Congress, NASA

NASA uses Soyuz deal to push for commercial crew funding

On Tuesday, NASA announced it had extended a deal with the Russian space agency Roscosmos to provide crew transportation services to and from the International Space Station. The deal covers bringing six astronauts up to the ISS in 2016 and rescue and return services through 2017. The price: $424 million, or about $70 million per seat, up from the $63 million per seat in the previous agreement. (The press release indicates the agreement includes some services that were previously covered under a separate contract, complicating an apples-to-apples comparison.)

The contract extension as hardly a surprise, but NASA leadership used it as an opportunity to make the case for fully funding the agency’s commercial crew program so that additional extensions of the Soyuz deal aren’t needed. “Further delays in our Commercial Crew Program and its impact on our human spaceflight program are unacceptable. That’s why we need the full $821 million the President has requested in next year’s budget to keep us on track to meet our 2017 deadline and bring these launches back to the United States,” NASA administrator Charles Bolden said in a separate blog post yesterday.

Bolden made similar arguments last week in testimony to Congress. “This is a year of decision” for commercial crew, Bolden said last Thursday at a hearing on the NASA budget proposal by the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee. “If we do not get $822 million in the 2014 budget as requested by the President, it will be my unfortunate duty to advise the Congress and the President that we probably will not make 2017 for the availability of an American capability to get our astronauts to space, and I will have to tell you that I’m going to have to come back and ask for authorization to once again pay the Russians to take our crews to space.” (The discrepancy between the $822 million above and the $821 million in yesterday’s blog post likely stems from the fact the budget specifically requests an amount between the two: $821.4 million.)

At that hearing, though, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), ranking member of both the CJS subcommittee and full appropriations committee, was critical of the funding sought for commercial crew, which he feared was coming at the expense of the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket. “This budget focuses, I believe, too heavily on maintaining the fiction of privately-funded commercial launch vehicles, which diverts, I think, critical resources from NASA’s goal of developing human spaceflight capabilities with the SLS,” he said in his opening statement. He said that the companies that have received funded Space Act Agreements were not as accountable as they should be regarding the progress they’ve made or in revealing how much of their own money they have invested in these efforts. “This sounds like a great arrangement for the companies, but I don’t believe it’s a great arrangement for the taxpayer.”

126 comments to NASA uses Soyuz deal to push for commercial crew funding

  • Ben

    “This sounds like a great arrangement for the companies, but I don’t believe it’s a great arrangement for the taxpayer.” Translation: Its not good for me, I want Alabama to have all the space pork!

  • So Senator Shelby thinks it’s a great arrangement for the taxpayer to have U.S. taxpayer dollars going to Russia.

    I wonder what the voters in Alabama think.

    Oh wait, they elected him. Apparently they don’t think.

    • DCSCA

      So Senator Shelby thinks it’s a great arrangement for the taxpayer to have U.S. taxpayer dollars going to Russia.

      No, Senator Shelby sees it’s cheaper to finance access via a reliable and operational system to a doomed international space platform reprsenting past planning from a Cold War era long over for a few years toward its inevitable end than dumping twice as much into a single year expenditure to subsidize firms which are non-operational for HSF ops and have failed to even atemtp to fly anybody.

      • mt noise

        So you are of the opinion that our space access should be at the mercy of the Russian. Good to make note of it.

        • E.P Grondine

          Hi MT N –

          It was never planned to rely on Russia for space access excpet in an emergency, like that following Columbia.

          No one is examining how that situation was allowed to continue, which decision lies with Griffin.

  • amightywind

    “This is a year of decision”

    No, it isn’t. NASA leadership isn’t trusted to make lasting decisions by this congress, and with good reason. The decision was made to build SLS/Orion and NASA leadership has slow walked it.

    which diverts, I think, critical resources from NASA’s goal of developing human spaceflight capabilities with the SLS

    Agreed. Transfer of Commercial Crew funding to SLS is the best way for America to get back to space. Isn’t it obvious?

    • Transfer of Commercial Crew funding to SLS is the best way for America to get back to space. Isn’t it obvious?

      Only to innumerate fools.

    • JimNobles

      -
      amightywind said, Transfer of Commercial Crew funding to SLS is the best way for America to get back to space.

      This is just stupid. The commercial crew funds wouldn’t do anything to help the monster pork fest SLS. It’s not enough money. And since I presume you can do basic arithmetic I also suspect you know that.

      The best way to get America back into space is commercial crew since they are way ahead of government space with developing their vehicles.

    • DCSCA

      “Transfer of Commercial Crew funding to SLS is the best way for America to get back to space.”

      Yep. The place for commercial to souce financing is the private capital markets, not the U.S. Treasury.

      • Coastal Ron

        DCSCA (aka Putin-boi) opined:

        The place for commercial to souce financing is the private capital markets, not the U.S. Treasury.

        If NASA didn’t care what standards the Commercial Crew providers used, and was willing to issue a service contract after an open competition, then sure, the companies could foot the whole development bill themselves.

        But that’s not the situation here, and it’s why you fail to grasp the situation.

        NASA does care what standards the Commercial Crew providers use, and they must be NASA’s unique standards. Not only that, NASA won’t award a contract until the company has proved that they have met NASA’s standards. Oh, and no one really knows if or when Congress will provide money for such a service.

        No company that has a lick of business sense would risk so much money on such a government venture. None. Which is why NASA has to provide the funding upfront.

        You’ve been schooled on this before. Please print this out and display it prominently so you don’t forget it again… ;-)

    • Neil Shipley

      Where is your evidence that NASA has ‘slow walked’ SLS/Orion? Let’s see it or your retraction.

    • “Agreed. Transfer of Commercial Crew funding to SLS is the best way for America to get back to space. Isn’t it obvious?”

      It might put them six months closer to the rainbow they’re chasing, yes.

      You seem to be working with an unusual definition of ‘back to space’ as well…

  • josh

    shelby is one of the more disgusting gop politicians. his brazen hypocrisy could make you dizzy. it’s like listening to someone from bizarro world..

  • This arrangement to get American spacemen to the ISS is going to go on much longer than anyone realizes! It’s going to take the return of government space, to resolve this. Commercial space will eventually have to be put on the backburner, so that America can have its own independent space access vehicle. The Orion craft should be being developed ASAP, plus a smaller rocket developed or reconfigured, for the intermediate task of launching it to LEO. If it’s not going to be the Ares 1, then let’s get on with an alternative launcher, but the longer we delay this and mispend billions of good federal dollars on the subsidizing Commercial Crew, the worse off we’re going to be! NO further federal government money should be blown on propping up these rocket hobbyists!

    • (Twilight Zone theme) Do Do – Do Do, Do Do – Do Do

      Strange twisted thought processes.

    • well_but

      The SLS is too expensive and overpowered to serve as a LEO taxi and it won’t be used that way. Accelerating it’s development wouldn’t solve a thing with regard to ISS access.

      • amightywind

        Mike Griffin understood the need to have a crew rocket and a larger cargo carrier. If people balk at the Ares I (and there is no real reason why they should), there are always the Direct and other shuttle derived concepts. This is so sad. Years are going by with no space program.

        • All of which would have cost more than equivalent commercially developed vehicles under SAAs according to NASA and university studies.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “If people balk at the Ares I (and there is no real reason why they should)”

          Yeah, an intermediate-lift launch vehicle costing the taxpayer $28 billion to develop when the EELV fleet cost the taxpayer $1 billion is no real reason to balk at that launch vehicle.

          Sure, development costs rising from $28 billion to $45 billion is no real reason to balk at that launch vehicle

          I mean the schedule for the first flight of that intermediate-lift launch vehicle slipping from 2011 to 2017-2019 is no reason to balk at that launch vehicle.

          Heck, the intermediate-lift launch vehicle having a cost $1.6 billion per launch when the heaviest EELVs go for less than a third of that cost is no reason to balk at that launch vehicle.

          C’mon, technical and safety issues ranging from parachute failures to crew-killing aborts are no reason to balk at that launch vehicle.

          Nope, no reason to balk at all.

        • Paul

          AMW, it’s incredible you are able to live with yourself. Have you no shame? Have you even a shred of personal integrity?

