NASA

Uncertainty remains the one certainty for NASA’s budgets

One week ago today, budget sequestration formally went into effect, cutting NASA’s budget by five percent from its 2012 levels. Earlier this week, the House passed a continuing resolution (CR) that would fund NASA and other government agencies at fiscal year 2012 levels, with a few adjustments for programs like the Space Launch System and commercial crew. However, at officials with NASA’s single largest budget account, science, are still trying to figure out what these developments mean for the programs they’re trying to fund.

“Let me start with everything I know about the fiscal year ’13 budget,” said John Grunsfeld in a presentation Wednesday morning at the National Research Council’s Space Science Week, a joint meeting of several advisory groups in the astronomical, planerary, space, and earth sciences held in Washington. He then proceeded to put up a (deliberately) blank slide, to laughter from the audience. “Moving on to FY14, I’m going to tell you everything I can tell you about the FY14 budget,” he then said, putting up another blank slide, reflecting the fact that the administration had yet to release its 2014 budget proposal.

Grunsfeld offered a few more details about sequestration, noting that the sequester cuts science funding by $51.1 million from the FY13 budget request, to $4.86 billion (on the assumption that the science account will be funded in 2013 at the same level as it was in 2012 through a CR, which is what the House CR passed this week does.) How those cuts will be implemented, though, is still being worked out within the agency. “This is still very much a work in progress. Nothing has been decided,” he said.

He did say that the cuts would try to protect ongoing missions, as well as those in advanced stages of development. That’s reflected in the NASA letter to Congress last month, which identified delays to proposed new smaller missions in the Explorer and Earth Venture classes, as well as cuts in research and analysis (R&A) funding, as likely ways to implement the sequestration reductions.

“They were not singled out,” Grunsfeld said of the smaller missions when asked by a committee member. Those missions were mentioned, he said, because the agency concluded that delaying the start of new missions was a less disruptive way of implementing the cuts, and those programs happened to have selections for new missions upcoming. “That’s really the only place where we have a degree of freedom.”

In a meeting Thursday of the Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics, Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s astrophysics division, reiterated that uncertainty. “I don’t know what this year’s budget is. I don’t know what next year’s budget is,” he said. Budget sequestration, he said, may affect the spending profile in 2013 for the next Explorer-class missions the agency is considering: two exoplanet missions, TESS and FINESSE, as well as two smaller “missions of opportunity” to place experiments on high-altitude balloons or the International Space Station. Sequestration won’t likely affect the timing of the mission selections, currently planned for this spring, Hertz said, but may affect how much money they get this fiscal year. “It might be a delayed funding profile” for the selected missions, he said.

The head of NASA’s planetary science division is also trying to figure out what impacts sequestration will have on his programs. Jim Green said at a meeting of the Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science Thursday that while R&A funding had been singled out in NASA’s congressional letter as a source of sequestration cuts, he would attempt to protect that funding. “Given the opportunity to make a choice, I will not take any funding away from the R&A program for the sequester. We’ll work out a different arrangement,” he said. He cautioned, though, that he “may be given direction” from higher up in the agency to make cuts in R&A programs.

While the overall science directorate at NASA is funded at 2012 levels under the CR, Green said he is the planetary program as spending at the rate specified by the FY13 budget proposal, which cut the planetary program by 20 percent. That is likely to continue if NASA is funded by a CR for all of 2013; the House CR passed this week makes no changes to the science account.

However, Green held out hope that Congress might pass an alternative appropriations bill for 2013 that could restore some funding for planetary. If that happens, he said, he would consider using that money to make early payments on launch vehicles for upcoming selected missions, including the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return spacecraft and InSight Mars lander, both slated for launch in 2016. “Investments in the rockets allow us to free up wedges that we’ve already planned in later fiscal years,” he said, that could be used for other programs. He said that could allow them to move up the call for the next Discovery-class mission from 2015 to 2014, addressing a concern about the slow tempo of those smaller planetary missions in the agency’s current plans.

144 comments to Uncertainty remains the one certainty for NASA’s budgets

  • amightywind

    noting that the sequester cuts science funding by $51.1 million from the FY13 budget request, to $4.86 billion

    It is hard to do anything but laugh at how much noise the bureaucracy makes about such a minuscule cut.

    • Hiram

      I’m not sure what “noise” we’re talking about here. It’s a small amount, but in an agency for which most of it’s budget is in obligations to projects that have already begun, we’re talking about whether to make new obligations, filling in for missions that have ended. An Explorer mission peaks out at about $50M/year so as noted, we’re at least talking about new Explorer missions not being committed to.

      Not committing to doing anything new is, I suppose, a rationalizable management plan for some agencies, but it really isn’t for an R&D agency like NASA.

      But in the same spirit, it’s also hard to do anything but laugh at how much noise the GOP makes about miniscule increases in marginal tax rates. Those proposed increases are on the same order as the requisite sequestration cuts we’re talking about here.

      • amightywind

        The small budget decrease wouldn’t even be noticeable if there were even a 5% RIF. It would be business as usual minus decades of accumulated dead weight.

        how much noise the GOP makes about miniscule increases in marginal tax rates

        Greedy government leftists relentlessly strangle the productive economy in small incremental amounts. So we must fight them at every turn. Genghis Khan only asked for 10%. How much is enough?

        • someguy

          …accumulated dead weight… …Greedy government leftists…

          You’re right. As soon as the leftist SLS and Orion programs are killed off, the better.

          • DCSCA

            SLS/MPCV is a geo-political strategy for the United States, someguy. The quicker subsidies and back door financing of multi-millonaires capable of self financing and/or tapping the private capital markets playing with rockets in LEO, which is a ticket to no where, going in circles, no place fast, is ‘killed off’ “the better.” In mythology, dragons are slayed by cutting of their heads; in reality you do it by cutting off their government contracts and subsidies.

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA opined:

              SLS/MPCV is a geo-political strategy for the United States

              An ignorant statement, and one that you have been unable to explain or defend.

              As George Bush would say, you are all hat, and no cattle… ;-)

            • someguy

              SLS/MPCV is a geo-political strategy

              BS, and you know it. It’s nothing more than a leftist program that steals my money to give to others.

              It’s morally wrong just as every other redistributionist program that we are currently stuck with (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, etc).

              It just sucks money from the taxpayer at the point of a government gun for no good reason other than to send government scientists to space 30 years from now. Sorry, but just letting me keep my own money would be better. There would be more economic progress in the country if everybody just kept their own money instead of it being spent on SLS/Orion.

              • Paul

                Randroid detected!

              • someguy

                Randroid detected!

                What? Could you elaborate please?

                If you mean I have commented on Rand Simberg’s site, you are correct. But, I am not sure of the relevance. I read several space sites/blogs/forums.

                Otherwise, you misspelled the Google mobile operating system name.

              • Paul

                Ayn Rand or Rand Paul. As a former libertarian, I recognize the symptoms.

              • someguy

                What “symptoms” are those?

                You mean wanting liberty?

                You mean wanting to control my own destiny without having 40% or more of my labor forcibly taken from me at the point of a government gun to fund others just because they have a pulse, and not because they are part of the entity charged with “secur[ing] these rights”, which is supposed to be the only proper role of government?

                Yeah, silly me.

                Silly me for wanting a system that is based on and rewards the individual, and isn’t based on redistribution based on group grievances.

                Silly me for not wanting to have a system where the government redistributes at the point of a gun from the slightly less poor to the slightly more poor so that everyone in poverty is forced to stay in poverty through the generations, because just when some of them start to get ahead, the money starts getting forcibly taken from them to fund those who are now slightly more poor than they are.

                Silly me for not wanting to level society through government force.

                What am I thinking?

  • That does seem to be a fairly small amount compared to their total budget – but still, I would like to see more resources supplied to space exploration.

  • E. P. Grondine

    What is interesting is that there is never any discussion of the value of any study. They don’t have to ask whether planetary studies are more important than astrophysics.

    Essentially, what happened was that each field built its own client base, and they expect that “their” money will always be there for them, and howl when it is not.

  • Curtis Quick

    I think it would be helpful if all involved realized that NASA is not an entitlement program and that researchers must understand that their funding comes from the US taxpayer. They need to make clear how their project adds value to this nation and not insist that they have a right to whatever funding they think they may need in the time frame that they believe they will need it in.

    As much as I love space exploration in general planetary science in particular the planets will still be there in a dozen years and a dozen centuries. For a stronger nation to recover from the fiscal mess that we now have, we must all be willing to subordinate our dreams and wishes to the very necessary and critical needs of our nation to become fiscally sound. The buck must stop with all of us.

    • Coastal Ron

      Curtis Quick said:

      I think it would be helpful if all involved realized that NASA is not an entitlement program and that researchers must understand that their funding comes from the US taxpayer.

      If you look at the NASA programs that are treated like entitlement programs, it’s not the ones that researchers are running. Things like the Earth science and planetary science missions are proposed and run like science programs, and I do think that the scientists know that their funding is tight and limited.

      If you look at programs like Shuttle, which flew for 30 years, who benefited the most from that? Large government contractors. And who are benefiting most from the SLS and MPCV? The same large contractors. It’s the large contractors that look at NASA’s budget as an entitlement.

      The buck must stop with all of us.

      Too bad Congress doesn’t see it that way, and it’s not limited to NASA stuff…

      • E. P. Grondine

        Hi CR –
        “Things like the Earth science and planetary science missions are proposed and run like science programs,”

        But the entire NASA science program is not. There is no measure of usefulness that determines which projects get funded.

        Curtis Quick has it exactly right; NASA science is run as if it were an entitlement program.

        If you look at that $4,860,000,000 budget, impactor detection saw a rise to $20,000,000 per year, from its former $5,000,000 per year.

        Or, of the $4.86 billion, impactor detection was $.02 billion, up from $.005 billion.

        IMO, The best way of fixing this will be to make a position dealing with impacts and impactors directly reporting to the NASA AA for Space Science.

        If you don’t like that fix, then I suppose NASA could create an AA for impact research, impactor detection, and inter-agency coordination.

        • Coastal Ron

          E. P. Grondine said:

          But the entire NASA science program is not. There is no measure of usefulness that determines which projects get funded.

          How useful is it to know the characteristics of stars we’ll never visit? How useful, really, is it to do anything on Mars? “Usefulness” is not the measurement that is used to determine whether we do pure science.

          Curtis Quick has it exactly right; NASA science is run as if it were an entitlement program.

          Overall Congress uses NASA as a funding stream for where they want money to flow, so let’s start at the top here.

          But NASA science as a whole is only a small part of NASA’s budget, so focusing on what scientists have to spend years trying to bring to fruition is different than Boeing and Lockheed Martin fighting over who is getting the largest segment of NASA’s pork.

          If you’re focused on the people trying to do science, then you’re not solving the biggest budget problem NASA has.

          • E. P. Grondine

            Hi CS –
            ““Usefulness” is not the measurement that is used to determine whether we do pure science.”

            I’ll differ with you. But the “usefulness” has often been guessed at arbitrarily, and never estimated explicitly.

            Take your two examples:
            “How useful is it to know the characteristics of stars we’ll never visit?”

            Generally, cosmology has been used to support nuclear physics, for both energy and weapons.

            “How useful, really, is it to do anything on Mars?”

            Well, it is far less useful than when those programs were set up, as we now know Mars is not like the Earth. Of course, the new crater counts from Mars are useful, and if we ever learn what hit Mars when that will be useful as well.

          • Curtis Quick

            Ron,

            I understand your point and I was not trying to single out the science mission portion of the NASA budget. I am referring to NASA as a whole, specially including big ticket items like SLS, MPCV, and Web.

            I remember Bruce Murry, head of JPL back in the ’80s speaking of the definition of great civilizations as being those with enough resources to be able to do pure science. His baseline assumption however was that these great civilizations rested on a foundation of a strong economy. I think that is the issue here.

            Our nation needs to gets its economic house in order and then go after pure science and the other things that define great civilizations. We must focus our energies to the greatest need at this time – fixing the economy. Massively trimming government spending is central to building up a healthy economy.

