although well its a long shot (to actually get it together)…RGO

              • Fred Willett

                FH carries up Bigelow BA330 and supplies FH 2nd stage remains with stack to act as EDS
                FH No 2 carries up Dragon and fuel to refuel EDS.
                Dragon docks to Bigelow module and blast for Mars.
                1st FH $125M (2nd stage is EDS)
                2nd FH $125M (provides fuel for EDS)
                BA-330 $150M
                Dragon $50M
                I’m no expert and you may need to add a lot of other stuff, but doing this with commercial it looks like you might be able to mount a Mars flyby well south of the $1B mark.
                All you have to do is drop SLS.

              • Robert G. Oler

                Fred W wrote

                “FH carries up Bigelow BA330 and supplies FH 2nd stage remains with stack to act as EDS
                FH No 2 carries up Dragon and fuel to refuel EDS.
                Dragon docks to Bigelow module and blast for Mars.”

                pretty close…at least to my way of thinking

                in no particular order

                1 FH carries Bigelow module with “power cart” (maybe one or two Juno sized arrays) and a “supply truck” (maybe a dragon trunk or even a mini ninja turtle like what OSC is flying or going to fly) to carry all the things needed to outfit the BA330.

                2. FH carries Dragon/extended trunk (comm gear etc) and extended long tank second stage…maybe some Hall effect thrusters

                Rendezvous do modest checkouts…head for Mars…do outfitting on the way to keep crew busy and such…

                you might put extra lots of shielding on the mini ninja turtle to act as “storm celler” for solar problems…the “power cart” might serve as a sort of airlock for EVA when it becomes necessary…

                the entire stack stays together (assuming the second stage can be made to stay alive…) It might be possible to come up with a design where you put out a tether on something and spin the thing…

                A third FH makes it easier…but its doable on 2…It cannot be just a Dragon; there is not enough room for even food…

                it is risky; I am thinking about JFK’s speech and Sir Edmund…
                RGO

              • JimNobles

                I’m no expert and you may need to add a lot of other stuff, but doing this with commercial it looks like you might be able to mount a Mars flyby well south of the $1B mark.

                If the goal was to do it for under a billion would it take more than one more FH flight to have enough fuel to enter orbit for awhile? Or would it take two FH launches? It might still stay under a billion though depending on what the hardware costs. If they could use the super dracos for all burns. If they really turn out to be that super.

                I’m probably just dreaming. The dracos probably wouldn’t hold up to than kind of use. But if they could you could just mount the Dragon at the aft end of the stack and then you’d just have to be clever with the tankage and the plumbing. Not perfectly efficient because of the tangential loses but it is still fun to think about.

  • Crash Davis

    http://spacecoalition.com/newsroom/new-op-ed-by-doug-cooke-clarity-on-u-s-space-exploration

    In other words, Rick Boozer, Coastal Ron, Rand Simberg and Stephen Smith you are delusional about SLS capabilities and faux capabilities of “New Space”.

    • Bennett In Vermont

      I think that all of the gentlemen that you name would argue that no matter the “capabilities” of a well engineered SHLV, what we have coming down the pike, the SLS, is neither well engineered, nor being sized for any particular mission. Nor is there money for any particular mission’s hardward until when” 2030?

      If the “capabilities” of the SLS are to simply provide jobs for members of the appropriators districts, then it is well engineered for that task.

    • Coastal Ron

      Crash Davis said:

      …you are delusional about SLS capabilities and faux capabilities of “New Space”.

      Bennett summarized it quite nicely, and I’ll add a little more.

      Let’s start with this statement from Doug Cooke’s article:

      Another misconception is that human space exploration could be easily accomplished with existing launch vehicles. Countless studies over more than 20 years have shown that a heavy lift vehicle over 100 metric tons to Earth orbit is needed to accomplish human exploration missions with a reasonable number of launches.

      First of all, Doug “forgets” to mention that we have a 450mt space station in LEO that was built using 20mt or less components. If we wanted to replicate the ISS, or building something else using the same size components, then we have four existing rockets that we could rely upon – Delta IV Heavy, Proton, Ariane 5 and H-IIB. A 5th rocket, the Falcon Heavy should be available within two years. For this type of architecture, we already have a robust, competitive launch capability that has plenty of excess capacity.

      By comparison, the SLS is too small to launch a 450mt space station, and no matter the mission it will require multiple launches. The last cost estimate NASA put out estimated the SLS would cost between $1.5-2.5B per launch, and recently they have been saying they only plan to launch it once every other year. That’s actually too infrequently to be safe from an operational standpoint, so any mission relying on the SLS would then have to plan for additional major replacements.

      Secondly, what is the metric for Doug’s “a reasonable number of launches”? In NASA-speak, that usually means that because launch costs for NASA transportation systems are so high, they try to minimize the number of mission elements. That does, of course, drive up the mission element costs since they have to be specialized, and it raises the probability of overall mission failure because of the dependency they have to have for each launch.

      The metric that we need to move to is one that focuses on cost – what is the least expensive way to accomplish a mission. And that is where using existing rockets comes in, since with $0 in rocket development cost NASA could be building exploration hardware today. And the industry supports that approach, including those that are helping to build the SLS. ULA, which is a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, has proposed a space exploration architecture that uses existing rockets for a robust return to the Moon. You can find the detailed proposal here, with a breakdown of hardware and number of flights.

      Lastly, NASA is not getting enough budget to fund both the SLS and SLS-sized missions. Since it normally takes NASA at least a decade to build complex mission hardware, Congress is already late in appropriating the funding for SLS missions. But since SLS-sized missions are likely to cost at least $10B each, there is no way NASA’s meager budget is big enough to support using the SLS – not without a major increase in budget, and that is unlikely to happen.

      So to summarize, the SLS has not been proven to be needed (where are the customers?), and the SLS, to be used in a way that justifies it’s size, is too expensive for NASA.

      • E. P. Grondine

        Hi CR –

        Your understanding is as bad as Musk’s (see today’s piece over at huff po).

        It isn’t Boeing and Lockheed, its ATK, Utah, and solids. Damn but they are good in covering their tracks.

        Now since Musk has billions, how about throwing a little change my way for the tip?

    • Ben Russell-Gough

      Whoa! Big “appeal to authority” fallacy there Crash!

      Everything really depends if you think Mr Cooke is being entirely realistic and truthful in his comments. He does, after all, have a considerable personal stake in SLS surviving. The company he decamped to (after his last project at NASA, Ares-I, was cancelled as an unexecutable money pit) is heavily committed to consulting work on the SLS Project, especially the far-distant and currently-unfunded advanced booster competition.

      The information that Coastal Ron and others have provided are ‘public domain’. I.e. they are there on the ‘Net for anyone to look at. No degree is needed, just the ability to look at what is there and make reasonable conclusions.

      Just one example: Mr. Cooke says that there is no reasonable architecture that requires less than 100t IMLEO. Why? What item needs to be launched that weighs more than 25t ‘dry’ (no propellent pre-loaded) or 50t ‘wet’? The only one that I can think off off-hand is the nuclear propulsion unit for DRM-5 which is unfunded and likely not even to be developed as NASA are increasingly looking towards solar-electric propulsion for deep space. Anything else can be built ISS-style in LEO. It would certainly be slower than launching everything in one go on SLS but that doesn’t necessarily make it a worse option.

      By the way, the ‘analyses’ he cites were not exactly level playing fields. They were primarily written to justify HLVs rather than determine whether they were required. The shadow of Saturn-V is a long one and too many dreamers have basically decided that step 1 is ‘HLV’, step 2 is ‘undetermined’ and step 3 is ‘BEO exploration’.

      • Courtney

        You are confusing Steve Cook with Doug Cooke. Doug Cooke, the former Associate Administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, wrote the oped.

  • Crash Davis

    SLS, is neither well engineered, nor being sized

    So describe your qualifications to make this ridiculous statement. Do you have an engineering degree, do you have a degree? Describe your analysis please.

    If the “capabilities” of the SLS are to simply provide jobs

    Yes, designing and building an exploration system creates jobs and provides tremendous technology benefits to the Nation.

    Swing and a miss!

    • Coastal Ron

      Crash Davis opined:

      So describe your qualifications to make this ridiculous statement. Do you have an engineering degree, do you have a degree? Describe your analysis please.

      We’ve noticed you haven’t answered this question. Why is that?

      But the question is not really a “how to build a rocket” design question, we are saying the SLS capabilities are not what is needed. For instance, can you identify the customers that will be using the SLS for a decade?

      Yes, designing and building an exploration system creates jobs and provides tremendous technology benefits to the Nation.

      Any government spending that involves STEM creates jobs and “provides tremendous technology benefits to the Nation”. The more important question is whether what the government is spending money creates lasting value – does it lead to more value after the government has stopped spending?

      For the SLS that would be “NO”, since only NASA will be the customer for the SLS, and no company could afford to take over the SLS transportation system. The SLS is custom built “solution” for a problem that has never been proven to exist. Are 5m diameter exploration systems too small for humans? No. Can we launch un-fueled exploration elements, and assemble and fuel them in orbit? Yes.

      In fact that is the topic of the latest NASA Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group, with their paper called “Evolved Human Space Exploration Architectures Using Commercial Launch and Propellant Depots“. Doug Cooke would even know the author, and maybe his article was in response to it… who knows.

      Swing and a miss!

      You have yet to do anything more than echo what others have said. Try and add some value to the conversation. For instance, identify who the customers will be for the first decade of use for the SLS, and why only the SLS will be the right solution. Hmmm?

      • E. P. Grondine

        Hi CR –

        It is a question of developing technologies for our industries and our nation’s well being.
        An “industrial policy” if you will.

        While the GOP currently decries “picking winners and losers”, we are currently doing that anyway, just very poorly.

        I do not want to see a single thread running though SpaceX.

        While I would prefer to see Boeing/Lockheed working on developing a fly-back first stage now, that looks to be scheduled for 2017.

        And of course that depends on the 2016 elections.

        Having a tantrum and screaming “But I want it now!” like a spoiled three year old does no good.

        • Coastal Ron

          E. P. Grondine said:

          I do not want to see a single thread running though SpaceX.

          Neither do I. A monopoly is never a good thing to have, even if the company is currently viewed as benign (i.e. driving costs down on their own).

          We need a robust, competitive launch industry here in the U.S., and that is why I have written (and in some cases pleaded) that ULA’s parents need to invest money into it so it will be able to become competitive in the commercial launch market again, and be able to survive long-term.

          While I would prefer to see Boeing/Lockheed working on developing a fly-back first stage now, that looks to be scheduled for 2017.

          IIRC, the Air Force cancelled that effort. I think everyone is just waiting to see what happens with the SpaceX Grasshopper initiative, since if that succeeds it points the way forward for reusability.

          And of course that depends on the 2016 elections.

          Space wasn’t an issue this last election cycle, and I doubt it will be for 2016 – or at least not without a bunch more meteors exploding above our cities.

          And by 2016 the Commercial Cargo program will be going onto it’s first follow-on contract (likely with reduced costs) and Commercial Crew should be at the point where at least two companies are ready to start offering services. The economics of both are so clear that I can’t see anything changing as long as the ISS is in service, so that’s really the only element of risk (i.e. will the ISS be extended or not).

          Even the fate of the SLS should be known by 2016, since cost and schedule issues should be well known (and won’t be good), and Congress will have needed to fund some actual missions by that point – that’s when they will determine it’s too expensive to use.

          • Googaw

            ULA’s parents need to invest money into it so it will be able to become competitive in the commercial launch market again

            More money is not what they need. Far more money already pours into ULA than into SpaceX. SpaceX is competitive becase they do most of what ULA does of value for much less money.

            • Coastal Ron

              Googaw said:

              More money is not what they need. Far more money already pours into ULA than into SpaceX.

              Oh, Googaw, you are so cute when you try to make sense. Maybe some day you’ll have enough business experience to understand all this stuff.

              ULA’s profit goes directly to Boeing and Lockheed Martin, since ULA is a partnership. And since ULA is a partnership, it’s two corporate parents have to jointly agree on any new products or initiatives. So yes, ULA does need money to do anything new, and the only way it can get it is if both of it’s “parents” agree.

              SpaceX is competitive becase they do most of what ULA does of value for much less money.

              I’m a fan of SpaceX because I understand how they have created value for their customer. For instance, they pay the same $/lb for the aluminum they use as ULA does, maybe even more, but their innovation with aluminum was in designing a rocket that needed less aluminum removed during manufacturing.

              And if you have paid any attention (and I’m not sure you have), you would know that most of us know that SpaceX charges less than ULA for the same payload to space. But their price is the end result of lots and lots of innovation, and THAT is the reason they can charge less, not that they pick a number out of the air regardless if they can be profitable or not.

    • Robert G. Oler

      Crash Davis
      February 21, 2013 at 10:20 am · Reply

      SLS, is neither well engineered, nor being sized

      So describe your qualifications to make this ridiculous statement. Do you have an engineering degree, do you have a degree?>

      yes at the Masters level and other degrees.

      but your statement is useless.

      SLS is neither well engineered nor sized well.

      the “not well engineered” should be obvious even to NASA toadies. Having spent over 10 billion dollars on SLS (and Ares) they are just now recognizing that the load paths on the ET are different then when the ET was holding the shuttle “side mounted” …and just now they are coming to grips with the buckling issue of AiLi. They have been at this now for over 5 years (trying to build a large ET based heavy booster) and to just come to this realization is a sign of bad engineering.

      Of course “bad engineering” should have come up when they chose the design period. It is a non trivial event to change load paths and they did it in spades with the ET derived heavily lift booster…the engines on the bottom and the payload on the top are not what the original design was.

      This shows up in Orion as well. That is why they are over mass and having crack issues. If all they had done is literally scaled up a Apollo CM but kept everything else, the tower attachment/docking port etc they might not be where they are today.

      But they have made the typical mistake of an amateur plane builder who takes a design and then says “I’ll add” and to whatever the extent of the additions are…they have a new design.