        • DCSCA

          Windy, Griffin did more damage to government HSF than you realize. Ares was a lousy rocket design. And his feuding w/Garver only added fuel to the flame. Mike fancied himself another von Braun. Except he wasn’t. And still isn’t.

          • For once you are absolutely right in regard to Griffin and Ares. The problem is SLS is another “lousy rocket design” from both a fiscal and implementational standpoint.

      • E.P Grondine

        The myth that the Ares 1 could have worked had it not been for Obama will continuce to be promoted until there is a clear pulic investigation into how the severe combustion oscillations of large solid grains made it through NASA Safety.

        For that matter, a report from the NASA History Office on how the Ares 1 decision was made would be both appropriate and timely, in my opinion: when the taxpayers lose $8-$10 billion on a rocket that could not work, perhaps they at least deserve some explanation as to what happened?

        For that matter, the cancellation of the two projects to use the EELVs for manned launch could be included in that report, inclufding Griffin’s decision to go with SpaceX.

        Aside from that, one would hope that no money from SLS is being used by ATK to try to revive the Ares 1 as a manned launcher, unless the serious threat they present to astronauts’ health has been addressed.

    • JimNobles

      -
      Let me see if I can straighten some things out…
      -

      This arrangement to get American spacemen to the ISS is going to go on much longer than anyone realizes!

      It does seem to be dragging on.
      -

      It’s going to take the return of government space, to resolve this.

      Hell no it won’t! government space is the problem not the solution. The people who pay for government space, congress, aren’t doing their job and allocating the resources to keep the programs on any kind of reasonable schedule. Thinking government space will solve this problem is just crazy, man.
      -

      Commercial space will eventually have to be put on the backburner, so that America can have its own independent space access vehicle.

      No, it will not be put on the backburner, it’s been too successful and good for America. Because of commercial space we actually have a chance of staying in the human space flight business. Commercial space vehicles are independent vehicles.
      -

      The Orion craft should be being developed ASAP, plus a smaller rocket developed or reconfigured, for the intermediate task of launching it to LEO.

      The name Orion and the term ASAP probably shouldn’t be used in the same sentence. The rockets you are talking about are already here on in development and will be here soon. See Delta IV and Falcon Heavy.
      -

      …but the longer we delay this and mispend billions of good federal dollars on the subsidizing Commercial Crew, the worse off we’re going to be! NO further federal government money should be blown on propping up these rocket hobbyists!

      Oh my gosh, you are completely divorced from reality. You don’t have a clue about what’s going on out in the real world do you? America promotes and enjoys commercial industries, it’s part of what we are. It is no surprise that rocketry is going the same route. It’s a good thing not a bad thing.

      The money spent on COTS and Commercial Crew has been one of the best investments America has made. For that money we are getting three new launchers (two lights and one medium-heavy), two new cargo vehicles, three new crew vehicles, and that doesn’t even count what the wild-card Blue Origin ends up producing. Commercial space has been an AWESOME investment for America.

      Try to pull yourself together and understand what’s happening around you.
      -

      • DCSCA

        Hell no it won’t! government space is the problem not the solution.

        Except it’s not. Government space has been successful. Commecial HSF has failed to even attempt a launch. And without ‘government space’ aka the ISS as a ‘faux market’ for commercial space to try to aim at, NewSpace HSF ops in LEO is dead, because there’s a low to no ROI for investors in the private sector. So in desperation, NewSpace begs government for subsidies. And what does it offer anyway, even w/government subsidies– more decades of going in circles, no where, fast; sbsidizing millionaires to play Buck Rogers. The future for HSF, once a 21st century rationale is established, is w/government space projects of scale, not a fleet of toy spaceships that go to LEO.

        • JimNobles

          DCSCA, you are dreaming of days long gone. This is the 21st century. Wake up, man.

          • DCSCA

            Come off it, Jim. NewSpace has failed to even attempt to launch, orbit and return anybody from LEO, let along voyages to Luna or Mars. Thst’s no dream- that’s reality. A fact. Your ‘dream’ is the nightmare of expecting commercial HSF to be the future. Capital investors see no ROI for such a market. Profiteers make for poor rocketeers in this era, Jim. That’s why investment capitsl goes into oil wells, not launch pads.

            The U.S. spends $2 billion/week in Afghanistan and will be paying on that for years to come. It’s a mastter of national priorities and with this administration, space isn’t a very big one. It is you who are dreaming that these LEO kiddie cars are the future. The Magnified Importsnce of Diminished Vision has blinded you. LEO is a ticket to no place, gfoing in circles, no where, fast.

            • Fred Willett

              Dragon first crewed flight is expected 2014.
              CST-100 first crewed flight expected 2015.
              MPCV first crewed flight expected 2021. Unless, of course, it gets cancelled like so many of NASA’s programs.

            • Fred Willett

              Capital investors see no ROI for such a market.
              Ah but they do. SpaceX and Orbital, SNC and Bigelow – even Boeing – have all put up big money toward commercial space.
              Venture capitalists are investing in companies like SpaceX.
              These are facts.
              Perhaps they know something you don’t

            • JimNobles

              -
              I’m betting the next manned U.S. spacecraft to LEO is commercial.

              I’m betting the next manned U.S. spacecraft to BLEO is commercial.

              And I’m even betting the first manned U.S. spacecraft to Mars orbit will be commercial. (mainly ’cause Elon thinks he needs to go there)

              And I’m also betting the first facility on the Moon that’s manned for more than about 10 days or so will be commercial.

              We’ll see who’s right.

      • DCSCA

        “It does seem to be dragging on.” quipped Jim.

        Only because ‘Dragons’ are involved. ;-)

    • Mader

      NO further federal government money should be blown on propping up these rocket hobbyists!
      You are about 5 to 8 years too late to call SpaceX “rocket hobbyist”. No hobbyist gets to launch successfully 5 for 5 Delta II-class vehicle. And calling Orbital “rocket hobbyist” is indeed evidence of complete detachment from reality.

    • ” NO further federal government money should be blown on propping up these rocket hobbyists!”

      OW! Somebody invoked the ‘H’ word!

      Would that human technology were such that launching pressurized, recoverable, human-potential cargo capsules into orbit, to space stations and back, was the stuff of ‘hobbyists.’

      If it were that simple, I’d take up that hobby in a heartbeat…

    • josh

      just skimming over the comments here. the delusions of windy, dcsca and the castro guy are both hilarious and sad. wonder what their new line of bullshit will be when spacex launches people in 2015… some people just can’t get over the fact that the days of old space are numbered. i guess in windy’s case he’s just trying to hold on to his taxpayer funded job until he can retire.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    As usual, Shelby’s statement is full of blatant lies and hypocrisy.

    “‘This budget focuses, I believe, too heavily on maintaining’”

    NASA’s FY 2014 budget requests $2,730 million for SLS, MPCV, and associated ground systems development.

    It requests only $821 million for commercial crew, including DragonRider, CST-100, and Dreamchaser development.

    The budget focuses heavily on SLS and MPCV development, not commercial crew development, by a factor of more than 3-to-1.

    If the budget focuses too heavily on anything, it’s SLS and MCPV.

    “‘the fiction of privately-funded commercial launch vehicles,’”

    Atlas V and Delta IV were both developed a decade ago using private funding.

    Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 were developed this decade using private funding. Falcon Heavy is under development using only private funding.

    SpaceShipOne was developed using only private funding. SpaceShipTwo had its first powered flight yesterday using only private funding.

    “Privately-funded commercial launch vehicles” are not “fiction”.

    “‘which diverts, I think, critical resources from NASA’s goal of developing human spaceflight capabilities with the SLS’”

    “Developing human spaceflight capabilities” is not a “goal”.

    Human spaceflight capabilities to do what?

    Provide engineering welfare to Alabama?

    “‘He said that the companies that have received funded Space Act Agreements were not as accountable as they should be regarding the progress they’ve made’”

    NASA has issued 11 (eleven) 60-day progress reports on the CCDev performers. They’re available here:

    http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/document_library.html

    “or in revealing how much of their own money they have invested in these efforts.”