            If however every government agency, including NASA, finds ways to preserve it’s budget we will fail. It’s like the nation is a beautiful sailing ship and each government agency wants to put a beautiful flag atop the main mast. NASA has a flag up there, so does defense and every one else. The only problem is there is a big hole in the hull and the ship needs emergency repairs to keep from sinking. Sadly, we ignore the breach and the infilling waters and all we can seem to agree upon is how nice the flags are going to look when we make them bigger or add new ones, or maybe change their placement on the mast. All the while the ship is sinking.

            My fear is that if NASA is seen to avoid sensible budgeting, so will every other government agency. And all we will be left with is arguments of which pretty flags to fly while the ship of state sinks to the bottom of the sea.

            Pure science and space exploration are awesome, but they will be of no consequence if everything falls apart for lack of attention to the real issues that face our nation. Put the house in order. Or to use my analogy – fix the hull, pump out the water, and then work on the flags.

            • Robert G. Oler

              Curtis Quick
              March 9, 2013 at 11:18 pm · Reply

              I remember Bruce Murry, head of JPL back in the ’80s speaking of the definition of great civilizations as being those with enough resources to be able to do pure science.>>

              there is almost no data to support that statement.

              The mark of “Great civilizations” is today in politics whatever “thing” that the proponents want to use as a definition of great. “The US is great because it does (insert noble cause here)”…today that even extends to starting wars whenever we want to do it…

              Cap The knife when he was OMB director got hoodwinked into supporting the shuttle development “because it showed we were great”…

              Here is a test…which is the greatest civilization? One that has a military that can conquer anything in sight or one that has the medical research facilities to cure or prevent (insert various illness here)…

              It is the difference between an entitlement and something of value. RGO

              • Curtis Quick

                Robert,

                I agree with your point. However, my point when quoting Bruce Murry was not that some project or capability makes a civilization great. It was that great civilizations have resources and use them to do big things as a record of their greatness.

                Science does not make us great, but when we are great we can do big science. If we have few or no resources we cannot embark on the big things that mark great civilizations. The Pyramids of Egypt, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Great Wall in China, the Apollo program – these things did not make great civilizations, but only great civilizations could afford to make them and thus are a record of their having been a great civilization.

              • DCSCA

                “I remember Bruce Murry, head of JPL back in the ’80s speaking of the definition of great civilizations as being those with enough resources to be able to do pure science….”

                Re RGO/CQ: Bruce Murray– a bit dated in referncing BM, but yeah, well, recall he was clawing for budgets for planetary science projects against the juggernaut of shuttle in the wake of Voyager’s trememdous success and popularity as it threaded its way through the solar system with much fanfsre every few years. Iy was his high water mark at JPl riding along on Sagan’s coatails. But if you ever caught some of Murray’s interviews- particularly w/C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb post 51-L, M was often off the mark with the kind of assertions you referenced and even got the usually unflappable Lamb to raise an eyebrow or two.

              • Coastal Ron

                Curtis Quick said:

                Science does not make us great…

                Whoa, I completely disagree with that statement. Our ability to do and use science is what sets us apart from the 2nd and 3rd world countries.

                Without a strong background in science, we wouldn’t have had the myriad of discoveries and inventions that have turned the U.S. into the leading country in the world.

                I think you need to rethink that.

              • Curtis Quick

                Ron, I think you may have missed the main meaning of my post. I did not mean to suggest that science was not important or is a subject unworthy of our full support. I love science and technology (I graduated in physics and work with technology everyday).

                I was merely putting forth the idea (with which I think you may agree) that only a nation with a healthy economy will have the resources to be able to do great things in science. A bad economy means less money for science. It is in the best interest of those who advocate for science to advocate first for a strong economy that can support science, even if it means less money in the short term for science programs.

                As to the question of what defines a great civilization I lean strongly towards the economic answer – that is, a great civilization is one that has the ability to harness the resources of a strong economy over a long period of time to do great things (i.e. provide peace, security and stability, give compassion to those less fortunate, promote progress in science and technology, build big monuments, etc.).

              • Paul

                Whoa, I completely disagree with that statement. Our ability to do and use science is what sets us apart from the 2nd and 3rd world countries.

                Correlation vs. causation. Do great countries do science because they are great, or are they great because they do science?

                Healthy people breathe, but putting someone on a ventilator won’t make them healthy.

        • amightywind

          Government is run less like an entitlement and more like a vast con. Government employees are boldly looting the taxpayer.

          • someguy

            Government employees are boldly looting the taxpayer.

            You’re right. As soon as the SLS and Orion employees stop looting the taxpayer, the better.

            Either reassign them to actual worthwhile tasks, or let them go find other employment. Just like the private sector.

    • Hiram

      That’s an odd perspective, that NASA science is run as an entitlement program. Congress legislates that NASA does this science on behalf of the taxpayer, with the understanding that science, space science included, makes us a better nation. In no way shape or form does Congress give NASA science funds to keep scientists off the street. I mean, you can stick the “entitlement” label on anyone if you have your eyes half shut.

      But as to SMD being a poor directorate to trust with asteroid (and comet!) impact mitigation, it’s sort of like giving neighborhood security over to the US Post Office. After all, their carriers are walking my street almost every day, and they come right up to my house, so they can be aware of bad things happening in it. Yep, give ‘em a gun, and cuffs, and tell them to go out and get the bad guys.

      SMD is well positioned to be responsible for NEO detection and tracking, but once they do that, they can hand over the orbital elements to someone who can be entrusted to do something about it. That’s a very clean management interface. Who can be entrusted to do something about it? The DOD is responsible for national defense, and their space assets are hugely sophisticated. Given that the majority of DOD employees aren’t fighting any wars right now, one could say that they should be given such a responsibility to the taxpayer to avoid being accused of being an entitlement program.

      • Coastal Ron

        Hiram said:

        …it’s sort of like giving neighborhood security over to the US Post Office. After all, their carriers are walking my street almost every day…

        Nice analogy.

        The DOD is responsible for national defense, and their space assets are hugely sophisticated.

        When it comes to life and death situations, the President will stick with the organization that is already in place to deal with that sort of thing – the Department of Defense. NASA will just be one of the organizations within the U.S. Government that will contribute, but otherwise it makes no sense to put NASA in charge.

        • E. P. Grondine

          Hi Hiram, CS –

          I see you both agree with NASA being assigned the detection role, as it will require the use of civilian space based assets. Congress reached the same conclusion 8 years ago.

          Both of you need to understand that NASA science was set up to provide a demand for launchers, and not for the science results.

          That is why NASA regularly just leaves datasets to set, and why each “class” of mission is important, as the “class” determines which company the launcher is bought from.

          • Hiram

            NASA science was set up to provide a demand for launchers? Really? The DOD, and the commercial communication and surveillance industries, would be shocked to hear that. If NASA science were to disappear, launch providers wouldn’t blink. So whoever set up NASA science to do that sure wasn’t thinking very hard.

            The “class” of a NASA mission is important for science planning. The cost of the launcher is actually a minor part of the mission budget so the relevance of that classification to who one buys the launcher from is pretty small.

            But yes, it makes some sense for SMD to be responsible for space based detection. That’s what SMD astrophysics does. It detects faint sources, and it does so extremely well. But of course, at least for targets beyond 1 AU, ground based telescopes (e.g. LSST) will do that detection best, and most economically. But once the threat is located, who gets the orbital elements and is responsible for taking action? Surely not NASA.

            That may be a real lynchpin to the problem here. No agency is going to bend over backward to detect such threats, given that no one has established which agency is going to be responsible to act on those threats. It’s up to Congress to make both of those decisions. They have not done so yet. It’s silly to make one decision without the other.

            • E. P. Grondine

              Hi CQ –

              Yes, NASA science was set up to provide a demand for launchers. Back in the late 1950′s.

              Congress already decided that the capabilitites and talents of NASA are needed to deal with the impact hazard. It did that over 7 years ago in passing the George Brown Jr. amendment.

              Perhaps the fact that there are limits to ground based telescopes which leave them inadequate for detection led them to do this. And the Deep Space Networ. And NASA’s Deep Space Busses.

              I do not know why some space enthusiasts keep confusing DoE with DoD.
              I suppose it varies from person to person, but some are manned Mars flight enthusiasts, and others hate anything nuclear, except for propulsion for manned Mars flight.

              • Hiram

                Wrong “Hi”. I’m not Curtis, nor am I particularly quick.

                That’s an interesting idea that NASA science was set up in the 1950s to provide a non-military demand for launchers. I can agree with that, because in the 1950s, there were no DOD space assets, and no commercial space surveillance, nav, and communication assets. Launchers were for defense (but ideally never to be used) and for science. Also, NASA was formed largely to do science. No, human spaceflight was never referred to in the Space Act, so no demand was being expressed for launching people.

                But the idea that NASA science is what props up the launch industry today because that’s what it did sixty years ago is simply nonsense. A quick glance at the launch industry market portfolio would convince you of that.

                The Brown Amendment was highly unspecific about what space telescopes should be required to do because ground based telescopes could not. The latter are far cheaper than the former. I suspect that Congress didn’t think about it much when that legislation was proposed. But given that, a few years ago, they did ask the NRC to weigh in on the best approach to completing the George E. Brown, Jr. Near-Earth Object Survey. The NRC findings were noteworthy.

                “If the completion of the survey as close as possible to the original 2020 deadline is considered more important, a space mission conducted in concert with observations using a suitable ground-based telescope and selected by peer-reviewed competition is the better approach. This combination could complete the survey well before 2030, perhaps as early as 2022 if funding were appropriated quickly.
                • If cost conservation is deemed more important, the use of a large ground-based telescope is the better approach. Under this option, the survey could not be completed by the original 2020 deadline, but it could be completed before 2030. To achieve the intended cost-effectiveness, the funding to construct the telescope must come largely as funding from non-NEO programs.”

                So in no way were the ground based telescopes then forseen considered inadequate to the task, except perhaps in most expeditiously getting it done. But in our fiscal climate, cost conservation is obviously more important than expediency.

                Who is confusing DOE with DOD? Not me.

              • E. P. Grondine

                Hi Hiram -

                First off, there were DoD payloads in the 1950′s.

                Second, Congress gave consideration when it passed the George Brown Jr. amendment.

                Third, NASA’s specialistgs included a specific request for a space telescope in the report Griffin sat on

                Fourth, NASA made sure that no cometary impact specialists were on that NRC committee. None.

                Fifth, people believe what they want to believe, and will spend a lot of time and money to support those beliefs.

  • DCSCA

    … InSight Mars lander…”

    The Taxpayers are still awaiting any viable return on their investment to justify the $2.6 billion expense for Curiosity, which arrived seven months ago with great fanfare for its splenid EDL engineering success. But not so much aboputy any science returned yet.

    • E. P. Grondine

      Hi DCSCA –

      Yeah, but the manned Mars flight enthusiasts got a test for a large descent stage.

      I hope Curiousity is operating next year when it is likely that Mars
      will be hit by comet fragments.

      • DCSCA

        It’s a reasonable bet Curiosity will be operating beyond its ‘warranty’ given the Spirit and Opportunity experience and given its power source- but whether it reveals anything to justify the expense and more folow alongs remains the sore point. The Mars planners seems to be taking on a level of incremental missions more to perpetuate projects (and careers/job security) than to make a definitive stab at finding life- or a basic SRM. It’s always the ‘building blocks’ or ‘hints’– never a straight out run at it– and now they qualifiy it all with ‘verification’ that any thing isn;t contamination. You get the sense they’d be content sending rovers and landers for the next 30 years. Once samples are brought back, financing more expensive toys would end for a time for the plantary science bous and girls..

  • James

    What does not remain uncertain with the NASA budget, is the continual decline in its buying power. Down, down, down she goes, and where she stops, not even Babs Mukulski knows.

    Sometimes a quick death is more expedient than a slow twisting agonizing slide; time for Congress to pull the plug on NASA; the US can’t afford such high tech jobs programs anymore, especially when the entitlement portion of the budget is expected to ruin this nation.