      As for “sized well”? what is it sized for? I dont know a single payload for it.

      RGO

      • Googaw

        NASA toadies.

        I love how NewSpacers, who promote NASA-inspired goals and projects that are and by economic reality must have NASA as practically 100% of their source of revenue, accuse the other side of being “NASA toadies.” :-)

    • Fred Willett

      Just a week or so ago there was a FISO presentation of a direct comparison between SLS exploration architectures and those on existing LV’s.
      http://spirit.as.utexas.edu/~fiso/telecon/Wilhite_2-13-13/
      the comparison is telling.
      SLS (using the proponents own figures) is underfunded (needs $9B a year and is getting $4B a year). On the other hand exploration using existing rockets is affordable and can be done within existing NASA budgets.
      Look at the budgets in the pdf file. Listen to the mp3 of the teleconference. Then tell me SLS is ever going anywhere.

    • DCSCA

      SLS/MPCV is a geo-political strategy for the United States. This government is not going to abandon HSF ops/planning an relinquish it’s fate and future to the profiteers playing at being rocketeers. As Cernan so aptly said, “They don’t know what they don’t know yet.” .

  • Bennett In Vermont

    Crash Davis wrote “… and provides tremendous technology benefits to the Nation.”

    Could you give us a list of the tremendous technology benefits the SLS will provide to our Nation?

    Reinventing Avcoat perhaps?

    Talk about a swing and a miss!

  • Crash Davis

    First of all, Doug “forgets” to mention that we have a 450mt space station in LEO that was built using 20mt or less components. If we wanted to replicate the ISS, or building something else using the same size components

    Ron, the ISS was assembled using the shuttle for about 98% of the assembly launches with its tremendous volume afforded by its payload bay. If you haven’t heard, the shuttle was retired. It does not fly anymore.

    Do you know how many ISS mass equivalents it would take to undertake a human Mars mission currently with today’s technology?

    About 12, hence the need for SLS for exploration beyond LEO.

    Strike 3, Ron, not even a foul tip. Walk on back to the dugout.

    • Ben Russell-Gough

      Actually, there is a reasonable Mars architecture (DRM-3) that gets 4 humans to Mars and back for around half an ISS. DRM-5 was created to justify Ares-5 and thus suffered from unnecessary mass bloat to require a 150t IMLEO giant launch vehicle.

      An ISS-sized space station could be launched without the shuttle. It is entirely possible using only ELVs such as the EELVs and the commercial cargo launchers currently in development.

      • amightywind

        Sure it could have been done – with 60 flights or more. 3 flights with the Ares 5. We already had this debate over Skylab almost 40 years ago!

        • Coastal Ron

          amightywind said:

          We already had this debate over Skylab almost 40 years ago!

          Yes, and Skylab ended up on the bottom of the ocean because it was unsupportable.

          For someone that purports to be a conservative, you are completely blind to the massive government spending that is required to build and operate SLS/Ares 5 type systems – and no one has shown that they are even needed!

          Where are the customers?

          Where is the need?

          You continue to fail to provide any evidence that the porkfest known as the SLS should be funded by taxpayers.

          Stop calling yourself a conservative.

        • Coastal Ron

          amightywind calculated:

          Sure it could have been done – with 60 flights or more. 3 flights with the Ares 5.

          Well, Ares 5 was cancelled by Republican’s in Congress, so all you have to pin your hopes on now is the SLS. And just a little math for you to consider – 130mt of mass to LEO costs:

          - Using the SLS, $30B in taxpayer money and 20 years for the development of the SLS, and then $2.5B/flight.

          - Using the SpaceX Falcon Heavy, $0 in taxpayer money for development, and $384M for three 53mt flights to LEO, providing a bonus of 29mt in mass. Oh, and it will be ready by 2015.

          Why do we need to spend ten’s of $Billions in taxpayer money for the SLS? Where are the mythical 130mt payloads?

          • amightywind

            Well, Ares 5 was cancelled by Republican’s in Congress,

            Constellation was cancelled by a historic, irresponsible, profigate dem majority in both houses. Stop lying! Constellation enjoyed widespread support until the political hatchet job of the Augustine Committee. It is far too soon after the facts for you to be revising this shameful chapter in American history.

            • JimNobles

              Constellation enjoyed widespread support until the political hatchet job of the Augustine Committee.

              Well “widespread” might be stretching it a little. Opposition to Constellation was so prevalent that it actually produced an insurrection within NASA itself, the movement that produced the alternate proposal known as Direct. I never saw something like that happen before.

              Didn’t the Augustine Committee just basically conclude that Constellation was unsustainable given the amount of money that was being spent on it? And therefore the government was going to have to come up with the additional funds or the program wasn’t going to survive? I believe that was the gist of it. It is what I got out of it anyway.

              I’m not really trying to be argumentative but you did say people shouldn’t try to re-write history.

      • E. P. Grondine

        Yeah, Griffin was a really bad space architect, as well as a bad launch vehicle development lead.

        But you have to grant that he knew the politics very very well, and was thus able to freeze his poor engineering abilities into the nation’s space program.

    • Coastal Ron

      Crash Davis opined:

      Ron, the ISS was assembled using the shuttle for about 98% of the assembly launches with its tremendous volume afforded by its payload bay. If you haven’t heard, the shuttle was retired. It does not fly anymore.

      You are missing the point Crash. The largest masses the Shuttle lifted to the ISS were 15.9mt, which is well within the capabilities of Delta IV Heavy, Proton, Ariane 5, H-IIB and Falcon Heavy. In fact, Russia’s Proton has lifted two 19mt station modules to the ISS, and Russia is planning to fly a 20mt payload next year. We no longer need the Shuttle to maintain or expand the ISS – or even build a new ISS.

      Do you know how many ISS mass equivalents it would take to undertake a human Mars mission currently with today’s technology?

      About 12, hence the need for SLS for exploration beyond LEO.

      So, you are saying any Mars mission will require 5,400mt of mass? You are NUTS! Please provide a reference for this, or apologize profusely.

      In any case, that much mass would require 41 SLS flights, and at NASA’s currently planned rate of one flight every other year, would take 82 years to accomplish – that won’t happen. Or, if NASA flew three flights per year, then it would take 7 years and require $7.5B per year just for the launches. That is 1/3 of NASA’s current budget, so that ain’t happenin either.

      Strike 3, Ron, not even a foul tip. Walk on back to the dugout.

      Wake up and smell the coffee “Crash”. ;-)

      • amightywind

        Delta IV Heavy, Proton, Ariane 5, H-IIB and Falcon Heavy

        You neglect to mention minor details like propulsion and guidance to the station., rendezvous and docking. With the vehicles you mentioned you get little more than you get now with Dragon, which is infrequent deliveries of fresh underwear and potato chips.

        • Coastal Ron

          amightywind wrote:

          You neglect to mention minor details like propulsion and guidance to the station., rendezvous and docking.

          That’s because they are minor details.

          Service modules for LEO payloads abound, including Orbital Sciences Cygnus Service Module, which is derived from their STAR spacecraft bus. This is pretty mature technology, and robotic arms like the Canadarm2 can capture any masses our current launchers can carry.

          Our current technology base and transportation systems are more than good enough for what we want to do next in space. I challenge you to prove otherwise.

    • Robert G. Oler

      “First of all, Doug “forgets” to mention that we have a 450mt space station in LEO that was built using 20mt or less components. If we wanted to replicate the ISS, or building something else using the same size components”

      words by “Crash Davis”

      It is not the size of the dog in the fight, it is the cost of keeping the dog in the fight that is important in terms of space lift.

      The shuttle lifting ISS components was almost the worst of all possible lift equations.

      ISS cost more then conventional lift (even at the same mass numbers), and while it offered the additives of an “assembly shack” and the “arm”…clearly those assets which came at a very high price could have been “worked around”. they were used because they were there.

      SLS is in large measure even worse. The development cost are so high (and why its hard to imagine) and the launch cost even higher that the lift per pound becomes just amazingly expensive.

      It is hard to imagine (even after we get rid of the “will” issue…that any exploration or anything else model would be done on a launch vehicle (SLS) which has a 1 a year fly rate at a cost which is enormous (far more then the cost of lift on conventional means)…so it might take a decade or more to assemble a vehicle (such as NASA’s Mars plans now) which would have an actual life span measured in a few eyars.

      RGO

    • pathfinder_01

      Lets assume that you need 12 EELV to assemble an mars mission. Given that the window for mars opens every 2 years you have about 2 years to complete this mission and that assumes you didn’t start early that would make 6 launches a year if you must do it in 2 years and like 4 if you think that starting 3 years early is a good thing.

      In 2012 there were 13 launches from the US. 6 Atlases, 4 Delta, 2 Falcon 9 and one Pegasus. An mars mission requiring 12 launches in 2 years would not even double the US launch rate per year. Given additional systems are coming online Arteries and Falcon Heavy, and given that most of the mass of the mission would be propellant(something that could be easily divided) and some items like oh food and clothing as well as crew need to be launched latter rather than sooner why so sure you need SLS?

      The ISS alone received 8 flights of unmanned spacecraft from around the world plus 4 manned flights of Soyuz. Why again to does anyone need a 130MT rocket? That is 12 launches right there.

      It appears that the world is capable of providing 12 launches a year. The US is also capable of launching 12 a year. In 1998 12 delta 2 rockets were launched and Russia has launched Proton more than 10 times a year many times. It seems the only rocket incapable of safely sustaining that kind of rate was…the shuttle and we plan to build SLS out of those parts????

    • Fred Willett

      Max cargo on shuttle was about 25t, about the same as a Delta IVH. about half of a Falcon H

    • Fred Willett

      Countless studies over more than 20 years have shown that a heavy lift vehicle over 100 metric tons to Earth orbit is needed to accomplish human exploration missions with a reasonable number of launches
      This assertion is very much in the “black spots” mold. NASA didn’t want to use EELVs so they invented “black spots”. Now that they are forced to use EELVs for commercial crews we find the “black spots” have mysteriously gone.
      Here is a FISO presentation showing a Mars architecture that can be done assuming nothing bigger than 50t. a figure reachable by easily evolved existing vehicles
      http://spirit.as.utexas.edu/~fiso/telecon/Woodcock_9-14-11/
      No HLV required.
      Once SLS goes away because it proves unaffordable you can bet NASA managers will suddenly discover studies like the above.

      • Coastal Ron

        Fred Willett said:

        Once SLS goes away because it proves unaffordable you can bet NASA managers will suddenly discover studies like the above.

        That’s right, since quite a few NASA people helped with the study.

        The reason why studies like this aren’t promoted more is that the SLS is the Program Of Record, and Congress looks dimly on those that don’t plan to use what they are providing – kind of like biting the hand that feeds you, even though what they are feeding you is not anything that you wanted.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), whose district includes the Johnson Space Center, was also advocating for NASA funding, putting the blame for cuts squarely on the White House. “Obama’s proposed sequester would be disastrous for NASA, which is already his punching bag,”

    there are so many “juicy” things about comments like this.

    First it was the GOP which proposed sequestration (I think it passed the House on a party line vote)…and now the people who voted for it (most of the GOP House) are now babbling on like “its someone elses fault” after they have figured out how unpopular it will be.

    It is amazing to me that the GOP bought into sequestration because for the first time it put on the budget negotiating table GOP Pork…ok its across the board; but for the most part the GOP has alwasy started negotiations with the notion that defense and other GOP cash cows are off limits…and now we are facing defense cuts (and cuts at NASA)

    This is a bad idea whose time has come. We spend on NASA far more money then most of the rest of the worlds space agencies combined…and get little for it. We have programs SLS/Orion which are more concerned about the building then the project…

    It is time to force hrad choices…RGO

    • amightywind

      Consensus is that Jack Lew invented the idea for sequester. An arrogant Obama was strongly for it in 2011, before he was against it. Lew proposed it because he thought the modest defense cuts would be a poisoned pill for the GOP. So it is. But the deficit hawk Tea Party is now the more powerful wing of the GOP. They are not opposed to the idea of serious reform at the Pentagon. The best solution would be to keep the sequester but allow for the transfer of some funds. But most Obama appointees can’t be trusted with discretion. They will attack GOP interests given the chance. Hence the across the board haircut. It is as good as the GOP can do for now.

      • Robert G. Oler

        Consensus is that Jack Lew invented the idea for sequester. An arrogant Obama was strongly for it in 2011, before he was against it”

        then

        “Hence the across the board haircut. It is as good as the GOP can do for now.”

        so it is a GOP plan? Try and be coherent RGO

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “http://spacecoalition.com/newsroom/new-op-ed-by-doug-cooke-clarity-on-u-s-space-exploration”

    There are multiple, blatant lies in Cooke’s article:

    “A sustainable market for private human space flight to orbit has not been shown conclusively”

    A lie. Seven individuals have paid Space Adventures $22-35 million each for private trips to the ISS aboard Soyuz vehicles. One of those individuals went twice. Another five individuals have paid for and completed training in Russia. Another six individuals (at least) have made $5 million deposits to ensure priority access to future Soyuz seats. Just wiki “Space Adventures” to find this information and sources.

    Not only is there a proven market for private human space flight, but there’s actually a backlog of individuals who want to go but can’t due to the lack of availability and are paying for training and making deposits for future flights anyway. If customers putting millions and millions of dollars where their mouths are despite the lack of a supplier is not the definition of a “sustainable market”, then I don’t know what is.

    “there is no indication that companies will be motivated to develop the heavy lift vehicle needed for exploration beyond low Earth orbit with their own resources”

    Another lie. SpaceX is developing the Falcon 9 Heavy on its own dime, and that vehicle is being used in plans for commercial human lunar surface missions as well as a private circum-Mars missions:

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

    http://www.newspacejournal.com/2013/02/21/new-insights-on-that-private-crewed-mars-mission/

    “Countless studies over more than 20 years have shown that a heavy lift vehicle over 100 metric tons to Earth orbit is needed to accomplish human exploration missions with a reasonable number of launches.”

