Congress, NASA

Bolden defends commercial crew, asteroid mission, cuts to planetary and education

In a speech Thursday at a Capitol Hill luncheon organized by the Space Transportation Association (STA), NASA administrator Charles Bolden largely reiterated the agency’s support for commercial crew development and NASA’s new asteroid initiative, while defending cuts in the agency’s planetary sciences program and the reorganization of its education efforts.

As in testimony last week and a blog post earlier this week, Bolden made the argument that NASA’s commercial crew program needed to be fully funded in fiscal year 2014 to keep the program on track for beginning flights in 2017. “We’re running out of wiggle room” to keep that 2017 date, he said. “You’ve got to pay if you want something, and if the nation wants to have a commercial capability, an American capability, to get cargo and crew to low Earth orbit, you have to pay for it.” The extension of the agreement with Roscosmos for additional Soyuz flights to the ISS in 2017 was “something I did not want to do” because the price went up.

That commercial crew capability is a key element of supporting the International Space Station. Bolden repeated previous comments that, technically, operations of the ISS can be extended beyond 2020 to as late as 2028; however, the key issues will be whether the US and other partners can afford extending the station’s life into the 2020s, and if there’s sufficient utility from ISS research to do so. If the ISS life isn’t extended beyond 2020, he said, it may be difficult for companies to find a business case for commercial crew. “That’s the argument I hear from all of you,” he said, referring to the members of the audience from the space industry.

Bolden also discussed NASA’s asteroid initiative, whose centerpiece is a robotic mission to redirect a small near Earth asteroid into lunar orbit, to be visited by a crewed Orion spacecraft as early as 2021. Although the feasibility of that mission is still under study, he was optimistic it could take place by 2021. “It is intended that when we launch Orion in 2021, its destination will be the stable orbit point around the Moon where the asteroid is either on its way or is already there,” he said. “The likelihood [the asteroid will be there] is increasing every day” as NASA works to identify candidate asteroids for the mission.

Bolden also defended the use of a crewed Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) mission, launched on the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, for that rendezvous with a captured asteroid. Other architectures using commercially-developed vehicles have been suggested, he said, but he concluded they weren’t currently viable. “The only way we can do that is with SLS and MPCV,” he said. “We are on a timetable.”

Bolden also used the asteroid initiative to defend the agency from cuts to NASA’s planetary sciences program in the FY14 budget proposal. “The FY14 request is actually up from where we were,” he said. (The FY14 request for planetary is $1.22 billion, down from the $1.5 billion the program got in FY12; figures for FY13 have yet to be finalized.) The decision to develop a Mars rover for launch in 2020, as well as asteroid work funded by the new initiative, means “we think we’re up in the planetary science program” compared to a year ago, he said.

He acknowledged, though, that planetary science was cut in part to cover cost increases with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). “Somebody had to pay for James Webb, and it’s my fault,” he said. “I’m the guy who came into office thinking that James Webb was okay. And let me tell you what: the first review I did, I was devastated because I found it was not okay.” The program is now in much better shape, he said, but “if I screw it, you can fire me.”

Bolden also defended cuts in NASA’s education budget that are tied to a broader restructuring of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs across the federal government. “It is not slashed or gutted or anything,” he said of the education budget (at $94 million in the FY14 budget proposal versus $136 million in FY12.) The restructuring is designed to make programs more efficient, while also making NASA-unique capabilities, like communications sessions with the ISS, available to a far broader scope of users than possible today, citing as one example 4-H clubs supported by the Department of Agriculture. “It’s trying to make sure we get the best programs out there from the federal government agencies, and where there’s duplication we get rid of it. We are not decimating anyone’s programs.”

As he did in his Senate testimony last week, Bolden warned that if budget sequestration continued into fiscal year 2014, it would be difficult for NASA to maintain its current slate of programs as its topline budget would fall to as low as $16.1 billion. “We can’t do SLS, MPCV, JWST, International Space Station, science, all this stuff” at that funding level, he said. “And that’s going to be bad news for somebody, and it’s probably going to be bad news for me because I’m the one who’s going to have to say, ‘Guys, here’s what we’re not doing.’”

He added a bit of advice to Congress: “You make it incredibly challenging when you tell us to do something and you don’t fund it.”

117 comments to Bolden defends commercial crew, asteroid mission, cuts to planetary and education

  • Guest

    “We are on a timetable.”

    Sure Charlie, with an asteroid you cannot detect, an SEP tug that does not exist, and with a rocket and capsule that are completely borked, compared to say, what will be available from SpaceX and competitors in 2017? This has got to be a world record for any proposed NASA flagship program, degenerating into farce in just three weeks flat.

  • amightywind

    commercial capability, an American capability

    The leftist Charlie is really pulling out all the stops to sell the patriotism angle. It is not credible coming from an Obama functionary. I don’ think congress should pay for something America neither wants or needs. I believe the House will continue to starve commercial space and force NASA to down select to 1 vehicle. What America wants are daring manned missions, launched on large rockets from the Cape on the 4th or July, like the good old days.

    Guys, here’s what we’re not doing.

    Your a manager. It is your job. I am amazed that after 5 years the only thing you have cut was the program America wanted, Constellation.

    • common sense

      The leftist Charlie is really pulling out all the stops to sell the patriotism angle. It is not credible coming from an Obama functionary. I don’ think congress should pay for something America neither wants or needs. I believe the House will continue to starve commercial space and force NASA to down select to 1 vehicle.

      There I fixed it for you.

      “What America wants are daring manned missions, launched on large rockets from the Cape on the 4th or July, like the good old days”

      I am so proud how accurately I depicted trolls in the previous thread. Thanks my friend.

      • Guest

        If you can’t recognize well crafted astroturf then you should not be responding to it.

        • common sense

          I see you are making good inroads in troll territory too.

          How’s the F9/SLS vehicle going? Working a new application to a $100K NIAC grant for next year?

          Oh well.

          • Guest

            Ok, so astroturf is ok but new ideas are not? Ok, show me your simulations.

            Rockets only, thanks, I don’t set mission requirements.

            • common sense

              I don’t need to show you simulations. What I worked on actually flies on occasion. And no you don’t need to know what. I am happy just the way it is. Thanks.

              • Guest

                I am happy just the way it is. Thanks.

                Then why are you constantly complaining about Constellation?

                I agree, you are a very happy space cadet. So happy that you are not even willing to do a simple math check on what happens when the SLS core stage is widened to 10 meters and multiple clusters of F9s are attached, and all pretense of crew, payload and mission requirements are discarded.

              • common sense

                “Then why are you constantly complaining about Constellation?”

                I was talking about the vehicles I worked on that fly on occasion. That makes me happy and they do not require simulation to show they fly.

                Why am I complaining about Constellation? Well… Sigh… I invite you to research my posts then. In summary $10B/$15B with nothing to show. Read the GAO report if you can and try to understand that a effing capsule has been developed since circa 2005 and is 5,000 lbs overweight. Did I mention requirements were important to you? If not please ask me to explain again.

                As for “novel” idea. Well here is one. Lets put a capsule atop a nuclear device, detonate said device. I am sure we can send the capsule to Mars one way, one stage. It’s novel. Never been done before. May not be that reusable though. Not sure. What do you say? Let’s write a good one for NIAC.

              • Guest

                As for “novel” idea. Well here is one. Lets put a capsule atop a nuclear device, detonate said device.

                Whether you blow it up or reenter it into the atmosphere and let it descend below sea level, the result is the same. You fail to realize, since you profess not to need simulations, that FH boosters make that outcome entirely unnecessary, and reveal deep space flight opportunities that the initial SLS requirements were completely unable to predict.

              • common sense

                “Whether you blow it up or reenter it into the atmosphere and let it descend below sea level, the result is the same.”

                Below sea level??? Wow.

                “You fail to realize, since you profess not to need simulations,”

                I think you have a problem with English now. I did not profess anything. I responded to your request for me to produce sims by the fact that I don’t need sims since “my” vehicles are flying. Just look outside from time to time.

                “that FH boosters make that outcome entirely unnecessary, and reveal deep space flight opportunities that the initial SLS requirements were completely unable to predict.”

                What a bunch of garbage. But why don’t you post your findings somewhere so that we can stare in awe? As for SLS. Requirements for SLS are limited to “make use of shuttle derived hardware and shuttle workforce” and that’s about it. Of course faulty if not idiotic requirements cannot make a design close as we can all see, bewildered. This is the reason why you do not stick to only one approach in design, why if you cannot close you change the requirements or the mission or something. You are the one obtusely thinking requirements are in stone. Do you have any clue how a design cycle works? Any? Something? Do you realize that, despite some great analysis within, the ESAS report is worthless because they did not address design cycle and design/mission requirements?

                What else do you need? Oh I know. Since NASA is so not going to build your rocket, why don’t you get in touch with Elon see what he thinks? And then please let us all know.

