Congress, NASA

A changed mind about sequestration

Once upon a time, NASA administrator Charles Bolden wasn’t worried about the across-the-board budget cuts, known as sequestration, incorporated into the Budget Control Act of 2011. “I don’t talk about sequestration because I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Bolden said in a December 2011 speech, not long after to so-called “supercommittee” established by that 2011 bill failed to come up with an alternative deficit reduction package. At the time, he said he was optimistic that Congress and the White House would come up with another way to reduce deficits and avoid sequestration. “We are not planning for sequestration,” he said in that 2011 speech.

He’s planning for it now. Bolden told media during a visit to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville that sequestration would have major effects on NASA programs, in particular commercial crew. “The gap is going to get bigger,” the Huntsville Times quotes Bolden as saying, referring to the gap in NASA access to low Earth orbit that the agency hopes to close with commercial providers. NASA earlier this month identified commercial crew as one of the programs that would take the biggest hit from sequestration-induced spending cuts. “I’m just being very blunt about. Anybody who thinks this is no big deal – it’s a big deal.”

So what changed in the last 14 months? Bolden puts the blame on one end of Pennsylvanaa Avenue. “Sequestration was intended to never have to happen,” he said. “Well, guess what. The Congress wasn’t able to do what they were supposed to do, so we’re going to suffer.”

96 comments to A changed mind about sequestration

  • Robert G. Oler

    “He’s planning for it now. Bolden told media during a visit to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville that sequestration would have major effects on NASA programs, in particular commercial crew. “

    Yes.

    Charlie is now doing what the rest of the Obama administration is doing…ie helping the natural progression of blame fall on the GOP…and in the spirit of things even the GOP is helping in it accepting the blame.

    Commercial cargo/crew (as I noted a few threads back) is “closing the Washington monument”. They are the programs in human spaceflight that are working. SLS is buckling in terms of its structure, Orion is overmass and cracking and to try and gen up enthusiasim ATK is making a big deal of delivering “escape towers” with a big INERT on them LOL

    Commercial cargo/crew is the program(s) that can be pointed to as on budget (even though late) and performing…It is technological innovation…etc

    Along with “flyless fridays” and all the other evils that the GOP is going to force upon us (grin) that commercial crew is in danger is part of the effort to lay squarely on the GOP the “mailase” that is coming with sequestration.

    And the GOP is helping…this lame “well it was Obama’s idea” opens up the retort “but it passed the House with only GOP votes”…it is so thin that even Luntz is warning that wont work.

    Luntz/PPP/Rasmussen are also up with polls that with the exception of foreign aid, most of the domestic spending is gasp Popular.

    Budget talks have always played on the GOP turf; until they voted for sequestration because that “across the board haircut” is now affecting defense and aerospace high tech companies that really are the welfare queens and also the providers of most GOP cash

    …the GOP miscalculation was that they believed that they could manage the debate if it included defense…and “gasp” they find out that the people want defense spending cut.

    Usually the GOP is great at this “they are going to use socialized medicine to take away Timmy’s medical care and turn his ventilator off because he is a born again Christian even with an IQ of 4″ .

    But to many years of programs the GOP likes not performing (F-35 engine cracks are at a bad time)…and outright deception (see the sequestration blame) are taking their toll.

    Sequestration…an idea whose time has come. As Bush43 would say “bring it on”.. RGO

    • helping the natural progression of blame fall on the GOP

      That’s not a “natural progression.” It’s administration/media spin.

      • Robert G. Oler

        ” It’s administration/media spin.”

        Politics is spin particularly in heavy media environments. That is how (spin) Bush43 lite off the Iraq war…it was spun as something it was not.

        Cx and SLS supporters have also tried “spin” problem is in that specific case as well as generic GOP issues; the spin is no longer working. Partially that is because the spin in past issues turned out “not to be true”…and worse the “spin” in the case of hte GOP has gotten worse. The unskewed polls fiasco hurt the party and its “right wing base” More then almost anyone can imagine.

        Reality eventually comes back to bite. RGO

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Bolden is just following the cynical lead of his boss, who after all first came up with sequestration and is now using the classic Washington Monument manuever to suggest that any cut in government spending would be a disaster. I think in the long run it will bite the administration. Obama is the leader and is responsible, even though he hasn’t led nor has he been responsible. Oler is right about one thing. The plan is not to fix the out of control budget. The plan is to destroy the Republicans, even if the country is destroyed along with them.

    • Robert G. Oler

      Mark R. Whittington
      February 23, 2013 at 12:21 pm · Reply

      Bolden is just following the cynical lead of his boss, who after all first came up with sequestration>>>

      and then forced the Republican house to vote for it; LOL the sequestration package in the HOR did not get a single democratic vote…it was so evil Obama has learned mind control and was able to dupe every member of the GOP who voted for the thing…LOL

      this is why the GOP is losing the political battle here…they have adopted the John Kerry motto “I voted for it before I was against it”…

      The problem with sequestration is that it is an axe where a scapel is needed. The House and Senate (and the POTUS) need to agree on a budget which has targeted across the board cuts

      For instance one should start with non performing programs which not only cost money to continue them…but cost money because they are non performing. The F-35 cost money because it is a flop; but also since there is no date for deployment it cost money because upgrades have to be made to existing aircraft…if we just cancelled the program (a program the GOP loves) we could then save the money from the program but also do more cost effective upgrades to existing airplanes.

      NASA is spending money on things it will never use. I dont know how much money has or is going into Pad 39B and the crawler/VAB mechanism and when SLS is eventually gone those upgrades will be useless…no one is going to use vertical integration for a heavy…other then NASA which is stuck with it.

      “The plan is to destroy the Republicans,” why should Obama do that? the GOP is doing it itself. It would not be hard for the GOP to come up with a coherent plan that cancelled SLS/Orion and moved money into Commercial crew accelerating the closing of the Gap, programs such as Nautilus or expanding the station or….

      but no they cannot do it; because well they (the GOP) has run into a canyon and are out of room. They have lost the support of the American people all except a fringe that is becoming more and more “fringe”…

      and now they are left with “I voted for it before I was against it”

      If that is the best the GOP can do…then they deserve to go the way of the Whigs. LOL

      and you thought Romney was going to win the election RGO

      • DJF

        They probably did not put this on your copy of Democratic Party talking points but the reason why the sequestration bill came about was that the Democrats when they controlled both the Senate and the House failed to pass a budget and only passed a short tern extension. That is why there was a budget crisis in early 2011 that ended with the sequestration bill. If the Democrats had actually done their job and passed a budget as required when they were in charge there would be no sequestration bill. And of course the Democratic controlled Senate has not passed a budget in years.

