# Sequestration’s effects on commercial crew, and planning for FY14

At a media telecon Thursday afternoon to talk about the just-completed Dragon mission to the International Space Station, NASA administrator Charles Bolden said that budget sequestration could have an adverse effect on the agency’s commercial crew program if it extends beyond the end of this fiscal year. “So far, we don’t see any significant impact the rest of this fiscal year, but our projection is that if we’re not able to get out of this sequester condition, it may slow down our progress on commercial crew, and that’s my big concern,” he said.

Bolden said the final 2013 budget, based on the Senate bill, gave commercial crew more money that it would have received under a continuing resolution (which would have funded the program at the pre-sequestration amount of $406 million versus the$525 million, before rescission and sequestration, the program got in the bill passed last week). This budget, therefore, mitigated the worst of the adverse effects possible to the program NASA warned about in a letter to the Senate last month. But he warned milestones planned beyond the end of this fiscal year could be pushed back. “We’re already talking to our partners about delays in milestones that may be necessary if we don’t get the funding we want,” he said. There could also be modifications to the Commercial Resupply Services contracts NASA has with Orbital Sciences and SpaceX for cargo delivery to the ISS because of sequestration, he added.

Meanwhile, the fiscal year 2014 budget finally appears to be on the horizon. The White House confirmed Thursday that the administration will release its 2014 budget proposal on April 10. Budget proposals are supposed to be released on the first Monday in February, but the administration postponed the release, blaming the uncertainty about sequestration and the final FY13 budget.

That budget proposal could include advance work on a new asteroid mission. Aviation Week reported Thursday that the budget proposal may include $100 million to start work on a mission to capture a very small asteroid and bring it to cislunar space. That funding would be spread among the human exploration and operations, science, and space technology mission directorates to begin initial planning. A study released last year by the Keck Institute of Space Studies at Caltech estimates that a near Earth asteroid seven meters in diameter could be captured and moved to high lunar orbit for about$2.6 billion.

### 135 comments to Sequestration’s effects on commercial crew, and planning for FY14

• Aberwys

SpaceX: no good deed goes unpunished. Learn from MPCV…

• DCSCA

“SpaceX: no good deed goes unpunished…”

Flying nobody is punishment enough.

• Coastal Ron

DCSCA whined:

Flying nobody is punishment enough.

Exactly. That’s why SpaceX planning to fly in 2015 with humans is so much better than an unmanned dummy MPCV flying in 2014.

And when is “NASA” planning to fly humans again? 2017? No, that’s another unmanned flight.

“NASA” doesn’t plan to fly humans until no earlier than 2019, and more likely 2021. And when they do, it will be in a vehicle that will have had only two full-up flights, and on a rocket that likely will be flying for the first time in that configuration.

In contrast, SpaceX will have been flying crew for probably 4-6 years by then, in vehicles that have a direct heritage going back years, and on a rocket that will likely have had over 30-40 flights by then.

Capsule travel will be a commodity by the time the MPCV is currently planned to become operational, and it will be a huge drain on NASA’s finances. The sooner Congress cancels the SLS, the sooner NASA can be freed up to start building real space-only reusable exploration vehicles like the Nautilus-X. Not upsized spam-in-a-can lifeboat capsules like the MPCV.

You need to start focusing on the things that really matter…

• Dark Blue Nine

If the NEO retrieval mission study is true — AvWeek’s reporting on advanced concepts like military airbreathing launchers has been wrong in the past — a few thoughts:

1) $100 million is less than 4% of what the Keck study claimed it would cost ($2.65 billion) to conduct the NEO retrieval mission. And it will cost more, probably much more, with NASA running it. At this tiny funding level, this is not a hard and fast commitment from the Administration to this mission. Rather, it’s a small pot of funding to explore the viability and desirability of the mission, with a strong commitment to come later if it proves out.

2) The Administration’s rationale — that robotic NEO retrieval will enable the President’s 2025 human NEO goal — is flaky. If “President Obama’s goal of sending astronauts to a near-Earth asteroid by 2025 can’t be done with foreseeable civil-space spending”, then where is the remaining $2.55 billion (96%) of funding (probably more like$5 billion-plus by the time NASA is done) going to come from to execute a robotic NEO retrieval mission in advance of the human rendezvous? If we have to outsource the service module for MPCV to ESA today because we can’t find a multi-hundred million dollar wedge in NASA’s budget to build it domestically, then why are we starting multi-billion dollar initiatives?

3) Before tacking on more unaffordable initiatives, a better solution to the Administration’s dilemma would be to pursue more affordable systems than SLS and MPCV. For example, a 70-ton EELV Phase 2 at $2.6 billion plus inflation would save upwards of$6 billion over what SLS is going to cost through Block I. If SLS/MPCV can no longer do the human NEO job within the budget, then admit defeat, terminate those projects, and start over. Only once the Administration takes that step will things like a robotic NEO retrieval mission become possible within the foreseeable budget.

4) Regardless of cost, the connection between the robotic NEO retrieval mission and SLS/MPCV is flaky. If the point of SLS/MPCV is to enable long-range/long-duration missions beyond Earth orbit and ultimately to Mars, then sending MPCV to a NEO that’s been moved into Earth orbit defeats that purpose. You’re not testing any human space flight systems (communications, life support, etc.) or operations under deep space or long-duration mission conditions. After billions of dollars, you’re no closer to proving that you have the equipment and procedures necessary to send humans to Mars (or pick another deep space target). In terms of advancing human space exploration, all you’ve proven is that you can rendezvous with a controlled object in Earth orbit and spacewalk around it. We’ve been doing that since Gemini 4 and 8, and Voskhod 2 and Cosmos 186/188. Heck, even the Chinese can do that now.

5) On its own, NEO retrieval is a worthy mission for NASA or another organization. The achievement of such a feat has large implications for planetary protection and space resource utilization. But it makes no sense budgetarily at NASA until the Administration and Congress clean up the SLS/MPCV mess. And its justification will probably never make sense in terms of a well-planned mission sequence to push back the frontiers of human space exploration.

• Hiram

On its own, NEO retrieval is a worthy mission for NASA or another organization. The achievement of such a feat has large implications for planetary protection and space resource utilization.

Not so fast. The science implications of capturing an asteroid, not by virtue of science questions (since there is an abundance of different types of asteroids, some very boring), but by virtue of it’s trajectory, and happening to be conveniently snaggable, is lame. The KISS study did a lot of handwaving on that account.

As to planetary protection, we’re not worried much about asteroids that small. So in what way does catching one in a big umbrella teach us what we need to know about mitigating impact from the big ones?