              • Guest

                Since NASA is so not going to build your rocket, why don’t you get in touch with Elon see what he thinks? And then please let us all know.

                I don’t need NASA or SpaceX to show me how rockets work, although NASA is useful for ideas how they don’t work, and SpaceX is useful for ideas on how they can work. Here are my rocket requirements. NASA’s rocket doesn’t work. SpaceX’s rockets work. It looks like an opportunity to me.

                All you have shown me is how discussion of space policy doesn’t work. The rest is pretty clear. Elon has extremely efficient and cheap reusable hydrocarbon boosters that are cluster and crossfeed capable, and NASA has extremely expensive and efficient hydrogen engines easily capable of achieving escape velocity, lunar injection and landing using said reusable boosters to increase the burn time to staging and controlling acceleration via engine shutdowns and booster separations.

                Just FYI since you are in denial about what constitutes discussion and the requirements have definitely, suddenly and dramatically changed.

              • common sense

                “I don’t need NASA or SpaceX to show me how rockets work, although NASA is useful for ideas how they don’t work, and SpaceX is useful for ideas on how they can work. Here are my rocket requirements. NASA’s rocket doesn’t work. SpaceX’s rockets work. It looks like an opportunity to me.”

                Is this what you proposed to NIAC?

                “All you have shown me is how discussion of space policy doesn’t work.”

                Did I? Really?

                “The rest is pretty clear. Elon has extremely efficient and cheap reusable hydrocarbon boosters that are cluster and crossfeed capable,”

                Does he? Really? Glad he showed that to you because for the rest of us it remains a work in progress.

                “and NASA has extremely expensive and efficient hydrogen engines easily capable of achieving escape velocity, lunar injection and landing using said reusable boosters to increase the burn time to staging and controlling acceleration via engine shutdowns and booster separations.”

                NASA does??? Really? What are those super-duper engines you are referring to? Where do we find them?

                “Just FYI since you are in denial about what constitutes discussion and the requirements have definitely, suddenly and dramatically changed.”

                I am the one in denial? Really? So for one thing make sure your NIAC proposal is not rejected on grounds you did not respect the format of the proposal. Then try and understand what TRL-1 or rather 2-3 actually means. Try and understand why sticking boosters together does not answer a NIAC requirement of forward looking technology. Try and understand that this has already been done before with the Shuttle stack and that doing it again would cost a lot more than the $100K you’d get with a NIAC proposal and that it will not further space exploration since there is no, not one chance, that deep space exploration will not be done with chemical rockets.

                NIAC is about the far term future not about something that can be done with enough money – whether it makes sense or even works, or not.

              • Guest

                So for one thing make sure your NIAC proposal is not rejected on grounds you did not respect the format of the proposal.

                Dude, I’ve moved on. So should you. But since you seem so concerned about the SLS and MPCV, perhaps you should suggest a definitive means of fixing the problem as I have, short of cancelling it, which won’t happen unless you … submit a method of fixing the problems. Good luck with that. You’ve done nothing except rant a a space forum about a proposal you’ve never even read, nitpicking about your perceived ideas about the necessity of idiotic requirements for a short paper. You don’t seem to understand NIAC white papers are an anything goes thing. I went. You didn’t. There is a big difference in perspective.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                But since you seem so concerned about the SLS and MPCV, perhaps you should suggest a definitive means of fixing the problem as I have…

                Yes, canceling the SLS.

                …short of cancelling it…

                Oh. Well canceling it is still the right answer.

                …which won’t happen unless you … submit a method of fixing the problems.

                Of the three most likely outcomes for the SLS, that is the 3rd, and by far the least likeliest – Congress doesn’t see anything wrong with the SLS.

                The other two possible outcomes are that it dies on it’s own (cost, schedule, technical issues, etc.) and that it becomes operational. Though keep in mind that becoming operational does not mean that it will be used enough to merit the vast amount of money it sucked up.

              • Guest

                The chances of SLS becoming operational beyond a couple of test flights in its present expendable form is zero. Nil. The chances of it making even a couple of test flights is very low at this point. The ONLY reason I have proposed modern boosters for it is because I’d like to see the remaining SSMEs be retired into deep space. Well, there is another reason, but it’s top secret known only to a select group of space cadets. You guys are in for some big surprises, trust me.

      • common sense

        “Dude, I’ve moved on.”

        Good.

        “So should you.”

        I know, I know. Every time I try something idiotic gets posted about SLS with or without F9 boosters.

        “But since you seem so concerned about the SLS and MPCV, perhaps you should suggest a definitive means of fixing the problem”

        Cancel SLS, cancel MPCV. Here.

        “as I have, short of cancelling it, which won’t happen unless you … submit a method of fixing the problems.”

        There is no method for fixing the problems and making the problem even more complicated won’t help. Unless you are some sort of genius. A guru of Engineering Science of sorts. Someone who can make fly F9s and SLS together. I am not. Sorry to disappoint.

        “Good luck with that.”

        Thanks we all need it.

        “You’ve done nothing except rant a a space forum about a proposal you’ve never even read, nitpicking about your perceived ideas about the necessity of idiotic requirements for a short paper. You don’t seem to understand NIAC white papers are an anything goes thing. I went. You didn’t. There is a big difference in perspective.”

        Where to start. I love to rant on space forums and some seem to like my rants. Well. Not you. C’est la vie.

        NIAC white papers are definitely “anything goes” considering what you sent. But those selected are not.

        As far as seeing your work, dude, you never know what I see, what I saw and I will see.

        But I am looking forward to reading more of your posts. Do you have plans for fixing the economy, unemployment and healthcare too?

        • Guest

          There is no method for fixing the problems and making the problem even more complicated won’t help. Unless you are some sort of genius. A guru of Engineering Science of sorts. Someone who can make fly F9s and SLS together.

          There are no outstanding engineering challenges of mating F9s and large body cores, Energia demonstrated the basic technique long ago. Your pessimism is without merit.

          NIAC white papers are definitely “anything goes” considering what you sent. But those selected are not.

          I look forward to cool new future monatomic hydrogen powered launch vehicles.

          • common sense

            Okay I am going to make an effort to assume you legitimately thought you answered the call. Look at that link:

            http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/niac/niac_solicitations_new.html

            >>>Aerospace architecture, mission, or system concepts;
            >>>Revolutionary, yet technically substantiated;
            >>>Very early development (TRL 1-2 or early 3; aiming 10 or more years out).

            In actuality you can think of even as far as 20/30 years out but it still need to be technically sound, based on science and not magic.

            I would hope that you realize that a stack (of some form) launch vehicle is NOT TRL-1-2-3. It is indeed at best incremental. And certainly not revolutionary. Even if the loft capabilities afforded by such vehicles might be revolutionary. On the other hand if you propose an EELV class vehicle capable of lofting 120 T for say the same cost…

            I will give you this though. The decision is very subjective and dependent upon the people who judge the technology that is to be implemented so far out in the future. Dependent so much as to what their notion of such technologies ought to be. A computer scientist will not have the same perspective as a mechanical engineer. Yet the TRL level is fairly clear.

            Now and then rather than focusing on existing launchers/technologies if you were to propose some sort of new propulsion system. Some sort of thing that if it existed would facilitate exploration for example. Think warp-drive. You might stand a chance.

            • Guest

              Now and then rather than focusing on existing launchers/technologies if you were to propose some sort of new propulsion system. Some sort of thing that if it existed would facilitate exploration for example. Think warp-drive. You might stand a chance.

              I passed on that for reasons that seem obvious to everyone but you and NASA. You see, I have something called ‘ethics’. Charlie Bolden could learn a little bit about ‘ethics’ from on James Hansen, given recent statements made hy him and his staff.

              • common sense

                “I passed on that for reasons that seem obvious to everyone but you and NASA. You see, I have something called ‘ethics’. Charlie Bolden could learn a little bit about ‘ethics’ from on James Hansen, given recent statements made hy him and his staff.”

                Ethics? What do they have to do with understanding an RFP?

                You are a very confused person if not a troll. And very defensive on top of that. I give you an explanation of why you should not submit to NIAC and you essentially tell me that NASA has no ethics????

                Oh well.

              • Guest

                I give you an explanation of why you should not submit to NIAC

                You haven’t even come close. My submission was not about the F9/SLS core stage combination. That was just the enabler. Your comments indicate to me that either you haven’t read it or you aren’t willing to rationally analyze or comment on anything related to launch vehicle and space habitation technology. The fact that you are suggesting that ANYONE should not submit white papers to the NIAC reveals some kind of deep seated disgust for freedom of thought, expression and action.

                That fact that you keep bringing up requirement related to NIAC submissions is deeply revealing. You seem completely unaware of that.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “What America wants are daring manned missions, launched on large rockets from the Cape on the 4th or July, like the good old days.”

