Events, NASA, White House

More asteroid outreach, digital and analog

With NASA’s plans for an asteroid retrieval mission not currently winning widespread approval, particularly in Congress, as seen as a recent House Science Committee hearing, the space agency and the administration appear to be stepping up their efforts to build support for the mission.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy announced this week plans to host a Google+ “hangout” this Friday on asteroids. NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver will participate, along with The Planetary Society’s Bill Nye, Ed Lu of the B612 Foundation, Planetary Resources co-founder Peter Diamandis, and Jose Luis Galache, an astronomer at the Minor Planets Center. The news hook for this hangout is Friday’s flyby of Earth by the asteroid 1998 QE2, a near Earth object 2.7 kilometers across that poses no impact risk to the Earth for the foreseeable future. However, the OSTP announcement also refers to the asteroid initiative in the president’s 2014 budget request, including an asteroid retrieval mission.

On June 18, NASA is hosting a half-day workshop on the asteroid initiative in Washington, which will include the release of a request for information (RFI) “to seek new ideas for mission elements” from the community. The agenda features a variety of senior NASA and OSTP officials. “We will describe our upcoming planning timeline and clearly identify opportunities and processes for providing input into our planning,” the NASA announcement reads. For those who can’t be there in person, the event will be broadcast on NASA TV. That workshop could address one of the frequent criticisms about the agency’s asteroid initiative: the lack of details about mission’s cost, schedule, and so on, at least by explaining when those details will be better known.

188 comments to More asteroid outreach, digital and analog

  • For the first time, NASA is proposing a human space flight mission, and it received little support even among space advocates.
    That should be telling.

    Bob Clark

    • common sense

      Regardless of the interest, NASA proposes a mission they hope they can afford with the budget they hope they will have.

      What should NASA propose to receive support?

      Support is meaningless, so more importantly, what should NASA propose to receive adequate budget?

    • Coastal Ron

      Robert Clark said:

      For the first time, NASA is proposing a human space flight mission, and it received little support even among space advocates.

      No Bob, not for the “first time”. Constellation didn’t receive a lot of support either when Griffin announced his “Apollo on steroids” plan. It was the most underwhelming use of $100B ever announced. And you also forget all the prior plans that died after being announced. You have a very short memory.

      And if anything, the lack of unanimity for any “plan” today is just reflective of our fractured society. Just look at the space community as a whole, where there is no agreement on what to do next. Without some sort of outside influence – some sort of “National Imperative” to focus us – there is unlikely to a government announcement that “unites us all”.

      • Hiram

        Congress gave significant support to Constellation. It was (albeit backhandedly) highlighted in the Authorization bill that laid out Congress’ view of the future for NASA. Congressional authorizers appear far less sympathetic to the ARM than they did to Constellation. These are folks who take long views and, honestly, there isn’t much about ARM that fits in a responsible long view.

        It will be interesting to see how ARM is treated in the Authorization bill that is due to be legislated this year.

        At root, NASA is just floundering about what they want human space flight to be for. The recipe they’re trying to come up with is one that features “adventure” and, as Friedman so boldly put it, audaciousness. Also SLS and Orion. But we can’t afford anything else. I should say that neither the administration nor Congress has helped NASA decide what human space flight should be for. Many space advocates swear on colonization and settlement, but Congress and the administration won’t touch those words with a fifty-foot pole.

        • Egad

          It will be interesting to see how ARM is treated in the Authorization bill that is due to be legislated this year.

          I will be foolish and make a prediction: NAA2013 will disallow ARM and dictate a return to the moon NLT 2025. Preference for using the 130-tonne version of SLS will be expressed. Funding questions will be avoided.

          • JimNobles

            -
            I will be foolish and make a prediction: NAA2013 will disallow ARM and dictate a return to the moon NLT 2025. Preference for using the 130-tonne version of SLS will be expressed. Funding questions will be avoided.

            Fortune-telling Congress is always dodgy but this doesn’t seem like an unreasonable prediction to me.

          • Coastal Ron

            Egad said:

            NAA2013 will disallow ARM and dictate a return to the moon NLT 2025. Preference for using the 130-tonne version of SLS will be expressed.

            The 130mt version of the SLS isn’t supposed to be ready until 2032 or so, and since the money needed to accelerate that date would likely be consumed by the DDT&E needed to building the Moon-related hardware, it’s unlikely the date would change.

            Look, Constellation was going to take $100B and not get back to the Moon until the mid-2030′s, and there is a reason for that – NASA has too much stuff to develop in order to do that any faster under the current budget limits (and Constellation required a massive budget increase).

            Trying to do the same thing with the SLS and a crippled MPCV is fantasy, especially if you think you can do it faster and for less money. Pure fantasy.

        • common sense

          “At root, NASA is just floundering about what they want human space flight to be for. ”

          But how would you not be floundering? Your customer, Congress, only gives lip service to the mission they tell you to do. Constellation is an example. Supposedly supported by both parties in Congress and by the WH.

          Now the truth of course is that NASA was supposed to execute the VSE using their ongoing and forecasted budgets. Not to come up with an unaffordable architecture and for that reason alone I am sure they haven’t finished to pay the price. True too that Congress designed the SLS and forced it down the throat at NASA. But how do you gain support and I mean budget if you alienate Shelby? And Nelson? Nelson’s policy was so apathetic that he seemed a GOPer.

          NASA’s position is untenable and something will break OR they will slowly fade away OR preferably they will be able to find affordable strategies to execute their mission. Mission by the way that is different whether you listen to the WH or to Congress.

          NASA has many faults for sure but Congress is totally unable to do anything, and that includes NASA. Their division lies with ideologies and power rather than the best for the American people.

          My prediction, which is the same as always: SLS and MPCV will survive for as long as there are votes/jobs at key. Several things need to happen but primarily SpaceX, yes SpaceX, needs to be successful in all their endeavors. Tall order if you ask me but such is life. Then SLS, MPCV will be moot. By then most of the workforce will have retired or moved on. And we will finally be able to put these programs to rest.

          • Hiram

            “But how would you not be floundering?”

            Precisely right. NASA just serve the vision of the Administration, and the needs of Congress. With regard to the purpose of human space flight, neither the Administration nor Congress has ever made that clear. VSE was a step in that direction, but it was lost by confusion and hijacking.

            The Administration has to say THIS is what human space flight is for. It has to be constructively enthused about it, rather than reflexively confused about it, which has been the rule. “Hey, whatever it’s for, we’re excited about it!!!” This administration will not do that. The priority isn’t high enough. Congress has sort of said it. It’s about funneling dollars into their districts.

            • common sense

              Yep.

              Hence NASA HSF departure into oblivion or irrelevance and why we must support commercial space and hope really hard that a market will materialize. Otherwise HSF as a whole is just going to be shelved.

        • Coastal Ron

          Hiram said:

          Congress gave significant support to Constellation.

          Post Columbia, I think Congress have significant support to the VSE, which Constellation was the initial step. However the Griffin version of the plan did not excite anyone, except for hardcore Moon-return supporters.

          Congressional authorizers appear far less sympathetic to the ARM than they did to Constellation.

          Agreed. But not because of the merits of the plan so much as the political situation we’re in today. This President is not going to get much support from ANY Republican for ANYTHING. Couple that with the high price tag of doing anything in space, of which just killed the Constellation program (still a vivid memory, even for Congress), and that pretty much leaves NASA with no way to impress anyone.

          At root, NASA is just floundering about what they want human space flight to be for.

          As is the space community as a whole. Until the space community can come to some sort of broad consensus, how in the world can NASA? NASA is made up of many different special interests, which are supported by their own groups outside of NASA, so what happens inside NASA is representative to what’s happening in the whole space community. Some walls are going to have to come down before a plan that will be enthusiastically greeted will ever happen.

          Many space advocates swear on colonization and settlement, but Congress and the administration won’t touch those words with a fifty-foot pole.

          Yep. And I’m not sure it’s the right time to do that anyways – way too early.

          • E.P. Grondine

            Hi Hiram, CR –

            Yes, no one has a really good answer to the “Why?’ question, exept for myself and a few other people.

          • @CR,….Yes, hardcore Lunar-Return supporters, like myself! Project Constellation was way-far better than anything being proposed today! Just look at all this manned-reach-of-an-asteroid gloop that has been half-seriously put forward, by the new “experts”, in the last three years. What the freak has gone wrong with this country?! Are we really devolving to space acheivement OBLIVION?? Are we truly ready to just close up shop, and rest on our laurels, which go back past 40 years?? I for one, am SO fed-up with this latest stagnation stretch!! If China was NOT a Commie country, and NOT an ideological enemy of America——or if it was Taiwan which had the brave & promising manned space program, I as an aspiring engineer, would be strongly tempted to join up with their enterprise, on some level. Too bad a democratic, prosperous, non-Communist country, like say, Australia, is not our main international rival in the space arena!

