NASA

Combating the perception of a lack of consensus

In December, the National Research Council issued a report on NASA’s strategic direction that concluded that there was “no national consensus” on NASA’s strategic goals, including a lack of widespread acceptance of plans for a human asteroid mission by 2025. After his keynote speech at the Goddard Memorial Symposium in Greenbelt, Maryland, yesterday, I asked NASA administrator Charles Bolden if he agreed with that conclusion. Before I could complete the question, though, he offered a one-word answer: “No.”

What, then, can NASA do to combat the perception of that lack of consensus identified in the report? “All we can do is to present to people over and over and over again what the President and Congress have told us to do, and that establishes the national consensus,” he said.

One challenge, Bolden acknowledged, is funding, which is nothing new to the space agency. “NASA has been under this kind of budget pressure from the time of [former administrator] Mike Griffin and even before Mike Griffin,” he said. “It is never going to be different. Anybody who thinks that better times are coming and NASA is going to get all this money so that they can do everything that the nation is asking us to do, that is not going to happen, and we fully realize that.” Those budget pressures force the agency to be much smarter, he said.

Bolden said he wasn’t bothered that some even at NASA weren’t fond of a human asteroid mission. “Show me an organization where 100 percent of the people agree on anything,” he said. “We are all smart people. We all have an idea of where we ought to be going.”

“That’s what the President told us to do, and that’s what the Congress told us to do,” he said of the 2025 asteroid mission. “And it’s also something that I think is important, and I’m the NASA administrator. It is the right thing to do.”

208 comments to Combating the perception of a lack of consensus

  • JimNobles

    Bolden said, “Anybody who thinks that better times are coming and NASA is going to get all this money so that they can do everything that the nation is asking us to do, that is not going to happen, and we fully realize that.”

    I wish some of the people reading this would realize that.

  • Jeff, congratulations on the quality time with General Bolden. He’s always struck me as an honest guy and a class act. His responses reinforce that opinion.

  • James

    Just because Congress says to do something does not make the ‘something’ a national consensus. About the only consensus the America public has with respect to Congress is its low regard for Congress.

    Same goes for the President. The % of American’s who did not vote for Obama (either because they voted for Romney, or didn’t vote at all) far exceeds half the population. So how can there be a public consensus of the American public about a mission for NASA just because the President and Congress say to do something.

  • Egad

    Just to be clear, did you (Jeff) take Mr. Bolden to mean that NASA’s HSF activities are aimed toward an asteroid visit ca. 2025? And that we should be interpreting what they’ve said about crewed SLS flights (EM-3 and EM-4) in that timeframe (2023 and 2025) in that light? What about the first cargo flight in 2029?

    • Jeff Foust

      Yes, Bolden was clear that a human asteroid mission by 2025 was a current goal of NASA. He did not discuss yesterday specifics about how to achieve that goal beyond the development of SLS and Orion.

      • Egad

        Any other candidate destinations than 1999 AO10 and 2001 QJ142? Those come by at the right time and have sufficiently short (less than 6 months) mission durations that the ECLSS for them might developed in the time available.

        • Coastal Ron

          Egad said:

          …have sufficiently short (less than 6 months) mission durations that the ECLSS for them might developed in the time available.

          I have not heard that an ECLSS (Environmental Control and Life Support System) is a pacing item or a barrier to leaving LEO. If anything, the Paragon SDC folks that are working on the ECLSS for the Orion/MPCV and the Dragon are also working on the system for Inspiration Mars that will keep two people alive for a 501-day mission.

          What we lack in the greatest quantities to do exploration beyond LEO is the money for exploration hardware. The existing launch systems are large enough for an asteroid mission, but the SLS program is consuming a vast amount of the funding Obama had wanted for NASA to develop beyond-LEO exploration technology.

          That is why when/if the SLS is ready to start operational flights in 2021, there will be no mission hardware or payloads for it to launch… for years.

          • amightywind

            The existing launch systems are large enough for an asteroid mission

            Can you post a reference to a credible, published mission profile using such archaic hardware?

            • Just to be sure we’ve got this straight. You’re promoting a launch system that uses sixties-era liquid engines, and seventies-era solid rocket motors, but calling modern rockets developed in the nineties and the previous decade “archaic hardware”?

              Really, you have to be a NewSpace supporter doing this to make SLS supporters look like abject idiots.

              • Guest

                The only modern engines that I am aware of that can’t be called legacy are the RS-68 and the Merlin.

            • Coastal Ron

              amightywind said:

              Can you post a reference to a credible, published mission profile using such archaic hardware?

              What defines “archaic hardware”?

              For instance, you use a vehicle that is based on technologies perfected in the 1800’s, and manufacturing techniques perfected in the early 1900’s, yet I doubt you refer to your truck as “archaic hardware”.

              And actually you should be the one stating why we can’t use the same lift capability we used to build a 450mt space station in LEO, to assemble exploration vehicles in LEO that can venture far beyond LEO.

              But if for some reason you think that modular exploration systems are impossible, then United Launch Alliance (ULA) disagrees. Here is a link to their paper called Affordable Exploration Architecture 2009 that uses a modular exploration architecture to keep a sustained presence on the Moon. The same technologies could be used pretty much as-is to support missions beyond the Moon.

              • amightywind

                Thanks for the link. It’s implausible, but at least its a proposal. Interesting that it is from 2009. It’s 2013 and nothing much is going on.

              • It’s not as if this hasn’t been presented here by others (including myself) before, windy. DSCA, of course, dismissed it as a ‘press release.’

              • Coastal Ron

                amightywind said:

                Thanks for the link. It’s implausible, but at least its a proposal.

                It’s far more plausible than any plan using the SLS, and it would have been a heck of a lot better than the $100B Constellation plan Griffin thought up. If only Griffin had solicited ideas from the industry, huh? What a concept…

                Interesting that it is from 2009. It’s 2013 and nothing much is going on.

                How oblivious can you be? Congress didn’t want an exploration effort, they wanted a jobs program – the SLS.

                If the President and the Congress were to agree that the U.S. should set up an outpost on the Moon, or put a small exploration outpost at an EML, and they put it out for bid, then ULA would be using that study as the starting point for their bid.

                But there is no RFQ from the government for a lunar outpost or an EML outpost. And there is no money for one even if someone wanted to propose one, since Congress is forcing NASA to build the SLS.

                But notice ULA did not plan to use any NASA launchers, but did plan to use other commercial launchers like the Falcon 9 (this was before the Falcon Heavy was announced). What does that tell you? I think it’s certainly an indication that no one in the aerospace industry thinks that NASA needs to be a transportation provider anymore.

                Congress should listen.

              • Alan

                Windy said

                Thanks for the link. It’s implausible, but at least its a proposal.

                Masten’s XEUS vehicle is a vertical-landing, vertical-takeoff lunar lander demonstrator. XEUS consists of a Centaur upper stage (from United Launch Alliance) with RL-10 main engine to which four Katanna vertical thrusters have been added. Production XEUS are estimated to be able to land on the Moon with up to 14 tonnes payload when using the expendable version or 5 tonnes payload when using the reusable version.

                XEUS is the precursor test vehicle for the bi-axial Centaur-based lander from the papers you so easily dismiss.

                So work is being done in 2013.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “Any other candidate destinations than 1999 AO10″

          According to this LockMart assessment from the prior thread of human NEO missions using Orion, a mission to 1999 AO10 is not feasible during the 2025 conjunction (see table on p. 13):

          http://www.lpi.usra.edu/sbag/meetings/sbag2/presentations/PlymouthRockasteroidmission.pdf

          “and 2001 QJ142″

          This one will revisit circa 2024, but it appears to spin way too fast (10 min. rotation period) for human rendezvous:

          http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=2001%20qj142&source=web&cd=9&cad=rja&ved=0CGUQFjAI&url=http%3A%2F%2Fadsabs.harvard.edu%2Fabs%2F2012DPS….4411112T&ei=TCxLUcefJ4jB0QGmy4GYDw&usg=AFQjCNGfj0uRsyy9zIXrdJT3fBUrKpq-Pw

          FWIW…

          • Dark Blue Nine

            The second link above is bad and I can’t seem to obtain a good one. So here’s the abstract I was trying to link to:

            “Recovery and Evidence for Rapid Rotation of Manned Mission Candidate 2001 QJ142

            Tholen, David J.; Micheli, M.; Elliott, G. T.

            American Astronomical Society, DPS meeting #44, #111.12

            The near-Earth asteroid 2001 QJ142 falls high on the list of candidates for a manned mission due to the low delta-V needed to reach the target. The object was observed for only 32 days in 2001, leading to a three-sigma ephemeris uncertainty region spanning over 6 deg as of 2012 March 6, when the asteroid reached a peak brightness of V=22.6 during the opposition. We attempted recovery observations on February 16 using the Megaprime instrument on the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. Initial examination of the data did not reveal the target. A repeated recovery attempt was performed on February 27 using the Tektronix 2048 CCD camera on the University of Hawaii 2.24-m telescope. This latter attempt was successful, the object being found about 34 arcmin east of the nominal ephemeris position. Multiple 300 sec exposures consistently revealed the asteroid. We reexamined the Megaprime images to determine why the object was not found during the initial recovery attempt. The object was clearly detected in just one of the 140 sec exposures, but could be barely seen in the other two exposures at a signal-to-noise ratio of just 2. Apparently the asteroid has a large lightcurve amplitude and a short rotation period. The 300 sec exposures on February 27 apparently averaged over enough of the lightcurve to produce a fairly uniform brightness, while the 140 sec exposures on February 16 did not. These results suggest a rotation period of about 10 min, making a manned mission problematic, except for regions of the surface near the poles. We are working on integrating sample lightcurves over the known exposure times in an attempt to refine the rotation period. It should be noted that another observational window occurs in late November when the asteroid reaches V=20.9 during its next opposition. This work was supported by NSF.”

          • Egad

            > According to this LockMart assessment from the prior thread of human NEO missions using Orion, a mission to 1999 AO10 is not feasible during the 2025 conjunction (see table on p. 13):

            I think that was specifically for the dual-Orion configuration. Whether using some other configuration would work, I don’t know.

            > This one will revisit circa 2024, but it appears to spin way too fast (10 min. rotation period) for human rendezvous…

            That, IIRC, had a footnote to the effect “except possibly near the poles.”

            Anyway, I carry no water for those or other asteroid missions. I’m just making the assumption that Mr. Bolden’s statement above should be taken seriously, at least provisionally, and then trying to figure out what, specifically, he meant. It is entirely possible that the answer will turn out to be the null set, but that’s TBD.

            • Dark Blue Nine

              “I think that was specifically for the dual-Orion configuration.”

              It was for a variety of Orion, dual-Orion, and Orion-Altair missions with varying amounts of extra propellant. That target was a null set according to the table in that document.

              “That, IIRC, had a footnote to the effect ‘except possibly near the poles.'”

              That’s correct. (See abstract I copied above.) But it’s only a 50-150m NEO. I doubt a human mission limited to surface exploration of one or two 10x10m polar areas will justify the mission or be satisfactory in any other way.

              “I’m just making the assumption that Mr. Bolden’s statement above should be taken seriously, at least provisionally, and then trying to figure out what, specifically, he meant.”

              I don’t think we should have to figure out what Bolden means at this point in time. It’s been three years since the President gave Bolden the goal of getting astronauts to an asteroid by 2025. We shouldn’t have to read the tea leaves about what NEOs may or may not be targets for this mission. Bolden should have a short list of candidates by now.

              “It is entirely possible that the answer will turn out to be the null set, but that’s TBD.”

              If Bolden admitted that the list was currently a null set due to the capricious vagaries of science and nature, that would be fine as long as there was a clear, funded search strategy to get the list filled in over the next couple/few years. But there appears to be no such strategy. There should be given the billions we’re pouring into SLS/MPCV.

              FWIW…

              • common sense

                I wonder.

                Since no one really has any good understanding of the capabilities of the dynamic duo SLS/MPCV, is it possible that either 1) no one can tell which asteroid we can rendez-vous with out of any given list of passer-bys or 2) that the current accepted capabilities of said duo show that you will never reach any asteroid under any circumstances?

                Not even mentioning the budget or timeline for development.

                Just that this junk cannot do it. But it would be politically damaging to say so…

                Dunno. Speculation.

              • pathfinder_01

                “Just that this junk cannot do it. But it would be politically damaging to say so…”

                This may very well be true. To do an asteroid mission you need Orion(or other capsule) and a hab module and a some sort of earth departure stage at the minimum. A 70 ton SLS can’t lift a 21MT orion plus a 28MT deep space hab(the 60 day verison) and enough chemical propulsion to push the lot out of earth orbit in one shoot.
                A 130 MT one could, but then I rather doubt you could fit all three in it at once given the height constraints of the VAB(the payload fairing is at most planned to be about 19M and the 30 day hab is planned to be 11.5 meters leaving a mere 8 meters for Orion(assuming you lift it with a CPS).

                Anyway about it you need on orbit assembly or docking. However with 2 launches a year spaced 121 days apart, how do you lift 3 elements in a timely manner using only SLS since commercial launchers are “not able” to perform this task? An lox/loh stage would boil off. Orion can’t support a crew by itself for half a year nor is it built to stay in space that long(6 months max without crew). The DSH was based on the MPLM which needs another spacecraft for propulsion and control. You could in theory lift DSH and the CPS at once with the 130MT version but ah what is going to keep the propellant from boiling off during the many months of waiting for Orion to be lifted and it would be pretty wasteful to lift a 21Mt capsule to an LEO parking orbit with a 70+MT rocket.

                If you go with commercial launchers at a minimum you would off load Orion to Delta Heavy but then that takes away SLS’s sole funded payload as the DSH and the CPS are not funded and there is no way to get a CPS ready by 2025 with current funding. Plus frankly if you go with on orbit assembly then you could easily lift just about everything with existing systems or soon to be existing systems, so why bother with SLS?

      • NASA’s plan:

        Develop SLS/Orion

        ??

        ProfitAsteroid mission!

      • JimNobles

        “Yes, Bolden was clear that a human asteroid mission by 2025 was a current goal of NASA.”

        Well I hope they are not planning on doing that dumb dual-MPCV/kissing gourami mission by 2025. I’m not convinced they could come up with an additional MPCV or ESA would provide an additional service module by then. And if the did it would probably cost another 10-12 billion dollars to get them.

        Dear God, make the madness stop.

  • amightywind

    Since when has there been a coherent national consensus about space? It requires leadership. Obama was powerful enough to cancel Project Constellation and its noble lunar mission. He is not powerful enough to direct the agency to develop an asteroid mission? Hog wash!

