Congress, NASA, White House

As sequestration goes into effect, revisiting its effects on NASA

Friday evening, President Obama signed an order officially enacting the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration after the White House and Congress failed to develop an alternative deficit reduction package. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released at the same time a report to Congress detailing the amounts of those cuts. The table below lists the effects of sequestration on NASA’s budget, based on a 5.0% cut for each of NASA’s accounts (exploration, science, etc.) and the assumption that the continuing resolution funding NASA and other federal agencies at fiscal year 2012 levels will continue through the rest of this fiscal year. Also included are the administration’s FY2013 budget request and the difference between the post-sequestration spending levels and that proposal:

Account FY13 CR Budget Sequester Post-Sequester Budget FY13 Request Difference
Science $5,116 $256 $4,860 $4,911.2 -$51.2
Space Operations $4,247 $212 $4,035 $4,013.2 $21.8
Exploration $3,790 $190 $3,600 $3,932.8 -$332.8
Cross Agency Support $3,012 $151 $2,861 $2,847.5 $13.5
Space Technology $579 $29 $550 $699.0 -$149.0
Aeronautics $573 $29 $544 $551.5 -$7.5
Construction $402 $20 $382 $619.2 -$237.2
Education $137 $7 $130 $100.0 $30.0
Office of Inspector General $39 $2 $37 $37.0 $0.0
TOTAL $17,895 $896 $16,999 $17,711.4 -$712.4

This helps explain some of the confusion about the agency’s plans for implementing sequestration released in mid-February. All the accounts are being cut by the same amount, but since the cuts are based on a continuing resolution funding NASA at 2012 levels, it creates the appearance of uneven changes when compared to the FY13 proposal. For example, even after sequestration, space operations, cross-agency support, and education are still funded above the proposed FY13 levels since the administration proposed greater cuts for those programs in 2013. And areas expecting larger increases in FY13, like space technology and exploration, have the appearance of bigger cuts.

It’s worth, in that light, reexamining the cuts to commercial crew that attracted so much attention here and elsewhere. The cuts outlined in the NASA letter looked large since they were compared to the FY13 request of $829.7 million, which more than doubled what the agency got in FY12 ($406 million). The commercial crew program cuts mentioned in the latter, $441.6 million, would bring the program down to $388.1 million, or a cut of about 4.5% from the FY12 level, slightly less than the 5.0% sequester average.

The implications of the reduced budget, though, including a lack of funding for several Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) milestones, are still real: when NASA made the CCiCap awards last August, they based them on getting $525 million for commercial crew in FY13, which is what the Senate had proposed for the program in its appropriations bill and what House appropriators (who had offered $500 million instead) appeared willing to support. Sequestration would mean a potential lack of funding for milestones if the companies continue their work on schedule, but a year-long continuing resolution would have nearly the same effect.

129 comments to As sequestration goes into effect, revisiting its effects on NASA

  • orbitjet@hotmail.com

    The pleasant news is that SLS and Orion are approaching dead stop since they are having massive technical issues and well the Falcon 9 going off the pad the other day proved that SpaceX has mastered the rocket equation

    There are some tough days ahead (doubtless) for SpaceX and Falcon 9 but the future is quite bright because unlike SLS and Orion…they are flying and have paying customers.

    Free Enterprise wins in the end (and doesnt that hurt Mark Whittington and Wind) RGO

  • josh

    the republicans are intentionally sabotaging the recovery and continue to bring about one manufactured crisis after another. they’re completely unfit to govern and a disgrace for the us political system. shame.

    • E. P. Grondine

      Hi Josh –

      You undoubtedly would enjoy reading “The Wrecking Crew”.

      • josh

        i think it would be too depressing to read. one can only hope that the dems manage to win the house in 2014, even though the gop is doing its best to preemptively rig that election through gerrymandering.

    • DJF

      You mean the sequestration that was the Obama White House plan to end the 2011 budget crises that came into effect because the Democratic President, Senate and House failed to pass a yearly budget in 2010 for 2011 but only authorized temporary spending authority because they did not want to go into the 2010 Congressional races with their votes on record so they punted? That is why there was the big 2011 budget crisis, the Democrats had not done their job and passed a budget for 2011 along with the spending authority

      Yep those darn Republicans are totally at fault.

      The President and the Democratic controlled Senate could end sequestration by simply voting for the House budget. I say House budget since the President does not have one and the Senate has not had one in years so the only one available would be from the House. But it seems like the Democrats would rather have sequestration then a passed budget and associated appropriations

      • Justin Kugler

        Or they could have voted for the proposed legislation that would have simply canceled sequestration and gone back to work on a budget without all the drama.

  • Coastal Ron

    Another factor will be how long this sequester situation lasts – how long until a solid budget is agreed upon and signed into law.

    For instance, the milestone that was specifically mentioned for SpaceX at the CRS-2 briefing was the “In-Flight Abort Test Review”. If the work associated with this milestone is able to be done in a short period of time, then there might not be an impact if a new budget (which is at least $525M) is signed into law in the next few months.

    In that same time period, Sierra Nevada has a “Integrated System Safety Analysis 2″ milestone, which doesn’t look like it’s in the critical path for cutting metal (or laying fiber in Dream Chasers case).

    However Boeing has two milestones during that period, “Spacecraft Primary Structures CDR” and “Service Module Propulsion System CDR”, and those would impact the start of some critical assemblies – the spacecraft itself and it’s propulsion system.

    Based on this, I would say Boeing has the most to lose with the sequester dragging on. But, if I wanted to choose one of the participants that could push politicians in Congress the hardest to end the sequester, then it would be Boeing, since they are being impacted across the board, not just with CCiCap. I’m pretty good and finding silver linings, huh? ;-)

  • E. P. Grondine

    Just to remind everyone of the basics once again, we could have had DIRECT and two manned launch systems with no disruption of our technology base for the $8-10 billion Griffin wasted on the Ares 1.

    • E. P. Grondine

      And just to make it clearer, from what he said publicly (see his interview with John Mclaughlin) it may be that Dan Goldin planned to use the NLS to launch a manned Venus-Mars flyby in the 2018 window.

      And here we are. Oh well…

    • JimNobles

      Just to remind everyone of the basics once again, we could have had DIRECT and two manned launch systems with no disruption of our technology base for the $8-10 billion Griffin wasted on the Ares 1.

      Let it go. It is dead. It was better than Constellation but not good enough to take Constellation’s place. Everyone looked at it, made their decisions, and elected to go in another direction.

      It looks like Commercial is the future. How would DIRECT fit in that? Not so well I think, but better than Constellation.

      • E. P. Grondine

        What do you do? Hang a sign over the NASA press office door that reads “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”?

        “Constellation” was 2 launchers. “Everybody” did not catch the combustion oscillations for the Ares 1. “Everybody” has no explanation why the Ares 5 was sized the way it was.

        “Commercial”? There’s SpaceX, Boeing and then there’s the rest of the companies. When the language degrades, it becomes difficult to discuss the issues.

        • JimNobles

          E.P. in reference to DIRECT:

          I hear what you are saying. I was excited about DIRECT when I first heard about it too. But it still basically used the same tech that STS and Constellation was to use along with the problems that came with that.

          DIRECT was better than Constellation but it was not good enough to go forward with as a replacement for Constellation.

          We are not going to move into space with any type of architecture derived from STS, Constellation, or DIRECT. It would simply be too expensive to operate. The people who designed these systems did not understand money. That’s what doomed them.

          • DCSCA

            “The people who designed these systems did not understand money.”

            Sure they do– and there’s nerver enough of it. And so does commerical HSF ops, which tries to tap the Treasury for financing denied by private capital markets wary of the lack of a market and low to no ROI in this field. That’s why governments do it.

            If you believe private enterprised HSF is going to lead civilization out into the solar system, fueled by the dregs of Reaganomics, then you’re going to be sorely disappointed and spend another half century floundering in LEO, replicating what has already been done.

            Space exploitation is not space exploration and all the progress made in this field over the past 80 plus years of modern rocketry have been made by governments in various guises for geopolitical motives, not to make a buck– and the times when commercial had the chance to take the lead, it balked and let government carry the risk and fiscal load– chiefly due to the largess of the initial costs involved.

            Goddard was starved for financing while Von Braun was flush with German Reichmarks in the ’30s; the Soviets financed Korolev and lofted Sputnik in 1957 and orbited Gagarin in 1961 (an accomplishment commercial HSF has failed to try let alone replicate to date- and it is 2013)to project economic and political power around the world. The West responded with NASA, as commercial again balked– and the moon race was won by a government HSF project of scale.

            It’s just absurd to keep believing that commerical HSF – which is motivated by profit- will take the lead it this field. History shows otherwise. It will be government that does it. Until you fly someone, it is all just so much science fiction; a paper space program ginned up by commercialist factions hellbent on privatizing all things government to create an image of false equivalency

            And they fly nobody.

      • A M Swallow

        It looks like Commercial is the future. How would DIRECT fit in that? Not so well I think, but better than Constellation.

        If we had DIRECT now it would be used for launching larger payloads. A single stage could lift 60 tonne to LEO. This would continue to be NASA’s heavy lifter until the cheaper Falcon Heavy flies (53 tonne to LEO).

        The expensive 120 tonne two stage DIRECT would then be used for very heavy payloads, such as EML spacestations. Providing it is no more than twice the price of the Falcon Heavy there would be work for both.

        The Orion may have had fewer redesigns because the DIRECT Jupiter 120 can lift it to LEO.

        • Coastal Ron

          A M Swallow said:

          If we had DIRECT now it would be used for launching larger payloads.

          What “larger payloads” would that be? The ISS is construction complete from a U.S. standpoint, and Congress has not authorized any new programs that require launchers larger than what ULA already provides.

          Even the SLS doesn’t have any known or funded SLS-specific payloads, so any HLV the government would have built – the Ares V, DIRECT, SLS – would sit around not flying.

          Oh sure, you could dig up a launch here or there to fly a government HLV every other year or so, but that would be pretty dangerous. ULA launches rockets about every month, and SpaceX is ramping up their operation to around the same rate. Flying the largest rocket in the world once every two years or so would be a recipe for disaster.

          The government doesn’t need launchers any larger than the Delta IV Heavy (20mt to LEO), and if it did, then our aerospace industry has already stated that they can build larger rockets, and build them for far less than what Congress is forcing NASA to spend for the SLS.

  • DCSCA

    The implications of the reduced budget, though, including a lack of funding for several Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) milestones, are still real”

    Good.