        But go on with your rants about how the GOP is destroying everything.

        • Robert G. Oler

          “why the sequestration bill came about was that the Democrats when they controlled both the Senate and the House failed to pass a budget and only passed a short tern extension. Th”

          the nice thing about the “Personal responsibility” party is that today all the ills that exist are well someone elses fault.

          So the GOP House votes for sequestration what 217 to 0 meaning no not a single Dem voted for it and every GOP member who voted for it from the Speaker on down was praising the vote; going to the right wing rallies and basking in the cheer from the faithful about having voted for it…and yet now when its not popular, when the GOP industrial base (ie the true welfare queens the aerospace/defense companies, the oil companies, the insert any corporate group) are worried that (to quote the head of Lockmart) “It will affect our profits”…

          wow its someone elses fault.

          There were a lot of alternatives to sequestration. If he notion was to save money then in the discussions (and just in space policy) the GOP could have argued to kill SLS/Orion which have no real justification; which are a creature of the space industrial complex…

          and then sent 1 billion back to the Treasury and taken the other two billion and done? Depots/VASIMER(spell maybe)/expansions to ISS eetc…

          BUT NO they had to keep the space industrial complex humming…

          You listen to the party of personal responsiblity and NOTHING is their fault. Griffin for instance. He blew through 10 billion dollars on Cx…and got nothing that was flight capable even though that is twice in real dollars what Gemini took…NOTHING IS HIS FAULT.

          Bush43 inherited surplus…and left us with with disaster…nothing is his fault according to people likeyou.

          Pete Olson TX-22 after sequestration put stuff on his facebook page that heralded the great triumph of GOP “fiscal sanity” and “it will force hard choices on the Democrats who only want to spend and tax”

          and now? All that is gone from his page. (how nice we have way back machines)…

          Why wont you folks own up to the messes “you” made…No one held a gun at the 217 or so GOP folks who voted for the measure…they are the ones who said we get this or default…

          And now people like you buy the “its the other guys fault”…no wondeer the GOP is losing the sequestration fight. RGO

          • DJF

            You mean the sequestration bill passed by the Democratic controlled Senate and signed by the Democratic President?

            And you think that the budget problems have nothing to do with the Democratic Senate not having a budget since 2010 or the President not yet submitting a budget for this year even though he is past the deadline. And if you think that SLS and other programs should be cut why hasn’t the Democratic President and Senate zeroed them out since the Republican House can’ t pass anything without them. They did not do that instead they went with sequestration.

            I have no problem with attacking Republican faults, I am not a Republican but you seem to find no fault with the Democrats and wish a one party state with no opposition party or at least no opposition party that disagrees with you.

            • Robert G. Oler

              The problems with the budget of the US have nothing to do with the statements that DJF made…and the notion of sequestration and if it is good or bad has nothing to do with why the budget of the US is out of balance.

              The budget of the US is out of balance for three reasons

              1. From 2001 until this very day to much federal money was and is being spent on things which were non productive to the economy. SLS is a modest example of this. There is zero way that the investment in SLS even if it manages to fly will ever pay back the federal dollars spent on it. There is no product it will create, no service it will provide no anything that will be a net positive to the economy. Outside my house right now they are stripping Highway 646…its a year plus late and probably over budget but in the life of the road it alone will return more tax dollars to the local/state and federal economies then SLS ever will.

              2. There was during the last 12 years and even now remains an imbalance of revenue based on services provided. The US supposdly after 9/11 was ‘in a time of war” and this is the first time in our history that along with “the time of war” we “cut” taxes…its not just income taxes but it is the tax breaks that every large corporation gets as well as teh bailouts they now get when they flounder that are bleeding the economic life blood of The Republic.

              3. As a result the economy has stopped performing. Instead of investments in new infrastructure to stay competitive; the US spent trillions in Iraq and Afland; so instead of having new power grids/modern ATC systems etc for the most part we are left with federal and other infrastructure that is crumbling and being patched…worse we dont even have the “stabilized oil” supplies that the entire Iraq thing was about.

              Sequestration is designed to try and force hard choices on a political system where for the most part in both political parties hard choices are defined as cutting someone elses preferred spending.

              Thats not entirely true of course. Pentagon spending has ballooned in an almost unimaginable way since 9/11…and its mostly GOP spending…SLS and Orion for instance while they have some Dem backers (Nelson for instance) is a creature of the GOP…because most of the money is spent propping up red states.

              I am a supporter of sequestration…I just dont like the GOP saying “wow we dont like it” when in large measure they supported it wholeheartedly particularly in the House and in the extreme “tea party” groups.

              They dont like it now because its unpopular and because a lot of GOP programs are on the chopping block AND the normal GOP scare tactics have stopped working. Pete Olson at his latest town hall (TX-22) was surprised when he started mentioning sequestration as the “axe” that was going to cut the Pentagon and major DoD programs …he was surprised when people said “go ahead cut them”

              I dont want a one party nation nor am I blind to Democratic errors, but in the scheme of things the fact that the GOP is dysfunctional is the reason for their impending “RUD”

              RGO

              • wodun

                “1. From 2001 until this very day to much federal money was and is being spent on things which were non productive to the economy.”

                I agree with that so what are Obama’s proposed cuts now that he the tax increases he has been ranting about for the last decade?

                “2. There was during the last 12 years and even now remains an imbalance of revenue based on services provided.”

                Guess it is a good thing those tax rates don’t exist any more and the upper brackets are being taxed like they were under Clinton. So the revenues of the Clinton years should come roaring back now as promised right? Or will you just move the goal posts…

                “3. As a result the economy has stopped performing. Instead of investments in new infrastructure to stay competitive; the US spent trillions in Iraq and Afland”

                The stimulus was sold as an infrastructure project but a significant amount of it went to propping up state and local governments doing little if anything to improve the economy. Every government worker sucks money out of the private sector weakening it and preventing it from supporting the government in the manner it is accustomed. There is a negative money multiplier effect at work.

                Also, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars only cost around $180b a year for both wars at their peak during the Bush years. Our deficits have been over $1.2t each year under Obama. Those wars, while a significant cost, are not the cause of our debt and deficit problems. Had we never been in those wars, we would still be running deficits over $1t.

                “They dont like it now because its unpopular and because a lot of GOP programs are on the chopping block”

                They didn’t like it before but were operating under the assumption that Obama and the Democrats were bargaining in good faith. Obama and the Democrats never had any intention of finding a solution. After Obama scuttled the debt negotiations that immediately preceded the sequester deal, they should have known better. But then they caved and let Obama raise taxes under the premise that Obama would live up to his word and deal with cuts after they dealt with taxes.