    SpaceX actuals for Falcon 9 development are available here:

    http://tinyurl.com/cav8zjt

    It’s infinitely more than Boeing, ATK, Dynetics, and Aerojet are contributing to SLS (zero dollars) or LockMart is contributing to MPCV (also zero dollars).

    • common sense

      “It’s infinitely more than Boeing, ATK, Dynetics, and Aerojet are contributing to SLS (zero dollars) or LockMart is contributing to MPCV (also zero dollars).”

      If I am not mistaken they may provide their “own” IRAD money which for some odd reason provides tax advantages to the companies…

      I am not sure any more though. Am I right?

      • If I am not mistaken they may provide their “own” IRAD money which for some odd reason provides tax advantages to the companies…

        It has nothing to do with taxes. IR&D is funded by the government, as part of their cost-plus contracts. it is discretionary in the sense that the companies can decide what to spend it on, but there are opportunity costs involved, and it’s illegal for them to apply it to support of existing contracts (it’s supposed to be for future work, either R&D or if they transfer the funds, to bid and proposal). But none of them are contributing any dollars off their bottom line to those programs.

        • common sense

          Yeah I remembered something like this that is why I wrote “own” in quotes.

          Now as far as ” it’s illegal for them to apply it to support of existing contracts” I can tell you that people can be very, very creative…

        • RockyMtnSpace

          “IR&D is funded by the government, as part of their cost-plus contracts …”

          As usual, wrong again. IRAD spent by Defense/NASA contractors comes out of their operating profit, which by definition comes from the “fee” part of their contracts. This is their “bottom line” as you put it. The amount they spend is provided to the USG as part of their annual disclosure as it impacts their labor and non-labor rates going forward as IRAD isn’t burdened with the full overhead rates that contract work is. You are correct that IRAD cannot be used to directly support an existing contract (as defined in the SOW) but they are legally permitted to use IRAD to perform concurrent activities if they can show that the work performed has applicability to multiple projects that are on-going or to future work associated with the contracted effort that is not part of the SOW. CS’s hint that they skirt the law in creative ways only demonstrates his/her clear lack of understanding about how these companies do business. Sadly, this is a recurring theme for CS. I would have expected more from you however.

          • common sense

            As I originally said in my post “I do not remember” the exact detail of IRAD funding. I am glad you do. Good for you.

            And no I did not say they “skirt the law”. I said they are very creative. There is a difference. If those contractors were to do something illegal they’d be in jail.

            So what is your point?

            As to my understanding how they do business… Concurrent activities? Yeah. Sure. *You* are either very naive or totally ignorant of the way these companies do business. Must be the lack of oxygen in those mountains. Perhaps?

            Recurring theme… Please point that to me.

          • As usual, wrong again. IRAD spent by Defense/NASA contractors comes out of their operating profit, which by definition comes from the “fee” part of their contracts.

            No, it doesn’t, unless the rules have changed in the last few years. It is an explicit reimbursable in a cost-plus contract, separate from profit. It cannot be distributed to stockholders, but must be spent on either R&D, or B&P.

            And it’s hilariously stupid to say that “as usual,” I’m wrong “again,” particularly absent any reference to when I’ve been wrong in the past.

            CS’s hint that they skirt the law in creative ways only demonstrates his/her clear lack of understanding about how these companies do business.

            I think that by and large, the companies obey the law and rules, to the degree they understand them. At Rockwell we had a woman whose sole job was to watch this kind of thing like a bulldog, and we had to have a very good justification for any IR&D we proposed, and she would help us restructure our proposals to make them compliant. But I don’t believe that there has never been any gaming the system by anyone. That would simply go against human nature.

    • common sense

      By the way, I just want to congratulate Virgin Galactic and their entire team. It is so nice to see this finally happening. Often people ask for visionary leaders here. Well I offer you one. Sir Richard Branson. Well done, Sir.

      • Neil Shipley

        Yes you can add Sir Richard to Elon Musk and Robert Bigelow. There are several others but not spending in the hundreds of million dollar amounts. That said, doesn’t make them any ‘less’ visionary.

        • common sense

          Why do you assume I think they are “less visionary”? I was merely pointing to someone who is one and who is successful at it. Nothing more to read in that.

          • NeilShipley

            Sorry, my reply wasn’t directed at your comment. It was made in relation to the relative amounts being spent by the parties. SpaceX, VG and Bigelow are spending relatively greater amounts of money on their enterprises than others but that doesn’t make them more visionary per se.

  • amightywind

    SpaceX actuals for Falcon 9 development are available here:

    I hope SpaceX paid for their own intellectual property. But the fact is they only partially did. But they get to reap the full profit in selling the launches back to the government. Shrewd deal making NASA. But, then again, the leadership is likely in on the skim…

    • common sense

      You were right. You are back with nonsense bs!

      Just the prose ain’t what it used to be.

      I am afraid you are going the way of the GOP… Irrelevance.

      • amightywind

        You think so? With the train wreck of Obamacare looming? With a lost decade of economic growth? With record deficit spending? Continuing debasement of our culture. With our borders flung open to terrorists? I like our chances in 2014.

        • common sense

          Healthcare train wreck does not need Obama. No one but him has ever proposed anything that makes some sense. Personally I favor single payer which works very well except for those who make a profit on others’ ailments of course. Question of ethics I guess which does not seen to be either your or the GOP’s forte. So.

          I am not going to go into the origins of our economic peril again. Read history.

          Debasement of our culture???? What is that supposed to mean? And how do you attribute it to Obama?

          Our borders flung open to terrorists??? Since when?

          But this why GOP is running towards irrelevance. Same old tired stories.

          • amightywind

            I favor single payer which works very well except for those who make a profit on others’ ailments of course.

            That would be me :) It is the profit motive that inspires people like me to develop the products we do. Without it there are no such products. Basic economics are not the liberal’s strong suit.

            • common sense

              Why am I not surprised? Note though there will be a day when you will rely on people like you for your health. At the very least you know whom you need to talk to when it happens. Right?

              However I was talking about insurance industry. Not medical device industry. These two are very different industries. One provides health care systems to those in need. The other makes money on the healthy and preys on those in need. If they could they would insure the healthy and not those in need which in may more ways than one would be considered a scam.

              Now if you associate yourself with the insurance industry could it be that you don’t really understand what you are doing?

              And the profit motive is not what inspires those who build industries. Profit only is a return on their investment and is absolutely natural and welcome. Even bankers whose sole motive is profit take their industry to the bottom as we recently saw.

              Business and profit is about services. It must be “equal” in some way. If not you profit for a little while and then go down like any parasite.

        • josh

          the republican party is on its way out. texas will turn blue within 10-20 years and then it’s game over. no more gop presidents, sorry:D

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “But they get to reap the full profit in selling the launches back to the government.”

      You oppose industry cost-sharing on launcher and capsule development (CCDev) because the companies kicking in the dollars will see some profit selling rides to the government.

      But you support the government shouldering all the costs of developing a launcher and capsule (SLS and MPCV), despite the fact that the free-riding companies will see lots of profits selling rides to the government.

      You’re an idiot.

    • DCSCA

      Windy, this has little to do w/space ops and everything to do with the broader ideology of trying to ‘privatize all things government’ (as Rand, dbn and thoir fellow travellers like Newt and Walker advocate.) Going after a soft target- the space agency- was long overdue forthem. Recall Newt advocated disbanding NASA after Apollo in a speech to his students some years back. Unfortunately NASA has been adrift so long, it’s now an easy target and is not getting any cover from Mr. Obama’s administration. He put spece in the out box at KSC in 2010. It’s a safe bet he has spent more time thikning about basketball than NASA. HRC has an interest in space and will likely bump it up on the national agenda- or be forced to react to events beyon the shores. But when you’ve got a country in ‘selective sequestration,’ cutting Meals on Wheels to the elderly then cutting deals to keep Congressmen flying on time, asking for $822 million to subsidize NewSpace millionaires appears not only foolish, but a massive waste. Proposals from Bolden don’t even matter anymore.

      • The troll wrote:

        Windy, this has little to do w/space ops and everything to do with the broader ideology of trying to ‘privatize all things government’ (as Rand, dbn and thoir fellow travellers like Newt and Walker advocate.)