      The “good old days” never lasted. The American public lost interest in Apollo, and then Shuttle, after the first couple launches of each. This is a bad rationale for SLS and MPCV. No vehicle is worth tens of billions of taxpayer dollars if its only purpose is to fill a couple days of evening news.

      “the program America wanted, Constellation.”

      The vast majority of the American public was unaware that Constellation even existed, nevertheless whether they wanted their tax dollars spent on it.

    • DCSCA

      “What America wants are daring manned missions, launched on large rockets from the Cape on the 4th or July, like the good old days.” chants Windy.

      Remember your Mick Jagger, Windy- ‘you can’t always get what you want; but if you try real hard, you get what you need.’

      And what America needs to try and establish is a viable rationale for HSF in the 21st century, Windy. ‘Flags and footprints’ and ‘American thunder in the skies’ as the late Jules Bergman once quipped on air, doesn’t fly these days. The Cold War is over, winday, and the 20th century rationale – such as it was- no longer applies. Big difference between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’. Articulate a viable rationale for HSF, and everything else will flow from that. Until then, it’s free drift and lurchin from proposal to proposal.

      _____________-

      “Bolden defends commercial crew, asteroid mission, cuts to planetary and education”

      Jarheads are made for defending the indefensible. The Peter Principle is strong in this one.

    • Coastal Ron

      amightywind said:

      The leftist Charlie is really pulling out all the stops to sell the patriotism angle. It is not credible coming from an Obama functionary.

      It doesn’t matter what you think. If American companies attain the ability to fly crew, they don’t become Russian companies just because we change Presidents.

      Unless you’re suggesting a Republican president would sell off an American company to Russia?

    • yg1968

      @amightywind,

      Bolden is a leftist? You are the one asking funding for more big government programs such as Constellation. You are the one advocating an end to a program that involves less government involvement and oversight and more commercial ingenuity. Fortunately, big government conservatives like you are a dying breed.

    • josh

      “What America wants are daring manned missions, launched on large rockets from the Cape on the 4th or July, like the good old days.”

      i couldn’t help but laugh:) it’s pretty obvious at this point windy is just sticking around to troll the adults around here but it sure is fun to read sometimes..

  • ““The only way we can do that is with SLS and MPCV,” he said. “We are on a timetable.”
    “SLS” used in the same sentence as the word “timetable”. The ultimate oxymoron.

    It appears there is a very high probability that the results of various NASA, industry and university studies have been purposely kept away from Charlie. I know the Old Guard made an attempt to suppress NASA’s landmark propellant depot study deep within the bowels of the agency and it only became known to the New Space community when it was leaked to the outside by rebellious NASA engineers. I’m not sure to this day that Bolden knows about the results of that study, the ULA study, or the Wilhite studies; the latter of which directly compare SLS to alternative methods for doing manned deep space exploratory missions.

  • Hiram

    What America wants are daring assaults by men following their flag proudly held aloft, with muskets over their shoulders and good horses underneath, riding out of the fort on the border of civilization, just west of the Mississippi. Like the good old days!

    Constellation was program America wanted, eh? “You make it incredibly challenging when you tell us to do something and you don’t fund it.” Say it again, Charlie!

    • Actually poll after poll show that a majority of Americans want cuts in the space program and couldn’t care less about a Moon mission.

      • Hiram

        The W adminstration didn’t ask for adequate Constellation funding, and Congress didn’t force it on the Administration … because, why? Because the majority of Americans didn’t want it. It makes it even more incredibly challenging when you tell NASA to do something, but the American public doesn’t want it.

  • Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @amw: Your poisoning the well isn’t useful for you, and for us europeans democrats are over to the far right so it is also laughable. And nationalism is dangerous, no other nation has participated in as many wars as US.

    So, about space: Constellation was offed because US couldn’t afford it, it’s on record. And the simile SLS isn’t necessary for “daring manned missions” as the lift capapbility to construct them are ~ 20 mt. Sure, a 50 mt launcher is the most cost effective.

    SALS is part empty propaganda as you demonstrate so well, part state politics pork. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize that US will do ~ 1/4th of what it could do, since SLS cost ~ 4 times as much as today’s cost effective launchers. US with SLS will be a space midget compared to what US with an interest in foremost space would be.

    • amightywind

      On the whole America should be thanked and praised for the wars it has participated in in the last century, as well as ongoing security alliances we lead. We liberated 100′s of millions of people from tyrants and have insured peace in Europe and Asia against the treats of Russia and China.

      Constellation was offed because US couldn’t afford it, it’s on record.

      No. Constellation has cancelled because a minority of progressive activists came to power and cancelled it. Recall that this particular history was written by the incalculably corrupt Augustine Commission.

      You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize that US will do

      Apparently you do need to be a rocket scientist to realize that launchers designed for commercial satellites and national security payloads are too small for manned exploration.

      • Mader

        Apparently you do need to be a rocket scientist to realize that launchers designed for commercial satellites and national security payloads are too small for manned exploration.
        For LEO Dragon is completely enough. Orion on SLS was designed to operate beyond that, and using it for LEO is like using 18-wheeler to get milk at convienient store next corner.

  • common sense

    http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-hypersonic-x51-test-flight-20130503,0,6645524.story

    Now *that* is exciting. I would love to know that it actually performed as a waverider. Another NASA program transferred to the Air Force. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_X-43

    But it will never, or let’s say unlikely, carry a crew. More like a cruise missile. An expensive one.

    Exciting nonetheless.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    Bolden is repeatedly asleep at the wheel throughout his STA talk:

    “‘It is intended that when we launch Orion in 2021, its destination will be the stable orbit point around the Moon where the asteroid is either on its way or is already there,’ he said. ‘The likelihood [the asteroid will be there] is increasing every day’ as NASA works to identify candidate asteroids for the mission.”

    It’s taken Bolden three years to wake up to the fact that his boss, the President, instructed him to get astronauts on an asteroid by 2025. The month of that speech — April 2010 — is when Bolden should have augmented the search for candidate asteroids, not in FY 2014, well into the President’s second term.

    And Bolden still doesn’t have a mission that can actually fulfill the President’s directive, which was to “begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the Moon into deep space.” A two-week visit to a bus-sized rock in lunar orbit doesn’t count as “beyond the Moon” or “deep space”. Wake up, Charlie!

    “‘I’m the guy who came into office thinking that James Webb was okay. And let me tell you what: the first review I did, I was devastated because I found it was not okay.’”

    If Bolden was devastated by the condition of the JWST program when he came into office, he must have slept through his devastation because he took no actions to fix the program until after Senator Mikulski pulled rank and demanded an independent review that told Bolden exactly what to do.

    “The program is now in much better shape, he said, but ‘if I screw it, you can fire me.’”

    According to the latest GAO review of NASA’s large programs, half of JWST’s instruments are running a year behind, and the program has blown through half of its budget/schedule margin with nearly a half-decade of development to go. This was news to Bolden. A congressman had to make him aware of it in a public hearing. Wake up, Charlie!

    “Bolden also defended the use of a crewed Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) mission, launched on the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, for that rendezvous with a captured asteroid. Other architectures using commercially-developed vehicles have been suggested, he said, but he concluded they weren’t currently viable. ‘The only way we can do that is with SLS and MPCV,’ he said. ‘We are on a timetable.’”

    If the human NEO visit in lunar orbit is “on a timetable”, then why is Bolden relying on MPCV, a capsule that, according to the latest GAO review of NASA’s large programs, is 5,000lb overweight, has cracks in its heat shield, and is experiencing delays and missing milestones for its test flights? Why is Bolden relying on SLS, a launch vehicle program that, according to the latest GAO review of NASA’s large programs, still doesn’t know whether the SSMEs can meet its performance requirements, still doesn’t know whether SLS can meet NASA’s human rating requirements, and still hasn’t definitized contract deliverables from the old Constellation Program. Wake up, Charlie!

    “‘We’re running out of wiggle room’ to keep that 2017 date, he said. ‘You’ve got to pay if you want something, and if the nation wants to have a commercial capability, an American capability, to get cargo and crew to low Earth orbit, you have to pay for it.’”

    Where was Bolden two years ago when Congress started reducing the President’s budget request for CCDev and the schedule slipped from 2015, to 2016, and then 2017? Why was Charlie sleeping through those cuts instead of fighting them?

    Bolden started as NASA Administrator with no domestic means of human access to ISS, a broken to non-existant human space exploration program, and a broken program to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope. At the rate he’s going, his tenure as NASA Administrator is going to end the same way.

    Wake up, Charlie!

    • DCSCA

      “Bolden started as NASA Administrator with no domestic means of human access to ISS…” spins dbn.

      Inaccurate.