    This is a huge lie for someone like Cooke who used to run JSC human exploration architecture studies and should know better. The Augustine Committee put the number at 70 metric tons, not 100.

    And if you don’t believe Augustine, Georgia Tech has shown that human lunar surface and NEA missions can be accomplished years earlier and for billions less than without anything bigger than a 50-ton Falcon Heavy:

    http://spirit.as.utexas.edu/~fiso/telecon/Wilhite_2-13-13/Wilhite_2-13-13.pdf

    http://www.newspacewatch.com/articles/alan-wilhite-plan-b-for-deep-space-with-commercial-launch-and-fuel-depots.html

    And if you don’t believe Georgia Tech, United Launch Alliance has shown that human lunar surface and NEA missions can be accomplished years earlier and for billions less than without anything bigger than a 25-ton Delta IV Heavy:

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

    “In other words, Rick Boozer, Coastal Ron, Rand Simberg and Stephen Smith you are delusional about SLS capabilities”

    None of these posters have questioned the capabilities of SLS. Unlike MPCV, there’s no evidence yet that that SLS is overweight or underperforming. These posters have questioned whether SLS will be built or fly very often given its huge cost and the available budget.

    “So describe your qualifications to make this ridiculous statement. Do you have an engineering degree, do you have a degree? Describe your analysis please.”

    The other poster doesn’t need to provide credentials. There are established facts and multiple studies from respected organizations that demonstrate that Cooke’s article is patently false and just plain wrong on many points.

    Instead of relying on the questionable credentials of someone like Doug Cooke who has a demonstrated inability in Constellation to put together an executable exploration architecture and who is a paid consultant for SLS, you might want to do some of your own research.

    “Yes, designing and building an exploration system creates jobs”

    Sadly, NASA is not building any “exploration system”. NASA is building a heavy launch vehicle (SLS) that flies a suborbital trajectory and a crew return capsule (MPCV) that is not capable of missions beyond LEO without the addition of an ESA-built service module. The only “exploration system” in this architecture is creating (or sustaining) European jobs, not U.S. jobs.

    SLS is not about creating new jobs. It’s about preserving old Shuttle jobs.

    “and provides tremendous technology benefits to the Nation.”

    SLS is a 1960s heavy lift design that utilizes 1970s Shuttle technology (and components in many cases). MPCV is a 1960s capsule design that utilizes 1960s technology. Neither brings new technology to the table, whether beneficial or otherwise.

    “the ISS was assembled using the shuttle for about 98% of the assembly launches with its tremendous volume afforded by its payload bay.”

    Shuttle had about as much payload mass as the existing Delta IV Heavy.

    “Do you know how many ISS mass equivalents it would take to undertake a human Mars mission currently with today’s technology?

    About 12, hence the need for SLS for exploration beyond LEO.”

    Your argument is circular. First you claim that building human space exploration vehicles in Earth orbit using multiple launches is impractical. Then you advocate building a human space exploration vehicle in Earth orbit that would mass 5,400,000kg (450,000kg x 12). That would require 42 launches of the 130-ton version of the SLS. If the number 42 does not constitute multiple launches, I don’t know what does.

  • Mark Whittington

    Can anyone say with a straight face that under President Romney this would even be happening?

    • Ben Russell-Gough

      *waves* Ooh! I can! This situation has been brewing for decades Mark. Don’t fool yourself into believing that President Romney would have had any more latitude for manoeuvre than President Obama. The corporate and other lobbyists would have had him just as cornered. There would still be the partisan grid-lock in Congress and there would still be the desperate putting off of hard decisions until it was too late to stop a catastrophic cut in the Federal budget.

    • amightywind

      Obviously not. But the normal metrics of economic growth and fiscal sanity mean something to him. Obama’s only ambition seems to be to carve off as large of a hunk of wealth from the productive part of the economy as he can. Clinton was able to deal very smartly with an equally hostile congress. Until now I haven’t known a President who has worked as poorly with it.

    • Coastal Ron

      Mark Whittington opined:

      Can anyone say with a straight face that under President Romney this would even be happening?

      How could you say with a straight face that it wouldn’t?

      Congress is divided, no matter who the President is, and Obama would have been in charge up until just a month ago – what leverage would a Romney administration have?

      • Congress is divided, no matter who the President is

        In an alternate history in which we had a President Romney, we’d likely have a Republican Senate and House as well.

    • Robert G. Oler

      Whittington wrote “Can anyone say with a straight face that under President Romney this would even be happening?”

      two points First what do you mean by “this”?

      Second…straight face is a low bar. You said with a straight face that you thought Romney was going to win a landslide victory even when not a single poll was saying that; when the only ones who were saying that were the “unskewed Polls”…You have said other things with “a straight face” which turned out not to even be plausible much less true.

      Assuming “this” is sequestration then If there had been a Willard administration the questino of facing sequestration would depend on the extent that the Romney administration embraced “voodoo” economics…meaning a total lack of reality. Who knows what Willads space policy was going to be; but Romney was advocating massive defense INCREASES…

      so its hard to see how his economic plan would have avoided this…but then again that is why he (Willard) is still a private citizen and you were wrong on yet another prediction.

      RGO

    • Dark Blue Nine

      The Romney campaign promised only three things regarding NASA:

      1) No human lunar return.

      “Romney Mocks Gingrich’s Plans For Moon Base”

      http://tampa.cbslocal.com/2012/01/26/romney-mocks-gingrichs-plans-for-moon-base/

      2) No budget increase.

      “The white paper is predictably full of anti-Obama rhetoric and promises to maintain U.S. preeminence in space, but says little about how Romney would fulfill that promise other than making clear that, whatever is needed, NASA will not get any more money.”

      http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/romney-space-policy-still-short-on-specifics

      3) And a study on NASA’s purpose.

      “Mitt Romney’s Space Plan: After the Election, Figure Out Some Better Goals Than Obama’s

      The Republican nominee for president calls for a more coherent strategy in space, without actually providing one.”

      http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2012-09/mitt-romneys-space-plan-figure-out-some-better-goals-obamas-after-election

      Otherwise, the Romney campaign largely agreed with the Obama Administration’s direction on NASA and leveled generic criticisms without solutions:

      “That sounds very much like what the Obama Administration already is doing.

      Overall, it is difficult to determine from this new policy statement how the U.S. space program would be different under a Romney Administration.”

      http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/romney-space-policy-still-short-on-specifics

      None of that would have changed the highly parochial congressional politics that dominate NASA today.

  • Robert G. Oler

    I think that SLS/Orion are going “off the grid” in the fallout after sequestration; but the interesting thing is depending on what Dennis Tito is actually going to do…or announce

    They could be the first NASA program that took so long that they simply became irrelevant.

    I dont have a clue what Tito is plugging at (although orbital analysis is ones friend in these matters and there are some hints) …but Assuming it is some kind of Mars effort (with or without humans) that is at least a “30 day stay” and a return to Earth…

    it is hard to see how if this actually does start gathering steam that the entire political equation changes.

    NASA and its political friends would easily deal with the idiocy of keeping a program that is essentially brain dead…but before long “other” money will start going to Tito’s efforts or at least the lobbying will start to move outside of NASA some moneies toward scientist and others “doing something” with the opportunity.

    For instance if it is a 30 day stay with a Venus flyby…you can start to see some lobbying from people who want to drop off experiments at Mars and on the Venus flyby to occur.

    If this starts to happen this will eventually draw in a bigger net of congresspeople then the usual NASA flunkies…

    RGO

  • Once again, otherwise good people take the troll bait. Sigh.

  • Crash Davis

    That would require 42 launches of the 130-ton version of the SLS.

    And it would require 10,000 launches of Falcon 9 at current rate of cargo delivery to ISS. What’s your point?

    • You continue to talk as if engineering technical considerations are the only problem. Like all SLS cultists you act as though monetary considerations are of no consequence and also pretend as though the Booz-Allen-Hamilton report does not exist. “Crash” is a good moniker for you since the policies you advocate will do just that to our nation’s space capabilities in the long run and lead NASA to ultimate extinction. Or should I call you “Mr. Earl” because if you are not he, you surely do have similar written syntax, semantic expression and illogical thought processes. A true “Tinkerbell” and “White Queen”

    • P.S.
      “And it would require 10,000 launches of Falcon 9 at current rate of cargo delivery to ISS. What’s your point?”
      1) 10,000 launches of F9 is an out and out lie.
      2) You completely ignore the Falcon Heavy, which stands a hell of a lot more chance of actually being finished than SLS.
      You need to care more about your country’s future in space and let loose of your excessive loyalty to the old way of doing things. This would actually help insure NASA’s survival rather than making it increasingly impotent from working on a vehicle that will not advance its goals. I and others are tired of politicians and a few old-style NASA executives imposing impractical projects on the talented people at NASA when it is the latter who unfairly get the blame for the failure. It is time for them to stop setting NASA up for failure. Keep going the way it is, and it is a certainty that the true enemies of NASA will have all the ammunition they need to abolish the agency. There will be no one to blame but people like you, but even if that happens you will deny it was your fault (especially deny it to yourself).

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “And it would require 10,000 launches of Falcon 9″

      No, it would require 102 launches of the Falcon 9 Heavy, about a factor of two more than the 130-ton version of SLS.

      “What’s your point?”

      That you’re either:

      1) A hypocrit who conveniently ignores the fact that the very criticism you’re making applies to your own pet solution.

      2) An idiot who can’t put together a coherent, non-contradictory argument.

      3) An idiot who can’t do basic, grade-school math.

      Looks like it’s a mix of all three.

  • vulture4

    It still looks to me like KSC will be getting the short end of the stick. Where is Nelson??

    On the positive side with several commercial providers now pretty committed to launching from Florida (SpaceX, Boeing commercial, Sierra Nevada, Xcor) even if they don’t do much with NASA except rent space, eastern Florida will at least have some business. On the negative side with the cuts to the commercial crew program it could be some time before we actually see a manned launch.

  • Crash Davis

    1) 10,000 launches of F9 is an out and out lie.

    Since you are incapable of 2nd grade math, I will spell it out for you.
    1200 lbs of cargo on Falcon 9 next CRS mission X (1 lb/.45 kg)=540 kg

    5,400,000 kg/540 kg = 10,000 launches. Am I going too fast for you?

    And you claim to be a scientist? Unemployed, no doubt about it.

    “Crash” is a good moniker for you since the policies you advocate will do just that to our nation’s space capabilities

    From a somebody named “Rick Boozer”, you are one to ridicule. Step away from the Jack Daniels before you post any more in the future and further look inane.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “1200 lbs of cargo on Falcon 9 next CRS mission X (1 lb/.45 kg)=540 kg”

      You’re comparing apples and oranges, specifically useful ISS cargo, which has all sorts of packaging, cooling, and other mass wraps involved, to raw payload mass.

      “And you claim to be a scientist? Unemployed, no doubt about it.”

      At least the other poster knows the difference between useful ISS cargo mass and raw payload mass.

      “Step away from the Jack Daniels”

      Says the poster who begins the day with a three-martini breakfast judging from how he started with personal attacks in his very first post yesterday.

    • Since you are incapable of 2nd grade math, I will spell it out for you.
      1200 lbs of cargo on Falcon 9 next CRS mission X (1 lb/.45 kg)=540 kg

      You have to be either profoundly ignorant or an idiot to think that the payload capability on a CRS mission bears any relationship to Falcon 9′s ability to deliver propellant to LEO.

      • joe

        Rand Simberg February 22, 2013 at 10:07 am • Reply
        “You have to be either profoundly ignorant or an idiot to think that the payload capability on a CRS mission bears any relationship to Falcon 9′s ability to deliver propellant to LEO.”

        Both the CRS missions and these hypothetical ones require rendezvous/berthing maneuvers (by the way who would be doing the berthing operations for this proposed Mars mission, since the crew would presumably be coming up last?) and the fuel delivered would also presumably be cryogenic and require insulation that would also cut into the fraction of the initial payload mass that would be actual propellant.

        But let’s skip all that, since anyone who dares disagree with you is automatically deemed “profoundly ignorant or an idiot” you must have hard data available as to the amount of propellant that could be delivered by a Falcon 9. Please educate the “profoundly ignorant” by presenting it.

        • But let’s skip all that, since anyone who dares disagree with you is automatically deemed “profoundly ignorant or an idiot” you must have hard data available as to the amount of propellant that could be delivered by a Falcon 9.

          It is not necessary to quantify it to point out that it is a much larger number than a pressurized CRS delivery, and to think otherwise is profoundly ignorant. Is it your claim, like “Crash Idiot,” that the numbers are the same? For a propellant delivery, the vast majority of the Falcon throw weight will be propellant. Particularly if the propellant delivered is LOX/kerosene, in which case it doesn’t even need a separate tank.

          • joe

            Rand Simberg February 22, 2013 at 2:42 pm • Reply
            “It is not necessary to quantify it to point out that it is a much larger number than a pressurized CRS delivery, and to think otherwise is profoundly ignorant.”

            Yes that is what I thought you have no empirical data to support your position, so you resort to name calling.

            “Particularly if the propellant delivered is LOX/kerosene, in which case it doesn’t even need a separate tank”

            That is a curious statement. Are you saying that LOX (cryogenic) and kerosene (non-cryogenic) can be stored in the same tank?

            Also if LOX/kerosene is used for an upper stage (due to the relative inefficiencies compared to LOX/hydrogen for those particular tasks) would further increase the mass of propellant that would have to be delivered to LEO.

            • Coastal Ron

              joe said:

              Yes that is what I thought you have no empirical data to support your position, so you resort to name calling.

              He provided it, but apparently you didn’t notice it. Do you even know what the conversation is about?

              It is interesting though that what Crash is comparing (pressurized Dragon payload vs Falcon 9 mass-to-LEO capability) is one of the topics that used to trip you up too, so maybe you feel some connection to Crash? Birds of a feather?