        I can’t speak for the others, but never have I proposed “privatizing all things government.”

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “The troll wrote:

        ‘Windy, this has little to do w/space ops and everything to do with the broader ideology of trying to ‘privatize all things government’ (as Rand, dbn and thoir fellow travellers like Newt and Walker advocate.)’

        I can’t speak for the others, but never have I proposed ‘privatizing all things government.’”

        Same here.

        “But when you’ve got a country in ‘selective sequestration,’ cutting Meals on Wheels to the elderly then cutting deals to keep Congressmen flying on time, asking for $822 million to subsidize NewSpace millionaires appears not only foolish, but a massive waste.”

        So it’s not okay to cut Meals on Wheels to pay for $821 million to develop three capsules and associated launch vehicles.

        But it is okay to cut Meals on Wheels to pay for $2.7 billion (with a “b”) to develop one capsule and launch vehicle?

        You’re as big an idiot as AMightyFlatulence.

    • Neil Shipley

      That’s libel. Better keep posting under AMW.

    • Mader

      I hope SpaceX paid for their own intellectual property. But the fact is they only partially did.
      I see baseless accusation, mud slinging and lies never go out of fashion.

  • DCSCA

    “NASA announced it had extended a deal with the Russian space agency Roscosmos to provide crew transportation services to and from the International Space Station. The deal covers bringing six astronauts up to the ISS in 2016 and rescue and return services through 2017. The price: $424 million…”

    Which is a wiser expenditure than subsidizing fledgling commercial crew projects w/taxpayer monies denied by private capital markets to access a doomed space platform w/low to no ROI to show at the latest request- $822 million for next year alone– nearly double the price for existing access via Soyuz for several years out. Again, to a doomed space platform- a Cold War relic- that has failed to deliver anything close to justifying its $100 billion expense and multi billion/yr operating costs. Sustaining a relic of Cold War planning from an era long over is just plain lousy policy. The IS has no relevence to 21st Century U.S. HSF planning at all.

    “If we do not get $822 million in the 2014 budget as requested by the President, it will be my unfortunate.” says Project Lasso champion Bolden.

    Except it ‘s not.

    The Peter Principle at work. Fire him. Jettison Garver as well. Purge the commercialist factions out of NASA. And ‘retire’ shuttle era management deadwood and planners as well.

    ““This budget focuses, I believe, too heavily on maintaining the fiction of privately-funded commercial launch vehicles, which diverts, I think, critical resources from NASA’s goal of developing human spaceflight capabilities with the SLS,” [said Senator Shelby] in his opening statement.” Shelby is right; fiction it is– promises of ‘things to come’ – a workk of science fiction as well- from NewSpace which has failed to even atetmpt to fly anyone ino LEO and return them safely yet seeks parody w/government space ops through false equivalwency.

    “It requests only $821 million for commercial crew, including DragonRider, CST-100, and Dreamchaser development.” spins NewSpace shill dbn/Tommy.

    Only? You spend other people’s money quite freely, dbn, don’t you- especially to finance a select few at the expense of the many, denied financing from private capital markets which see the low to no ROI of the folly that is NewSpace firms. Firms which, again, have failed to even attempt to launch anybody into and get them bak from LEO as of May, 2013.

    Americans learned from the Wall St.,/bank bailouts and the auto mess as well. SLS/MPCV- a United States government space project of scale, is a smarter, long term investment into a geo=political strategy which provides jobs as well for the U.S. than subsidizing a fleet of toy spaceships for millionmaire space cadets that will have no place to fly once the ISS is in the ocean a decade or so from now. NewSpace condemns HSF to more decades of going in circles, no place, fast.

    The Soyuz deal provides access into 2017 for half the expense of one year of commercial crew subsidies.

    A $822 million deal w/the Russians could have extended crew access through the rest of the decade– and it is a low number of U.S. personnel to fly up there anyway as the ‘orbiting zombie’ maintains a crew of six, going in circles, no place fast, returning little to justify the massive expense of keeping up appearences on a doomed space platform, a Cold War relic representing 20th century planning from an era long over.

    Loft crews on Soyuz to the dinosaur for the rest of the decade then splash this Cold War turkey; crater Project Lasso; articulate a rationale for U.S. HJSF ops in the 21st century then press on back to Luna w/government space projects of scale, then out to Mars, by theend of the century, if the robots reprt back it is even worth the trip. That’s your spaceprogram for the next 75 years. LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles, no where, fast.

    • Mader

      NewSpace which has failed to even atetmpt to fly anyone ino LEO and return them safely
      It seems in your little pink reality and on your own Happy Planet NewSpace already tried to actually launch people and failed spectactularly, resulting in LOM or even LOC.

      This is only way to understand that sentence as not most disguisting piece of lying rethoric that I seen in long time.

    • mt noise

      Please tell us what your concept of a space program, destination, etc should be. You like to tear everything else down, except for catching rides with the Russians, so please enlighten us with your wisdom.

      • common sense

        Please. Don’t encourage him. You will only get Apollo this and Apollo that. And tick-tock and except it is not and.. and… Arrgghh Please.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson from FL is illustrative of the problems facing the Dems, they have no clear plan, are stuck in trying to compromise and are generally feckless (and this goes for The President as well)

    Shelby is illustrative of the GOP. Reality means nothing

    All the dimes and nickles of commercial crew and cargo could move to Orion and SLS and nothing would change. the programs would still be subject to no schedule, incompetently managed and each year slip into the future.

    If one believe the Testament the Governor of Palestine asked Jesus “what is truth” and to some extent that is the mantra of every politician. But in the end the GOP has in this century become a party of either liars or people who simply cannot deal with reality…ie faith based.

    Shelby mouths words, cut waste, private enterprise etc…but in the end his actions are the bedrock of teh GOP …funnel money to corporations and demand little from them

    10 years ago Bush stood on The Babe and declared mission accomplished even as Iraq descended into chaos. Griffin lies about Cx, Romney bought “Unskewed polls”… Shelby is just playing the final cards as the GOP descends into meaninglessness.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Casey Stedman

    DCSCA, I would like to help remind you that in order to reach BEO or Luna one must first be able achieve orbit. Even Low-Earth Orbit..

    You have your opinion and you are entitled to it, but your disparaging remarks concerning the COTS and CCiCap partners leaves out some fundamental points.

    No Commercial Crew company has attemptes to fly astronauts yet (either federal employees, military personnel, nor company represenatives) because they are all still Under Development. Not one of these companies will ever launch a human on a rocket before its ready. They are all too well aware that a failure would be very bad for future business with Uncle Sam. So it is particularly near-sighted to argue against Newspace (and make generalizations) that the industry has failed because it has delivered, YET.

    I’m aware of the history of ISS and its evolution from Freedom. But to refer to it as a “cold war relic” is like saying the F-22 will be ineffective in this century because it was designed in the last. The F-22 remains the most advanced fighter currently fielded operationally, and ISS is the only space station at all. You may not appreciate the research conducted there. But NASA, Roscosmos, JAXA, and the ESA do.

    SLS has a viable mission and the U.S. should have a heavy lift option. Orion has a defined role as part of the BEO archtecture described in “The Flexible Path”. But neither are ready to fly. And as you’ve pointed out regarding SpaceX and the CCiCap companies too, neither has flown carrying astronauts.

    • “the U.S. should have a heavy lift option”
      Even if true (and there are NASA, industry and university studies to the contrary) that does not make SLS a viable heavy lift option. As far as economic viability alone is concerned, the Booz-Allen-Hamilton report (commissioned by NASA) by itself pretty well quashes any assertions of SLS’s future practical implementation. That doesn’t even count the numerous reports that compare SLS directly to alternatives and which say SLS just doesn’t hack it.