      Bolden was confirmed in July, 2009 as NASA administrator. The Space Shuttle program– which most decidely constituted a “domestic means of human access to ISS” was operational (and could have been extended) and finished with STS-135 two years into Bolden’s tenure, in July 2011, with the Space Shuttle program formally shuttered in August 2011. so, in fact, Charlie did become administrator when a ‘domestic means of human access to the ISS’ was up and running.

      • Justin Kugler

        The Shuttle Program could not have been reasonably extended by the time Bolden took the job. Wayne Hale (and others) have repeatedly pointed that out and why that was the case.

        • DCSCA

          The Shuttle Program could not have been reasonably extended by the time Bolden took the job.

          Sure it could. semi-annual runs– producton extenstions– a budget…. it was all a matter of an executive dorective and stroke of a pen. Heck, Dubya called for cratering it by 2010– and it flew through that deadline. Austhorize a budget and it woulsd have kept flying. Even Glenn was pushing for it in 2011- but it fell on deaf ears.

          ““Shutting down the shuttle

          Posted on Aug 28, 2008 10:15:05 AM | Wayne Hale”… spins dbn.

          =yawn= As usual, you overlook context. And your error about Bolden’s tenue. You forget Constellation still had a heartbeat when Hale was venting hot gas.. and moving on to the new project was still ‘the plan’ then– and of course, Hale does what he’s told by the administrator– and the President; and if the directive was made to extend shuttle a few years– they’sd have saluted and done so– especially as the new pet project was shelved.

          • Dark Blue Nine

            “And your error about Bolden’s tenue. You forget Constellation still had a heartbeat when Hale was venting hot gas.. and moving on to the new project was still ‘the plan’ then– and of course, Hale does what he’s told by the administrator”

            Bolden wasn’t Administrator at the time Hale wrote that post. Griffin was. And Griffin was ordering plans drawn up to extend the Shuttle program at the time of Hale’s post:

            http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=29133

            By declaring that Shuttle shutdown was inevitable in that post, Hale was going against his boss, Griffin. Hale wasn’t towing the Administrator’s line. He was fighting it. Publicly.

            “=yawn= As usual, you overlook context.”

            =sigh= As usual, you forget how big and ignorant a dummy you are.

            • DCSCA

              Bolden wasn’t Administrator at the time Hale wrote that post.

              Pfffft. Nobody said he was. As DCSCA corrected your error in an earlier posting that pinned your ears back. And Griffin was championing Constellation at the time Hale was outgassing gis 2008 comments. Again, dbn, you anti-governmernt NewSpace types spin out of context faster than Gemini 8. Hale would do what he was told and if the Executive through the admonistrator drafted a directive and had a budget, the birds would have kept flying. Shuttle was sheled for one reason- trhey cost too much to maintain and fly in these times and could not remain operational w/constellation in work at then existing budgewt levels. And we all know the flaws in Ares– and in Administrator Griffin’s planning.

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “Pfffft. Nobody said he was.”

                You did. You wrote:

                “As usual, you overlook context. And your error about Bolden’s tenue [sic]. You forget Constellation still had a heartbeat when Hale was venting hot gas.”

                Bolden did not have “tenue [sic]” as NASA Administrator when Hale wrote his post.

                “And Griffin was championing Constellation at the time Hale was outgassing gis 2008 comments.”

                And Griffin was also trying to extend Shuttle. He had even ordered two plans drawn up to do so. See his personal correspondence here:

                http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=29133

                Hale’s post went directly against the orders in Griffin’s email.

                “Again, dbn, you anti-governmernt NewSpace types spin out of context faster than Gemini 8.”

                Whatever I am, it’s better than the confused, illiterate, ignorant idiot that you are.

          • Malmesbury

            Wayne Hale was involved in actually running the shuttle program. It is worth noting how everyone in the Shuttle program respected him – and that his statements about the difficulty/impossibility of more flights were acknowledged as the truth by everyone actually involved with the program.

        • Justin Kugler wrote:

          The Shuttle Program could not have been reasonably extended by the time Bolden took the job.

          Even if technically possible, that would overlook the fundamental reason why the Bush administration decided in January 2004 to cancel Shuttle.

          In the exact words of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, the Shuttle was “a complex and risky system.” It had a fundamental design flaw — the crew vehicle mounted on the side. That meant (A) no escape system (Challenger) and (B) exposure to falling debris (Columbia). The (B) problem was never resolved; even with STS-134, Endeavour had to be inspected when it reached the ISS due to a debris strike during launch that left gouges on the tiles.

          Risk analysis showed that, the longer they flew the Shuttle, the more likely another disaster would lose a crew. Extending the Shuttle only increased the risk it would kill more astronauts.

          This is the fundamental point overlooked time and again by the Shuttle huggers.

          • Extending the Shuttle only increased the risk it would kill more astronauts.

            More importantly, it increased the risk that they’d lose another orbiter, further reducing the size of the fleet, perhaps to complete non-practicality.

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “The Space Shuttle program… was operational (and could have been extended)”

        As usual, your ignorance exceeds your grasp:

        “Shutting down the shuttle

        Posted on Aug 28, 2008 10:15:05 AM | Wayne Hale

        … Hey, I am the biggest shuttle hugger there is. I think it is the best spacecraft ever built. But I also deal in the real world.

        Where does the money come from? Where do the people — who should be working on the moon rocket — where do they come from?

        We started shutting down the shuttle four years ago. That horse has left the barn.”

        http://blogs.nasa.gov/cm/blog/waynehalesblog.blog/posts/post_1219932905350.html#comments

    • E.P. Grondine

      Hi DBN –

      “It’s taken Bolden three years to wake up to the fact that his boss, the President, instructed him to get astronauts on an asteroid by 2025. The month of that speech — April 2010 — is when Bolden should have augmented the search for candidate asteroids, not in FY 2014, well into the President’s second term.”

      Yes. For that matter, that search should have started in 2007, persuant to the George Brown Jr. amendment, which Griffin ignored.

      There is an institutional bias against the NEO search within NASA, and personnel changes will have to be made to stop it.

      Based on what I know, I would start with David Morrison, because the majority of impact deaths in the last 13,000 years haev been due to COMET and comet fragment impacts.

      There is far more to space than manned flight to Mars.

      In Bolden’s defense, the main problem that he faced during that time was ATK’s constant attempts to revive their Ares 1 launcher. Bolden still needs to make clear the large solid grain combustion oscillation problem amd document it, so that the Ares 1 fiasco can not be blamed on Obama.

  • Hiram

    Seems to me that the obvious answer to Bolden’s dilemma with satisfying Obama’s thin call to have U.S. astronauts visit an asteroid by 2025 is simple. Just extend the current strategy. Find an asteroid. Rendezvous with it robotically. Chip off a basketball-sized chunk, and haul it back into LEO. Then send an American up on a Soyuz to pat it and stick an American flag decal on it. Works for me. Imagine the inspirational value of an American astronaut with his or her arms around an asteroid. STEM education will thrive as a result!

    Hey, save a bundle and plant a flag on the Hoba meteorite in Namibia. Yeah, it’s only a 50 ton asteroid, but whatever. Pay Lockheed to build a truck that’ll take some space-suited folks there. There’s a park there that they can sat up a habitat in (oooh, get Boeing to make that habitat!), and do EVAs to get to the asteroid. Yes, the truck can be seriously overweight, with a few cracks in the windshield. Our brave afronauts will survive. In fact, pay Namibia to give us the right to do it. Pay MSFC a bundle to create the flag decal. (Gotta keep Shelby happy …)

    Well gee. Chop off a chunk of of the Hoba meteorite and throw it into LEO. Then a real astronaut could meet up with a real asteroid in free space.

    But more seriously, the idea of sending a human to a distant asteroid to validate strategies to travel long distances outside of cis-lunar space seemed, well, sort of reasonable. But when the idea of sending humans to visit an asteroid turned into a goal of simply sending humans to a nearby rock we hauled into our backyard, what’s being validated turned into the ability to pull the wool over the eyes of the Administration.

    • A meteorite on the Earth’s surface is not the same as an asteroid in space. A meteorite is the remains of an asteroid that entered the atmosphere. We have no proof of what an asteroid is like before it enters an atmosphere.

      That’s the point.

      Two U.S. companies already believe that the financial model exists to justify harvesting asteroids for raw materials, e.g. platinum-based mineral groups.

      NASA’s charter from Day 1 in 1958 is to be an aerospace R&D agency that develops new technologies that transfer to the private sector. The asteroid initiative is in that tradition.

      Should people go? I think so. For all our advances in robotics, those advances still are nowhere close to what a human can do. The further out we go in the solar system, the longer the delay in communications. We may evolve to the point where humans go out into the solar system and use robotics at that point to manipulate their environment. That could happen with the asteroid initiative.

      Should people go on SLS/MPCV? I think not. SLS/MPCV is a budget sinkhole with a design dictated by Congress. It could be Falcon Heavy with the crew version of Dragon and perhaps a Bigelow inflatable as the habitat module.