    “Show me an organization where 100 percent of the people agree on anything,” he said. “We are all smart people. We all have an idea of where we ought to be going.”

    A revealing comment. I work in medical device development. There is never perfect consensus on any technical decision. But my fellow engineers and I are professional enough to understand that when a decision is made our job is to implement it to the best of our ability. Are we to understand that NASA is filled with ‘smart people’ who resist the team goal? I have no doubt. In my line of work we get rid of such people without a second thought.

    • JimNobles

      “Obama was powerful enough to cancel Project Constellation and its noble lunar mission. He is not powerful enough to direct the agency to develop an asteroid mission?”

      I think you’re giving Bronco too much credit. Constellation was basically D.O.A. when he got it. He mainly just signed the Death Certificate. And the other politicians went along with it.

      Until certain other politicians with Constellation workforces in their districts brought it back to life and named it Jason SLS.

  • Hiram

    Unfortunately, “strategic goals” devolve here into going to destinations, rather than accomplishing something of conspicuous value to the nation. So in Bolden’s mind, there is a White House and congressional consensus about where we want to go. Left unsaid is that there is no consensus about why we want to go there. The White House and Congress aren’t even sure. When I go to the supermarket, my strategic goal is to buy food, not to go to the supermarket. No one argues that a human mission to an asteroid isn’t cool or challenging. The lack of consensus fondness for the idea is that there is no agreement about the value of such coolness or challenge. There are lots of things that are cool and challenging that don’t look like footprints on NEOs, most of which cost a whole lot less than footprints on a NEO.

  • In 2025, President Obama won’t even be in the White House and neither will his presidential successor. And I’ve never seen in polls that suggest that anyone except Holdren and Bolden prefer a trip to an asteroid over a lunar base or a manned mission to Mars.

    There’s no logical reason to send humans to a NEO asteroid. It doesn’t help humans get to Mars and its actually a far more dangerous trip. If NASA wants a sample from a target asteroid, send a robot. It would be far cheaper and a lot more NEO asteroids could be visited.

    Marcel F. Williams

    • Paul

      What is the logical reason for sending people to Mars?

      • JimNobles

        Paul said, “What is the logical reason for sending people to Mars?”

        Well, Elon wants to go and invade Mars and he seems willing to pay for as much of it as he can. So that’s something.

        If there was someone who felt the same way about the Moon that would be cool too.

        • DCSCA

          “Paul said, “What is the logical reason for sending people to Mars?”

          Well, Elon wants to go and invade Mars and he seems willing to pay for as much of it as he can. So that’s something.} shilled Jim.

          Except it’s nothing. “Elon” has flown nobody.

          A more eloquent rationale came from the late Neil Armstrong, who saw it as a logical progression of expanding the human experience out into the cosmos. Michael Collins was a bit more frank about it when he stated, “People have always gone where they have been able to go. It’s as simple as that.”

          • Coastal Ron

            DCSCA whined:

            Except it’s nothing. “Elon” has flown nobody.

            Then he destroyed the point he was making by pointing out:

            Michael Collins was a bit more frank about it when he stated, “People have always gone where they have been able to go. It’s as simple as that.”

            Since the beginning, you have been trying to say what Elon Musk & SpaceX can’t do, and he has proved you wrong. You said they wouldn’t be able to get to orbit, and they did. You said they wouldn’t be able to dock at the ISS, and they did.

            As has been pointed out to you many times, they could fly a person on a Dragon today if they wanted, but there is no need. But no one of any competency denies they can. So then it’s a matter of doing it the way their customer wants, which is NASA, and the current plan is to fly a human to space on a Dragon in 2015.

            So when 2015 comes, you will create some new reason Musk can’t do something, and this will go on and on for the 10-15 years Musk has said it will take until they are ready to try for Mars.

            With any hope your 60’s era keyboard will fail by then, and we won’t have to listen to your drivel…

      • “Paul:What is the logical reason for sending people to Mars?”

        To find out if it is– possible and economical– to expand the human species and our industrial civilization beyond our planet of evolutionary origin and onto the surface of other worlds.

        That’s why I’m against wasteful manned sorties to the lunar surface and to the surface of Mars and I am strongly for setting up simple permanently manned outpost on the surface of the Moon and Mars.

        If it turns out that the hypogravity environments of the Moon and Mars are not inherently deleterious to human health and reproduction then such worlds could be viable candidates for human colonial and industrial expansion by private industry.

        Marcel F. Williams

        • Paul

          But sending a person to Mars doesn’t do that. Any manned missions to Mars we can conceive of doing in our lifetimes do not expand “industrial civilization” beyond the planet. There will be no industry on Mars, no integration of Mars into our industrial system. There will be flags and footprints and symbolism. That’s it.

          Now, you may argue that sending people to Mars is a step in that direction. But it’s a tiny step compared to the distance to your desired goal. Given that disparity, your end goal provides little justification for the step. It’s like saying “going to the Moon” is justification for learning to climb trees.

    • Coastal Ron

      Marcel F. Williams said:

      There’s no logical reason to send humans to a NEO asteroid. It doesn’t help humans get to Mars and its actually a far more dangerous trip.

      Well of course it helps us go to Mars. Having the ability to roam beyond LEO with confidence is needed before we go to Mars in some substantial force. And if we can’t reach an asteroid easily, we can’t reach Mars easily.

      Keep in mind that we know how to go to the Moon – that is 50 year old technology and techniques. Even private companies are planning to exploit that knowledge for a profit, which everyone should be applauding.

      But keeping people alive and well beyond the Moon’s orbit? The same technologies and techniques we need to do that is also the same we’ll need for continuing on to Mars.

      If NASA wants a sample from a target asteroid, send a robot. It would be far cheaper and a lot more NEO asteroids could be visited.

      Which is why the purpose of going to an asteroid with humans is not for samples, but for building up our space exploration capabilities – to allow us to keep venturing further and further away from Earth.

      If we can’t make it to an asteroid, then we can’t make it to Mars, and Mars is the acknowledge eventual goal, not the Moon.

      • Hiram

        If you’re saying that the plan to go to an asteroid is to build up capabilities to go farther and farther away, why in the world do you do that by going to an asteroid? Get serious. Just head out to some empty place in deep space. Maybe a Lagrange point. Plant a flag in the vacuum, leave a rock with a footprint on it, and depart. At least those empty points in deep space don’t move around, such that your launch window isn’t heavily constrained, as it is for a NEO. There is nothing about a rock that tests propulsion, ECLSS, nav, comm and human factors. Oh, they test rendezvous? Gee, just send up a bulls eye target to a Lagrange point and try to hit that.

        No, the rationale for going to an asteroid is far more involved than building capabilities for going far away. It’s not necessarily a sensible rationale, but it’s a lot more than that. Look at it this way. If we can’t make it to an empty point in space several lunar distances away, then we can’t make it to Mars.

        Looking at a human trip to an asteroid as practice for going to Mars is a cruel joke.

      • Going to an asteroid certainly doesn’t help humans land on the surface of Mars or set up outpost on the surface of Mars. A lunar outpost program, on the other hand, could do both. A reusable single stage lunar lander would simply require the addition of a disposable heat shield and ballute for manned missions to the Martian surface.

        Asteroid round trips are short multi month journeys that won’t come close to exposing astronauts to the enhanced cosmic radiation that astronauts would endure on multi-year round trip missions to Mars.

        Simply deploying humans in an appropriately radiation mass shielded interplanetary transhab for a few years at one of the Earth-Moon Lagrange points would accomplish that goal much more safely and cheaply.

        Marcel F. Williams

        • Coastal Ron

          Marcel F. Williams said:

          Going to an asteroid certainly doesn’t help humans land on the surface of Mars or set up outpost on the surface of Mars.

          Never said it did. But how are you going to get to Mars?

          You seem to assume that we’ll magically transit the vast space between Earth and Mars – that won’t happen. Unless we can become a space-faring nation, and be able to roam space pretty much at-will, then we will not be confident explorers.

          A lunar outpost program, on the other hand, could do both.

          The Moon doesn’t have an atmosphere like Mars does, so no, it doesn’t. This has been refuted so many times I think you have a memory retention issue or something.

          Asteroid round trips are short multi month journeys that won’t come close to exposing astronauts to the enhanced cosmic radiation that astronauts would endure on multi-year round trip missions to Mars.

          NASA disagrees.

          Simply deploying humans in an appropriately radiation mass shielded interplanetary transhab for a few years at one of the Earth-Moon Lagrange points would accomplish that goal much more safely and cheaply.

          “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for”

          An EML point is kind of like a harbor. We need to learn how to venture out beyond the safety and confidently beyond Earth’s influence and protection.

          • “Coastal Ron: You seem to assume that we’ll magically transit the vast space between Earth and Mars – that won’t happen.”

            The delta-v between LEO and lunar orbit is more than 4 km/s. But the delta-v between L1 and high Mars orbit is less than 2 km/s of delta-v. So its really not that difficult– especially if you utilize lunar resources to fuel reusable rockets from the Earth-Moon Lagrange points.

            “Coastal Ron: The Moon doesn’t have an atmosphere like Mars does, so no, it doesn’t.”

            That’s why a lunar shuttle would also have to utilize a ballute and a heat shield for entry into the Martian atmosphere.

            “An EML point is kind of like a harbor.”

            An EML point is beyond the Earth’s magnetosphere and experiences full exposure to galactic radiation. We need to know if a manned vehicle and crew can survive for several years under such conditions before we decide to toss them into deep space– with no chance to rescue them.

            Marcel F. Williams

            • Coastal Ron

              Marcel F. Williams said:

              The delta-v between LEO and lunar orbit is more than 4 km/s. But the delta-v between L1 and high Mars orbit is less than 2 km/s of delta-v.

              Because no one of any credibility doubts we can create refueling stations in space, the amount of delta-v is not an issue, regardless where the fuel comes from (which is an economic decision at this point).

              The challenge is a technical and operational one. Do we know how to survive on journeys away from Earth?

              Sure you could test that out by going to Mars, but if there is a problem, then getting back in a quicker fashion is likely out of the question. So that leaves taking trips around the vicinity of Earth, which is no different than what our Navy or Air Force does when it trains, it trains in increasingly greater and greater deployments.

              Now before we actually go to an asteroid, we would be traveling around the EML area, but eventually, because we have the capability, we’ll go to an asteroid (or somewhere in that area where one could be). This is pretty straightforward training and deployment stuff, so it’s not a radical idea. Ask your local military commander about it.

              That’s why a lunar shuttle would also have to utilize a ballute and a heat shield for entry into the Martian atmosphere.

              Trying to build a lander that is optimized for both vacuum and atmospheric landing operations sounds like a recipe for disaster. The vehicles should be specialized for the celestial bodies they will be operating at.

              We need to know if a manned vehicle and crew can survive for several years under such conditions before we decide to toss them into deep space– with no chance to rescue them.

              You just made my point for the argument I made above. That’s why we need to train the way we will be operating (i.e. in space), but by starting with closer and shorter trips and expanding out from there. The Moon, while a separate but interesting destination, is nonetheless not related to in-space, zero-G spacecraft operations.

  • common sense

    “There’s no logical reason to send humans to a NEO asteroid. It doesn’t help humans get to Mars”

    Also sprach Zarathustra.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “‘All we can do is to present to people over and over and over again what the President and Congress have told us to do, and that establishes the national consensus,’ he [Bolden] said.

    It’s not a lack of consensus that’s the problem. Apollo barely and briefly earned support from more than half of the U.S. public.

    It’s a lack of seriousness that’s the problem.

    The White House set a 2025 human NEO mission goal three years ago.

    Three years later, NASA still doesn’t have a good NEO target, or a short list of good NEO targets, or even a clear, well-funded strategy and search for identifying and characterizing good NEO targets.

    Three years later, NASA still doesn’t have any robotic precursor missions in development, design, or even identified to perform in situ characterization of one or more good NEO targets to maximize the probability of success and value from a follow-on human mission.

    Three years later, NASA still doesn’t have a crew size, or even candidate astronauts, identified for a NEO mission.

    Three years later, NASA still doesn’t have a clear architecture for astronauts and MPCV to reach, access and return from NEOs after SLS launches.

    Three years later, NASA still doesn’t have a projects for necessary human NEO architecture elements, like the transit stage, mission module, and prox ops/EVA equipment.

    In fact, according to its own budget projections, NASA won’t have funding to start development of any of this until 2030 at the earliest, five years after the White House’s 2025 human NEO mission goal.

    NASA is notorious for its inability to execute major planning exercises or developments to save its life these days. And Congress won’t care as long as no fired civil servants are voting en masse against incumbents.

    But where is the White House on this? Don’t they want to make at least a little progress towards their 2025 human NEO mission goal before the President becomes a lame duck?

    I guess not, at least not in light of other priorities.

    • JimNobles

      “But where is the White House on this? Don’t they want to make at least a little progress towards their 2025 human NEO mission goal before the President becomes a lame duck?”

      No, I doubt it. They were never really all that into it anyway. As politicians they might mention it in a speech or something but I doubt they would do much more than that.

    • Coastal Ron

      Dark Blue Nine said:

      But where is the White House on this? Don’t they want to make at least a little progress towards their 2025 human NEO mission goal before the President becomes a lame duck?

      No money to do anything. Remember what Bolden just said:

      Anybody who thinks that better times are coming and NASA is going to get all this money so that they can do everything that the nation is asking us to do, that is not going to happen, and we fully realize that.

      As long as we spend a significant of NASA’s budget on things that we don’t yet need (like the SLS), there is not enough money to do more than planning exercises within NASA.

      This is why supporters of the SLS cannot point to any coherent use for the SLS, since there is a MAJOR disconnect between when capabilities are coming on line and when we can use them.

      From what I can see, the SLS will not be able to launch anything except the MPCV for at least 5 years after it’s 2021 operational date, and quite possibly not for 10 years. But during that time NASA will have to be spending a significant amount of it’s budget to keep a standing army trained and ready to eventually fly the SLS, and that is money that could be used for actual missions using existing rockets.

      Maybe it’s time for a DIRECT-type effort to get the word out to Congress and the American people about how bad this situation is?

    • amightywind

      You voted for this NASA and you got it. How’s that flexible path working for ya?

      • DCSCA

        “You voted for this NASA and you got it. How’s that flexible path working for ya?” weeps Windy.

        Beats the alternative, Windy. Mr. Romney didn’t give a damn about the 47% — let alone NASA.

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “You voted for this NASA and you got it.”