    “The pleasant news is that SLS and Orion are approaching dead stop since they are having massive technical issues… “cranked orbitjet.

    This is just silly. Particularly in the wake of the ‘operational’ Dragon’s dubious thruster malfunction on Friday. =eyeroll= As late as November, 1968 the Apollo LM was overweight and facing technical hardware and software issues. By November, 1969 four of them flew– one in Earth orbit and three to the moon with two landing. In April, 1968, the Saturn V faced some technical problems as well. Eight months later it lofted Apollo 8 to the moon. SLS/Orion will fly because it is as much a geo-political strategy for the United States as it is a long-term space project of scale. Sober up.

    • E. P. Grondine

      Hi DCSCA –

      Apollo was %5 of the federal budget, and those days are gone, over a long time ago.

      The last I heard, the computuers on Dragon had been fixed, and its due at the ISS.

      Clearly there will not be a manned flight until all systems function a couple of times with nothing off nominal, so there will be some slip.

      But who is really going to be hurt is Boeing.

    • NeilShipley

      DCSCA has clearly forgotten the basically open chequebook that the Apollo program was given. Nothing like it for SLS.
      Btw, Dragon fully operational and ISS capture now Sunday 1631 EST.
      Falcon9 now 5 for 5. Dragon closing in on 4 for 4. Private space is winning, SLS and Orion is ‘spinning out of control’.

      • DCSCA

        “Private space is winning.” whistled Neil past the graveyard.

        Except it’s not.

        It clings to government contracting to survive. And dmostratinn a weak redundancy to the over three decades of success logged by Progress (which actually docks) and Soyuz in servicing orbiting platforms is not ‘winning’ by any measure unless the Magnified Importance of Diminished vision calibrates your bookkeeping. And, of course, ‘winning’ in ‘Private Industry’ is besting your competition w/a better product/service and scoring high profits w/fast, profitable ROI gor investors. Lest you be reminded- PI has failed to launch, orbit and safely recover anybody from LEO. Government has been flying humans into and back from space for over half a century= including trips to the moon. Replicating a capability in the wake of others and doing what exists already– to a doomed space platform no less, isn’t winning at all. It’s going in circles, no place, fast. . Boasting ‘winning’ by replicating what is a distant cousin to America’s Project Gemini from half a century ago is classic Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision on display. Next, you’ll cheer flying solo across the Atlaniuc between NY and Paris in a dingle engined, silvered rocket plane.

        • Fred Willett

          DCSCA likes to sneer at commercial space and point to all the NASA accomplishments.
          But all these accomplishments are in the past.
          The facts are right now NASA has no LV.
          NASA right now has no crew vehicle.
          If everything goes just right they may get their first crewed flight in 2021.
          Of course that’s assuming sequestration doesn’t cut in…Oh wait!
          Meanwhile Commercial space just keeps plugging away.

          • NASA has NO manned capsule for the rest of the decade, because of Obama’s horrid decision regarding the Orion, and his opposition to Lunar missions. This lack of a manned craft is clearly the fault of the President & his administration. Meanwhile Commercial Crew paddles along in mere LEO, re-creating the Soviet’s Progress flight plan: unmanned re-supply of an orbiting lab. Space-flight doesn’t get any more tedious & dull than this! If Constellation had been allowed to continue, the Orion craft would’ve debuted circa 2015 or 2016. But wait! Obama’s people just couldn’t bear the thought of America having a new crewed vehicle WITHOUT an ISS up there to visit. Oh Lordy, Lordy, what use would we have for a manned craft, then?! Apparently without an ISS to go to, there’s just NO point in putting astronauts in space! THIS ludicrous assumption keeps getting passed along, over & over, till the bulk of the space-interest community believes it. Well, it’s a fallacy!! China would NOT need anything like the ISS in space, to begin rehearsing for Lunar journeys. It just needs the bravery & the moxie to skip the twenty-year-trap-in-LEO phase, and just kick-start the Beyond-LEO operations stage.

            • Robert G. Oler

              Chris Castro
              March 4, 2013 at 2:22 am · Reply

              ” Meanwhile Commercial Crew paddles along in mere LEO, re-creating the Soviet’s Progress flight plan: unmanned re-supply of an orbiting lab. Space-flight doesn’t get any more tedious & dull than this!”

              Chris Castro
              March 4, 2013 at 3:00 am · Reply

              Going to another world with astronauts was mega-glorious, of an accomplishment,

              Chris Castro
              March 4, 2013 at 2:47 am · Reply

              The “human circum-Mars mission” exists only on paper, and is pure Sci-Fi fantasy, just to “excite” the public & any potential investors out there…………………….

              are there three of you are do you just get so loaded up on rhetoric that you are not able to recognize that the statements are contradictory?

              I’ll go with the latter since I’ve seen a great many of the “keen minds” of the right wing do this RGO

            • common sense

              I know, I know. So many beers… So little time…

            • Dark Blue Nine

              “NASA has NO manned capsule for the rest of the decade”

              Wrong.

              The first crewed DragonRider mission is planned for mid-2015, with the first DragonRider mission to ISS in December, 2015:

              http://commercialcrew.nasa.gov/document_file_get.cfm?docid=633

              CST-100 is planned to begin missions in 2016:

              http://www.space.com/15393-boeing-space-capsule-cst-100.html

              As is Dream Chaser:

              http://www.space.com/19552-dream-chaser.html

              “Meanwhile Commercial Crew paddles along in mere LEO,”

              Wrong again.

              Because of the commercial crew program, two private entities are planning human lunar landing and human circum-Mars missions using commercial crew capsules:

              http://goldenspikecompany.com/

              http://www.inspirationmars.org/

              “If Constellation had been allowed to continue, the Orion craft would’ve debuted circa 2015 or 2016.”

              Wrong yet again.

              Ares I/Orion wasn’t going to fly any earlier than 2017, and most likely wouldn’t have flown until 2019:

              http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/moon-mars/4334800

              “China would NOT need anything like the ISS in space, to begin rehearsing for Lunar journeys.”

              China is planning a space station (not a human lunar landing):

              http://www.space.com/19960-china-space-station-europe-cooperation.html

              Your ignorance is astounding.

              • A M Swallow

                “NASA has NO manned capsule for the rest of the decade”

                Wrong.

                A definitions Troll. It depends whether a manned US Commercial capsule is a NASA capsule or not.

            • “NASA has NO manned capsule for the rest of the decade, because of Obama’s horrid decision regarding the Orion…”

              What decision was that? Orion survived the end of Constellation. It may even survive the end of SLS, if someone remembers that Delta-IV Heavy still exists, and is adequate to get it to LEO.(and remembers orbital refueling and/or separately launched transfer stages to go beyond LEO…call it ‘Gemini-Agena on steroids,’ if you must)

              “Space-flight doesn’t get any more tedious & dull than this!”

              This may come as a shock to you Chris, but we don’t really do it for excitement. A good mission, especially for the crew, is just what you described. Whether it’s to LEO, the Moon, Mars, or the Oort Cloud. It means that everything worked as it should, when it should. Apollo 13 had drama, just as Lunar missions were already becoming ‘routine’ in the public mind. SpaceX had drama for a while on Friday. Either are fine for entertainment, but neither is not what you want in real life, especially with your payload or your body on board.

              “If Constellation had been allowed to continue, the Orion craft would’ve debuted circa 2015 or 2016.”

              Orion/Ares-I? Manned by 2017, if you were lucky…

              “But wait! Obama’s people just couldn’t bear the thought of America having a new crewed vehicle WITHOUT an ISS up there to visit. Oh Lordy, Lordy, what use would we have for a manned craft, then?! Apparently without an ISS to go to, there’s just NO point in putting astronauts in space!”

              You want something that’s not “tedious & dull?” Why would you want essentially a re-creation of Apollo-7? Why would you expect that to be any more exciting than another flight to ISS?

              “Apparently without an ISS to go to, there’s just NO point in putting astronauts in space! THIS ludicrous assumption keeps getting passed along, over & over, till the bulk of the space-interest community believes it.”

              Funny, I’ve never heard that ‘ludicrous assumption’ from anyone, before right now.

              “Well, it’s a fallacy!! China would NOT need anything like the ISS in space, to begin rehearsing for Lunar journeys.”

              No, you don’t need, but it’s highly desirable to follow the classic approach of assembling a deep-space vehicle at a station, checking it out under real free-fall/vacuum conditions at your leisure, and when satisfied, departing at the appropriate launch window.

              Doing entire Lunar missions on a single HLV launch are for people with deadlines to meet, and money to burn. Neither we nor China have such a deadline. We also don’t have that kind of money. And just because China does appear to have money, it doesn’t follow that they’ll spend an Apollo-esq fraction on an Apollo-esq program. They mal also have learned from our experience that they won’t be abble to sustain a project that was optimized for time over economy…

              “It just needs the bravery & the moxie to skip the twenty-year-trap-in-LEO phase, and just kick-start the Beyond-LEO operations stage.”

              One is ‘trapped’ in LEO, only if one chooses to be. (as if there were still no end of things to do there) We chose not to do anything else, and in 1993, we came close to not even choosing ISS. One vote away from cancellation. And don’t kid yourself, no one in Congress at the time said anything resembling; ‘We should use this money to go back to the Moon or on to Mars, instead.’

              No one.

              (Note to Windy: If you get you heart’s deepest desire and they splash it, there is no certainty that it will be said then, either. Be careful what you wish for…)

              Would we then have been ‘trapped’ on Earth? Who can say? But I strongly suspect the situation would be even more grim today without ISS.

              • JimNobles

                But I strongly suspect the situation would be even more grim today without ISS.

                All of the entities that are actually working for human space flight think it needs LEO facilities. They know we don’t have enough knowledge and experience to go shooting off into the solar system for long missions and for long periods of time. We are still learning how to operate and survive in space.

                These people who want to dump the space station have confused reality with sci-fi movies and TV. Maybe at some point in the future space stations won’t be needed to learn about living in space but I suspect they will still exist for other reasons.

                I repeat, these people who think a space station is unneeded and a waste are not grounded in reality. They are inhabiting a science fiction fantasy.

            • JimNobles

              -
              Chris said, “NASA has NO manned capsule for the rest of the decade.”

              I’m sure any of the commercial providers that may be carrying people and supplies into orbit for NASA would be happy to place a NASA decal on or in the vehicle. Would that satisfy you?