            • “Are we really devolving to space acheivement OBLIVION??”

              If by we, you mean NASA, then yes. For the country’s human spaceflight capability as a whole, then no.

              In this case “oblivion” for NASA can be spelled with just three letters: S-L-S.

            • common sense

              “If China was NOT a Commie country, and NOT an ideological enemy of America——or if it was Taiwan which had the brave & promising manned space program, I as an aspiring engineer, would be strongly tempted to join up with their enterprise, on some level.”

              How more idiotic can you get? China is not a “Commie country” nor an “ideological enemy of America”. This is only the Wolf mentality. Did you check the components inside your computer and where they are coming from? Did you check where most manufacturing is being made these days?

              Have you ever visited either China or Taiwan to make your statements as you going there? Do you think they want another uneducated boisterous clown?

              Aspiring engineer? Oh boy. Why don’t you create your own rocket? In the meantime make sure you keep aspiring.

            • Coastal Ron

              Chris Castro said:

              Just look at all this manned-reach-of-an-asteroid gloop that has been half-seriously put forward, by the new “experts”, in the last three years.

              So, Caltech’s Keck Institute for Space Studies in Pasadena is classified by you as new “experts”?

              You do realize that studies are done all the time by every NASA center, including quite a few that are related to going back to the Moon.

              Are you saying that all NASA studies, including those that look at going back to the Moon, should be ignored?

              You are weird Chris.

              If China was NOT a Commie country, and NOT an ideological enemy of America——or if it was Taiwan…

              That whole part of your diatribe is one of the most bizarre you’ve ever written. And you’re hoping Australia starts a space race? You might want to make sure your meds are the right dosage…

            • E.P. Grondine

              Hi Chris –

              “by the new “experts”, in the last three years”

              No, this is not something Lori Garver pulled out of nowhere. Go back to Dan Goldin and his DPT effort back in the mid-late 1990′s, and you’ll find the manned mission to an asteroid there. That was its origin.

              Just because you ignored that or want to pretend hoped that that was not what happened, it is what happened.

              That mission has now “evolved” (wihtou going into details) into lassoing an asteroid, bringing it closer, and then visiting it by 2021. Administrator Bolden recently said he would be satisfied if he had the ability to deflect by then.

              This makes great sense to me, and I am will be very pleased as well.

              There are currently 3 efforts on to build a 60 ton medium heavy launchers. Whether that course will continue or not in the future, I do not know. But it makes sense to me for now, given the situation Griffin left behind with the Ares 1 failure.

              The original mission to visit an asteroid farther out as a stepping stone to Mars may or may not follow on after that.

              I am very pleased with the additional funding for finding these things, and with the effort to further develop our existing deep space intercept capabilities.

              The fact that the era when the progress of mankind’s civilization could be interupted by impact is ending very soon is pretty exciting for me.

              Perhaps someday you’ll be excited by it too.

    • E.P. Grondine

      Hi Bob –

      The self proclaimed and self identified “space advocate”
      community consists of manned Mars flight “enthusiasts” and manned Moon flight “enthusiasts”. The different elements of bothe groups have different overall goals, and different architectures using different launchers.

      IMO, neither group cares about what the pubic as a whole wants, nor do they understand the publics’ priorities for space, nor do they understand how little public support there is for manned flight to either the Moon or Mars.

      Aside from that, it looks like teh neocon stratetgy is
      1) to make sure that nothing gets accomplished, and
      2) to make it as diffiuclt as possible to accomplish anything
      3) then complain about the lack to leadership.

      Despite the analysis proped up here, the blunt fact is that the Ares 1 was a disaster, and the responsiblity for it les with Mike Griffin. As far as that goes, we stil don’t know the full story on what Griffin was thinking. What ATK did is still not known, nor their corporate strategy at that time.

      The currrent program stabilizes the situation left by the Ares 1 disaster, and is within budget.

      • Aside from that, it looks like teh neocon stratetgy is

        The what?

        Whenever I see the word “neocon” in a discussion on space policy, I know that I can safely ignore everything else that person writes, because they’re a) not serious and b) don’t even know what the word means.

        • E.P. Grondine

          Hi Rand –

          So what do you call those who try to do nothing other than frutrate attempts to handle the nation’s business?
          “The Wrecking Crew”?

          Here’s what I think. The manned Mars flight enthusiasts will get litttle support for their current efforts to stop the “lasso” mission and get funds “freed up” for manned flight to Mars, as Obama will invest only so much effort into protecting jobs and technology bases in Red States, and those who represent them know that.

          This budget and mission represent a balanced approach.

          • So what do you call those who try to do nothing other than frutrate attempts to handle the nation’s business?

            I have no idea whom you’re talking about.

            “The Wrecking Crew”?

            That’s what I’d call the political class in general.

      • Robert Clark

        “IMO, neither group cares about what the pubic as a whole wants, nor do they understand the publics’ priorities for space, nor do they understand how little public support there is for manned flight to either the Moon or Mars.”

        What do you see as what the public wants?

        Bob Clark

        • E.P. Grondine

          Hi Bob –

          Remeber that you have entertainment, interest, and use. Here’s my breakdown, based on personal dealings with people.

          1) They expect weather data from NASA.

          2) They expect NASA to keep them safe from impact.
          About the only group in NASA that really did a good job earlier was NASA PAO’s, which generally did it best to
          convince them that NASA had the situation under control.

          3) They expect NASA to definitely show whether CO2 warming is real or not. So the reflight of the two sats lost by Orbital is a need.

          4) They don’t even know about piezo electric effects and earthquakes, but if NASA could provide earthquake or volcano warnings…

          5) They do not think about it, but they use it: low cost launch for US comsats and broadcast sats.

          6) Rovers on Mars, and manned Mars as a longterm goal.

          7) Any of the fundamental answers to physics questions.
          While phyecisists set these high in priority, the public sets these low. Any answers have to be communicated in easy to understand forms.

          8) UFOs. For some reason the public thinks that NASA is responsible for handling UFOs and Little Green Men. I try to point them to the SETI institute and MUFON.

          This is likely biased by my specialty, but I try to adjust for that. Your can also track through Google news.

  • amightywind

    The administration and their agents at NASA should know by now that their powers of influence are practically nil. They would have been wiser to negotiate with the GOP before making their plans public. Instead Obama insiders, this time some well connected propeller heads at Caltech, produced yet another nutty plan. Does the administration enjoy pain? I dunno. But I certainly enjoy watching them in it.

    • DCSCA

      The administration and their agents at NASA should know by now that their powers of influence are practically nil.

      Yep. any feelers to further ‘privatize’ elements of NASA, facilities etc., and operations in the future will be stalled then shelved as the administrations moves into the lame duck phase (much quicker than they expected, too) and eventually into the history books. Best to start soudning out HRC’s latest position. Try via Clinton’s offices in NYC. Once the privateers are purged from NASA, it’s future will fall into focus under a HRC administration.

      • If you change your, “Once the privateers are purged from NASA, it’s future will fall into focus under a HRC administration.”
        to
        “If the privateers are purged from NASA, it’s future will fall”. Period.

        Would be closer to the truth. But the first mindless comment is nothing less than what I would expect from you.

      • amightywind

        Once the privateers are purged from NASA, it’s future will fall into focus under a HRC administration.

        You see her shrugging off dereliction of duty in Benghazi? I don’t. Its gonna make for some great political ads. “Where was Hillary went the call came at 3:00am…” It will be better than Willie Horton. I hoping for a reformed NASA under Rand Paul.

        Privateers. Funny. The leadership of NASA and the IRS are cut of the same ideological cloth.

        • I hoping for a reformed NASA under Rand Paul.

          If you really imagine that Rand Paul would be so idiotic as to support SLS, then you’re even more imbecilic that we thought.

        • Jim Nobles

          -
          You see her shrugging off dereliction of duty in Benghazi? I don’t. Its gonna make for some great political ads.

          If you think HRC is going to have problems with #Benghazigate you have not been keeping up. She’s already brushed that dandruff off her shoulders. Plus, she may not run for President, in her pictures she’s been looking pretty tired lately. I will admit that if she does run she’ll be the one to beat.

          I hoping for a reformed NASA under Rand Paul.

          Last I heard Rep. Paul believed NASA should be shut down and whatever functions deemed critical or necessary should be farmed out to private enterprise. Has that changed?

  • Joe

    Part of “NASA’s Problem” (really the current administrations problem) is likely technical.

    At a presentation at JSC a few weeks ago Administrator Bolden said this about the Asteroid retrieval mission: (1) The Asteroid would likely be significantly smaller than the 7 Meter/500 Tons of the Keck study. (2) The initial major challenge would be to be able to find and track an asteroid small enough to attempt recovery. (3) While returning the smaller asteroid to lunar orbit would remain a goal, the mission would be considered successful if it could be substantiated that the asteroids course had been altered.