    • Adastramike

      The U.S. govt most certainly still can afford NASA. While all govt programs may need to share the burden of cutting spending, canceling the agency that manages our planetary science, aeronautics, technology and human space flight programs and helps maintain our lead in space would be ill-advised and just plain stupid. The US is NOT in the Great Depression…this is perhaps a bad recession but we are recovering, even if slowly. This is NOT the end of the United States. While the planets would still be here if Congress made the monumentally dumb decision of canceling NASA, believing that the nation would restore NASA or something similar at some later time is truly naive.

      Fundamentalist beliefs are on the rise, so without astrophysicists, astronomers, and planetary scientists explaining to the public what the universe truly is, because Joe Public is not going to start doing cosmology and astronomy research on his own, we would face the prospect of regressing in science. A large part of the general public already doubts science and I see no reason why this would change after removing a science agency. The space age started only 50 years ago and again it would be really stupid to throw a large part of that away in the US while other nations continue their space programs. Fortunately your idea won’t come to pass, no matter how loud you shout to cancel NASA. This fiscal crisis is temporary, as history has shown that powers ebb and flow, even if the US weakens in its superpower status while other nations rise.

      • DCSCA

        “The U.S. govt most certainly still can afford NASA.” said Adastramike.

        For the Cold War era, NASA was a bargain for the United States given the ROI in various fields, economic, technical– and yes, political, across the country– and around the world. The accidental byproduct of American astronauts on tour with Earth photos and moon rocks made for a much better geo-political projection of American values than American soldiers on tours of duty with M-16s slung over their shoulders and Zippo lighters torching villages.

        In these times, NASA’s value as currently structured is far less apparent to taxpayers– particularly after a series of high profile accidents and failures in the past quarter century to a generation too young or not alive during the Apollo days. (A high volume of mishaps bedeviled NASA in its very early satellite lofting days as well). However, consolidation of all government space programs/ops could save a lot of money in these times. NASA’s high profile as a stand alone agency magnifies the perception of the costs for its projects against what other government agencies, with lesser profiles yet much bigger budgets, waste.

        Putting the short term squabbling over sequestration issues aside, NASA, as a civilian division of a consolidated space ops DoD group, is not unrealistic and could be a money saver over the long term, reducing overlap and duplication of services and facilities, etc., procurement methods , and so on. NASA was born out of the turmoil in Ike’s era to quell inter-service rivalries of fledgling military space ops and to consolidate civil space projects to counter the then high profile successes of the Soviets- a policy accelerated by JFK/LBJ during the hey-day of the space race. That era is long past and the Cold War, long over.

        The problem plaguing NASA– and really the United States in the HSF arena, is that it has not articulated any philosophy to support a rationale for HSF that sells with the public or takes root as part of the American character. Other nations have or are in the process of making it part of their national raison d’etre. Americans have not.

        The citizenry will cheer the rush of splendid engineering accomplishments– like orbiting Glenn, a space walker; the Gemini 6/7 rendezvous; the first Apollo landing, STS-1, the Voyagers or placing a package on Mars, Rube Goldberg style. But the science gets few accolades from the folks who foot the bills. As Armstrong noted shortly before he died, Americans like to be “entertained.”

        The ‘exploration’ overlay doesn’t sell well, either. It can with robots, but only up to a point, and Curiosity’s $2.6 billion expense along with the JWST cost overruns were red lines that brought it into question. And U.S. space policy has always been reactive, not proactive, to events initiated by other nations. As Armstrong said during his 2005 CBS News interview, ‘Once we lost the competition, we lost the public will to support it.” It being HSF. Americans usually respond to a competition. But in space, the initiatives are almost always launched by other nations– be it the first satellite, the first man in space, the first space station– even the first early lunar probes.

        When the PRC launches out toward Luna, whether the United States will respond or yawn remains to be seen. But based on the 2004 polls when Dubya’s return to the moon/VSE plans were made public, Americans were decidedly under whelmed by the proposal, even with the overlay of a possible competition with the PRC– particularly with the $500–$800 billion price tag for such an effort- spread over a generation, of course. As it is with the American character, a ‘race’ in ’61 generated support with the citizenry in the guise of a Cold War battle, rather than being characterized as a ‘journey’ beginning in ’04. The lack of any significant outcry beyond the space community in shelving Constellation was deafening. The public is indifferent to it.

        The ‘been there, done that’ line was valid then as it is now– and akin to attitudes other great powers in decline have embraced. In 1961, the fear of a ‘Red Moon’ was a motivation; a catalyst. Today, it is more likely to bring a shrug and a yawn.

    • Robert G. Oler

      . This fiscal crisis is temporary, a”

      it is permenant as long as the US government keeps spending and taxing as it has done since Bush43 came into power and brought a zenophobic party in with him.

      There were issues when Clinton42 went out but the US was in a pretty good position Jan 20,2001 when Bush43 took the deck…and as long as we keep his and the GOP spending priorities and such we are going to have the same problems.

      Take SLS and Orion for instance. These programs have some bipartisan support but its mostly a Republican “gig” and anchors pretty hard in the HOR…they are essentially a continuation of Cx which was itself a failed setup of spending.

      As long as these programs and there are lots of them continue AND there is some debate over the smokescreen from the GOP that entitlements are the issue…then we are going to flounder in this goofy “coffin corner”

      NASA does not get better until the programs which have essentially “no accountability” are brought into accountability…

      the US can fix this and is fixing it…but the GOP right wing is going to be hard to force into the good night RGO

      • E. P. Grondine

        Hi RGO –

        The way I view it, in pandering to Utah with the Ares 1, Griffin pretty much ended up screwing Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.

        I wonder if C-star could turn around SLS. Your thoughts?

        I don’t think there is anything “conservative” in trying to pay for a war with tax breaks for billionaires.

        • Robert G. Oler

          Greeting E.P.

          I learned a long time ago that neither a person or a “company” (nor a federal agency) can fix what they dont perceived to be broken and I learned that lesson in terms of “agencies” from NASA HSF following Challenger…they are like a child who only comes “clean” when caught and there are no other options and then they drift very quickly back to what they were doing with a plethora of explanations as to why things will be different “this time”. The great line post Columbia “we forgot the lesson of Challenger” is crap…they never learned them

          SLS and Orion could be “fixed” In terms of at least getting “something” for the money spent IF and only If the agency and the contractors were willing to change the methods of doing business that they had ingrained into them by sloth and slide during the shuttle era…and they wont do that. They cant. And now they are stuck politically…the impetus for the program exist because of the empployment of high paying good health care jobs in red states and the instant those numbers start going down that is the instant that folks like Pete Olson TX 22 become less interested.

          The larger problem of course is that even if something being built were a goal of the effort the “something” is near useless.

          The lessons of Apollo/Saturn or Shuttle is that any launch/space vehicle that is built by NASA and only has NASA as a customer is doomed to high cost; both in development and operations. I picked up an interesting stat today; SpaceX for their Dragon launch had 65 people at the Cape “on work” as they say…a shuttle average on the day of launch was 6000…see the problem

          This problem has plagued all launch vehicles. Titan III went from a relatively cheap vehicle to something enormously expensive (and the IV was worse) because the launch rate was so low and only government that the infrastructure to operate it simply soared in price…it had no other customers because 1) the crewed programs went to Saturn and 2) the rocket was to far ahead of the comsat and planetary market…

          SLS is doomed to repeat this and thats why you see and hear Boeing and Lockmart (for Orion) talk about “affordable low rate production”…its like “clean coal” there is no such thing.

          RGO

          • E. P. Grondine

            Hi RGO –

            I agree with you about NASA acting like a mis-behaving 3 year old.

            If you look at the protections Newt set in place for the carpet industry of Georgia, and then visit Detroit, you see that HOR at least has enough clout to protect their base. But that is also a part of the US tech base.

            The way I look at it, given the political forces, is there some way to actually make SLS useful? Say as a Jupiter 120?

            There are no tiles, so that should reduce marginal operating costs.

            Is there a way to keep core work at Michoud, and engine work at Marshall?

          • DCSCA

            “I picked up an interesting stat today; SpaceX for their Dragon launch had 65 people at the Cape “on work” as they say…a shuttle average on the day of launch was 6000…see the problem”

            Yes, and the peoblem is yours.

            Comparing HSF ops for a shuttle launch to launching the smalle, unmanned dragon on its widdle falcon is false equivalency. Might as well compare a kid on a scooter making a delivery of geoceries to to an 18 wheeler stocking up the entire store.

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA opined:

              For the same amount of money, discrete launches can provide far more payload mass, pressurized cargo, and number of people transported than a single Shuttle flight could have. And all for far less money that what it cost us for the Shuttle.

              Remember that the Shuttle cost on average $1.5B per flight. For $133M the Dragon can deliver up to 6mt of pressurized cargo, whereas the Shuttle could only deliver 9mt in the MPLM.

              The Shuttle could carry 7 people total, but at least two were the crew, and they couldn’t keep anyone in space longer than the two week flight itself. The Commercial Crew vehicles will be able to dock and stay in space for at least 6 months. Musk has said he can transport 7 people to the ISS for $140M.

              Add two flights of the Dragon for cargo, one Dragon for 7 crew, a Falcon Heavy for external payload, and all of that costs the U.S. Taxpayer about $534M, or 1/3 the cost of one Shuttle flight.

              I know you like to borrow money from China to fund your space fantasies, but there is a limit to you type of insanity.

              The Shuttle was a bloated government program and an experimental vehicle being used in an operational mode. It should have been replaced by something better decades ago, but at least it is now gone and can’t hurt anyone (by death or pocketbook).

      • Malmesbury

        Nope – it is all parties.

        As I’ve said before, watch West Wing.

        In an idealized universe, the US government is run by bribing for votes with tax payers money. Also, some threats concerning private lives… That’s the ideal.

        In the real world, it is much, much worse.

        Cutting spending involves taking money away from federal programs. All politicians try to control the money river – they get back a proportion as contributions. To reduce the river is reduce the money they hand out and get back. It is to reduce their power – their very reason for being.

        Taxes are toxic politically. So budget deficits are the inevitable result.

        Even sequestration is foretold in the structure of the system – the only way for the spendaholics to stop spending is to lock the chequebook and credit cards in a safe and throw the key in the river.

        SLS and JWST are perfect for this world – lots of money in FAR contracts. This means lots of money that can be controlled – carefully spread among the power brokers.

        It is no wonder that anything that reduces costs is considered evil.

        • Robert G. Oler

          Malmesbury
          March 10, 2013 at 9:50 am · Reply

          Nope – it is all parties.

          As I’ve said before, watch West Wing.>>

          as much as I love TWW…the series does not cover the phase of American “history” that we are going through now…watched carefully what the series does is try and present an “alternate” theory of American national and power evolution in the wake of the end of the cold war and cold war politics. Sadly instead of Jed Bartlett we got Bush43…and what he did in going to war in Iraq/Afland and even Cx was more or less the “plug puller” on the notion of a world superpower.

          The entire Bush43 era is a mixture of “lets redo Kennedy and Reagan” except with neocon doctrine. (I’ll stay out of the economics which is however similar) Problem is 1) the world situation has changed and 2) all the programs and I mean all of them were done badly.

          depending on how you count Mike Griffin spent 10-15 billion dollars in constant 06 dollars…to develop the shuttle system from scratch in constant 06 dollars the folks who did it spent aboutt he same money; but got flying hardware.

          At the end of his time in office Griffin leaves NASA much like Dug out Doug left the Philippines on 11 March 1942…with the situation in chaos. Nothing done has worked, nothing has contributed to any meaningful progress;

          Now imagine that somehow Griffin for 10 billion got Ares1 flying with some sort of Orion…well then there is something to go forward with.

          When you get your way in government as Bush43 did from 2001 to 09 and all of them either fail or are collapsing as you leave; thats the end of an era in history…and pretty much that is what we are going through…the end of the superpower era.

          Now I am kind of like Fareed Z..and Zibig B (Mika’s dad) in that this era was probably ending anyway; because the era is defined by military power or the illusion of it (SDI) over everything else…but we are having to as a nation move on to something completely different.