        Wrong as usual. I never voted for SLS or MPCV.

        “How’s that flexible path working for ya?”

        No path — flexible, inflexible, or otherwise — is possible when SLS and MPCV are sucking up all the budget through 2030+.

        • The SLS/MPCV budget is barely $3 billion a year. The Constellation program was $3.4 billion a year when Obama came into office and after shuttle retirement, it was supposed to go up above $5.6 billion a year by 2014.

          So the SLS/MPCV is a substantially cheaper program. In fact, its even cheaper than NASA’s LEO on steroids program (ISS and CCD):-)

          Marcel F. Williams

          • common sense

            Do you know what happens when you try to buy a $5.6B house with $3.0B only then???

            Do you know who is giving the $3.0B rather than $5.6B for that program?

          • Justin Kugler

            Come on, Marcel.

            SLS/MPCV is Constellation-lite – without the pretenses of a lander or destination systems. Just because it’s slightly stripped down, that doesn’t mean the Augustine Commission’s warnings about unsustainability are any less valid.

            I’ve heard from my friends working on MPCV that they don’t expect it to fly with crew before 2020 because all of the teams working on those systems were gutted when the scope was cut. They’ve had to shed so much mass for EFT-1 that it won’t be at all representative of an operational vehicle.

            Besides, if we don’t make the ISS Program work, do you really think Congress is going to trust NASA with a full-scale human Mars program?

    • Robert G. Oler

      But where is the White House on this? Don’t they want to make at least a little progress towards their 2025 human NEO mission goal before the President becomes a lame duck?”

      No The White House has more or less zero interesting in an asteroid mission or really any other “human” mission for NASA…what they (and the Congress) have done is “park” the agency where its at least safe…the line is fund SLS/Orion at a level which ensues that there will be no vehicles…and no accidents and no request really for anything else.

      The asteroid mission, any mission for human through NASA is simply there to do nothing RGO

      • Ben Russell-Gough

        That’s pretty much the impression I’ve got too. A lot of effort has been made to prevent any progress at every stage. If they were really serious, they would have grabbed ULA’s proposals and ran with them. NASA might even have an unmanned version of the full Orion flying next year rather than just a partial test-bed.

        • common sense

          “If they were really serious, they would have grabbed ULA’s proposals and ran with them. ”

          Who is “they”?

        • Coastal Ron

          Ben Russell-Gough said:

          If they were really serious, they would have grabbed ULA’s proposals and ran with them.

          By “ULA’s proposals”, do you mean the proposals ULA had for upgrading the Atlas V and Delta IV to carry larger mass payloads?

          If so, then you aren’t understanding why the SLS was created. It was a jobs program to counteract the Constellation cancellation, not because Congress saw a defined need for larger 130mt-sized payloads.

          Besides, before you can “grab” anything, you do have to follow government procurement rules, and that means putting our an RFP. But because the SLS was a jobs program, and not a response to any known requirements, Boeing was awarded a sole-source contract to continue the work it was already doing on the Constellation program. Lockheed Martin got the same with the crippled Orion/MPCV.

          After all that, there was no money left to do any HLV exploration planning, which is the funding gap issue that the Augustine Commission identified.

          NASA might even have an unmanned version of the full Orion flying next year rather than just a partial test-bed.

          And then do what? Let’s remember that the Orion was created by Michael “Apollo-on-steroids” Griffin to support the Constellation program, and that those requirements went away when it was cancelled.

          If all the current NASA hardware programs were magically wiped away today, and Congress asked NASA to propose the type of hardware and spacecraft it wanted in order to do HSF exploration, an upsized Apollo capsule would not be on the list.

          If anything, NASA has already proposed the Nautilus-X as the type of vehicle it wants for HSF exploration, but alas, there is no money for that either. Which brings us back to the SLS…

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “‘NASA has been under this kind of budget pressure from the time of [former administrator] Mike Griffin and even before Mike Griffin,’ he said. ‘It is never going to be different. Anybody who thinks that better times are coming and NASA is going to get all this money so that they can do everything that the nation is asking us to do, that is not going to happen, and we fully realize that. Those budget pressures force the agency to be much smarter, he said.”

    Yeah, and that’s why Bolden, the agency, and the Administration rolled over for Congress on SLS and MPCV. An HLV and capsule that are billions of dollars more expensive than their alternatives and that suck up all the budget for any actual human space exploration hardware development, including the service module for MPCV, which has been outsourced to ESA.

    Yeah, “much smarter”.

    “‘Show me an organization where 100 percent of the people agree on anything,; he said.”

    The problem is not that 100 percent of the NASA workforce has failed to agree on the NEO goal.

    The problem, per last December’s NRC report, is that only “isolated pockets” of the NASA workforce support the NEO goal.

    http://www.spacepolitics.com/2012/12/06/nrc-report-nasa-hasnt-made-the-case-for-a-human-asteroid-mission/

    Hopefully someone will remind Bolden that the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one.

    “‘And it’s also something that I think is important, and I’m the NASA administrator.'”

    Well then, maybe Bolden can start acting like a NASA Administrator and put together an actual human NEO (or whatever deep space target) program.

    • Coastal Ron

      Dark Blue Nine said:

      The problem is not that 100 percent of the NASA workforce has failed to agree on the NEO goal.

      The problem, per last December’s NRC report, is that only “isolated pockets” of the NASA workforce support the NEO goal.

      This happens in the private sector too, so I don’t see it as too unusual, and I’d think it’s even more expected in government service since NASA employees know that they will outlast every NASA Administrator that comes along. They have no fear of needing to “fall in line” with whoever in currently in charge.

      In the end government employees will do whatever Congress and the President have agreed to do, or really whatever Congress has forced the President to do, since Congress can (and does) override presidential vetos (just ask Dick Cheney about the V-22 program).

      Because of this arrangement, the key to a programs continuance seems to have more to do with political inertia than anything else. For instance, the Constellation program likely would not have been targeted for cancellation had it not had severe funding issues, since going to the Moon is likely seen as a “Mom & Apple Pie” issue by those in Congress (i.e. it’s our legacy to go there).

      That said, since there is no specific NEO exploration hardware, so I don’t have a high expectation that a NEO effort would continue past Obama unless the next President desires it too – there is too little political inertia to overcome (i.e. it’s not big enough to cause any uproar).

    • NeilShipley

      Well unfortunately for those who hoped for more, then perhaps Bolden is just simply that, an administrator, and nothing more.

      • common sense

        What did you think a NASA Administrator would be other than that? This is his job, to administrate and nothing but. In that regard I don’t understand what is to be expected. Again this is not about vision or leadership. We had some form of an enlightened visionary before Bolden to what effect? Visionaries fare better in the private sector where they can literally do whatever they want. The only vision to make NASA work better especially for HSF came out of O’Keefe. But Bolden facilitated the emergence of commercial space so what is there to complain about so much?

      • Coastal Ron

        NeilShipley said:

        Well unfortunately for those who hoped for more, then perhaps Bolden is just simply that, an administrator, and nothing more.

        The job title is Administrator, so he administrates. If the job title would have been “Space Visionary”, they likely would have chosen someone else, since Bolden is a proven manager, not visionary.

        And I think he was the right person for NASA when he was chosen, since NASA was suffering from lots of program management issues.

        For instance, people had come to assume that it was OK to go grossly over budget (i.e. Constellation and JWST), and that Congress would just allocate more and more money. That is a dangerous attitude to have engrained in an organization, since it means the program leaders cannot (or will not) be honest about what it takes to successfully complete a program.

        As I stated though, I think he will decide to retire soon, and that will provide an opportunity for Obama to bring in someone with a different set of skills. With the program management issues solved for now, would he choose someone that focuses more on getting the science and exploration programs more properly aligned for the future? Guess we’ll have to wait and see…

        • Bolden is a proven manager, not visionary.

          Where was his management competence proven? If he has any, I haven’t seen much of it on display since he became administrator.

          • common sense

            Hmm. How about that for instance? Not enough of management competency to you? I don’t know. You tell me.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bolden

            [Bolden was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1980. He was a member of the NASA Astronaut Corps until 1994 when] he returned to active duty in the Marine Corps as the Deputy Commandant of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy, effective June 27, 1994. In July 1997, he was assigned as the Deputy Commanding General of I Marine Expeditionary Force. From February to June 1998, he served as Commanding General, I MEF (Forward) in support of Operation Desert Thunder in Kuwait. In July 1998, he was promoted to his final rank of major general and assumed his duties as the Deputy Commander, United States Forces Japan. He then served as the Commanding General, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, from August 9, 2000 until August 2002. He retired from the military in August 2004.

            • Command is not necessarily management. Military people often don’t do well transitioning to civilian organizations, where people don’t necessarily follow orders.

              • Coastal Ron

                Rand Simberg said:

                Command is not necessarily management.

                Being an outsider to both NASA and the aerospace industry, but having management experience with government contractors, I’m just going on what I perceive through various indicators.

                Certainly one of the indicators is what is happening with the programs that were in trouble when Bolden took over, like JWST. JWST had been slipping constantly for years under Griffin, but it seems like it has stayed within the bounds Bolden said it would.

                This is not to say he can turn a pig’s ear into a silk purse – he can only deal with what’s he’s got. That means he can do a good job of managing the SLS program, but he can’t do anything about it being underfunded and unneeded.

                My $0.02

              • common sense

                “Command is not necessarily management.”

                I won’t dispute that but frankly are you serious? We are not talking of a Lieutenant or even a Major. We are talking of a General whose last assignments were “Deputy Commander, United States Forces Japan. He then served as the Commanding General, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing,” You may want to inform or familiarize yourself with the roles and duties of a military senior leader/executive. Do you actually think they just sit at a table or stand around one giving orders depending on their mood? How do you figure they organize their budget, their assets, the time one soldier/platoon/battalion/airwing/younameit dedicate to one activity?

                Anyway.

                “Military people often don’t do well transitioning to civilian organizations, where people don’t necessarily follow orders.”

                Fair enough but it has nothing to do with your oversimplification. In all the civilian organizations more or less close to the military/DoD I worked for “not following orders” has usually resulted with dismissal/lay-off, which by the way is not necessarily true with the military.

                Are you sure you are familiar with this subject Rand? Ever been in the military?

              • he can do a good job of managing the SLS program, but he can’t do anything about it being underfunded and unneeded.

                Regardless of funding level or need, a well-managed program would be able to tell us what the impact of a funding cut would be on it in terms of milestones and schedule. Bolden isn’t managing it — he’s just spending whatever money, they give him because he knows that’s all that Congress cares about.

              • How do you figure they organize their budget, their assets, the time one soldier/platoon/battalion/airwing/younameit dedicate to one activity?

                They have staff to do that.

              • common sense

                This is getting silly Rand.

                Boeing CEO manages homself without staff? If he uses staff it means he’s not a manager?

                Anyway…

              • Boeing CEO manages homself without staff? If he uses staff it means he’s not a manager?

                Doesn’t make him a good one. Still waiting for evidence that he’s a good manager, other than that he managed to get himself promoted (even ignoring affirmative action aspects…).

              • Dark Blue Nine

                I tend to agree with Rand.

                Command and operations are not the same as development and management. Bolden has lots of demonstrated experience with the former as an Marine officer and astronaut, but not much with the latter.

                In terms of his performance as NASA Administrator, it’s hard to point to examples where Bolden has had much influence, nevertheless improved a program or made a positive contribution.

                The JWST fix came about only after Congress, especially Mikulski, ordered an independent review. Bolden didn’t intervene before things got so bad Congress had to, and the solutions to the problem were dictated to him in the report coming out of the independent review.(As an aside, even though Bolden dropped the ball on JWST, the White House, especially OMB, should have ordered independent reviews and fixes long before Congress had to.) JWST festered under Griffin’s idiocy, but if Mikulski hadn’t intervened, it would have festered under Bolden’s neglect, too. (And we’re far from out of the woods on JWST, regardless.)

                The fix on Mars Curiousity was handled internally at NASA, but it’s unclear what role, if any, Bolden played. There wasn’t much to decide in any case — either slip the launch or cancel the mission. However, I would argue that Bolden and Grunsfeld have dropped the ball on the Mars replan after Curiousity. Waiting another decade for the next landing after Curiousity, with no clear plan how that landing will fit into a sample return campaign, is poor planning. They have to pick up the pace (more budget or lower costs), and the missions need to contribute and fit into a larger whole (otherwise just do random AOs). As an aside, planetary missions in general are suffering from a continued falloff in the rate of Discovery and New Frontiers AOs, and the effective cancellation of the Mars Scout line.

                On commercial cargo/crew, Bolden basically inherited a functioning commercial cargo program. He deserves credit for not slowing or cancelling it, but that’s not saying much. On commercial crew, Bolden didn’t appear to be onboard until after the successful CRS-2 flight. Regardless, commercial crew’s genesis appears to lie with Garver and the old COTS-D option she inherited with commercial cargo.

                On SLS/MPCV, Bolden didn’t invent this fiasco, but he did little to oppose it and he’s done even less to manage it. I can’t reveal my source so take this for what it’s worth, but apparently it was Bolden’s bright idea to save Orion by turning it into the most expensive space station lifeboat ever conceived. That’s a huge mark against Bolden in my book, and we might not have MPCV (or SLS) if he hadn’t been so stupid with the Orion lifeboat concept. (A mistake that Bolden admits privately today, according to my source.)

                Beyond resurrecting NIAC and some low-TRL grant programs, the Space Technology Program is a joke, despite spending over $600 million a year (nearly $2 billion since the program’s inception). This is arguably the most important investment NASA is making, but it’s poorly articulated, unprioritized, and hasn’t gotten anything to space flight tests. From writing a coherent and technically correct plan to getting top NRC priorities like cryo mgmt flown to just getting a $2 million nanosat launcher prize off the ground, these third-stringers can’t shoot straight. The program has been almost as poorly managed by neglect as SLS/MPCV under Bolden.

                I’ll finish with the two latest fiascos.

                Today Bolden shut down every NASA education and public outreach activity, ostensibly to undertake a review and prioritize these activities for savings during sequestration. Sequestration has been coming for months. Why on Earth didn’t he (or Garver or the E/PO AA) order this review weeks ago so that shutdowns and drawbacks could be limited to lower priority E/PO activities?

                Same goes for the potential security breach at LaRC, and Bolden completely shutting down NTRS and other resources to undergo security reviews earlier this week. Wolf has publicly been after NASA on tech transfer to foreign nationals for months now. Even if Wolf is an idiot and this case turns into another Qian Xuesen, you dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s” when Congress comes knocking. Why didn’t Bolden (or Garver or whomever is in charge of security) order these reviews weeks ago without mass shutdowns to ensure that there was nothing Wolf could beat them over the head with (nevertheless ensure technology security)?