  • Arnold F. Theisen

    DCSCA + AMW must be pseudonyms for Gaitano. Is the only explanation I can come up with that allows for such apparent ignorance and deliberate refusal to believe facts as posted by others who can point to real data for support. And, for the apparent hatred of “commercial space”.
    NASA spent a lot to “launch” Ares1-X (or Ares-zero; a better fitting designation). Maybe as much as NASA has “given” SpaceX to produce a rocket AND a vehicle that has actually docked (berthed) with the ISS three times now with real cargo. Some of that cargo requires life support conditions that would also keep a human alive. Note that before the air locks are opened between ISS and Dragon, the connections are checked for leaks. They do NOT have to do a complete pressurization of the capsule, nor even a partial pressurization as is required when a Soyuz docks. All that is needed for humans to ride essentially the same vehicle is seats, and a few other items inside for communication and control. Plus, of course, the “escape” capability; which, BTW, will be installed on the new model Dragon before the cargo contract is completed.
    Another point; yes, SpaceX received funds from the Air Force and DARPA in the development of the Falcon 1. Similar monies have been awarded to many, many companies to help them develop products that the US Government believes could be of use to them. The range of the applications of these products is huge; only a small portion being applicable to space or rockets. I’ve been involved with the funding source called SBIRs myself, and I know for a fact that thousands of small businesses (check with the SBA to see the definition of those words) survive by writing applications and receiving funding for SBIRs. It is common practice.
    When you bought your home you may have gotten a Govermnent backed loan, and the interest on your mortgage is tax deductible. Are you willing to give up that “welfare” when Government stops funding “commercial space”?

    • BRC

      “SpaceX to produce a rocket AND a vehicle that has actually docked (berthed) with the ISS three times now with real cargo.”

      They didn’t just do only that. In additional an fact, SpaceX has also produced a vehicle that has actually un-docked from the ISS and returned to earth with real (and very substantial) cargo. The last mission saw it splash-down and be recovered with over 3000 lbs of RETURN-payload.

      Outside of the lamented Shuttle, that is something that no other space craft has ever done; not Soyuz, and certainly not Progress (let alone the ATV or HTV)

    • Mader

      No, Gateano have very distinct and unnimstakable style. DCSCA and AMW are not him.

    • josh

      nah, as far as i know, windy is a guy who is desperate not to lose his job with atk, the crony company. sometimes, the explanation is quite simple…

  • Agreed, DCSCA;….America has really gotten itself in a trap, with the ISS. Now New Space will never let it go, because it is its bread & butter; without which it would have no definable purpose. Think about it in brief: the United States stops government human space projects, stops investing in having any possible vehicles of its own, and yields the ground to commercial entrepreneurs. The said entrepreneurs are handed the giddy opportunity to now be the only ones practicing the business of human spaceflight. But the only arena in which they’d ever be able to make a profit, is launching crewmen, equipment, & millionaire space tourists to the ISS. Now, America has no other route to go, in its space program future, than to keep the ISS or some second “ISS-2″ equivalent in LEO indefinitely, for the next ten, fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years. Just what are we really accomplishing with space stations in LEO?? The ISS is a lousy training ground for dealing with dusty & regolith-ladened environments! It’s a lousy preparation for dealing with deep space operations, involving lander-vehicles! Do we really have to sacrifice so much potential at the altar, in order to please the space entrepreneurs—–getting them their LEO monopoly & their LEO-only profits??!

    • “America has really gotten itself in a trap, with the ISS.”
      Should read:
      “America has really gotten itself in a trap, with the SLS.”
      There. Fixed that for you.

    • Arnold F. Theisen

      “Now New Space will never let it(the ISS) go”

      They shouldn’t let it go. They should buy it when the Gummit wants to dump it into the Sea in 2020!

      Start contacting your Congressional Reps to make NASA follow the same rules it, and all other government agencies use for almost all “surplus” materials; put it up for auction! // ¢¢ on the $ //

      I know, I worked for the Gummit for years and as a Project Chief was required to fill out a lot of paperwork for this very purpose. Where I worked that duty was taken away from Project Chiefs because all property was dumped on the Branch Chiefs.

      [ Can you imagine having responsibility for all the stuff from maybe a dozen or more research projects on your own property list? Our Branch had a lot of expensive research equipment, not to mention office equipment etc. which was worth, I don't know, maybe 100's of millions of dollars. All the personal responsibility of one person. If anything was lost or broken, they (the next tier of management up) could hold you accountable and even take it out of your pay. Too bad that kind of responsibility isn't passed all the way up to Congress! ]
      {Oh yeah, nothing the Gummit “owns” is insured either.}

    • pathfinder-01

      “. Just what are we really accomplishing with space stations in LEO??”

      Learning to live and work in space. Something that get harder and harder to do the further and further you go away from earth. There is a reason why crews have only spent at most 3 days on the moon. It is far cheaper and easier to send people and supplies to LEO than to the moon.

  • One of the amusing aspects of the right-wing trolls posting on this forum is that they bash the commercial space program, yet it is undeniably a creation of the Bush Administration.

    I wrote this article in March to document the very long history of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office — proposed, created, and funded by the Bush administration:

    “The Origins of Commercial Space”

    In fact, I found one Bush-era document which showed they planned to begin commercial crew in 2009, but of course that would be up to the next administration. The next administration liked the idea and funded it.

    • BRC

      “… undeniably a creation of the Bush Administration”

      While I echo your sentiment, it was actually not Bush, but Reagan — The Big Man himself, the great beloved icon of the GOP (or they so claim, unless it’s politically inconvenient — like in this case). It was The Gipper who signed the Commercial Space Launch Act in 1984:
      “I am pleased to sign into law H.R. 3942, the Commercial Space Launch Act. One of the important objectives of my administration has been, and will continue to be, the encouragement of the private sector in commercial space endeavors. Fragmentation and shared authority had unnecessarily complicated the process of approving activities in space. Enactment of this legislation is a milestone in our efforts to address the need of private companies interested in launching payloads to have ready access to space. This administration views facilitation of the commercial development of expendable launch vehicles as an important component of America’s space transportation program. We expect that a healthy ELV industry, as a complement to the Government’s space transportation system, will produce a stronger, more efficient launch capability for the United States that will contribute to continued American leadership in space.”

      The rest of his statement is found on:
      http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=39335

      • BRC wrote:

        While I echo your sentiment, it was actually not Bush, but Reagan — The Big Man himself, the great beloved icon of the GOP (or they so claim, unless it’s politically inconvenient — like in this case). It was The Gipper who signed the Commercial Space Launch Act in 1984.

        I know that. I was referring to the modern C3PO office, which came out of the Aldridge Commission report, which was directed by Bush 43.

        Commercial space would have been much further along in the 1980s if not for the Challenger accident. NASA was already flying commercial experiments via McDonnell-Douglas and had plans to expand that program, but after Challenger NASA didn’t want to fly civilians any more.

    • One of the amusing aspects of the right-wing trolls posting on this forum is that they bash the commercial space program, yet it is undeniably a creation of the Bush Administration.

      To the degree that that phrase makes any sense (and it rarely does), the only “right-wing” troll is Abreakingwind. The others don’t seem to have any coherent political philosophy, except one likes Big Rockets and the other likes “projects of scale” (that sounds more left wing than right, to me, but what do I know?). I know that it’s hard to understand for some (particularly Oler), but it is in fact possible to discuss space policy without throwing out meaningless terms like “right-wing” and “neocon.”

      • common sense

        A troll is a troll.

        As for project of scale I believe fascists are particularly fond of those. Is that to say that fascism is left wing? I don’t think so but I don’t think it matters here.

        On the other hand I think the common denominator of said trolls is the notion of grandeur and prestige and enormous phallic symbols. Not necessarily what to do with those. So long it is big, real big, makes a lot of noise and flames they will be happy.

        Trolls are simple, (not so) happy creatures but fairly low maintenance to appease their souls: Their goals are not that difficult to achieve. They just cost a lot of money (which goes well with big, noise and flames). And it makes the goal un-achievable which even more so desirable. Remember that girl who was cheerleader? Could not get her. Darn was she beautiful. Of course had I asked I would have known if I had a chance but I did not…

        Anywho.

    • DCSCA

      One of the amusing aspects of the right-wing trolls posting on this forum is that they bash the commercial space program, yet it is undeniably a creation of the Bush Administration.