          The issue is that some of our populace and the GOP right now are simply unable to do that. They are to paraphrase Howard Dean “clingers” to the old ways or what they imagine that they were…and hence you have SLS/Orion vainly trying to replicate (with no talent really) the by gone days of Saturn/Apollo…which have a lot of currency in NASA institutional “memory”…

          The US will come out of this actually stronger (we have done this before) but it wont be until we finally shake off the “dead enders” who simply cannot transition to a new phase.

          To see what that is

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2Ivr6JF1K-8

          watch full screen volume up (adn if that doesnt work go to Parabolic Arc and look for the Grasshopper ring of fire video) RGO

          • Malmesbury

            You are looking at the symptoms, not the disease.

            The spendaholics are uniform across all parties. The more they spend the more power they have through channeling it where they want. With the control of the money flow comes the opportunity to wet their beaks. How many 100,000s does a congressman need to raise each *month* to get re-elected?

            The power and money they have in the short term only, of course. This hastens the collapse of the system, but in the Classic Tragedy of The Commons style, “defecting” from the pork race makes the first to withdraw the looser.

            Consider what Musk is testifying about in Texas. His plan for the Texas launch site includes on-site production of large (7m+) diameter cores. So, in one complex SpaceX would be doing production, testing and launch.

            Sound sensible? In the universe of the Spendocrat the idea is thoroughly evil – a vertically integrated company at one site means that you can’t negotiate how the spending happens across states. No negotiation, no power. No power, no money for the Spendocrats to get re-elected.

            And this isn’t just about government contracts – this goes a long way into big (and not so big) business. Consider how Boeing is prevented from moving work from one state to another – legal issues…. The simple truth is that their business was carved up on Capital Hill.

            • Robert G. Oler

              Malmesbury
              March 11, 2013 at 3:14 pm · Reply

              You are looking at the symptoms, not the disease>

              Not really

              All spending is NOT created equal.

              Outside my place in Santa Fe TX they are finishing one leg of the expansion of H@Y646…soon they will start the expansion of the stretch on into Santa Fe to meet up with 6.

              That spending, although there is some pork in it is essentially designed to after its completion leave a “product” from which the taxpayers recoup the wealth that was poured into it.

              Nothing is ever precise so there are different buckets of money going different places…but the money spenton the ATC system for instance comes back to the country in several orders of magnitude…

              Now in anything a government endity can pay to much for something and that might be so high that even the enhanced value is negated…but most of the time thats “hard”

              There is no end product in SLS or Orion or the Iraq war or Afland or …..that ever “repays” the nation for having done it.

              Dems are good at shoveling money to social programs…and I realize that some of this is ethereal but well kids having full stomachs is something of value to me. Everyone having health care is going to do exactly what medicaid/care has done…ie drive the improvements in health care…

              Bush 41 was careful to not over promise with Desert Storm. It never would have paid for itself…he sent Jim Baker out to collect money from everyone to pay for it. Bush41 knew better…

              commercial cargo/crew pays for itself in 1) cheaper cost to keep station going and if SpaceX works…the commercial launch industry comes back to the US…and that is why the folks in Brownsville, where high tech is pouring concrete…want the launch site. RGO

    • DCSCA

      “Sometimes a quick death is more expedient than a slow twisting agonizing slide; time for Congress to pull the plug on NASA” says James.

      It’s a national asset and after half a century, really overdue to be reorganized, shedding shuttle deadwood and giv na fesh focus and purpose into the 2050s for 21st century geopolitics, economics and ops. Attaching it to the DoD as a civilian division would keep it under the umbrella of ‘national security’ but as a stand alone ‘high profile’ agency, it’s a sitting duck for budget cutters in the Age of Austerity.

      • Gregori

        Its of no value to national security, geopolitics or economics

        • Ben Russell-Gough

          I don’t agree with that – there is already a good and growing chance that NASA spending through CRS might bring commercial space launch money to the the US economy (through SpaceX’s many international satellite launch contracts). This is only an example of what properly-spent NASA funding can do.

          Simply put, it could be a major contributor to the US economy (both directly and through technology development), national security (through PHO identification and mitigation programs) and geopolitics (through sufficiently flashy demonstrations of US technological and organisational capability). However, this is only the case if the agency were reorganised properly. As it currently is, it is close to dysfunctional.

          • James

            @ BRG: “Simply put, it could be a major contributor to the US economy (both directly and through technology development”

            NASA doesn’t really generate ‘new technology’ anymore. Technologies are mostly ‘spun into’ NASA. While there is some great work done in advancing the state of the art in detectors, NASA looks more and more to the outside for the latest and greatest.

            And now that NASA has just created a whole new Mission Directorate surrounding “Space Technology”, it will be very easy to whack technology monies to pay flight project over runs. (NASA has a long history in this regard)

            NASA doesn’t learn (See RGO’s post earlier about NASA never learning the lessons from Challenger). When technology development money is placed in a central location, it’s an easy target for whacking. NASA used to have a “Code R” that was all about technology development. Code R is long dead.

            History is repeating itself. Thank God we think its important to learn about history so we don’t repeat it.

            Like I posted earlier, time to pull the plug on NASA. It’s now a political play toy, without enough funds, or clear direction/mission/vision, to make a difference for the American Public, in a timely fashion. Which is the whole point of a ‘Agency’ that acts on behalf of the American Public.

          • Robert G. Oler

            Simply put, it could be a major contributor to the US economy ”

            It could be but the instances of NASA in any major form doing just that are small.

            The lasting legacy of the JSC in Clear Lake is the booming health care industry there. It wouldnt be there unless there were a lot of federal and top tieer contractors who had essentially federal health care…otherwise the HSF in Clear Lake has been a bust…there are few industries or companies that have developed off it which do not feed directly from it.

            SpaceX might through commercial cargo and crew be on the verge of revolutionizing the industry and like the little girl on the Shake and Bake commercial “NASA Helped” but not all that much.

            There is a way to have NASA develop technology (like the comm satellites it worked on) in human spaceflight; but right now all the technology movement is happening in private industry and far away from NASA centers.

            If and admittably it is a big IF SpaceX closes the loop on reuseability well wont NASA look stupid. RGO

            • DCSCA

              “It[NASA] could be but the instances of NASA in any major form doing just that are small.”

              In fact, it has. A reent doc on PBS noted that 60% of all the ICs invented and sold in the 1960s were to NASA. That kind of demand coupled w/DoD demand is what financed and developed a whole new area of technology and was instrumental in creating what we now call ‘Silicon Valley.’

              • Guest

                Having live through and participated in that era, I can verify that is more or less true, and if anyone wants some insight into this phenomenon of exponential growth of disruptive technology then I can suggest :

                http://video.pbs.org/video/2330992708/

                American Experience Robert Noyce Goes to Silicon Valley

                That being said I think that Elon Musk has a definite edge on the SLS in regards to this phenomenon, but the the government with the SLS and big space could get on the bandwagon in a real hurry if they actually wanted to participate in this era (or rather arena).

                It’s not as easy as it looks, but there remain remarkable opportunities in condensed matter physics even today yet beyond digital in the realms of highly correlated materials design and quantum phenomena in general.

                Obama and Clinton et al. are aware of these developments but thus far they have not yet exercised any actual leadership in this area.

      • amightywind

        It’s a national asset and after half a century, really overdue to be reorganized

        You would think this is obvious. Sad that it is not to the political class who cannot deal with reality.

  • DCSCA

    You know, Robert, Musk was on Jimmy Kimmel’s show (that venue along should tell you a lot) just before the Academy Awards and boasted a ‘stowaway’ could have survived launch and rentry aboard his first falcon/dragoon cargo run. THere’s no independent verification of that assertion but the real story is he says on nsat’l TV stoaways can fly but he won’t actually launch a crewed demo suborbotal test flight let alone attempt a crewed orbital flight to support his claims. Your hero is huckster, Robert. And he’s suckering you– and the commericalist factions at NASA desperately clinging to anything that fuels a rationale to keep their ISS flying.

    • Neil Shipley

      Duh! Like you don’t think SpaceX has their spacecraft instrumented to the max! They know exactly what conditions in the craft are at any point in the flight and so does NASA since it’s NASA’s cargo going to and from the ISS and some of that cargo requires certain environmental conditions like pressurisation. Honestly, sometimes your comments just totally lack any resemblance to a thought process.

    • Robert G. Oler

      DCSCA
      March 11, 2013 at 4:34 pm · Reply
      boasted a ‘stowaway’ could have survived launch and rentry aboard his first falcon/dragoon cargo run. THere’s no independent verification of that assertion but the real story is he says on nsat’l TV stoaways can fly but he won’t actually launch a crewed demo suborbotal test flight let alone attempt a crewed orbital flight to support his claims.>>

      Well there are documented cases of people “staying alive” in the wheel well of a Boeing without supplemental O2 on a flight over an hour long…the “leak” in the cold side of one of the PACK’s doubtless helped. It was in the day when the Boeing’s had “tire screens” but it was amazing that his body kept going…they went to FL250.

      So I suspect that since the Dragon(s) have arrived at the station pressurized..well survival was probably possible (particularly with sup O2)…

      three points. First I think some other “eyes” then Musk and SpaceX have seen the internal data from the Dragon flights…I have not but I know people who have

      second the heavy lifting left in a crewed capsule version of Dragon is the LAS…since they are using a pusher system and going to “cojoin” that with eventually a landing rocket system there is some Heavy lifting there…but the rest of it is pretty trivial in terms of engineering (and you must know that)

      third they need to prove the 1D’s because without the 1D’s they cant lift the mass…but two/three flights. Particularly with an LAS its as ridable as your 50 percent or whatever Atlas was…

      Finally I am not a particularly fond fan of ISS, but the issue was settled when the darn thing was “built” to this phase…if we cannot make ISS “go” in a cost for value thing then really it cannot be done anywhere.

      So enjoy…the outcome of the Revolution is not clear, but its on going. RGO

    • JimNobles

      DCSCA said, “Your hero is huckster, Robert. And he’s suckering you– and the commericalist factions at NASA desperately clinging to anything that fuels a rationale to keep their ISS flying.”

      You are so alone in the wilderness. And you know nothing about human space flight in the 21st century. We tried to get you keep us with us and join our adventure into the future but you successfully fought us all off.

      So long DCSCA, you were an interesting voice from the past.

      • DCSCA

        human space flight in the 21st century. whines NewSpace Jim.

        Uh… Jim… don’t know if you’ve noticed, but only governments have been successfully conducting HSF ops on orbit in both the 20th and the 21st century– the NewSpace faction you keep championing with false equivalency– has failed to launch , orbit and successfully return anybody fro LEO. And contrary to what RGO has said, spaceflight is hard. Even Musk acknowledges that.

        “So I suspect that since the Dragon(s) have arrived at the station pressurized..well survival was probably possible (particularly with sup O2)…” extrapolated RGO. That’s pure conjecture; there’s no way to independently verify his bosting which only reaffirms what he said on nat’l TV was basically bravado. PT Barnum stuff. Hest way to make his point valid is to just fly somebody. Once he proves he can do it- I’d support subsidizing his enterprise w/some NASA dollars ()preferably tapped from planetary expenditures and cost savings. Until then, he’s just a hckkster.

    • pathfinder_01

      “he won’t actually launch a crewed demo suborbotal test flight let alone attempt a crewed orbital flight to support his claims.”

      What would be the point of a suborbital flight? Only manned spacecraft that was intended for orbit that did suborbital flights was Mercury. Anyway no not all of the systems are ready for a crew but a lot of the most important things are. The Dragon cargo Capsule isn’t capable of full life support in cargo mode, but it has pressure as well as temperature control, and the forces it generates during launch and recovery are not out of range of the surviablitly of a crew. In fact one of the abilities of the COT spacecraft is the ability to deliver live animals to the ISS!
      Just because it was hard almost fifty years ago does not mean that it would be as hard or as expensive to do now.

      • DCSCA

        “What would be the point of a suborbital flight?’

        Earning some srreet cred w.a crewed flight. For wary HSF investores and for flight testing hardware w/crew. If he wants to orbit and return, so much the better. Until then, it’s all talk of ‘things to come.’ A work o science fiction, too.