Catching, controlling, and returning such an asteroid would be a marvelous engineering feat. But then the question remains why we did it. No, there are lots of marvelous engineering feats I can try to do for a lot less than 2B. Why this one? As to space resource utilization, such space resources are going to be of value for a civilization in space that needs them. No prospect of such a civilization for a long time. Of course the real reason for doing it is simple. We need somewhere to send humans (ideally an asteroid by 2025, according to the President), and the only destination that counts is a rock. So ultimately it comes down to putting a rock (that isn’t the Moon) somewhere we can get humans to. • common sense I think I agree with your assessment. • vulture4 Main reason would be retrieval of metal/silicates for fabrication in LEO or cislunar space, if we are ever able to do such manufacturing. Unlike lunar crust, many asteroids contain pure metals. Although a very slow process, the returned materials can be much more massive than the propellant. • common sense I think what Hiram is questioning is whether this is worth the cost for the government to invest. Not necessarily if it, or what, can be done… • amightywind So far, we don’t see any significant impact the rest of this fiscal year, but our projection is that if we’re not able to get out of this sequester condition, it may slow down our progress on commercial crew, and that’s my big concern More Washington Monument syndrome. Do you all ever tire of being misled by conniving government officials? A simple 5% reallocation resources would insure that NASA’s top priorities are funded, and lower priorities eliminated. Bolden should try managing and stop politicing for Obama. Capturing a 10m asteroid seems a little implausible. Capturing a 1 meter asteroid is more realistic and would have virtually the same scientific return. • JimNobles amightywind said, “Capturing a 10m asteroid seems a little implausible. Capturing a 1 meter asteroid is more realistic and would have virtually the same scientific return.” I agree. I wonder what they are thinking. Maybe they already have their eye on a particular rock. That seems unlikely though. Maybe the bigger the rock, the bigger the retrieval system. Therefore the bigger the rocket needed? Or maybe it just won’t seem impressive enough unless it’s a certain size? Who knows? • Fred Willett The bigger the rock the easier it is to find. It takes a fine judgement. Big enough to find. Small enough to catch. • Dark Blue Nine “Capturing a 10m asteroid seems a little implausible.” It’s 7 meters using electric propulsion and 13 tons of xenon propellant: http://www.kiss.caltech.edu/study/asteroid/asteroid_final_report.pdf • amightywind Umm, like I said. Your beloved EELV boosters would not seem to be much help in launching such an extravagant spacecraft. Perhaps this is a good mission for the SLS XL. Also, the launch opportunities for a 10m capture mission are very infrequent. So infrequent that the CalTech propeller heads should be embarrassed about releasing the study. • JimNobles Didn’t the PDF show it being launched on an Atlas V? • amightywind To launch 13 tons of Xenon fuel plus a large spacecraft? It would be a pretty short flight. Use your head. • JimNobles I admit I don’t know much about rocketry but on page 14, figure 1 in the PDF listed above it says, ” The ACR spacecraft concept would have a dry mass of 5.5 t, and could store up to 13 t of Xe propellant.” And in the graphic figure it shows a “Atlas V 551-class” as the launch vehicle. • Dark Blue Nine “Your beloved EELV boosters would not seem to be much help in launching such an extravagant spacecraft.” The study baselines an Atlas V 551, which can throw over 29 metric tons to LEO. http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/pages/Products_AtlasV.shtml Per the report, their spacecraft plus the xenon is in the range of 13.5 to 15.5 metric tons. I know you have problems with tables and charts, but can you really not compare two or three numbers and know which one is the largest? “Perhaps this is a good mission for the SLS XL.” If your definition of “good” is “never launches despite years, billions of taxpayer dollars, and thousands of careers wasted”, sure. “Also, the launch opportunities for a 10m capture mission are very infrequent.” Based on what? The study states that an observation campaign is needed to establish a set of target NEOs around which primary and backup launch opportunities can be planned. Until that campaign is complete, there is no basis to your statement. “… the CalTech propeller heads should be embarrassed about releasing the study.” Yeah, I’m sure JPL gray beards really appreciate the insightful comments of a Medtronic janitor who can’t tell whether 14 or 16 or 29 is the biggest number. • common sense “Yeah, I’m sure JPL gray beards really appreciate the insightful comments of a Medtronic janitor who can’t tell whether 14 or 16 or 29 is the biggest number.” Considering at least a couple of the Caltech’s names here I am sure they are reading here, panting, awaiting endorsement. BTW amightywind it’s Caltech, not CalTech, not even Cal Tech. • Uncle Sam “BTW amightywind it’s Caltech, not CalTech, not even Cal Tech.” This sounds like the old John Hopkins vs. Johns Hopkin vs. Johns Hopkins dilemma. Will the real University please stand up? IMHO, the answer to all these money issues is to restructure NASA to about 3 or 4 healthy centers. The public workers need to find jobs in the private sector and quit living off the tax payers. Furthermore, the huge federal government needs to downsize. Big government is the problem. • common sense Just read the document and names or you may just want to go there and scroll http://www.caltech.edu/ Should not be too complicated… The 3-4 centers will never happen. There are other ways to restructure by eliminating duplication for example even though it may be healthy to have different solutions offered to a similar problem. FWIW • Jeff Foust As an alumnus, I can confirm that the correct spelling is “Caltech.” I can also confirm that the discussion of the spelling of the name this or other universities is off topic. Thank you for your cooperation. • common sense I would recommend that several posters here chew on the “Synergy with Planetary Defense” paragraph. The “Galactic Cosmic Rays” is an interesting concept and might be further developed. At least it is original. The “Public Engagement” paragraph is so thin… “Retrieving an asteroid for human exploration would provide a new purpose for global achievement and inspiration.” Wishful thinking… • Robert G. Oler I agree completely with DBN’s analysis…but I would add this as well If AVLEAK is correct (and Keith C at NASA watch seems to think its real and he has very very good sources sooooo) then the effort itself is metaphoric of an administration which is fortunate only in the political opponents it faces for re/election…but otherwise is adrift in a sea of “dont have a clue” Again I agree with DBN but if this announcement is accurate then 1) it should be a major policy change annoncement and 2) it should along with ISS become the major focus of the policy direction of HSF. But so far at least it is none of those things… What it is is yet another attempt by the Administration to avoid the need to stand up and make major policy shifts all the while trying to pretend that they are doing this. The only real policy shift underway (and almost unstoppable) is commercial cargo and crew…and by virtue of that the attempt by spaceX to develop a revolutionary launch system which they seem to be proceeding at. The odd thing is that when the Obama administration is on its last pages of history what might be the thing that is making “SpaceNews” is that Musk has recovered a first stage. Musk seems to think that they will nibble to that and have an actual attempt in 2014…but given the complexity say it is 2015…or 16…that would be what makes massive space news. Sorry this administration is adrift policy wise. It is not completely their fault because the GOP is being simply obstructionist…but Obama is doing nothing to beat them with a hammer…and he should. Robert G. Oler • common sense “Musk has recovered a first stage” Very, very unlikely as the vehicle stands today. At least not in a “reusable” way. You can always recover bits and pieces here and there. Let’s see what v1.1 looks like but for now don’t hold your breath. • Coastal Ron common sense said: Very, very unlikely as the vehicle stands today. I don’t think so either. I think the subject is getting confused with “intends to in the future”. Whether that’s the one he’s planning on trying to land on water in June (likely, since otherwise the Chinese or Russians will grab it), or the comment Musk said about possibly landing one back at the launch site sometime next year. • common sense First stage reenters at hypersonic velocity. Not a chance that the current vehicle can do it. Wish I am wrong but so far… • DCSCA “First stage reenters at hypersonic velocity.” In other words, it’s the cost of doing business with chmical rockets. Stop thinking ‘reuse’ and start thinking ‘recycle.’ Recover elements of the birds for refurbishment. Take a look at Coca-Cola- or Anheiser-Busch ops. They use aluminum cylinders to deliver their product to market, too. Once the ‘contents’ are consumed, the cylinders are recycled– not reused. The beverage industry long ago dumped the expensive burden of reusing returnable containers to deliver their product to market. So what are the most vasluable elements of a Falcon stack- the electroincs… the Merlins… or the aluminium cylinders they push up hill– or the payload on top. • Robert G. Oler common sense March 29, 2013 at 1:02 pm · Reply Very, very unlikely as the vehicle stands today. At least not in a “reusable” way. You can always recover bits and pieces here and there. >> Well the V1.0 is gone and not a lot of people know what the 1.1 looks like, Musk and Shotwell had some entertaining comments in the presser. My guess is that they are going to nibble at it and that is why I said what I said; which is Musk is saying 2014 and I am saying it might take till 2016 but the point is IF IT HAPPENS htat is the space story. The next Dragon supposdly “land lands”…that alone will be a feat…Musk is I think farther along on the crewed version then most think (my source for this belief is someone at the FAA who is “knowledgeable” and also felt free to let me release just that phrase)… BUT the big story, even bigger then a human going up in Dragon and coming back is going to be a first stage that recovers…and you and I and everyone else on this forum knows it. RGO • Robert G. Oler One PS to my post…I now believe that there is a very good chance that “someone” from the FAA will be a passenger on the first crewed Dragon. RGO • common sense Musk has always been further along on a crewed Dragon… Land landing though. We shall see. Highly doubtful of FAA on 1st flight at least in an official capacity… FWIW • NeilShipley SpaceX is going to have a go getting their first stage back for a water landing with their very first F9 v1.1 flight. See the presser they did with NASA onthe return of Dragon. They’re moving much more quickly than anyone thought. Going to be really interesting. • common sense They have been trying to recover the first stage since Falcon I. I haven’t seen v1.1, I hope they make it. We’ll see. • DCSCA “Sorry this administration is adrift policy wise. It is not completely their fault because the GOP is being simply obstructionist…but Obama is doing nothing to beat them with a hammer…and he should.” weeped RGO You’re just catching on to this, eh. It was pretty obvious when Ares 1-X was lofted with no WH attention and Constellation was shelved six months later in April, 2010 with his KSC speech- a 180 degree ‘policy shift’ from his early campaign position BTW. Mr. Obama has no interest in space. A photo op/w coontributor Musk was quaint, though. Expect a shift in spacdce policy sometime in term 1 of HRC’s Administration. Or id the PRC launches out with an ‘October surprise’ of its own. “One PS to my post…I now believe that there is a very good chance that “someone” from the FAA will be a passenger on the first crewed Dragon.” dreamed RGO. Another press release It is near April, 2013 and Space X has flown nobody. In 2010, musk boasted of having crewed flights up by 2013. 8 monthe left. Tick-tock, tick-tock. Space X has two operational flights under its belt w/NASA’s help, delivering groceries- less than a ton of cargo to date over nearly a year– the latest run producing sub-standard performane for contracted services, experiencing a significant thuster malfunction. Not a confidence builder. Space X has flown nobody– and your first proposed ‘candidate’ for a private enterprised orbital flight is a government employee. Just hilarious. It should be Musk himself, of course. But unlike Branson, who plans to ride aboard his first suborbital jaunt- Elon apparently doesn’t have the same confidence in his crewed hardware. If Space X ever does decide the value of success outweighs the cost of failure and does risk an orbital flight, by the time it tries, it will be a wasteful redundancy to a doomed space platform. For LEO is a ticket to bo plac, going in circles, no where, fast. But then, that’s the goal of those who ascribe to the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision. Meanwhile, today, a Soyuz docked w/the ISS (Dragoons can’t do that)– and among the crew ferried up, another U.S. astronaut safely carred to the ISS by a reliable, operational, flight-tested manned spacecraft: Soyuz. • Mark Whittington The capture the asteroid mission, whether it is admited to or not, is the end of Obama’s mission to an asteroid and the beginning of a refocus back to the moon. • JimNobles I for one do not want NASA focusing on the moon. I would certainly support them helping private enterprises who wish to focus on the moon though. But I definitely don’t want NASA getting bogged down in some sort of moon program again. I think they need to be doing the harder stuff. About 45 years ago NASA proved that the moon could be reached by humans. And they showed one way it could be done. They don’t need to do that again. Let private enterprise work the moon from now on. (Unless they find a monolith there or something.) • amightywind But I definitely don’t want NASA getting bogged down in some sort of moon program again. Yeah, I’d much rather be bogged down on ISS while the political class talks for 20 years about what comes next. Let private enterprise work the moon from now on. Mark Whittington, this is what we are dealing with. • Dave Klingler amightywind wrote: Yeah, I’d much rather be bogged down on ISS while the political class talks for 20 years about what comes next. As a matter of fact, I agree with you. I’d far rather be bogged down with ISS and other orbital outposts than spending our resources (for now) on Moon and Mars missions. Permanent human presence in space is much more difficult if we remain fixated on other gravity wells. It’s much more important for us to continue to improve our skills in orbit. Establishing an artificial gravity outpost is probably the most significant achievement to which we could aspire right now, and it doesn’t require a Moon landing, just two containers and a tether. • Guest That’s all fine and dandy but LEO has become hugely expensive and dangerous and anywhere else you are immediately confronted with radiation poisoning and distance. Until you find the mythical near earth meter sized fragment all you have is the pole of the moon and that is vastly more doable with hydrogen and abundant chemical architectures. If you really think you need crewed Beyond Earth Orbit, that is. • Coastal Ron Guest said: …but LEO has become hugely expensive and dangerous… You mean at some point LEO was not expensive, nor was it dangerous? When was that? • Guest Before we filled it up with debris, went to the moon and built a huge complicated ISS. I’m guessing right around Apollo 7, at least for crewed missions. It went downhill quick. • DCSCA I’d far rather be bogged down with ISS and other orbital outposts than spending our resources (for now) on Moon and Mars missions. LEO is a ticket to bo place, going in circles, no where, fast And we’ve been doing that now since 1973. 40 years. And you advocate more of it. It’s a waste of resources. • JimNobles Guys, we’re not going to repeat the Apollo program. It’s not going to happen. It had its place in history and now its gone. Get over it. Deal with it. Move on. It looks like what’s going to be happening in space in the near term will involve NASA cooperating with private companies and international partners even more than they have in the past. This is a natural evolution and could easily be seen coming. You folks need to try and drag yourselves into the 21st century. If you have a particular destination or a focus that you think is important then perhaps you should align yourselves with other folks that feel the same way. Together you might be able to make something happen. • Robert G. Oler well said Jim RGO • DCSCA Guys, we’re not going to repeat the Apollo program. staed Jim. Mastering the obvious with a strawman lament betrays your embrace of the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision. Nobody in the 21st century is advicating “repeating Apollo”- particularly as it was essentially a battlefront of the Cold War with hardware and infrastructure peculiar to that endeavor. But the vision to look up, out and beyond LEO, where space efforts have been locked going in circles, no where, fast for four decades, does not mean ‘repeating Apollo.’ But it does mean looking beyond Earth orbit, going back to Luna for long-duration stays, establishing procedures and perfecting hardware for cislunar ops then presing on outward to Mars. That’s yuor manned space program for the next 75 years. And it’s not ‘repeatin Apollo.’ . • JimNobles DCSCA said, “But it does mean looking beyond Earth orbit, going back to Luna for long-duration stays, establishing procedures and perfecting hardware for cislunar ops then presing on outward to Mars.” In my opinion that’s not a bad scenario. But I feel I need to point out some things. I don’t believe that politics will allow something like this to occur. At least not if Uncle Sam is going to have to pay for the bulk of it. The way government agencies do business it just costs too much money and there’s too much opportunity for politicians to send money to people and places other than where it was originally intended to go. That’s why I detest SLS. It probably won’t survive the political process due to its cost and other factors. It was openly and unashamedly established to benefit certain companies in certain districts. And, even if it becomes operational some day it will probably be too expensive to operate often enough to be called part of a real space program. I’m not against a heavy lifter, I’m against being ripped off by corrupt politicians and then not ending up with an operational system at the end of it. I think that’s the most likely outcome of SLS. I’m not against America returning to moon but I am against making it the main focus for NASA. For one thing I don’t think it would ever get the political support to start up and I certainly don’t think it would be able to maintain that support if it got it. Plus we have people and companies who do want to go to the moon and are willing to put their money and expertise into it. I would like NASA to support their efforts. I feel the same way about Mars and Asteroids. We have people who want to go after them. I wouldn’t want NASA to choose Mars or Asteroids as their main focus (although they apparently have) but instead would rather see the Agency support the efforts of the private enterprises. I also want NASA to leverage their funds much, much better than they have been able to do in the past. I have been very, very impressed with the results of the COTS and CCDev programs and the value taxpayers got and are still getting for their investment. Love Commercial Space or hate it, SpaceX and others, but mainly SpaceX at this point, has brought the American taxpayer more value for their space tax dollars than anyone thought realistic. I think some people have the idea that space exploration must be a government operated and financed endeavor. I used to think the same way myself but I don’t feel that way any longer. I think NASA should be an agency that supports space exploration and space explorers and no longer an agency that has to do it all because there’s no other choice. • Robert G. Oler Mark…something cannot end that has never started. The only feature that the “asteroid” mission has which sets it apart from the things that “most” members of the GOP want NASA to do (including the guy who lost in 12) is that it has a “destination” in name…Neither the GOP or Obama want NASA to really try and do anything in terms of human exploration of space… 1) it cost to much money 2) has no political support for the money and 3) they are afraid of NASA screwing it up and getting someone killed. The asteroid retreval will never get off the ground; but it has the advantage of not wasting as much money either. RGO • DCSCA “The capture the asteroid mission, whether it is admited to or not, is the end of Obama’s mission to an asteroid and the beginning of a refocus back to the