                Republicans did their part and raised taxes so when will Obama and the Democrats do their part and address spending?

                Now, everyone realizes the Democrats have no intention to address spending as they promised and the only way any cuts will take place is if sequestration takes place. In the long run it is good for our country, even if the cuts are incredibly small in comparison to our deficit and especially to our budget. And the Democrats get to demonize Republicans over the issue.

                So for Democrats it is win win. Sequestration will help the country which they will later take credit for and they get to demonize their political opponents. Democrats have zero incentive to reach a deal.

                “I am a supporter of sequestration…I just dont like the GOP saying “wow we dont like it””

                Considering how much you have been complaining, it is a relief to know you support it. I am sure you heap the same amount of scorn on the Democrats who were in favor of sequestration and now refuse to compromise now that taxes have been raised…

              • Also, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars only cost around $180b a year for both wars at their peak during the Bush years. Our deficits have been over $1.2t each year under Obama. Those wars, while a significant cost, are not the cause of our debt and deficit problems. Had we never been in those wars, we would still be running deficits over $1t.

                Don’t confuse the Bush/Palin/Fox-News/”Right Wing”-deranged Oler with facts.

              • Coastal Ron

                wodun said:

                the Iraq and Afghanistan wars only cost around $180b a year for both wars at their peak during the Bush years.

                OT, but I would wager that figure doesn’t include the deferred cost of fixing and replacing the equipment we’ve been using over there, nor does it take into account the future liabilities for all the health related issues our troops have incurred.

                Also, Bush did not include the cost of the fighting the wars in his budget numbers, so it was quite clear he was trying to avoid the appearance of digging us far into debt – and apparently it has worked for some Republicans, since they blame our current deficit on Obama.

              • Robert G. Oler

                wodun
                February 25, 2013 at 6:02 pm

                Let me start by correcting one statement you make which is factually in error

                “Also, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars only cost around $180b a year for both wars at their peak during the Bush years”

                that is only AT BEST the operational cost. Those cost do not in any way include replace/repairing lost or damaged equipment, the cost in lives, the cost to repair “bodies” that are broken…nor even really all the ops cost. Several examples: the Harriers destroyed at a Marine forward air base recently in Afland, did not come out of the monthly operational cost. Most of the Navy’s cost for the war(s) have come out of operational and repair budgets…ie overhauls on ships were deferred or minimized. The cost in terms of the F-18E/F force are illustrative and hard tomeasure. The planes have a life limit on the wing; the life limit was not suppose to be reached until 2020 to allow the F-35 to come on board and a phase out…it is being reached now because of the ops tempo…so they are having to pull out early F-18′s to replace the E/F’s

                Remember when the Iraq thing was suppose to pay for itself?

                there are endless cost like these through out the federal government..it is about like saying “SLS Launch cost will be….” some number but ignoring the cost of the payloads that go on it.

                I am not sure what your point was…but mine was that wasteful government spending is bad not just because of the wasted money; but that the things done with the money are usually WORSE for the economy in and of themselves and the waste of money prevents needed things from being done.

                If we just assume the number you use of 180 billion a year; then that was money; talent and other things that were spent for which the US will receive NO ZERO continuing value for. The 3 billion for SLS and Orion is of course a far smaller number and no real “lives” are lost; but the money spent for those projects in real time has NOTHING to show for it that has any value, and it is the product in federal spending that gives more then just “federal jobs”. Assuming SLS/Orion are built there will be nothing of value that they would produce that are a net positive on the economy.

                I dont know how many jobs the spending on HWY 646 outside my house created…but thats about done now and what the value based on WHAT WAS CREATED; is just going to start. That is why housing and land values around the highway are going up…

                YOu mention the Obama (Bush had several as well) stimulus and it wont take to many clicks on my facebook page to find I am not a fan of it. A lot of the spending did go to prop up state and local governments (including in Clear Lake) that were simply out of money due to bad fiscal policies…but my main angst with the program was that it had little “afterglow” and to be most effective it should have.

                But people who support SLS/ORION and yet were oppossed to the Obama stimulus are babbling out of both sides of their mouth. SLS/Orion is as “dead end” as most of the Obama stimulus.

                Commercial crew/cargo have at least the potential for “afterglow”…even if the Whittington notion of crony capitalism were true (and its not) for federal dollars to go to a project that in turn has a chance to return the satellite launch industry to htis country is going to have a positive multiplicative affect on the economy. IE the jobs will create more jobs at a positive net.

                Federal spending should have two test: One it should do something “good” that is obvious and pretty explainable particularly as the dollar signs go up and two what it “does” should have value after it has done.

                IN “war” WW2 met that test we spent a lot of money on the war (ignore the lives for this analysis) but 1) we stayed free against geniune aggressors and 2) the US came out of WW2 as a “modern” country with modern infrastructure.

                Iraq was a fail on all fronts

                So is SLS and Orion. These are “old” technology vehicles which have enormous cost to build and to operate; they dont advance the state of the art or give the nation any real capability that it 1) needs or 2) can afford to use.

                stopping those projects; along with reorienting tax rates is essential and sequestration goes at least some distance to the former.

                As long as a significant amount of federal dollars are spent on things which have no value in relationship to their cost in either the initial effort or the product of the effort… the economy will be in decline.

                Obama is reversing that…he got us out of Iraq, is leaving (although going to slow for me) in Afland and he has tried to kill projects like SLS.
                RGO

              • Robert G. Oler

                “. Had we never been in those wars, we would still be running deficits over $1t.”

                the deficits are coming down; this years will be significantly under 1 trillion. around 800 billion…and lower next year…in large measure because we are leaving the wars. RGO

              • wodun

                The fact remains that when you look at the costs of those wars during the years they were taking place, they were a small but significant part of our deficits and an even smaller part of our budget.

                Just a year or two ago our payments on servicing interest on government issued debt was around $450b. How many Iraq/Afghanistan wars is that?

                Sequestration is ugly but the cuts are small. We need to get our spending under control before our interest payments exceed the defense spending.

            • Dark Blue Nine

              “And you think that the budget problems have nothing to do with the Democratic Senate not having a budget since 2010 or the President not yet submitting a budget for this year even though he is past the deadline.”

              They don’t. A budget bill (or the President’s budget request) is not the same thing as an appropriations bill. The former is just a plan for government spending. The latter actually commits the government to spending. The latter is not dependent on the former. The absence of of a budget bill or President’s budget request doesn’t prevent Congress from passing appropriations bills.