      That poison was injected into the space agency by the Reaganites three decades ago when pushung shuttle to be a ‘profit center, along with other government services. After three deades, that ideology has been soundly rejected and effective marginalized by the electorate. Purging remaining pockets of it out of government is mop up work. and unfortunately, NASA has a faction remaining.

  • DCSCA

    “If we do not get $822 million in the 2014 budget as requested by the President, it will be my unfortunate duty to advise the Congress and the President that we probably will not make 2017 for the availability of an American capability to get our astronauts to space, and I will have to tell you that I’m going to have to come back and ask for authorization to once again pay the Russians to take our crews to space.” say Bolden.

    What Bolden fails to grasp is that commiting to leasing rides on a yet to even carry crews, commercial spacecraft does not constitute an ‘American’ capablility. corporations ow no alliegence to any nation state. The objective is not to facilitate commercial launches from the U.S. to the ISS but to get the crew up there to do do the nebulous “research”– such as it is. Where they’re launched from is irrelevant.

    Commercial LEO HSF ops and ISS ops are dead enders, anyway. Better to rent a ride on a reliable and operational system for the rest of the decade to a than waste dwindling government resources developing a dead end redeundancy to a dead end project reprsenting past planning from an era long over and doomed to a Pacific grave.

    • Coastal Ron

      DCSCA whined:

      What Bolden fails to grasp is that commiting to leasing rides on a yet to even carry crews, commercial spacecraft does not constitute an ‘American’ capablility.

      More American than buying rides from Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

      At least with American companies the tax money is more likely to stay in America. Right now we’re funding Putin’s war against civil liberties and the rule of law in Russia.

      Apparently you think that’s a good thing? How weird.

      • DCSCA

        Ron, the ‘I’ in ‘ISS’ doesn’t stand for ‘Ivan’ but ‘International..’ THe Cold War is over; been in th history books well over two decades. The objective is to fulfill obligations and get ‘research’ crew to the ISS as the project inevitably spirals down to its fiscal an watery end. The ISS will end just as shuttle did. The immediate objective is not to establish ‘launch capabilities’ to it from the U.S. but to get the ‘rsearchers’ up to it. It doesn’t matter where they are launched from. Getting them on orbit to do the infamous, dubious, nebulous ‘research’ you keep crowing about is all that matters.

        • JimNobles

          -
          The ISS will end just as shuttle did

          I’ll say it again. Not only are they looking for ways to extend the life of ISS as long as possible they are also looking at new ways and technologies to extend the capacity of the orbital facility and those additional facilities to come after.

          Apparently the people who are exploring space, NASA, ESA, the Russian Space Agency, and etc., are convinced that space stations are part of space exploration.

          You’re not really all that in to actual manned space exploration and the movement of people into the solar system are you? I suppose that could be the reason you don’t understand about space stations, streamlining of operations, economical use of resources, and stuff like that. You just had a program you liked and it went away and you got upset. Well, everyone can’t be a true Space Cadet.

          • DCSCA

            “Not only are they looking for ways to extend the life of ISS as long as possible…” asays Jim.

            “Looking for ways to extend?” Good grief, Jim, that’s a bureaucratic credo.

            The Cold War era, political rationale for the ISS concept has been fulfilled. Anything else you’re ‘looking for’ is a fig leaf pasted on it at taxpayers expense tapping dwindlnig resources in an era of flat budgets. The ‘orbitigg zombie’ has a finite life and is destined to rest next to Mir on the floor of the Pacific. Had the facility been firmly anchored to the floor of Luna’s Ocean of Storms rather than sailing along in LEO, abandining it would have been much less likely. As with the old Kennedy-irish adage of tossing the hat over the wall. And in today’s reality, it would have been an easier sell to subsidize commercial development to service a lunar outpost along side government ops for exploitation and exploration. From a political POV, the ISS has served its purpose. It is a Cold War relic, represent5ing past planning from the 20th century- an era long over. And the irony is, Garver, in her lobbyist/NSS days, was a champion of it over a return to Luna. Cut the losses, declare mission accomplished and let it splash. Unles you’re determined to keep gonig in circles, no place fast for decades to come. And we’ve been doing that since the Skylab/Salyut days for forty years already.

      • DCSCA

        At least with American companies the tax money is more likely to stay in America.

        =blink= Gee, Ron, you should let the accountants at Exxon know that. Mr. Romney would be amused by that assertion as well whilwe visiting his money in the Caymens.

    • American capability or Russian, irrelevant? It’s not irrelevant to send half a billion dollars to one of our major competitors on the world stage (who owns the minerals under the Arctic Ocean?) Military confrontation is not that unlikely, in which case Roscosmos goes away and ISS falls. Irrelevant, really?

      “…corporations ow no allegiance to any nation state.” Roscosmos’ allegiance is clear, and they can be relied upon to act upon their allegiance, as soon as Putin says stop launching Americans, it’s over. How long will Vlad stay our friend? Long enough to build and fly those two SLS missions we can’t afford in the 2020s?

      “Commercial LEO HSF ops and ISS ops are dead enders…” Low cost access to space will never be a dead-ender. High cost access to space already is…the list of cut NASA programs due to high cost space access is wrenching. How much will we not do to keep pricing artificially high? LEO is the front porch to everything else we’ll want to do.

      Better to develop cost effective ways to get Americans into space and develop American industry as the COTS and CCDEV do than waste dwindling NASA resources on Russian launches that do nothing toward developing either here in the USA.

    • “What Bolden fails to grasp is that commiting to leasing rides on a yet to even carry crews, commercial spacecraft does not constitute an ‘American’ capablility. corporations ow no alliegence to any nation state.”

      But US corporations are subject to US laws, such as ITAR…

      And are you suggesting that SLS contractors have more of this strange ‘allegiance?’ Or are they also simply doing what they’re paid to do, for as long as they’re paid to do it, whether it’s sound policy or not?

      “Better to rent a ride on a reliable and operational system for the rest of the decade…”

      And who is that? Oh. Right. Someone who obviously does owe us ‘allegiance.’ Someone who has shown they’ll charge what the market will bear, in the absence of competition. Someone who has no interest in seeing US development of human commercial markets beyond ISS, as their only operational vehicle could never cut it in that non-monopoly market.

    • Mader

      commercial spacecraft does not constitute an ‘American’ capablility. corporations ow no alliegence to any nation state.
      Man, you BS nonsense never, ever ends. Commercial company on amercian soil certainly DOES HAVE allegiances – or at least restrictions (they are supposed to operate under USA law). Do you even know what ITAR is? These four letters alone prove your post is nonsensical.

      Ok, enough feeding troll for today. Next time I have to get those cyanide-laden breadcrumbs…

  • Arnold F. Theisen

    Just in case this sentiment gets lost in the stream above, I repeat:

    “Now New Space will never let it(the ISS) go”

    They shouldn’t let it go. They should buy it when the Gummit wants to dump it into the Sea in 2020!

    Start contacting your Congressional Reps to make NASA follow the same rules it, and all other government agencies use for almost all “surplus” materials; put it up for auction! // ¢¢ on the $ //

    • common sense

      There are so many ways we could use the ISS in the future. After all it might be the basis for an infrastructure for BEO exploration, a way point of sorts to the Moon, NEO, Mars and beyond. What if you need to quarantine people because they have been exposed to the elusive life form they finally found on Mars? It can be used to test prototypes of all sort. Whether the commercials do it or the government or preferably both I would rather not dump it in the ocean unless there is a major unavoidable reason which I cannot see now. We should learn how to evolve it. We should learn how to make it bigger possibly with Bigelow attachments. Bring new propulsion systems that might help keep it up for longer periods of time. Bring a large enough inflatable module for more science with more people. Move it if we need to. Of course there is always the fact that it is international and probably with a host of idiotic requirements for use which might also hinder the idea of a sale in any form. Sometimes governments destroy properties rather than sell it and I don’t know if this would be one such case for whatever reason. Anyway. The whole idea is to jump start a market and if the ISS is the first anchor to this market it would be utterly stupid to get rid of it.

      • DCSCA

        “There are so many ways we could use the ISS in the future.” pitches NewSpacer CS.

        Given it’s $100 billion expense and multi-billion dollar annual operating costs, you’d do better to pitch a rationale for just one way to use it in the now, instead. Because it ain’t producin’ anything close to justify that expenditure in a post-Cold War world.