moon.” Yep. This whole asteroid thing was place holding- pencilling in out year planning with a rock hunt for the green eye shade crowd and aerospace planners– it’s ‘gap’ make work. Paper shuffling. Meanwhile SLS/MPCV presses on. Space was put in the out box by Mr. O oh so many years ago at KSC. HRC will refcous the nation’s space agency- or more likely be placed in a position to react to the initiatives of another nation. • JimNobles DCSCA said, “This whole asteroid thing was place holding- pencilling in out year planning with a rock hunt for the green eye shade crowd and aerospace planners– it’s ‘gap’ make work. Paper shuffling. Meanwhile SLS/MPCV presses on.” If the asteroid mission gets canceled what reason does SLS/MPCV then have to exist? • red I get a bit worried when I see “funding would be spread among the human exploration and operations, science, and space technology mission directorates to begin initial planning”. It’s difficult to get a project to work under 2 different organizations, let alone 3. Will one area be in charge? Is it going to turn out like NPOESS under NOAA, DOD, and NASA? If it’s a technology development and demonstration effort, give the funding to Space Technology. If it’s a science mission, give the funding to Planetary Science. If it’s a human exploration mission, give the funding to Human Exploration and Operations. Other areas can still make specific isolated contributions like instruments, advice, ISRU technologies to test once the object is retrieved, etc. It’s difficult to see this happening with the seemingly unquenchable thirst for funding from the SLS, SLS ground systems, and MPCV area, the budget-cutting environment, and legitimate needs in areas like commercial crew, small science missions, ISS use, space technology, robotic precursors, etc. This mission has some of the appearance of a “robotic precursor” mission. However, the Administration hasn’t convinced the SLS/MPCV forces to fund robotic precursors in the past. Will it be able to do so now? If so, does this mission make the most sense for the money, or would it be better to fund a NEO survey mission or instrument, a set of similar spacecraft to investigate multiple potential HSF NEO targets up close, a telerobotically-controlled lunar surface resource assessment mission, a lunar sample return mission (possibly with HSF retrieval), etc? Could several such missions be done for the price of the NEO retrieval mission? Is the mission sort of stepping on the toes of groups like Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries with similar aspirations, or would they be able to contribute and possibly make it more affordable? What are the tradeoffs for mission cost and size/composition of the retrieved object? • vulture4 The Shuttle SRBs were recovered, but it was not an economical process. The big news will be a liquid propellant booster that can be reused for substantially less money than building a new nonreusable booster with the same launch performance. Easy with a model rocket but scaling up is a challenge. SpaceShip, Xcor and Armadillo (Stig) seem to be the closest right now, but I believe the hybrid engine is not going to prove practical. The asteroid recovery mission is at least potentially doable and would not require SLS if the spacecraft can be fueled in orbit before departure. But why is this better than just bringing back samples? Are we really going to set up a forging plant at L5? • common sense SRBs come back low, low speed and are just big empty casing FWIW • Coastal Ron vulture4 said: Are we really going to set up a forging plant at L5? And that’s not the role of NASA, but the private sector such as Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries. I feel the same way about lunar ISRU – it’s not the governments role to do such things unless there is a clearly defined AND understood strategic need. That hasn’t happened for either the Moon or asteroids. To me the NASA HSF asteroid mission has always been to help us to be competent at venturing out beyond the Earth, and to help us towards being ready to eventually go to Mars in a confident manner. Dragging an asteroid out of the belt and back to the vicinity of Earth using robotic systems doesn’t help that, and I’m not really sure from a science standpoint if it’s worth doing at all. There are better things to use our scarce NASA resources on (but not an unaffordable HLV either). • common sense So here from Elon himself (http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/rockets/elon-musk-on-spacexs-reusable-rocket-plans-6653023) “It really comes down to what the staging Mach number would be,” Musk says, referencing the speed the rocket would be traveling at separation. “For an expendable Falcon 9 rocket, that is around Mach 10. For a reusable Falcon 9, it is around Mach 6, depending on the mission.” Event – Mission Elapsed Time – Relative Velocity – Mach – Altitude SRB Staging – 0/00:02:05 – 4,212 – 3.93 – 153,405 Sorry I don’t have time to search better references. But the SRB are mid supersonic while F9 stage 1 is mid hypersonic. Flow physics features are not benign at Mach 10. Even Mach 6 will be challenging even if it is much easier. I don’t have the altitudes but for those enjoying POST2 (https://post2.larc.nasa.gov/) and have time you can compute the approximate max-Q, max-heating (even though POST is inaccurate since it relies on a reference ball heating). But you may look up convection heating and get a feel for the whole thing… And then you have to account for moving nozzles. Nozzles no longer cooled by fuel as in ascent (http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=33). Then there are issues of stability on entry, possible lift at an angle of attack… Blahblahblah… In any case. SRB being recovered does not mean you can recover F9 Stage 1, far from it actually. FWIW. • Robert G. Oler common sense March 29, 2013 at 6:35 pm · Reply Look, I am not “carrying water” For Musk and he is the guy making the claims particularly on time tables… But 1) Musk has never failed to deliver so far. He is tardy but I have no issues with that. 2) Musk says its not a done deal; they have a system that works in simulation but it might not go… but 3) Musk thinks it probably will. I am not a rocket scientist nor play one on TV but I do know people who are and I can run the simulations…and its pretty clear that he has been driving to this in his business decisions. Dumping the Falcon 1 makes sense, the Heavy makes sense if you think the cores at least are going to be reusable…and it allows a profile which makes it possible Who knows but my point is this. If one morning we all see a Falcon core that has launched a payload and is sitting on a concrete pad somewhere intact. The world changes…and at that point for sometime Musk OWNS the launcher industry…anyone who does not get that doesnt graps the situation PS A Falcon core is not an SRB but neither is an SRB a Falcon core and it did not have engines which can relight… RGO • common sense Robert, I am telling you what I know based on my experience. I have more reasons than you can imagine to hope SpaceX will actually succeed. But it does not change the fact that SpaceX have always hoped to recover the first stages of the Falcon I and 9 to no avail. So far. It does not change the fact that neither of those vehicles were actually designed to sustain the reentry (unlike the SRBs). And of course it does not change the fact that I haven’t seen v1.1 and therefore I cannot predict one way or another. My comments are limited to what I know. And that is that. You are absolutely free to dismiss whatever I say. When seeking advice from rocket scientists I would recommend that you make sure said scientists have actually been part of teams that have designed, repeat designed, vehicles that have flown to space and back. There are only a few of those… FWIW. • Robert G. Oler Common sense. I am not telling you that you are wrong, I am just saying Musk thinks you are (grin) and it seems clear to me (at least) where he is trying to go with both the “engineering” and the sales. So I would address this because I think it is the heart of the policy matter …you wronte “Oh I almost forgot. SpaceX does not need reusability to own the LV market. All they need is to keep their current/advertised costs and a lot of successful flights… And so far. So good.” In theory and probably in practice you are correct and I agree with you. Look I dont know Elon Musk nor even pretend to (grin) by some lose association or whatever…but I would offer this for consideration. There is a rocket science aspect to Musk, ie he is a solid engineer…but there is also a Herb K of SWA element of him. Herb believed that you did not own the airline market until you have “reinvented it” because unless you do the marketing edge you have is ephemeral. a lot of airlines have tried to reinvent SWA…but they never succeed because in large measure they never figure out that just copying SWA wont do it…you have to rethink it. And what SWA tries to do is rethink the business on a real time basis. Musk is trying to start taht cycle with his rocket company …and that is what is unique in a business which is flat lined in terms of ideas. My guess is that Orbital will fail because it is the latest attempt to redo the launcher industry by picking up a part here and a part there and trying to build a rocket from it in hopes that something special emerges. IT generally does not work because the “part” mentality does not allow you to start the process “in company” that rethinks things on a daily basis. A lot of people are having a hard time understanding SpaceX…you go to NSF.com and its an on going thread with the usual suspects pontificating on how “it will all fail because of this or that”. Braniff said the same thing about sWA what they did not grasp is that the reinvention effort gave people at some level a stake in the company that you just dont find in a lot of places and that tends to draw innovative minds. If Musk’s numbers with the 9 are real (and he thinks that they are) someone somewhere can eventually redo the technology and do that..again A reusable reinvents the cost structure of the industry…he knows that. Sorry for the sermon (grin) its the short version of my Thursday speech this week! RGO • common sense Elon is a solid businessman. He also is a persistent guy, right or wrong. As far as engineer you are giving him a lot of credit. Remember he has a team. His persistence helps but when he is leaning toward a design that he believes will work he will spend/waste a lot of money on the design… I am not a NSF fan/groupie and I usually can make my mind again based on experience. Whatever that means. Grin (as you would say). SpaceX is a huge gamble