              The sequester was created because a Republican House couldn’t agree with a Democrat Senate and Democrat President on how to reduce the deficit, through reduced appropriations (Republicans) or greater revenue (Democrats). The failure of prior Congresses (whether Democrat- or Republican-controlled) to pass budget bills in prior years has no impact on what a split Congress and President do in the current year.

            • Robert G. Oler

              wodun
              February 27, 2013 at 2:28 pm

              The fact remains that when you look at the costs of those wars during the years they were taking place, they were a small but significant part of our deficits and an even smaller part of our budget.>>

              I did not say War spending alone sank the US economy under Bush43′s watch, but it like other “bad ideas” not only had an immediate bad effect (like drawing that amount of money, not to mention talent out of the private sector market) but it also had a cumulative affect on both the drawn/suck down of resources AND the hobbling of the US economy…

              that (the hobbling of the US economy) has in the end been what caused the deficits to skyrocket

              Paul Oneill who was Bush43′s sec tres in 2002 I believe had published 10year budget/deficit projections based on realistic estimates of the cost of the Bush tax cuts and the using realistic spending estimates (including time span) for the wars in Iraq and Afland…he more or less nailed the projects and this is before Obama was even a Senator or his stimulus was “UP”.

              Bush41 was very very careful with Desert Storm to make sure “the war paid for hitself” because he and Jim Baker knew what the “cost” would do to the economy and the budget. Bush43 couldnt get “the coalition of the willing” to pay for it so they lied and said “it would be free”…it wasnt of course

              However you can see the issues in small projects like SLS/Orion…the spending is accomplishing nothing…I mean simply nothing for the money but keeping people employed at an enormously high cost.

              As for the interest on the national debt exceeding the defense bill…we should lower the defense budget immediately. that will stop the debt from going out of sight RGO

        • Dark Blue Nine

          Reference? Link?

          House and Senate budget bills are just planning documents for downstream appropriations. The absence of a budget bill doesn’t prevent appropriators from doing their job or the President from signing appropriations into law.

    • Neil Shipley

      I find this hard to believe or put another way, get real.
      A what, 5% to 8% cut to a budget spend that is already so far in deficit that most countries (check any other one that is) would be broke. Come on. Time for the U.S. to learn to live within their means. Everyone else has to do so. Stop crying wolf!

      • Robert G. Oler

        Neil Shipley…the residue of the Bush43 administration is that we now have competing visions of where tax dollars should be funnelled to…

        The GOP which was at least on paper a party of fiscal responsibility (but which has not had a single President since Nixon that was able to balance a budget) has since Reagan and Bush41 become a party where the money needs to go to various corporations whose existance is totally determined by federal dollars.

        I dont think Lockmart has a really “non defense/government” major program anymore.

        without federal dollars there would be no one willing to fund SLS/Orion, Boeing still has commercial airplanes but more and more the cash cow is becoming federal government programs where performance is really no big issue.

        What the argument has become really is where the dollars should be funneled back through;

        RGO

  • E. P. Grondine

    Just to remind everyone of some essential facts, we could have had DIRECT and 2 manned launch systems FLYING NOW with NO DISRUPTION to our tech base for the money wasted on Ares 1.

    • JimNobles

      E.P. You need to let go of this DIRECT thing. It was better than Constellation but not good enough to replace Constellation. It’s gone like a bunch of other ideas that didn’t pan out. When you keep bringing it up you start to look like those guys who are still dreaming the Legend of SeaDragon dream.

  • E. P. Grondine

    I would guess that this may become where and when Musk’s deep pockets come in: regardless of Congressional action, he keeps working full out, widening the gap between SpaceX and its competitors to 2 to 3 years or more.

    • DCSCA

      “he keeps working full out, widening the gap between SpaceX and its competitors to 2 to 3 years or more.”

      Hmmm.., and going no place, fast.

      Was reviewing some video archives from 2009/2010. Space X vowed to be flying crews by 2013. Oops. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

      • E. P. Grondine

        Hi DCSCA –

        So SpaceX has only flown an inflight test of a re-supply capsule based on their crewed vehicle, and it was safe for crews, and let’s see, there’s 10 months left in this year.

        I’d have to say SpaceX is doing pretty good.

      • Neil Shipley

        That was always based on the level of funding that NASA applied, not on their own. Congress has consistently halved the funding hence the timeline extends.

    • Neil Shipley

      Hi EPG. I recall an article where Boeing were being interviewed and they made the comment that they would have to inject more cash to keep up with SpaceX. Don’t know that they have or not but I would say that SpaceX is doing things according to their own schedule within the CCiDev Program.
      Anyway at the end of this round, SpaceX will still be in front of the other contenders if they stick with their milestones.
      It’ll be interesting as to whether or not they push onto any of the optional ones without NASA funding them, which NASA’s already stated is unlikely.

      • E. P. Grondine

        Hi Neil -

        Their problems with the 787 have put a real squeeze on Boeing.
        You also have to remember that SpaceX has foreign competitors as well as domestic ones.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    Somehow, this story makes me think of locking a barn door as a horse vanishes over the hill…

  • DCSCA

    Bolden is s follower. Not a leader. And he’s following the lead of the administration.

    ———–

    “NASA earlier this month identified commercial crew as one of the programs that would take the biggest hit from sequestration-induced spending cuts.”

    Good. Bad decision; poor results. The quicker the agency is purged of the factiond infected with ‘commercial virus’ the better.

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

    ” I dont know how much money has or is going into Pad 39B and the crawler/VAB mechanism and when SLS is eventually gone those upgrades will be useless.” hoped RGO.

    Except it’s not.

    SLS is a geo-political strategy for the United States. It’s as much a national security card as SDI was for Reagan. The United States is not going to abandon HSF ops and a heavy-lift capability nor relinquish its fate to the quarterly-driven whims of the profiteers playing at being rocketeers.

    .

    • Coastal Ron

      DCSCA opined:

      SLS is a geo-political strategy for the United States.

      What a laugh!

      You keep saying this, but even you can explain what it means. Unless it means us begging ESA to help the MPCV be semi-useful, in which case WOW, what a GREAT strategy that is.

      You need a dog that can hunt boy! ;-)

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “SLS is a geo-political strategy for the United States.”