        • common sense

          In what you refer I did not pitch a “rationale”. A rationale to what? I was merely expressing the desire to see expended uses of the ISS.

          On occasion typos (to say it mildly) make it difficult to understand you. On other occasions your reasoning is just plain mysterious. Which makes me wonder if you are able to reason or even simply read.

          Whatever.

          • DCSCA

            “There are so many ways we could use the ISS in the future.” insists CS.

            So your spin is once operational, figure out what to do with it.

            That is a superb pitch for SLS/MPCV. Glad you’re onboard with it.

            • common sense

              Boy are you obtuse.

              Guess what. The ISS was built for… hold on… ready? Yes?… geopolitical reasons at the end of the Cold War. Call it appeasement if you will. And that was that and that was then.

              Fast forward to the 21st Century. ISS is operational and has its uses that are in part hindered by the high labor intensive maintenance and the wrong number of crew on board. The number of crew will be fixed once the commercial operators are finally left free to service crew but not by the use of your old friend Soyuz. And again the ISS *is* operational. And that is that. And that is today.

              This being said. There is also a future. Something related to better things to come. I am merely offering that there is a future to the ISS, one that seems to escape you unfortunately. One where ISS might be used as a way point to the Moon for example. Of course it is a future that does not necessarily rely upon a monster idiotic purposeless rocket nor upon a monster idiotic purposeless capsule. Not to mention unaffordable. Remember the cheerleader example – wink wink.

              Now and then. Of course if you stay stuck in the past of the ISS in the same manner you stay stuck in the past with Apollo then the meaning of the word “future” certainly escapes you.

        • JimNobles

          -
          Because it ain’t producin’ anything close to justify that expenditure in a post-Cold War world.

          I don’t know. Mircorp was going to buy Mir rather than seeing it splashed. They thought they could do something with it. But alas, the U.S. government put a halt to that idea.

          It would be interesting to see if some sort of consortium might come together and try to work a deal for the ISS if it actually seems like the partners are going to walk away from it. There should be plenty of commercial transportation available by then.

          I’m not pushing the idea. I’m just noting that it has precedent.

        • JimNobles

          -
          Because it ain’t producin’ anything close to justify that expenditure in a post-Cold War world.

          Isn’t it a “project of scale” and an American asset in “geo-politics”? I believe, going by the rhetoric you’ve exposed us to all so often, if might actually may be.

      • E.P Grondine

        Hi CS –

        I wonder if the ISS, or at least some of its prime systems, could be moved to lunar orbit after its develiomnent and use in Earth orbit? Are there are low impulse, long flight time, low cost transfer trajctories available to do that?

        If there are, ISS could serve as a way station and abort point.

        • pathfinder-01

          ISS is built for the LEO environment. It can’t be moved from LEO, however it’s systems like life support are generally what one needs if you plan to do anything other than Apollo stunts in space.

          • E.P. Grondine

            Okay, a radiation shelter would have to be added. I can’t see any other constraint, but then I am not as good as I used to be. So are you real real sure about that “can’t” part?

            • Justin Kugler

              Yes, the fuel requirements and structural strain would be prohibitive. Even doing a plane change is pretty much out of the question without advanced propulsion systems.

              • BRC

                “the fuel requirements and structural strain would be prohibitive.”

                I think you’ve answered the first sentence with the second one… or at least a variation of “…advanced propulsion systems.” Or perhaps it should be “state-of-art propulsion systems.”

                No, I’m not talking about the VASMIR; although it’s getting along and ought to be usable enough in the timeframe we’re contemplating such a move over.

                Ever hear of Ion propulsion? We’ve actually been using this mode for years (decades even, for the Russians), even had spacecraft break orbit with it (after a long, slow build up). This is a seriously gradual, gentle, bored-to-tears push that may take several months to move the facility (after it’s been rad-hardened, of course; and pre-stocked with supplies). I sincerely doubt the ISS would even notice the strain, even if they don’t pre-fold its large antennas or solar arrays.

                Whether or not risk-adverse NASA would want astronauts aboard for the ride is a guess. But I’m sure the Russians would salivate at the chance, maybe also the Japanese and Europeans.

              • Justin Kugler

                VASIMR isn’t suitable for the ISS, either, without a complete overhaul of the solar array system. There isn’t enough power for continuous operations.

                And, yes, I’m well aware of ion propulsion. You’re still talking about developing and building an entirely new propulsion module with enough fuel to make a significant delta-v for a very large system that was not designed to be moved. It’s not a trivial problem to solve.

                I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the trades showed it to be less expensive to just build a new outpost in lunar orbit using inflatable modules.

              • I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the trades showed it to be less expensive to just build a new outpost in lunar orbit using inflatable modules.

                I’d be shocked if it came out the other way.

            • ISS thermal control is designed around the assumption that it will be in earth’s shadow a little less than half the time. That would have to be addressed.

              And a high-thrust orbital departure is impossible for that structure. A low-thrust electric rocket might be used, but that means weeks or more of gradually spiraling out from LEO…with a lot of time spent within the VanAllen belts, rather than cutting quickly across them, like most other deep space departures. Not good for crew, or a lot of the electronics…

              Then there’s the re-supply issue…ISS wasn’t designed for that much autonomy.

              • Justin Kugler

                Yeah, it would be a logistical nightmare trying to maintain visiting vehicle traffic and crew rotations during the transition – with quickly diminishing returns.

                Even with the planned year-long missions, the crew would easily exceed the allowable radiation exposure during the flight through the Belts. None of the partners would subject the crew to that risk.

        • common sense

          I do not know the correct answer to your questions but I believe it is worth investigating and would probably not cost all that much to figure.

          But it does not need to be in lunar orbit to perform as a way point. An abort point in lunar orbit? I am not sure why you’d need one there.

          Even as a way point it is not all that clear. What would be the purpose? To shuttle crew back and forth to Earth and from ISS away and back. When on your way back to the ISS you will need to decelerate and without the proper study it is not clear that the Thermal Protection System would provide any savings. The direct entry provides for high heat rates and moderate heat loads. The high heat rates means you need something exotic such as PICA or AVCOAT or something else. The high heat loads means you need a lot of it hence added mass. Powered deceleration? Well. If you have refuel in space available that might work. I would assume you need to assemble your space vehicle in orbit…

          Anyway this is all speculation.

          What you need first and foremost is proper requirements to the mission. Then you design from there. And the design might not close. Therefore you may need a Plan B to achieve your mission. Constellation was a Plan A-only approach and the design does not close, see how many redesign they are going through with the launchers and the capsule. The design may never ever close. And this is why you need Plan B. But if your most idiotic immovable requirements is to use shuttle derived components it may just never close. No matter how much money you throw at it. (Same for DIRECT or Shuttle C… In case you ask).

          • Guest

            If the ‘program’ is the development of space, then if you are designing for a specific mission, you are making a HUGE mistake right out of the gate. Sorry.

            ‘Systems engineers’ just don’t get ‘engineering science’.

            • common sense

              First I am not a System Engineer.

              Second Engineering Science has nothing to do with the “development of space”. It’s only part of it.

              Furthermore who is to say that the “development of space” is not *the* mission?

              Tunnel vision and know-it-all people is what is actually killing all the efforts to actually develop space.

              What we need is people who have an overall understanding of the requirements to develop space including, but not limited to, science, engineering, business, medicine. We do not fetish missions or fetish vehicles or self-proclaimed next-von-Braun or any of that nonsense.

              • Guest

                Go ahead, set all the requirements you want. Reality doesn’t care. And if you think you know what reality is, good luck with that. It’s people who THINK they have a good understanding of the ‘requirements’ of a ‘mission’ or even what the mission or program should be, who are the root cause of the high cost of spaceflight, and the large number of extremely valuable and useful low cost missions that fail to fly.

              • common sense

                “Go ahead, set all the requirements you want. Reality doesn’t care. And if you think you know what reality is, good luck with that. It’s people who THINK they have a good understanding of the ‘requirements’ of a ‘mission’ or even what the mission or program should be, who are the root cause of the high cost of spaceflight, and the large number of extremely valuable and useful low cost missions that fail to fly.”