              If you are saying that a manned spacecraft isn’t really a manned spacecraft unless it is built by NASA people mostly on NASA property then I have to disagree with you. I don’t think NASA should be in the LEO vehicle building business. Private enterprise is taking on that role now. People should embrace that concept. NASA has.

          • DCSCA

            There is no doubt that comemrcial space excels at flying nobody into and back from LEO safely. Yep, ya’ keep plugging away… for decades.

        • Justin Kugler

          Dragon doesn’t dock because the Common Berthing Mechanism isn’t designed to take hard dock loading. That’s why HTV doesn’t dock, either. That’s the tradeoff for being able to pass rack-sized equipment through the hatch.

          Faulting SpaceX for meeting their customer’s requirements is simply absurd.

          • josh

            uhm, pretty much everything he write is absurd. hard to imagine what goes through his head sometimes…the cognitive dissonance in there must be overwhelming.

          • DCSCA

            “45 years ago, Grumman brought a lunar lander in on time within a few kilograms of its target.”

            Inaccurate. As the late Tom Kelly said, it was late and over weight which, coupled w/CIA input, gave the worls Apollo 8. =eyeroll=

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA whined:

          Government has been flying humans into and back from space for over half a century= including trips to the moon.

          In case you hadn’t noticed, the Shuttle program ended a while ago, and the U.S. does not have a way to get humans to orbit.

          Why any U.S. citizen (which I’m not sure you) would want us to be dependent on Russia for all of our access to space is beyond me. And why you wouldn’t cheer on U.S. companies to develop that capability is again, bizarre for someone if you are a U.S. citizen.

          Regardless, the one known in all this sequester stuff is that Elon Musk has said that absent government funding, SpaceX will perfect transporting humans to LEO – it’s just a matter of when, not if. So if you want to lobby against U.S. private industry, that’s your right. But you look pretty silly doing it, especially for someone that previously cheered the U.S. as we went to the Moon.

          • Going to another world with astronauts was mega-glorious, of an accomplishment, and there is flatly NO comparison to all this petty, miniscule business of going around in circles to catch up with an orbiting laboratory, and re-supplying it. The private space industry is clearly NOT up to the task, of carrying the ball of American space flight. For the government to give up right now, on forming its own manned space capability, and just depend 100 per cent on private corporations picking up where the Shuttle left off, is sheer naivety & delusion!

            • Coastal Ron

              Chris Castro opined:

              The private space industry is clearly NOT up to the task, of carrying the ball of American space flight.

              What a weird statement.

              What you call the “private space industry” has never made such a declaration, so you are just pushing a strawman argument.

              However, keep in mind that NASA didn’t build the Apollo hardware, it was the “private space industry”. And today’s aerospace industry is quite capable of doing what Congress won’t allow NASA to do, if they so desire.

              And we already see that in a myriad of companies that think there are profitable businesses in space related services. Will they be right? Only time will tell, but if history is any indication some will succeed, and they will be the ones that push humanity farther out into space, not NASA with it’s puny/decreasing budget.

            • “Going to another world with astronauts was mega-glorious, of an accomplishment, and there is flatly NO comparison to all this petty, miniscule business of going around in circles to catch up with an orbiting laboratory, and re-supplying it.”

              So…’mega-glorious’ is what it’s all about for you?

              Me, I can’t wait for the day when it’s ‘Just another flight to the Moon/Mars/(fill in blank).’ With all that such regularity would imply.

              Lindbergh was glorious. But I’m still pleased to live at a time when non-stop flights from New York to Paris are ‘ho hum, everyday’ and self-sustaining, public-participating.

          • DCSCA

            Regardless, the one known in all this sequester stuff is that Elon Musk has said that absent government funding, SpaceX will perfect transporting humans to LEO – it’s just a matter of when, not if.

            Until he kills someone. And he has dflown no one. When he loses a crew/hardawre, and he WILL have a bad day, it will come to a halt. Frying Opie and Aunt Bea is bad for business, Ron. .

          • DCSCA

            C’mon, Ron, no American wants private industry controlling government policy. AWhen they try to– we have government benefiting a select few at the expense of the many– which is why Musk ohas only invested $1000 million of his vast fortune into SpaceX and seeks government subsidies, tax breaks and contracting to sustain istself.

          • DCSCA

            “In case you hadn’t noticed, the Shuttle program ended a while ago, and the U.S. does not have a way to get humans to orbit.”

            In fact, it does– when it wants to: it buys seats on the Soyuz to the unproductive ISS. With new direction comes new vehicles. Orion will be flying soon enough when a fresh direction is establish by President Clinton– Hillary Clinton.

            • Justin Kugler

              Utter fantasy. I’ve heard from folks working on MPCV that they don’t think it will fly with crew before 2020 at this rate.

          • DCSCA

            C’mon, Ron, no American wants private industry controlling government policy. When they try to– we have government benefiting a select few at the expense of the many– which is why Musk has only invested $100 million of his vast fortune into SpaceX and seeks government subsidies, tax breaks and contracting to sustain istself Apologies for any and all typos.

        • @DCSCA;….They’ll be cheering wildly & going hog-wild, the day a Dragon capsule visits the ISS with a space tourist passenger; yet they won’t quit with the jeering & mocking of even the idea of sending a new crewed expedition to the Moon in our lifetimes. Journeying to the Moon is far vastly more grander, an acheivement, than anything that Commercial Crew is going to do with the Dragon in LEO, over the next ten years!

          • Ferris Valyn

            Chris – There is a difference, which is apparent to me, and I would hope is apparent to you.

            Dragon is already visiting Station. We haven’t built the hardware to go back to the moon.

            And when somehting like Golden Spike succeeds, I will be cheering

          • Dark Blue Nine

            “Journeying to the Moon is far vastly more grander, an acheivement, than anything that Commercial Crew is going to do with the Dragon in LEO, over the next ten years!”

            The Golden Spike Company plans to land humans on the Moon in 2020. That’s seven, not ten, years.

            http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/sciencefair/2012/12/06/moon-private-missions-golden-spike-billion-dollars/1752287/

            And their baseline architecture employs the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle and the Dragon capsule:

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

            Don’t be an ignorant dimwit. Learn about a topic before you post on it.

          • E. P. Grondine

            Hi Chris –

            Sorry, but from I know, your summary of Dragon’s capabilities is every bit as bad as your understanding of China’s space program and your knowledge of Obama’s actions.

          • JimNobles

            Journeying to the Moon is far vastly more grander, an acheivement, than anything that Commercial Crew is going to do with the Dragon in LEO, over the next ten years!

            Dude, you need to focus your anger elsewhere. No one in commercial space is involved in an effort to keep us out of BEO or off the Moon. It’s Congress that makes the call on those types of endeavors. Those are the people you need to be bitching at. Those are the people who killed Constellation and who will probably put SLS out of its misery when the time comes.

            Commercial space is showing us all that it can be done economically or at least more economically than it has been done in the past. That’s not a bad thing although it appears to have badly embarrassed some of the people who support the old waste-as-much-taxpayer-money-as-possible way of doing things.

            You complainers need to get a grip on reality.

          • JimNobles

            They’ll be cheering wildly & going hog-wild, the day a Dragon capsule visits the ISS with a space tourist passenger; yet they won’t quit with the jeering & mocking of even the idea of sending a new crewed expedition to the Moon in our lifetimes.

            Some people might not agree but I think we could place American footsteps on the moon within 5 years. NASA footsteps at that. The launch hardware should exist, Falcon Heavy, and they could probably come up with a lander by then if NASA contracted it out, COTs style, by the end of this year. It would be tight but I think it could be done.

            But it will never happen. Why, is it because the evil commercial space companies will somehow stop it? No. Is it because those slant-eyed yellow devils the Chinese will somehow sabotage it? No. Is it because that scary black man in the Whitehouse will use his magic afro-american liberal super-powers to make it fail? No. Then why?! Oh please tell us why?!

            Because Congress won’t pay for it. The Senators and Congressmen that have managed to get themselves into positions where these types of decisions are made will not work to see it happen unless it benefits them or the people that help them stay elected. That’s the truth.

            All the other arguments, both stupid or non-stupid, mean little when compared to that ground reality. That’s why I support commercial space. It looks to me like the best way to get traction with the American space program is to, as far as possible, uncouple it from politics. And commercial space is the only way I know to begin that process.

            • Coastal Ron

              JimNobles said:

              Because Congress won’t pay for it. The Senators and Congressmen that have managed to get themselves into positions where these types of decisions are made will not work to see it happen unless it benefits them or the people that help them stay elected.

              Pretty much it. And that’s too bad, since NASA has the capability to do a lot, even on it’s meager budget.

              In a way the same companies that could be leaders in getting us beyond LEO are the ones holding us back – Boeing and Lockheed Martin. And the reason is pretty basic, which is that cost-plus contracting is a safe way to make a lot of money.

              Both Boeing and LM have the resources to take risks, but for various reasons they won’t unless it’s the only way forward. As of now, with the non-risky SLS & MPCV work, why would they advocate for a less costly form of space exploration? What would they have to gain by advocating the cancellation of the SLS and MPCV?

              And that is exactly the reason why it’s usually new entities that end up disrupting the status quo. Orbital Sciences and Sierra Nevada are taking risks with their participation in Commercial Cargo & Crew, which is the defining reason why they could be claimed to be “New Space” companies, and SpaceX has become the poster child of New Space because of the amount of risk they have taken by rethinking how things should be done. Add to them Masten, Armadillo, XCOR, Virgin Galactic, Planetary Resources, Deep Space Industries, Golden Spike, Paragon SDC, Inspiration Mars – these companies and organizations exemplify the can-do spirit of America, and can do a lot if given the chance.

              Too bad our politicians can’t see that.

              • JimNobles

                Pretty much it. And that’s too bad, since NASA has the capability to do a lot, even on it’s meager budget.

                That makes me wonder if there is a way for NASA to team up with Golden Spike to get that Grumman lander GS wants? Might be a way for both NASA and a private company to score an inexpensive lunar lander without spending billions. I don’t know if politics would allow it though.

              • Coastal Ron

                JimNobles said:

                Might be a way for both NASA and a private company to score an inexpensive lunar lander without spending billions. I don’t know if politics would allow it though.

                They could use an unfunded SAA to work with NASA, but unless and until Congress adds something to NASA’s budget, there is not much NASA can do to help out.

          • “@DCSCA;….They’ll be cheering wildly & going hog-wild, the day a Dragon capsule visits the ISS with a space tourist passenger…”

            Yes, we will.

            “…yet they won’t quit with the jeering & mocking of even the idea of sending a new crewed expedition to the Moon in our lifetimes.”