              Overall though it seems like you’re having a hard time wrapping your mind around this whole concept, so maybe you should just wait until the press conference on Wednesday so you don’t have to keep asking pointless questions. And by pointless I mean that it’s pretty obvious that you’re only asking them not to gain knowledge, but to find something to pounce on and use as ridicule. It’s your M.O.

            • Robert G. Oler

              That is a curious statement. Are you saying that LOX (cryogenic) and kerosene (non-cryogenic) can be stored in the same tank?”

              Joe…there are few on this forum who I find more difficult to engage in coherent debate then Simberg, but in this case you are the person who has lost the argument.

              Simberg never said or even implied what you are doing the “are you” question. IN fact I dont think anyone on this forum has made that statement…

              You know good and well what he was saying with this line ” Particularly if the propellant delivered is LOX/kerosene, in which case it doesn’t even need a separate tank.”

              I grant you that if the best you can do is pick apart grammar then you might have a bone to beat on, but Simberg here is using normal conversational verbiage here and seesh you should know better…except I dont think you can answer his point so you resort to this.

              Now he does it sometimes to; but the outcome is the same; you lost the point RGO

              • joe

                Robert G. Oler February 22, 2013 at 4:07 pm
                “Simberg never said or even implied what you are doing the “are you” question. IN fact I dont think anyone on this forum has made that statement…
                You know good and well what he was saying with this line ” Particularly if the propellant delivered is LOX/kerosene, in which case it doesn’t even need a separate tank.””

                Robert, whatever you may think Simberg said:” Particularly if the propellant delivered is LOX/kerosene, in which case it doesn’t even need a separate tank.”

                I can think of only two interpretations:
                (1) That he believes that the LOX/Kerosene can be stored in literally the same tank at the same time. This is obviously wrong, so I would assume that is not what he meant (it is never the less what he said)
                (2) That he believes that the LOX can be stored in a non-insulated tank designed to carry non-cryogenic kerosene. This is not as obviously wrong, but if you look at boil off rate for LOX in a non-insulated tank for a payload (not rocket stage – which can be more regularly topped off) it makes no more sense for an operational program.

                Neither interpretation makes any sense. If you have another please present it.

              • I can think of only two interpretations:

                In other words, a third, correct one, is beyond your feeble imagination.

                he believes that the LOX can be stored in a non-insulated tank designed to carry non-cryogenic kerosene.

                No, I believe that the LOX can be stored in the tank in the upper stage that is designed to carry LOX, because the upper stage needs LOX to get to orbit.

              • Robert G. Oler

                Joe wrote

                “Neither interpretation makes any sense. If you have another please present it.”

                Well Simberg has already helped you with the “obvious” one the one that my (soon to be)three year old daughter would have come up with. (I know she is quite bright and has a marvelous command of English, a tolerable level of Spanish and some Chinese…you know its the kids shows these days Dora and Neehi Kilan…speall grin…given flash cards Lorelei can go up to 20 in English, Spanish and Chinese for instance…)…but gee RGO

            • That is a curious statement. Are you saying that LOX (cryogenic) and kerosene (non-cryogenic) can be stored in the same tank?

              [Rolling eyes]

              They each have their own existing tank, in the upper stage. Are you really this stupid, or just playing someone this stupid on the Internet?

              Do you want “empirical data”? The Dragon delivers 29,000 lbs to LEO. If you’re a lousy engineer, you might have as poor a stage fraction as 90%. That is, you’d only get 26,000 pounds of propellant to orbit.

              I’ll do the higher math for you (and “Crash”). That is over twenty times the CRS payload.

              Sorry, didn’t realize you needed so much hand holding.

              • joe

                Rand Simberg February 22, 2013 at 5:34 pm
                “In other words, a third, correct one, is beyond your feeble imagination.”

                Yes, as polite as ever. Have you thought of a job in diplomacy?

                “No, I believe that the LOX can be stored in the tank in the upper stage that is designed to carry LOX, because the upper stage needs LOX to get to orbit.”

                So you would reduce the amount of fuel the upper stage has to reach LEO, but believe that would have no effect on the vehicles payload capability. A truly remarkable achievement. How much fuel would you reserve from the upper stage and how much would that reduce the total payload delivered to orbit? What would be the net trade on total fuel delivered? Can you provide empirical data?

                Rand Simberg February 22, 2013 at 5:30 pm
                “They each have their own existing tank, in the upper stage.“

                So all the fuel to be delivered is to actually be delivered in the upper stage tanks? A few questions seem in order:
                (1) What would be the total fuel left after insertion into LEO?
                (2) How are the rendezvous/berthing maneuvers to be performed(does the stage need to be redesigned)?
                (3) Is the upper stage to be redesigned to handle these activities?
                (4) What is the propellant source to perform these activities?
                (5) Whether the propellant comers from another source or these same upper stage tanks, how much propellant is remaining to be transferred as fuel?

                “Are you really this stupid, or just playing someone this stupid on the Internet?”

                I definitely see a great future for you in the State Department.

                “Do you want “empirical data”? The Dragon delivers 29,000 lbs to LEO. If you’re a lousy engineer, you might have as poor a stage fraction as 90%. That is, you’d only get 26,000 pounds of propellant to orbit.”

                Then the current SpaceX payload engineers must be collectively a “lousy engineer” because they are delivering far less. Maybe they should hire you, have you put in a resume?

                “Sorry, didn’t realize you needed so much hand holding.”

                More snarky insults, it seems to be what you are best at.

              • Sorry, that obviously should have been the Falcon 9 delivers 29,000 pounds to LEO.

              • Yes, as polite as ever. Have you thought of a job in diplomacy?

                No, I’ve never considered such a thing. Why would I have?

                So you would reduce the amount of fuel the upper stage has to reach LEO, but believe that would have no effect on the vehicles payload capability. A truly remarkable achievement. How much fuel would you reserve from the upper stage and how much would that reduce the total payload delivered to orbit? What would be the net trade on total fuel delivered? Can you provide empirical data?

                Without doing the exact numbers, if you launch to a given orbit without a payload, the amount of propellant remaining in the tank will be approximately what the payload would have been had you carried one and run the tank to empty. I don’t know what you mean by “empirical data.” No one has flown a Dragon to orbit with no payload, but it is easily simulated. For people who understand the rocket equation, that is.

                (1) What would be the total fuel left after insertion into LEO?

                As I just wrote, approximately as much as the payload would have been. Possibly more, because it doesn’t even need a payload interface.

                (2) How are the rendezvous/berthing maneuvers to be performed(does the stage need to be redesigned)?

                A Falcon upper stage can be inserted into any desired orbit. A reusable tug could come out from the propellant storage facility to do final rendezvous, grapple and bring it back to the facility.

                (3) Is the upper stage to be redesigned to handle these activities?

                In what way is this not a repeat of (2)? The only redesign necessary would be to add some fittings to allow propellants to be removed from the tank at the same location that allows the tanks to be filled.

                (4) What is the propellant source to perform these activities?

                The propellant storage facility.

                (5) Whether the propellant comers from another source or these same upper stage tanks, how much propellant is remaining to be transferred as fuel?

                The vast majority of it. Orbital maneuvers are trivial compared to the amount required to get into orbit.

                Then the current SpaceX payload engineers must be collectively a “lousy engineer” because they are delivering far less.

                No, they’re not. They’re delivering 29,000 pounds to LEO. Where do you get this nonsense?

              • I should add that all of your questions (and particularly the ones bizarrely insisting on “empirical data” — do you even understand what those words mean?) imply a profound lack of knowledge of basic rocketry, the rocket equation, structural mechanics, orbital mechanics and mission analysis. You might want to consider taking a few classes, and then you wouldn’t have so many questions.

              • OK, “joe,” maybe this will help understand where both you and “Crash” are coming from.

                You asked me several questions. Now I have some for you. They are serious, unsnarky ones, that may undo some of your confusion, if you are equally willing to be serious.

                Do you understand that the payload delivered to ISS for CRS (and in the future, the crew) is pressurized payload, delivered in a vehicle that must also return payload to the earth? That is, do you understand that it is a reusable (or at least, as far as NASA’s requirements) a returnable vehicle, and that it is in effect a third stage? Which means that the payload will be much less than that delivered by the second stage, because part of the second stage’s payload is the third stage, and the third-stage payload will obviously be less (and much less) than that of the second stage?

                The payload to LEO of the Falcon 9 (not including Dragon, because it doesn’t, except for Dragon missions) is 29,000 pounds. If it were unable to achieve this payload, it would be unable to deliver the Dragon plus its own payload. But it did, and does, so it can deliver almost this amount of propellant to LEO.

                Does this make any sense at all to you? Because almost every post you’ve put up here in the past indicates that it doesn’t, or perhaps that it had never been properly explained to you in the past.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “Both the CRS missions and these hypothetical ones require rendezvous/berthing maneuvers (by the way who would be doing the berthing operations for this proposed Mars mission, since the crew would presumably be coming up last?)”

          DragonRider will use the NDS, a fully automated rendezvous and docking system. Presumably, cargo Dragons could do the same.

          “the fuel delivered would also presumably be cryogenic and require insulation that would also cut into the fraction of the initial payload mass that would be actual propellant”

          It depends first on the propellant in question. For example, LOX, LCH4, and LH2 have densities of 1140kg/m^3, 465kg/m^3, and 68kg/m^3 respectively. If you’re delivering LH2, you’re going to deliver about 20x less mass per the same volume than if you’re delivering LOX.

          You can then compare these against the density of typical ISS cargo items, like food and clothing. Very generally, those have densities in the neighborhood of LCH4. But unlike a tank of LCH4, cargo items like food and clothing don’t displace (or fill) a uniform volume. They’re irregular, and there is lots of empty space between individual cargo items, dropping their effective (bulk) density way down.

          Only then do you get to the wraps, like packaging, insulation, tanks, and cooling systems.

    • Coastal Ron

      Crash Davis mumbled:

      Since you are incapable of 2nd grade math, I will spell it out for you.
      1200 lbs of cargo on Falcon 9 next CRS mission X (1 lb/.45 kg)=540 kg

      What a laugh! You don’t even know the difference between unpressurized cargo and pressurized cargo!

      Not only that, you are confusing the total payload capability of the Falcon 9 (13mt) to what NASA has asked SpaceX to delivery to the ISS on it’s next CRS mission. You can’t even keep facts straight.

    • “Since you are incapable of 2nd grade math, I will spell it out for you.
      1200 lbs of cargo on Falcon 9 next CRS mission X (1 lb/.45 kg)=540 kg

      5,400,000 kg/540 kg = 10,000 launches. Am I going too fast for you?

      And you claim to be a scientist?”
      I gave you the benefit of the doubt that you were not stupid enough to think that the amount of cargo that NASA chooses to send to ISS is the same as what Dragon’s maximum capacity would be. Also I credited you with enough intelligence that Dragon itself has extra weight that would not be needed for hauling up major sections of an in-space structure and thus Dragon would not be used for that purpose.

      But you have made my point even stronger. People who are on the right side of an issue do not have to stretch the truth, they just rely on the unvarnished and unaltered facts. The fact that you knowingly distort the truth to try to make your point proves that on some level, even you know you are wrong. If you were right, you would not have to resort to such tactics. Have you no shame at all?

      Unemployed? You’re wrong. I have my cutting edge scientific research, I teach evening classes at a local university, and I tutor physics students. But I do set my own hours. At least Rick Boozer is my real name, but it is not Dickensian. Let me know if I have to explain that terminology as well.

  • You know, all of these threads here over the past couple years raise the question: are there any intelligent, informed proponents of SLS? It would sure be a lot more interesting discussion if one of them would show up here.

    • Coastal Ron

      Rand Simberg said:

      …are there any intelligent, informed proponents of SLS?

      This being a politics-oriented forum I can understand that some of the proponents use passionate descriptions instead of realist ones, but is it any better on the more technical blogs? I don’t usually go to the NASASpaceFlight blog much, but are there any intelligent, informed proponents of the SLS there?

    • Robert G. Oler

      “are there any intelligent, informed proponents of SLS? ”

      what is the day coming to it is now twice that Simberg and I agree completely. Earth reversing rotation…RGO

    • Dark Blue Nine

      Even when you’re actually talking to someone of sufficient IQ, education, and experience, you run into issues of insularity.

      Take Doug Cooke, for example. He’s a smart engineer with years of Shuttle reentry, Space Station design, and exploration planning experience. But until he become Deputy AA for ESMD, he never had to work against real-world constraints in multi-billion dollar budgets. His design and redesign exercises were optimizations in a theoretical world with no hard budget limits. He can tell you how to optimize a reentry profile for safety, but he can’t tell you how to build a low-cost crewed space transportation system. He’s never had to. He can tell you how to build one space station to meet a lot of different needs and constituencies, but can’t tell you how to build a space station quickly and at low cost. He’s never had to. He can tell you what the optimal Mars architecture is for a given set of technical requirements and timeframes and what the resulting technology needs are, but he can’t tell you how to pack 10 pounds of Mars architecture into a 5 pound budget sack. He’s never had to.

      And because Cooke has never had to do any of these things, he’s insular to budget constraints. Constellation and SLS make perfect sense to him, because they’re perfect given his budget-agnostic (and Shuttle-centric) design experience. Cooke can’t imagine doing human space exploration (or even crew transport to LEO) any other way, because he’s never had to. By contrast, those of us who have had repeated responsibility for putting together rational, executable programs with hard multi-hundred million or multi-billion dollar constraints are desperate for new approaches, because we have had to (or still have to) find a solution. We search for and ferret out truths that an engineer/manager like Cooke has never had to deal with.

      Same goes for Mike Griffin when it comes to realities of the federal budget process and complex systems development. That poor sap is still proclaiming to college audiences that Congress authorized Constellation, when it was the White House and appropriators that held NASA’s purse strings. And he still claims that Constellation was executable, without any appreciation for how the jury-rigging on Ares I and Orion was jeopardizing the timeliness, safety, reliability, and operability of those vehicles.