                I would hope you’d know by now that what was most damaging to Constellation was the lack of proper handling of requirements. Same for SLS/MPCV. Of course and as we all know the more things change the more they stay the same.

                Out of curiosity. How many space vehicle designs have you been part of? Vehicles that have successfully flown of course. Not PowerPoints. What is your reference to say that requirements are root of the failure of any program. Do you realize how inane this statement is?

              • Guest

                As insane as the never ending rocket and capsule project? It has already been established that Constellation and SLS/MPCV are a requirements failure. We did requirements fifty years ago. Rockets do not require requirements anymore, they require innovation and cost reduction.

                Flying past an asteroid was not a requirement of Chang’e 1. The rocket it flew on was not designed specifically to launch Chang’e 1.

                I believe you are neither a systems engineer nor a scientist.

              • common sense

                “As insane as the never ending rocket and capsule project?”

                Inane I said, not insane.

                “It has already been established that Constellation and SLS/MPCV are a requirements failure. We did requirements fifty years ago. Rockets do not require requirements anymore, they require innovation and cost reduction.”

                Inane yet again. Cost is part of requirements.

                “Flying past an asteroid was not a requirement of Chang’e 1. The rocket it flew on was not designed specifically to launch Chang’e 1.”

                What the heck is that supposed to mean? The rocket flew because the payload was within the allowable envelope defined by… guess what… requirements.

                “I believe you are neither a systems engineer nor a scientist.”

                Coming from someone who sent a failed F9/SLS proposal to NIAC????

                Sure.

              • Guest

                First of all, proposals don’t fail. Ever. The rest of it is so far above your head with a barely audible wooshing sound that it’s not productive to respond to you anymore. I come here to have discussions, not to listen to be bunch of disappointed space cadets lament about things that they are unable or unwilling to actively try to change however they can.

                Requirements (whatever that means) is certainly a worthy subject of discussion, but you aren’t the person to discuss it with because you simply are not flexible enough. Rigid authoritarian comes to mind. Physical requirements like mass, enthalpy, efficiency etc are easily simulated nowadays, and nobody in their right mind uses powerpoints. So applying requirements to physics and engineering quantities is a pretty pointless exercise in the quantifiable world of continuous improvement. But being the absolutist you are you think requirements are static quantities. Hence, the immediate problem, that you apparently aren’t willing to open your mind to enough to solve.

              • common sense

                Well my friend, your proposal failed to attract NASA because you did not understand the requirements to the NIAC RFP. But you can debate with yourself all you want.

                Above my head? Yep you’re right. I can’t wait to see your effort next year to propose the same thing to NIAC. Don’t forget to tell them they don’t understand what requirements are and that they are inflexible and that… Well don’t forget. See how it goes.

                I wonder if there is a funny category in the world of trolls. Funny troll? I like the sound of it.

              • Mader

                Yes, funny trolls exists. I meet them all the time in places that I regularly haunt.

              • Guest

                Well my friend, your proposal failed to attract NASA because you did not understand the requirements to the NIAC RFP.

                All this statement demonstrates is that you are the kind of individual who sets requirements for two page white papers on TRL 1 technology.

                I can’t wait to see your effort next year to propose the same thing to NIAC.

                I’m more interested in seeing their ‘requirements’ for 2014 NIAC Phase 1 white paper submissions. Will they demand times roman fonts? Will they reject the white paper if I use 3/4″ boundaries? Oh, the horror.

        • Mader

          Forget about it. It cannot be done.

  • Justin Kugler

    The simple fact of the matter is that the ISS is the only permanent crewed asset we have in space right now. It’s the only thing holding the human space flight enterprise together because it satisfies the political need for an international high-tech partnership outside of military action, the engineering need to develop sustainable technologies for BEO exploration, and the economic need for a platform to develop space-based industries through the National Laboratory.

    You may disagree with how we got to this point, but let’s not be ignorant of the reality. Without the ISS, we’d have nothing. SLS/MPCV is subject to the same fatal flaws in program management, lack of resources, and lack of purpose that doomed Constellation. We couldn’t afford Constellation under a flat budget, so it’s folly to think we can magically build missions to the Moon and Mars by building a slightly different rocket/capsule combination under the same constraints.

    Commercial Cargo and Commercial Crew are not about privatizing a government function. They are about developing transportation systems with lower life-cycle costs such that NASA can get away from the vicious circle of spending more of its limited resources on LEO access than the things and people that go to orbit. Yes, those launchers and vehicles are likely to eventually play a role in future private ventures that are not subject to NASA requirements, but the benefit to NASA is breaking sole-source dependencies and reducing access costs so that the nation can build true exploration capabilities.

    And, yes, those companies will make a profit on their services. So what? So will the cost-plus contractors working on SLS/MPCV that won’t fly anyone, if ever, until long after the commercial crew vehicles have their first flight.

    What Senator Shelby does not seem to understand is that there is no point in building a lift capability if you can’t afford to actually use it. He and his colleagues need to pay attention to the NRC Committee on Human Spaceflight, listen to their recommendations for a human exploration program worthy of a national investment, and let NASA make the right technical decisions to execute such a program within a flat budget. If jobs in Alabama must be protected, then we’ll have them take the lead on advanced propulsion systems (because I seriously doubt we’re going to Mars with chemical propulsion).

  • John Bensted

    Richard Shelby may be a Republican but he is no champion of free enterprise. He is a RINO. The “fiction of privately-funded commercial launch vehicles” …. fiction? Really senator are you blind to reality of SpaceX and its Dragon spacecraft … flight proven I might add and initially developed with private funds … THAT’S why it’s flying now and Orion is still a skeletal figure with micro-fractures!!! If you really want to get America back into space with crewed vehicles the fasted route IS the Dragon. But, of course the Senate Launch System is your baby and you are bringing home the bacon. SLS is cobbled together with old technology … hell it should be flying now.

    This is why we must somehow get politics out of space and out of science.

  • Arnold Theisen

    Thanks Justin for getting the conversation back on track. And John, for pointing out some more realities. I’ve been amused by reading the back and forth above, though it’s a shame that we space enthusiasts can’t come together no matter for whom we last voted. I just hate to see a huge project, paid for mostly by US taxpayers, thrown away because it’s not helping politicians to get re-elected very much anymore.
    There are large numbers of people, who vote (some might say unfortunately), and aren’t inspired by anything past the next commercial break. They also helped pay for the station, but somehow think it cost them, individually, far more than it actually did.
    For those who argue that it’s no longer good for anything, and never was anyway, I disagree completely. Politicians always have their knives handy for their opponents, and sometimes their supposed friends, whether we’re talking domestic or international politics. However, on the ISS we may have more than just the appearance of cooperation. That’s worth a LOT.
    As for the future, we WILL move beyond LEO. People with vision WILL see that the best way to do that is with smaller steps. The long distance spaceships will be best built in space, not at the bottom of our huge gravity well because it will be far, far cheaper! The ISS will be a great place to build the beginnings of a “Space Dock”, especially when it has been expanded with Bigelow modules as was pointed above. These will be the construction quarters for the laborers to get the needed rest between shifts. During assembly of the ISS it was repeatedly pointed out that doing construction in space is much more strenuous than doing the same tasks on Mother Earth. Ask an apprentice steel worker how fatigued they are/were after a day on steel. I’ve had a taste of it and I know.

  • Scott Rankine

    This is disgraceful pork barrel politics at its worse. Lets get real people. The SLS is a ‘rocket to nowhere’ that will never fly. Its a total white elephant along with the Orion project – both are dead ends. NASA needs to accelerate rather than put the breaks on private sector commercial crew launch capabilities. Traditional aerospace contractors like Boeing are very nervous about the disruptive effect new entrants like SpaceX are having on ‘its’ market and will do everything they can to delay and derail them. I personally hope that SpaceX pushes ahead with its DragonRider crewed vehicle and launches in 2015 as planned. That will put a bug up the ass of a lot of people, especially aerospace lobbyists and their Congressional lap dogs…

  • kevin J waldroup

    wow DCSCA. newspace is the future and Gov too :)

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