    If that gets back to Congress, look for support to drop even further.

    • Coastal Ron

      Joe said:

      If that gets back to Congress, look for support to drop even further.

      The way this whole proposal came out smelled like it was a political effort on Senator Nelson’s part to find a mission for the SLS.

      The proposal itself has some scientific merit, but not enough to be the basis for a whole HSF program. And as you point out, the time scale is too long.

      • Joe

        The last time I checked Senator Nelson does not (nor does anyone else in the House or Senate) have a direct input to an executive branch budget proposal.

        Indulge in whatever fantasies you like, but the Asteroid Retrieval Mission is a product of the current administration.

        • common sense

          “The last time I checked Senator Nelson does not (nor does anyone else in the House or Senate) have a direct input to an executive branch budget proposal.”

          No? Really? Who votes the budget? The WH? You don’t know what their input in the budget is?

          “Indulge in whatever fantasies you like”

          Just like you.

          • Joe

            The Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM) is currently no more than a proposal in the Executive Branch Budget proposal. There have been no congressional votes on it. Hearings on it have not yet even begun.

            So your statements make no sense.

            Like I said “Indulge in whatever fantasies you like”, but the Asteroid Retrieval Mission is an exclusive product of the current administration.

            • common sense

              And so? It is a WH proposal indeed. Your simplistic statement was that “Senator Nelson does not (nor does anyone else in the House or Senate) have a direct input to an executive branch budget proposal.”

              Nelson has a direct input. He just hasn’t provided the input yet, just like anyone else in Congress.

              Learn English my friend. And logic while your at it.

              And clearly you have no ideas how those proposals are being run. If Nelson was briefed before the rollout, why do think it was? Any idea? Just for a fun-day in Congress kinda thing?

              • Joe

                “Nelson has a direct input. He just hasn’t provided the input yet, just like anyone else in Congress.”

                If that statement were not so sad it would be funny.

              • common sense

                No need to cry over it.

                Whatever.

              • Sadly, the White House does actually pay attention to what Nelson say, or at least did before the election, when Florida was in play and they imagined that he understood the local politics there.

        • Coastal Ron

          Joe said:

          The last time I checked Senator Nelson does not (nor does anyone else in the House or Senate) have a direct input to an executive branch budget proposal.

          Oh let’s not be politically naive here Joe. Backroom negotiations are a hallowed tradition in politics.

          And since Senator Nelson announced the plan (see article “Sen. Bill Nelson announces NASA’s plan to capture asteroid – CSMonitor.com”) before NASA did, it sure seems like he must have known about it before everyone else. Usually that only happens when a politician has been involved with putting the deal together.

          Indulge in whatever fantasies you like, but the Asteroid Retrieval Mission is a product of the current administration.

          Gee Joe, here I was trying to be all normal and everything, and you get snippy without me even disagreeing with you. So much for that olive branch…

          In any case, I never said that the Administration didn’t want to do the plan, I simply stated that I think Nelson had a hand in putting it together. Stick that into whatever fantasies YOU like.

          • Joe

            Nelson is a Democrat (and by all accounts a loyal one) so let’s not (as you say) be naïve. He may have been briefed on what the administration was going to propose, but that is not the same thing as having input.

            Senator X/Congressman Y could be briefed on Administration Z’s plan to replace the petrochemical industry with one based on flying rainbow colored unicorn droppings and then (if they are a loyal party member) be forced to decide if they will initially support the proposal.

            I would respectfully suggest (especially if Bolden’s comments are accurate) it would be best to wait and see whether (by the time the actual hearings are over) if Nelson will be supporting the “Mission to a Basketball”.

            • common sense

              “Nelson is a Democrat (and by all accounts a loyal one) so let’s not (as you say) be naïve.”

              Your tunnel-vision about politics is so simplistic that it explains a lot.

              Dems vs GOPers vs Dems… Yeah. It is that simple indeed.

              http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/05/29/obama-comey-fbi/2370763/

              • Joe

                And perhaps someday you will explain what selecting a new FBI Director has to do with the viability of the ARM.

                I would respectfully suggest (especially if Bolden’s comments are accurate) it would be best to wait and see whether (by the time the actual hearings are over) if Nelson will be supporting the “Mission to a Basketball”.

              • common sense

                Read my post and what I am referencing you wrote. Maybe you will understand.

            • It’s stupid to think that the White House would have come up with an asteroid retrieval mission on its own, given its indifference to space in general. This was almost certainly a Nelson initiative.

              • DCSCA

                It’s stupid to think that the White House would have come up with an asteroid retrieval mission on its own, given its indifference to space in general. This was almost certainly a Nelson initiative.

                This has a Holdren stink to it.

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “The way this whole proposal came out smelled like it was a political effort on Senator Nelson’s part to find a mission for the SLS.”

        Nelson was briefed on ARM before the budget rollout, but the proposal came from the Administration.

        That said, if porkers like Nelson in Congress hadn’t forced SLS and MPCV on the Administration, there would be enough resources to build actual human deep space exploration hardware, instead of trying to move a useless target to a location that MCPV can reach for a few hours on the cheap.

    • DCSCA

      joe, once Bolden did his very public flame out on Luna his credibility was toast. he’s place keeping until the administration is over, retires (which h should do) or is asked to leave.

  • MECO

    A fundamental problem is that the case for humans in space is basically pretty weak. Without a clear and compelling rationale, it has no true organizing principle to help focus. Calls to focus the mission on this destination or that one are just conjured up–basically Potemkin programs–and will not be able to stand the test of time. I’m not really happy about that, but I think that’s the reality.

    • Monty

      The case of HSF is not weak; it’s just been weakly articulated by NASA.

      Quite apart from species preservation (as if that weren’t enough), HSF will prove necessary to grow the Earth’s GDP significantly. Just as the Industrial Age vaulted the western world into a far wealthier, healthier, and more peaceful place than it had been before, so will the industrialization and colonization of space. There was no compelling reason for Europeans to go to any terrestrial frontier, either, yet the effort was put forth because there was profit to be made.

      NASA has never really figured out how to do HSF on a sustainable basis. Mercury and Gemini were never meant to be robust long-term architectures. Then there was the colossally expensive and wasteful Apollo architecture, and then the colossally expensive and fragile STS architecture. Then the ISS boondoggle that was redesigned several times and finally built at something like ten times the original estimate. What might have happened if NASA had focused on creating a modular, reliable building-block launch architecture (somewhat like the highly-reliable Russian Soyuz)? But no: every effort had to be cutting-edge, a clean sheet of paper, forgetting all the lessons learned before at such great cost.

      You can blame Congress for starving NASA of funds, but NASA hasn’t demonstrated much of an ability to make good use of the funds they’re given (and I’m not even getting into the robotic programs like HST and JWST). NASA’s reach exceeds its grasp, and they’ve always shown an institutional aversion to doing the hard, boring, unglamorous development work that must precede a larger movement beyond LEO. NASA wants to play with big rockets and expensive probes and skip right over all the hard, boring stuff. Yet NASA also exhibits a marked distaste for risk (either in engineering or in mission planning). It’s a schizophrenic way to behave, yet NASA is far from the only government agency to exhibit this kind of behavior.

      One of the reasons I hope the “New Space” firms succeed is that I’m tired of waiting for the dysfunctional, risk-averse, insular NASA to figure out how to do spaceflight properly.

      • common sense

        “The case of HSF is not weak; it’s just been weakly articulated by NASA.”

        Nope. The case of HSF actually is weak. Nothing to do with NASA and actually NASA has made quite a nice job keeping the money coming for all those years with nothing to show for it. It must say something.

        “Quite apart from species preservation (as if that weren’t enough),”

        It is the only case that makes sense.

        “HSF will prove necessary to grow the Earth’s GDP significantly. Just as the Industrial Age vaulted the western world into a far wealthier, healthier, and more peaceful place than it had been before, so will the industrialization and colonization of space. There was no compelling reason for Europeans to go to any terrestrial frontier, either, yet the effort was put forth because there was profit to be made.”

        This is baseless. Not that I am against it but other people have tried the case to no effect.

        “NASA has never really figured out how to do HSF on a sustainable basis.”

        More or less $10B a year is one version of sustainable.

        “Mercury and Gemini were never meant to be robust long-term architectures. Then there was the colossally expensive and wasteful Apollo architecture, and then the colossally expensive and fragile STS architecture. Then the ISS boondoggle that was redesigned several times and finally built at something like ten times the original estimate. What might have happened if NASA had focused on creating a modular, reliable building-block launch architecture (somewhat like the highly-reliable Russian Soyuz)? But no: every effort had to be cutting-edge, a clean sheet of paper, forgetting all the lessons learned before at such great cost.”

        No you have that absolutely wrong. You are mistaking a geopolitical stunt, even ISS, with a technological achievement.