on the way they operate. Again cost is key. But as they grow they will experience what any corporation experiences. Overhead. Can they keep it in check? This is their primary challenge. If they can sell a launch for 1/10th the cost of any other launcher (even a few percents savings for crying out loud) then they have the market. International market that is. Anything else is associated with the famous cherry on top of the cake. For now. • Robert G. Oler common sense March 30, 2013 at 2:40 pm · Reply Elon is a solid businessman. He also is a persistent guy, right or wrong. >> Look the mileage here may vary and so… I make a reasonable amount of money developing and executing various “Plans” for commercial part 121 airlines. It is kind of strange actually when I got my Part 121 and 142 training certificate I sort of did it “the Elon” way ie I had a almost guaranteed customer (the US military and FAA) if I only got the certificate. They are non trivial to get and the FAA is pretty “sold” on me so well I got it in 6 months and that included dealing with the 9/11 fiasco. BUT the point here is that I have seen startup airlines come and go; I’ve seen them work and flounder and they all have one thing in common; they want to be SWA… The strange thing is that I have two clients overseas right now who do get what made SWA special and they are both succeeding. One is “in the sub continent” and they are making money hand over fist, paying their people well, working them hard but no one cares if they are being paid well.. the problem with most people in “spaceflight” is that they think that their shit doesnt stink because spaceflight is so fracken special…its not. Sorry it just isnt… What makes a company successful is the people; someone in the mjind of all the smart people you have working for you there is an answer that makes money to every issue…and the key is to bring that up. and so far everything I have seen of SpaceX is that they operate along those lines. Yes they will have setbacks and yes they have technical challenges but as long as they got their people happy and innovative they will work smart. This launch is a good indication of that. The margin is there because it is a light payload on a much stronger rocket to do some testing…and they are going to do it. NASA use to do stuff like this all the time, but now they cant innovate the lunch order at the Oriental Gourmet. There is a chance that SpaceX falls on its toes but there is a growingly good chance that two years from now…they just are so far out ahead of anyone that they are like Branniff…wondering what the heck happened to the magic. Elon is a solid businessman, he is also a persistent guy and I have seen him walk away from being wrong. Robert G. Oler • DCSCA “A lot of people are having a hard time understanding SpaceX……” So now the excuse is: “what we’ve got here, is a failure to comunicate.’ eh. Except it’s not hard to understand at all. In fact, it’s pretty easy for any experienced marketer with a media savvy eye to see the strategy in play. Convince the government to subsidize your business to benefit a select few at the expense of the many. It’s an old story, Robert. What is hard to understand is why Cool Hand Musk thinks he can keep bluffing. He foolishly goes around talking about ‘retiring on Mars’ while his firm fails to even attempt to launch, orbit and return anybody from a LEO flight- let along a BEO expedition to set up a retirement colony on the Red Planet. And why he only put #100 million into the pot rather than selling off other interests, like Tesla, and put all his chips in the space game he says he;s so passionate about. It’s a weak hand. A gamble. An exercise in false equivalency against experienced and operational government space programs holding all the best cards. Bravado is very human. But human hype is not human spaceflight. • Dave Hall And why he only put #100 million into the pot rather than selling off other interests, like Tesla, and put all his chips in the space game he says he;s so passionate about. Except that’s very easy to understand, Musk invested100m when he only had $180m. Tesla went public in 2010, by which time SpaceX had no need of investor funding. It makes more sense for Musk to use his prodigious business and engineering talents to build Tesla to the size of BMW before exiting to focus exclusively on Mars. It’s way too early to exit Tesla now, they’re just getting going with a first profitable quarter. Although we may all have to wait and watch another two decades, a 60-year Musk with a couple tens of billions to invest philantropically and three decades of rocket engineering experience may just be the best chance I have of witnessing at least one manned Mars mission in my lifetime. • Robert, I am telling you what I know based on my experience. I have more reasons than you can imagine to hope SpaceX will actually succeed. But it does not change the fact that SpaceX have always hoped to recover the first stages of the Falcon I and 9 to no avail. So far. It does not change the fact that neither of those vehicles were actually designed to sustain the reentry (unlike the SRBs). And of course it does not change the fact that I haven’t seen v1.1 and therefore I cannot predict one way or another. That as then, this is now. They haven’t recovered any stages to date because the entry velocity was basically the staging velocity, which was too high. They plan to recover them by sacrificing performance to keep enough propellant in the first stage to decelerate it before it hits the atmosphere (this will be particularly easy with the outer cores of the Falcon Heavy because they stage earlier than the center). The June mission will be their first opportunity to try this, because the payload is lighter than a CRS flight. So their failure to recover in the past is irrelevant to their capability to do so in the future. • common sense I did not say their failure to recover in the past was demonstration they will never be able to. Quite the opposite actually. Please do not put words in my mouth. And they may have very well addressed a lot of the problems associated with reentry. I just don’t know. All I was saying was based on Falcon I and what some like to call Falcon 9 v1.0. Unlike some I actually admit it when I don’t know or when I am wrong. On the other hand I have doubts based on reality and past experience as to how they go about their designs. But I hope I am wrong. • I did not say their failure to recover in the past was demonstration they will never be able to. Quite the opposite actually. Please do not put words in my mouth. I didn’t say you did. Please do not put words in my mouth. So what was your point in saying that they haven’t recovered in the past, if not to imply (illogically) that it somehow makes it less likely that they will do so in the future? • common sense I made my point if you care to read and understand. Whenever I need lecture on logic I ll make sure I ask you. So no worries. • common sense Oh I almost forgot. SpaceX does not need reusability to own the LV market. All they need is to keep their current/advertised costs and a lot of successful flights… And so far. So good. • DCSCA “All they need is to keep their current/advertised costs and a lot of successful flights… And so far. So good.” “So far, so good” ?? Hmmm. Musk was ready to shutter the firm due to launch failures per his 60 Minutes interview last year, and their have been failures in satellite releases for customers and, of course, the sysems failure of the thusters on the second official ‘operational’ flight. If you think that’s ‘so far, so good,’ performance from a service brought to market- not some experimental project- then you must drive a Yugo. .. • Coastal Ron DCSCA said: Musk was ready to shutter the firm due to launch failures per his 60 Minutes interview last year… Boy, you’re having to reach back 5 years on that one. He said if the 4th launch (in 2008) of the Falcon 1 had not been successful that they might have had to shut down. But it didn’t, and here we are 5 years later with five straight successful Falcon 9 launches. If you think that’s ‘so far, so good,’ performance from a service brought to market- not some experimental project- then you must drive a Yugo. What you think is irrelevant – you have been wrong on just about everything you have predicted about SpaceX. All that matters is what the customers of SpaceX think, and so far they are quite happy. Even Orbcomm got test data on their prototype satellite, plus they got insurance money for the loss. Since they continue to plan to use SpaceX I would say they were not too disappointed. Your problem is in not being able to keep fiction and reality separate in your head. • DCSCA “Musk has never failed to deliver so far. He is tardy but I have no issues with that.’ This is just silly. Or the weak ratioanlization by a desperate NewSpacer. Musk is peddling a service brought to market which is contracted/sold for profit and being ‘tardy’- that is, late at meeting your contract; at meeting your business commitments for your customers is a lousy business practice. And pretty poor business practice. Even NASA was criticized for that when trying to run shuttle for profit and slipping schedule. . This is not some experimental project Mr. Musk is peddling, but a service brought to market. When you fill up at Exxon, the gas you get isn’t an ‘experimental’ batch that might risk ruin to your car. When you make a phone call, AT&T doesn’t tell you the call might be late. Making excuses for lousy performance is a pretty pathetic- if not desperate- pitch by NewSpacers. “Elon is a solid businessman.” bosts CS. Exceopt he’s not. Said “Elon” just last month on Jimmy Kimmel’s show- “I have to start getting Tesla profitable.” ‘Nuff said. “SpaceX is a huge gamble on the way they operate.” cries CS. “Gambles” are not a sound business strategy to the investor class seeknig a sound ROI- usually every quarter. Project$325 million– even $500 million wasred on subsidizing commercial folly- it buys a heck of a lot of rount trip seats on Soyuz to the doomed ISS well toward tghe end of the decade- given a six month stay for a U.S astronaut on the ISS. Let Space X loft satelites and deliver groceries. As for ever flying crewas- forget about it It’s a waste. And a weak redundancy. Soyuz works just fine. • NeilShipley DCSCA, simply pathetic. Why don’t you do the honourable thing and fall on your sword? F9 is now 5 for 5, Dragon 3 for 3 or 4for 4 depending on what you count. No other space cargo vehicle has Dragon capability. No other company or gov’t agency can offer services for SpaceX prices. No other company or agency is undertaking the R&D that SpaceX currently is doing. As you say, tick tock but that’ s for other companies and agencies. SpaceX now has the jump on all of them and if they continue, they’ll own the space launch business. I believe this year will be a watershed for the space launch industry. SpaceX is also fast developing its Dragon capabilities as well. Dragon 2 release in a couple of weeks apparently. First test of F9R around June/July. Interesting times. • common sense Looks like he got his Internet connection back with a vengeance… Oh well. • Coastal Ron DCSCA whined: Exceopt he’s not. Said “Elon” just last month on Jimmy Kimmel’s show- “I have to start getting Tesla profitable.” ‘Nuff said. And he’s doing a pretty good job of doing that. ‘Nuff said. “Gambles” are not a sound business strategy to the investor class seeknig a sound ROI- usually every quarter. Not everyone lives off of dividends like you do, so stop pretending you know what the “investor class” does or wants to do. SpaceX is far from a perfect company, but your record for being able to predict what will happen to them is perfect – perfectly wrong that is. Time to get over them and move on in your life. Oh, and seriously, get a new keyboard or slow down your rabid typing. • “Let Space X loft satelites and deliver groceries.