      But the reality for now is that Congress won’t allow that. There is no organized effective political opposition to convince Congress to change its porkery. For now, the best thing we can do is let SpaceX continue to invest its own money in developing Falcon Heavy, and Bigelow work on its habitat modules.

      Present the technology to the public, and perhaps they’ll start asking questions about why Congress is wasting money on a boondoggle.

      By the way, last month CASIS sponsored a day-long conference on cancer and space research aboard the ISS. The 5 1/2 hour video is on YouTube at:

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

      For those who falsely claim ISS has no value, I dare you to watch the video. But I know you won’t, because you fear the scales will fall from your eyes.

      • JimNobles

        I’m on you side but a lot of people won’t watch it ’cause you told them it was FIVE AND A HALF hours long.

        Just sayin’.

        • DCSCA

          “I’m on you side but a lot of people won’t watch it ’cause you told them it was FIVE AND A HALF hours long. Just sayin’.” says Jim.

          In fact, that’s sayin’ a lot, Jim.

          It shouldn’t take five and a half hours for a sales pitch. Every savvy marketer knows this accomplished regularly in 15- 30 and 60 second TV spots for everything from cereal to presidential candidates. =eyeroll== Even MacDonald Douglas produced seveverl memorable spots 20 years ago selling station (the tagline-’shouldn’t we be there, too?’)

          If they gotta try that hard and that long, it speaks desperate volumes. Calls for a little less ‘Stephen Smith’ spin and a little more ‘Don Draper’ savvy.

          • Justin Kugler

            It wasn’t a sales pitch. It is the video from a day-long conference. This is yet another strawman argument.

            You didn’t even glance at the video, did you?

            • Malmesbury

              He commissioned LockMart to study the issues involved in watching the video. They’ve contracted it out through five layers of contracting companies. The study on the feasibility of watching the video is due back in late 2025 – over-runs and technical problems…

      • adastramike

        Do we need to send people to rendezvous with an asteroid to understand its composition? I think that can be done robotically, with samples brought back robotically, for a lot cheaper. At least getting samples by human means it isn’t enough of a justification for sending humans to an asteroid, especially one that’s not “beyond the moon” anymore. It seems to me an attempt at meeting Obama’s goal without actually meeting the original goal. I thought the goal was to test deep space systems in deep space, not merely to rendezvous humans with an asteroid. I understand the funding constraints but I think the current NASA leadership is just trying to save face regarding the asteroid retrieval. Why not fight for the funds for the original asteroid proposal, and why not have started on it 3 years ago? In some ways it seems like another stunt, to plant a flag again, and then what? Are we going to visit more asteroids, perhaps really in deep space? What do we do for the decade of the 2020s if its just one asteroid around the Moon?

      • Hiram

        No, that’s not quite the point. The inside of a meteorite on Earth is exactly the same as it was in space. Especially a sizeable one, for which the thermal shock is minimal on the inside. Any geologist will tell you that. To the extent you’re interested in the coating of dust on the outside of it, or the in-space erosion it has encountered, your point might have some validity. Also, a sample from an asteroid in space offers the opportunity to understand its orbital context compared to others. By the way, OSIRIS-REx is going to do exactly that. No humans on board.

        I’ll help you with the point. The point of the Asteroid Return Mission is making astronauts into heroes and adventurers and, I guess, exercising some technology on the side. It’s making work for an Orion, and perhaps an SLS.

        As to the capabilities of autonomous robotics, you’re probably right. But if the point is to figure out what an asteroid looks like before it enters the atmosphere, you surely don’t need a human picking up a piece of it before it does enter the atmosphere.

        The extent to which we’re able to harvest raw materials from an asteroid will not be advanced a bit by putting a human next to it. The asteroid that human is next to will almost certainly be an uninteresting chondrite, and not one with material value. Why? Because the vast majority of asteroids are uninteresting chondrites. To the extent that NASA should be developing technologies that can be transferred to the private sector, more power to it. But putting humans on asteroids is not a technology the private sector needs.

        • E.P. Grondine

          Hi Hiram –

          From the meteorites from many carbonacous and stoney asteroids, we know that often they are not uniform, but will vary in internal composition within a small distance. We also know that for stoney asteroids, they are less dense than their meteorites, so are likely “loosely packed”.

          A better way of looking at the manned mission to a lassoed asteroid is using SLS to help n taking care of a national need, putting SLS to work, rther than making work for it.

          I could say that if you wanted to fly men to Mars, that would be making work for all of the systems involved. Manned Mars flight is a luxury, not a necessity.

  • DCSCA

    “We have no proof of what an asteroid is like before it enters an atmosphere” says Stephen.

    Except we do:

    ‘Hayabusa was an unmanned spacecraft developed by JAXA to return a sample of material from a small near-Earth asteroid named 25143 Itokawa to Earth for further analysis. It was launched on in 2003 and rendezvoused with Itokawa in mid-September 2005. After arriving at Itokawa, Hayabusa studied the asteroid’s shape, spin, topography, color, composition, density, and history. In November 2005, it landed on the asteroid and collected samples in the form of tiny grains of asteroidal material, which were returned to Earth aboard the spacecraft on 13 June 2010.’

    Project Lasso is as foolish a proposal for government as it is to investors seeking ROI from a commercial team as well on a science fiction run aboard Falcons, or Dragons or winged chariots with the Sons of Elon wielding picks and shovels. You wanna explore a big rock? Luna awaits return prospectors.

    _________

    As far as the ISS goes, the objective is to get ‘research’ crews on orbit to conduct the infamous, nebulous, dubious ‘research’ aboard the International Space Station. It is not to develop commercial launch capabilities from U.S. soil. Particularly as both Soyuz and Progress are in place and operational.

    It does not matter where these ‘researchers’ are launched from. What matters is getting them on orbit to do the ‘research,’ produce some measure of ROI and justify the $100 billion expense and multi-billion annual operational costs to maintain a mature project destined for a Pacific grave (despite Smitty’s desperate spin.)

    An even allowing for Stephen’s spin, maintaining access through the end of the decade by contracting w/Russia for Soyuz/Progress services is a much more prudent expenditure of government resources to fulfill commitments than dumping double that amount into commercial for a single fiscal year and is several fiscal years away from even attempting to fly anybodyinto LEO. Particularly to a dead end project from the Cold War period representing past planning from an era long over.

    “Present the technology to the public, and perhaps they’ll start asking questions about why Congress is wasting money on a boondoggle.”

    False equivalency, Stephen.

    The boondoggle is the quaint, short-sighted notion of commercial HSF; the Magnified Imporance of Diminished Vision, which at best, may someday simply go in circles, no place, fast, following in the wake of Gagarin, Glenn, Gemini 12 and Apollo 7. And unlike SLS/MPCV, no geo-political strategy as a motivator but is simply a matter of proftieers playing at beign rocketeets– by tapping government resources denied by the private capital markets due to the low to no ROI, to benefit a select few at thevexpense of the many.

    You play at seeking parody with government space without earning it. You fail to take the risk. Fly somebody and earn some credibiltiy.

  • James

    Folks, I’m either stupid, or just don’t get, and would some one explain to me the following:

    Sounds like Charlie is saying that w/o the ISS up there post 2020, there isn’t the business case for new space commercial crew industry. That they’d only have 2017 to 2020 for commercial manned flights to ISS if we don’t have the ISS past 2020. So, we not only need to continue to figure out a way to fund the ISS post 2020, but also somehow ensure our International partners do as well.

    But, the ISS is proving not to be the scientific workhorse that many predicted it would be in 1986 , and many had committed and recommitted to it being one day – a day that so far hasn’t arrived.

    So the value of ISS is suspect other than a business case target for new space commercial crew.

    And, while Bolden is complaining about $67M for a few years of Russian taxi service to ISS, isn’t 3 or 4 more of those kinds of contracts a lot cheaper for the nation than the $800M or so of yearly contributions to new space commercial crew?

    Seems if NASA wanted to be real bold with ‘some’ mission, they’d can ISS in 2020, drop commercial crew funding, hold their noses and pay the Ruskies through 2020, and take all those savings and redirect it to develop what needs to be developed for a real flexible BEO program?

    Bigelows Bungalows can replace the ISS as a platform for human research projects required before we enter BEO space,,,,

    Is seems cheaper to me to do this. Or am I just dumb?

    And I also hold the view that there really is no real purpose for human space flight, other than porky pork pork.

    I’m all over the place in other words, and seems NASA is broken beyond reasonable repair, and is simply in survival mode.

    Gack.

    • DCSCA

      “Sounds like Charlie is saying that w/o the ISS up there post 2020, there isn’t the business case for new space commercial crew industry” ponders James.

      There isn’t one now.