        “You can blame Congress for starving NASA of funds, but NASA hasn’t demonstrated much of an ability to make good use of the funds they’re given (and I’m not even getting into the robotic programs like HST and JWST). NASA’s reach exceeds its grasp, and they’ve always shown an institutional aversion to doing the hard, boring, unglamorous development work that must precede a larger movement beyond LEO. NASA wants to play with big rockets and expensive probes and skip right over all the hard, boring stuff. Yet NASA also exhibits a marked distaste for risk (either in engineering or in mission planning). It’s a schizophrenic way to behave, yet NASA is far from the only government agency to exhibit this kind of behavior.”

        Yes I do blame Congress for NASA and more. And more so than NASA. My suggestion to you if you are not yet is to actually get involved beyond advocacy. Work with or beside NASA and try to accomplish something in HSF then come back and tell us all about where the problems lie.

        “One of the reasons I hope the “New Space” firms succeed is that I’m tired of waiting for the dysfunctional, risk-averse, insular NASA to figure out how to do spaceflight properly.”

        You are somewhat wrong here. Commercial Space is working hands in hands with NASA. Without NASA there would be no commercial space. NASA is pushing for commercial space, not all NASA mind you but NASA nonetheless.

        Please get informed.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    And while we double down on the unnecessary stupidity of SLS and MPCV with an equally stupid mission to redirect a tiny, non-hazardous, useless rock to a location we’ve been before, solutions to the real obstacles of human deep space exploration go unaddressed and unfunded:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/space-radiation-makes-mars-mission-hazardous/2013/05/30/1acd1542-c94a-11e2-9245-773c0123c027_story.html?hpid=z3

    • Coastal Ron

      Dark Blue Nine said:

      And while we double down on the unnecessary stupidity of SLS and MPCV…”

      Wired has an article today that kind of summarizes what the recent Humans to Mars (H2M) conference saw as obstacles to a trip to Mars.

      The SLS is mentioned as a way to get lots of mass assembled in space quickly, but the Falcon Heavy is mentioned too. Most of the other stuff are things that Congress won’t fund, even though they need to be solved long before we need an HLV to build a Mars spaceship. Cart before horse…

    • DCSCA

      “And while we double down on the unnecessary stupidity of SLS and MPCV”…

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

      “… with an equally stupid mission to redirect a tiny, non-hazardous, useless rock…”

      The Obama Administration’s immediate HSF space policy is a low priority item an in ‘free drift’- tossed in the out box at KSC in 2010. The make work around Project Lasso is as dead as Apollo 13′s service module. His legislatitive agenda for much higher priority items has been thwarted, stalled or stopped and the quacking by this lame ducker has begun. He gives nice speeches but there’s little follow through- which is the norm. Project Lasso will be quietly shelved January 21, 2017 next to the Constellation files and ‘binders of woem’ donated to the Obama Library by the Romney’s for a tax break.

      “…to a location [Luna] we’ve been before solutions to the real obstacles of human deep space exploration go unaddressed and unfunded.”

      Per Neil Armstrong: “… there is much to be learned on Luna – learning to survive in the lunar environment, investigating many science opportunities, determining the practicality of extracting Helium 3 from the lunar regolith, prospecting for Palladium group metals, meeting challenges not yet identified… [Luna] leaves more than 14 million square miles yet to be explored… I support the encouragement of the newcomers toward their goal of lower-cost access to space. But having cut my teeth in rockets more than 50 years ago, I am not confident. The most experienced rocket engineers with whom I have spoken believe that it will require many years and substantial investment to reach the necessary level of safety and reliability.” Neil Armstrong, Congressional testimony excerpt, 2010

      If the ultimate goal is Mars (as opposed to Alpha Centauri–or God’s living room, etc.,) the immediate future given the state of the technologies at hand, the politics and the economics at play in this era, is Luna. It is not LEO nor NEO forays for asteroid grabs. (And it bears repeating– nobody gave the United States the authority to go changing the natural order of orbiting celestial bodies.) LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles, no where, fast.

      If you want to start out on ‘deep space’ HSF ops, the next logical step outward is to perfect the hardware, methods and procedures for off-planet habitation and cis-lunar HSF ops for exploration and exploitation on Luna. Establish a permanent outpost financed by government(s) and serviced by both government(s) and commercial services for exploration and exploitation of Luna’s resources. That is the way forward in this era. That is a challenging HSF project of scale for the participating nation(s) over the next 75-100 years. And it will easily take that long to establish and develop a proficiency in cis-lunar HSF ops before pressing on out to Mars, if the robots even report it being worth the trip.

      This century we master the Moon, build a ‘bridge between worlds’ and leave Mars to the rovers and SRMs. The Red Planet is turning out to be a superb proving ground for developing long-distance robotics technologies.

      • “SLS/MPCV is a geo-political strategy for the United States.”
        Only if the geo-political strategy is for the United States to be a failure in human deep spaceflight.

        No, it’s primarily a jobs program.

        • DCSCA

          You’re a NewSpacer and have flown nobody. and now you oppose job creation– good high tech jobs.

          ‘Human deep spaceflgiht’ is 22nd century stuff. Try keeping humans alive on Luna to explore and exploit for a few years– rather thana few hours– then start chattering aobut ‘deep spaceflight’ =eyeroll== Better still, as a NewSpacer, earn some street cred in the first place and get somebody up around and down safely. We’re 52 years from Gagarin and you’ve failed to even attempt to launch, orbit and safely return anyone. so your chatters about ‘deep spaceflight’ is superfluous.

          • Mader

            Again with this drivel?

            you’ve failed
            As I mentioned previously, to fail, one must first try. Earliest mentioned date for first try (manned Dragon) is 2015, and it probably will slip. So yeah, disguisting lying rethoric in effect.

            You’re a NewSpacer and have flown nobody.
            Even if they already flied, you would (or rather, will) dismiss it anyway. So why anyone would care what do you think?

      • Coastal Ron

        DCSCA mumbled:

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

        Pure fantasy. You’re just making up reasons to keep the pork flowing to your favorite causes.

        Per Neil Armstrong: “… there is much to be learned on Luna…

        Yes, all those various shades of grey. How many shades of grey can you see children? Let’s count them together – one shade of grey, two shades of grey, three shades of grey… ;-)

        Yes, so much to learn.

        What I see is future strip mining opportunities, not the Field of Dreams you see in picking up rocks. And if true, that means private industry will be leading the way towards exploiting the Moon, not government financed golfing/rock-collection expeditions.

        There is a reason rock hounds are a dying breed in the U.S., and it’s the same reason why no one in Congress is going to fund your lunartic idea. It’s been 40 years, you think you would have gotten a clue…

        • Mader

          Yes, all those various shades of grey. How many shades of grey can you see children? Let’s count them together – one shade of grey, two shades of grey, three shades of grey…
          And on Mars you can see various shades of red. You really try to have dumber arguments than DCSCA, do you?

          Advice for future: try to use argument, that while working for location you do not like (Moon), won’t work for location that you DO like (Mars). Otherwise, you will only embarass yourself.

          Yes, so much to learn.
          You know that “been there, done that” is most cretinious argument against “Moon First” ever, right?

          why no one in Congress is going to fund your lunartic idea.
          If you think Congress supports Mars First for same reasons as you, you are naive and very, very much mistaken. SPOILER: no one in Congress expect it to be actually realized. You, so much talking about monstrous porkrocket to nowhere, should know it best.

          • Coastal Ron

            Mader said:

            try to use argument, that while working for location you do not like (Moon), won’t work for location that you DO like (Mars).

            I don’t. I don’t advocate that we should go to Mars because it has interesting geology, which is what my “grey rock” schtick was about.

            If we go to Mars, it should be to try and live there – as part of expanding humanities presence throughout the solar system.

            If you think Congress supports Mars First for same reasons as you, you are naive and very, very much mistaken.

            I don’t. Congress supports small exploration efforts, and also supports science. But since there is not a widely acknowledged and agreed upon HSF plan, there is no cohesive support for ANY human exploration beyond LEO.

            Well, you know what happens when you make assumptions, eh? ;-)

            • Mader

              So you are suggesting planetary research is not good reason to go on either celestial body. I cannot agree with this view.

              I can, at most, agree that planetary research cannot be only one reason when picking between manned and unmanned solutions.

              • Coastal Ron

                Mader said:

                So you are suggesting planetary research is not good reason to go on either celestial body.

                For humans, yes. For robotic explorers, no.

                I look at it from a cost standpoint. Sending robotic explorers is far less expensive than sending humans, and so in that regard I do support pure science type programs that use robotic systems.

                But the justification for using humans to characterize a planets composition is far different, since the majority of the cost is involved in just getting humans there (and getting them back too of course). Since the costs will be so high, the primary goal should be to see if we can keep humans at that location, and then planetary research becomes just one of the many tasks that they can do there, but not the primary one.