            No, we don’t.

            ‘We’ just don’t believe in doing it your way, that has to look like, and cost relatively more than, Apollo. You don’t seem to (or want to) see the difference. When John Kennedy said we do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard, I don’t believe he meant doing them in the hardest possible way.

            Here. This is how ULA would do it. Existing, in-production launch hardware. No new HLV required.

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

            This, I would cheer for. While at the same time back here, Commercial Crew continued to make the once ‘glorious,’ into the everyday practical.

            • DCSCA

              False equivalency, Frank. Press releases don’t make a space program. You keep harping on what you will do. To borrow an efective marketign line from Nike: Just Do It.

              • “False equivalency, Frank. Press releases don’t make a space program. You keep harping on what you will do. To borrow an efective marketign line from Nike: Just Do It.”

                (shrug) Okay. So, what’s that first Orion test launch schedule again? How many years/billions from now will they ‘do it?’ And what exactly will they have done? How many years/billions from now will SLS be ready to do…something ‘space program-ish’ with Orion?

                And while the specific hardware the ULA proposed is ‘just a press release’ at this time, the EELV launchers required are not. That’s long done. Production. Operational. Performance record. Real. You could go touch one, if they let you. Indeed, one of them *will* launch Orion on its re-entry test.

                Oh, and what exactly is a ‘space program?’ Even that means six different things to any five people you ask…

          • DCSCA

            “They’ll be cheering wildly & going hog-wild, the day a Dragon capsule visits the ISS with a space tourist passenger.” dreams Chris.

            Don’t hold your breath— although a passenger strapped into a Dragon might very well have to. ;-). Besides, you could make book in Vegas that by the time Space X risks flying humans on an orbital test flight, the ISS will be in the Pacific. Best they work at making simple grocery runs safe and reliable. Like Progress has been doing for three decades. Only better.

            • JimNobles

              Besides, you could make book in Vegas that by the time Space X risks flying humans on an orbital test flight, the ISS will be in the Pacific.

              Okay, that’s just obviously false. You know Dragon will probably start flying people in late 2015 or maybe 2016 and you know that the soonest ISS would be splashed is 2020 even though they are working to find ways to keep it up longer. You’re just saying stuff to get a reaction.

              You’re not here about the space program at all. You just need attention.

    • Coastal Ron

      DCSCA whined:

      SLS/Orion will fly because it is as much a geo-political strategy for the United States as it is a long-term space project of scale.

      You have yet to define what in the world you mean by the SLS “geo-political strategy”.

      Did Congress state that when they created the SLS? No.

      Is there anyone that is planning to build anything bigger that the Falcon Heavy anytime soon? No.

      Is there anyone that can compete against the U.S. in space? No.

      However, $0.42 of every dollar spent on the SLS is coming from foreign countries, and most of that from China. So in that context, China is LOVING the SLS, since that puts the U.S. more and more in debt to them. And since everyone can see that Congress will never fund any uses for the SLS, that means the SLS will never be a threat for China.

      China is more concerned about SpaceX than the SLS, and with good reason, since SpaceX won 100% of the worldwide contracts they competed for last year – including ones that China was bidding to win.

      The trend for SpaceX is clear, and it is a winning one. Which decade will the SLS finally get funding for a SLS-sized payload? No one knows, and that is why your “project of scale” is too big, and will fail. Sorry bub.

    • Robert G. Oler

      DCSCA
      March 2, 2013 at 5:01 pm · Reply

      The implications of the reduced budget, though, including a lack of funding for several Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) milestones, are still real”

      Good.

      “The pleasant news is that SLS and Orion are approaching dead stop since they are having massive technical issues… “cranked orbitjet.

      This is just silly. Particularly in the wake of the ‘operational’ Dragon’s dubious thruster malfunction on Friday. =eyeroll= ”

      not sure why you “eyeroll”

      The “9″ launch was well textbook…it wont go past the folks who pay the insurance bills (and there were a few in attendance at the launch) that it was flawless and trouble free…doubtless the 9 will have some issues and a hurdle is the transition to the new Merlins and then the big one; which is scaling up production to meet an ever filling launch calender…but SpaceX is well on the way to having one of the most marketable rockets on the planet…

      The Dragon “hiccup” was in retrospect trivial…they figured it out; worked the problem in a very competent and safe manner, and got back on track. They are going to have teething issues with this complex a vehicle; but once they get past those then they will have one of the most reliable human rated space vehicles on the planet.

      “As late as November, 1968 the Apollo LM was overweight and facing technical hardware and software issues. By November, 1969 four of them flew– ”

      this is a different challenge from Orion. The LM was over mass for mostly the reason that “they had never done this before” (ie designed a vehicle to land on another and quite different world and then launch again) and the “never done before” was not trivial. For Orion to be overmass at this stage of the game is both shoddy engineering and shoddy management. For it to be “cracking” at the same time is also troublesome; they have not even gotten to “flight loads” yet…

      Orion is also consuming far more money then it should. They should have been able to “do Orion” for under 2 billion dollars at worst…at least the capsule gee the capsule is approaching 5 now. RGO

      • DCSCA

        “The Dragon “hiccup” was in retrospect trivial”.. dismissed RGO

        Except it wasn’t a ‘hiccup’ but a malfunction of the thruster system critical to effect rendezvous. And with half a year to get it right, launching it wrong was not a confidence builder for a contracted service nor for plans to safely loft crews (which may never happen).. or for pushing press releases abotu Mars missions and other ‘things to come’ as DBN/Tommy likes to shill.

        ” They are going to have teething issues with this complex a vehicle.” No. That’s no excuse. And you know it. This isn’t an ‘experimnetal’ vehicle but a line service/product brought to the marketplace for leasing. And its competitor, Progress, has been operating longer- and better (it docks). Advertising you’ll perform a service like FedEx but operate like the USPS is lousy business and investors will note same. Reliability is the seling point- and lest face it– it’s a launched satellite– routine business in the 21st century (getting to space is easy, as you have said) and something Progress has been doing better and longer– three decades and counting. Lease a car to make a meeting on time and you expect it to work– not lose the power steering along the freeway. This isnt an experimental operation Space X is peddling but a contracted service– and this time, service was sub-standard. NASA’s commercialist faction has little choice but to paint it with the best face. Hence the ‘scramble’ – as the press labeled it– to save 1200 lbs of sundries for a passive rendezvous.

        “this [the LM] is a different challenge from Orion.”

        Except it’s not. and there’s no apollo schedule overlay. Back in the day the CM was a mess- they had a fire, fixed it and it flew; shuttle’s engines weer a mess; they fixed them and it flew. So it will go w/Orion eventually. But SLS/MPCV is really more of a geo-political strategy– and a works program to be sure- just as SDI was. Surprised you don’t see that.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA said:

          But SLS/MPCV is really more of a geo-political strategy…

          If by “geo-political” you mean Texas, Alabama and Florida, OK. But if you mean “geo-political” in the true sense of the phrase, that it affects countries, absolutely not.

          The SLS is a pure pork U.S. project, and the world is getting nothing but entertainment out of our folly.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA moaned:

          Except it wasn’t a ‘hiccup’ but a malfunction of the thruster system critical to effect rendezvous.

          A “hiccup” is a malfunction that you can recover from, and that’s what they did. And in case you didn’t hear, the vehicle is now in good shape, and was captured by the ISS. The Chicken Little’s of the world can calm down.

          This isn’t an ‘experimnetal’ vehicle

          Yes, let’s compare this to other operational vehicles like Apollo 13, Challenger STS-51-L and Columbia STS-107. I’d say by comparison that what the Dragon experienced was a “hiccup”.

          And again, in case you hadn’t noticed, the problem was solved and the vehicle recovered 100% functionality and delivered the goods. So yes it is an operational vehicle, and it showed how well built it is that it can recover from conditions that might have stopped other vehicles.

          Get a life bub!

          • DCSCA

            “Yes, let’s compare this to other operational vehicles like Apollo 13, Challenger STS-51-L and Columbia STS-107.”

            False equivalency. Ron, all the vehicles in those programs were experimental, and ceratinly not brought to market for contracting services for profit. =eyeroll=

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA opined:

              False equivalency. Ron, all the vehicles in those programs were experimental…

              While you could argue that Apollo 13 was still experimental, since the design was roughly the same as previous ones, it was hardly an experimental design that caused the problem.

              For Challenger and Columbia, the Shuttle program had been declared operational after four flights, so no, they were not considered experimental.

              …and ceratinly not brought to market for contracting services for profit.

              Too bad you don’t know the history of the Shuttle. The Shuttle program was built specifically to haul commercial and other government payloads – for financial compensation. So yes, it was for contracting purposes. =eyeroll=

        • Robert G. Oler

          But SLS/MPCV is really more of a geo-political strategy– and a works program to be sure- just as SDI was. Surprised you don’t see that.>

          Oh I see it is a works program but there is nothing strategic in terms of geo politics about it.

          You said it “no apollo schedule overlay. ” geo political/strategery things have overlays of schedule and mission; they have to at least have the “appearance” of some mission that causes the “other people” to say “wow that is something we need to match/counter/do something in response to”

          Since SLS or Orion could do whatever they are going to do at any time and what they are going to do is “unclear” and add to that not affordable…it is hard to see why anyone would react to them.

          The Soviet Union did react (and I believe foolishly) to the shuttle program…had the shuttle program done what it was suppose to do then it might have been a Geopolitical issue for the Soviets but as soon as it was clear it was not; then they found it “less”

          But in the spirit of discussion what geopolitical strategery do you think SLS/Orion is heralding? RGO

        • Justin Kugler

          Progess is completely incapable of carrying powered cargo, delivering experiment racks, or returning anything to the ground.

          You are not making an apples-to-apples comparison…. and you know it.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “press releases abotu Mars missions and other ‘things to come’ as DBN/Tommy likes to shill.”

          I didn’t “shill” anything. These are just the facts on the ground. Two private organizations have made plans, published papers, and are paying contractors to develop human lunar landing and human circum-Mars missions using Falcon Heavy and Dragon in their baseline architecture. NASA, however, is pursuing no human lunar landing mission and no human Mars mission using SLS or MPCV. According to NASA’s own documentation, due to the high costs of SLS and MPCV, they won’t be able to spend anything on lunar, asteroid, or Mars missions until 2025 (and that was before the sequester cuts):

          http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=38348

          Assuming another 5-10 years to build the lunar or Mars hardware, that puts a NASA lunar landing or Mars mission in the 2030-2035 timeframe, at the earliest, using SLS and MPCV.