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that. You’re quite dismissive of that, without considering what happens when any human habitation can’t ‘get groceries,’ whether it’s on the Moon, in LEO, Antarctica, or a major urban center. Logistics aren’t sexy, but ask the DoD what kind of value they give such things. And anything that has the potential to bring back more of the satellite launch market to this country, is a good thing. “As for ever flying crewas- forget about it It’s a waste.” When ultimately done by SpaceX (or anyone that isn’t Russian)? Not at all sure what you’re saying there. “And a weak redundancy. Soyuz works just fine.” Lately. But we’ve seen greater and lesser problems over the history of Soyuz. And recent Russian launcher performance has been less than inspiring. Another serious problem with either, leaves no Plan B. Only someone who already assigns little or no value to ISS (or other potential LEO destinations) would dismiss a lack of redundant means of access to it. And there’s the political angle. It is Russian. If other issues should ever make them consider pulling the plug on US access…but that goes back to the last sentence of the previous paragraph. • DCSCA “You’re quite dismissive of that” whines Frank. Tt has been done for decades, Frank– and better- by Progress and Soyuz and shuttles. Satellites were lofted half a century ago as well. If Musk announces plans to byild a silvered rocket plane for a flight from NY to Paris in 2027, no doubt you’ll be impressed by that as well. • Coastal Ron common sense said: Flow physics features are not benign at Mach 10. Even Mach 6 will be challenging even if it is much easier. Isn’t that really altitude dependent? If they stage at a high altitude, then flow effects would be less than at a lower altitude, right? And the 1st stage is still gaining altitude after staging, and slowing down before it starts it decent (we assume). I wonder what the terminal velocity would be of the 1st stage if it was allowed to descend horizontally while “flying” back to the launch site? Or maybe they plan to have it fall at a 45 degree angle so they can have better control. Need more info obviously… • NeilShipley We’ll see this year if Elon’s press remarks are anything to go by. • common sense Yes it is true it is altitude dependent. See this for example http://books.google.com/books?id=NKOIAY_Cj2kC&q=convective+heating#v=snippet&q=convective%20heating&f=false Page 272 you’ll find the correlation used for hypersonic convective heating (forget radiative, at this velocity there is essentially none). You can see that the heat rates go like the square root of density (altitude so to speak) but like velocity cube. R_N is the radius of the sphere in the correlation. So velocity effects are more important than density effects. Now of course Mach depends on the speed of sound which also depends on density… So yes I somehow over simplified but not that much. No the first stage does not slow all that much before reentry. The trajectory is not straight up – straight down so to speak. Unless you have active control the 1st stage essentially tumbles down. Anytime the stage is at an angle of attack there is lift as well. But again without active control… • The whole point of the Grasshopper flights is to develop an active control system for the first (and potentially, later, second) stage. Plus one to land the Dragon on land with its abort propellant. • common sense I am aware of Grasshopper. But until and unless they fly at it at similar velocities (or whatever flowfield makes the trajectory similar) it will be an exercise for landing, like DC-X. And that is all it will be. But indeed without some form of active control system the whole thing is wishful thinking. Any idea how long it took them to accept that – if they finally accepted they need active control? We’ll see about 2nd stage reentry. Land landing a Dragon with the escape system as I saw the concept will be a challenge. There are studies you can do it on Mars I believe though. But reentering a capsule in the first place is a lot easier than any rocket stage. Active control will require, if they are thrusters, additional propellant and mass associated with the thrusters. A properly located CG to minimize how much propellant you are going to need during the whole reentry. Unless you also add active control surfaces. A non stable rocket is not an F-22. The natural CG location on the stage makes those things want to fly at an angle of attack nozzles first. Hence tumbling. Hence loads on the sidewalls etc. In any case. We shall see. Soon now it seems. • Malmesbury IIRC F9 v1.1 will have cold gas thrusters for attitude control. • Dark Blue Nine Malmesbury is correct. • DCSCA The whole point of the Grasshopper flights is to develop an active control system for the first (and potentially, later, second) stage. Plus one to land the Dragon on land with its abort propellant. In other words, it was all for show. PT Barnum at work. Maybe he’ll try launchoing, orbiting and safely returning someone from LEO by 2040 or so. Of course by then, the ISS will be in the Pacific. and he can launch a submarine service instead. • In other words, it was all for show. What a baseless, illogical statement. Par for the course from you, of course. • (Sigh.) Now we know why Jeff Bezos does similar things, but mostly keeps it to himself… • Paul Now of course Mach depends on the speed of sound which also depends on density… Mach number depends on density? Not really. It depends on temperature. It depends on molecular weight. But not density, except insofar as that is affected by temperature and molecular weight. • common sense Tsk tsk. You sure? May want to read this, carefully. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_sound For general equations of state, if classical mechanics is used, the speed of sound is given by c^2 = (dP/drho)_s where P is the pressure and rho is the density and the derivative is taken adiabatically, that is, at constant entropy per particle (s). Or if you want to know about chemically reacting gases such as seen in hypersonic flows, this (page 533 on for example): http://tinyurl.com/ctcjmvq etc. • Maybe you should try reading your own citation carefully yourself: “In the Earth’s atmosphere, the chief factor affecting the speed of sound is the temperature.” • To elaborate: “For a given ideal gas with constant heat capacity and composition, sound speed is dependent solely upon temperature; see Details below. In such an ideal case, the effects of decreased density and decreased pressure of altitude cancel each other out, save for the residual effect of temperature. …The approximate speed of sound in dry (0% humidity) air, in meters per second (m·s−1), at temperatures near 0 °C, can be calculated from: c_{\mathrm{air}} = (331{.}3 + 0{.}606 \cdot \vartheta) \ \mathrm{m \cdot s^{-1}}\, where \vartheta is the temperature in degrees Celsius (°C).” Look Ma! No density! • common sense Since when is “air” an ideal gas? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_gas I know, I know hyoersonics, thermodynamics, real gas, chemically reacting mixture. All taught in systems engineering classes. Look Ma, a book! http://tinyurl.com/cb943qm • Since when is “air” an ideal gas? It’s close enough, for this purpose. That is the equation that aerodynamicists use to compute Mach number. To first order, it is a function of temperature, and of temperature alone. • common sense “It’s close enough, for this purpose.” No it’s not. We are talking a Mach 10 reentry. “That is the equation that aerodynamicists use to compute Mach number.” Not the aerodynamicists I know actually doing hypersonics. “To first order, it is a function of temperature, and of temperature alone.” Yeah well. • Not the aerodynamicists I know actually doing hypersonics. Whoop de doo. Supersonic, hypersonic, it’s all the same atmosphere. The equation is not only not density dependent, it’s not velocity dependent. It’s entirely dependent on temperature. • Would that be Paul Dietz, by any chance? If so, I’ve been trying to reach you. • vulture4 The most practical low L/D recovery system for liquid propellant boosters may be the ballute drouge tested (with some success) by Armadillo with the Stig. It can be deployed while still in space and thus will stabilize the booster during entry, ensure it is always under tensile loading, and greatly increase the area over which entry thermal and mechanical loads are distributed. Although it is physically above the booster it functions in some ways as a heatshield. For high L/D recovery wings and aero control surfaces are needed, but they can be relatively small as the empty weight is fairly low, about 30 tons for the Falcon 9 1.1. Xcor and Virgin are taking this route. • common sense Ballute at SpaceX ? You may want to inquire about that… If it is “above” the booster it won’t work as a heatshield. Ballute have issues associated with aeroelasticity and heating. There are other ways too. But it would require such an extreme redesign of the booster that I doubt F9 v1.1 is using any of that at all. Wings are difficult to make work. Since you are a fan of Shuttle you may want to inquire about CG location, vs tab deflection and and ballast and shock-shock interaction… There is a reason why X-37 wings are so similar to Shuttle. It does not mean you can just copy these wings for all and any vehicle. Wings are not the panacea it all depends on your requirements and unless you need 1) some significant down/cross