                To be fair, I’ll take Bolden’s MIA behavior and management by benign neglect and crisis over Griffin’s utter incompetence at following policy direction, establishing budget realism, and systems engineering in general. But the agency could have (and needs) substantially better leadership.

                My 2 cents… YMMV.

              • JimNobles

                “…even ignoring affirmative action aspects…”

                Oh Lord, sickening racism brought into it.

              • Oh Lord, sickening racism brought into it.

                What is actually racist is the notion of affirmative action, in its condescending assumption that minorities aren’t capable of succeeding without government putting a thumb on the scales, which makes suspect the genuine achievements of those it’s supposed to benefit. The tragedy of it for people like General Bolden is that we’ll never know how well he would have done in its absence.

                Regardless, as DBN points out, whatever management capability he has hasn’t been conspicuously on display in his tenure as administrator, and it’s certainly not racist to point that out.

              • Coastal Ron

                Dark Blue Nine said:

                To be fair, I’ll take Bolden’s MIA behavior and management by benign neglect and crisis over Griffin’s utter incompetence at following policy direction, establishing budget realism, and systems engineering in general.

                And maybe that’s the real comparison here.

                Not that any NASA Administrator is going to satisfy everyone, but I certainly would have wanted a number of different things during Bolden’s term. However, considering who came before him, I was glad to have him.

                So if Bolden was put in place to “clean things up”, then the next person who becomes Administrator I would have much higher hopes for wading in and trying to establish consensus and a far more realistic path going forward – whatever that may be.

                But no path forward is going to have much money, so everyone needs to reset their expectations of NASA accordingly.

              • However, considering who came before him, I was glad to have him.

                So was I, but that’s a pretty low bar.

              • common sense

                “What is actually racist is the notion of affirmative action, in its condescending assumption that minorities ”

                I wonder who suggested something as stupid as that in this thread.

                Because I can’t recall I did.

                But maybe you should take it to Bolden see what he thinks of your suggestion.

                Moronic.

              • common sense

                DB9

                A few comments here.

                “Command and operations are not the same as development and management. Bolden has lots of demonstrated experience with the former as an Marine officer and astronaut, but not much with the latter.”

                Even though I agree with this statement it is inaccurate to say that you become a Marines General and lack management skills. A General’s job is not to sit and order people around even though it may seem like it at times. A lot of executive positions at defense contractors are held by senior military leaders. Of course they are selected at theses positions for their assumed leadership skills which include management. It does not mean that they may be you kind of managers or mine. Yet they are managers. And if you reach the rank of General you most likely are a very skilled manager. And no, management does not mean pushing paperwork around and filling XL sheets and performance reviews. Not even just managing people and budget. There is a lot of politics that comes with the job. In the end General Bolden has clearly demonstrated he is apt at all these skills. Is he the best possible manager? That is a matter of opinion.

                “In terms of his performance as NASA Administrator, it’s hard to point to examples where Bolden has had much influence, nevertheless improved a program or made a positive contribution.”

                Well. I don’t agree here, not completely anyway. But again this is a matter of opinion. And I do not know all the influences that are pushed upon him and his job but in my experience and in an industry as conservative as aerospace it takes quite a bit of effort to change anything, even a bulb in a conference room. Never mind anything else. So to me he has been successful enough. I hope in this term he’ll eventually be able to rid of SLS/MPCV but I don’t keep my hopes too high knowing it is mandated by our friendly Congress in all there foresight and wisdom. Law tends to mean something to people who come out of the military in particular. So I expect him to follow the law whether he likes it or not.

                My 2 cents – at this pace all those 2 cents will make up dollars though…

              • In the end General Bolden has clearly demonstrated he is apt at all these skills. Is he the best possible manager? That is a matter of opinion.

                Yes, it is a matter of opinion. I have seen no evidence that he is apt at any of them.

              • I wonder who suggested something as stupid as that in this thread.

                Because I can’t recall I did.

                No one claimed that you did. I’d have thought that it would be “Common Sense” to not wear a shoe if it doesn’t fit.

          • DCSCA

            Where was [Bolden’s] management competence proven? If he has any, I haven’t seen much of it on display since he became administrator.” says RS

            A rare point of agreement w/Rand.
            The current NASA administrator is an example of the ‘Peter Principle’ in work.

  • Coastal Ron

    Air & Space magazine has an article called “Beyond the Moon” which does discuss the subject of consensus (and the lack thereof) for where NASA should go next. You can read it here.

    In the article they do talk about the NRC survey, but then they also say regarding the Orion:

    Shelving the asteroid option would leave NASA’s new spaceship, Orion, and its planned shuttle-derived rocket, the Space Launch System, with nowhere to go, at least in the near term.

    Yep. There is no money to spend on getting non-SLS & MPCV hardware built and qualified for an asteroid trip, and there is no money for ANY SLS mission that requires new hardware.

  • DCSCA

    ““no national consensus” on NASA’s strategic goals….”

    That only comes from the White House. And Mr. Obama’s ‘leadership’ consisted of doing a 180 on Constellation from his campaign position, essentially torpedoing HSF ops and was poorly advised to publicly propose some vague concept of lassoing space rocks. In other words– a policy of free drift.

    HRC will give NASA fresh direction in her first term– or be forced to accelerate a reactive policy in her second to growing PRC initiatives. But the Obama Administration put space in the out box at KSC in a 2010 speech.

    [Bolden said] “We are all smart people. We all have an idea of where we ought to be going.” Which characterizes the fatal flaw of leadership by committee. Tha’ts why NASA needs the President to point to a definitive goal– and roping asteroids ain’t it.

    • common sense

      I am almost longing for the day when Hillary will say she won’t run. Then I wonder who will take the stick for you. On the other hand I’d like to see you praise Gingrich, after all he wanted to do some lunar thingies.

      As for leadership, it appears clear that you know all there is to know about that. Thanks for the input though.

      • DCSCA

        “I am almost longing for the day when Hillary will say she won’t run.” prays CS.

        You’ll have a long wait- as she’s been positioning for it for years and made moves just this week– and WJC is running interference for her. This cycle will be her last shot at it– so she will run. And win. First woman president and all that. Americans like making history. And unlike the current occupant of the WH, HRC has had a life long, personal interest in the space program as well– something sorely lacking at her pay grade level in the Executive for decades. And the other party will bel ost in the wilderness for the next 20 years.

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

        “As for HRC…hmmm I dont see her with much of a space policy either.” says RGO.

        More likely, you just don’t want to see it. Look closer. It ain’t basketball. She has a genuine, personal interest- and that’s half the battle for an agency craving attention from the WH.

    • Robert G. Oler

      There was no consensus with Cx…no one seriously (well there were some but they were all in space related districts) had the foggiest notion that it would ever fly.

      As for HRC…hmmm I dont see her with much of a space policy either RGO

  • Guest

    I’m not too sure about the asteroid mission, but there appears to be a clear consensus now within the scientific community for the removal of Mr. Bolden from his position as NASA administrator, for his prayer remarks concerning a three week notice of an impending asteroid impact. This used to be cute, but Mr. Bolden’s tenure has clearly gone on long enough for people to come to grips with his incompetence in critical national security matters. The correct answer was given by other testimonials there. You call the president and the national security council and you get some warheads on some missiles and launch vehicles and take some pot shots at the thing. You don’t pray. It’s unproductive. You pick up the phone and make things happen. Charlie is not that guy, apparently.

    • common sense

      Is that you Guest? The Guest, the one with the F9 augmented SLS rocket machines?

      Anyway, a clear consensus within the scientific community? And what part of said community are you within? Rocket science? Geology? NEO-logy? F9-logy? SLS-logy?

      But I am with you by the way. Let’s call the President and NSC and get them warheads on them big kaboom thingies!

      Now as for taking pot… I am not sure in what way it will help mitigate NEOs, AND I did not know pot had to be shot. Hmm. Odd.

      Not that I would give too much confidence in the prayers myself but I assume some people can actually pray and do other things. May not be while using pot though. Dunno.

      Now. Who does he think he is this guy Bolden? NASA Astronaut, CEO, Marines General, test pilot, flew combat in Asia, etc? So what?!?! All he needs is to actually pick up the phone and make things happen. This guy has no, repeat, no idea what it takes to make things happen.

      Thank you Guest. We really need more people like you. Since you seem to know how to make things happen I long for the day when you will pick up the phone and make things happen. Ever considered the position for NASA Admin?

      We need can-do guys. Not some wishy-washy pilot.

      • common sense

        Wanted to write “wishy-washy Waldo Pepper” but hit the little mouse button too fast. I like historical references.

      • Guest

        The ‘Planetary Sciences’ community. People concerned with the characterization and correct functioning of terrestrial planets and their biospheres and inhabitants. He didn’t even suggest evacuating civilians from the impact zone. Epic fail Mr. Bolden. Fortunately there were people there willing to cover for him, but it’s gone viral.

        And don’t you fret much about the LRB assisted uncrewed SLS proposal for single shot lunar, asteroidal and planetary missions. NASA and the NIAC rejected it as incremental and out of scope with their bold new plans to pray for redemption from asteroid impacts and using dark energy as rocket fuel.

        Just because some guy flew jets in an unnecessary failed war (take your pick) doesn’t exempt him from criticism. People have been cutting this particular administrator a lot of slack for four years now, but that period is now demonstrably over for him.

        • common sense

          “Fortunately there were people there willing to cover for him, but it’s gone viral.”

          Okay then, I hope we can quickly get a vaccine from the *other* scientific community.

          “And don’t you fret much about the LRB assisted uncrewed SLS proposal for single shot lunar, asteroidal and planetary missions. NASA and the NIAC rejected it as incremental and out of scope with their bold new plans to pray for redemption from asteroid impacts and using dark energy as rocket fuel.”

          You proposed it to NIAC??? Well I guess you had to propose it somewhere. Had you told me before I would have told you the most likely outcome of your proposal. But you would not have believed me anyway. So okay. Important Clue: Proposing to NIAC next year will result in the same outcome.

          “Just because some guy flew jets in an unnecessary failed war (take your pick) doesn’t exempt him from criticism. People have been cutting this particular administrator a lot of slack for four years now, but that period is now demonstrably over for him.”

          I don’t think I said that because he flew jet in some far away war then we should cut him some slack. BUT if you want to criticize him you may want to compare your credentials (failed NIAC proposal) with his. Of course I understand what it is like to be the lonely voice in the wilderness. Pick up the phone my friend. Make it happen for crying out loud! Good luck.

          • Guest

            If you still think that both science and action are about credentials then I can’t help you, sorry. That’s a paradigm that has fallen out of fashion more than a century ago. I would also be more than happy to look at any of your proposals such that natural and man made disasters can be rationally addressed, monitored, prevented or reactively responded to, as long as they don’t involve prayer or violate any currently known laws of physics. It’s a long list, that.

            • common sense

              “If you still think that both science and action are about credentials then I can’t help you, sorry.”

              Oh no, no! Please come back and help me.

              “That’s a paradigm that has fallen out of fashion more than a century ago.”

              Fashion? It was in fashion a century ago? Channel? Interesting.

              “I would also be more than happy to look at any of your proposals such that natural and man made disasters can be rationally addressed, monitored, prevented or reactively responded to, as long as they don’t involve prayer or violate any currently known laws of physics. It’s a long list, that.”

              Wow wow. I did not say I had any such proposal but hey where can I send one to in case I were to actually write one? A physical address? A PO Box? A dedicated institution?

        • common sense

          “The ‘Planetary Sciences’ community. People concerned with the characterization and correct functioning of terrestrial planets and their biospheres and inhabitants. ”

          Wow I almost missed that gem. I apologize to the audience.

          Planetary Science is concerned with “the characterization and correct functioning of terrestrial planets”???? Terrestrial planet, okay I won’t argue that one too much. But correct functioning??? Is there such a thing as “correct functioning” of a planet, terrestrial or otherwise. Who might I ask provides the blueprint for functioning planet? And you cannot answer a higher authority (wink-wink).

          Biospheres and inhabitants? Plural? Really? Did you already publish on that subject. If not I suggest you quickly send something to Nature. Maybe along with your F9-SLS proposal?

          I mean. Pick up the phone and make it happen. I say if we haven’t found any biosphere yet outside the Earth and its (theirs?) associated inhabitants, I say pick up the phone and make it happen! We need leadership in that area too. Keppler is way too slow. The scientific community is outraged and they are going viral on Youtube. The Internet is so passe, so 20th Century.

    • Coastal Ron

      Guest said:

      I’m not too sure about the asteroid mission, but there appears to be a clear consensus now within the scientific community for the removal of Mr. Bolden from his position as NASA administrator, for his prayer remarks concerning a three week notice of an impending asteroid impact.

      Yeah, not so much. It’s funny how people can be so literal and closed minded about such things, but in the generally accepted notion about “praying” here in America, that usually does not preclude trying to do something. The two are not exclusive, as America’s history has shown.

      Of course maybe you confused “If it’s coming in three weeks … pray,” with “if Allah wills”. Which wouldn’t be hard, since most of what you say is inscrutable… ;-)

      • Guest

        With a three week deadline to an asteroid impact, I can only suggest that you won’t have any time to pray, and that science has shown prayer to be wholly ineffective.

        I’m serious. Bolden is done.

        • common sense

          Wow we are on a how today, are we not?

          “science has shown prayer to be wholly ineffective”??? Yeah? Really??? Oh please, please a reference.

          “I’m serious. Bolden is done.”

          Personally I prefer human flesh medium rare rather than done. But it’s a personal choice I made.

        • Coastal Ron

          Guest said:

          I’m serious. Bolden is done.

          Considering your past inability to accurately forecast the future, I’m not putting any stock in your predictions.

          Besides, Bolden was brought in to NASA in order to provide managerial strength, which I think he has done. We certainly didn’t need another Michael Griffin, as it’s taken a long time for fix the messes he left (i.e. Constellation out of control, JWST out of control, etc. etc.).

          Bolden has been the right person for NASA post-Griffin. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if he leaves soon, as he might want to go off and do a few more things in life than testify before meaningless congressional committees about hypothetical situations.

        • JimNobles

          “I’m serious. Bolden is done.”

          I suspect he is done when he decides he’s done or his boss decides he’s done.

          Who do you think would be a suitable replacement for him?