          Golden Spike and Inspire Mars aim to complete lunar landing and Mars missions by 2020. Using SLS and MPCV, NASA’s lunar and Mars missions will be a full decade to a decade-and-a-half behind these private efforts. (And NASA’s efforts will be cancelled long before that with such an obtuse schedule.)

          “Back in the day the CM was a mess- they had a fire, fixed it and it flew; shuttle’s engines weer a mess; they fixed them and it flew. So it will go w/Orion eventually.”

          It’s nice to live two generations and 40-50 years in the past, but today’s NASA is not the same as your grandfathers’ NASA. In the current generation over the past 20 years, NASA has been charged with developing four new space transportation systems (X-33/VentureStar, SLI/OSP, CEV, and Ares I/Orion) and failed every time. So it is going with MPCV, whose capsule is 4,000lbs too heavy for safe landings, whose service module is 1,200lbs overweight, and which has suffered structural and parachute failures in testing.

          Moreover, the SSMEs were unreliable engines that routinely leaked explosive hydrogen gas, regularly forcing six-month standdowns in the Shuttle launch manifest (not to mention their multi-ten million dollar refurbishment cost after every mission). And Apollo, for all its achievements, wasn’t affordable over the long-term and was terminated after a handful of missions. NASA has never demonstrated that it can build a reliable and sustainable space transportation system.

          “But SLS/MPCV is really more of a geo-political strategy”

          Bull. The Obama Administration hasn’t articulated any “geo-political [sic]” goals for SLS and MPCV. The White House is not pursuing any grand “strategy” that SLS and MPCV fit into.

          “– and a works program to be sure- just as SDI was. Surprised you don’t see that.”

          No, we all know that SLS and MPCV are just Shuttle job retention projects. It’s very apparent.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “As late as November, 1968 the Apollo LM was overweight… SLS/Orion will fly…”

      The LM was only overweight by a “few kilograms”:

      http://www.americaspace.com/?p=19419

      The Orion MPCV capsule is 4,000lb. overweight. And MPCV’s service module is 1,200lb. overweight.

      http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/asd_01_09_2013_p05-01-534634.xml

      Arguing that NASA can fix current problems like MPCV because they fixed the LM two generations ago is ridiculous. The weight issue on MPCV is three orders of magnitude more difficult — literally one thousand times harder — than the LM weight issue was.

      (On top of that, NASA outsourced the LM to Grumman. NASA didn’t fix the LM. Grumman did.)

      “SLS/Orion will fly because it is as much a geo-political strategy for the United States”

      Unlike the Cold War rationales for Apollo and ISS, there is no U.S. “geo-political [sic] strategy” associated with SLS.

      “as it is a long-term space project of scale”

      Spending lots of taxpayer dollars and blowing milestones is not a measure of goodness.

      “It clings to government contracting to survive.”

      Two-thirds of the Falcon manifest is commercial. It doesn’t need “government contracting to survive”.

      SLS, however, has no other customers. It is entirely dependent on NASA funding. No one wants to fly such a slow, bloated, and expensive launcher unless forced to by Congress.

      “classic Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision on display”

      The only “diminished vision” on display is in the SLS and MPCV projects.

      45 years ago, Grumman brought a lunar lander in on time within a few kilograms of its target.

      Today, NASA can’t keep a lousy capsule from running thousands of pounds overweight.

      Talk about “diminished vision” for NASA.

      Thanks to SpaceX cost reductions, entrepreneurs like Golden Spike are contracting with Grumman’s corporate successor (Northrup Grumman) for lunar lander work.

      But thanks to the enormous costs of SLS, NASA can’t afford to contract for a lunar lander, with Northrup Grumman or anyone else.

      Talk about “diminished vision” for NASA.

      “Replicating a capability in the wake of others and doing what exists already… isn’t winning at all. It’s going in circles, no place, fast. .”

      Last week, a plan to use Falcon Heavy and Dragon for the first human circum-Mars mission was made public.

      No such proposals are being made for SLS and MPCV.

      Talk about going “no place, fast” at NASA.

      • The “human circum-Mars mission” exists only on paper, and is pure Sci-Fi fantasy, just to “excite” the public & any potential investors out there. The Dragon-Falcon Heavy system could NOT manage even a manned circum-lunar mission!! (The project leadership doesn’t even want to try!) These sensational claims made, here & there, are simply that: sensationalistic claims. All that big, bold talk about “retiring on Mars” make commercial space SEEM like they’re on their way to doing something, when the reality is far more miniscule. Hence, that Dragon-Falcon Heavy crewed Mars mission “by 2025″ is for them to sing a refrain about; NOT something for them to actually do.

        • Coastal Ron

          Chris Castro moaned:

          The “human circum-Mars mission” exists only on paper … just to “excite” the public & any potential investors out there.

          What would be wrong with that?

          Is “exciting” the public a bad thing? If so, then we should outlaw TV advertising and just about every form of print advertising. And whose to say the public doesn’t want to cheer on people doing dangerous adventures?

          As to investors, risking capital is what investors do, otherwise they would stick their money in low-interest bearing accounts that have no risk (and not much Return On Investment either).

          Dennis Tito’s Inspiration Mars effort is the kind of endeavor that can get people not only talking, but thinking about what is possible. No one knows if it will happen, but Tito & company have done enough homework to show that it COULD happen, and that is exciting in itself.

          You on the other hand seem like your would prefer to wait for Congress to fulfill your space fantasies, which if those fantasies are always in the distant future, they are doing a good job.

          For me, I’d donate $100 to Inspiration Mars if it looks like my donation will help put them over the top on their funding. It would be better than spending $100 on a month of cable TV…

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “The “human circum-Mars mission” exists only on paper,”

          And in life support models, mission sims, and a two-year funding commitment from a multi-hundred millionaire. It’s a lot more than NASA is doing or spending on human Mars missions.

          “to ‘excite’ the public”

          Of course it excites the public. You want a boring space exploration program?

          “& any potential investors out there.”

          Inspiration Mars is a non-profit, philanthropic effort. There are no “investors”.

          “The Dragon-Falcon Heavy system could NOT manage even a manned circum-lunar mission!! (The project leadership doesn’t even want to try!)”

          Wrong. Academic and industry studies show that Falcon LVs can support human lunar exploration years earlier and for billions of dollars less than SLS:

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

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

          “Hence, that Dragon-Falcon Heavy crewed Mars mission ‘by 2025′”

          You’re off by seven years. Inspiration Mars plans to launch in 2018:

          http://www.inspirationmars.org/

          Don’t be such an ignorant dimwit. Read and learn before you post.

        • DCSCA

          The “human circum-Mars mission” exists only on paper, and is pure Sci-Fi fantasy,” notes Chris.

          Yep. It;s all science fiction. False equivalency by the privateers playing at being rocketeers. And they fly nobody.

          Lots of fiction, no reality. Anmd nobody flown.If they finally do ever take the risk and actually lauch, orbit and return anybody safely from LEO, it pegs them circa 1963 or so. Hald a centyr behind successful government HSF ops.

      • DCSCA

        You offer up a paper space program built around googled press releases with promises of ‘things to come’ which wa a work of science fiction as well.

        It’s all false equivalency– because you have flown nobody. Commerical has failed to launch, orbit and safely return anyboy from LEO, let alone places like the moon.

        SLS/MPCV is a long term geo-political strategy for the United States. It is nto a ‘commercial’ enterprise any more than Apollo was– or shuttle failed to be. And it generates jobs. That you cannot or will not recognize this is either a fear of commerical HSF being bigfooted by government space ops or an ignorance of the geo-political of our times. And make no mistake, SLS is a geo-political strategy. And without government, Space X remains a marginal player. As Musk admitted to CBS News last year, his firm was one launch failure away from folding its tent and he has only sunk $100 million of his lare fortune into the firm while chasing government contracts and subsidies. You don’t like your tax dollars funding government space projects of scale. That’s evident. And that’s tough. Because that’s where the future of space exploration in this era is, not with comemrcial ops. Space exploitation is not space exploration. Deal with it.

        “Last week, a plan to use Falcon Heavy and Dragon for the first human circum-Mars mission was made public.”

        And last week Dragon’s thrusters malfunctioned on a contract run to deliver 1200 lbs of sundries to LEO.

        Another press release that promises…. nothing. Keep it up.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “You offer up a paper space program built around googled press releases with promises of ‘things to come’ which wa a work of science fiction as well.”

          There is no science fiction involved. These are just the facts on the ground.

          Two private organizations have made plans, published papers, and are paying contractors to develop human lunar landing and human circum-Mars missions using Falcon Heavy and Dragon in their baseline architecture.

          NASA, however, is pursuing no human lunar landing mission and no human Mars mission using SLS or MPCV. According to NASA’s own documentation, due to the high costs of SLS and MPCV, NASA won’t be able to spend anything on lunar, asteroid, or Mars missions until 2025 (and that was before the sequester cuts):

          http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=38348

          Assuming another 5-10 years to build the lunar or Mars hardware, that puts a NASA lunar landing or Mars mission in the 2030-2035 timeframe, at the earliest, using SLS and MPCV.

          Golden Spike and Inspire Mars aim to complete lunar landing and Mars missions by 2020. Using SLS and MPCV, NASA’s lunar and Mars missions will be a full decade to a decade-and-a-half behind these private efforts. (And NASA’s efforts will be cancelled long before that with such an obtuse schedule.)

          “Commerical has failed to launch, orbit and safely return anyboy from LEO, let alone places like the moon.”

          It’s nice to live in the past, but NASA hasn’t flown anyone to the Moon in 40 years and two generations. NASA hasn’t even developed a new space transportation system in 30 years and a generation-and-a-half.

          In fact, in the current generation over the past 20 years, NASA has been charged with developing four new space transportation systems (X-33/VentureStar, SLI/OSP, CEV, and Ares I/Orion) and failed every time. So it is going with MPCV, whose capsule is 4,000lbs too heavy for safe landings, whose service module is 1,200lbs overweight, and which has suffered structural and parachute failures in testing.

          “And make no mistake, SLS is a geo-political strategy.”

          Evidence? Quote? Link?

          Where has the Administration articulated any “geo-political” goals and how SLS will achieve them?

          “And it generates jobs.”

          Evidence? Quote? Link?

          How many new jobs has SLS generated?

          “You don’t like your tax dollars funding government space projects of scale.”