      And even more so for an ex-astronaut like Scott Horowitz with no significant professional engineering design/development, management, political, or budget experience at all.

      It’s little wonder that Constellation wound up where it did with three people in charge. They were totally insular to the budget constraints, political processes, and system complexities that were and are the real drivers of any future NASA human space flight program.

      Even at lower levels, I sat in a meeting of what were suppossed to be the commercial advocates at NASA a couple years ago. And when the subject of the rocket industrial base came up, the MSFC or SSC representative (I forget which) limited the conversation to P&W and Aerojet. When another participant pointed out the almost daily testing of Merlin engines in Texas, the MSFC or SSC representative dismissed it as not part of the “industrial base”, despite the much higher rate of production and testing than anything P&W and Aerojet were doing (or are today).

      One’s experiences color, really confine, one’s judgement. Until more NASA engineers and managers are forced to work at organizations outside NASA, on systems outside the old Apollo/Shuttle industrial base, and (most importantly) to bring systems to operation within hard, not loose or fictitious, budget constraints, the agency is going to continue to have issues with insularity leading to project/program termination, regardless of how smart, educated, or experienced its engineers/managers are.

      • Bennett In Vermont

        Excellent essay. Thanks.

      • common sense

        I think you are being way too kind with these people.

        After years of demonstrated failures it would be obvious to any one with enough smarts to realize something else needed to be done. Clearly some people did such as O’Keefe and Steidle. But they were not part of the system now were they?

        Or is it what you call insularity? The ability or limitation to only work with a system never to move away from it? I thought some one relatively famous called that insanity… Which thereby demonstrates only two possible outcomes: NASA leadership is insane or NASA mission is not to develop an exploration architecture for HSF.

        FWIW.

    • Guest

      Not as designed, although we believe the concept of large reusable parallel staged heavy lift launch vehicles is still a valid one. Here is what the sims show us, and SpaceX I’m sure has arrived at this result independently. Hydrogen core stages as upper stages (as dual use first and second stages) are fuel limited at booster separation. There is just no way around it except for possibly cross feeding the boosters. What Mr. Musk has apparently decided is that he can use standard large engines, clustered, parallel staged and cross fed, and thus avoid the fuel limited behaviors of the lower thrust non-restartable hydrogen engines. In other words, he doesn’t care because his core stages, booster and any upper stages will be vastly overpowered and all use the same fuel, and he can throttle and shut down and then restart any of the engines at will, or even eject boosters at will. Plus with methane the fuel is much denser, so everything will be more compact, he can manage the engine restarting with hydrogen or other inert gases if necessary, and self pressurize using the fuels and oxidizers thus minimizing or eliminating helium use. A massive amount of redundancy will thus be available.

      I’d like to see this kind of approach with Blue Origin and hydrogen core stage and boosters for the moon, but about all you can do with the SSMEs is fly them out to deep space on final missions. The main thing my group is looking at right now are the aerodynamic stability, control authority and fuel efficiency ‘hits’ on putting the big hydrogen tank on top of the stack, which would then allow the boosters to attach to the stiffened intertank segment with a much larger oxygen tank, which gives growth options for the system. The general idea is that the core stage or the upper stage and engines aren’t coming back. Ever. Well, the engines, maybe, in pieces. So there are possibilities as long and people aren’t riding on the big rocket. And cryogenic insulation is still the key. Another thing you might see coming out of Musk’s shop are gigantic Mars Dragons used as an aeroshield or fairing for the boosters during the early segments of atmospheric boosted flight, with the integrated Mars stages.

      • Coastal Ron

        Guest said:

        Not as designed, although we believe…

        Just to let you know that with this new comment system, at times it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to know who anyone is responding back to who. For this post, because of the hierarchy or your use of the “Reply” button or not, I can’t tell who you are responding to.

        That’s why it’s a good idea to quote the person you are responding back to, like I did on this post. Otherwise you look like you’re just talking to yourself…

        • Guest

          I am pretty much talking to myself here no matter who I reply to, but in this case I did reply to Mr. Simberg’s question with a technical disclosure and discourse.

          Now I’m replying to you, as I replied to Mr. Simberg, as the hierarchy clearly shows. I’m not sure why your browser is not showing that, but since you have offered neither a question or a statement, there is not much else I can to say to you, but I can elaborate on the technical theme I have presented.

          Big launch vehicles are great, as long as your big launch vehicle is the deep space payload, and you intend to get the big launch vehicle to some stable destination, besides burning up in the atmosphere and crashing into the ocean which is where the SLS currently is at, by design. That’s my main point.

          Sequestration or not, the design of the SLS is the problem, not the concept. The appropriate place to stage is early in the launch profile, and then later in the launch profile, and then low Earth orbit. The problem is that low Earth orbit is cluttered, required a great deal of reboost and attitude control fuel, and lacks full time sunlight, but other than those problems I’m all for large low Earth space hotels, and staging your core stage to LEO is a great way to get them.

          Escape velocity and geosynchronous represent more or less equal additional delta V requirements, so that represents additional staging points with destinations.

          Other than that, if you want a robust destination not requiring attitude control problems, the poles of the moon work for me. That is your final delta V increment.

          Again, all require space rated reusable launch vehicle stages as your payload.

          • Coastal Ron

            Guest said:

            I am pretty much talking to myself here no matter who I reply to…

            Comforting to know.

            In any case, this is just a general comment for everyone. The new commenting system our gracious host is now using does not carry over hierarchy to every browser type. For instance, I can see hierarchy when viewing the blog on my desktop Mac, but not when I view it on my iPhone browser.

            But even the hierarchy format has it’s limitations, since you “Guest” say you were responding to Rand, but since his post was eight posts up, it’s hard to scroll back and forth to see what part of his comments you were responding to.

            So again, this is just a general comment, but it would be nice if people somehow posted part of the text that they were responding to. Quite a few people do, and for me at least it helps to follow the conversations, even if I don’t join in.

      • vulture4

        So the LOX tank is at the bottom as in the Saturn?

        • Guest

          That’s the general idea, for a core stage that doubles as an upper stages and stages either to LEO or escape velocity, or not at all. The problem is purely aerodynamic and only occurs during the first three minutes of flight, and is applicable to any parallel staged hydrogen launch vehicle.

          The problem is structural as well, since any massive booster assisted core stage is limited by the amount of fuel the core stage can burn off before staging, at which time it requires a thrust to weight ratio (preferably much) greater than unity. Dual fuel launch vehicles are unable to share fuel across boosters, so it’s really just a hydrogen problem, which could best be solved by an all hydrogen clustered and staged design (Blue Origin for instance). The problem derives from the need to use the intertank section as a structural booster attachment point, where the fuel load and payload is limited by the volume of the lower tank, since presumably the upper tank can be stretched as much as desired. Another thing we are looking at is sharing the core stage oxygen with the booster, so the boosters can only carry fuel, but that kind of defeats the use of the boosters as stand alone launchers. But the end result of these simulations is that by relieving the need for the large heavy lift launcher core stage to carry large top loaded payloads and safety conscious passengers, a much simpler lighter design naturally emerges, where the core stage can be stretched and the fuel can be stored in an aerodynamically designed upper tank segment. This eliminates the payload fairing entirely and a lot of the structural design hassles of the large core stage. It was only derived by the sims, this is not the kind of thing that could be found by committee. The simple sim we use allows for an extra user defined force but we have not yet implemented Gaussian distributions for the thrust vector control inputs that would yield accurate results for the forces acting on the center of pressure, but the general idea is that the use of large boosters can provide enough control authority to overcome it. We’re more interested in the lateral stresses on the tank, but pure hydrgoen trajectories are already fairly lofted, so they are less the the lateral tank stresses of more aggressive trajectories already. It is possible to design some pretty benign trajectories with hydrogen, but up is not the direction you want to go when going to space.

  • joe

    Rand Simberg February 22, 2013 at 6:43 pm
    “(2) How are the rendezvous/berthing maneuvers to be performed(does the stage need to be redesigned)?
    A Falcon upper stage can be inserted into any desired orbit. A reusable tug could come out from the propellant storage facility to do final rendezvous, grapple and bring it back to the facility.”

    Skipping whether “A Falcon upper stage can be inserted into any desired orbit”, this all started over a discussion of a scheme to do a round trip Mars flyby in 2018 and we are now introducing a “reusable tug” stationed at “the propellant storage facility”. Skipping the logistics of supporting both (where does the fuel for the orbital tug come from? You are playing a shell game) who pays for these developments? Dennis Tito? Elon Musk? Santa Claus?

    “No, they’re not. They’re delivering 29,000 pounds to LEO. Where do you get this nonsense?”

    Your original statement was: “The Dragon delivers 29,000 lbs. to LEO. If you’re a lousy engineer, you might have as poor a stage fraction as 90%. That is, you’d only get 26,000 pounds of propellant to orbit.”

    While that may be true for the total mass of the Dragon on CRS-1 it delivered 882 lbs. to the ISS (3% not 90%) and they appear to be saying that on CRS-2 they intend to delivers 1,200 lbs. (4% not 90%) that is the source of the “nonsense”. Now this did not include your mythical “reusable tug” and “propellant storage facility”, but until you define who is to be designing, developing, deploying and (most importantly) funding this hardware the comment remains accurate.

    Rand Simberg February 22, 2013 at 6:51 pm
    “I should add that all of your questions (and particularly the ones bizarrely insisting on “empirical data” — do you even understand what those words mean?) imply a profound lack of knowledge of basic rocketry, the rocket equation, structural mechanics, orbital mechanics and mission analysis. You might want to consider taking a few classes, and then you wouldn’t have so many questions.”

    More insults substituting for information. You might want to consider taking a few classes, and then you might be able to provide answers that make any sense.

    This has gone on longer than it is worth, check back when you have funding sources for the “reusable tug” and “propellant storage facility” that will get them on line by 2018 and there will be something to talk about.

    • Coastal Ron

      joe said:

      Skipping whether “A Falcon upper stage can be inserted into any desired orbit”, this all started over a discussion…

      Ding, ding, ding! And that’s where the old Joe reveals himself.

      As usual your questions are either A) an attempt to get someone to say something you can pounce on, or B) an attempt to show off why “company X” has imaginary rockets or is incapable of doing anything right.

      Notice how you’re not trying to understand what options Dennis Tito may be discussing on Wednesday, nor are you offering up your own ideas for how they may plan to accomplish their mission. All you want to do is discount anything anyone is doing that isn’t related to the SLS/MPCV, which you have stated in the past that you have worked on (and maybe still do).

      And, of course, since SpaceX is involved, you have nothing but derision for the whole effort.

      Same old Joe.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “we are now introducing a ‘reusable tug’ stationed at ‘the propellant storage facility’. Skipping the logistics of supporting both (where does the fuel for the orbital tug come from? You are playing a shell game) who pays for these developments? Dennis Tito? Elon Musk? Santa Claus?”

      Joe/Crash Davis, forget the tug and forget the propellant facility. They don’t matter. The target is a deep space transfer stage, not a propellant facility, and the Falcon upper stage just burns more fuel to reach the transfer stage in the absence of a tug. Once the transfer stage is fully fueled, it can light its engines and head towards the Moon, a NEA, Mars or whatever.

      “While that may be true for the total mass of the Dragon on CRS-1 it delivered 882 lbs. to the ISS (3% not 90%) and they appear to be saying that on CRS-2 they intend to delivers 1,200 lbs. (4% not 90%)”

      Joe/Crash Davis, if a Falcon doesn’t need to deliver a Dragon, then all of the Dragon’s mass is available for propellant and propellant tankage/insulation/cooling. Typically, propellant occupies over 90% of a rocket stage. Tankage/insulation/cooling, engines, attitude control, structure, avionics, etc. (dry mass) typically occupy less than 10%. For example, the propellant mass of the common core booster on the Atlas V is 284,089kg but the dry mass is only 20,743kg. Same goes for the Atlas V Stage 2, where the propellant mass is 20,830kg, but the dry mass is only 1,914kg. (See http://www.braeunig.us/space/specs/atlas.htm.)

      So, if you get rid of your in-space stage (Dragon or CST-100 or whatever your crew or cargo vehicle is), then you can conservatively add propellant equal to at least 90% of that in-space stage and have nearly all of that available to fuel up your transfer stage once you reach it.

      This is the power of in-space fueling.

      • Googaw

        Typically, propellant occupies over 90% of a rocket stage. Tankage/insulation/cooling, engines, attitude control, structure, avionics, etc. (dry mass) typically occupy less than 10%

        This “typically” is for short-duration storage. For a Mars mission we are talking about multi-year storage.

        We’ve seen from NewSpacers a shell game about what the subject of this thread is — as soon as they lose one argument they claim we were talking about something else entirely.

        We’ve also often seen shell games played by propellant depot zealots about how much propellant actually gets launched. The bottom line is that with propellant depots you have to launch at least as much, and indeed to support the added infrastructure and ullage from long-term storage quite a bit more, propellant than you would have otherwise.

        Now we have the shell game of confusion between storage (and slowly losing through ullage) propellant for a few days and storing it for years (multiplied, given the same technology, with the same rate of loss, by 2 orders of magnitude greater duration), and pretending that the engineering capabilities and statistics of the one very familiar case apply to the other radically different case.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “This ‘typically’ is for short-duration storage. For a Mars mission we are talking about multi-year storage.”

          I am referring to the former. The discussion is about adapting the Falcon second-stage for propellant delivery and transfer. That’s a multi-hour to multi-day mission, at most. It’s not a multiyear mission.

          “The bottom line is that with propellant depots you have to launch at least as much, and indeed to support the added infrastructure and ullage from long-term storage quite a bit more, propellant than you would have otherwise.”

          No one has ever claimed otherwise. Boil-off happens. It’s basic thermodynamics. Tell us something we don’t know.

          “… pretending that the engineering capabilities and statistics of the one very familiar case apply to the other radically different case.”