      “And, while Bolden is complaining about $67M for a few years of Russian taxi service to ISS, isn’t 3 or 4 more of those kinds of contracts a lot cheaper for the nation than the $800M or so of yearly contributions to new space commercial crew?” says James after touching the monolith.

      Actually, one more ‘deal’ would take it through 2020… maybe 2022. But you’re catching on.

    • JimNobles

      NASA is full of Space Cadets. They consider the ISS to be their “beachhead” in space. They have no intention of getting rid of it if they don’t have to. Orbiting space facilities are part of space exploration. They intend to use it as long as they can. And given what it cost to put up there I agree with them.

      What are they going to do, splash a hundred billion dollar piece of equipment and then go to congress to ask for 30 billion or so to build another one?

      If you don’t believe in human spaceflight then you just don’t. But alot of people do, including me. If you can’t see the rationale for it then you just don’t. You’re not wired that way. So be it.

      • DCSCA

        “They have no intention of getting rid of it if they don’t have to. Orbiting space facilities are part of space exploration. They intend to use it as long as they can.” ponders Jim.

        In fact, when Constellation still had a heartbeat, the ISS was penciled in for splash by mid-decade, albeit to help finance the now shelved project. But they were quite willing to consider dumping the thing into the Pacific PDQ. They have no special passion for it… ’cause they realize it’s an anvil around their necks and keeps them anchored in LEO, going in circles, no place fast.

        • Justin Kugler

          One particular faction within NASA wanted to do that. Support for that plan was by no means universal and it had not been vetted with Congress.

          Do you actually know anyone who works on the ISS Program or the other NASA programs that benefit from access to it? Every single space medicine professional I know says we need the ISS to continue to answer fundamental questions about crew health and safety in microgravity. We still don’t know enough about what happens to the human body for NASA to be confident sending people on true long-duration missions.

          The Human Research Program exists to address those questions and mitigate the risks. They have an openly posted risk matrix and research plan that anyone can see on the Internet.

          We don’t go anywhere else without going through LEO first. We certainly don’t go anywhere else without a clear rationale that addresses national needs, either. I have yet to see you offer a solution to either condition.

          • James

            Justin
            Seems to me that there are a few that are seeing the ISS as a useful platform for medicine research.

            And, I bet its cheaper for the nation to be doing something like that in a Bigelow Bungalow!

            Which kind of supports capitalism and free market enterprise, vs. a very expensive government program.

            And I agree, if people thought the Shuttle huggers had a tight grip on the Shuttle program, image the white knuckles and blisters folks will have hanging on to the ISS if consideration is given to ending that program.

            Politics more than actual usefulness will keep the ISS a float I fear beyond 2020.

            • Justin Kugler

              Not just medical research. There is growing interest in its ability to act as a modular satellite bus for technology development and proving out new instruments and systems that the insurance industry won’t let on commercial satellites. Also look at NanoRacks – they’ve flown over 70 paying customers from all over the world to the ISS on a services-based model.

              The ISS may not be the platform everyone wanted or would choose to have in an ideal world, but it’s what we’ve got and it is actually being used to obtain essential knowledge for future exploration, conduct good science (like AMS and the upcoming Science Mission Directorate payloads), and serve as a pathfinder for commercial use of microgravity.

              • Justin Kugler wrote:

                The ISS may not be the platform everyone wanted or would choose to have in an ideal world …

                Let’s be honest. What they really want is a Death Star.

          • DCSCA

            “One particular faction within NASA wanted to do that.”

            Yeah. The smart ones.

            • Justin Kugler

              Station is still flying. Constellation never did except for one, non-representative test suborbital launch. The smart ones got out of that train wreck when we could.

      • DCSCA

        “If you don’t believe in human spaceflight then you just don’t.” asserts Jim.

        That’s a strawman. The point is to establidh a viable ratioanale for it– at least in American society- beyond the ‘flags andf footprints’ pitch of the Cold War, for the 21st century. Bear in mind, Von Braun , Ley and their ilk spent decades cultivating the potential with the public but it was as a reaction to Soviet initiatives that acted as a catalyst to grenlight and accelorate U.S. efforts. That doesn’t exist today– ringht now, anyway. A PRC initiative might elicit a reaction but that may bvery well be indifference and the Obama chant of ‘
        been there, done that.’ Given the quixotic nature of American culture, a HSF rationale may never take root here no matter how strongly that rationale is pitched. The U.S. could very well be the ‘Portugal’ of the space age in the end. Whereas the powers that be which want to press on w/HSF ops will simply shrug and move on into the 21st century– and space.

        • JimNobles

          -
          “If you don’t believe in human spaceflight then you just don’t.” asserts Jim.

          That’s a strawman. The point is to establidh a viable ratioanale for it– at least in American society- beyond the ‘flags andf footprints’ pitch of the Cold War, for the 21st century.

          As it turns out, I found that I am not interested in involving people in human space flight or even space in general if they are not inclined to already be interested in it. I know that there are things some of my taxes are spent on that I object to but can’t really do anything about. I know that people who don’t believe in space don’t like the idea that they have to help pay for it. I basically agree with them. In a better world no one should have to help pay for something they don’t agree with.

          That is one of the reasons I support the idea of commercial space as I do. Although space may not be truly commercial yet it is my hope it’s mostly heading that way. In commercial space (like most commercial endeavors) people vote with their wallets. And if they don’t want to be part of it they don’t have to vote. They don’t have to have their money lifted. So I cheerlead commercial space.

          Commercial is the best way I know to change the system so that those that want to be involved can be involved and can be involved to whatever extent they desire and can afford. But those that don’t want to be involved don’t have to be involved at all and wouldn’t have to pay anything.

          I know this is probably not the way it will end up working but my hope is that it ends up close to something like this. Or put another way…

          As far as possible, let the Space Cadets run the space program.
          As far as possible, let the Space Cadets pay for the space program.

      • @JM,…..Solution: after we splash down the ISS, we DON’T build a new one! Who needs yet another ISS to keep us chained to LEO any longer?! Just re-direct the savings money to a genuine manned cislunar/lunar return program, involving a manned lunar orbiter craft (the Orion) AND a lunar lander craft (the Altair L-SAM). THAT is what NASA should have been doing ALL along! Stop this madness of endless bungalows in LEO!

        • Hiram

          We need to be working on bungalows on the Moon instead of bunglows in LEO? A space hab is a space hab is a space hab. Whether it’s in LEO, or on the lunar surface. The orbital period of the former is an hour and a half. That of the latter is 27 days. A lunar bungalow is somewhat advantageous in that no stationkeeping propellant is necessary. It’s also easier to walk away from. But it’s a lot harder to keep clean.

          • @Hiram,…..And a bungalow built on Mars or on Phobos would be just as difficult to keep the gritty dust off of it! The Flexible Path people sound so hilarious with their intense mono-mania against dealing with the Moon & dealing with new lander vehicles, yet have zero issues with having to construct way-more harder ones, with which to land on the Red Planet or to do a rendezvous/docking with an asteroid.

            • Not true. It’s just that we can have the Moon with a lander and go other places without SLS and not have to wait for SLS to be developed. And we could do this while keeping ISS. If SLS were gone we would have enough money to develop that lander, get that lander with astronauts to the Moon with existing launch vehicles and develop the technology for going deeper into space than the Moon.

              Given those facts, it is you SLS huggers who are “hilarious”.

            • Hiram

              That makes no sense. The disadvantage of landing vehicles is that we can’t afford them. That was demonstrated with Constellation. We could afford Orion, and we’re now barely trying to afford a replacement for Ares V. Altair? Jeepers, we could go out on the street and take donations maybe? Flexible path has always been seen as a budget-limited strategy.

              Rendezvous/docking with an asteroid (especially one nearby) is way more harder than landing on the Moon? You gotta be kidding. We do rendezvous and docking routinely. Surface power, mobility, EVA, and life support systems are totally different than what we now use.

              • Hi Hiram, the reason why we couldn’t afford landers with Constellation was the Ares 1 fiscal black hole. We can’t afford them now because of SLS. Kill SLS and we can have landers AND new space tech. NASA, industry, and university studies show this with direct cost comparisons of Constellation and/or SLS versus using existing commercial launch vehicles.