      • Dark Blue Nine

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

        Only in your imagination. There is no Obama Administration policy document that articulates a “geo-political [sic]” goal or set of goals that SLS/MPCV fulfills or helps fulfill.

        “…to a location [Luna]”

        The end destination for ARM is not the Moon. It’s lunar orbit.

        Learn the difference, dummy.

        “Per Neil Armstrong: ‘… there is much to be learned on Luna – learning to survive in the lunar environment,’”

        To what end? We could spend billions and billions of dollars keeping a handful of people alive at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, too. What useful work are they going to do?

        “investigating many science opportunities”

        Which are what? What are these “many science opportunities” that require a human presence on the Moon? If there are “many science opportunities” requiring a human presence on the Moon, then why isn’t the research community clamoring to get astronauts on the Moon?

        “determining the practicality of extracting Helium 3 from the lunar regolith”

        Why spend billions of dollars extracting a fuel source that you can’t use? No one has successfully built a fusion powerplant, nevertheless an advanced one that requires He-3. Spend the billions on the powerplant first.

        “prospecting for Palladium group metals”

        Why? There are already three commercial palladium mines in North America alone (Sudbury Basin in Ontario, Stillwater Complex in Montana, and the Lac des Iles Complex in Ontario). Palladium prices on the global market have fallen to between half and three-quarters of their high from a decade ago.

        There are reasons to send astronauts back to the Moon, but your quote from Armstrong doesn’t hit on any of them.

        “If the ultimate goal is Mars… the immediate future… is Luna… If you want to start out on ‘deep space’ HSF ops, the next logical step outward is to perfect the hardware, methods and procedures for off-planet habitation and cis-lunar HSF ops for exploration and exploitation on Luna.”

        The Moon does little to nothing to prepare for human Mars missions. The propulsion, transit times, and radiation exposures are orders of magnitude different in scale. The landing systems are very different because one body has an atmosphere and the other does not. Operations are completely different because the time delays are off by orders of magnitude. The habitats share little in common because the gravity gradients, solar fluxes, temperature regimes, and toxins all vary wildly.

        There are reasons to send humans back to the Moon, but Mars is not one of them.

        • DCSCA

          “The Moon does little to nothing to prepare for human Mars missions.” wishes dbn.

          Except it does. Denial doesn’t change that. The technologies, economics and politics of this era all point to Luna as the way out to Mars and beyond.

        • DCSCA

          “There are reasons to send astronauts back to the Moon, but your quote from Armstrong doesn’t hit on any of them.” spins dbn.

          Except there are. And here are a few, again, per Neil Armstrong:

          “… there is much to be learned on Luna – learning to survive in the lunar environment, investigating many science opportunities, determining the practicality of extracting Helium 3 from the lunar regolith, prospecting for Palladium group metals, meeting challenges not yet identified…

          [Luna] leaves more than 14 million square miles yet to be explored…” -Neil armstrong, 2010.

          14 million reasons there alone to start with, dbn. To explore and exploit. The immdiate furure for HSF is Luna. not LEO. Not NEo asterois grabs. Not Mars. The politrics, economics and technologies in this eara all pointy to the Moon. It is the next logical step outwards– mastering cis-luinar space as a ‘bridge between worlds’ and transferring that experience and confidence to a Martian expedition, if the robots deem it is even worth making the trip by 2200 or so.

          • Dark Blue Nine

            “Except it does. Denial doesn’t change that. The technologies…”

            … are radically different. A propulsion system to get a crew to the Moon won’t get a crew to Mars. The delta-V, masses, and transit times all different. A landing system for the Moon won’t get a crew onto the surface of Mars. The gravitational gradient is off by a factor of two and Mars has an atmosphere while the Moon does not. Life support systems and habitats for a lunar crew won’t work for a Mars crew. The radiation exposures, gravity gradients, solar fluxes, temperature regimes, and toxins all vary wildly. Even operations are completely different because the communication delays with Earth are off by orders of magnitude.

            You clearly lack even a rudimentary understanding of planetary environments and space systems engineering.

            “economics and politics of this era all point to Luna as the way out to Mars and beyond.”

            There is no lunar economy and even lunar advocates admit that it will cost at least $88 billion to establish a bare bones lunar propellant and water production facility:

            http://www.universetoday.com/90097/paul-spudis-plan-for-a-sustainable-and-affordable-lunar-base/

            For that kind of money we could send over 80 Inspiration Mars-type human missions to Mars.

            http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2013/02/28/1-Billion-Dollar-Couple-Wanted-for-Mars-Trip.aspx#page1

            If you want to go to Mars, you go to Mars. You don’t go to the Moon.

            Setting aside addled fanatics like yourself, there are no Moon versus Mars politics. The facts are the facts — from a humans-to-Mars perspective, humans on the Moon are just a big waste of time and money.

            “And here are a few, again, per Neil Armstrong”

            You just repeated the same false rationales. Just because they came from the mouth of an astronaut and you cut-and-pasted them twice doesn’t mean that they’re justifications for human lunar missions.

            “there is much to be learned on Luna – learning to survive in the lunar environment”

            Again, to what end? What useful work is going to be done? We could spend billions and billions of dollars keeping a handful of people alive at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, too. That doesn’t produce anything useful, either.

            “investigating many science opportunities”

            Again, what are these “many science opportunities” that require a human presence on the Moon? If there are “many science opportunities” requiring a human presence on the Moon, then why isn’t the research community clamoring to get astronauts on the Moon?

            “determining the practicality of extracting Helium 3 from the lunar regolith”

            Again, why spend billions of dollars extracting a fuel source that you can’t use? No one has successfully built a fusion powerplant, nevertheless an advanced one that requires He-3. Spend the billions on the powerplant first.

            “prospecting for Palladium group metals”

            Again, why? There are already three commercial palladium mines in North America alone (Sudbury Basin in Ontario, Stillwater Complex in Montana, and the Lac des Iles Complex in Ontario). Palladium prices on the global market have fallen to between half and three-quarters of their high from a decade ago.

            There are reasons to send astronauts back to the Moon, but your obsessive-compulsive repetition of the same quote from Armstrong doesn’t hit on any of them.

            “[Luna] leaves more than 14 million square miles yet to be explored…” -Neil armstrong, 2010.”

            So what? There are nearly 140 million square miles of ocean bed that no human diver has ever trod upon. Does that mean that we need to have a human diver swim through every one of those 140 million square miles?

            Do you have any clue how stupid your arguments are?

            • There is no lunar economy and even lunar advocates admit that it will cost at least $88 billion to establish a bare bones lunar propellant and water production facility

              Some lunar advocates “admit” that. I personally think it could be done for much less — just not by NASA.

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “Some lunar advocates ‘admit’ that. I personally think it could be done for much less — just not by NASA.”

                The old t/Space CE&R outbrief put the present value of seven years of lunar propellant production (~250K kg/yr or ~1.8M kg total) at between $1.5B and $3.0B. I agree that there is much room for improvement on Spudis’s 70s-era approach. But I’m skeptical the costs of developing, deploying, and operating a lunar propellant plant for seven years could be brought under a couple or few billion dollars.

                Of course, until NASA or someone with deep pockets shows enough focus to follow up and obtain some ground truth on what Clementine, Lunar Prospector, and LRO told us, this is all fairy dust, anyway.

              • Coastal Ron

                Dark Blue Nine said:

                But I’m skeptical the costs of developing, deploying, and operating a lunar propellant plant for seven years could be brought under a couple or few billion dollars.

                Also, the Spudis/Lavoie plan called out for a 17 year build up, slowly growing capabilities. Though it could be done for less using existing launchers (Spudis is an HLV fanboi), rushing the build up faster than needed would increase costs.

                I hope and believe that some day we will mine the Moon, but the need to do that is still very far off. And stockpiling water and propellant on the Moon does not solve the basic issue of a lack of money to build all the space hardware and capabilities we’ll need just to reach the Moon to use those supplies.

              • Guest

                Of course, until NASA or someone with deep pockets shows enough focus to follow up and obtain some ground truth on what Clementine, Lunar Prospector, and LRO told us, this is all fairy dust, anyway.

                LCROSS was good enough for me. Mercury is yet another data point.

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “LCROSS was good enough for me.”

                LCROSS only showed that the Cabeus Crater ejecta contained ~3-9% water ice. LCROSS didn’t tell us how locally concentrated (or not) that water ice was in Cabeus, so we wouldn’t know how much other regolith our mining equipment would have to process to get a certain amount of water or propellant. LCROSS didn’t tell us at what specific depth(s) that water ice existed, so we wouldn’t know how far down our mining equipment would have to dig to get a certain amount of water or propellant. LCROSS didn’t tell us how that water ice is bound up physically (or not) with other regolith constituents, so we wouldn’t even know exactly what kind of mining equipment to bring to the Moon. And LCROSS certainly didn’t tell us where the best prospect for water ice is outside of Cabeus, so we wouldn’t even know where to land out mining equipment.