          No one was “pretending” that. A Mars transit stage that performs burns at Mars will have to store propellant for a year or two. That’s very different from a Falcon or Atlas or SLS second stage that delivers and transfers propellant to that Mars transit stage in a matter of hours to days from T minus 0.

          Again, tell us something we don’t know.

          • Googaw

            The discussion is about adapting the Falcon second-stage for propellant delivery and transfer.

            Ah, the shell game in action. No, in fact, the discussion was about a multi-year Mars mission. At the very least, even if we are just talking about delivering propellant to a depot in a particular low earth orbit useless to almost everybody, it has to be about the many months (or even more than a year) that in fact pass between one Falcon mission and the next. Not to mention the next one again after than, and the next one again, and so on, until we have enough Falcon missions to actually launch enough propellant for this utterly unfunded fantasy and the extra imaginary infrastructure you want to throw on top of it. Again a duration orders of magnitude greater than the hours to days of storage accomplished by the technology whose statistics you so misleadingly quoted.

            [Ullage...] No one has ever claimed otherwise.

            Not in so many words. You just studiously avoid the issue.

            • Coastal Ron

              Googaw said:

              No, in fact, the discussion was about a multi-year Mars mission.

              Did you skip the class where they talked about how many days there were in a year?

              Dennis Tito is planning a 501 day mission – you do the math.

              Everything else you wrote is bereft of any validity, since you don’t know what Dennis Tito is going to say at his press conference.

              Why don’t you wait until there are facts for you to debate – you know, something new for you? ;-)

              • Googaw

                In his NewSpace quest to redefine reality, Coastal often can be found redefining the English language. Take for example the word “multiple”. What’s the very first definition in Merriam-Webster?

                1: consisting of, including, or involving more than one

                501/365 = 1.37 > 1.

                Not only is that multi-year, despite yet another Coastal attempt to redefine reality, more to the point it’s over 100 times (i.e. over 2 orders of magnitude) the storage durations typically involved with the launch rocket tanks whose statistics DB9 quoted, with a correspodingly radical increase in propellant loss to ullage if that technology is used.

              • Coastal Ron

                Googaw said:

                Not only is that multi-year…

                Using the standard definition that most people use, which would be whole numbers, 1.37 is not two, and doesn’t even round up to two. So no, it’s not “multi-year”.

                with a correspodingly radical increase in propellant loss to ullage if that technology is used.

                As for “ullage”, that is, from my understanding, only a factor when you are going to be relighting your engines. However since SpaceX has already shown they can restart their second stage in space, this doesn’t seem to be the problem you are crying about.

              • Googaw

                As for “ullage”, that is, from my understanding, only a factor when you are going to be relighting your engines. However since SpaceX has already shown they can restart their second stage in space, this doesn’t seem to be the problem you are crying about.

                There is once again a yawning gulf between your understanding and reality. It is obvious to anybody with common sense that ullage (propellant loss during storage) is a problem whenever you store propellant for long durations in space, regardless of how you restart your engines. But you count on your NewSpace audience lacking common sense, and instead reactively believing whatever fantasy would seem to make their wishes come true.

              • Coastal Ron

                Googaw moaned:

                It is obvious to anybody with common sense that ullage (propellant loss during storage)…

                Propellant loss during storage in space is referred to as boil-off loss, not “ullage”.

                For liquid-fueled rockets, ullage is the space within a fuel tank above the liquid propellant.

                Apparently your “common sense” is not common, and doesn’t make sense to the rest of the world.

                And since DBN gave you the link to an article that talked about propellant loss, it’s obvious that you are not able to read and interpret new information.

                But you count on your NewSpace audience lacking common sense…

                Actually nothing you or I say matters to those that are actually doing things, or planning to do things in space. They have far more expertise, and access to expertise, than either you or I. And my goal on this forum is to influence the political side of things (i.e. Space Politics), not the technical side.

                That said, I find that those who support “NewSpace” tend to be far more educated about the tradeoffs of the different approaches to doing things in space than those who do not support “NewSpace”.

                You would be in the later category (i.e. far less educated). Obviously.

            • Dark Blue Nine

              “Ah, the shell game in action. No, in fact, the discussion was about a multi-year Mars mission.”

              Fine, if you want to change the subject from the other poster’s confusion about Dragon payload versus Falcon 9 payload to hypothetical cryogenic propellant storage for Tito’s Mars mission, I’ll go there.

              Let’s take the unreal, absolute worst-case scenario, where Tito’s transit stage utilizes a liquid hydrogen engine and he has to store that propellant for one gigantic burn at the very end of his 500-day trip.

              500 days is something less than 17 months. Using today’s technology, liquid hydrogen has a boil-off rate of 3.81% per month:

              http://library.thinkquest.org/03oct/02144/propulsion/propellents/crydraw.htm

              Compounding that rate over 17 months leads to a loss of 65% of the liquid hydrogen propellant that Tito starts out with.

              So if Tito needs 1 unit of liquid hydrogen propellant for the burn at the end of his 500-day mission, then he needs to start out with 1.65 units of liquid hydrogen. Let’s round up to 2.00, which gives Tito another eight to nine months of boil-off between his first and last launch. So in the unreal, worst-case scenario, this will double the number of launch vehicles that Tito needs.

              So if Tito needs one, $100 million, 50-ton Falcon Heavy to launch his Mars vehicle assuming no boil-off, he will need to pay $200 million for two Falcon Heavy launch vehicles in the unreal, worst-case scenario above.

              http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1826/1

              Tito can do that, or he can miss his 2018 launch window, wait until the federal government spends upwards of $22-23 billion (with a “b”) to develop the 130-ton version of SLS, and hope that the exorbitant cost of SLS doesn’t force a future White House or Congress to cancel the project before Tito’s next window in the 2030s. (And that a future NASA Administrator is more accommodating about SLS use than Goldin was about ISS use before Tito’s trip there.)

              http://spacepolicyonline.com/pages/images/stories/SLS_budget_Integration_2011-08.pdf

              From the government’s perspective, the White House and Congress can spend $22-23 billion developing the 130-ton version of SLS. Or they can buy enough Falcon 9 Heavy launches for 100-115 Tito-type Mars flybys. This is the power of in-space fueling.

              Of course, Tito doesn’t need one big burn at the very end of his trip — he’s going to use most of the propellant at the very beginning of his trip to leave Earth’s gravity well and obtain sufficient velocity to avoid a low-energy, Hohmann transfer that would result in a much longer mission. So in the real-world case, Tito needs something between 1.00 and 1.65 units of propellant when he starts.

              And he can use other propellants with much lower boil-off rates to reduce the problem further. Liquid oxygen’s boil-off rate — 0.016% — is an order of magnitude less than liquid hydrogen. Methane and kerosene (the latter is not really a cryogenic propellant) are even lower.

              My understanding is that Tito’s plan involves hypergolics, which avoid the issue entirely. (Martin Meijering, our resident hypergolics advocate, will probably be saying “I told you so” here after Tito’s press conference next week.)

              “a duration orders of magnitude greater than the hours to days of storage accomplished by the technology whose statistics you so misleadingly quoted.”

              As shown above, you can do missions with durations on the order of two years employing liquid hydrogen transit stages with no additional advances in cryogenic propellant storage technology. It does require additional launches, but it’s not a ridiculous multiplier, and the cost of those additional launches is still a couple orders of magnitude less than the cost of SLS development.

              However, it’s important to point out that zero boil-off technology for liquid hydrogen was proven in 1998 for multi-month periods in simulated space conditions using a 1,400+ liter tank with an active cooling system requiring less than an 18-watt power draw:

              http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/RT/RT1998/5000/5870plachta.html

              Technology to not only do better than the worst-case scenario above but to have perfect, zero boil-off has been around for a decade and a half. It just needs in-space validation. I’d much rather spend $50-500 million of our tax dollars doing that validation than wasting $22-23 billion on SLS.

              [quote]
              Not in so many words. You just studiously avoid the issue.
              [/quote]

              I’ve avoided nothing. When the topic was Dragon versus Falcon payload, I and others addressed that directly. Now that you want to discuss hypothetical cryogenic propellant storage for Tito’s Mars mission, I’ve addressed that.

              What else do you need to be educated on?

              Or are you going to bother to learn how to use a search engine, look up a few facts, and run a few numbers before your next ignorant, facetitious, useless rant?

              Dumbass…

              • vulture4

                DB9: Compounding that rate over 17 months leads to a loss of 65% of the liquid hydrogen propellant that Tito starts out with.

                So if Tito needs 1 unit of liquid hydrogen propellant for the burn at the end of his 500-day mission, then he needs to start out with 1.65 units of liquid hydrogen.

                If you start out with 1.65 units of LH and lose 65% you will have 35% of it left: 1.65 x .35 = .5775. If you want one unit left you need to start with 1/.35= 2.857 units. Of course you could use a simple cryocooler to reduce or liminate boiloff.

              • Googaw

                Dumbass…

                Are you interested in serious discussion or just in projecting your own failings while spinning your science fiction?

                Using today’s technology, liquid hydrogen has a boil-off rate of 3.81% per month

                No. You conveniently skipped the part where they said “with partly filled tanks, the percentage loss is higher.” Quite a bit higher, as the surface area for evaporation and the pressurized gas component which needs to be bled gets much higher as the tank empties.

                And as Vulcan pointed out your formula was way off: even assuming the tanks are always full the factor per your calculation rounds up to 3 times the propellant needs to be launched to make up for ullage. And that doesn’t even consider the exponential effect from the rocket equation: to get that amount to Mars (as well as enough to get back) you need to start off with an exponentially greater amount in earth orbit, almost all of which has to be stored for durations orders of magnitude longer than the tanks whose dry/wet mass ratios you very misleadingly quoted, on top of the duration for the Mars mission itself.

                So if Tito needs one, $100 million, 50-ton Falcon Heavy to launch his Mars vehicle assuming no boil-off

                If he wants to die before he even gets to Mars. In reality, to get even one person to Mars and back with some significant probability (and it’s far from clear that a 1-person mission of that duration is psychologically viable, but I’ll just assume for the sake of argument that’s not a problem), you would need over 50 (fifty) launches of the imaginary Falcon Heavy for the artificial gravity and radiation shielding required, as well as the propellant and tankage to get all that to Mars and back. Of course nobody is actually going to Mars; as it has always been this will turn out to be a sci-fi story concocted to get press and Internet audience attention, sell magazines, and quite probably to lobby for NASA funds for something far more mundane.

              • Dark Blue Nine

                Vulture4: “If you want one unit left you need to start with 1/.35= 2.857 units.”

                I transposed a “9″ with a “6″ when I wrote my post. The correct answer is 1.95. If you iterate the formula X-X*.0381 in a spreadsheet 17 times, you have to start with a figure of 1.95 (not 1.65) to have more than 1.00 at the end.

                Vulture4: “Of course you could use a simple cryocooler to reduce or liminate boiloff.”

                Agreed. But I was trying to show the worst case.

                GooGaw: “And as Vulcan pointed out your formula was way off: even assuming the tanks are always full the factor per your calculation rounds up to 3 times the propellant needs to be launched to make up for ullage.”

                Wrong again. See above.

                “And that doesn’t even consider the exponential effect from the rocket equation”

                The delta-v needed to maneuver at the top of or outside Earth’s gravity well is much less than the delta-v needed to get up or out of Earth’s gravity well.

                “to get that amount to Mars (as well as enough to get back) you need to start off with an exponentially greater amount in earth orbit”

                Well then show us your work. Rand, Vulture4, I, and others have shown ours. Prove this “exponentially greater” (10x+) propellant requirement using long-term cryo storage in mathematical terms.

                “In reality, to get even one person to Mars and back with some significant probability (and it’s far from clear that a 1-person mission of that duration is psychologically viable, but I’ll just assume for the sake of argument that’s not a problem), you would need over 50 (fifty) launches of the imaginary Falcon Heavy for the artificial gravity and radiation shielding required”

                Bullcrap.

                On the microgravity issue, Valeri Polyakov spent 438 days in space. The mission was undertaken specifically to determine the effects of Mars-duration space flights on the human body. Unlike most Soviet/Russian astronauts, who are carried from their Soyuz, Polyakov walked out of his. Multiple studies, up to and including Polyakov’s mental state, show that he suffered no ill effects.

                Multiple cosmonauts have spent approximately twice as much time in space over multiple missions as Polyakov’s Mars-duration misson. Sergei Krikalev has gone 803 days, Sergei Avdeyev has gone 747 days, and Polyakov himself has gone 678 days.

                Tito’s 501 day mission is well within family for established space flights.

                On the radiation issue, your claim is even more goofy. The Earth’s atmosphere and Van Allen Belts provide radiation protection equivalent to about 5 tons of water (or other matter) stacked above every square meter. But this is lifetime protection. Theoretically, if we were talking about spending decades and decades in a space can with a surface area of 500 meters, we’d need 50 Dragon Heavy flights and 2500 tons of radiation protection to live out a normal, healthy life up there.

                But we’re not. We’re talking about spending a couple years in space and then living out the rest of our lives on Earth. And we’re talking about a spacecraft with something less than 100 square meters of surface area, not 500 square meters.

                I don’t know if you’re desperate or unhinged, but your lies are getting loony.

                “Are you interested in serious discussion or just in projecting your own failings while spinning your science fiction?”

                No, given the fabrications in your posts and your wild claims with no math or references to back them up, I’m sticking with my original assessment of your character and personality.

            • pathfinder_01

              Just to hammer the point, there are different kinds of propellants.
              Hypergolics don’t boil off. They are what the Apollo CM used and missions like Cassini where you need long term storage.

              Lox/methane would boil in LEO but a lot slower than lox/loh and would be in danger of freezing on the outbound trip to mars.

              Lox/loh are practically the best propellant for a bipropellant powered chemical rocket in terms of ISP (only better combination would be LOH/F but that is toxic and hard to handle) and do boil off but the boil off takes hours…you can use them to shove mission compoents into high earth orbit which reduces the amount of delta V needed to escape. In addition there is technology that can be employed to reduce it.