        “The Dragon cargo Capsule isn’t capable of full life support in cargo mode” you say– ten you’re saying Musk milead the audience. What a surprise. And right in character. He also close with ‘I have to get Tesla profitable.’ Just hilarious.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA said:

          Earning some srreet cred w.a crewed flight.

          OK, but you want them to do a “sub-orbital” flight, which means you are stuck in the 60′s. SpaceX has already shown they can not only reach orbit, but they can get to the ISS, berth, exchange stuff, and return safely to Earth.

          For wary HSF investores

          Dude, seriously, turn on the auto-correct feature of your browser. Your spelling is HORRIBLE.

          In any case, Musk isn’t looking for investors at this point, as he said he has no plans to do an IPO this year.

          SpaceX has a plan that they have already laid out with NASA for the Commercial Crew program, and that plan calls for company-crewed flights in 2015. There is no reason to push up that schedule, not unless all the other milestones related to that test have been completed ahead of time. To do otherwise would be very, um, DCSCA-like (i.e. rash and stupid). ;-)

          • DCSCA

            “SpaceX has a plan…”

            Yes and we know what it is. And FYI, Musk’s ‘plan’ announced in 2010 he would have crewed dragoons flying by 2015. Nine months left to disappoint you.

            • Robert G. Oler

              flying by 2015. Nine months left to disappoint you.>>

              recount…9 months and 1 year. RGO

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA moaned:

              And FYI, Musk’s ‘plan’ announced in 2010 he would have crewed dragoons flying by 2015. Nine months left to disappoint you.

              Um, the current year is 2013, so 2015 is still two years away. Oh, and that is when SpaceX told NASA they would be doing their first company flights to LEO.

          • DCSCA

            SpaceX has a plan that they have already laid out with NASA for the Commercial Crew program, and that plan calls for company-crewed flights in 2015.

            In fact, in 2010 the ‘plan’ was to loft crewed flights by 2013. The ‘plans’ mean nothing.

            Apologies for the typos. Admit to having a lousy old keyboard.

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA said:

              In fact, in 2010 the ‘plan’ was to loft crewed flights by 2013. The ‘plans’ mean nothing.

              No, what Musk said was that they could be transporting NASA crew three years after NASA gave them a transportation contract. NASA hasn’t given them a transportation contract, only a development one, so that timeline never started.

              If NASA had given them a transportation contract up front, then if SpaceX would have needed additional funds to accelerate their development and certification process, they could have borrowed money, sought out more private investors, or even done an IPO, since everyone could have seen that they had a firm contract from NASA. This is the normal process that businesses go through, so it’s not anything unusual.

              Apologies for the typos. Admit to having a lousy old keyboard.

              Apparently your keyboard is like your views, from the 60′s… ;-)

        • Robert G. Oler

          DCSCA
          March 12, 2013 at 2:08 am · Reply

          “What would be the point of a suborbital flight?’

          Earning some srreet cred w.a crewed flight. For wary HSF investores and for flight testing hardware w/crew. I>>

          I dont think it would. I deal pretty heavily with the insurance companies in my business; if a pilot is not insurable thats the end of that pilot; if a company is not insurable they really cant buy an airplane unless they self finance…we are talking in some instances 400 million dollar airplanes (with conversion to “executive class and hull cost that is the highest I have dealt with)

          An insurance guy aand I were putting the final wraps on a airplane that is headed for “the otherside of the world” and long short of it all turns out that the one I was dealing with also is working “with a major US company” on insuring their commercial space ops with humans.

          I asked the person point blank about a sub flight and not really. what they want to see is a test of an LAS…they really want to see a test ie vehicle flying capsule triggers abort and off it goes at “high mach”

          Now that might be your definition of a suborbital. RGO

          • common sense

            “they really want to see a test ie vehicle flying capsule triggers abort and off it goes at “high mach””

            This is a very simplistic test. Abort scenarios take place at several different place on ascent with varying degrees of difficulty, including the reason for abort.

            For example pad-abort may be the result of a malfunction or say some form of explosion. An explosion may make the abort even more difficult as the fireball may include overpressure to the capsule hull for example and the attitude of the capsule wrt to the overpressure may be a problem. For example if the overpressure hits the sidewall of the capsule. This only is an example.

            Other aborts of importance on ascent are at max-Q, max-Q-alpha, max heating and possibly max Mach. However the “high Mach” may not be the worst scenario. Here for example a max-Q abort typically is transonic. The transonic flow around the vehicle may be quite difficult to handle. On Saturn-Apollo abort they experienced some sort o suction that was pulling the capsule back in the capsule and required some pitching on abort from the whole system with control and stability issues… See below for CEV

            http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20080013374_2008012897.pdf

            Aborts are complicated and the added complexity of the escape system may increase the likelihood of failure of the overall system…

            FWIW.

          • DCSCA

            I dont think it would.” ponders RGO.

            Sure it would– a suborbital flight in a ballistic arc a la Shepard would bolster confidence in the HSF hardware and build confidence with the investor class in private capital markets which remain wary— and be a rather large nail in the coffin of government HSS ops. If he can’t even demostrate this, he’s never going to launch orbit and return anybody safely.

            • Dark Blue Nine

              “a suborbital flight in a ballistic arc a la Shepard would bolster confidence in the HSF hardware”

              No it wouldn’t. Ares I-X was a suborbital test flight, and no one had any confidence in Ares I before or after that test. Testing vehicles outside the environments and regimes in which they are intended to operate is a useless waste of resources. It’s stunt that changes nothing.

              Test as you fly. Fly as you test.

              “be a rather large nail in the coffin of government HSS ops.”

              Ares I had a suborbital test flight. Falcon 9 did not. Which one is launching capsules to the ISS today?

              • DCSCA

                “No it wouldn’t. Ares I-X was a suborbital test flight.”

                False equivalency. Again.

                Ares I-X was a test flight of an experimental LV, not a line product nor was it a crewed flight- which is the focus of this discussion. And the politics behind why it was launched is more about an attempt to vindicate Griffin’s rep than anythonig else. THe project was already on deathwatch. Lofting a crewed Falcon/dragon stack on suborbital– or orvital flight– is ademonstration of the product/service you’re selling which has been brought o market. And admitting it woudbe only a ‘test’ speaks volumes.

                “Testing vehicles outside the environments and regimes in which they are intended to operate is a useless waste of resources. It’s stunt that changes nothing.”

                Except its not. A commercial firm demonstratring its product/service is no stunt– unless you’re of a mind set of PT Barnum. A disturbing admission from any commercial advocate. If you’ve got a good product- crew it and fly it. These dragon/falcon stacks aren’t being peddled to the marketplace as experimental vehicles but line products, marketed for contracting for business and to make a a profit. That you’re advoocaeing a ‘product/service’ being brought to market still in need of ‘testing’ is an alarminm admission. And a poor excuse from a commercial faction that’s trying to peddle a service/product ‘customer ready’ for business. You lease a Ford from Hertz, you expect it to operate- not be told its an experinemental car and your drive to Encino from Frisco is a test ride.

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “Ares I-X was a test flight of an experimental LV, not a line product”

                Patently false. Ares I was intended to be an operational “line product” launch vehicle that launched at least a couple times a year, not an “experimental LV”.

                “Lofting a crewed Falcon/dragon stack on suborbital… is ademonstration of the product/service you’re selling which has been brought o market.”

                The Falcon/Dragon market is orbital, not suborbital. A suborbital launch does not demonstrate that an orbital launch vehicle and capsule can service an orbital market.

                “That you’re advoocaeing a ‘product/service’ being brought to market still in need of ‘testing’ is an alarminm admission.”

                I’m not “advoocaeing” that Falcon/Dragon is “still in need of testing”. You are. You’re the one advocating that Falcon/Dragon undergo a suborbital test (after they’ve flown orbitally several times).

                You’re arguing with yourself. Take your meds.

        • The notion of SpaceX doing a suborbital flight, for which they don’t even have a launch vehicle, remains idiotic. Which is probably why you continue to repeat it.

          • DCSCA

            More interesting are endless excuses Newspacers such as you make for not demonstrating something so basic which would bolster conficence in the HSF technolgy you’re shilling for and alay apprehension in the private capital markets.

            • pathfinder-01

              ”More interesting are endless excuses Newspacers such as you make for not demonstrating something so basic which would bolster conficence in the HSF technolgy you’re shilling for and alay apprehension in the private capital markets.”

              What HSF technology would it boost confidence in? The heat shield has worked. The capsule has kept temperature and pressure. The parachutes worked (All three of which is more than can be said for Orion at this point and Orion has been in development about as long as Dragon). A 15 min sub orbital test wouldn’t be a good test for the life support system, too short.

              The only reason why Mercury and only Mercury did it was because Atlas was not ready. Gemini, Apollo, Vostock, Vosthood, Soyuz and the Shuttle did not bother with sub orbital flights. Falcon 9 has launched five times, four of which with a dragon capsule. A suborbital flight test neither the capsule nor does it test the rocket.

              We live in a world where private launch companies lift radioactive payloads, spy satilights, and even send probes to distant planets with their rockets. Why is lifting a man to LEO something that was done more than 50 years ago so hard that no private company could ever do it?

              • DCSCA

                “A suborbital flight test neither the capsule nor does it test the rocket.”

                Which is meaningless as it didn’t carry a crew. And that’s the whole point. But if you want to trumpet launching a satellite four times, welcome to 1957–58.

              • DCSCA

                “Why is lifting a man to LEO something that was done more than 50 years ago so hard that no private company could ever do it?”

                Because the risk of failure outweighs the value of success. Still. Thst’s why governments do it.

            • There is no need to make an excuse for not doing something stupid and unnecessary.

              • DCSCA

                “There is no need to make an excuse for not doing something stupid and unnecessary.” excused Rand.

                Except it is necessary in the marketplace to demonstrate a product/service can actually work- that is launch and return a crew safely- – particularly if you’re peddling it for commercial and government contracting as an alternative to LEO HSF ops by government– something you keep making excuses for failing to accomplish.

          • DCSCA

            Aborts are complicated and the added complexity of the escape system may increase the likelihood of failure of the overall system…

            Except there is.

            Launch, shutdown early, sep on a ballistic arc and splash. Why you keep making excuses for failnig to perform only undercutrs the very pitch you keep shilling.

            • common sense

              My observation: Aborts are complicated and the added complexity of the escape system may increase the likelihood of failure of the overall system…

              Your rebuttal: Except there is. Hmmm. Except there is what?

              “Launch, shutdown early, sep on a ballistic arc and splash. Why you keep making excuses for failnig to perform only undercutrs the very pitch you keep shilling.”

              Wow. Not only are you an encyclopedia on all things space but you are a space vehicle designer too. I can only bow to the expertise. Were you actually on that abort sequence that you are so aptly describing above? Too many Gs? I love your analysis though. Especially the insight into the” shutdown early, sep on a ballistic arc and splash” since launch is easy.

              Except there is.

              NASA hasn’t successfully designed a crewed space vehicle in 40 years. Tick tock tick tock. Send some one to space and get him back safely. It will get them street cred.

              Except there is.

              Abort is a geopolitical issue for the US government. There are a lot of anti-abort people out there. Tick tock. Send some one, any one to space, even a monkey will do. And take him back safely on abort. Splash the monkey and take him to the United Nations.

              Except there is.

              Use the monkey for NEO mitigation. Except there is. And a President Clinton who has shown deep interest in monkeys, especially the space kind will take us to the Moon and back on an elliptic arc before splash down with the monkey who will have tick tock earned street creds with investors and Musk hasn’t flown anybody.

              Except there is…

              Sigh. Tiresome.

              • DCSCA

                You keep making excuses for NewSpace failing to launch, orbit and return anybody safely which doesn’t help your cause– and echoes the same rationales from the private sector back in the day before Sputnik and Gagarin flew. HSF is a projection of geo-political power for economic and strategic purposes on Earth. It ain’t a money making enterprise. That’s why government do it.