          No, I don’t like my government spending tens of billions of tax dollars on projects that, in the best of worlds, will only duplicate achievements 10-15 years after the private sector made them, that serve no purpose besides Shuttle vote retention for certain congressmen through the next election cycle, and that most likely will be terminated with no achievements or capabilities to show for all that money wasted.

          • DCSCA

            “There is no science fiction involved.”

            Except there is. Yes, NewSpace HSF LEO ops and beyond is all science fiction. And you know it- because it is all just promises of ‘things to come’— which was a work of science fiction as well.

            “NASA hasn’t flown anyone to the Moon in 40 years and two generations.”

            Hmmm. And Newspace hasn’t flown anybody into LEO let along the moon at all. Nobody.

            Your pitch paper space projects yet fly no one. NewSpace has failed to launch, orbit and safely return anybody and if they ever take the fiscal risk and try, it will he replicating what government accomplished well over half a century ago.

            “No, I don’t like my government spending tens of billions of tax dollars on projects that,in the best of worlds, will only duplicate achievements 10-15 years after the private sector made them.”

            It’s our government, not yours. The fact you don’t like the politics of how it operates is just too bad. But the private sector has failed to achieve any of the space milestones you claim government replicates years later. In fact, its just the opposite. The private sector has always been a follow along in this field, cashing in where it could. Which is exactly how Arthur C. Clarke envisioned it playing out in this era. It is government that has led the way in this field, not ‘private enterprise.’ And every time the opportunity presented itself to do so over the 80 plus year history of modern rocketry, the private sector balked and it was governments, in various guises, that moved the technology forward. — usually for straegic and geo-political motives– and certainly not for ‘exploration.’. It was the German government in the ’30s; the Russian government in the 50s and the U.S. government in the 60s that moved the technology forward– not ‘private enterprise initiatives.’ Except in Hollywood. If you want a good blueprint for private enterprised space ops, watch ‘Destination Moon’– and be sure there’s uranium on the moon as the prize for the profiteering rocketeering.

            The reality is stark: your ‘private sector’ has failed to launch, orbit and safely return anybody from LEO– let alone the moon. the risk vs. rewards, the largess of up front costs, the low to no ROi of the market it’s trying t o serve… that’s why governments do it. Governments have– and been doing it for half a century. To project power and economic influence on Earth.

            If you want any credibility in this field, fly some one. Until then, it’s all press releases– and science fiction.

            Example: “Golden Spike and Inspire Mars aim to complete lunar landing and Mars missions by 2020. ”

            Another press release. Science fiction. A space program by press release and google, not actual spaceflight. In 2010 Musk told CBS News he’d be flying crewed Dragons by 2013. More science fiction. Earn some street cred: take the risk and get someone up around and back down safely. Until then, you simply pitch false equivalency. And fiction.

    • common sense

      “As late as November, 1968 the Apollo LM was overweight and facing technical hardware and software issues.”

      I know you live in the 60s but any idea of the advances in CAD for designing a vehicle since then?

      “By November, 1969 four of them flew– one in Earth orbit and three to the moon with two landing.”

      This is a testament to the 1960s NASA. Great.

      So what?

      • DCSCA

        So what?, asked common sense.

        So its a testement to creative and tenacious engineering w/t pressures of an ‘end of the decade’ schedule overlay on the part of the contractor and NASA management. Shuttle engines were malfunctioning in the test stands in the summer of 1980 and nine months later STS-1 flew– albeit behind schedule by two years or so– but w/no Apollo-styled schedule as a metric. SLS/MPCV is a national geopolitical strategy for the United States. Just as SDI was. A general putrpose HLV and preliminary GP spacecraft for BEO ops and planning is a wise policy for the United States to follow. For commerical- not so much. Until they actually put some skin in the game and orbit someone and get them back safely.

        • Robert G. Oler

          DCSCA
          March 4, 2013 at 5:10 pm · Reply

          So what?, asked common sense.

          So its a testement to creative and tenacious engineering w/t pressures of an ‘end of the decade’ schedule overlay on the part of the contractor and NASA management. Shuttle engines were malfunctioning in the test stands in the summer of 1980 and nine months later STS-1 flew– albeit behind schedule by two years or so>>

          and as I recall a cash infusion which would be nearly 2 billion in today dollars.

          SLS is not a geo political strategery for anything RGO

        • common sense

          Yes NASA in the 60s did all that grandiose stuff you so much want to see back. The people employed at NASA today are not those who worked Apollo, not even Shuttle – for the most part. NASA had then a budget and an objective that has not been seen since then.

          The only part of NASA that is making any progress in terms of HSF is that part that works with commercial participants. It needs to be repeated again NASA is working with commercial participants. So NASA must be given some credit here. But it will not be credit as to their ability to designs, build and integrate LVs and/or RVs.

          Boy I don’t know what your ailment is but it must be difficult to live with every day.

          As for geopolitics please make an effort and understand this below. And if you do and want to argue geopolitics then try and refer to the definition to do so. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/geopolitics

          ge·o·pol·i·tics [jee-oh-pol-i-tiks]
          noun ( used with a singular verb )
          1. the study or the application of the influence of political and economic geography on the politics, national power, foreign policy, etc., of a state.
          2. the combination of geographic and political factors influencing or delineating a country or region.
          3. a national policy based on the interrelation of politics and geography.
          4. a Nazi doctrine that a combination of political, geographic, historical, racial, and economic factors substantiated Germany’s right to expand its borders and control various strategic land masses and natural resources.

  • DCSCA

    “Free Enterprise wins in the end” whined RGO.

    Except it sdoesn’t– not in space projects of scale. .

    • E. P. Grondine

      Hi DCSCA –

      So then, you are in favor of picking winners and losers, and of a well considered and well thought out industrial policy?

      Well, No one can legislate the laws of physics and engineering.

      It looks as though the Congress’s desires for the first stage of the SLS has violated both, by being required to lift the SLS second stage and what, 120 (150?) tons.

      At this point, I would prefer to see ULA working on fly-back reusable first stages-boosters.

    • JimNobles

      DCSCA said, “Except it sdoesn’t– not in space projects of scale.”

      Commercial won in other projects of scale. The floating fleet of the military, the maritime fleet, military air fleets, commercial air fleets, they all dwarf “space projects of scale”.

      You are completely on the losing end of this paradigm shift. You are wise not to post under your real name.

    • Coastal Ron

      DCSCA moaned:

      Except it sdoesn’t– not in space projects of scale. .

      The SLS is not funded as a “space project of scale”.

      Apollo (the only reference you can think of to use) had payloads being funded concurrently, but the SLS doesn’t even have ONE identified payload, absent the MPCV. And NASA had to beg ESA to build a Service Module so that the MPCV can leave LEO – more proof that Congress is not funding your so-called “project of scale” anywhere near the amount that is needed to actually use the thing.

      As usual, you are living in Cloud cuckoo land… ;-)

      • DCSCA

        Ron, SLS is a geo-political strategy for the United States. And if you want more reerences beyond Apollo, look to shuttle main engine development and isssues w/the TPS. Main engines were malfunctioning on the test stand as late as the summer of ’80; nine months later they lofted STS-1 into orbit. And the TPS worked.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA whizzed:

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

          You can say this all you want, but even you can’t define or defend it, so give it up.

          And if you want more reerences beyond Apollo, look to shuttle main engine development and isssues w/the TPS.

          You’re responding to the wrong conversation with this “late Shuttle engine” stuff, and you already used it as a defense with someone else.

          So apparently you are not able to point to any known or funded payloads for your “project of scale” SLS, huh? And if you knew the NASA of today, then you would know that even “simple” payloads take a decade to plan, build and test, and here we are a decade away and not even a request from Congress on what NASA would want to fly.

          Oh, and if funding one payload is so hard, what about the two per year for a decade or more that it will take to make the SLS worth the money we are borrowing from China to build this monstrosity?

          Can you answer that?

          • DCSCA

            SLS is a geo-political strategy, Ron. And since when does a general putrpose HLV for BEO ops need a ‘difinitive’ mission– you’ve never been a destination advocate until you rail again SLS. And if you are, look at the dstination for commercial- LEO– going in circls, no place, fast, and w/o the ISS- a government enterperise (waste that it is) as a faux destuination, your commercial HSF is doomed, because ther is no market to support it in this era. It’s just not there for a quarterly driven economy bent on fast ROI.

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA opined:

              SLS is a geo-political strategy

              You keep saying this, but you fail over and over to explain what it means. Because of that, all of us have concluded that you’re just making this up – or worse, you actually believe it because you desperately want to re-live the glory days of Apollo.

              And since when does a general putrpose HLV for BEO ops need a ‘difinitive’ mission…

              Don’t you think that something that is costing the U.S. Taxpayer $30B should have a known use? Something? Who asked for a 130mt capable launcher? Who is the customer that is going to use it, and when?

              Look, it’s one thing to “believe” that Congress will eventually fund a long series of SLS-sized mission payloads, but the fact is that Congress hasn’t asked NASA to suggest anything for the SLS to do. Nothing. Nada. ZERO.

              And again, the amount of time it will take to build an SLS payload is about a decade, so we are already late in getting the 1st payload funded – and what about the other 19 that are required in order to fly the SLS at the lowest safe flight rate of 2/year for a decade?

              The SLS doesn’t have any missions because it is a jobs program created by Congress, and there is not enough money in NASA’s budget to build SLS payloads at the same time the SLS is being built. Prove otherwise.

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA opined:

              …you’ve never been a destination advocate until you rail again SLS.

              I don’t advocate for any SPECIFIC destination, as I want us to eventually go everywhere – the Moon, asteroids, Mars – even LEO, since it is the closest place for us to access space.

              But today there is no reason for the SLS. None.

              The DoD and NRO won’t use a NASA launcher, since they know they can’t depend on them.

              The NASA Science Directorate has already stated that they have no plans to use the SLS, since it’s too expensive – NASA own estimates put a 130mt SLS launch at $2.5B, which is how much the entire MSL mission cost (R&D, the rover and the launcher). NASA’s budget is too small for the SLS.

              So absent some “National Imperative”, the SLS has no defined customers, and no money for launch or payloads.

              However, if commercial launchers are used, then we can do a lot with $30B (or whatever is leftover from the SLS cancellation).

              Inspiration Mars is planning to spend far less than $2.5B to do what NASA says will take over $100B – what does that tell you? Sure a NASA mission will be more safe and more deluxe, but the point here is that the commercial technology exists to go beyond LEO for far less than what NASA would spend.