range and 2) flare for landing you actually do not need wings whatsoever. • vulture4 The purpose of a heatshield is to absorb the thermal loads of entry. The ballute has about ten times the cross-sectional area of the booster when it is descending engine first, so it will absorb ~90 percent of the total thermal and mechanical loads, and increase drag during the initial entry, thus reducing the peak deceleration loads when the denser atmosphere is encountered. The vehicle skin is still exposed to atmosphere but at considerably lower velocity than would occur if the booster were descending without drag. Also the ballute absorbs the vast majority of the entry kinetic energy that would otherwise have to be taken up with powered thrust. One difficulty with any parachute is compensation for variable winds. Guided drouges with moderate L/D have been used for precisely positioning a dropped load prior to low-altitude deployment of a round chute for landing. The same strategy could be used with a guided drouge and terminal thrust just before touchdown instead of the large parachute. • common sense I know what a ballute is. Europe and/or Russia experimented on a first stage if memory serves a couple of times. My criticism was that you said (?) above the booster. If your strategy is to slow down and you have no significant density you will need a huge ballute which I assume you will drag. Thermal loads on the risers then may just make the whole concept moot. I say “may”. Now I believe some form of ballute may be used in the future to land large mass on Mars say. Especially that a ballute can even take the shape of a lifting body. Especially that studies have shown that ballute work better than parachutes all the way down. But we’re not there yet. AND. If SpaceX tries a ballute on the other hand would mean quite a revolution happened in Hawthorne… FWIW • common sense Here for a ballute that actually flew. More or less. FWIW • JimNobles I don’t mean to be a buttinski here but it might be helpful to consider how Elon Musk thinks. He’s gonna try this recovery and reuse thing just using software and what little extra mass in fuel that he can get by with. He’d try to do it using only the software if he could. Unless things turn out to be impossible doing it that way I’d say items like chutes, ballutes, drag-ribbons, and etc. are non-starters. He just doesn’t seem to think that way. At least not since chutes were such a failure with F1. Although I think for those launches they were mainly interested in getting the hardware back for engineering forensic purposes. • common sense You are correct, mostly. The failure though is not with the chutes. • vulture4 The ballute drouge of course is a good match for the Falcon’s terminal thrust landing strategy since it is much smaller than a parachute but absorbs almost all the entry kinetic energy and will put the booster in a stabilized descent at only 50mph or so. Showing the Falcon descending the whole way under power as in the SapceX video is completely unrealistic. The winged entry systems OTOH are usually runway landers and do not require terminal thrust except maybe small thrusters for control. There is also the lifting body/powered vertical landing concept used in the DC-X. • JimNobles vulture4 said, “Showing the Falcon descending the whole way under power as in the SapceX video is completely unrealistic.” If I remember what I read about Elon’s remarks correctly he was claiming that after separation the 1st stage would be oriented correctly, the decent motor would fire to reduce speed to some necessary level, then the motor would be turned off only to be fired again later when the stage was near the ground/water. No blasting its way down from maximum altitude or anything like that. • JimNobles Here’s some actual notes from the CRS-2 press conference. Concerning recovering the booster: Q. What is strategy on booster recover? Musk: Initial recovery test will be a water landing. First stage continue in ballistic arc and execute a velocity reduction burn before it enters atmosphere to lessen impact. Right before splashdown, will light up the engine again. Emphasizes that we don’t expect success in the first several attempts. Hopefully next year with more experience and data, we should be able to return the first stage to the launch site and do a propulsion landing on land using legs. • Coastal Ron JimNobles said: I’m sure they’ve thought about using some sort of small parachute for drag in the lower atmosphere to keep the 1st stage oriented without having to use thrusters. Would seem to make sense on the first try, since they don’t have to worry about the control software as much, or at least not until they get much lower to the surface. • common sense Problem is the vehicle is destroyed before you can deploy… • Robert G. Oler After the flip over and the slow down, the biggest issue is keeping the engines in the velocity vector…thats the cold gas system I will be fascinated to see how far they get on this one RGO • common sense Actually a little more complicated than that. On reentry you really want max drag to slow down. If you go at zero angle of attack you have minimum drag. That’s when you may need to relight (some of) the main engines. And where you need active control. If you give it an angle of attack then you have lift that you can possibly use as well but you have large loads on sidewall. A rocket is usually not designed to take side loads: it’s going to bend etc. You have the additional problem of nozzle first which will be moving due to aero forces. And aero heating and loads may just break your nozzles and turbopumps and other mechanism to pieces at hypersonic velocity. All of which may be mitigated somewhat by relighting the main engines probably down through max heating and max Q. And then landing. So how much more fuel do you need to bring along? I dunno. A lot I would guess. The reentry videos they showed a while ago are totally unrealistic. FWIW • James Whether Musk succeeds or fails is obscuring a more essential point: He’s trying to do something that folks said couldn’t be done in an effort to reduce launch costs. The old NACA was researching aeronautics, in part to support the growing industry of aeronautics. NASA has lost that impetus when it comes to rocketry,,,and perhaps they never had it. Kudos to Musk for doing what he’s doing, success of failure. • Robert G. Oler James…yes that is how it is. Musk is trying to do things and do them in a competent manner…where NASA and traditional aerospace have just stopped. ULA has zero no technical innovation. They operate along the lines of “if you pay us we will be creative to whatever degree you want us to be” same with NASA HSF and really the entire space organization. It reminds me a bunch of years ago when SWA started flying the President of Brannif, who had stopped the innovation at Brannif, noted that he (the President of BI) didnt see how SWA could do what it claimed it was going to do with three planes. And it couldnt the way BI flew the planes…but it had innovated some notions of how to turn the planes. One wishes OSC the best of luck but gee “innovation”? its parts from here parts from there all chasing a rocket. If Musk recovers a FAlcon first stage; thats bigger news then Armstrong walking on the Moon. RGO • ULA has zero no technical innovation. That must be why they were working with XCOR to develop an RL-10 replacement, and why they have developed their own BEO architectures that utilize existing launch systems. • Robert G. Oler Rand Simberg March 31, 2013 at 1:51 pm · Reply ULA has zero no technical innovation. That must be why they were working with XCOR to develop an RL-10 replacement, and why they have developed their own BEO architectures that utilize existing launch systems.>> First we should see how the XCOR thing works out, but “working” with someone when “you” are supposdly the main rockets company is not innovation. Nor really is “architecture” to use existing systems to do something “else” IF ULA was innovative they would be trying to lower cost; to try and figure out how to compete in the commercial market… If what ULA is doing for innovation it is not nearly enough, is it more then none…well yes but trivially. RGO • IF ULA was innovative they would be trying to lower cost; to try and figure out how to compete in the commercial market… They are trying to do that. They are in fact desperate to do so. The new engine development is part of that effort. I’m sorry you’re ignorant about what they’re doing, and the meaning of the word “innovation.” • Robert G. Oler Rand Simberg April 1, 2013 at 11:30 am IF ULA was innovative they would be trying to lower cost; to try and figure out how to compete in the commercial market… They are trying to do that. >> Sure…they are going to 1) offer a product that is competitive in the commercial market, while 2) continuing to get a “subsidy” from the government just to keep them in business and 3) charging the government ever higher prices… Oh yes thats innovation RGO • Coastal Ron Robert G. Oler said: ULA has zero no technical innovation. As Rand points out, they are not without some innovation. The problem is that ULA is a partnership between two competitors. For instance, what incentive does Boeing have to give up the 100% of the SLS prime contractor role they have to do a 50/50 split on a larger Delta IV or Atlas V? Let’s remember that ULA was created to keep one or both of the two ULA partners from going bankrupt, not because Boeing and Lockheed Martin wanted to be partners. What will it take for Boeing and Lockheed Martin to become more willing to take more risk in the space arena? To be more like SpaceX? The ULA partnership might have to be dissolved or changed in some way. But there has to be a big reason for a change that big, and I don’t see one on the horizon, at least not until ULA is starting to lose lots of business to SpaceX. • common sense I am not sure in what way this is a reply to my post. I am just trying to instill a little critical thinking so that others have better expectations. And yes I may be wrong. Just pointing to the obvious. It’d be nice too that people actually know what they are talking about. NASA is actively helping SpaceX and others be successful. Not all NASA is SLS MPCV even if it feels like it. Be informed. Can NASA do more? Yes and some are trying more than others. • DCSCA “He’s trying to do something that folks said couldn’t be done in an effort to reduce launch costs.” Seeking government subsidies/contracts and sweet deals is nothing new, James. Socializing the risk on the many to benefit a select few is nothign new, either. He has only put$100 million into his own firm. In the circles he travels in, that’s chicken feed.