          • common sense

            Few qualified people want the job. Bolden is doing the best possible job considering the circumstances.

            • DCSCA

              “Few qualified people want the job. Bolden is doing the best possible job considering the circumstances.”

              That’s not saying much. Jim Webb didn’t want the gig either.

              • common sense

                Bolden is not going to step down. I think it would totally be out of character. He is in a fight to straight this agency and prepare it for the future. So far he has done a good job and as effective as possible considering the interference from Congress and the agency itself so ingrained in immovable habits who don’t want to change a thing, e.g. no Space Technology, no commercial providers, no nothing. In the view of these people NASA should be run as a Cold War relic, using Cold War aged technology. Yet under Bolden commercial space has lift off quite nicely and there is a new Space Technology directorate. But all is still very fragile. If he were to leave and be replaced with say Mike Griffin then you can be sure the agency would close in a few years, bankrupt so to speak. SLS/MPCV but I am sure SLS more so than MPCV were forced down his throat and since he is by law obligated to spend the money so he does.

                But what legacy will he he be proud of when he leaves? A set of idiotic ppts and unrealistic and unrealizable missions or a vibrant new commercial industrial space sector hiring the new generation of real rocket scientists? Hmmm.

                We shall see.

              • common sense

                Oh and by the way, why not ask Jim Webb to get a go at the position then? Oh no! Wait…

                Any other great idea my friend?

        • DCSCA

          “I’m serious. Bolden is done.”
          says Guest.

          Bolden was ‘done’ the day Constellation was shelved by Obama at KSC in April, 2010. He’s been place holding through free drift ever since, officiating over sending shuttles to museums and administering a shell game with tightening budgets. And he’ll be 66 in August– should have retired at the end of term one. The only thing worse would be Garver– and with Obama’s inattentive approach to space given its low place on the national agenda, he’d likely offer her the spot- something she is wholly unqualified for and which would be a disaster for the agency in its current disarray. Back in the day, when tight times hit NASA’s grand plans under Nixon’s OMB, Ol’ Tom Paine saw the writing on the wall and punched out to a safe landing in private industry. Bolden doesn’t have that in his future.

    • Hiram

      there appears to be a clear consensus now within the scientific community for the removal of Mr. Bolden from his position as NASA administrator

      Care to grace us with any evidence of this “clear consensus”? There is none, so stop making things up. Zip it.

      • common sense

        Oh come on. It’s almost the weekend. Let him speak his mind. Please? Yes?

        • Hiram

          I’m not going to tolerate someone speaking his mind when his mind is outright lying. I run with the NASA science community, and what he says is patently false. In a fiscal situation with seriously threatened funding and incipient pain, no one is going to love an administrator. Furthermore, Boldin’s astronaut and Marine background is certainly not one that excites the science community. But no one in that community is actively advocating Boldin’s removal.

          Let’s have a truthful weekend. Please? Yes?

          • common sense

            “I’m not going to tolerate someone speaking his mind when his mind is outright lying. I run with the NASA science community, and what he says is patently false.”

            Come on. Step back for a minute. I don’t know how long you’ve been reading the forums here but he and a few others are not exactly the most enlightened contributors. I am sure most of the other posters take the opposite side of whatever he and some others say anyway upon reading.

            “In a fiscal situation with seriously threatened funding and incipient pain, no one is going to love an administrator.”

            That is a little simplistic though. You should direct your attention to Congress. They are the ones who decide where the money goes, not Boldin.

            “Furthermore, Boldin’s astronaut and Marine background is certainly not one that excites the science community.”

            Hmm. It appears that your SMD AA is a former astronaut. At NASA and for some time to come I would make buddy with the astronauts. They still carry quite a bit of weight. But do not misconstrue the background of someone with his/her ability to achieve something. In Boldin’s case I think it is fair to say that he is an overachiever in many respects. Now since I worked as a scientist for many years I can tell you I would most generally not welcome a scientist at the head of NASA in particular or most agencies in general.

            “But no one in that community is actively advocating Boldin’s removal.”

            Of course not. But who would believe that kind of idiocy anyway?

            “Let’s have a truthful weekend. Please? Yes?”

            Can still be fun or even funny now can’t it?

          • DCSCA

            “I run with the NASA science community…” asserts Hiram.

            Then you best start telling them they’re running over budget w/their robotic probes. In an era when disposable elctronics are dropping in price around the world, the costs of their throw away probes are rising and reaching unacceptable levels. JWST alone is a fiasco. Spirit and Opportuniy cost $800 million for the pair in ’04. By 2013, Curiosity alone was $2.6 billion and in spite of some splendid EDL engineering, the science returned has failed to justifiy that level of expenditure– for a disposable vehicle.

            • Santoron

              “In an era when disposable elctronics are dropping in price around the world, the costs of their throw away probes are rising”

              “Spirit and Opportuniy cost $800 million for the pair in ’04. By 2013, Curiosity alone was $2.6 billion”

              Two excellent examples of “false equivilancy”. From your near constant misuse of the term I was certain you didn’t understand it… :eyeroll:

  • guestagain

    JSC human life sciences has the right idea.
    They have a road map which says where we are, where we need to go, and how to get there. That idea needs to be accepted by the rest of NASA.
    Not only is there no wide acceptance of an asteroid mission plan, and BTW no asteroids known to go and visit either, there is no plan of any kind. There is not even a consensus on what NASA’s purpose is.
    Yes, it needs serious attention but this is nothing new; it has needed serious attention for several years.
    Charlie Bolden-he hasn’t a clue. I think that what he said in the Congressional briefing is what he does on a nightly basis, he prays that someone will deliver him from this mess. He obviously has not figured out that its his job to figure out the way out, and not some higher authority.

    • amightywind

      JSC life sciences may be the most egregious waste of NASA funding of all. Never has so much been spent on such trivial science. The next administrator must zero out that budget item.

      He obviously has not figured out that its his job to figure out the way out, and not some higher authority.

      How ridiculous. Planetary defense is not part of NASA’s mandate.

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “How ridiculous. Planetary defense is not part of NASA’s mandate.”

        Yes, it is. Per Section 20102(g) of the NASA Act:

        “(g) Warning and Mitigation of Potential Hazards of Near-Earth Objects. — Congress declares that the general welfare and security of the United States require that the unique competence of the Administration be directed to detecting, tracking, cataloguing, and characterizing near-Earth asteroids and comets in order to provide warning and mitigation of the potential hazard of such near-Earth objects to the Earth.”

        http://www.nasa.gov/offices/ogc/about/space_act1.html#POLICY

        Can’t you get anything right before you post?

        • DCSCA

          “that the general welfare and security of the United States”

          In fact, Windy is correct.

          NASA is a civilian agency of the U.S. government, not a globally sanctioned entity. The legislation applies to the U.S. civil space agency and the “United States” isn’t responsible for Planet Earth. NASA is not responsible for “planetary defense” unless the world body of nations are willing to finance and place that responsibility in the hands of the United States. It’s bad enough Americans attempt being ‘world policeman’ with mixed results. Adding ‘Planet Protector’ to that would be folly. And unlikely as well as unwise given the diversity of talents and technologies around te planet to ‘mitigate’ such a matter.

          • Dark Blue Nine

            Yeah, I’m sure that if another extinction-level event is headed toward the Yucatan Penisula that the White House is going to direct NASA to turn the Deep Space Network away from the incoming asteroid. It’s Mexico’s problem, after all.

            You’re an incredible idiot.

            • common sense

              “It’s Mexico’s problem, after all.”

              Ahah! Not at all. Can you imagine the wave of immigrants, and of salt water of course, fleeing Mexico? So we will immediately build a very, very high fence to keep said wave(s) away from our shores. AND. A lot of surf boards will be sold by some imaginative TX start-up and sold by millions to Mexico. Our first manufactured goods export to Mexico in a thousand years. All in all it would be a good thing for the US economy.

              Bad. Terrible example DB9.

  • Mark Whittington

    One might accuse Bolden of being delusional, but one suspects that (a) He knows the truth that the asteroid scheme is a non starter but also (b) He serves at the pleasure of the president, so if he wants to keep his job he must toe the party line. In a way he might serve the cause of NASA were he to resign in protest and inform the nation that he is being asked to execute a dumb program with insufficient resources by a president who could care less whether he succeeds or not.

    • common sense

      Yeah! Just like Colin Powell did a few years ago. Go Charlie Go!!!! Just do it.

      Of course there is the tiny possibility that your are delusional but how likely is that?

      • Mark Whittington

        Not likely. Mind, the only reason for Bolden to stay would be to keep Lori Garver out of the position. That would be a disaster.

        • common sense

          All right I am going to let you on a little secret. Any one with a dose of common sense actually *knows* the asteroid mission is a non-starter since there is no plan, no hardware, no software either, nothing being developed to get there now or in a decade from now. At least not at NASA. And to top it off there is no budget allocated to the asteroid mission.

          What would be a disaster? That Lori becomes the NASA Admin? I believe that should it happen it would already have. But my belief. And as far as I am concerned the WH tells NASA what to do and NASA implements the WH policy. Lory does not dictate policy in her position anyway.

          So all in all you’re still day dreaming. Oh lest I forget Congress decides where to allocate the budget. Not Bolden, not the WH.

          So I suggest you get all whiny with your House and Senate reps rather than barking at the wrong tree.

    • Coastal Ron

      Mark Whittington said:

      In a way he might serve the cause of NASA were he to resign in protest and inform the nation that he is being asked to execute a dumb program with insufficient resources…

      You mean the Space Launch System (SLS) of course.

    • JimNobles

      I’m not really trying to be offensive but IMO anyone who is taking this asteroid thing seriously is in danger of finding themselves in delusion. I don’t think the President ever cared a thing about it when he proposed it. I think it was just an effort to quiet down the “We Must Have A Goal!” crowd. Which only worked a little bit.

      I think the only reason an asteroid mission is alive at all is because if it wasn’t SLS would have absolutely no reason to exist. Congress is not going to sign off and finance a plan to return to the moon or go to mars so an asteroid is all there is left as far as real-estate oriented HSF goals are concerned.

      The administration is not going to enthusiastically support an asteroid mission or fight for it because I don’t think they really wanted it in the first place. I think Charlie and Lori are fighting for it because it’s their job and they really want NASA to have a Heavy Lifter. And they are living by the faith that if they can somehow make it come into being the resources to use it will come into being as well. It’ all appears a bit faith-based to me I’m afraid.

      So I think if anyone wants SLS to amount to something they need to lobby congress about it. It is Congress’s baby. It’ll probably be up to them to decide a mission and fund it through to completion. I don’t think they will get all that much encouragement or support from the administration.

      • Coastal Ron

        JimNobles said:

        The administration is not going to enthusiastically support an asteroid mission or fight for it because I don’t think they really wanted it in the first place.

        A Presidential administration is a collection of people, and especially at the beginning of the first term a President will decide to focus on things that matter (like two wars and the worst economy in modern history), and listen to their topic-specific advisors on what would be a good idea to get behind.

        That may have been the situation with the asteroid plan after the Constellation program was deemed EOL. That may have been Garver, or Holdren, or a whole bunch of people. Regardless, the President apparently agreed with it, and that became the standing orders for NASA.

        Personally I think it’s a good goal, and you can read my other comments about why. However the SLS will make it fiscally impossible to do it by 2025, or any other alternative goal someone might want to propose we should do anytime during the 2020’s.

        The bigger problem is not where to go next, but how to afford it.

        • JimNobles

          Ron, I basically agree. It’s hard to see how anything good is going to come with SLS.

        • DCSCA

          “Constellation program was deemed EOL. That may have been Garver, or Holdren, or a whole bunch of people. Regardless, the President apparently agreed with it, and that became the standing orders for NASA.” wheezed Ron.

          Except it was a 180 from position early in his campaign. He got handed an economic mess, handed a whiye paper w/recomendations Holdren and, of course, Garver, who was out to scuttle all things Griffin; went to KSC, read the cover sheet in April, 2010 and left. End of story. And NASA didn’t hel pitself by scrubbing a shuttle launch when the CI and family were there– a launch they had months to prep for. The very moment the experimental Ares 1-X was launched on its test flight back in October, 2009, Obama was holding a presser in the Rose Garden– couldn’t be bothered to even watch the launch, being carried live on all the cablers in a split screen. Obama has no interest in space.

          • Robert G. Oler

            Hmm curious…if the Cx program had NOT been cancelled where do you think its various parts would be in terms of progressing to flight right now? RGO

            • common sense

              Robert, Constellation was only cancelled in name since nothing but rockets were being developed along with the capsule and escape system. The only thing “cancelled” was Ares I.

              So to answer your question if Constellation were still alive then it would be at about the same stage that SLS/MPCV is. Maybe a little worse since they would still be experimenting the Ares I demo junk. So maybe a few billions have been saved but only in terms of hardware/software for Ares I. Same people work SLS/MPCV so…

              • Robert G. Oler

                The question was more rhetorical to DCSA or whatever then anything else…but I agree with you’re analysis RGO

          • The very moment the experimental Ares 1-X was launched on its test flight back in October, 2009, Obama was holding a presser in the Rose Garden– couldn’t be bothered to even watch the launch, being carried live on all the cablers in a split screen. Obama has no interest in space.

            Ares 1-X had little to do with space. I wouldn’t have wasted my time watching the launch, either.

            • JimNobles

              A lot of people tried to say that the ARES 1-X was an important test launch. I very much disagreed. It looked like a publicity stunt and $400 million down the drain to me.

              • common sense

                I would offer it was somewhat important since it at least established two things. 1) NASA can actually fly a rocket they designed regardless of the interest of such a contraption and 2) Various models validation.

                And it was flown most likely since it essentially was on the pad when Bolden took the helm… What are you gonna do? Fly it to the bottom of the ocean? Hu? What? Yeah well…

                Past that…

              • DCSCA

                “A lot of people tried to say that the ARES 1-X was an important test launch. I very much disagreed. It looked like a publicity stunt and $400 million down the drain to me.”

                It was all about trying to vindicate Griffin and his lousy rocket. He thinks himself another von Braun. except he’s clearly not. .

            • DCSCA

              “Ares 1-X had little to do with space. I wouldn’t have wasted my time watching the launch, either.”

              But you aren’t the CIC.

              He is.

              • All the more reason not to waste time watching a pointless activity.

              • Robert G. Oler

                But you aren’t the CIC.”