                LCROSS was a nice, lucky proof-of-existence. But we have to do a lot of more work before we know what the best specific location is for a lunar water/propellant plant and how to mine there.

                We don’t set up mines on Earth on the basis of a few Landsat images and one exploratory dynamite explosion.

              • Guest

                LCROSS was specifically targeted using Prospector data to yield the greatest return, and apparently that verified the initial distributions.

                I find it difficult to believe you when you refer to ‘luck’. There are several very recent Arxiv papers available explicitly quantifying the ‘luck’ involved in the initial targeting using new filtering techniques.

                And LCROSS certainly didn’t tell us where the best prospect for water ice is outside of Cabeus, so we wouldn’t even know where to land out mining equipment.

                That’s only true in that LCROSS didn’t, but Lunar Prospector did, and that is still the gold standard for hydrogen on the moon, which has now been validated by experiment. It doesn’t get better than that. It would have been nice to have a better omnidirectional instrument on LRO, but that would only have enhanced what we already know it true.

                A new neutron spectrometer specific lunar polar mission is indicated, how much could that cost, a couple hundred million at most, and a lot cheaper if done with cubesat technology using GRAIL gravity maps. This is where some navigational beacons in place on the poles could help.

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “LCROSS was specifically targeted using Prospector data to yield the greatest return, and apparently that verified the initial distributions.”

                By definition, you can’t verify a distribution with only one data point (like Cabeus).

                “I find it difficult to believe you when you refer to ‘luck’.”

                They were lucky that the hydrogen signals seen by prior probes turned out to be water in the case of Cabeus/LCROSS and not solar hydrogen deposite, OH, or something else.

                And although Cabeus/LCROSS improves the probability that hydrogen signals from other craters are water, it doesn’t guarantee it, not by a long shot.

                “That’s only true in that LCROSS didn’t, but Lunar Prospector did, and that is still the gold standard for hydrogen on the moon, which has now been validated by experiment. It doesn’t get better than that.”

                Only Cabeus has been validated by experiment. We need a few more ground truths that come out lunar water ice before declaring that there is a lunar water cycle that drives and retains water in permanently darkened craters. We didn’t verify the theory of continental drift just by matching up two rocks from South America and Africa.

                And again, none of this tells us how deep to dig, what kind of extraction technique is needed, or any of the other details necessary to set up a mine or drill (on Earth or the Moon). That requires more ground truth.

                “A new neutron spectrometer specific lunar polar mission is indicated”

                To do what?

              • Guest

                To do what?

                To get a longer integration of the omni directional neutrons, so the data can reveal location and intensities. It would be nice if you actually read some of these papers before you argue from a position of superiority which does not exist. There is plenty of evidence for large swaths of highly variable deposits across many different reservoir crater terrains, with the highest signals recorded coming from Cabeus. Other craters and areas may have less hydrogen, but it’s still there. I can’t think of any glaring reason that the deposition method would vary that widely in this singularly unique environment.

                I don’t think further hypersonic smashing of the best water deposits is the best way to proceed here. If you want ground truth, go to the moon, but we already have enough to indicate it a worthy endeavor, at least at the scientific level. To claim otherwise is simply false.

                You are making stuff up.

              • common sense

                “I don’t think further hypersonic smashing of the best water deposits is the best way to proceed here.”

                Hypersonic on the Moon??? You sure?

                Whatever.

              • Guest

                Well I guess it might be hypersonic once it hits the dirt. Pick nits all you want, the paper is getting good press and was just presented in conference, so much so that it is driving the collimeter design on the new instrument for Mars, I think making it insertable and removeable to get a better handle on the extraneous fluxes from the sky and craft.

                So yeah, some software work in the LRO spectrometer is indicated at the very least, and I see NASA just released a movie of the instrument. I do also agree though that some further ground truth is necessary in the form of a rover. But most of us in the industrialization exploitation paradigm domain have moved on with this – there is only so much one can do, and with a rough framework for lunar polar direct infrastructure models fully refined now, there are a lot of gaps in evidence early on in the mission scenario stream that require our almost immediate and decisive attention. We would like to have this happen sooner rather than later now that reusable first stages and cross feeding boosters are near reality for the big monster cores and upper stages that will definitely be going to space and not coming back anytime soon if possible. We’re seeing this in a couple of years at the outside, with new engines coming online well before 2020.

              • common sense

                “Well I guess it might be hypersonic once it hits the dirt.”

                Well you guess wrong. What is the speed of sound in lunar dirt? Does the vehicle actually fly inside the dirt? Hypersonic means faster than the speed of sound. In Earth’s atmosphere it usually is considered to be at and above Mach 5 when certain phenomena such as molecular dissociation become prevalent in the shock wave and have to be accounted for so that you get an accurate prediction of thermal and aerodynamic effects.

                Make sure you understand a little physics, here thermodynamics. It will help. You know. In order to apply for grants at NASA.

                You can start here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypersonic_speed

                Nitpicking?

                Sure. That is what science is all about.

              • Guest

                I’m pretty sure the speed of sound in lunar regolith and vaporized impact plume ejecta is off topic, so all I can do is say that it sure would be great if you would contribute something substantive to the effort here, which I believe is US space policy being in a shambles.

                Hypervelocity. Happy now? Thanks in for your keen insights into the physics of exhaust plume impingement and ejecta as it relates to landing large reusable spacecraft vertically on the surface of the moon, something you can now be be assured will happen in the near future.

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “To get a longer integration of the omni directional neutrons, so the data can reveal location and intensities.”

                We already have “location [sic] and intensities”:

                http://spaceref.com/moon/water-on-the-moon.html

                Another neutron spectrometer isn’t going to tell us anything we don’t already know.

                Folks are looking at robotic landers and rovers as the next step in understanding lunar hydrogen signals, not more orbiters and neutron spectrometers:

                http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/nasa-testing-rover-to-prospect-for-water-on-the-moon

                http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/ground/resolverover.html

                Even someone as gung ho for lunar water ice as Spudis agrees that more robotic ground truth is needed before other steps are taken:

                “Rover 01 – Water Ice Explorer (WIE) – The first rover to the lunar poles will explore the polar light and dark areas, characterizing the physical and chemical nature of the ice deposits. We must understand how polar ice varies in concentration both horizontally and vertically, the geotechnical properties of polar soils and access to and location of mining prospects. This rover will begin the long-term task of prospecting for lunar ice deposits such that the closest, highest grade deposits are found”

                http://www.spudislunarresources.com/Papers/Affordable_Lunar_Base.pdf‎

                “It would be nice if you actually read some of these papers before you argue from a position of superiority which does not exist.”

                I have read multiple Arxiv articles on this subject. None that I’ve read argue for more orbiting neutron spectrometers. You’re arguing for duplicative instruments and observations that we don’t need to make.

                If you want to pursue lunar water and propellant production, then you have to get some ground truth on what the neutron spectrometers and other orbital instruments have been telling us and obtain other details that can’t be secured from orbit. That means robotic landers/rovers and/or astronauts, not yet another neutron spectrometer.

                “There is plenty of evidence for large swaths of highly variable deposits across many different reservoir crater terrains, with the highest signals recorded coming from Cabeus.”

                I never questioned whether there were “highly variable [hydrogen] deposits across many different reservoir crater terrains”. You’re arguing with yourself.

                I questioned whether we have enough ground truth to initiate a multi-billion to multi-ten billion dollar lunar propellant production effort, particularly with regard to whether all the hydrogen signals are coming from water or -OH or solar hydrogen deposits or another mechanism, what specific depth(s) those signals are at, the degree to which they’re concentrated (or not) locally, and how the deposits are bound up physically with other regolith constituents.

                “I can’t think of any glaring reason that the deposition method would vary that widely in this singularly unique environment.”

                Because there are several possible sources of hydrogen signals.

                We find fool’s gold in proximity to real gold in Earth mining all the time. You don’t want to spend billions of dollars developing a water and propellant plant for Crater X when it only has solar hydrogen deposits and Crater Y next door was the one with water ice.

                “I don’t think further hypersonic”

                How does one go “hypersonic” on an airless body?

                You are woefully technically illiterate.

                “smashing of the best water deposits is the best way to proceed here.”

                Where did I write that the next step should be another impactor?

                Apparently you have a problem with literacy and reading comprehension in general.

                “but we already have enough to indicate it a worthy endeavor, at least at the scientific level. To claim otherwise is simply false.”

                I never claimed that this topic wasn’t worthy to follow up on based on the science alone.

                I argue that we have insufficient information from LCROSS and everything before it from which to make intelligent investment decisions on lunar water and propellant production going forward. More work, especially ground truth, is needed.

                “You are making stuff up.”