  • vulture4

    A little ironic, but since the Shuttle was shut down laying off thousands of USA Shuttle engineers and technicians, several major aerospace firms (SpaceX, Xcor, Embraer, Northrup-Grumman, Harris) have made significant expansions in the Space Coast area particularly in engineering, drawn at least in part by lots of very experienced people looking for jobs.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    Meanwhile, Dana Rohrabacher of the Science, Space and Technology Committee is now openly advocating the cancellation of SLS/Orion in favour of commercial crew and investment in technologies that would allow the use of smaller LVs to carry out a human exploration program.

    http://spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=43555

    I strongly suspect that Robert Oler will be smirking as he digests this.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Ben Russell-Gough
    March 11, 2013 at 6:22 pm · Reply
    .

    http://spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=43555

    I strongly suspect that Robert Oler will be smirking as he digests this.>>

    you would be correct.

    The lights are dimming on SLS…there is I am told a letter which the NASA Administrator is working on replying to where several members of the House committee that Dana is on have asked for a “completion cost” estimate of SLS to both a SSME/Solid config and a new engine/new side booster config…and what a second stage in all this is going to go for. and time lines.

    The answer to this will be frightening.

    Dark times…and they are going to get darker. RGO

    • Egad

      > I am told a letter which the NASA Administrator is working on replying to where several members of the House committee that Dana is on have asked for a “completion cost” estimate of SLS to both a SSME/Solid config and a new engine/new side booster config…and what a second stage in all this is going to go for. and time lines.

      http://appropriations.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=323276

      Hearings
      Oversight Hearing – National Aeronautics and Space Administration
      Wednesday, March 20, 2013 2:00 PM in 2359 Rayburn
      Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

      Witness
      The Honorable Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
      Administrator
      National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  • DCSCA

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

    • Paul

      Didn’t you get beaten up for that inanity already? Just stop, you’re becoming a parody of yourself.

      • Coastal Ron

        It’s becoming obvious that this is something like a mental tick, not a rational thought, since he’s not able to actually explain what he means.

      • DCSCA

        Reaffitming that hat yuo do not comprehend– or more likely, simply disapprove- of the geo-political strategy is just tough. Nobody was all that keen on SDI either- save the contractors. That it Is a strategy for the United Staets is just something NesPaceers will have to live with. If you spent as much time on gett NewSpcce into the HSF orbital ops biz as you do complaining about SLS/MPCV, you’d be years along. THat you’re desperate to to tap the government funding denied by the private sector is obvious.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA wrote:

          Reaffitming that hat yuo do not comprehend…

          Not with the terrible typing that you’re doing. Seriously dude, what’s up? I’m mean, what a “NesPaceers”?

          And since you have’t explained anything about this “theory” you have that the SLS is geo-political, we’ll just keep thinking that it’s just your way of saying “I don’t know, but I’ll make something up”.

          Please look into turning on your browser spellcheck feature.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “simply disapprove- of the geo-political strategy”

          What is this “geo-political [sic] strategy”? What are its goals? What is the plan to achieve those goals? How does SLS fit into that plan? Where is it written down in a White House policy document?

          It’s hard to approve or disapprove of something when it doesn’t exist.

          “Reaffitming that hat yuo”

          “That it Is a strategy for the United Staets is just something NesPaceers”

          “If you spent as much time on gett NewSpcce”

          “THat you’re”

          Wow… you’re even more off your meds than usual.

          • DCSCA

            “It’s hard to approve or disapprove of something when it doesn’t exist.” whistled dbn/Tommy past the graveyard.

            Except it does. That you choose to deny it, ignore it, or rail against it has obvious motives for NewSpace advocates who fear SLS/MPCV policies will bigfoot fledgling NewSpace activities desperate to tap government subsidies denied by the private capital markets. You’re scared of it.

            You’ve already expressed a high disapproval of gov’t financing of such projects of scale which is right in line with those who advocate the broader ideology of privatizing all things government. You complain it is spending ‘your tax dollars’ from ‘my government’ as you put it. {And it’s ‘our government’ BTW.) In reality, you simply disapprove of the geo-political strategy of big government projects and embrace privatization of as many government operations as possible. That’s just tough. Nobody was all that keen on funding SDI either- save the contractors. SLS/MPCV is a geo-political strategy for the United States– and it means skilled, technical jobs as well in many industries across the nation. Yes, government creates jobs. The energy spent opposing it suggests a fear of it choking off resources that NewSpace LEO project advocaes want channelled their way; financing through contracts and subsidies in an era of flat budgets that NewSpace LEO projects desperately seek; monies denied by private capital markets wary of the low to no ROI in a limited market. And why? To go in circles, no place, fast for another decade and after the ISS is splashed, we’ll be no further along than we’ve been since Apollo 17 splashed.

            Private enterprise is not going to supplant government HSF activities and lead the way forward. Only those who embrace the Magnitied Importance of Diminished Vision believe that. Sure, there will be gaps in government ops, starts and stops and technical issues to overcome. That’s how our nation operates. But the way forward, up and out into the solar syatem for HSF is by government space projects of scale. Not with private space projects which, to date, have failed to launch, orbit and safely return anybody from LEO, let alone flights to Luna.. or Mars. Space exploitation is not space exploration.

            If the NewSpace factionists – or shills- bent on trying to establish a ‘false equivalency’ (with zero experience in launching, orbiting and returning anybody safely) spent as much time on getting NewSpcce into routine HSF orbital ops biz as you do complaining about SLS/MPCV, you’d be many years further along. Stop worrying about SLS/MPCV. And start earning some credibility by flying crews into and back from LEO safely.

            • Dark Blue Nine

              “Except it does.”

              Great! What is the strategy? What are its goals? What is the plan to achieve those goals? How does SLS contribute to that plan?

              And where is this strategy documented? What White House policy directive encapsulates the strategy? What is the link or reference to that directive?

              “That you choose to deny it, ignore it, or rail against it… You’re scared of it.”

              I can’t deny, ignore, rail against, or be scared of something that exists only in your head.

              I and others have asked you for copies, or just some specifics, on this grand strategy for weeks now.

              You’ve provided none.

              The logical conclusion is that this “geo-political [sic] strategy” is just another symptom of your mental instabilities.

              “You’ve already expressed a high disapproval of gov’t financing of such projects of scale”

              Scale is irrelevant. I don’t care if a government program is big or small. Duplication and unnecessary costs to the taxpayer are what’s relevant. SLS duplicates capabilites that are already under development in the private sector at no cost to the taxpayer (Falcon Heavy), or that could be developed at much less cost to the taxpayer (EELV Phase 2 and Falcon Super Heavy). Either option would save billions and billions of taxpayer dollars for actual space exploration (or deficit reduction or welfare programs or defense programs or whatever your favorite federal spending priority is).

              “those who advocate the broader ideology of privatizing all things government.”

              I’ve never stated that “all things government” should be privatized. I’ve stated that the government should not waste limited tax dollars duplicating at much greater cost and schedule what the private sector is already doing or can do.

              “And why? To go in circles, no place, fast for another decade and after the ISS is splashed, we’ll be no further along than we’ve been since Apollo 17 splashed.”

              This is patently false statement. Falcon Heavy supports the baseline architectures for human lunar landing (Golden Spike) and human Mars (Inspiration Mars) missions.

              No one — including NASA — is baselining SLS for any human lunar landing or Mars missions. SLS and MPCV costs are so high that NASA can’t afford to work on any actual exploration plans or hardware. What little actual exploration hardware there is (the SM for MPCV), ESA has to fund.

              “Sure, there will be gaps in government ops, starts and stops and technical issues to overcome.”

              The MPCV capsule needs to add more mass to accommodate structural failures in testing, but is 20% overweight for landing and is at the limits of parachute technology (tests of which have also failed). How do you suggest NASA fix that “technical issue” without massive cost overruns, schedule slips, or reductions in requirements?

              The MPCV SM dry mass is some 30% overweight, yet the SM has been outsourced to a foreign space agency, which has yet to commit to funding almost half of the project. How do you recommend NASA fix that “technical issue” and budget “gap” without massive cost overruns, schedule slips, or reductions in requirements?

              SLS has already slipped a year of schedule, and has been underfunded in the first three years of the program’s existence by billions of dollars, and will continue to be underfunded by billions of dollars for years to come in an era of deficit reduction, sequesters, and government shutdowns. How do you recommend NASA fix that budget “gap” without massive schedule slips or reductions in capability?

              Per NASA’s own budget documents, even in an optimistic budget scenario from two years ago, there will be no funding available to develop any actual exploration hardware beyond the MPCV SM until 2030 at the earliest assuming SLS and MPCV are used. And that was before the past two years of redutions and the sequester. How do you recommend NASA fix that budget “gap” without massive schedule slips or reductions in capability?

              “Private enterprise is not going to supplant government HSF activities and lead the way forward.”

              At the rate SLS and MPCV are going, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. I’d rather that the future not play out that way, but NASA is on the path to irrelevance in human space exploration.

              • common sense

                “be scared of something that exists only in your head.”

                Not sure about that…

                “NASA is on the path to irrelevance in human space exploration.”

                I would not say that though. Yet. Commercial Space was still initiated at NASA with enough success, so far.

                Now of course if our moronic Congress has its ways and they cancel all budget for Commercial Space then irrelevance it will be. But who in Congress would be stupid enough to keep funding the russian industry, damage the US industrial base and alienate a potential wealthy partner all the while using computers and clothes and other essential products made in China? Can Congress be that hypocritical???

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “I would not say that though. Yet. Commercial Space was still initiated at NASA with enough success, so far.

                Now of course if our moronic Congress has its ways and they cancel all budget for Commercial Space then irrelevance it will be.”

                I’m picking nits, but I wrote “human space exploration”, not “human space flight”. NASA will continue to be relevant to the latter by dint of ISS alone for the forseeable future.

                But NASA effectively has no human space exploration program or plans, while the private sector now has two.

                It’s a topsy-turvy world we’re living in.

                “But who in Congress would be stupid enough to keep funding the russian industry, damage the US industrial base and alienate a potential wealthy partner all the while using computers and clothes and other essential products made in China? Can Congress be that hypocritical???”

                As long as it ensures that old Shuttle workers don’t turn out to vote against them in the next election, sure.

              • common sense

                “I’m picking nits, but I wrote “human space exploration”, not “human space flight”. ”

                Fair enough ;)

              • DCSCA

                “I and others have asked you for copies, or just some specifics, on this grand strategy for weeks now.

                Inaccurate– and you’ve provided nothing but press releases in an effort to create an aura of ‘false equivalency.’ Others have been directed to January 14, 2004 to start with the derivatives– it was in all the MSM. and that you choose to ignore or deny th strategies in play fits with the NewSpace pattern of fear– and the ideology of privatizing all things government. And BTW, personal attacks simply betray your own inability to support a weak position and srengthen mine. But this is beside the central issue- your opposition to SLS/MPCV is couched in the broader ideology advocating privatizing all things government. A viewpoint which ignores the broader, geo-politics of our times. A smarter move, simply by way of a PR offensive (something Musk is well versed in) would be to actually earn some credbility and launch orbit (or sub-orbit) a crewed falcon/dragon stack on a demo flight and earn some steet cred. But again, this really isn’tabout HSF ops– its about the effort to privatize as many government services as possible.

                “Scale is irrelevant.”

                Except it’s not. It’s what you rail against thel loudest.

                “I don’t care if a government program is big or small. Duplication and unnecessary costs to the taxpayer are what’s relevant.”

                And that’s precisely what commerical LEO ops servicing the ISS is– duplicating a function th Progress and Soyuz have been doing routinely for decades– servicing LEO crewed space platforms.

                “This is patently false statement. Falcon Heavy supports the baseline architectures for human lunar landing (Golden Spike) and human Mars (Inspiration Mars) missions.”

                Except its not. Nobody has flown beyond LEO since 1972. This a prime example of ‘false equivalency’– a faux argument using a piece of science fiction to counter historical fact to support a position with smoke and mirrors. You pitch a paper space proposal– science fiction- by press release.

                Subsidizing commercial HSF LEO ops w/tax dollars is a waste of tax dollars, siphoning off dwindling ersources from BEO planning and ops in an era of flat budgets.