              We’re entering a new era now, and it appears you’re not ready to follow. That’s OK, but no one is going to believe you when you say that commercial space can’t do something, because they have already been proving that they can.

    • orbitjet@hotmail.com

      DCSCA
      March 2, 2013 at 5:04 pm · Reply

      “Free Enterprise wins in the end” whined RGO.

      Except it sdoesn’t– not in space projects of scale. .>>

      really? so comsats are not a driver of technology and free enterprise? RGO

    • Gregori

      In the “Age of Austerity”, there is no money for ‘projects of scale’.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    Between the Exploration and Construction accounts, SLS, MPCV, and associated grounds systems are getting whacked by nearly a half-billion dollars. But there’s no impact in Bolden’s letter to Mikulski. How much more can be taken out of SLS and MPCV without impacting their content and schedule? Another $500 million? A billion dollars? Does it matter as long as the civil servant salaries in the Operations account remain intact?

    It’s like there’s no programmatics for SLS or MPCV. No schedule to impact. No milestones to shift. No achievements to forgo. We know exactly which CCDev reviews are going to shift and by how much for a cut that’s a fifth of the size of the cut to SLS/MPCV. But there’s no such specificity — or any details at all — with SLS/MPCV. It’s just jobs and votes. Any number will do.

    • E. P. Grondine

      Hi DBN –

      To put this in perspective, I have followed the impactor detection budget for years. When I started, you could not even find it. After that, it was below rounding errors.

      For years it held at about $5 million, only to be set at $20 million in the last passed budget.
      If that’s the amount that’s “sequestered”, then it will be more than it had been for many years. If NASA management decides to use impactor detection for their Washington Monument, then I would be angry…

      Except that B612 has this private effort to raise money for this year, and that will go ahead whatever. Pretty smart, when you consider it; I suppose that’s why they’re astronauts…

      • JimNobles

        E.P. said, “If NASA management decides to use impactor detection for their Washington Monument, then I would be angry…”

        I don’t think they would, not enough visibility IMO.

    • NeilShipley

      Welcome to the world of cost+ pork.

  • Robert G. Oler

    guess I should fix my header…oh well hang on the email folks…RGO

  • A M Swallow

    Major cuts to the Exploration, Space Technology and Construction budgets. Who is getting chopped?

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA
    March 2, 2013 at 10:22 pm · Reply

    Boasting ‘winning’ by replicating what is a distant cousin to America’s Project Gemini from half a century ago is classic Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision on display. Next, you’ll cheer flying solo across the Atlaniuc between NY and Paris in a dingle engined, silvered rocket plane.”

    I am not surprised you say that and it does represent the “last line of defense” of uncontrolled government spending (“gee they are only doing what we did 50 years ago”) but it is simply rhetoric but serves to illustrate the nature of the debate.

    So far in history the “best” and “worst” decision ever made in space policy was in my view the decision to go to the Moon. While it accomplished everything Jack Kennedy envisioned for it; the vision was remarkably short term because of its execution.

    In the end the critics were correct; the cost of the effort was in all respects (development/operational) that the effort not only was a cul de sac but also could have been done by uncrewed vehicles for a lot less price.

    The “limb of the tree” that should have grown was Gemini.

    They were knocking on “operational” with Gemini and while they had some technology problems (mostly thrusters) Gemini and its spin offs could have easily become the American Soyuz and Progress…and with some thoughtful policy applications could have merged into first a “quasi commercial ops” and finally maybe a true commercial lift…along the way making measured by quantifiable improvements in booster reliability and lowering cost.

    The key to “lower cost access to space” with non resuables is high launch rate…and the key to reusables is both nibble technological development and a market which is pushing the max economical flight rate of expendables…

    If you dont understand the sentiments in that paragraph then you dont get the “launch bar” equation and dont feel bad almost no one at NASA or the political class does.

    If SpaceX has redone “Gemini” in policy terms…we are finally on the correct road in the development of a space industry.

    and that after 50 years of drift is a good thing RGO

    • DCSCA

      Gemini was experimental test flight in space and was never any where close to being an operational, line vehicle, stamped out like oh-so-many 1966 Mustangs.

  • amightywind

    A few thoughts…

    Its great to see the budget numbers going in the right direction. CBO projects that in 2013 revenues will be about $2.7 trillion, a record not seen since the Bush Administration in 2007. It will take some years of cuts like this to bring revenues and spending into balance. Get used to it. It is time to break the back of progressivism! Ya know, the cuts wouldn’t be so deep if Obama would do something to slow the growth of Social Security and Medicare.

    It is a very puzzling to see exploration gutted at the expense of science and the ISS. NASA has badly strayed from its intended mission, and the nation slouches toward the future without a manned exploration capability. I thought the cuts were supposed to be proportional across the board. $130 million for education? A hilarious waste!

    • vulture4

      So you are suggesting we eliminate government spending on nonessential programs … like manned spaceflight to Mars.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “NASA has badly strayed from its intended mission, and the nation slouches toward the future without a manned exploration capability.”

      The nation hasn’t had a manned exploration capability since 1972. This isn’t the future for NASA. It’s been the agency’s history and reality for four decades now.

      • DCSCA

        The nation hasn’t had a manned exploration capability since 1972.

        The United States has NEVER had a manned space exploration capability. If you’re referncing Apollo, ‘exploration was far down the list as a rationale. It was a Cold War battlefront. As Tom Wolfe rightly noted back in 1986 in the wake of Challenger, the only person at NASA he knew of who had a philosophy for HSF was Wernher von Braun.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “The United States has NEVER had a manned space exploration capability. If you’re referncing Apollo, ‘exploration was far down the list as a rationale. It was a Cold War battlefront.”

          You’re being an obtuse idiot. The Apollo/N-1 “battlefront” was manned space exploration.

          • DCSCA

            “You’re being an obtuse idiot.The Apollo/N-1 “battlefront” was manned space exploration.”

            No it wasn’t. And stop projectin g your on failings. It was an exercixe in geo-politics and certainly not a space exploration initiative per se. Even the participants acknowledge it: “Anyboy who thinks Apollo was about exploration is nuts. It was about beating the Russians.”– Frank Borman. .

            • common sense

              My friend you have quite the twisted mind.

              The Moon landing program by the US was the means to establishing the superiority of a system – the capitalistic so-called free world model – to those nations that were going to choose to either join the US model or those going to choose the USSR model after WWII – you know (?) the Cold War had already started during WWII. The capitalistic model was to be so vastly superior that it would allow for sending men to the Moon and return them safely in only a decade. Put that in perspective with the state of the US prior to WWII. What was there to boast about? Where did the Great Depression start?

              Of course we will willingly forget that the overall program was run by the US government as any good socialistic program would be and that the overall goal had taken more than 10 years (if you at least include NACA and NASA works together) and an inordinate amount of the country’s riches. At the time what other accomplishment would have been seen as more grandiose than launching a crew to the Moon and back. People were reading SciFi, arguably the whole aviation had only been around for 60 years or so. Mass travel with airplanes barely started and people dreamt of grand voyages to space and to the Moon.

              Now you might say that Apollo (to lump the whole thing in one program) was all about geopolitics and I think no one will argue with that.

              Even Shuttle and ISS may qualify under the geopolitical argument.

              But Constellation? CEV? MPCV? Orion? SLS? Come on. Wake up.

              The real and only real geopolitical argument that can be made today, surprisingly, maybe to demonstrate that the capitalistic so called fee-world model is vastly superior to any other model – once again – is precisely to let the capitalistic model work and that my friend is commercial space. No one else in the world can achieve this kind of prowess and if you are such a patriot then you should be happier than ever.

              But I doubt you are a patriot of some form. What you want for whatever reason is to re-live the Apollo glory but just for yourself since mainly no one else is interested in it, here in the US or anywhere else in this world. Not even the Chinese that some fear so much are trying to recreate an Apollo like program. They perfectly know that challenges today lie elsewhere, that their economical and societal models are at risk and somehow are becoming more and more capitalistic… Ironical isn’t it?

              In summary. Think. If you can.

            • Dark Blue Nine

              “It was an exercixe [sic] in geo-politics [sic] and certainly not a space exploration initiative per se.”

              You’re still being an obtuse idiot. Just because Kennedy was motivated to find a way to defeat the Soviets in space doesn’t mean that Apollo astronauts did not explore the Moon. Apollo was a space exploration initiative designed to beat the Soviets in space.

              Unless you’re now a tinfoil-hat nutjob claiming that the Apollo landings never happened, it’s a fact that the Apollo astronauts explored the Moon. There’s no reason for you to deny that fundamental reality to the heros from that era you worship so devoutly.

              • DCSCA

                “I saw Apollo as just another battle in the Cold War.” Bill Anders.

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “We came all this way to explore the Moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.” — Bill Anders

            • “It was an exercixe in geo-politics and certainly not a space exploration initiative per se. Even the participants acknowledge it: “Anyboy who thinks Apollo was about exploration is nuts. It was about beating the Russians.”– Frank Borman.”

              Yes. That indeed was the case at that time.

              Now, who are we supposed to be responding to, or acting proactively toward with an HLV today? Who?

        • Justin Kugler

          Interesting how you just undermined your own case for SLS there.

          • DCSCA

            SLS/MPCV is a geo-political strategy for the Unite States, Justin. As was SDI. Nonody is going to finance spaceflight with the prtimary overlay as ‘explioration’. =eyeroll=

            ______

            “to let the capitalistic model work and that my friend is commercial space.” dreasmed Common sense.

            Over the 80-plus yeats of modern rocketry, it has been government, in various guises, not private enterprise, which has led the way in this field, usuall to project economic and politial power on Earth. Every time the opportunity presented itself, the private sector has balked and let government carry the risk and fiscal load. Goddard was starved for financing while in the same era, Von Braun’s efforts were flush w/Reichmarks from government. When the Soviets financed Korolev, Sputnik soared, Gagrarin flew and Soviet power was prjected around th world. The West responded not with private enterprised initiatives, but with NASA– and government lead the way again — all the way to the moon.

            No sir, private enterprise never leads in this field. It has always been a follow along, cashing in where it could. And that’s all that it is today– LEO private HSF proposals cling to existing government initiatrves from yeas past (the faux market of the ISS) and is littlemore than a Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision. If HSF orbital ops was left to private industry, it would be grounded for decades– chiefly because there is a minimal market for it w/a low to no ROI. That’s why governments do it. Better to invest in oil wells than a private sector space firm. Even Musk has only put $100 million of his vast fortune into his firm and seeks government subsidies and contracting to ‘socialize’ the costs and risks on the many to benefit a select few.