      Geopolitical tools are tools of persuasion. They encourage other nations to act in your nation’s interests, either through soft persuasion or threats or actual force. There is some evidence that the example of Apollo encouraged some emerging nations to pursue the West’s democratic and capitalist models instead of the Soviet communist model. ISS directly affected weapons proliferation in Russia after the Cold War. But there’s no evidence that SLS is persuading anyone in any other nation about anything. To do so, it would have to be part of some larger strategy of engagement. It’s not. And it would have to be capable of achieving something other than U.S. employment. As currently conceived and budgeted, it’s not.

      “It’s as much a national security card as SDI was for Reagan.”

      SDI threatened to neuter Soviet deterrence, and according to conservative interpreters, forced the Soviets into a ruinous weapons race. SLS isn’t neutering any foreign weapons systems, and it isn’t forcing any other nation to do anything.

      “The United States is not going to abandon HSF ops and a heavy-lift capability”

      With the path Congress, the White House, and NASA are on with SLS and MPCV, that’s exactly what the nation’s civil human space flight program is going to do.

    • Robert G. Oler

      DCSCA
      February 23, 2013 at 5:43 pm · Reply

      SLS is a geo-political strategy for the United States>>

      In some people’s mind it is; like the ABM system sitting forloonly in storage now (since the silos are cracking!) in Fort G in Alaska…to some people’s mind they are a detterence;

      but really the only people who think that are the folks who support those things domestically.

      One reason that the GOP is facing a RUD (rapid unplanned dissembly) is that the notion of “If I believe it it must be so” no longer is working. To the beloved the F-35 might be the only thing that will save us from guys in caves…but the rest of the nation has grown tired of the babble and while I dont nkow if they ever believed it; the reality is that they are no longer tolerating it.

      Things go awry in a political party when the realist no longer have control over the true believers. Hence for “the true believers” SLS or the F-35 or whatever can be the only thing keeping The Republic afloat; but the realist know that for that to even be plausibly true…the darn thing has to at least pretend to “work”…

      So there really is no one who can go to NASA now in the GOP and say “fellas/gals you have to get something flying with SLS”

      Nelson (who is a Dem) at least knew this…he wanted money for another “demonstrator” but then he found out to his chagrin that thats not even possible…even the 17 thing is slipping

      when (and still if but I think when) Sequestration happens; one of the casualties as the GOP splits apart…will be SLS. RGO

    • Neil Shipley

      They’ve already abandoned it. SLS is a jobs program, not a program building actual flight hardware. It was exactly that reason why it was created when Congress cancelled Cx. Cx was no longer plausible, time for a re-name.

    • “SLS is a geo-political strategy for the United States. It’s as much a national security card as SDI was for Reagan.”

      Seriously?

      So what offensive and/or defensive capability does it give us?

      Do the Russians care? They had a perfectly good HLV in Energia (Which did not have anyone here running scared when they unveiled it. Now, N-1 had some worried in the late 60′s, but we’re not in the schedule-driven environment that spawned it and its US counterpart, and they never made it work anyway), then found they couldn’t afford to do anything that required it. There’s a lesson there.

      Does China care about SLS? I’ve seen no evidence so far. It certainly won’t stop their ASATs. For now, they’re more interested in the perception of parity with the West. Clearly being in the manned space game, not necessarily dominating it. And they don’t have to match (or fear) US single-launch payload mass to have that.

      Al Qaeda? They fear SLS about as much as the Viet Cong feared Saturn V…but no one back then pretended that they would.

      Ballistic missile defense at least makes logical sense, if you can do it. But in what way is this very expensive card/chess piece of value, in current geopolitics?

      • common sense

        “Which did not have anyone here running scared when they unveiled it”.

        Not quite true even if totally irrelevant today. Furthermore, Energia, Buran and the rest contributed to the demise of the Soviet Union. Talk about an effective geo-political boondoggle… http://www.buran-energia.com/polious/polious-desc.php

        As for SLS as a geo-politcial tool, I think – I may be wrong though – that our friend DCSCA suffered a major malfunction some time ago. Something to do with his internal clock. We could even hear it on this forum of all places. The thing was going tick-tock tick-tock…

      • JimNobles

        Does China care about SLS?

        I think China is a hell of a lot more concerned with SpaceX than it is with SLS.

        If there is a geopolitical aspect to all of this it definitely involves SpaceX products emerging onto the world market rather than the giant pork rocket SLS.

        • Coastal Ron

          JimNobles said:

          I think China is a hell of a lot more concerned with SpaceX than it is with SLS.

          SpaceX takes international business away from them, which means they are taking money away from them.

          The SLS puts money in China’s pocket, so why wouldn’t China like the SLS? We’d have to borrow more money from China in order to fly it too, so regardless whether the SLS flies, China makes out.

  • James

    I’m with those on this thread that suggest cuts should be made to programs that aren’t working. Kill SLS, yes. Save Commercial Crew, yes.

    And the biggest program that isn’t working is the form of government we have; I suggest we zero out Congressional and Presidential pay, till a budget is passed. I suggest we zero out spending for any and all Compressionally related institutions.

    I bet the janitors and other staff could pass a budget better than the politicians we have now.

    • Robert G. Oler

      James
      February 23, 2013 at 7:14 pm · Reply

      I’m with those on this thread that suggest cuts should be made to programs that aren’t working. Kill SLS, yes. Save Commercial Crew, yes.>>

      Sequestration is the only way with a malfunctioning GOP that this discussion can start. As longas the country was willing to deficit spend, and that has been a hallmark of GOP administrations; then there are no hard choices on programs.

      People like Departed Kay B. Hutchinson or current Pete Olson or even Nelson of FL (a Dem) simply do not have to stand by the consequences of their votes as long as money is “there” for any and all programs.

      And then they are free to throw rocks at the results…so Pete Olson can get up and babble as to how the US has to “hitch rides” with the Russians but bears no consequence for his support of an underperforming SLS or Orion…or forcing a premature commercial down select.

      Sequestration has a few bad, nee terrible things…but it is an idea whose time has come RGO

    • DCSCA

      Kill SLS, No. Save Commercial Crew, No.

  • Robert G. Oler

    James
    February 23, 2013 at 7:14 pm · Reply

    I bet the janitors and other staff could pass a budget better than the politicians we have now.>>

    that would be a true statement right up until the “new” people got into the pocket of the major corporations…then it would be as hard. RGO

    • Malmesbury

      Replace “corporations” with “special interests”. The former is just a subset of the later.

      It’s interesting to watch West Wing – the fantasy of how the Executive branch should work. Where un-elected (and unconfirmed) officials run the government by bribing the legislative branch with pork. The president just signs off on the deals.