                Yes and hence is time at any level is more valuable then to sit around watching a pointless rocket launch…if he had nothing else to do he could spend 10 quality minutes with his kids or even his wife…It is the “quick ones” that are the most rewarding. RGO

      • DCSCA

        “I’m not really trying to be offensive but IMO anyone who is taking this asteroid thing seriously is in danger of finding themselves in delusion. I don’t think the President ever cared a thing about it when he proposed it. I think it was just an effort to quiet down the “We Must Have A Goal!” crowd. Which only worked a little bit.” says Jim.

        Yep. He put space in the out box at KSC in the April, 2010 speech. He has no interest in space. HRC does.

    • Robert G. Oler

      Mark Whittington
      March 21, 2013 at 6:18 pm · Reply

      I am curious, how big a story do you think Bolden’s resignation would be even if say he took to the platform and oh I dont know got his shoe off and pounded it?

      OK it would do Fox News but other then that?

      RGO

      • Ben Russell-Gough

        It depends on what else was happening that news cycle. If his denunciation was thundering enough and named significant names it might even manage to be the first story on a quiet day.

        • common sense

          And then what? What effect would it have on anything? Suddenly NASA would receive a 15% budget increase? SLS and MPCV would be on track to get to an asteroid?

          What would be the end result of something like that?

          • Robert G. Oler

            Nothing, because what the Mark Whittington’s of the world cannot grasp is that Apollo is done and in the history books and no one cares to try and redo it…even the right wing of the GOP ask Newt RGO

  • Just finished watching most of the three hearings this week — House and Senate asteroid hearings, and the House appropriations hearing.

    General Bolden struck me as confident and in charge. A lot of loopy questions as usual from the Congresscritters, but after four years on the job he knows how to work the Hill.

    I had to laugh when he called Rep. Wolf on the claim that the JWST was having budget troubles. Bolden said it was below budget and on schedule for the last two years. Wolf babbled a bit and then said he would give Bolden the phone number of the person who wrote the question — which only reinforced what many of us know, that these Congresscritters are just parroting what some staffer wrote for them. You could see Wolf working down a list of questions written for him, drawing a line through each one after he read it. He really didn’t seem to have a clue what he was reading. He was just reading it.

    As others noted, Wolf grilled Bolden about China. I thought, “Wait a minute, isn’t this Appropriations?! Since when did Appropriations become the Foreign Policy or Justice committeee?!” But Bolden let Wolf play his little game, knowing that humoring this clown kept NASA’s priorities funded.

    I thought Bolden did a great job of explaining to them how if they want SLS they need to fund commercial crew. If they really want to use SLS for deep space exploration, we need commercial crew so we can keep astronauts on ISS performing long-duration space flight experiments simulating a deep-space flight to Mars … Now, we all know these Congresscritters couldn’t care less, so long as NASA keeps going those big contracts for Boeing and LockMart and ATK. But he did create a nice metaphorical fig leaf, kinda boxing them into a rhetorical corner — if you really want SLS for deep space exploration, you need to fund commercial crew. We’ll see where this argument goes.

    Also consider that this is the last year of the 2010 authorization act. Congress will need to adopt a new one this year. Fat chance of that arriving on schedule, but I think Bolden was laying the foundation for what will need to be in the next authorization act. He talked about accelerating the first crewed SLS test flight to earlier than 2021, but made it clear that Congress will have to commit to funding it.

    Bolden will be long retired by then, but at least he was doing his best to lock in a commitment from Congress to providing adequate funding for the next few years to keep ISS/commercial cargo/crew going if they’re serious about SLS.

    Good job, Charlie.

  • Robert G. Oler

    What will be interesting to watch as we move along day after day tearing pages from the calender is say by 2016 if there is any indication that 2025 will look very different from today in a way that today does not look all that different from say 03-05…

    Some for instances.

    By 2016…

    The Dennis Tito thing will be either on a reasonable path to a launch in 18 or it will be the stuff of say Beall Aerospace…

    Musk should be either controlling the launch market or well on his way to it… Meaning the 9 will be flying pretty regularly and the Heavy either a technical and economic success that is on the way to changing the satellite market….or he (Musk) will be history… and that is without…

    Musk might be on his way a reusable version of the Falcon..now if the above flounders and Musk is a footnote to history well then a lot of things stay status quo …but if the above works; they think that they can close the loop on reusability.

    GOlden Spike should be either history or moving forward…

    there are quite a few things like that…

    and then there is Orion…it will be moving toward some flight in 17 or 18 or 19…ie nothing different then now

    That will be what to watch. An asteroid in 2025…joke RGO

    • Robert, that’s an extremely good synopsis of the situation. The one caveat I would add is that if the positive events you mention occur (I do not include Orion as a positive event), an asteroid mission at some point in time need not be a “joke”.

      • Robert G. Oler

        Thank you Rick and I agree with you’re comments.

        Look the asteroid thing for NASA is a bust because its a long drawn out program that is not repeatable…if it were to happen then “its done” and both NASA and the other people involved will want to “move on” …it is one of the “next logical steps” which only justifies something different by virtue of NASA not being able to afford doing what it just did.

        If any one or a couple of the things I mentioned (and there are a few things I didnt mention which also would change things shift the tide of history) happen then well (grin) the tide of space history changes some more and what was done, can be done again.

        We have to have, and probably are about ready for, a breakthrough that sweeps away the multi tens of billions, multi decade programs, and makes space exploration by humans affordable. It is just to bad NASA is so far out of the loop that it has not a clue. RGO

    • Malmesbury

      The asteroid mission is inevitable when you mandate an HLV, a capsule, an SM…. and nothing else.

      Got to send it into deep space…. Can’t land on anything with gravity….

  • James

    If you are going to an Asteroid in 2025, you will need to stand up an Asteroid Exploration Program Office at some point in time. Assuming a 10 year horizon is adequate, I would expect there to be a Program Office stood up in 2015. 2016 at the latest.

    NASA is right now preparing the 5 year budget requests between 2015 and 2019. Certainly there would monies in some, if not most, of those years to stand up a Program Office, and all else that is needed for a 2025 asteroid visit.

    Does anyone on this blog have access to that data? That would be proof that there are indeed plans fro a 2025 mission.

    I’m sure the Apollo Program office got stood up just after JFK’s 1961 speech…so 9 years out, 2016, would be the latest I would expect to see an Office stood up.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      NASA’s budget requests are publicly available here:

      http://www.nasa.gov/news/budget/index.html

      There have been figures for fiscal years 2015, 2016, and 2017 for the past three budget requests (2011, 2012, and 2013). No NEO exploration program office or anything resembling it have appeared in those budgets.

      • Coastal Ron

        Dark Blue Nine said:

        No NEO exploration program office or anything resembling it have appeared in those budgets.

        And since any such effort would have to use the current Program of Record rocket and spacecraft (SLS & MPCV), that means there are no plans to use either of those for an NEO trip (although it’s assumed they eventual will).

        And too, there are no non-NEO programs being planned for using the SLS & MPCV.

        At what point does this disconnect start getting some attention? No doubt Senator Nelson (one of the SLS parents) is aware of the planning horizons involved, so you have to wonder what the plan is to finally make this public… or maybe they are hoping for some external event/trigger than will allow them to solve this situation?

        A head scratcher all around, both for the push to build it, and the lack of any efforts to use it.

        • Egad

          And too, there are no non-NEO programs being planned for using the SLS & MPCV.

          At what point does this disconnect start getting some attention? No doubt Senator Nelson (one of the SLS parents) is aware of the planning horizons involved, so you have to wonder what the plan is to finally make this public… or maybe they are hoping for some external event/trigger than will allow them to solve this situation?

          A head scratcher all around, both for the push to build it, and the lack of any efforts to use it.

          And, going back to the top of the discussion, why does Mr. Bolden tell people that NEO ca. 2025 is the actual plan when he could easily dodge the matter? Very head-scratchy indeed.

          • Coastal Ron

            Egad said:

            And, going back to the top of the discussion, why does Mr. Bolden tell people that NEO ca. 2025 is the actual plan when he could easily dodge the matter?

            There are a lot of levels of politics going on here, some understandable (i.e. the President has an announced goal for NASA, so no one can say he doesn’t), some not understandable (there is not enough money in NASA’s budget to pursue anyones goals, either Congress or the President, yet no one acknowledges any problems).

            Bolden, as the NASA Administrator, works for the President, so he is not supposed to say anything policy-wise that isn’t supposed to be said. But the same could be asked of Congress, who knows that there isn’t enough money to both build and use the SLS (and no known use for it anyways). Why don’t they acknowledge the fiscal realities?

            Two thoughts:

            1. The budget battle in Congress is of far more importance than a tiny government agency called NASA. NASA is a can of worms no one wants to address right now, because there are bigger issues that are more important. I think they have agreed to disagree, and are saving the battle over this until the bigger stuff is solved.

            2. If the President and his advisors don’t want the SLS, and they think they can cancel it for lack of any known need or use, then there is still time to do an asteroid mission by 2025 – if it’s competed out to the aerospace industry. In that case they do still see hope, no matter how slim the chances may be.

            Your government at work.

            • DCSCA

              “President [Obama} has an announced goal for NASA, so no one can say he doesn’t,” insists Ron.

              =yawn= A ‘goal’ that’s 180 degrees from his early campaign position, courtesy of his white paper advisors and bean counters.

              Place holding isn’t a ‘goal’ unless your goal is place holding, Ron.

              Which is precisely what he has done w/space. You could make book in Vegas that planned trips to lasso asteroids will dissolve into something else after term 2 ends. But space has a check mark beside it on the CIC’s ‘to do’ list.

              Treading water doesn’t get you any place– it just keeps youe head above water- afloat for a time. That’s where the CIC has put NASA.

              Give a speech (aka leading the class with a lecture) and put the matter in the out box is what a college professor believes constitutes leadership. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama (nay Mr. Spock) makes no effort to cultivate support for his ‘goals’. If you detect any passion in him for launching out on spacial rodeo to rope rocks, let us know. We don’t see it. He leaves that to others. Like when he asks us to call Congress and do his work for him. Except that’s what we hired him to do.

              So space policy leadership ‘muddles along’ as a low interest item on the agenda with no interest from the CIC. It’s reactive, not proactive.

              That’s his style across the legislative landscape, Ron. And so America’s space program ‘muddles along.’ He has no interest in space. HRC, on the other hand, does.

    • common sense

      See. If we were really to go to an asteroid there would be a need to develop some technologies regardless of a program office being set up. There would have to be a plan of some sort, even drawn on a napkin in a fast-food restaurant. But Congress has essentially said they cannot care less for a technology development of any kind. I repeat of any kind. So, long before we think of having a program office to go to an asteroid, the Moon, EML or any of those grand destinations we will need a little tech development along with a plan. Both of which do not require a program office.

      Unless of course the whole point is a stunt. Then you have the recent private Mars fly-by plan that satisfies the requirements for a lot less money than the US or any for that matter government would have to invest. And hey look! They have a plan! Wonder how much it cost to put that paper together.

      Anywho.

      • James

        Yes, technologies will need to be developed for an Asteroid mission. There are venues for technologist to compete for Technology monies. However, unless technology money is directed , vs. competed, there isn’t assurance that the competed technologies when added up will meet the requirements of a mission.

        So, in general, technologies that are in the TRL 1 to 3 stage, are often competed (at least in SMD, not sure of Exploration), but once the technology matures to TRL 4, it is nearly imperative to stand up the necessary management processes (Via a Program office if early in the technology development (TRL 1 to 3), and then a Project office if later in the tech development life cycle (TRL 4 to6)

        I’m sure OCT has money they are using for potential technologies for an Asteroid mission, but dollars to doughnuts (I’m very old if I’m using that reference!) its not coordinated through any kind of NEO Program OFfice.

        NASA is lying to itself about what it really needs/wants to launch a NEO mission in 2025 because they, senior managers, know there is no way Congress wants to hear it right now; When organizations traffic in self delusion, we get Challenger, and Columbia.

        The more things change, the more they stay the same!

    • common sense

      Forgot to mention that the Mars fly-by plan is based on available or nearly available technology for which the requirements and specs do not keep changing and for which there is historical flight precedence.

      The USG plan, I mean wishful thinking to visit an asteroid seems to involve SLS/MPCV for which nobody knows the requirements and specs. And that for another… Well until it eventually dies which will make the whole thing moot anyway.

      Hope this helps.

    • DCSCA

      “I’m sure the Apollo Program office got stood up just after JFK’s 1961 speech…so 9 years out, 2016, would be the latest I would expect to see an Office stood up.” pondes James.

      That’s a matter of public record. Go back and review NASA’s budgetary status and program planning in 1960 against the bump post JFK’s initiative and Congress’s ifunding infusions- in spite of conervative opposition to Apollo ramping up. The Congresional Record is full of it– and Bsarry Goldwater publicly ridiculed Apollo in his famed 1964 nomination acceptance speech.

      Of course, JFk and LBJ- the real point man on space- followed up with rallying public support and Congressional porking the project across the country. President Obama is doing no such thing. This asteroid chase is make work– nebulous planning; treading watter. Those budget projections out into the next administration are oh so much a required exercise in planing- but place holding. Missions to lasso asteroids won’t fly with the HRC administrtion.

      • Coastal Ron

        DCSCA moaned:

        This asteroid chase is make work– nebulous planning; treading watter.

        And the only known “government project of scale” that would use the SLS. If you disagree, then please show us some form of official acknowledgement from either the President or Congress.

        Without that mission, the SLS will sit for a decade without a need, since even your beloved HRC can’t get SLS-sized missions requiring lots of SLS to fly that quickly – and there is no known reason to spend that much money on disposable rockets.

        You need to fantasize better…

      • Robert G. Oler

        DCSCA
        March 22, 2013 at 7:41 pm · Reply

        Of course, JFk and LBJ- the real point man on space- followed up with rallying public support and Congressional porking the project across the country. President Obama is doing no such thing. This asteroid chase is make work– nebulous planning; treading watter>>

        that is an overstatement of history

        It is not clear absent his death that JFK 1 gets the money for a lunar landing and 2) does not at somepoint try and modify it as a method of “glassnost” (the approved jargon in the LBJ administration).

        A lot of “loose ends” that LBJ tied up one way or the other MIGHT have either not been tied up at all under JFK or tied up differently…we will never know.

        What is clear from history however is that LBJ even had he run for a second full term was more or less running out of political support for Apollo within his own party.

        The fanciful view by you, Whittington and others is that presidential support alone is enough to get a policy through and I AGREE that it is a big part of it…but somewnere there has to be public support for the endeavor for a President to reach out for…and while I was a child in that era it was clear to me that the high spending levels in Apollo were not sustainable…and LBJ came to that conclusion when he ended the Saturn program in exchange for some budget considerations in the program.