    • Fred Willett

      To answer your questions.
      Sounds like Charlie is saying that w/o the ISS up there post 2020, there isn’t the business case for new space commercial crew industry.
      Europes ATV is coming up on it’s last flight. As well NASA is upping the ISS crew from 6 to 7.
      Thus NASA is most likely going to be looking for 3 rather than 2 cargo vessels for the next round of ISS resupply contracts. (2016 to 2020) Plus there is going to be a contract for 2 commercial crew flights a year after 2017.
      All together that makes up to 8 flights a year for 3-4 different companies even if the ISS is deorbited in 2020.
      However that is unlikely for several reasons.
      1/ you don’t build a building and just throw it away if it can continue to be used.
      2/ NASA’s partners want to keep it.
      3/ Now that it’s actually finished being built lots of good science is being done there (in spite of what windy says).
      So if ISS is extended out to 2028 that’s a really good market for commercial crew and cargo.
      As well there is the possibility of other markets; Bigelow etc being developed. Now these markets may or may not materialise. But they certainly won’t if there are no commercial crew vehicles there to support them.
      But, the ISS is proving not to be the scientific workhorse that many predicted it would be in 1986
      In fact it is. Lots of stuff being done there now and more will be when a 7th crew member is added.
      And, while Bolden is complaining about $67M for a few years of Russian taxi service to ISS, isn’t 3 or 4 more of those kinds of contracts a lot cheaper for the nation than the $800M or so of yearly contributions to new space commercial crew?
      You’re comparing the development costs with the running costs.
      Development costs of Soyuz has been written off long ago. the running cost of Soyuz is $67Mper seat. The running cost of Dragon is $20M a seat.
      Compare those.
      The reason SpaceX (and CST-100 & Dreamchaser) will be cheaper is because they carry 7 pasasengers each compared with Soyuz 3.
      Another factor is all $67M goes out of the country.
      ALL of payments to SpaceX, Boeing or SNC stays in the US and is ploughed back into the economy, and some, of course, is collected as taxes.
      Paying the Russians drains the US economy. US commercial Crew grows the US economy.
      Bigelows Bungalows can replace the ISS as a platform for human research projects required before we enter BEO space
      Eventually yes. But throwing away a perfectly good station (ISS) before you need to is just wasting money. When the ISS wears out then you replace it. Not before.
      And I also hold the view that there really is no real purpose for human space flight, other than porky pork pork.
      Some people think so. I personally have no use for Tasmania. But some people do, and actually choose to live there. Who am I to argue with these odd people. Likewise some people want to go to the Moon, or Mars, or Tau Ceti. Who am I to say they shouldn’t be allowed to try?
      Hey, it’s a free universe.

      • DCSCA

        1/ you don’t build a building and just throw it away if it can continue to be used.

        The operators of Saylut, Skylab and Mir would disagree as would the owners of Giants Stadium, Three Rivers Stadium, the orginal Yankee Stadium to name a few. ‘Course the Astrodome is still in limbo– maybe you’ve got a use for it.

        • What part of “… if it can continue to be used.” did you not understand?

          Presumably the Russians got all they thought they could out of each of the Salyut stations (and Salyut 7 overlapped Mir for a time), as happens with most unmanned space systems at some point.

          Shuttle schedule overruns (a re-boost mission was considered as early as the second flight, until it was clear that they could not make them overlap) and unexpected Sun-induced increases in atmospheric drag killed Skylab before it could be reached again. (how much longer it might have been used after that, will continue to be an unknown)

          The Russians weren’t entirely done with Mir either (and a privatization effort was underway), but NASA pressure to have them concentrate their resources on ISS was a factor.

          • @FG,…..Too bad the Skylab station couldn’t last till the Shuttle could’ve reached it! We might’ve very well have gotten over our monomania obsession with such LEO structures, in the 80′s & 90′s, and eventually have been able to move on to loftier & better things! (Like returning to the Moon and utilizing its resources & its advantageous position in deep space.)

            • (sigh) Chris, it’s not all about ‘loftier and better.’ Today’s ‘loftier and better’ (I remember Friendship 7 very well) becomes tomorrow’s ‘been there, done that.’

              There are those who already feel that way about the Moon. Somebody will say the same about Mars after mission 3 or 4. What will you do when we reach Pluto?

              Exploration, research and development will not be done by hopscotching our way across the solar system.

        • Fred Willett

          Right. And these buildings were all built then just thrown away right?

    • amightywind

      So the value of ISS is suspect other than a business case target for new space commercial crew.

      Amightywind has been making this simple point for years. You won’t find anyone else here to acknowledge the pointlessness of spending 15 years and billions of dollars developing a capability that will be used for 36 months and at most 10 flights. The shuttle was a 30 year program. Admittedly silly, but a program none the less. It made abundant sense to scrap it for technology it and go back to where Apollo left off, Apollo on steroids. Now we have no space program.

  • DCSCA

    “What are they going to do, splash a hundred billion dollar piece of equipment and then go to congress to ask for 30 billion or so to build another one?” asks Jim.

    Of course. It means jobs. And ‘national security.’ how many years of down time did shuttle rack up getting upgraded and refurbished over three decades. The rationale for NATO– a very expensive adjunct to the MIC, ended when the Warsaw Pact dissolved and the Berlin Wall came-a-tumbling down. But a rationale was created to keep NATO not only around- but expand it. WW2 ended 68 yeas ago– but there are still plenty of U.S. installations and personnel in Germany. They can splash ISS and ask for something smarter, better and goes someplace other than in circles. Constellation– or at least Ares– was just a bad bird., no thanks to Griffin.

    • E.P. Grondine

      Yes, Ares 1 was a “bad bird”. A really “bad bird”, which no amount of money could fix.

      • amightywind

        Seemed to me to fly well. Your comments are short on specifics.

      • @E.P.Gr.;……The Ares 1 could’ve worked, if we really had put the right money & effort into the sub-project. But Constellation could have afforded a few changes, to the originally-conceived Plan, and so, if another small & light rocket would’ve been substituted for the Ares 1, to launch the Orion CEV, then the human lunar return project could still’ve marched on! I do NOT understand how one seemingly “weak” chain in an overall plan, can be seen as a “justification” to terminate in entirety, the said plan.

        • The Ares 1 could’ve worked, if we really had put the right money & effort into the sub-project.

          Almost any stupid idea can be made to work if you pour enough money and effort into it. That doesn’t mean it’s not a waste of money and effort.

          • Malmesbury

            Ares I reached the point of not being able to work, no matter what was spent. They were constrained to – SRB first stage, J2X second and Orion on top.

            Even after stripping Orion of almost everything – including deep space capability! – they couldn’t get it to close. Despite going to an insane value for MaxQ. Vibration isolation was on top of that.

            The fact that a LAS big enough to get the capsule out of the fragment cloud for a destructed SRB would exceed the G-limits for humans was almost a comic afterthought….

        • Malmesbury

          Ares V was in trouble as well – technically and cost wise. Altair was gaining weight and cost as well.

          The irony is that the er… fans of shuttle infrastructure destroyed it themselves. If they had gone for – a smaller capsule that could fly on Atlas, with an hab for long duration flight and Direct (KISS version of shuttle derived heavy lifter) – then they could have been flying now.

          The debate at this moment would have been which tech to go with on the upper stage for the heavy lifter….

    • “They can splash ISS…”

      Accepting that, purely for the sake of argument…

      “…and ask for something smarter, better and goes someplace other than in circles.”

      As if you have to ‘go’ somewhere to conduct many kinds of space research…not all space ‘research’ is space ‘exploration.’ That will be true, even when we have boots on Pluto.

      But still, what makes you (or Windy) so sure that that wish would necessarily be granted? Money not spent on A does not automatically get spent on B (if anything at all) instead. We may merely find ourselves in the position we would, had ISS never been approved. No certainty of US HSF going anywhere at all, post-Shuttle (and such a time, sooner or later, would have come…eventually it, too, could not ‘continue to be used.’), even in ‘circles.’

  • Rhyolite

    “The extension of the agreement with Roscosmos for additional Soyuz flights to the ISS in 2017 was “something I did not want to do” because the price went up.”

    I wonder what went up by more in the same period of time: the cost of Orion or the cost of a year’s worth of Soyus flights? I’m betting that Lockheed chiseled more than Roscosmos.

  • JimNobles

    DCSCA said, They can splash ISS and ask for something smarter, better and goes someplace other than in circles.

    It wouldn’t bother me if the ISS was replaced with something more modern and less expensive to operate. But it will be another orbital facility. All the partners and most people interested in space think we need one. Some people think we need more than one. And it also wouldn’t bother me if they were basically commercial.

    As far as dreams of vehicles of any size leaving earth orbit I don’t think congress is going to pay for something like that. Not for the foreseeable future anyway. The political will just doesn’t seem to be there even though some people fantasize that it is.

    Look for any future “projects of scale” to have a sizable commercial component since that’s probably the only realistic way to get the rest of the money that the government won’t give.

    • DCSCA

      “Look for any future “projects of scale” to have a sizable commercial component since that’s probably the only realistic way to get the rest of the money that the government won’t give.” says Jim.