      That’s the *ideal*

  • amightywind

    As for NASA, the gap will grow so large that the ISS mission will no longer exist and we can end commercial crew. Give Bolden credit. He is playing his part as Obama’s toady to the fullest. The gap is going to get bigger. We are going to layoff police and fire fighters, cut children’s education, cut meals for the elderly, eviscerate defense, and be forced to eat rotten meat… Wow, a *modest reduction in the growth rate* of the federal budget sure causes havoc. The real issue is that the GOP will finally do real damage to the democrat system of patronage and thus their support. There will be less money to give away. That is why the squealing is so loud. Bring on the sequester and let’s watch it burn.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “As for NASA, the gap will grow so large that the ISS mission will no longer exist and we can end commercial crew.”

      Assuming sequestration sticks, they’re only going to have to push out review milestones for a couple vehicles by a quarter. That’s not much of a increase to the gap with another 15 years of ISS life left. And although NASA’s reviews may be pushed out, the performers will continue working on their own dime since they have to cost-share on the development of these vehicles, anyway. There may be no actual increase in the gap.

      Moreover, the sequester may only stand for a month, not the rest of the fiscal year. Congress has to vote to raise the debt ceiling by March 27 or the government shuts down. Unlike the 5-10% cuts of the sequester, which can be ignored for a while, Republicans, Democrats, and Congress will have to come to agreement to avoid a shut-down (or restart after a shut-down) and that agreement will likely eliminate the sequester as well.

  • Coastal Ron

    Sequestration seems to be coming, unless there is some behind the scenes type stuff going on that hasn’t made the news.

    But instead of working on solving sequestration, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Grahram decided to visit the SpaceX headquarters and get their picture taken with Elon Musk and Gwynne Shotwell.

    What does that do to the political equation in Washington for NASA and NewSpace?

    • Malmesbury

      The stages of dealing with a new entrant to the politico-economic process

      1) Ignored
      2) Causes outrage at their presumption
      3) Given a nibble of cheese to shut them up
      4) Suddenly they are flavor of the month…
      :

    • Ben Russell-Gough

      I, personally, think that it’s a sign that Washington ‘insiders’ are hedging their bets. They don’t know if SLS/Orion is going to make it and, if it doesn’t, they want to be able to claim (in grand old political tradition) that they had always backed the winner.

      Maybe they’re hoping to emulate Nelson and get a free ticket into orbit? ;-)

  • vulture4

    RGO: “no one is going to use vertical integration for a heavy…other then NASA which is stuck with it.”

    At pad 39 I certainly agree. However there are other launch facilities that seem to use vertical integration efficiently, e.g. Atlas V, Long March 2F and Ariane V, even Delta IV integrates the payload (and solids if used) vertically. All these facilities use rails rather than crawlers, and the MLPs at Cx41, Guiana and Jiuquan are less than a tenth the weight of the ones at LC-39. The Chinese are apparently considering a large MLP with many tires (rather than treads or rails) for their new site on Hainan; it’s not clear how well this will work. I would say that integration can be done in either the horizontal or vertical mode provided the facility and processing flow is designed to keep operations simple and efficient and processing costs low.

    • E. P. Grondine

      Hi V4 –

      Have you worked out the efficiencies with current technologies of winged fly-back versus engine powered descent?

      • vulture4

        “Have you worked out the efficiencies with current technologies of winged fly-back versus engine powered descent?”

        HaHaha. That would be a tough one since the most critical problems with a completely new launch vehicle or spacecraft are the ones that are unanticipated. Each reuse concept involves mass penalties, servicing processes, reliability, reflight turnaround, maintenance and repair, etc. I’m not sure anyone can say for sure until they are in service, but with the DC and Dragon we should begin to get some hard data.

        For booster recovery the most efficient system with current technology would be an all-liquid-fuel booster recovered with a steered parachute with rocket braking at the last second before touchdown. Armadillo has at least once recovered a STIG booster from suborbital space using what looks like a skydiving chute, apparently capable of maneuvering to a landing area and maybe flaring for the landing. Reasonable concepts for winged horizontal landing of a (vertically-launched) first stage booster have also been proposed; the wings can be quite small since an empty liquid fuel booster is light and the turnaround cost should be low, however the need to design the booster to take the stresses of horizontal flight and landing appears to be a challenge. There are also some ingenious new strategies for booster recovery that haven’t been fully worked out yet and might take the prize. Use your imagination and be prepared to be surprised.

        My preference would be to try all the ideas at subscale in actual repeated flight; suborbital subscale tests for the booster, similar to the recent Armadillo tests with their guided parachute landing system, orbital subscale for the spacecraft, similar to the X-37.

        For the spacecraft, the X-37, which incorporated lessons well learned from Shuttle, has twice made it look easy with the wing-and-fuselage strategy, maximizing lift both during entry and at touchdown, although Sierra Nevada has taken a quite different path with a wingless lifting body, while SpaceX has chosen parachutes with rocket-powered touchdown (similar to Mars Science Lab and Viking) and Boeing has picked parachutes and airbags (as used in the Mars Exploration Rovers). Personally I think that any of these strategies will work for small spacecraft, and give a slight advantage to SpaceX because of its pinpoint vertical landing capability, though Boeing has already shown that its airbags are robust.

        But if we ever again return from orbit with a 100 ton spacecraft, nothing scales up as well as wings and fuselage, which is why they were used on Shuttle. The hazards and much of the unanticipated maintenance costs of the Shuttle system were eliminated with the X-37 design; its TPS appeared completely undamaged after the first landing.

        About the only thing one can say for certain, based on Apollo and Shuttle experience, is that landing in the ocean with people aboard or with a large booster is not cost-effective. So naturally NASA has chosen that path.

        • E. P. Grondine

          Let me sum up:

          Drogues then Rogallo wing.
          Folding wings not in competition.
          Cross range and landing point not considered.

          For mini-shuttle, wings mass versus higher recovery costs. Cross range and landing point considered.

          Hmmmm…

    • Bennett In Vermont

      Didn’t I read that the Air Force is requiring that its payloads be integrated vertically? I wonder how that came to pass. By how I mean which lobbyist.

      • Coastal Ron

        Bennett In Vermont said:

        Didn’t I read that the Air Force is requiring that its payloads be integrated vertically? I wonder how that came to pass. By how I mean which lobbyist.

        There may be legitimate reasons for vertical integration, and certainly it cuts down on the need for more mass that is only needed to keep things together prior to launch. But since the lead time for building new satellites that could be horizontally integrated is likely to be many years (even a decade), SpaceX is going to have to offer vertical integration if they want to win Air Force business anytime soon.