              Lox/Kerosene the Lox might boil but the kerosene won’t. Kerosene storage problem releates to the fact that It tends to separate in zero g and it can coke engines making it less suitable for restarts but like lox/loh it can store in space for hours and give something a shove to HEO.

              SEP stages use propellants that don’t boil in LEO.

              A free return trajectory does not need large manurvers after escaping from earth. In a free return trajectory all the energy needed to return is generated at the start of the mission making the propellant storage problem even more mute. In fact for any mission escape from earth will consume the most propellant. In short there are dozens of ways to crack this problem(i.e. Stage from LEO and get the most of the Oberth effect. Stage from HEO and need the least amount of delta V to escape). EDS can be one stage or mulit staged.

              And some of the basic equipment needed is coming along. Hab module, bigleow, Capsule Dragon. SEP sustainer maybe boeing if you chain the units. Commercal launchers can be procured. Sure it might cost bit too much but you can do this mission cheaper now than at any other point in human history.

        • Robert G. Oler

          Googaw
          February 23, 2013 at 1:34 am · Reply

          We’ve seen from NewSpacers a shell game about what the subject of this thread is.

          “”

          the subject of the thread is sequestration…and it diverged sometime ago into something else as these things do and it will probably die soon, but I would make at least one point on the topic of depots (which is not the thread but you brought it up)

          you wrote
          ” The bottom line is that with propellant depots you have to launch at least as much, and indeed to support the added infrastructure and ullage from long-term storage quite a bit more, propellant than you would have otherwise. ”

          There is no “bottom line” unless you can also articulate the various events which allowed “you” (or anyone else) to draw a summation line and come up with a conclusion.

          And somewhere in all of this “Propellent” talk, cost; total cost come in as well.

          For instance if the notion is some “space effort” that requires large velocity changes; which requires a certain amount of propellent; doubtless if the propellent could be brought up in one large “launch” there would be less “boil off” then if its brought up in several small ones stored, tanked and then fired.

          But that comparison assumes that both efforts exist simultaneously or since neither propellent depots and SLS exist; that cost and time to develop do not play a role in the comparison.

          And it further assumes that the technologies for one are not needed anyway. So for a Mars flight as the “vehicle” acts over a period of time as a defacto depot storage system (ie you have to have propellent both to go, to get into orbit, to leave orbit and some prop on the way not to mention landing)…nothing fixes that boil off rate but depot technology unless one is going to simply throw a lot of prop and accept the boiloff, which causes in any event your blanket statement to be in question.

          You are doing what you accuse a lot of “new space” people of doing; which is drawing a bottom line and coming to a conclusion without at least stating the conditions or any real facts through which the validity of the bottom line can be observed.

          In simple words you are stating an assumption as fact with no evidence to back it up.

          You are the one who seems confused RGO

    • Googaw

      this all started over a discussion of a scheme to do a round trip Mars flyby in 2018 and we are now introducing a “reusable tug” stationed at “the propellant storage facility”.

      You’ve discovered the #1 debating tactic of NewSpacers in these parts — pretend we are talking about something completely different than what we were actually originally talking about. The subject you originally commented on was the latest NewSpace fantasy (each one stretches reality even farther than the prior, with seemingly no ill effect on the credulity of the NewSpacers) about how Dennis Tito will make all our Martian dreams come true by 2018? Too obviously only something that would only be believed by the most crazed sci-fi fans with no significant grasp of the actual technological and economic realities? Then bring out the retro-futuristic central planning tropes and Pop-Sci wonder stories about “tugs” and “propellant depots” and call people ignorant and idiotic for not knowing that the subject of the thread is something commpletely different than what it actually was.

      Of course, I don’t know which to laugh or cry at more — the SLS folks who are so dependent on idiotic sci-fi stories about deep-space astronaut missions they’ve built an entire pork barrel architecture around belief in their importance, or the NewSpacers who think they can make come true the very same fantasies “privately” (even though NASA would still be practically the only source of revenue, as with Dragon), magically waving the wand of “commerce” (by which they mean government contractors) to magically reduce the throw weight needed to get people safetly to Mars and back by orders of magnitude. Take enough whiffs of cosmic pixie dust to ignore the fact that the astronauts would be quite dead, or at the very best severely handicapped for life, from radiation and low gravity long before they got back to earth. NASA has studiously avoided doing any Martian-duration missions on ISS for just this reason, because it would pop the reality-shield bubble that keeps the Martian fantasy alive. Men on Mars hype score: 100%. Men on Mars reality score: 0%. Both sides are, at bottom, spinning zany and highly irresponsible fiction at light speed to justify squandering the taxpayers’ money and putting their children in deep debt for projects that are in reality utterly useless to any but their direct beneficiaries, NASA employees and contractors.

      • Coastal Ron

        Good ole Googaw. And now with more words, but less meaning… ;-)

        • Googaw

          Next time I come up with an explanation about space for my 4-year-old, or a nice little Tweet, I’ll be sure to repost it here for your benefit.

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “The subject you originally commented on was the latest NewSpace fantasy (each one stretches reality even farther than the prior, with seemingly no ill effect on the credulity of the NewSpacers) about how Dennis Tito will make all our Martian dreams come true by 2018?”

        A lie. That wasn’t the subject that the other poster originally commented on. Joe/Crash Davis was/is confused about the difference between Dragon payload and Falcon 9 payload.

        And regardless, Tito’s Mars flyby mission doesn’t rely on long-term cryogenic propellant storage. Another lie.

        “magically waving the wand of ‘commerce’”

        A lie. Tito’s organization is a non-profit. There is no “commerce”.

        “to magically reduce the throw weight needed to get people safetly to Mars and back by orders of magnitude”

        Another lie. There’s no magic involved. It’s a two-person flyby mission. There’s no long burns to enter or leave Mars orbit. There’s no lander or ascent stage. There’s no surface hab. There’s no surface EVA suits. There’s no rover. There’s no third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, or eigth crewmember or the water, power, and food necessary to support them. There’s no need for propellant to move all that mass to all those places. It’s a very limited mission.

        “the astronauts would be quite dead, or at the very best severely handicapped for life, from radiation and low gravity long before they got back to earth.”

        A near-lie. That’s a specious statement given that Tito’s proposed mission is 500-odd days long, and the Russians have done 400-odd days without coming back “dead or severly handicapped for life”.

        “Both sides are, at bottom, spinning zany and highly irresponsible fiction at light speed to justify squandering the taxpayers’ money and putting their children in deep debt for projects that are in reality utterly useless to any but their direct beneficiaries, NASA employees and contractors.”

        A final lie. Tito hasn’t asked for any taxpayer money.

        Your skepticism is welcome. Unfortunately, your skepticism has flipped over into pointless rants filled with multiple, blatant lies.

        • And I’m still waiting to hear an explanation of perhaps GooGaw’s biggest lie. Remember when he stated that he is a stock holder in SpaceX, though there has never even been an IPO?

          • Googaw

            Anybody who is actually familiar with the business of SpaceX knows that they brought in large number of investors, and that on top of that there is a substantial market in trading that stock (as with many other non-public stocks) off the public exchanges. Several people insisted on learning my “bona fides” and when I truthfully answered the response I got was this malicious slander. You owe me an apology.

            • Coastal Ron

              Googaw claimed:

              Anybody who is actually familiar with the business of SpaceX knows that they brought in large number of investors…

              It just so happens I do know about these things, and no, they didn’t bring in a “large” number of investors. You can see who is a publicly known investor here.

              …and that on top of that there is a substantial market in trading that stock (as with many other non-public stocks) off the public exchanges.

              You are talking about Private Secondary Markets I assume. And you are saying you are not only a ‘Accredited Investor’ (as defined by the SEC), but that SpaceX has allowed you to buy their stock on the secondary market?

              Yeah, right. And you bad mouth them to, what, drive the share price down so you can lose money? Oh, what a smart investor you are, huh? ;-)

              No, I think we can safely say that our dear Goo is not a SpaceX investor.

              • Googaw

                And you bad mouth them to, what, drive the share price down so you can lose money?

                (1) I call them as I see them, but I don’t recall ever saying anything that would drive their share price down. A better understanding of the economic realities of the space business will ultimately drive the shares up of every company that is actually adding value to the industry, which SpaceX most definitely is. My motivation for posting is to give the economic reality of the space business a hearing in a social media where discussion of the subject is dominated by economic fantasies. It’s not for financial reasons one way or the other. In the case of SpaceX my criticism has been about these silly sci-fi scenarios that many media hypesters and zealous fans associate with them. This association made by outsiders between SpaceX and their twisted retro-futuristic fantasies tends to hurt SpaceX’s credibility, if it has any effect at all, so it also happens to be in my financial interests to debunk it.

                (2) As I’ve stated before I’m also invested in other companies in the space business, especially in the real space commerce that drives almost all other real space commerce, comsats. I have other more terrestrial investments as well. So you really don’t know what my incentive structure is.

            • No, I do not. First of all, I don’t know who the hell you really are and thus have no way of verifying your status as an investor in SpaceX. Second, the only nonSpaceX investors are wealthy venture capitalist types via special funds and one direct outside individual investor. Those few persons invested many millions. I doubt such a powerful person would spend so much his time commenting on a blog. Even then, he wouldn’t be making the number of negative comments about a company that he has sunk so much money in. You are so full of B.S. What little credibility you may have had (a dubious proposition at best), you have definitely lost. According to SpaceX itself:
              “SpaceX is a private company owned by management and employees, with minority investments from Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Valor Equity Partners.” http://www.spacex.com/company.php

              • Googaw

                I don’t know who the hell you really are and thus have no way of verifying your status as an investor in SpaceX.

                In other words, you don’t really know, so you lied and claimed I’m not.

              • No, I’m saying you lied because logic says you aren’t who you say you are. Nobody with that much money sunk into it would bad mouth it the way you do. I’m and others just aren’t as stupid as you think we are. Give us proof or shut up. Who is the person here being totally open and blogging under his real name. Not you. You have stuck your foot in your mouth and you know it.

      • vulture4

        “Take enough whiffs of cosmic pixie dust to ignore the fact that the astronauts would be quite dead, or at the very best severely handicapped for life, from radiation and low gravity long before they got back to earth.”

        This is not entirely correct as per current knowledge. There have been a few problems, but most astronauts have tolerated zero gravity periods up to 14 months without significant ill effects. The radiation exposure from a single round trip to Mars would be about 1 Sv (100rem). A little over the lifetime career radiation limit, so you could only do it once, and there would be a slight risk of developing leukemia years later, but you could do it. That said, I think the cost is too high to make it practical with current technology, so some major progress is needed.

  • “A Falcon upper stage can be inserted into any desired orbit”, this all started over a discussion of a scheme to do a round trip Mars flyby in 2018 and we are now introducing a “reusable tug” stationed at “the propellant storage facility”.

    It doesn’t matter how “this all started.” Crash Idiot, or whatever its name is, changed the subject to why we need SLS.

    While that may be true for the total mass of the Dragon on CRS-1 it delivered 882 lbs. to the ISS (3% not 90%) and they appear to be saying that on CRS-2 they intend to delivers 1,200 lbs. (4% not 90%) that is the source of the “nonsense”.

    The subject was what Falcon 9 could deliver to orbit, not what CRS delivers to ISS. I don’t know why you choose to continue to be obtuse on this.

    Skipping the logistics of supporting both (where does the fuel for the orbital tug come from? You are playing a shell game) who pays for these developments? Dennis Tito? Elon Musk? Santa Claus?

    The subject has changed from Dennis Tito’s plans. Crash Idiot changed it to whether or not we need SLS. Nothing that I’ve written has anything to do with 2018. Sorry you couldn’t figure that out.

    • joe

      Rand Simberg February 22, 2013 at 8:06 pm • Reply
      “Skipping the logistics of supporting both (where does the fuel for the orbital tug come from? You are playing a shell game) who pays for these developments? Dennis Tito? Elon Musk? Santa Claus?
      The subject has changed from Dennis Tito’s plans. Crash Idiot changed it to whether or not we need SLS. Nothing that I’ve written has anything to do with 2018. Sorry you couldn’t figure that out.”

      Sure, if you say so Rand. However, maybe you could condescend to answer a few simple questions from “idiots” who are “profoundly ignorant” and (of course) have no formal technical education. How else are the troglodytes going to learn if not from their “betters”?

      You propose a system that would use a modified Falcon 9 upper stage to deliver (you assert) 26,000 lbs. of LOX/Kerosene to LEO.

      However you (finally) explain that requires the use of what you describe as a “reusable tug” stationed at “the propellant storage facility”. This tug would have to (at a minimum) perform the following maneuvers:
      - Leave the area at which it is located (the “facility”? you do not say).
      - Rendezvous/Dock with the passive upper stage.
      - Move the passive upper stage (including the mass of the tug and its propellant) to the “facility”.
      - Rendezvous/Dock the passive upper stage with the “facility”.
      - Return to its home position (the “facility”? you do not say).

      Questions:
      All of these maneuvers would require the use of propellant.
      (1) What propellant would the tug use?
      (2) If it is LOX/Kerosene that would reduce the amount of fuel available for actual BEO operations. How much needs to be subtracted from your hypothetical 26,000 lbs. /Falcon 9 launch to support the tug?
      (3) If it is another propellant, what is it and how (and at what expense) is it delivered to the tug?
      (4) How does this affect the actual total cost of delivering a specified amount of fuel (for a specified mission) using your proposed system?

      Both the “reusable tug” and “the propellant storage facility” will require maintenance to keep them functional.
      (5) How many flights/year (and of what kind of vehicle) will be required to accomplish this task?
      (6) How will this task be performed, by EVA or EVR or both?
      (7) How does this affect the actual total cost of delivering a specified amount of fuel (for a specified mission) using your proposed system?

      I know these questions must seem simplistic to someone of your sophistication, but since you are so much smarter, profoundly knowledgeable and better educated than anyone else and have thought this through in such great detail I am confident that you can answer them “off the tip of your tong” . So why not show pity on the “little people” and enlighten us.