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “Others have been directed to January 14, 2004 to start with the derivatives… “th [sic] strategies in play”

                You’re referring to the Bush II Administration’s Vision for Space Exploration rollout. The VSE was a plan to send humans back to the surface of the Moon.

                The VSE is not “in play”. NASA is not pursuing a human lunar surface landing. A private company called Golden Spike is.

                Moreover, the VSE was never a “geo-political [sic] strategy” for the Bush II Administration. The Bush II White House never articulated how the VSE would help it achieve various foreign policy goals.

                And the VSE is certainly not a strategy, “geo-political [sic]” or otherwise, for the Obama Administration. They have articulated no larger strategy for SLS/MPCV.

                “your opposition to SLS/MPCV is couched in the broader ideology advocating privatizing all things government”

                No, it’s “couched” in the common sense notion that no one, including the federal government and the taxpayers that fund it, should pay more for transportation than what is necessary. SLS is four to ten times more expensive to develop than equivalent or more capable HLVs. SLS is a waste of billions and billions of taxpayer dollars.

                “A viewpoint which ignores the broader, geo-politics of our times.”

                Which are what? What grand “geo-political [sic]” goals is the Obama Administration pursuing via SLS/MPCV?

                It ain’t the VSE or a human lunar return.

                “It’s what you rail against thel loudest.”

                When and where have I railed against “scale”? Where have I even typed the word except in response to one of your crazy rants about “programs of scale”?

                Quote? Link?

                “duplicating a function th Progress and Soyuz have been doing routinely for decades”

                In case you hadn’t noticed, Progress and Soyuz are Russian vehicles. If you actually understood what “geo-political [sic]” power is, you wouldn’t be comfortable ceding that power to foreign powers and paying them for the privelege.

                “Nobody has flown beyond LEO since 1972.”

                Including NASA. Two generations have gone by. No one is left in the agency from that era.

                “You pitch a paper space proposal– science fiction- by press release.”

                Engineering feasibility studies and peer-reviewed papers are not “science fiction”:

                http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=golden%20spike%20paper&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CC8QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fgoldenspikecompany.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2012%2F02%2FFrench-et-al.-Architecture-Paper-in-AIAA-Journal-of-Spacecraft-and-Rockets.pdf&ei=R7c2Uci8MaHQ0gHIrICgBQ&usg=AFQjCNEYilpCPTu8wu4sLIEtptFRRdK_sw&bvm=bv.43287494,d.dmQ

                http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=inspiration%20mars%20mission%20model&source=web&cd=7&cad=rja&ved=0CEsQFjAG&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.inspirationmars.com%2FInspiration%2520Mars_Feasibility%2520Analysis_IEEE.pdf&ei=9LU2UciLAcXQ0wH_r4GgAw&usg=AFQjCNFqcTNdIJ6G3EeUrvBQh57C8ClLpA

                Mission models are not “science fiction”:

                http://i.space.com/images/i/000/026/593/i02/tito-mars-flyby-mission.jpg?1361989168

                $100 million commitments are not “science fiction”:

                http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/03/01/expert-dennis-titos-mars-flyby-has-1-in-3-chance-of-succeeding?s_cid=related-links:TOP

                Industry contracts are not “science fiction”:

                http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2013/01/golden-spike-northrop-grumman-lunar-lander/

                Are you now going to hypocritically quote a science fiction writer like Arthur C. Clarke to support your delusion?

                “And BTW, personal attacks…”

                You routinely have episodes when can’t type in the English language to save your life.

                You repeat the same phrases, like “tick-tock” and “false equivalency”, over-and-over like some poor OCD sufferer.

                You live years to decades in the past, offering up events that happened two generations ago and policies that were overturned two political cycles ago as evidence that NASA is capable of repeating these events, despite the reality that the agency doesn’t have the direction or funding to repeat those achievements, is weighed down by an egregiously duplicative and unnecessary launch and capsule development, and hasn’t demonstrated competence in developing new launch systems for over 30 years.

                What else are we suppossed to think other than you’re a certifiable nutjob off his meds?

            • Robert G. Oler

              DCSCA
              March 13, 2013 at 7:53 pm · Reply

              “Except it does. ,,,,,,(a lot snipped) You’re scared of it. ”

              other then you just argue and put out positions for the simple joy of putting them out and engaging people in debate…I dont get the point you’re making.

              On the one hand you view ISS as a complete waste of money even operational money and its flying and then you say that people are scared of SLS and its view graphs.

              I enjoy people and discussions with them who have different viewpoints then my own…it comes from how I grew up and my profession…crew resource management is something I live and teach and you need to be able to encompass in ones decisions making ideas and projections which are not ones own. Otherwise you are Bush43…every foreign affairs issue needs a drone (sorry thats Obama…for Bush it was a flat out war).

              But where I cock an eyebrow and then finally just stop listening is when the positions become, without any explanation incoherent and dont track logically.

              the two viewpoints you have (to paraphrase) “the sooner we dump ISS the better” and “SLS is some sort of global strategery” are incoherent with each other even in rhetoric.

              but to sum up my opposition to SLS, it is that it is a project that has no coherent goal other then employment, it is one that if built is to expensive to use, and if built will do nothing to advance the state of the space art…indeed it is possible that by the time it flies its first crew members on a Apollo 8 loop around the Moon, Golden Spike will be on the verge of landing there…but even if the later falters…SLS/Orion will not land a person on the moon in any capacity in the enxt three decades if ever.

              Robert G. Oler

              • DCSCA

                “the two viewpoints you have (to paraphrase) “the sooner we dump ISS the better” and “SLS is some sort of global strategery” are incoherent with each other even in rhetoric.” says RGO.

                Except they’re not. The political strategy of the ISS (a project DCSCA opposed back in the 80s as well, along w/t likes of the late Deke Slayton) has played out– and the basic research’ — something Glenn championed for years it would return– has not materialized to justify the expense in these times. Perpetuating its ops is a waste of resources in this era– and subsidizing commercial LEO ops to it is just another desperate rationale for those within NASA who want to keep the ISS– and their jobs. Buying one or two seats a year on Soyuz (the monies wasted on commercial would pay for those easy) is more than enough — the thing operates w/six aboard as it is and is doomed to a Pacific grave. One represents a Cold War strategy from the past-century- and perpetuated LEO ops- and has served its political purpose; the other represents transitioning and pressing on w/BEO planning/ops into this century while serving as a geo-political strategy. And it means jobs. Today its a chess game, not a foot race. But it is still a reactive, not a proactive policy for the United States- which remains in character. Our HSF program is essentially is free drift for the duration of this administration– similar, thoguh not mirroring, to the doldrums of the Carter days. And we knoe the alternative would have been much worse. Mr. Obama put space in the out box back in his 2010 KSC speech. And Congress is treading water, trying to keep it afloat. Expect HRC to set a more definitive course in her first term. She has a personal interest in space. Mr. Obama has none. Unless, of course, some other nation makes a move he’ll be forced to ‘react’ to. Whether e’d rach like Ike, or JFK… or JEC makes for an amusing parlor game.

              • Robert G. Oler

                DCSCA
                March 14, 2013 at 8:08 pm

                So in summary a project which is actually flying and actually has international participants and seems to have a coherent plan for operation…even though its utilization has yet to be maxed (or even really approached)

                is inferior

                to a project which has no real chance of flying a person in orbit until sometime in the 2020′s after spending another 30-60 billion (and having spent 10-25 billion the spread in both figures is if you include Orion), depends on a service module from the Europeans which have not funded yet and has no second stage…and at best if all the parts are built will only be able to do an Apollo 8 style loop around…

                because it takes us out of LEO?

                The former is not a strategery but the latter is…?

                OK well Bush left office claiming his hunt for OBL was an “incomplete success”…thanks for clearly stating you’re views.

                Robert G. Oler

          • Neil Shipley

            Perhaps it’s rage rendering him more incoherent than usual :)

          • Guest

            I think it has something to do with seven to nine billion humans living well beyond their means only by the fortuitous carbon reserves on a planet with a molten core, being constantly bombarded by rocks and threatened by nuts with nukes on long range rockets. That the geopolitics of the human condition on Earth.

            I don’t know about you, but I would be rather comforted by knowing that at least we had a large reserve of reusable heavy lift rockets at our disposal. That’s not the SLS, but it could be.

            I’m rather more interested in the legislation fast tracking the upper stage requirements for the definitively borked expendable SLS design, and the lack of a clear mission for this monstrosity. Clearly an upper stage is not possible in the timeframes and budget available. It would be rather more effective to eliminate the crew requirements and then add some liguid reusable boosters to the stack, and call the core stage an upper stage, in which case the SLS becomes a reusable heavy lifter with a large number of easily accessible missions.

            That’s my take on this.

            • Paul

              No, SLS will not be reusable, and has no rational route by which it could be made reusable.

              • Guest

                Sure there is, the core stage is easily orbital capable and I can think of a bunch of ways to get it there using existing assets, and a bunch of things to do with it once you get it there. Indeed, I can also think of many near Earth space destinations and missions for that core stage considering the gravity of the human condition as I have so easily demonstrated.

              • Robert G. Oler

                Guest…the core stage of SLS?

                it is not “orbit capable” OK with no payload I guess it could do a SCORE but…RGO

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “the core stage is easily orbital capable”

                No, it’s not. It needs a circularization burn, and the SSMEs can’t be restarted.

            • Guest

              The core stage can EASILY reach orbit and if the structure was properly designed, which it is not, and it could most likely go to orbit without SRBs with a structurally efficient core. I’m also sure Musk will get around to doing it eventually, but his manifest is pretty full now.

              I don’t mean to be harsh, but only an idiot would suggest a circularization burns using the SSMEs.

              You could do it with hypergolics, with sustainers, you can fly direct orbital insertions, or you could escape or even add an upper stage engine in the center. It doesn’t take much, even with 200lkbs.

              • Robert G. Oler

                and then you have a tank that is a menace on reentry and is used on orbit for ? ? ? RGO

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “You could do it with hypergolics, with sustainers… even add an upper stage engine in the center”

                None of which the core stage has.

                “you can fly direct orbital insertions”

                No, you can’t. You’ll still need a circularization burn, which the core stage can’t perform.

                “or you could escape”

                That’s not Earth orbit.

                “I don’t mean to be harsh, but only an idiot would suggest a circularization burns using the SSMEs.”

                I’m not the idiot claiming that the SLS core stage is “easily orbit capable” when it doesn’t even have engines to achieve Earth orbit.

                I’m also not the idiot claiming that Earth escape is the same thing as Earth orbit.

  • Guest

    The SLS has several hundred thousand pounds of payload capacity that is not being used because the payloads are unfunded. If NASA cannot add a hypergolic attitude control system and orbital maneuvering system to a stage that is vastly overpowered already then they indeed shouldn’t be designing launch vehicles. Earth orbit is not an optimal place to put SLS cores anyways, since basically its entire justification is beyond Earth orbit space exploration. I’m just saying this is easily accomplished without invoking magic or violatiing any laws of physics. OMS systems are indeed more efficient to direct insertions, but they aren’t necessary, as any simple simulator run will quickly establish. Maybe you should try some of that stuff someday. Escape orbit is just another deltaV increment. If you think arguing semantics is a way to discuss physics then I quit. Posting here with the same old people with limited knowledge and closed minds quickly becomes unproductive.

    Thank you for your brief attention.

    • common sense

      “If you think arguing semantics is a way to discuss physics then I quit. Posting here with the same old people with limited knowledge and closed minds quickly becomes unproductive.”

      Yeah. I – and others I am sure – know what you mean. The only mistake I think you make is to confuse a forum about “space politics” with “space physics” but it is arguably a semantics issue so enough of it.

      “Thank you for your brief attention.”

      You’re welcome and good luck with your proposal to NASA for a reusable SLS. I for one am looking forward to reading all about it and the associated cost. Don’t let others take you down.