    • amightywind

      Horizontal integration of large vehicles makes little sense. Besides the argument is semantic. Apollo stages were delivered horizontally, as was the shuttle external tank. The NASA crawler was an amazing innovation which will serve us well in the future.

      Congratulations to the space entrepreneurs at Orbital Sciences on the first successful pad test of the Antares launch vehicle.

      • NeilShipley

        I don’t see how the crawler is going to ‘serve us well in the future’ as it will have precisely nothing to deliver. SLS is the only use for it and the crawler will be rusted scrap before that beast flies. Besides which, I thought you were dead against SLS?

        • amightywind

          I’m for SLS, particularly the old Ares V configuration. I am opposed to commercial crew. I am for any competitor to SpaceX, in this case Orbital.

          • Coastal Ron

            amightywind said:

            I am for any competitor to SpaceX, in this case Orbital.

            Why don’t you like SpaceX?

            Because they don’t take as much government money to get the same job done as Orbital Sciences or Boeing?

            Because they could force ULA to lower their prices?

            Because they are disrupting “OldSpace”?

            Because they are bringing international launch business back to America?

            Why?

          • JimNobles

            I am for any competitor to SpaceX…

            I noticed that about you. What are your issues with SpaceX? What did they do to you?

            I know it’s your business but I thought I’d ask since you brought it up.

            • Neil Shipley

              Hi Jim. This is just like DCSCA. No valid reasons, just doesn’t like them. Go figure!

              • JimNobles

                I think AW has his reasons for not liking SpaceX. From his posts over the months I’d gotten the idea that he got hurt or burned when Constellation was canceled and thus blamed Bronco, and by transference, SpaceX for the hurt. It was an emotional thing but emotional hurt can be some of the worst. I am just surprised he has held onto it this long. Especially to point that he’s actually advocating views that obviously would harm the American space program far more than anything that a cancellation of a program would cause.

                I don’t know this for sure of course but he did bring up the fact that he was for anyone that could compete with SpaceX so that made it fair for me to ask why.

      • Gregori

        You’re congratulating a Russian engined rocket that is going to fly a spacecraft that is half European. That’s hilarious.

        When SpaceX achieves far more than that, you have nothing but criticism and accusations of “cronyism”.

        Where do you get these people from?

        • Where do you get these people from?

          The idiot factory, apparently. And they arrive despite the lack of purchase orders.

        • common sense

          “That’s hilarious”

          Nope. Not hilarious. Considering Congress also would rather pay for Soyuz than have a US commercial capability I find this pretty sad.

          “Where do you get these people from?’

          AL, TX, FL Congress reps mainly.

        • E. P. Grondine

          I am begining to think of Valentin Glushko as kind of like the Ferdinand Porsche of rocket engine design. I am sure our engineers can do better when given the chance, as is demonstrated by the Merlins. I am disappointed with them not getting more chances.

  • wodun

    ““The gap is going to get bigger,” the Huntsville Times quotes Bolden as saying, referring to the gap in NASA access to low Earth orbit that the agency hopes to close with commercial providers. NASA earlier this month identified commercial crew as one of the programs that would take the biggest hit from sequestration-induced spending cuts. ”

    So NASA is choosing this path? Don’t blame congress if the eggheads at NASA are choosing where to make the cuts.

    • Coastal Ron

      wodun said:

      So NASA is choosing this path? Don’t blame congress if the eggheads at NASA are choosing where to make the cuts.

      No, don’t worry, we can still blame Congress, because NASA is only following the letter of the law in indicating where the cuts will come from. SpacePolictyOnline explains it.

      • wodun

        “Because the letter includes not only sequester cuts, but a full-year CR, all compared to the FY2013 request, the list of programs impacted by the cuts is not very helpful since in some cases it was clear Congress would not approve the requested funding anyway.”

        So we are dealing in part with cuts to hypothetical spending that may or may not have ever taken place and sequestration. Meaning that any cuts could be phantoms.

        “That’s a significant cut from the FY2013 request, but it is due more to the full-year CR than to the sequester.”

        Interesting. What a mess. This is what happens when we don’t have a budget for five years people.

    • common sense

      Are you being cynical? Otherwise you don’t really understand budget and leadership. Sorry.

      To make it simple. Bolden is responsible for the whole of NASA, not commercial crew only regardless of the success of the program. His responsibility is not to make sure one program is successful. It is to ensure that most NASA personnel has a job. And most NASA personnel do not work commercial crew. Actually few work commercial crew.

      Also Congress is most supportive of the idiotic SLS/MPCV. You usually don’t bite the hand that feeds. Odd concept right?

      And it is very likely that the commercial firms will carry on regardless of the money coming from NASA. At least one commercial firm. And it is the one that counts right now. Which one might you ask?…

      Those decisions are rarely done in a vacuum. They often happen behind closed doors with the partners.

      Yes total absolute speculation by me.

      • wodun

        “To make it simple. Bolden is responsible for the whole of NASA, not commercial crew only regardless of the success of the program. His responsibility is not to make sure one program is successful. It is to ensure that most NASA personnel has a job. And most NASA personnel do not work commercial crew. Actually few work commercial crew. ”

        Isn’t his responsibility the success of NASA living up to its charter and achieving its goals? What you described implies there are some serious ethical flaws with the people who run NASA. You accurately describe reality but don’t try and say its a good thing.

        • common sense

          “Isn’t his responsibility the success of NASA living up to its charter and achieving its goals?”

          Yes of course. And who decides the goals? In any organization those who hold the budget decide the goals. In this instance, Congress. They write the law remember? They give the money remember? They will do whatever they please until someone says it ain’t so. But who in his right mind will expend political capital for NASA???? For what? 0.5% of our budget or something that ridiculous. Be real.

          “What you described implies there are some serious ethical flaws with the people who run NASA. You accurately describe reality but don’t try and say its a good thing.”

          Well then. Welcome to reality. Ethics? Ever worked? And I mean really? Ethics are for those who have no power. Remember the incident at a defense contractor a few years back when some high level person were doing, and I believe was eventually charged, with something unethical (I believe related to the USAF tanker deal but I can’t find the reference just now). Then each and every employee of all defense contractors (plural) had to take a class in ethics… Odd isn’t it?

          Another thing I believe they say “the fish rots from the head” right? And the head in this particular example is Congress. Of course one might argue whether Congress does have a head at all…

          Now and then, just like beauty, ethics is in the eye of the beholder.

          Did I say it is a “good thing” anywhere?

          My friend, c’est la vie.

          • wodun

            I think NASA has a little more control over their budget than you give them credit for.