        The reality of the next 40 or so years after that decision was that NASA has been unable to control cost in its endeavors or wished for endeavors…If one imagines that SLS/ORion would if carried to completion consume nearly 60 billion dollars in development cost (and thats a low estimate) and cost as much as a Saturn to fly…then the notion of “it will ttake” another 60-100 billion to develop EACH a lander and an interplanetary vehicle for SLS to launch…

        you understand the reality that Apollo and Shuttle and Station and now SLS/Orion are “make work”

        the problem is that the money has gone down because few people care that the programs actually do anything and the output has sunk as well.

        Robert G. oler

        • DCSCA

          “that is an overstatement of history” cries RGO.

          Except it’s not. In fact, you’d best go back and review the Congressional Record from that era as well as the MSM periodicals and brodcasts from that period. Demonstrating ‘presidential support’- aka ‘leadership’ is not just giving a speech and flying away. The follow-through on the ground is what counts. JFK (his last speech was about space before he was assasssinated) and LBJ worked Congress– it is well documented. And so were the roadblocks- some self-inflicted (- like Vietnam).

          Obama is no where close to displaying the kind of support and follow through that JFK and LBJ did– not just for space but for many of hi legislative proposals. He gives a speech (aka a lecture) then expects Congress to do all the work– or have US do the work by calleing them. In fact he is nortorious for not pressuring Congress on legislative issues across the board unless forced to. The guy spends more time pondering the fate of his NCAA brackets than on NASA. Obama has no interest in space.

          • Robert G. Oler

            DCSCA
            March 24, 2013 at 7:25 am · Reply

            Obama is no where close to displaying the kind of support and follow through that JFK and LBJ did– not just for space but for many of hi legislative proposals>>

            now I agree with that. Obama goes into what I call (courtesy of The West Wing) his “Uncle Fuddy” behavior where he does exactly what you said, gives a good speech and then thats it…

            And that is a major problem with his administration. Bush43 was good at repeating a point over and over even if it was a lie until it became the truth…but…

            There was nothing that could have saved Apollo in the late 60’s early 70’s even had LBJ gotten another term…the cost were to high…and the results to trivial…

            and there is nothing now that is going to blow up support for a massive space effort at high cost by the federal government….ask Newt Gingirch…RGO

            • DCSCA

              “I agree with that. Obama goes into what I call (courtesy of The West Wing) his “Uncle Fuddy” behavior where he does exactly what you said, gives a good speech and then thats it…” notes RGO.

              Which is precisely what he did at KSC in April, 2010. Read the cover sheet of the white paper from advisors, had one of his young speech writers pen some appropriate prose, gave a speech at KSC, and space was in the out box for his presidency- term on and now, term two. Don’t expect anything more in term 2. And he’s already six months awy from full throated lame duck status.

              But it’s more that that, Robert.

              He gives a lecture– (a bit Wilsonian in tone BTW) then he directs the class, ie., the citizenry, to do his work for him- like call Congress to pressure them. Except that’s what we hired him to do. Can’t picture LBJ operating this poorly. Even Jon Stewart ridicules him on that.

              “There was nothing that could have saved Apollo in the late 60′s early 70′s even had LBJ gotten another term.” ponders RGO.

              Apollo was a Cold War initiative– and finite, Robert– as intended, projected w/ending w/Apollo 20 landing, if memory serves, in Tycho. The hardware was bought and paid for. It was Nixon’s OMB that truncated it-cancelling the last three ops budgets and the hardware ended up as lawn ornaments and/or recycled into Apollo Applications (Skylab) and ASTP.

              =======

              Was reviewing old video and – a minor correction- Obama was literally handing retired Senator Edward Beooke a Gold Medal when the test flight of the experimental Ares 1-X was launched. Mr. Obama has no interest in space.

              • Robert G. Oler

                DCSCA
                March 25, 2013 at 4:35 am · Reply

                Which is precisely what he did at KSC in April, 2010.>>

                I dont think you are on my facebook page or hang out at the Dean Blog or the USNI military affairs blog, or someothers where I always blog under my own name, except for one place where they insist on “phoney names” but its clear who I am since I sign my name to everypost.

                You dont need to discuss nor lecture me on the failures of the Obama administration or Obama’s political style. Unlike Whittington or Wind or the sycophants (or psychotics) of the right or for that matter the left (the Obama beloved) I am at least fair in my criticisms

                I’ve joined with Mark Halprin and called Obama “a weak dick” so what else do you want?

                The problem is that Obama might be a weak dick but the opposition particularly in space flight human space flight are dumb dicks.

                The problems in HSF exist because of people who believe that “human exploration” is NASA’s signature issue even when it is done at a price and at a “risk” level that is not sustainable for the rewards proffered.

                And this has been true since Tranquility base. LBJ was the guy who had to end Apollo at as you point out 20…but Nixon and his OMB director saw no reason worth the cost, even as less as they were to really continue trips to the Moon that had no public support and what little support that they had would simply vanish with a “fatal” Apollo 13 like event.

                Nixon’s OMB director was only reflecting the arguments going on inside of NASA particularly at JSC about the lunar effort.

                Shuttle ended decades latter for the same reason. Bush43 was a dullard but his people figured out post Columbia that every shuttle flight was a “goofy accident” (my words) ready to happen…it wasnt “wow these folks were killed by some undiscovered engineering law” they were killed by internal incompetence…and the answer was stop

                Today the best Obama can do right now is simply go forward with a new path, commercial, and try and slowly kill the path that cant work, wont work, but has a lot of pork support…the dumb dicks.

                I wrote an op ed after Challenger that got some very wide circulation (and got me a meeting with the SecDef) labeled “The Coffin Corner” and NASA has been in it for something…

                In fact things have just gotten worse. They spend far more money on projects then they did in the past and all this is negated by bad management decisions that kill people in this hardware, so instead of recognizing that they both start limiting what the hardware can do and increase cost by piling on more “systems”

                The American people do not respond well to that.

                Robert G. Oler

              • It remains quite stupid to imagine that one’s interest in space can be gauged by watching an expensive pointless rocket flight.

              • Coastal Ron

                DCSCA whined:

                Mr. Obama has no interest in space.

                What is really odd is your assumption that Obama or any other President should.

                Even Kennedy’s prime interest in space was political, not science-related.

                Time to get over it Tinkerbell.

              • common sense

                Yeah you’re right, Obama has so little interest in space and NASA that he tried to get them a budget increase. So little interest that he toured Kennedy with, yeah you guessed it, with Elon.

                No progress on the meds I guess?

  • All arguments aside, wether it be consensus, administrators, contractors, companies, manned, un-manned, landing, mining, capture, deflection, and so on, and so on; when it comes to discussion of NEOs/NEAs, we must have information before we even enter in discussion on any of the above. When it comes to NEOs/NEAs, the only reasonable approach is OBSERVE-TOUCH-EARLY-OFTEN.
    We already have a start on OBSERVE. Sentinel is a good example; there are the ground based assets already available and more coming”; it is a start in meeting the “remote” Observe. On location Observe, is another matter. TOUCH is harder, but can be done. EARLY is early as possible. OFTEN is tough, but we Observe and Touch as often as possible. All this of course must be done within reason; common sense applied, and certainly not in panic mode. Common sense and within reason means that we understand the environments, the political lay of the land, the sustainment issues, etc; we understand budget concerns, etc, but we find a way to get it done. Common sense and within reason means that we must be Overwhelmingly Cost Effective in everything every aspect as we implement this OBSERVE-TOUCH-EARLY-OFTEN approach.
    Gen. Bolden referred to the “elephant in the room” at one point during the hearings. Call it what you will, acquiring the critical NEO/NEA target information and providing this information on a variety of targets, this is the key.

  • James

    Well, NASA won’t be relying on their education and public outreach to support creating a consensus if there isn’t one, or holding a consensus together if there was one.

    http://spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=43632

    • DCSCA

      “Well, NASA won’t be relying on their education and public outreach to support creating a consensus if there isn’t one, or holding a consensus together if there was one.” ponders James.

      More intersting was NASA’s recent educational touring of spaceflight artifacts through Europe a while back. You’d think that would be an invested effort better made stateside for the citizenry, young and old.

      • common sense

        What is the relation between “touring Europe” and “effort made statewide”… I thought SLS was a geopolitical tool. Does that mean in your mind the geopolitics between UT, FL, TX and the rest of the US? I am afraid of the answer now.

  • DCSCA

    “What is really odd is your assumption that Obama or any other President should.
    Even Kennedy’s prime interest in space was political, not science-related.” opined Ron.

    Nobody ever posted JFK’s motivations were anything but political, Ron. And interest from the top aka ‘leadership’ in space is always welcomed. Why you should think otherwise is what is truly ‘odd.’

    “It remains quite stupid to imagine that one’s interest in space can be gauged by watching an expensive pointless rocket flight.” projected Rand.

    Optics are part of the political process. A component you clearly above your pay grade. Something Mr. Romney and his fellow travellers learned the hard way through the 47% video reveal, among other snafus. And as Newt Gingrich, ‘Moon President’ learned courtesy of SNL.

    But if you want to pitch the optics of JFK and LBJ intensely watching Shepard’s launch in a WH office was ‘stupid'; that parading w/Glenn after his orbital flight and visiting the Cape weeks before Dallas was ‘pointless'; or the political optics of Nixon greeting the Apollo 11 crew on the Hornet at splash was ‘a waste’ [the politics of claiming Kennedy glory even stretched to attending the 12 launch.] Or the politics of WJC and HRC attending Glenn’s STS-95 launch was “odd”; that all were exercises in ‘lack of interest’… go for it. Keep peddling that foolishiness. Particularly as every organization, public or private, welcomes attention fro the top. Interest from the Chief Excutive, particularly the CIC, is always welcomed. NewSacers were having kittens when Mr. O had a photo op with campaign donor and contract seeker Musk at KSC, weren’t they. But then, that was political as well, wasn’t it. =eyeroll=

    ———

    Presdient Obama has no interest in space, Ron. Accept it. It was put in the out box w/t April, 2010 KSC speech. And policy will ‘muddle along’ in quasi free drift until HRC is in office.

    • Coastal Ron

      DCSCA whined:

      Nobody ever posted JFK’s motivations were anything but political

      Then why are you surprised when the politics of space don’t dictate any Presidential attention?

      As of now space is a vast unknown area with nothing really going on. No aliens, no “big news” science announcements. Just every day science going on. We don’t have a need to spend prodigious amounts of borrowed tax money from China to do any of your “government projects of scale”.

      Why you think NASA requires daily Presidential attention from any President (including your latest future crush HRC) is beyond me. NASA is 0.5% of the national budget, which means if it gets 0.5% of Obama’s time, then it’s doing pretty well.

      If anything Obama’s efforts for Commercial Crew are economic, since it stops sending money to Russia and creates a service industry that the U.S. can dominate for years to come. That’s a pretty easy decision for any politician that is looking out for the country instead of kowtowing to political interests (like on the SLS program).

      Time to get over it Tinkerbell.

      • Egad

        NASA is 0.5% of the national budget, which means if it gets 0.5% of Obama’s time, then it’s doing pretty well.

        Let’s suppose that, on the average, Mr. O spends ~12 hours a day on the job, which I suspect is kind of right. Say 70 – 80 hours a week, again on the average. I’d be very surprised if he does, or should, spend more than 30 minutes of one of those average weeks on NASA maters. So, yeah, 0.5% of his time at most seems right and appropriate.

        • Coastal Ron

          Egad said:

          Say 70 – 80 hours a week, again on the average. I’d be very surprised if he does, or should, spend more than 30 minutes of one of those average weeks on NASA maters.

          What about those times that he actually visits NASA, rare as they may be. That is part of the average too, meaning some weeks he probably doesn’t spend any time on NASA.

          And for now, why should he? The budget hasn’t changed, and the plans haven’t changed. He only needs to have input or get advice when there is something changing. Personally I hope that’s soon, but I see no evidence that it will be…

      • DCSCA

        “Then why are you surprised when the politics of space don’t dictate any Presidential attention?” wonders Ron.

        The only person who has posted tnat is you. And whether you realize it or not, space policy is a projection of political power on Earth– a matter of presidential interest as he is CIC, as the late Rocco Petrone often noted. That you don’t see this is rather sad. Space projects are about projecting national political and economic power on Earth. Why do you think the PRC is it– a people who walled themselves off for centuries and hardly known for their exploration forays. And why do you think NK is at it as well=== certainly not to ‘explore’ space.

        “He only needs to have input or get advice when there is something changing.” says Ron. Which verifies your embrace of a reactive U.S. space policy– a problem it has had since Sputnik.

  • DCSCA

    “LBJ was the guy who had to end Apollo at as you point out 20…” opined RGO.

    Inaccurate- in fact, that was the projected length of rthe program. As Dave SCott noted, ‘NASA pretty much streched the rubber band- technolgy of the hardware- as far as it would go. The overlap was presented by Von Braun and NASA on a ‘sugar high’in late ’69 and was brought down to Earth hard; Paine saw the writing on the wall and punched out as Nixon’s OMB acuttled the future as well. And FYI, Haperin was suspended by MSNBC for a month for that ‘joke’ he was trying to make. Saw it live. Producers didn’t use the seven second delay that morning. But not anymore. =yawn= Sorry you felt you were being ‘schooled’ otr ‘lectured.’ Your insecurity noted. Quite revealing, of course.

    • Robert G. Oler

      DCSCA
      March 25, 2013 at 4:16 pm · Reply

      “LBJ was the guy who had to end Apollo at as you point out 20…” opined RGO.
      And FYI, Haperin was suspended by MSNBC for a month for that ‘joke’ he was trying to make >

      actually no. What happened was is that “Joe” goaded Halprin into actually saying those words because he (Joe) assurred Halprin that the 10 second bleeper would get it. When it did not and it became clear that those words had “gone out” Halprin was quite ashen that those words had gotten out an issued an immediate apology. Yeah they gave him some time on the beach, they had to but it was more Joe’s fault then anyone else having assured Halprin of something that was not accurate…and Halprin is back and one of the regulars. I watch Morning Joe quite regularly.

      You are misstating the end of APollo. Thats been run over here quite a bit and if you havent figured it out by now you wont.

      RGO

  • DCSCA

    “Yeah you’re right, Obama has so little interest in space and NASA that he tried to get them a budget increase.” weeped CS.