                I’m not the idiot who claims that we need another neutron spectrometer to obtain hydrogen “location [sic] and intensities” when maps of the same are publicly available on the web.

                I’m not the idiot who doesn’t understand that there are several possible sources for those hydrogen signals on the Moon and that LCROSS only confirmed that water was one of those sources in one very localized area.

                I’m not the idiot who is so technically illiterate that he thinks LCROSS went “hypersonic” on the airless Moon.

                I’m not the idiot who is so generally illiterate that he made up no less than three false claims in one post about statements I never made.

                Idiot.

    • @DBN,….There you go again! “…to a location we’ve been to before…” HEY, how come Low Earth Orbit never gets included in all THAT ‘been-there-already’ disdain?! The Space Shuttle made over 130 bus rides to LEO! The ISS goes right on having crew-after-replacement-crew, and it is looking like those very same “experts” who pulverized renewed Moon exploration, in 2010, are going to have their merry-old way, and keep it flying in orbit till 2030; so LEO is primed to get even further station visitors for further six-month-long junkets. Compare THAT giant hamster-wheel goal, to the mere nine manned Lunar flights which took place from 1968-1972. Why can’t the Moon be included as a future destination, once more, considering all the hundreds of flights that have been made to LEO over the past four decades??!!

      • “HEY, how come Low Earth Orbit never gets included in all THAT ‘been-there-already’ disdain?!”

        Because (and try to engage your brain this time before you consider the concept) LEO is the first step to everywhere else including the Moon that you say you want to go to.

        • DCSCA

          “LEO is the first step to everywhere else including the Moon that you say you want to go to.”

          A freeway on ramp is the first step to everywhere. But if you stay on it, you go no place, fast.

          • Very well said, my friend! Repeatedly riding a freeway ramp road, without going anyplace, is exactly what we’ve been doing ever since Apollo 17 splashed down! Think of it like bus riding thru one of those closed, circular-shaped freeway roads which surround a typical large city. Sure, you take a drive around the city, but you never leave the perimeter to go anywhere! THAT is LEO flight in a nutshell. Now, imagine emplacing an RV or trailer, and parking it on the road edge, of that same city-surrounding freeway. THAT is an analogy to the ISS! NASA has itself parked in an RV——-trying to simulate just what a cross-country road trip, city-to-city might be like, without ever really beginning the trip!

          • Having the “ramp” is not enough by itself. If it is too costly to build an economically practical ramp, then it is not practical to have the freeway. What’s happening now is the cost of the ramp is continuously being lowered. Once it is cheap enough, then the interstate (TLI) will be accessible. Are you really that stupid?

        • Mader

          Time to fun excercise. Say we had manned mission to Mars, landed and went back.
          So why we would fly to Mars again? Been there, done that, right? Right?!

          I am looking forward to excercise in hypocrisy from Mars Firsters explaining why been there done that Just Don’t Count(TM) for Mars, but very much counts for Moon…

          And reminder: arguments that works against (or for) BOTH destinations will only embarass you.

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “HEY, how come Low Earth Orbit never gets included in all THAT ‘been-there-already’ disdain?!”

        Because unlike lunar orbit rendezvous, no one is selling LEO as a new, exploration destination.

        “so LEO is primed to get even further station visitors for further six-month-long junkets”

        So what? If mission duration is your measuring stick, the MPCV mission around the Moon will be measured in days. That’s a small fraction of today’s ISS stays, dummy.

        And ISS is being “primed” for 12-month, not 6-month, astronaut stays, ignoramus:

        http://www.space.com/18959-iss-yearlong-missions-health-challenges.html

        “Why can’t the Moon be included as a future destination”

        Where did I say that the Moon could not be a “future destination”?

        I wrote that we shouldn’t spend billions of taxpayer dollars to “redirect a tiny, non-hazardous, useless rock to a location [i.e., lunar orbit] we’ve been before”.

        Apollo performed lunar orbit rendezvous with a cooperative object (LEM/CM dockings) seven times over 40 years ago. There’s no reason to spend billions and billions of dollars doing that again with a rock controlled by a robotic spacecraft. If NASA is going to go back to the Moon, then the agency needs to extend its capabilities and do something new, not expensively recreate last century’s achievements on the taxpayer’s dime.

        Learn the difference, idiot.

      • common sense

        What are you going to do on the Moon for crying out loud?

        At what cost?

        Aspiring engineer. A real engineer also minds the cost of what they want to build. Do you?

        • Monty

          Hey, everybody called the purchase of Alaska “Seward’s folly” when the territory was first brought under US sovereignty. As it turns out, we got it pretty damned cheap given the value it brought (natural resources and strategic position).

          Disdaining the Moon as a valuable target for exploration is short-sighted. It would be like going to Florida, exploring a hundred yards of highway median, and then going home again because, hey, you’ve seen and experienced all that Florida has to offer.

          The Moon has riches and opportunities available to us that we can’t even comprehend yet. This is the nature of exploration. It opens doors we didn’t even know were there. It drives the development of technologies and increases our wealth. It provides food for the imagination, and for the soul.

          Is the Moon a good target for NASA HSF missions? On that I’m not so certain. I think so; if Mars is the ultimate objective, as NASA insists it is, then going to the Moon makes a hell of a lot more sense than lassoing an asteroid as an engineering and capabilities test. If NASA can’t afford to go back to the Moon, then I hope the private sector will go there. The Moon is an interesting and valuable world in its own right. We’ve seen only the tiniest part of what it has to offer.

          • common sense

            “Hey, everybody called the purchase of Alaska “Seward’s folly” when the territory was first brought under US sovereignty. As it turns out, we got it pretty damned cheap given the value it brought (natural resources and strategic position).”

            You cannot compare anything on Earth with anything off Earth at least not this kind of comparison.

            “Disdaining the Moon as a valuable target for exploration is short-sighted. It would be like going to Florida, exploring a hundred yards of highway median, and then going home again because, hey, you’ve seen and experienced all that Florida has to offer.”

            So provide us with the value of Moon “exploration” and in particular human exploration. And bear in mind the cost as well.

            “The Moon has riches and opportunities available to us that we can’t even comprehend yet.”

            Do you really expect to make a case like this? Try and go ask you banker what they think about it? And then tell me.

            “This is the nature of exploration. It opens doors we didn’t even know were there. It drives the development of technologies and increases our wealth. It provides food for the imagination, and for the soul.”

            Sorry but this is lame. I am going to invest how many dollars to provide you with food for the imagination, and for the soul? You won’t make a case with anyone half serious about space with that argument.

            “Is the Moon a good target for NASA HSF missions? On that I’m not so certain. I think so;”

            I though you just said it was right above. Odd.

            “if Mars is the ultimate objective, as NASA insists it is, ”

            NASA says so because there is a number of idiots who need a destination some of those idiots are in Congress.

            “then going to the Moon makes a hell of a lot more sense than lassoing an asteroid as an engineering and capabilities test.”

            Why is that? Why going to the Moon makes more sense than to an asteroid? Provided of course that an asteroid makes sense in the first place. What are you going to test on the Moon that is relevant to a Mars expedition? Do you know?

            “If NASA can’t afford to go back to the Moon, then I hope the private sector will go there. The Moon is an interesting and valuable world in its own right. We’ve seen only the tiniest part of what it has to offer.”

            NASA cannot afford to go to the Moon, nor the asteroid nor anywhere else with humans. It is not a “if”. They just cannot. The private sector indeed has plans and we shall see how they come out. The only reason for the private sector to go to the Moon or to Florida for that matter is to make a profit of some sort. Again what is so valuable about the Moon? And please don’t give me Columbus or any of that nonsense.

            • Monty

              Why is that? Why going to the Moon makes more sense than to an asteroid?

              1. The moon has gravity (1/6 of earth). Asteroids have much less (from almost none to maybe 1/30G for the big ones). Humans operate better in positive-G environments than in zero-G environments. It’s also healthier: zero-G environments cause bone and muscle loss in humans which the positive-G environment of the moon would arrest.

              2. The moon has more (and more varied) terrain than an asteroid.

              3. Humans would actually land on the moon and walk around, and live there. They would simply orbit an asteroid. We would develop essential expertise in manufacturing and repairing planetary habitats by doing it on the moon first. An asteroid gives us nothing in this regard.

              4. Water. There is probably a good deal of water-ice near the lunar poles. Water is valuable for many purposes: shielding, solvent, volatiles for rocket fuel, and oxygen for breathing. Water exists in asteroids, true, but it’s still true that the Moon has a lot of it as well.

              5. An engineering platform. Basically, the moon offers a lot of diverse real-estate to build stuff on. Big telescopes, solar arrays, you name it.

              6. Lunar regolith makes good radiation shielding for habitats. This means you don’t have to carry a lot of shielding with you.

              There are probably a lot of other reasons to go there, but those are the ones that spring immediately to mind.