            I am not enamored with congress but it looks like their are plenty of fingers to point around including at the current administration and NASA.

            • common sense

              I don’t agree with your overall assessment about finger pointing. The only place to finger point to is Congress. They own the budget and they tell NASA what to do just like when they “designed” the SLS. Let’s fix this first then worry about the rest down the scale of responsibility. Congress objected the Space Technology budget request which is mandatory for real HSF beyond the Moon. And even to go to the Moon as a government we need for R&D. We need R&D done in such a way that it enables future exploration, not to achieve one given goal. Because we already did that, going to the Moon. Yes we did. We don’t need to do it again. Here I said it. What we need is to “expend” our capabilities. All of them. R&D, commerce, access, you name it. And Congress has shown no desire whatsoever to enable this expansion. Quite the opposite actually.

              Yes finger pointing everywhere but first let’s take care of this incompetent Congress in almost all matters, including space.

    • Robert G. Oler

      wodun
      February 25, 2013 at 6:13 pm · Reply

      So NASA is choosing this path? ”

      yeah, it is called “Closing the Washington Monument” strategery (sic) RGO

    • common sense

      Hope this helps http://www.waff.com/story/21312448/nasa-administrator-addresses-sequestration

      “He said when you are talking a loss of funds, that means loss of jobs, and that is why he is so concerned.”

      • Neil Shipley

        He’s not really living in the real world. If he wants an example of not managing to live within your means, he only has to check out somewhere like Spain or Greece or Italy. Pay a bit now or pay a lot later on down the road. Jobs are going to go one way or another.

        • common sense

          You need to give him a little more credit than that I think. His position must be one of the craziest place to be with so many conflicting requirements and expectations. He needs to cater to Congress and to his people and to the WH and to the American public all of which have their own personal agenda. Furthermore NASA is not in a position of strength since the organization never evolved away from its Cold War era style. So how do you go about something like this? Here is what I would do: Look people I am doing what you want (SLS/MPCV/sequestration) and nothing you want actually works. Furthermore I already gave you plans as to what is needed. Now what do you want me to do about it?

          Something like that. See what I mean?

          Bear in mind that under his leadership, commercial crew has taken quite a rapid pace of development and that he just got this new Space Technology Mission Directorate despite all the reluctance and opposition of Congress… Not too bad I’d say.

          Keep faith. Dare I say ;)

  • E. P. Grondine

    Hi all –

    What I am hearing is that many people want a sequester, and that they then expect the Congress and President to make it as painless as possible.

    They then expect the leadership to take a look at things, and at least close loopholes.

    Hell, I remember the time when in order to avoid deficit spending, when the Vietnam War costs rose, LBJ reduced federal pay rates.

  • NeilShipley

    SpaceX flies tomorrow. Go SpaceX. All the best. Oh sorry Jeff. Got a bit carried away and OT.

    • JimNobles

      Also off topic but Go SpaceX!

      This is to be the last launch of the F9 v.1.0. After this it will be the v.1.1. Bigger, better motors and etc. In some ways a different rocket. I’m wondering how they got that past NASA.

      Did they go to the NASA office and say, “Hey guys, we’re gonna change the design of the F9, give the stages a stretch, rearrange the engines, and change the load structure. That okay with you guys?” And NASA says, “Yeah, it’s okay with us. Party on dudes.”

      Maybe it was something like that. But I’m sure nothing can go worng.

      • Coastal Ron

        JimNobles said:

        This is to be the last launch of the F9 v.1.0. After this it will be the v.1.1. Bigger, better motors and etc. In some ways a different rocket. I’m wondering how they got that past NASA.

        While the rocket used to get the Dragon to orbit is important, what rocket SpaceX uses is not really that important to NASA. Their main concern is with the vehicle that will be interfacing with the ISS, which is the Dragon (and that is not changing). Other than making sure the choice of launcher doesn’t cause NASA material harm from the loss of items SpaceX is transporting, it really doesn’t matter.

        However, and I’ve mentioned this before, the current Falcon 9 has probably been part of the reason why the CRS payload amounts to the ISS have been on the low side. With the Falcon 9 v1.1 they won’t have any weight limitations when lifting the Dragon.

  • JimNobles

    However, and I’ve mentioned this before, the current Falcon 9 has probably been part of the reason why the CRS payload amounts to the ISS have been on the low side.

    NASA has been sending lighter loads than SpaceX has advertised because that’s all the system could lift? That’s news.

    • Coastal Ron

      JimNobles said:

      NASA has been sending lighter loads than SpaceX has advertised because that’s all the system could lift? That’s news.

      It’s not like they needed the additional mass, since the ISS is pretty well stocked. And I should make clear that this is speculation on my part (which is why I said “probably”), not anything I have read.

      Regardless, after this next flight they can load Dragon up to the gills and the Falcon 9 v1.1. will have plenty of extra margin.

      • Coastal Ron

        At the NASA briefing today for the CRS-2 flight, Shotwell confirmed what I had thought – that the v1.0 Falcon 9 has limited the amount of cargo mass that they can carry to the ISS, and that the current shipment is about the max mass for the v1.0 rocket.

        NASA has known about this of course, but since the Falcon v1.1/Dragon combo will able to easily deliver the balance of the CRS commitment with just six of the remaining ten flights, it hasn’t been an issue.

        Remember also that Orbital Sciences will not be maxing out the payload capability of the Antares/Cygnus until their 3rd flight either. Their first two flights use the smaller Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM), but since their vehicles are disposable, that may be by design.

        Too bad Congress can’t see how the CCiCap program is using the same successful development process as the COTS/CRS program. Who knows what motivations Congress has, but they are “cutting off their nose to spite their face” – but it’s our collective nose and face that feels the effects, not just Congress. The games that people play…

    • Robert G. Oler

      “NASA has been sending lighter loads than SpaceX has advertised because that’s all the system could lift? That’s news.”

      they are well within contract because the contract is “total load” but the Dragon’s can lift far more; if they have the rocket behind them…and the Merlin C’s just dont have it…the D will. NASA knew this and it didnt take to much in the way of orbital lift checks to figure it out Robert

  • E. P. Grondine

    I want to “revise and extend” my earlier comment to make it clearer.

    What I am hearing is that many people expect the President and his department leaders to make the sequester as painless as possible, and they then expect the House and Senate to pass whatever legislation is needed to help with this.

    They expect “unfair” tax loopholes to be closed.

    They also can not justify very generous civil pay when their own pay has taken a hit in this economic downturn.

    Those are the sentiments that I am hearing.

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