• Robert G. Oler

common sense
March 31, 2013 at 9:29 am · Reply

The reentry videos they showed a while ago are totally unrealistic.>>

Of course the “Victorious” video wasnt much more then a poke in the eye to all the other rockets companies and NASA…I am reminded of “Spreading Love all over Texas”

To “me” the various business decisions that Musk has made now make sense…as does the Heavy…

here is a guess…the Falcon 9 1.1 or later versions is the new 1D and the heavy is going to be the new main line lifter…but in the end both will be reusable.

See how it works out…As I have said by 2016 SpaceX will either be making major changes in the history of spaceflight or history. RGO

• Casey Stedman

DCSCA – Why are you so negative? Why are you so disparaging when it concerns SpaceX? Here we have start-up space company developing rockets and capsules (that appear to be working, btw) and proposing positive steps to ensuring American space utilization. Why is that so bad? No, as a company they aren’t perfect. But neither is Ariane, Energia, or ULA. This country (and world) needs more options for access to LEO. SpaceX (and some of the other NewSpace companies too) are making progress and we should be supportive.

Space is big. There’s room for everyone.

• DCSCA

Postscript. LEO is a ticket to no place, Casey, going in circles, no where, fast. And every tax dollar wasted on it through subsidizing commerical draws dwindling resources from BEO planning and future ops in an era of flat budgets. It’s a vain attempt to rationalize continuing ISS ops- a Cold War relic reprsenting policy planning from an era long over BTW. It’s a waste. In a decade or so, the ISS will be in the Pacific and you’ll be lft with a fleet of LEO space toys and another decade will be lost. It is simply a waste. What’s more, the ISS has failed to return anything close to justify the $100 billion expense and several billion/yr in ops costs. You want to zip up to and back from LEO for fun and profit- fine. Just don’t do it on Uncle Sam’s dime. For w/o the ISS as a ‘faux market’- a ‘government market’ BTW, commercial orbital HSF ops would be dead. There’s simply a low to no ROI for it. LEO is the past. BEO is the future. Space exploitaton is not space exploration. • Coastal Ron DCSCA said: LEO is a ticket to no place, Casey, going in circles, no where, fast If the goal for the ISS was to leave LEO, then you’d be right. But since you’re hardly ever right, the answer must be that LEO is the least expensive place to operate a National Laboratory in space. And without the work being done by that National Laboratory, we’ll never stay beyond LEO without deleterious effects to our astronauts. Do you want harm or kill the astronauts we send beyond LEO on long expeditions? Please do think before you write. • Robert G. Oler DCSCA April 1, 2013 at 2:24 am · Reply Postscript. LEO is a ticket to no place,>> there is almost no historical data to support that or the alternative that “BEO is a ticket to someplace” First off you’re rhetoric is weak…Almost everything in space goes in “circles” (or elipses) around something…so all you are doing is a GOP act of reaching for a sound bite and using it to replace logic Second…the historical evidence is that BEO is indeed a ticket to nowhere. There is zero evidence that the PRC is “on a ticket” to BEO in large measure because they probably have studied the US and USSR experience and COST and figured out that well in the end “exploration doesnt pay” The lunar landing effort was next to the shuttle the biggest dead end that human spaceflight has been on. Even NASA lost enthusiasim for the effort as time wore on because the cost, the lack of redundancy, the nearness of failure and catastrophic failure. The US people lost enthusiasim for it because of the cost and lack of any perceived value. Today’s “exploration” is reduced to a jobs program… Now there is probably an affordable “mode” that pushes people outside LEO and garners reasonable support and Tito’s effort might be it But the statement quoted above by you is simply “waste”… RGO • josh leo is the first step for any beo mission. having multiple cost-effective means to access leo as a result of cots and ccicap is by no means a waste. trying to duplicate apollo is. you so don’t get it, dcsca. • Gregori Beyond Earth Orbit programs have failed to return anything close to justify their$100 Billion+ expenses. I am failing to see your point.

• vulture4

In one of the buildings at KSC is a display containing a thrust deflector vane from the engine of the Redstone booster used on (IIRC) Grissom’s suborbital flight. Peculiarly there is no explanation of how it came to be there. As I recall, after the launch a Navy destroyer in the large offshore recovery fleet spotted the booster floating vertically in the water, put a line on it and hauled it in. No stabilization, no parachute, no nothing.

• Robert G. Oler

Parts have come back…Gemini V they got a large portion of the first stage back. RGO

• James

Musk is an Entrepreneur; always has been. What Space X is doing is reflective of Musks passion for innovation and entrepreneurship.

NASA and its Aerospace sycophants are not entrepreneurs. They are survivalists. No passion in simply surviving.

It helps that Musk answers only to himself. NASA has too many congress people who call over to E street and demand this or that for their constituents; this dysfunction does not really allow NASA to lead, to boldly go, to do things that, at heart, many of its employees wish they could do.

We’ll see how NASA navigates the next decade, but clearly, at least from a budgetary view point, they are in the decline, and Space X and other Space Entrepreneur’s are on the rise.

• DCSCA

“It helps that Musk answers only to himself.”

Hmmm. The govenment in general and taxpayers in particular in particular would be amused at that assertion.

• Robert G. Oler

The decision about ULA was one of the worst decisions made by the US government both civilian and military…in a series of bad decisions over the last 20 or so years. Until it and several other decisions are reversed things are unlikely to change fast…although they are changing.

First the US is not on a permanent warfighting basis…the DoD acts like we are, government policy has little changed since the cold war…but right now the DoD is the main welfare queen of this country…and its hard not to see ULA as part of that.

The DoD instead of keeping two weak and non competitive boosters going should in fact be priming the pump for private enterprise and startups to come into the space business.

Second ULA represents “spending at any cost”…all the reasons that ULA is no longer competitive in the marketplace are BS …they are things made up to be the shiney toy to explain bad policy to GOP and other sycophants. ULA has a steady business with the military and even a yearly stipend…they should at least be keeping cost under control; but they are not.

IN addition the notion of “we have to have this reliability” is crap. In reality the previous booster systems were not that unreliable…and the DoD constellations are enormously robust…and again we are not on a permanent war fighting basis. We need to have some cost containment.

SpaceX has some “demonstrating” to do , but the notion that we need ULA as a function of national security is like saying we have to have the F-035, LCS, eetc or the US falls…its rhetoric designed to appeal to weak minds.

RGO

• amightywind

In the past 20 years two trends guided the evolution of ULA: the development of billion dollar, one of a kind, Battlestar Galactica payloads, and the DOD and NRO’s extreme reluctance to lose at launch said payloads. The cost of high end radar, ELINT, and infrared payload and their variable and demanding flight profiles put reliability at a premium. (I used to see a lot of interesting things behind the curtains at Hughes Space and Com!) Boeing and Lockmart have achieved this admirably in the Titan, Atlas, and Delta programs. Modern satellites with highly miniaturized electronics are no longer as unexpendable allowing the DOD to focus more on cost. It remains to be seen if the DOD has the stomach for a cheap ride like SpaceX. Fortunately the DOD is one agency that refuses to foot the bill for Musk’s education. SpaceX enters the DOD market at its own risk. I have no problem with that.

• Robert G. Oler

Fortunately the DOD is one agency that refuses to foot the bill for Musk’s education.>>

yes, they are all tapped out spending 1.5 billion a year to subsidize ULA’s operation….which I guess you are all for.

Thank you for the post, I have figured out why you dont like SpaceX…RGO

• yg1968

Here is the (zipped) mp3 file of the March 27th SpaceX/NASA teleconference:

http://www.gamefront.com/files/23148885/SpaceX+Post-Landing+Teleconference+March+27+2013.zip

• JimNobles

yg1968, the zip downloads as empty and generates an error in Winzip.

• JimNobles

Never mind, I’m sorry, I did it wrong.

• Hmm. Who bothers with zipping an already compressed mp3 file? The result was only about 450k smaller…

• amightywind

You should use gzip or one of the other free (as in freedom) alternatives to WinZip.

• Neil Shipley

Thanks, much appreciated.