            • Justin Kugler

              Regurgitating the same statements over and over again does not a case make.

              The only political objective that SLS satisfies is keeping the Shuttle workforce in certain states as alive as possible. Its only current payload, the MPCV, is over margin and the team is so gutted that engineers I know on the program have told me they don’t expect it to fly with people before 2020.

              You seem locked in Joseph Tainter’s theory of diminishing returns for complex problem solving because you are so adamantly focused on recreating the unaffordable Apollo architecture, despite the fact that the geopolitical, economic, and technological conditions are completely different.

              There is no guiding philosophy for human space exploration at this time. There is no plan that has been articulated that satisfies national strategic needs. That’s the whole reason there is an NRC committee examining that very issue right now.

              Stop rolling your eyes and open them to real world.

              The only way the government can continue to lead in space and push back the frontier is through dramatically lowering the cost of getting to orbit such that it can focus its limited resources on building mission systems and executing missions. SLS utterly fails in this regard because there is no budget left to actually do something – anything – with it.

              We simply cannot solve the problems of today thinking the same way as we got here.

              Your ignorance of how SpaceX operates and is funded is an entirely different discussion. Musk only had to put that much into the company because they were able to find enough other investors and revenue to operate in the black. That’s just smart business.

              • DCSCA

                “There is no guiding philosophy for human space exploration at this time.” said Justin.

                On this we can agree.

                As Tom Wolfe noted in January, 1986 during a BS brodcast, post-Challenger, the only real philosopher NASA ever had for HSF was Wernher Von Braun.

              • DCSCA

                “Musk only had to put that much into the company because they were able to find enough other investors and revenue to operate in the black.”

                You mean the government. Not private capital markets. And it conrradicts his own PT Barnum-hype. .

              • Justin Kugler

                No, I meant exactly what I said.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind
    March 3, 2013 at 8:50 pm · Reply

    A few thoughts…

    Its great to see the budget numbers going in the right direction. CBO projects that in 2013 revenues will be about $2.7 trillion, a record not seen since the Bush Administration in 2007. ”

    eliminating the tax breaks for the “rich” are working. RGO

  • DCSCA

    Windy, in mythology, you slay a dragon by cutting off its head. In reality, you can kill one by cutting off its government contracts

    • JimNobles

      DCSCA said:
      “Windy, in mythology, you slay a dragon by cutting off its head. In reality, you can kill one by cutting off its government contracts”

      No one’s going to cut off government contracts for SpaceX and Dragon. Right now they are the best thing we’ve got going in regards to American human spaceflight. They are a remedy to the situation we’ve found ourselves in concerning not being able to launch our own people on our own equipment.

      Commercial is the future of earth to LEO transportation just as commercial became the reality for transportation with planes, trains, ships, and almost all every other form of transportation.

      You are not stupid yet you are having a hard time dealing with this. I’m sorry but in this debate you are losing and losing badly. Your posts are sometimes insightful but more often they are simply aggravating or even embarrassing.

      I wouldn’t harass you with rebuttals to some of the things you post but there may be other people reading this forum, people like me who lurked and tried to soak up information and knowledge for a long time before ever posting their own thoughts. I think it is important to point out disinformation when it appears lest some of the people reading this mistake nonsense or propaganda for actual data. Some of these people may be new to the debate and susceptible to inaccurate or misleading information. Or in your case misleading propaganda seemingly aimed at keeping the American human space flight program weak or even non-existent.

      In the past few years we’ve gotten three or four human launch systems into development and progressing fairly well. Yet you talk them all down. What is that all about? What could you possibly gain by trying to convince people that this new American space effort should not be supported? What motivates you to disparage the work of people who are trying to advance us in this field? Who are you?

      • Coastal Ron

        JimNobles said:

        No one’s going to cut off government contracts for SpaceX and Dragon.

        You got that right.

        NASA loves what SpaceX is able to do for them, which coupled with the public support from the President, and the support in Congress for the ISS, means there is no chance Congress is going to stop funding the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.

        A review of any of the media coverage of the this latest CRS mission shows that even the media is impressed with how SpaceX has been able to overcome minor adversity and still provide a valuable service to NASA and the ISS partners. Lots of press attention on how the Dragon is the only vehicle capable of returning significant cargo back from the ISS, including scientific experiments and research samples.

        Just today the ISS removed external cargo from the Dragon trunk, showing how commercial space can replace the external cargo capability lost with the end of the Shuttle program. Around 2015 NASA will be sending up the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) and a NASA Docking System assembly to allow the Commercial Crew vehicles to dock in 2016 – both delivered in the trunk of a Dragon during a CRS mission.

        The service SpaceX provides is very easy for everyone to see in Congress, and it’s benefits to NASA are clear.

        Contrast that to the SLS, which has only vague benefits and no defined future uses. SLS supporters are right to be afraid…

        • DCSCA

          “NASA loves what SpaceX is able to do for them”

          Except it doesn’t.

          Only a faction within the agency does– the ISS boys and girls desperate to generate rationales for keeping the $100 billion boondoggle flying. NASA would rather be flying shuttle– and pressing on w/Constellation than toying around w/Dragons and other LEO toys. It keeps them trapped in LEO.If Space X went belly up, it wouldn’t be missed by NASA.

          “A review of any of the media coverage of the this latest CRS mission shows that even the media is impressed”

          Rubbish. Nastional coverage remains minimal- and the term ‘scurried’ to fix the thruster malfunction- critical to Dragon’s rendezvous ops-and harly a minor issue, “with NASA’s help” was prevalent in CBS reports. And the malfunction in a line product that had half a year to launch it right was wrong and is sub-standard performance from a contracted service on its second ‘official’ run up. Harly a confidence builder for the endlessly proposed crewed flights let alone the science fiction press releases talking about circumlunar jaunts and orbital missions to Mars. You rent a car, you expect it to work, not lose the power steering out on the freeway.(Pelley BTW has an interest in space coverage.) You don’t know media ops from chocolate pudding or opinion pieces from straight reporting. Which makes you a perfect viewer for Fox.

          • “NASA would rather be flying shuttle– and pressing on w/Constellation than toying around w/Dragons and other LEO toys.”

            Hmm. Which NASA ‘faction’ would that be? The one that has prayed for a massive Apollo-esq, money-no-object, decade long program since Apollo? (If you think the Shuttle was that, where’s the two-stage flyback booster, no ET version they really wanted?)

            “It keeps them trapped in LEO.If Space X went belly up, it wouldn’t be missed by NASA.”

            NASA? Nonsense. But, the Russians would likely be okay with that. They’ve learned capitalism, and don’t like competition. (or to lose the ‘geopolitical’ leverage that comes with being the sole-source of human access to the station…for any of its partners)

            China (who already can’t underbid SpaceX on commercial launches) would also like to see us not break out of the current box with HSF that wasn’t guaranteed to always depend on the whims of the US Government as well.

          • Coastal Ron

            DCSCA opined:

            Only a faction within the agency does

            I’ve looked through the NASA budget, have you? The only budget line account/department that would not like what SpaceX offers NASA is the SLS folks. SpaceX saves NASA significant money for launches, which means more money can be put towards science hardware – tell me NASA scientists don’t love that!

            Even the MPCV folks could probably care less (they are Lockheed Martin, whereas the SLS is Boeing), since the Falcon Heavy can easily lift that overweight Apollo wannabe.

            NASA would rather be flying shuttle– and pressing on w/Constellation

            If money grew on trees, sure. But those that know that money doesn’t grow on trees knew there were hard choices to make. Apparently you think money grows on trees.

            Which makes you a perfect viewer for Fox.

            I only watch the Fox network for oppo research. For political stuff I prefer John Stewart and Rachel Maddow.

            Isn’t it amazing how wrong you can be? ;-)

        • Call me Ishmael

          … there is no chance Congress is going to stop funding the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.

          More to the point, doing so would not kill this particular dragon. SpaceX has plenty of non-government income, and its owner wants Dragon for his own purposes. So zeroing CRS and Commercial Crew would only slow it down some.

      • DCSCA

        “Commercial is the future of earth to LEO” think Jim.

        Except it’s not- at least for HSF ops.

        There is no market for it outside servicing existing government facilities (ie, the ISS) through subsidies and contracting. Capital markets remain wary as there is a low to no ROI for it. It’s limited by the paprameters of the very market it is trying to service. If ther was no ISS to use as a ‘faux market’ comemrcial HSF orbital ops would be zilch.

        “What could you possibly gain by trying to convince people that this new American space effort….”

        These are not ‘American’ space efforts per se, that is, United States government space projects. They have corporate logos on their sides, not American flags. They’re private ventures and no more ‘American’ than Exxon/Mobil– or Anheiser-Busch (which is Belgiun owned BTW now).

        Corporations owe no loyalty to any nation-state– and only serve to profit their stockholders and investors. The past 30 years – in general– and the Romney run in particular, should have taught you that.. By your way of thinking, Carnival Cruise should be operating the United States Navy- not the US government.

        This really isn’t about space ops. It’s about factions with an ideology to privatize all things government. And NASA- happens to be a vulnerable government agency that’s an easy target to make in roads on that front. It’s the same mkindset that wants to eradicate the USPS and replace it w/FedEx.

        “No one’s going to cut off government contracts for SpaceX and Dragon.”

        The ISS deal, wrong headed as it is, is finite– and once the ISS splashes- and it should be spalsh as it has returned nothing of value to justify the $100 billion investment and $3 billion/yr ops funding. It is a Cold War relic, reposresenting planning from an era long over and has a bout as much relevence to our times as typewriters, Minuteman missile silos and the Berlin Wall. Dragon service calls will end and when the ISS splashes, you’ll have a firm w/aLEO capsule that gets us no further out than we were in the shuttle era. LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circle,s no where, fast.

        For instance, Musk can independently finance and fly crewed Dragons and source capital investment from the private sector w/o the government contracts or subsidies as a safety net to help finance. He doesn’t need government to get flying people. It’s just an excuse to socialize the risk on the many to benefit a select few.

        The future for HSF ops for space projects of scale rest with governments, not the private sector. Musk is never goni to ‘retire on Mars.’ It’s silly. Because HSF ops is a projection of national power, economic strength and technical competence on Earth. Which is why the PRC is hard at it.

  • NeilShipley

    Hi Jim. In addition to your accurate post, I can add that SpaceX has now met the DoD’s requirement of 3 straight successful launches. This means they are qualified to fly DoD payloads.
    Cheers

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>