      • Guest

        Well good luck designing a modern launcher with politics. Wait – that’s what you did and now that’s what you’ve got. There is nothing written into the laws of physics or legacy engineering that says that’s the way it has to be. Generally, when a problem arises in a design, or new information comes to light, which in this case has clearly both occurred with respect to the SLS, then if you want a particular desired result, you make changes. Short of electing rational leaders, those changes will have to be in hardware, and I am merely reporting those changes that we have investigated that solve the problems with the launch vehicle – under the constraints of the imposed laws. If the principles of this now decades long sordid affair truly want the results that they claim to want, then they will make the desired changes. If not, then they won’t. I’m not fooling myself at all here, I’m just working the problems.

        • Coastal Ron

          Guest said:

          Generally, when a problem arises in a design, or new information comes to light, which in this case has clearly both occurred with respect to the SLS, then if you want a particular desired result, you make changes.

          Not without consulting the customer, which is Congress in this case.

          Congress already provided the specs for the SLS, and that is what they expect to get, regardless how little money they provide.

          Short of electing rational leaders, those changes will have to be in hardware, and I am merely reporting those changes that we have investigated that solve the problems with the launch vehicle

          Who is “we”.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “The SLS has several hundred thousand pounds of payload capacity that is not being used because the payloads are unfunded. If NASA cannot add a hypergolic attitude control system and orbital maneuvering system to a stage that is vastly overpowered already then they indeed shouldn’t be designing launch vehicles.”

      If NASA doesn’t have a budget for SLS payloads, then where is the budget going to come from for adding the engines, tankage, avionics, and supporting workforce for an attitude control system and an in-space propulsion system to SLS? NASA can’t even afford to fund these for MPCV (ESA is building the SM), nevertheless SLS.

      And why would anyone pay hundreds of millions to billions of dollars more to put a core stage into space sans the budget for any payload to take advantage of that core stage? This proposal is even more pointless and expensive than the existing SLS/MPCV projects.

      “I’m just saying this is easily accomplished without invoking magic or violatiing any laws of physics.”

      And yet you entertain magical thinking about a “reusable” SLS with no means of getting that core stage back to Earth.

      “any simple simulator run will quickly establish”

      Why do I feel like I’m talking with a 12-year old whose dad is letting him play with his software at work?

      “Posting here with the same old people with limited knowledge and closed minds quickly becomes unproductive.”

      If you don’t like the turn the conversation has taken, then don’t start it by calling other posters “idiots” when they raise technical and budgetary problems with your proposal.

  • Guest

    And yet you entertain magical thinking about a “reusable” SLS with no means of getting that core stage back to Earth.

    As far as I know the only people talking about bringing the core stage back to Earth are Congress, NASA and Boeing Corp., and you, in an unsatisfactory catastrophic manner yielding an unusable result, I might add. Direct orbital insertions are fairly easy to perform, especially with launchers that go to orbit with lots of extra fuel. They just use extra fuel. You would be surprised by all of the innovative orbital maneuvering that is possible with that kind of extra fuel, if you would only take the time to try them on readily available free orbital simulators. In these kinds of scenarios missions don’t even make any sense, and since there is no money to fund them anyways, we don’t really think like that anymore. These are usable test flights with no risk at all since the goal is beyond Earth orbit exploration without crews, and dramatically advancing the state of the art of rocketry, while addressing the legislation that is in place, and the so called geopolitics.

    If you want to know the truth, this all boils down to engineering. Musk is no doubt going to be building extremely large form factor in line staged launch vehicles, building these stages near the launch site and flying them directly back to the launch site, and the only credible alternative is parallel staging. We’re just performing the trades between those combinations and with combinations of the two techniques, using a variety of fuels, primarily methane and hydrogen and a mix of hypergolics and/or alcohol, since NASA and Boeing seems to be happy with the gravy train that they have. We’ve just recognized that gravy train is going to come to a halt. When it does, we will take what we’ve learned to the private sector, but while that gravy train continues to run we’re obligated to at least attempt to make the concept work, if possible. The SLS is an ideal system to investigate these concepts since all of the components exist, are well tested and in theory, ready to go. As soon as another player enters the arena, we will be no doubt plugging their numbers into our system to see what is possible with the architecture. Without those numbers beforehand you get what you’ve got – the SLS. We’re more concerned about being ready for the post SLS world. In that respect these exercises have been extremely productive. I’m sorry if you take issue with our approach, but this is what space cadets do. It’s a lot easier now, since we don’t have billions of dollars of federal money to throw down a rathole that is now several decades deep.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “As far as I know the only people talking about bringing the core stage back to Earth are Congress, NASA and Boeing Corp., and you”

      And you. You claim that you can turn SLS in a reusable launch vehicle. By definition, it won’t be a reusable launch vehicle if the core stage can’t be recovered intact on Earth.

      “You would be surprised by all of the innovative orbital maneuvering that is possible with that kind of extra fuel”

      No orbital maneuvers are possible without engines that can be extinguished and relit. All that “extra fuel” is useless without them.

      “if you would only take the time to try them on readily available free orbital simulators.”

      Would jump off a bridge if your “orbital simulators” told you it was possible?

      I can run a simulation where my wife’s Honda flies to Alpha Centauri. That doesn’t mean that my wife’s Honda has anti-gravity engines and an FTL drive.

      SLS doesn’t have the engines necessary to turn it into an orbital maneuvering vehicle. Period.

      “Musk is no doubt going to be building extremely large form factor in line staged launch vehicles, building these stages near the launch site and flying them directly back to the launch site,”

      Yes, there is “no doubt” this is what SpaceX intends with respect to Grasshopper and Falcon 9, because this is what Musk announced in a National Press Club briefing months ago and what SpaceX has had videos of online since then.

      Thank you, Captain Obvious.

      “and the only credible alternative is parallel staging.”

      Reusable parallel staging is impossible on the SLS, since neither the core stage nor the SRBs will recoverable.

      “The SLS is an ideal system to investigate these concepts since all of the components exist, are well tested and in theory, ready to go.”

      All of the components for SLS do not exist, starting with that core stage you’re so fond of. It’s very different from the STS ET, right down to very metal it will be built from.

      And forget “ready to go”.

      “We’ve just recognized… we will take what we’ve learned… we will be no doubt [sic] plugging… We’re more concerned about…”

      You’re using the royal “we”? Great, another nutjob. Just what this forum needs.

      • common sense

        “Great, another nutjob. Just what this forum needs.”

        I never saw the show but I think two important facts here:

        1. We can see the technology development that some of our posters are thinking of, e,g. at 0:38

        2. You can see cameos of some of our posters at 0:48 and at 1:03 and on. I just wonder who is who though.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAl71p_A2wM

      • Guest

        I am in awe of the level of closed mindedness you display towards fundamental concepts of design and engineering science, and as such I cannot even begin to reply to this.

        Thank you for your greeat contributions to rocket science.

        • Coastal Ron

          Guest said:

          I am in awe of the level of closed mindedness you display towards fundamental concepts of design and engineering science…

          From an engineering standpoint, I like to believe that there are no limits to what we can accomplish, given enough time and money.

          With that in mind, what you propose ignores time and money, specifically the political and fiscal realities that are present today.

          For instance, the SLS budget of today is maybe enough to do what Congress has asked for, but certainly not enough to do the significant changes you envision. And the political side of the equation is that NASA cannot deviate from the law specifying what the SLS will do, regardless how wonderful those capabilities may be.

          It’s amazing you don’t understand that.

          • common sense

            “From an engineering standpoint, I like to believe that there are no limits to what we can accomplish, given enough time and money.”

            I beg to differ but there are still open questions whether we can actually build a time machine ;)

            “With that in mind, what you propose ignores time and money, specifically the political and fiscal realities that are present today.”

            As DB9 would say (for some reason I suspect it is DB9 and not DBN) you are picking nits. As has been demonstrated we can always print money. And if you print it quickly enough, by the time the inflation sets in you have a lot of cash to do stuff. As for time. Well. Back to the time machine I guess. Dunno though.

            “For instance, the SLS budget of today is maybe enough to do what Congress has asked for,”

            Nope, not even for SLS. Congress is putting money for jobs not to design/build/utilize the SLS. Err. Maybe you meant to produce ppts? In that case I am wrong.

            “but certainly not enough to do the significant changes you envision.”

            I for one am still waiting for a link to his proposal. Or something. Hopefully not drafted on a napkin just like some other engineer used to do. I believe Picasso used to draft stuff on napkins too. But lucky him he made a living selling his drawings. Sorry I digress.

            “And the political side of the equation is that NASA cannot deviate from the law specifying what the SLS will do, regardless how wonderful those capabilities may be.”

            Surprisingly those who can only deviate from the law is Congress. Easy of course since they can always write the laws that they need.

            “It’s amazing you don’t understand that.”

            Is it? My friend you should get acquainted with self anointed rocket scientists or even those with degrees, e.g. (wink-wink – don’t ask I just like the sound of it) Mike Griffin who oddly enough also holds an MBA – hope it’s not an honorary MBA, does that exist?

            • Coastal Ron

              common sense said:

              I beg to differ but there are still open questions whether we can actually build a time machine

              I can build one that will send you into the future – close your eyes, and when you open them, you’ll be in the future. I’m still working on the version that sends you back in time, but, given enough time and money…

              As has been demonstrated we can always print money.

              Sure. But Congress writes laws that say how much of that printed money each government agency can use, and NASA has been given limits to how much it can spend on the SLS. That was my point, budgets.

              Nope, not even for SLS.

              I was being generous, hence the qualification “maybe”.

              I for one am still waiting for a link to his proposal.

              You have to click you heals and believe…

              Is it?

              You would be amazed by how many things amaze me.

              • common sense

                “I can build one that will send you into the future – close your eyes, and when you open them, you’ll be in the future. I’m still working on the version that sends you back in time, but, given enough time and money…”

                Well I don’t go for the low-cost, cheap version of anything. Especially by those proponents of the private sector. I think that such a program of scale as a time-machine, even the close-your-eyes kind, is the appanage of the, I mean THE, government. It’s been claimed for years now that even someone, some private investor, might build one in his garage (see for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Time_Machine) yet they have to be able to take someone forth in time and bring them safely back to our time. I mean now. Today. Not that time that is going to be there in a minute or so – that is cheating and will not get you any street cred. If only they could build a sub-time machine.

                “Sure. But Congress writes laws that say how much of that printed money each government agency can use, and NASA has been given limits to how much it can spend on the SLS. That was my point, budgets.”

                Not only does Congress do that indeed, and then they write laws to sequester. What Congress gives, Congress takes. Guess they are all confused on who they are. Must be what they read, especially thousand years old books to which they refer to this day in all they do. Or something like that. But I digress again. Need to change my meds I am afraid.

                “You have to click you heals and believe…”

                Just did and nothing happened. Can’t trust those private sector people. All hat, no cattle.

                “You would be amazed by how many things amaze me.”

                It depends I guess if you mean in the “awesome” amazing department or in the “consternation” amazing department.

              • Coastal Ron

                common sense said:

                It depends I guess if you mean in the “awesome” amazing department or in the “consternation” amazing department.

                That would be telling. ;-)

        • common sense

          “I am in awe of the level of closed mindedness you display towards fundamental concepts of design and engineering science, and as such I cannot even begin to reply to this.”

          Heyyyy!! You’re back, welcome back! However I have to say that I am actually pretty openminded and that my brain surgeon recently told me that more than that and my brain would spill on my shoulders.

          “Thank you for your greeat contributions to rocket science.”

          Again. You are w.e.l.co.m.e. even though “common sense” hasn’t contributed much to rocket science for quite some time now. Actually no. “Common sense” hasn’t contributed to rocket design for some time now. Because you know design is not quite like science, nor quite like politics either or physics for that matter. All this semantics thingy gives me a headache.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “I am in awe of the level of closed mindedness you display towards fundamental concepts of design and engineering science”

          Like what? What “fundamental concepts of design” or “engineering science” do you think you’ve put on display?

  • DCSCA

    “NASA is on the path to irrelevance in human space exploration.”

    Don’t bet on it. That’s a short sighted blurb from the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision faction echoing from April 12, 1961. It was wrong then. And it is wrong now.

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>