      • The orbital maneuvers under discussion require trivial amounts of propellant, relative to delivering propellant to orbit. The amount is in the roundoff error. Again, if you understood orbital mechanics, you’d know this.

        As for maintenance, there is no conceivable way that the costs of it could come within two orders of magnitude of the standing-army cost of an SLS, even if done via EVA from a private Bigelow facility. One doesn’t have to do detailed costing to know that it will cost far less than SLS, because SLS is ridiculously, outrageously expensive, by NASA’s own estimates.

        • joe

          Rand Simberg February 23, 2013 at 5:59 pm • Reply
          “The orbital maneuvers under discussion require trivial amounts of propellant, relative to delivering propellant to orbit. The amount is in the roundoff error. Again, if you understood orbital mechanics, you’d know this.”

          Are they really? Then why not use the upper stage instead of creating a whole new (nonexistent) vehicle? The question still remains how much fuel would be required to move the stage to your (nonexistent) facility? Care to provide some links to actual data?

          “As for maintenance, there is no conceivable way that the costs of it could come within two orders of magnitude of the standing-army cost of an SLS, even if done via EVA from a private Bigelow facility. One doesn’t have to do detailed costing to know that it will cost far less than SLS, because SLS is ridiculously, outrageously expensive, by NASA’s own estimates”

          Again assertions absent actual information (you are good at that). I could care less about what you think are the “standing-army cost of an SLS”, what are the cost of providing maintenance in your “plan”. It’s all well and good to talk about “EVA from a private Bigelow facility” when said facility is completely nonexistent (at least it is consistent with the completely nonexistent reusable tug and orbital propellant facility). But what is it going to cost? If you had any real plan (and not just a polemic) you would know.

          Just as a thought, for a long time (as long as Constellation Systems existed) you managed to have a free ride. Any time someone asked you a question you could not answer you simply changed to the subject to an attack on Constellation Systems. All too often your debating partners took the bait and allowed you to change the subject. In case you had not noticed Constellation Systems is gone, cancelled, over.

          Trying to substitute SLS is very lame, I will let others speak for themselves but however good a vehicle SLS might be in absence of a real program to use it does not raise the same ire. In other words your change the subject ploy does not work anymore.

          The same for the personal insults. The first time you call someone an idiot they are likely to lose their temper and fall into your trap. Each time you use it again it has less affect. Sooner or later you are going to have to start presenting actual plans (complete with actual details – if you are capable) or lose any credibility (if you still have any).

          • Coastal Ron

            joe opined:

            Again assertions absent actual information…

            That’s a funny one coming from you Joe, since you only ask and critique, you never add any of information to the discussion.

            Have you ever contributed a fact to a conversation? Not that I can remember.

            Even this conversation is funny, since you are critiquing something you have no facts about. Do you know what Dennie Tito is going to be proposing? No.

            • joe

              No I am critiquing what Simberg proposed. If you consider what he has said a proposal.

              • You may imagine that you are critiquing it, but you are failing to do so (again, as a result of your apparent ignorance about space systems, orbital mechanics, etc.).

              • Coastal Ron

                Rand is not the one who has called a press conference for tomorrow to outline a proposal for going to Mars, that is Dennis Tito. No wonder you are confused.

                All of us have been speculating what Tito will be announcing – don’t you know the difference between proposing and speculating?

            • joe

              No I am critiquing what Simberg proposed. If you consider what he said a proposal.

          • pathfinder-01

            1) What propellant would the tug use?

            Ah joe, there are many ways to do this. You could use a tug. You could develop rendezvous and docking for the upper stage or you can develop a tanker. As for propellant most likely hypergolic like just about everything else in orbit.

            (2) If it is LOX/Kerosene that would reduce the amount of fuel available for actual BEO operations. How much needs to be subtracted from your hypothetical 26,000 lbs. /Falcon 9 launch to support the tug?

            A pretty darned small amount. Most of the energy needed to get a spacecraft to it’s correct orbit and position comes from the rocket. The Gemini spacecraft had about 323 m/s worth of delta V vs. the 9.3k/s or so needed to get to orbit. Frankly lox/kersone might be over kill for this part.

            (3) If it is another propellant, what is it and how (and at what expense) is it delivered to the tug?

            Given the fact that the ISS receives propellant via progress and ATV that would seem to be a pretty trivial problem.

            (4) How does this affect the actual total cost of delivering a specified amount of fuel (for a specified mission) using your proposed system?
            Given the small amounts of propellant needed not much.
            Both the “reusable tug” and “the propellant storage facility” will require maintenance to keep them functional.

            Why do you assume they will require maintenance? There are satellites on orbit that have worked a decade or more and have not had any maintenance. Skylab was in pretty good shape when it reentered and it did not see a crew for at least 5 years.

            (5) How many flights/year (and of what kind of vehicle) will be required to accomplish this task?

            Ah there are also many ways to skin the space walk issues from built in airlocks on the depot to carrying an airlock module with you on your commercial crew vehicle and that assumes that a depot needs to be able to support spacewalks.

            (6) How will this task be performed, by EVA or EVR or both?

            EVR? Do you mean a robot cause they too can be used.

            (7) How does this affect the actual total cost of delivering a specified amount of fuel (for a specified mission) using your proposed system?
            If the depot needs little to no maintenance (very likely cause even the ISS only plans 2 spacewalks a year) not by much. Anyway much of the ISS’s maintenance revolves around the life support system…systems that a depot might not have or not using full time or not need to be as complex as the ISS(i.e. Crew on orbit 4 days at station…simpler more reliable lioh cartages make sense. Crew on orbit for months then you need the more complex and trouble prone co2 removal system. ).

            As the only saying goes there is more than one way to skin a cat.

            • joe

              Agreed but even skinning cats require a plan and Samberg has none (other than top level bromides that could have been gleaned from the Abstract for the Project Horizon Summary dating back to the 1950’s).

              When asked for more detail he invents it on the fly, when embarrassed by his lack of knowledge he attacks either the defunct Constellation Systems (now SLS) or the poster who embarrassed him.

              You present all kinds of “options” all of which require significant new hardware development (as opposed to the mantra of using only existing rockets – implying only existing hardware) and none of that new hardware is under development anywhere.

              • When asked for more detail he invents it on the fly, when embarrassed by his lack of knowledge he attacks either the defunct Constellation Systems (now SLS) or the poster who embarrassed him.

                Hilarious. I’m “embarrassed” by my “lack of knowledge”?

                Ummmm…no. At least I understand the difference between velocities needed to get to orbit, and those needed to maneuver on orbit.

                You should be embarrassed by your lack of knowledge, but because of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, you’re not, either.

      • Googaw

        but since you are so much smarter, profoundly knowledgeable and better educated than anyone else

        :-) :-) :-)

        • No, he’s just more so than people like you and Joe who like to pretend you know more than you really do. And we have already established your level of veracity.

          • joe

            Really what set of Tarot cards did you use to do that?

            Get back to me with you at the non-existent Bigelow (EVA capable) Space Station so you can take the non-existent transfer vehicle to perform the maintenance EVA’s on the non-existent reusable tug and the non-existent orbital propellant depot.

            Then we will talk about “veracity”.

            • A Bigelow space station is much more existent than SLS is.

              • I should add that a transfer vehicle is also much more existent than an SLS is. It’s called Dragon. Pull out the recovery systems, and just let it live on orbit.

            • Coastal Ron

              Good old Joe, trying to prove something can’t happen, while at the same time not advocating for anything TO happen.

              With Joe, you don’t get what you see, because he never contributes anything.

              When was the last time you proffered anything? That you advocated FOR anything?

              You lack veracity precisely because you lack any facts, or any content of any kind.

            • And all an “EVA capable” Bigelow facility is is one with an airlock, which is nothing but a pressure vessel with two hatches.

              But I must be the one “embarrassed” by my “lack of knowledge.”

              • Coastal Ron

                Rand Simberg said:

                And all an “EVA capable” Bigelow facility is is one with an airlock, which is nothing but a pressure vessel with two hatches.

                Bigelow has already said that the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) that NASA will be sending up to the ISS in 2015 is similar to one that he plans to use as an airlock on his commercial space station.

                Not only is the hardware near-term, but it’s also low cost. As a point of reference, the Quest airlock on the ISS costs $164M, but the BEAM is only going to cost $18M – sure it will still need airlock-specific hardware added, but that’s not going to add $100M to the price.

                I think we’ll hear tomorrow from Dennis Tito, that the technology needed to do a 2018 Mars trip has finally come down enough in price to allow a private entity to attempt such a trip.

                Tito’s press conference tomorrow is going to send ripples throughout the NASA centers, and create even clearer lines of opinion about how the U.S. government should do future human space exploration. But it will be harder for “OldSpace” supporters to ignore “NewSpace”, and it was already hard enough given what SpaceX and others have been accomplishing.

              • joe

                Rand Simberg February 26, 2013 at 3:09 pm • Reply
                “And all an “EVA capable” Bigelow facility is is one with an airlock, which is nothing but a pressure vessel with two hatches.
                But I must be the one “embarrassed” by my “lack of knowledge.””

                If you really believe that all it takes to be EVA capable is “a pressure vessel with two hatches” you should be. But that would require you to know enough to at least suspect what you don’t know.

              • I’ve done EVA planning and requirements for a living.

            • For you it’s mainly a case of ignoring the conclusions of the Booz-Allen-Hamilton report. As Rand indicated, the Bigelow Station stands a hell of a lot more chance of going up than SLS. One thing is for sure, the modules it will be made from are much closer to being actually produced than a finished SLS.

              • joe

                You guys keep wanting to change the subject to the SLS to deflect from the short comings of you own plan (doesn’t work anymore – bummer isn’t it.)

                What did your “Booz-Allen-Hamilton” report (care to provide a link or document number – I would love to read the part where it says “the Bigelow Station stands a hell of a lot more chance of going up than SLS”) have to say about the reusable tug and orbital propellant depot?

              • What did your “Booz-Allen-Hamilton” report (care to provide a link or document number – I would love to read the part where it says “the Bigelow Station stands a hell of a lot more chance of going up than SLS”) have to say about the reusable tug and orbital propellant depot?

                Another ignorant question. It was a report on SLS/Orion programmatics. They weren’t paid to analyze alternate mission architectures. The fact you’re unaware of the Booz-Allen report, and need a link to it, is one more reason why we don’t take you seriously.

  • Are they really? Then why not use the upper stage instead of creating a whole new (nonexistent) vehicle?

    Because it would require significant modification of the upper stage, which would increase the cost for every mission. Cheaper to make it dumb, and have a fully reusable tug that lives on orbit.

    The question still remains how much fuel would be required to move the stage to your (nonexistent) facility? Care to provide some links to actual data?

    The actual data is that rendezvous and prox ops is a few dozens of feet per second. Getting into orbit is 25,000 feet per second. If you understood the rocket equation, you’d know that this means that the propellant requirements are several orders of magnitude apart. And if you understood basic engineering, you’d know that it’s possible to estimate things within an order of magnitude without having to know the details to three places.

    I could care less about what you think are the “standing-army cost of an SLS”,

    Well, then why don’t you? Care less, that is?

    what are the cost of providing maintenance in your “plan”. It’s all well and good to talk about “EVA from a private Bigelow facility” when said facility is completely nonexistent (at least it is consistent with the completely nonexistent reusable tug and orbital propellant facility). But what is it going to cost? If you had any real plan (and not just a polemic) you would know.

    A Bigelow facility will cost between a couple hundred million and half a billion, according to Bigelow. It’s mostly designed (and the factory is built), so they have a pretty good handle on both the manufacturing and maintenance costs, for leasing purposes. By the way, SLS is completely non-existent also, but NASA has told us it will cost billions per year to operate, regardless of flight rate (and the flight rate is low). We have an upper bound on orbital facility costs — ISS. A propellant depot and tug are much simpler, and will cost much less.

    This really isn’t that hard. Except, apparently, for you.

  • Crash Davis

    A Bigelow facility will cost between a couple hundred million and half a billion, according to Bigelow. It’s mostly designed (and the factory is built

    So your business plan is based on a company that has as many employees as the local Wendy’s or Starbucks up the street?

    Shrewd, Rand, shrewd.

  • pathfinder_01

    Crash Davis why is the number of people it employs relevant to wither they can do it? They have launched two modules Genesis I and Genesis II. The modules might have lacked docking and full life support (however they did have temperature control) but they did test out if they could build inflatable modules and those modules. The avionics in Genesis I worked for two years and a half years before failing and the ones in the genies II worked likewise that long. Two years is long enough for a mars mission and that was with no one onboard to repair things.

    I might doubt the money and time period, but I don’t doubt that the possibility for a private mars fly by exists. All the elements are coming along. Private capsules like Dragon and to a lesser degree CST-100, private modules and private launcher are elements that with modification could do it.

  • joe

    Rand Simberg February 26, 2013 at 4:36 pm
    “I’ve done EVA planning and requirements for a living”

    According to you, you have done practically everything for a living.

    I have actually done EVA hardware, operations, and systems requirement work.
    - ILC from 1982 – 1985 (Hardware)
    - McDonnell Douglas Space Systems Division 1985 – 1993 (Operations)
    - Geo-Control Systems 2007 – 2010 (Systems)

    Nothing you say about EVA or Life Support Systems indicates you know anything about the subjects. So try you bully boy tactics elsewhere.

    • Nothing you say about EVA or Life Support Systems indicates you know anything about the subjects.

      I didn’t say much about them, other than that the primary requirement for a space facility to do EVA is to have an airlock. Which remains true. And you don’t even really need that if you’re willing to blow down the facility, as they did in Apollo/Skylab. EVA and life-support systems are a separate issue.

      Hilarious, again.

      “Bully boy tactics”? Because I point out that I’m not ignorant?

    • And no, I have never claimed to have “done practically everything for a living.”

      How stupid.

  • Jeff Foust

    Time to terminate this discussion, unfortunately.