      DCSCA would support the establishment of a government ‘project of scale’ lunar facility, for exploration and exploitation purposes, that facilitates opportunites for logistic support via commercial in tandem w/government efforts in cis-lunar ops. This is the inevitable way out into the solar system. Beats going in circles no place, fast for another few decades, by 240,000 miles. And it’s a lot harder to walk away from that kind of oommitment once it’s established than splashinfg space plastforms rvery few decades. The real question is whether commercial would be up to the challenge w/o government subsidies. Supplying a lunar base would likely be something they’d go for. Moves everybody forward. But everything again comes back to establishing a rationale for HSF- at least in the United States, for the 21s century. Just don’t see anyone with any credibility trying to make one beyond the ‘flags and footprints’ pitch akin to the cultivated pitch by Von Braun, Ley, et al.,in the last century. Everything flows from establishing that rationale and having it take root in American society.You can cut the indifference to it these days in America with a knife. THat’s partly the fault of the Apollo legacy, but mostly just the character of the culture. It’s a nation that prefers to b entertained by NASCAR, not NASA, going in circles, no place, fast.

      • Malmesbury

        What people are indifferent to is programs that escalate in cost to infinity while their capabilities shrink.

        Think how exciting the F35 is……

        The Simpsons episode where Homer goes up on the Shuttle is an exact match to how people see the space program.

      • DCSCA would support the establishment of a government ‘project of scale’ lunar facility

        DCSCA, which is now referring to itself in the third person, has obviously mistaken us for people who care what DCSCA would support.

      • JimNobles

        -
        DCSCA said, DCSCA would support the establishment of a government ‘project of scale’ lunar facility, for exploration and exploitation purposes, that facilitates opportunites for logistic support via commercial in tandem w/government efforts in cis-lunar ops.

        Works for me. But how much of it would be “government” would probably depend on how much money congress would actually contribute.

        • DCSCA

          “Works for me. But how much of it would be “government” would probably depend on how much money congress would actually contribute.”

          Well, government would have to take the lead, of course. ‘Throw the hat over the wall’ as it were… and commercial would follow along with the right incentives. The real issue is deciding to commit to it over a long term. Whether that exists in the american character today is increasingly under question. Most likely we’ll continue with thye ‘fits and starts’ and reactionary policies as witness o many other fronts in American society. THe real kicvker wil lbe how the U.S. reacts to a PRC initiative toward Luna.

  • Martijn Meijering (@mmeijeri)

    “I’m not sure to this day that Bolden knows about the results of that study, the ULA study, or the Wilhite studies; the latter of which directly compare SLS to alternative methods for doing manned deep space exploratory missions.”

    I think that’s in fact what Bolden is referring to when he says “not currently viable”. But he’s still wrong, since all we need is existing launchers, docking, hypergolic propellant transfer and a modified Centaur. The first three already exist, and work on the Centaur could start now. And of course, we need a spacecraft.

    • Malmesbury

      Centaur doesn’t exist for BEO. Politically it can’t. Therefore Congress will legislate its non-existence. Then they can fix the value for PI.

  • josh

    i wish obama would fire bolden and replace him with pete worden…

    • josh wrote:

      i wish obama would fire bolden and replace him with pete worden…

      Why would he do that? Bolden is carrying out the space policy directed by the White House. Anyone else in the Administrator position would be expected to do the exact same thing Bolden is doing.

      • E.P. Grondine

        Hi Stephen –

        Space policy is set by the Congress, and exectued by the President. That’s why it is called the Executive Branch.

        The President can propose certain courses of action to the Congress, but that by no means assures that the Congress will choose them.

        When you see the discussions here, it is well to keep in mind that most posters here have their own mission biases, and when you strip away the colorful expressions, most of them focus entirely on manned flight to Mars. My own bias is supporting the Comet and Asteroid Protection System (CAPS), with manned flight to Mars to come later on.

        • Hiram

          On the contrary, only the broad outlines of space policy are set by Congress. Once those broad outlines are established, the Administration is charged with filling in the policy details. Congress can say “yes” or “no” to those details, but doesn’t routinely micromanage.

          I’ll go a step further and point out that even those broad outlines of space policy are usually first painted by NASA, and humbly offered to Congress through the filter of the President’s own policy goals. A NASA Administrator can therefore be expected to suggest creative broad policy outlines for Congress. One can be sure that broad policy outlines that Pete Worden would come up with would be quite different with what Charlie Bolden could come up with. Not clear that Pete’s pictures, as Administrator, would survive his boss’s filter, though.

          Congress has neither the technological nor scientific smarts to develop any implementable form of space policy.

      • josh

        he seems so clueless and confused about what’s going on within the agency. plus, the constant crying…

  • For the people who think we should splash the ISS because it somehow stands in the way of deep-space flight:

    http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/humanresearch/

    NASA’s Human Research Program. Using the ISS to study the consequences of long-term space flight on the human body.

    Increased risk of cancer. Kidney stones. Eye damage. Bone loss. And lots more.

    It’s foolish to think we should be sending people out beyond low Earth orbit for deep-space missions without solving these problems. As one lecturer said in the Space and Cancer Conference that certain people here refuse to watch, the last thing you want when you arrive at Mars is to suffer a kidney stone.

    To quote from their ISS Medical Project page:

    The goals and objectives of the ISS Medical Project (ISSMP) are to maximize the use the ISS and other spaceflight platforms to assess the effects of long-duration spaceflight on human systems, devise and verify strategies to ensure optimal crew (individual and group) behavior and performance; and develop and validate a suite of integrated physical (e.g., exercise), pharmacologic and/or nutritional countermeasures against deleterious effects of space flight that may impact mission success or crew health.

    Why certain people think we should pretend this stuff doesn’t happen in space is beyond me.

    • amightywind

      Using the ISS to study the consequences of long-term space flight on the human body.

      So after 50 years of space flight to what conclusions is NASA coming? Is this open ended investigation really worth the $3 billion we pour into it annually? Of course not. Think of what we could do with the $3 billion. We could build the large vehicles we need to finally replace the shuttle. We can conduct the asteroid mission Obama mandated in 2010.

      • Neil Shipley

        Idiot. Space flight doesn’t equate to space medical research. Stop being fixated on the mechanics like Congress. Think a bit about the human aspects.

      • Coastal Ron

        amightywind said:

        So after 50 years of space flight to what conclusions is NASA coming?

        Prior to the ISS, the longest the U.S. ever kept a human in space in a U.S. space facility was 84 days. Just about anybody can survive 84 days in space and recuperate after they get back to Earth.

        But if the goal is to survive for years in space without becoming a pool of radiated jelly, then we need a facility to understand what’s really happening over long periods of time, and a place to test the solutions. The ISS is the right facility for doing that.

        If you think we’ll figure all of that out during 20-day MPCV flights, you are sorely mistaken.

      • Justin Kugler

        Your claim that the research is open-ended is evidence enough that you didn’t actually read the links.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA
    May 5, 2013 at 2:21 am · Reply

    The U.S. could very well be the ‘Portugal’ of the space age in the end…>>

    I am tempted to ask who you think is “The Spainish”

    You’re comment is not consistent with the notion you have of relying on the Russians for access to ISS or even splashing ISS and “moving on”

    There is no obvious “Spain” on the horizon in therms of the human space age…at least if you are referring to Columbus and the voyages to the “Indies” which lead to the new world…and Spanish efforts there.

    After 50 plus years of human spaceflight there is no cost to value rationale for the effort. Why? Its a double edge sword in my view. Government cost to orbit are so high in retrospect to every nation that is trying its economy (ie the Russians would not even be on ISS if we were not paying for them). The Indians for instance have relatively cheap access to space, but not for their economy.

    Also what is done in space by humans is so limited.

    So far every nation that is doing it (including the US) is simply doing it for either national “”chest beating” or simply on bureaucratic inertia.

    Unless either or both those sword edges are blunted; ie cost go down and versatility goes up…then there is nothing to suspect that human spaceflight will ever be more then a curiosity.

    The bookends are clear. The South Pole has a thriving population because being there is so cheap…but there are no cities or settlements or even people living beneath the seas…and probably never will be. There are submarines (national security) adn oil platforms that have long term stays…but cruise ships are very temporary and no one is planning “ATlantis”.

    There may be nothing that fits in those bookends, but we have spent 50 yeas in the US letting government try in a country that never had a national airline; so the opposition you have to giving private enterprise a leg up to take a peek and see if it can happen is puzzling (although I do like the third person references…Palinesque)

    Anyone who thinks that the Chinese are going to have large basis on the moon either thinks that they just have so much money and no clue how to use it; or have a pretty cheap system for moving people around in space; and neither is accurate.

    You’re comments are essentially, from a logical statement; illogical

    SDorry for the absence. Been testing a new microgravity plane for a sovereign client. The country that is getting its registration painted on it as we speak in Goodyear Arizona is likely to use it mostly to test “parts” but they really want a national human spaceflight program…if they can afford it. They are “keeping up with the Jangs and Ho’s” RGO

  • Neil Shipley

    China can’t work out how SpaceX is able to produce vehicles as cheaply as they do so they’re clearly going to have to work that out before developing any Lunar bases. Not to mention all the other hardware required.

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