    =yawn= Yes, DCSCA is right. That’s his MO, CS. He gives speeches, lectures, but there’s little follow through. He leaves it to others to do the real work. He operates as a community organizer would. Wants you to call Congress and make a pitch for space. Except that’s what he was hired to do. If you could do it on your own, who needs him. You’ll figure this out by the end of term 2. It’s his way of doing- or not doing- things. He dumped HC on Pelosi; he’s doing it w/gun control, too. Makes a speech, dumps it off on Biden, then Congress (even Reid) defy him and everything stalls. He only won re-election because the alternative was worse, particularly w/respect to space. He shelved Constellation; dump off Project Water Treading” w/Musk and lets the Russian pick up tyhe slack. He put space in the out box back in April, 2010.

    “So little interest that he toured Kennedy with, yeah you guessed it, with Elon.” Yes, Elon was a nice contibutor and contract seeker and meg publicity seeker, isn’t he, so a photo op has value to him- something Rand and Ron fail to grasp. But the CIC having photo ops with a contributor who also happens to be a hero of the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision set qualifies as ‘interest’ in space w/you, go for it. But it’s not. It’s a safe bet Mr. Obama spent more time on his NCAA brackets over the years than NASA’s future in years to come. Obama has no interest in space. HRC does.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Does anyone want to speculate on what will be the outcome/result/public viewpoint if Dennis Tito’s group is successful? RGO

    • Coastal Ron

      Robert G. Oler said:

      Does anyone want to speculate on what will be the outcome/result/public viewpoint if Dennis Tito’s group is successful?

      It’s too far out there to speculate. For instance, will the SLS and MPCV still be going? Will Commercial Crew be operational? Will Bigelow be leasing his station in LEO? Will the ISS have been mission extended beyond 2020 by that time.

      Too many unknowns that would affect future public opinion.

    • common sense

      I assume by successful you mean they go and come back and the associated immediate impact, and, they return as safe as can be of course.

      The crew will write a book for children, a book endorsed by NASA.

      Fox TV will make a reality-ish show with the footage and some Fox News patriotic blonde anchor will narrate but it will be taken off air a week later when they finally realize that they were supporting crony capitalism! And of course nobody was watching.

      A lot of afternoon TV time and morning shows too here and overseas.

      Credit will be given back and forth to NASA and the others whomever they might be.

      Congress will self congratulate and vote a day off on the Hill that will become Mars Day.

      If they use SpaceX their stock (if public) will go up a little and then back to where it belongs.

      If by then Virgin Galactic is flying so possibly more ticket sells.

      But as a whole, the following day/week/month Apple will unveil their new flat, around the wrist iThingy, and Google their new augmented reality glasses and no one will really care about Mars anymore.

      It’ll be one of those “nice to have” things.

      Oh yeah I almost forgot. The NASA asteroid mission will be shelved. Orion will have its 35,000 CDR/PDR showing that it can use the shell of a Dragon – a shell that strangely enough does not crack – and be launched on a FH. SpaceX will accommodate and rename some of its Dragons Orion and integrate some Orion subsystems (toilet paper dispenser maybe, I dunno). Congress will design the next SLS to go to Alpha-Centauri only using solid motors all the way that will make for the most impressive, longest solid booster(s) ever made! The 95 year old workforce in UT will finally retire in peace.

      • Guest

        Didn’t you say you worked on Orion and you were a VSE enthusiast, and indeed a VSE and Constellation beneficiary?

        Why don’t you admit it, you drank the Koolaide, you contributed to this problem. On a more interesting note, I notice the AJAX weenies over at NSF have picked up on the F9 and F1 enhanced SLS core stage. Always late to the show.

        You created the problem, at the least you could help solve it.

        • common sense

          I worked on the CEV not Orion.

          I *was* enthusiastic about the VSE.

          However I never really was a beneficiary of Constellation. Just a disgruntled former worker.

          Well good for you if you’re having followers now. Talk about Koolaid. So hopefully we’ll soon see something fly.

          What problem did I create?

          And what if I like to be a hypocrite? You think you own the rights?

        • Coastal Ron

          Guest said:

          Why don’t you admit it, you drank the Koolaide, you contributed to this problem.

          How are employees responsible for the programs they work on? If you’re at Lockheed Martin, and they assign you to work on “Project X”, then you go work on “Project X”. It’s not like the CEV was a bio-weapon or something that was morally objectionable.

          How weird.

          I notice the AJAX weenies over at NSF

          What are “AJAX weenies”? The only AJAX I know of is software related, and I doubt software weenies would be taken seriously for a franken-rocket design.

          • Guest

            How are employees responsible for the programs they work on?

            They are responsible because they are taxpayers and citizens as well as government employees and contractors. You guys don’t get it, this is basically a clumsy congressional way to implement a jobs program that may or may not resurrect, maintain or enhance legacy engine production, but it is incumbent upon the participants (which in the case of national technology development programs is everybody) of the charade to produce the best possible value to the nation. If that isn’t happening and you are able to recognize that, it is your responsibility to speak up and offer alternative solutions as I and many others have, including the NSF enthusiasts. I just happen to take the time to commit this stuff to print. Constant bemoaning of something that isn’t just going to ‘go away’ isn’t productive in my honest opinion. What I find remarkable is techniques that have been and were developed to save Constellation/SLS are also applicable to much smaller launch vehicles, and we’ve moved into the realm of SSTO capable launch vehicles, and engine development and production scenarios are moving ever so slowing into the realm of reality. All because of the work of a very few hard core space enthusiasts. There is a trillion dollars wrapped up in legacy engine development over the last 75 years that hopefully in a few years will critically cascade.

            • common sense

              See the problem. I wish you could see it but I suspect not.

              F9/SLS combo does not stand a chance in hell to happen. Not now, not ever.

              SSTO???? Not a chance in hell to happen. Not now.

              What else are you going to “propose”?

              And you clearly have absolutely no idea how government procurement works.

              So you can either 1) continue your quest, sending ineffective proposals that do not follow the basic requirements or 2) start to understand how the whole procurement works and be more effective, or maybe 3) start your own company with investors, make it happen and get us all to shut up a la Elon.

              I suspect you will continue 1) above and considering you admitted you sent your proposal to NIAC I suspect you don’t even understand the requirements you have to follow for your proposal to be considered. Don’t feel sorry though, several people including NASA people don’t understand these requirements. And btw have you considered how much money you might get with a NIAC? I don’t think so. So it is your responsibility to understand what you are trying to do/accomplish/propose rather than shifting the responsibility onto others.

              Until then…

              • Guest

                SSTO???? Not a chance in hell to happen. Not now.

                The Falcon 9 version 1.1 core stage is SSTO capable right now. The engines have a T/W ratio ~ 150 and the tank has a structural efficiency of ~ 30. I guess you missed that. Or perhaps you don’t know how to do those kinds of calculations and never plugged those numbers into a simulator and took them for a test run. It will even deliver a small payload.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                The Falcon 9 version 1.1 core stage is SSTO capable right now.

                That may be so, but that’s not what SpaceX intends to do.

                It will even deliver a small payload.

                However NOT being used in an SSTO mode they can deliver a LARGE payload.

                And that is the SpaceX business model, not SSTO.

              • Guest

                That may be so, but that’s not what SpaceX intends to do.

                You don’t know that. Now that he has constructed a stage that is clearly SSTO capable anyone can do it. Also he wants his second stage back as well, which if he does not intend to use it on orbit will require the same kinds of reentry systems that a first stage Falcon 9 1.1 will. And he intends on flying this thing to 300k at White Sands. If your payload is the launch vehicle then that is a large payload and contains none of the dangerous staging pyrotechnics and procedures. Unless you have some kind of internal insight or can predict the future of technology development and new launch and payload delivery scenarios and missions, then I just can’t take any of your pronouncements very seriously. All newspace is TBD – to be developed. Nothing is off the table at this point, everything is in total flux. This is why people brainstorm ideas and then test them by simulation.

                You guys are moving space advocacy from the domain of uncooperative cats and into the domain of packs of rabid dogs. You (all of you here) say the same things over and over again, and then expect people not to analyze your statements or think critically about the material. You make statements about things that you haven’t even bothered to read or investigate. If you think that will result in progress, good luck.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                You don’t know that. Now that he has constructed a stage that is clearly SSTO capable anyone can do it.

                Sure, anyone can do it. Just like the Chinese, who just announced that because they can’t figure out how to build 5m diameter rocket bodies yet, their initial launch date for the Long March 5 has slipped to 2015. Seeing that someone has figured it out is not the same as figuring it out yourself.

                There is also a lot of cost to retooling, and I don’t see ULA spending that kind of money to change their manufacturing processes yet, nor anyone else in the world. Change is slow in the aerospace industry.

                If your payload is the launch vehicle…

                In this case the launch vehicle is just a launch vehicle.

                Unless you have some kind of internal insight or can predict the future of technology development and new launch and payload delivery scenarios and missions, then I just can’t take any of your pronouncements very seriously.

                Hey, ditto.

                I just take Musk’s word for what he wants to do – who are you listening to?

                You guys are moving space advocacy from the domain of uncooperative cats and into the domain of packs of rabid dogs.

                I’m not the one trying to change what Congress wants out of the SLS.

                I support the efforts of companies to lower the cost to access space. Doesn’t matter who.

                But the only way to support that is with a business model that supports the innovation, not the other way around. Innovation first, without a business model, has not proven successful.

                I haven’t heard you explain what the business model is for SSTO.

            • Coastal Ron

              Guest said:

              You guys don’t get it, this is basically a clumsy congressional way to implement a jobs program…

              You’re a little late to the party on this. Many, many of us understood from the beginning that the SLS program was a jobs program. Senator Nelson even admitted that it was.

              And since we have to keep reminding you of this fact, it makes me wonder why you can’t remember it…

              …that may or may not resurrect, maintain or enhance legacy engine production…

              The goal of the SLS is not “legacy engine production”, but jobs for Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

              …but it is incumbent upon the participants (which in the case of national technology development programs is everybody) of the charade to produce the best possible value to the nation.

              Employees are paid for their work, and luckily the vast number of them take pride in what they do, but beyond that you can’t lay any blame on them for political decisions.

              Have you ever worked in the real workforce? Been an employee at a private company? Because you don’t seem to understand how all this works.

              • Guest

                The goal of the SLS is not “legacy engine production”, but jobs for Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

                You may think that is the goal and indeed congress may think that is the goal, but I can assure you that the executive office and his advising institutions would have never signed onto it if they thought it wouldn’t lead to the kind of technical innovation and legacy engine preservation that would mimic the kind of development program they had proposed.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                the executive office and his advising institutions would have never signed onto it if they thought it wouldn’t lead to the kind of technical innovation and legacy engine preservation that would mimic the kind of development program they had proposed.

                Well this really gets down to a belief system, since I don’t have access to Obama, and I doubt you do.

                As to “technical innovation”, that is not happening on the Congressionally-designed SLS, since they mandated using existing technologies (J-2X is about the only new thing). And going forward I don’t see any incentive for U.S. commercial launch companies to adopt any of the SLS technologies for their own use, so how that is supposed to trickle down for future use is unclear.

                You continue to have unconvincing arguments. You need a clearer business case.

              • Guest

                As to “technical innovation”, that is not happening on the Congressionally-designed SLS, since they mandated using existing technologies (J-2X is about the only new thing). And going forward I don’t see any incentive for U.S. commercial launch companies to adopt any of the SLS technologies for their own use, so how that is supposed to trickle down for future use is unclear.

                You again totally misunderstand what is happening here. The technological innovation is occurring outside of the program by those who are trying to either fix the program or find better ways of satisfying its requirements, since the program is not ‘going away’. There is no trickle down, this is happening from the bottom up.

              • common sense

                “You again totally misunderstand what is happening here.”

                Thanks for trying to educate us (all of us here).

                Seems like you have expertise in SSTO, hypersonic reentry and, what I personally find really useful, advanced space technology development by the way of ruse. Not in procurement though. Well can’t be great at everything I suppose.

                Looking forward to see F9 v1.1 SSTO flight and maybe, possibly, reentry of 2nd stage even though I am still struggling with the notion of a 2nd stage reentry of an SSTO. My imagination is a little limited I guess.

                Always great to read from you though. Keep us posted on your progress.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                The technological innovation is occurring outside of the program by those who are trying to either fix the program or find better ways of satisfying its requirements…

                There are no requirements. No customers. No funded programs to use the SLS.

                And unless you can show otherwise, there is no one with any money outside of the government that is trying to improve the SLS. That would be a foolish investment.

      • Coastal Ron

        common sense said:

        But as a whole, the following day/week/month Apple will unveil their new flat, around the wrist iThingy, and Google their new augmented reality glasses and no one will really care about Mars anymore.

        Just like with Apollo and the Moon.

        And just like with Apollo, the big takeaway from Inspiration Mars will be the barriers they will have torn down, since if they are successful then they will have shown the way for others to follow. Only in this case they will have shown that you don’t need government to leave LEO, and you don’t need as much money as governments have said. And that’s a good thing.

    • DCSCA

      “Does anyone want to speculate on what will be the outcome/result/public viewpoint if Dennis Tito’s group is successful?” ponders RGO

      Stephen Colbert pretty much did that about three weeks ago with his hilarious on air lampoon. And Colbert is a space enthusiasts.

  • common sense

    “Just like with Apollo and the Moon.”

    Much more short lived than Apollo. Much more.

    I agree with the rest of your post but I’d say that this will most likely not be a giant leap of any kind. So the immediate consequences will be few and far between.

    Long term? I believe no changes.

    For a valuable effort you’d need a propulsion system that does not require a mission to last a million years. Until then…

  • Curtis Quick

    “Does anyone want to speculate on what will be the outcome/result/public viewpoint if Dennis Tito’s group is successful?” ponders RGO

    If the Mars Inspiration project works, I suspect it along with Falcon Heavy will end up destroying SLS/MPCV (if it’s not already dead by then). Currently the only justification for SLS/MPCV is as a deep space exploration enabler. It is always assumed by its supporters that commercial crew is only good for LEO, not BEO. Having commercial handle a BEO mission for 1/100th the cost of an equivalent SLS/MPCV mission more than a decade before SLS/MPCV will show how silly the emperor looks in his new clothes and force the issue. That and the impossibility of getting any ROI from SLS/MPCV will cause funding to dry up.

    NASA will never again design and build (or have contracted out) rockets and spacecraft. NASA will become NACA and work with an emerging commercial launch and spaceflight industry to develop and implement the space transportation systems of tomorrow.

  • Neil Shipley

    Falcon9 5 for 5 now, Dragon 3 for 3. Congrats SpaceX.

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