              • common sense

                “1. The moon has gravity (1/6 of earth). Asteroids have much less (from almost none to maybe 1/30G for the big ones). Humans operate better in positive-G environments than in zero-G environments. It’s also healthier: zero-G environments cause bone and muscle loss in humans which the positive-G environment of the moon would arrest.”

                So you are assuming that the most important thing we need to understand to go to Mars is how to operate in a low gravity environment even though it is not representative of Mars gravity? Why is it beneficial for a mission to Mars? Why not go to Mars direct where gravity is even better for us.

                “2. The moon has more (and more varied) terrain than an asteroid.”

                So does Earth.

                “3. Humans would actually land on the moon and walk around, and live there. They would simply orbit an asteroid. We would develop essential expertise in manufacturing and repairing planetary habitats by doing it on the moon first. An asteroid gives us nothing in this regard.”

                Now this is what? They “would land on the moon and walk around, and live there”? Really? What kind of budget are we talking about for a precursor mission to Mars? Why is it important to know how to do all that in an environment that is so fundamentally different from that of your ultimate goal? Or is your ultimate goal the Moon? Is it how you plan to expend in space?

                “4. Water. There is probably a good deal of water-ice near the lunar poles. Water is valuable for many purposes: shielding, solvent, volatiles for rocket fuel, and oxygen for breathing. Water exists in asteroids, true, but it’s still true that the Moon has a lot of it as well.”

                Okay well. You don’t know that yet about water. Earth has a lot more water. And that water can be sent to space for a lot cheaper than what you seem to suggest.

                “5. An engineering platform. Basically, the moon offers a lot of diverse real-estate to build stuff on. Big telescopes, solar arrays, you name it.”

                Again why is that a good precursor to a Mars mission. Or do you see the Moon as a goal on its own? If so settling the Moon will not help you go much further into the solar system.

                “6. Lunar regolith makes good radiation shielding for habitats. This means you don’t have to carry a lot of shielding with you.”

                So you plan to settle a civilization on the Moon that would actually live underground in regolith? Really? What are you going to do about frequent impacts on the Moon? Far more than on Earth. How deep are you going to burry your lunar civilization?

                “There are probably a lot of other reasons to go there, but those are the ones that spring immediately to mind.”

                But these are wishfulthinking reasons. You hope, probably, possibly… This is not how you run an exploration program if you ever expect any form of return.

                Now back to the asteroid mission so to make things hopefully clear once and for all – I know hope springs eternal. The asteroid mission is completely stupid. It only exists to satisfy a number of idiots who want to have an SLS and MPCV and nothing else. Therefore NASA needs to find a mission how to use this junk without much anything else. Even the vehicle supposed to go grab the asteroid does not exist in any shape or form nor does it have a dedicated budget. Do you understand what I am saying?

                So why Mars? For the destination idiots.
                So why asteroid? For the SLS/MPCV idiots.

                And nothing but that. It is NOT about achieving anything except satisfying Congress and jobs preservation.

              • pathfinder-01

                1. This is unknown. We only have two data points. Zero G and 1G. It is unknown how much gravity the human body requires. It could turn out 1/6 G is healthier than zero G or it could turn out to be more dangerous (i.e. enough gravity to cause a fall but not enough to strengthen bones).

                2. And the earth has far more varied terrain than the moon and cheaper to get to.

                3. Er, no humans need food, water, oxygen anywhere they go. Any lunar colony is going to be almost as dependant on earth as the ISS. The moon for instance probably lacks oil without which plastics and certain types of rubber not available. The moon is low in nitrogen which is a critical element for life.

                4. The earth has cheap abundant and available water. I do think lunar water can be valuable but only to those who are on the moon(i.e. not us earthlings). A lunar hotel might use ISRU to get the water but the water on the moon is worthless otherwise.

                5. You can build stuff in zero G and on earth or am imaging all the space telescopes. If anything the discovery of water has complicated this.

                6. However you need to design the hab to support the weight of the lunar dirt(i.e. mass which is complicated to lift/land or transport) and even then no one has tested how well it works for this purpose and if there are any radioactive elements in said regolith(like say uranium ore on earth) this idea can have its limits.

              • @Monty,…THOSE are all terrific arguments in favor of renewed Moon exploration! On the Lunar surface, an astronaut would be able to stand, walk, & drive a roving vehicle. The presence of some level of gravity would make for the use of an actual lavatory shower, plus a bathroom toilet. Sure, the exact fluid dynamics behind the way liquid-in-tanks would behave, will need planning & working out, but in principle such plumbing works are viable there. (Heck, a bathtub filled with water, could be put into use, although again, the ultra-low-gravity liquid dynamics, and the issues of how water would splash & pour over the tub’s edge, & move & behave, would need to be figured out. Maybe a toilet actually flushing would have to be changed to a less boisterous process….?) Can you imagine the visual of a faucet releasing water, in such an environment? Either a sink faucet or a bath-shower faucet?? All of these exciting things await being seen, on board future lunar lander modules or base modules….

          • Hiram

            “The Moon has riches and opportunities available to us that we can’t even comprehend yet. This is the nature of exploration. It opens doors we didn’t even know were there.”

            Wow. Where to start. What strategic nonsense. So what defines places with riches and opportunities available to us are places for which those riches and opportunities are not comprehended? How come we didn’t think about that before? What defines places for which there are no riches and opportunities available to us? Are those the places we do comprehend?

            Let’s start “exploring” that vacant lot out back. The riches and opportunities there are undefined. So that lot must be worth a bundle! Why, I’ve only seen the tiniest part of what it has to offer. Who knows what might be under that greasy rag and that half-buried automobile fender.

            As to Seward’s folly, it was a folly. Yes indeed. For a very long time. So we’re going to put an outpost on the Moon so that, in a hundred years, we’ll see some value from it? Is that the idea? Is that a fiscally sensible idea? In order to do that, what else are we not going to do?

            The nature of exploration is that it CAN open doors we never knew were there. But those doors just might not be there. Not ever. We’ve actually explored the Moon a lot already, especially in the last few decades. The hidden doors there are by no means obvious. That being the case, there are many other kinds of exploration that might be vastly more valuable investments. I’m not talking about humans-walking-on-rocks kind of explorations. This isn’t about not exploring. It’s about not putting footprints on rocks.

        • Anne Spudis

          Hiram: “Wow. Where to start. What strategic nonsense. So what defines places with riches and opportunities available to us are places for which those riches and opportunities are not comprehended? How come we didn’t think about that before? What defines places for which there are no riches and opportunities available to us? Are those the places we do comprehend?….”

          Start here:

          http://blogs.airspacemag.com/moon/2011/04/a-rationale-for-cislunar-space/

          http://blogs.airspacemag.com/moon/2009/02/human-spaceflight-%E2%80%93-what-value-to-science-part-1/

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/26/AR2005122600648.html

          About the Moon:

          ‘It’s close. Unlike virtually all other destinations in space beyond low Earth orbit, the Moon is near in time (a few days) and energy (a few hundreds of meters per second.) In addition to its proximity, because the Moon orbits the Earth, it is the most accessible target beyond LEO, having nearly continuous windows for arrival and departure. This routine accessibility is in contrast to all of the planets and asteroids, which orbit the Sun and have narrow, irregular windows of access that depend on their alignment with respect to the Earth. The closeness and accessibility of the Moon permit modes of operation not possible with other space destinations, such as a near real-time (less than 3 seconds) communication link. Robotic machines can be teleoperated directly from Earth, permitting hard, dangerous manual labor on the Moon to be done by machines controlled by humans either on the Moon or from Earth. The closeness of the Moon also permits easy and continuous abort capability, certainly something we do not want to take advantage of, but comforting to know is handy until we have more robust and reliable space subsystems. If you don’t believe this is important, ask the crew of Apollo 13.

          It’s interesting. The Moon offers scientific value that is unique within the family of objects in the Solar System. The Moon has no atmosphere or global magnetic field so plasmas and streams of energetic particles impinge directly on its surface, embedding themselves onto the lunar dust grains. Thus, the Moon contains a detailed record of the Sun’s output through geological time (over at least the last 4 billion years). The value of such a record is that the Sun is the principal driver of Earth’s climate and by recovering that detailed record (unavailable anywhere on the Earth), it can help us understand the details of solar output, both its cycles and singular events, throughout the history of the Solar System. Additionally, because of the Moon’s ancient surface and proximity to the Earth, it retains a record of the impact bombardment history of both bodies. We now know that the collision of large bodies has drastic effects on the geological and biological evolution of the Earth and occur at quasi-regular intervals. Because our very survival depends on understanding the nature and history of these events as a basis for the prediction of future events, the record on the lunar surface is critical to our understanding. A radio telescope on the far side of the Moon can “see” into deep space from the only platform in the Solar System that is permanently free from Earth’s radio noise. The Moon is a unique, rich and valuable scientific asset.

          It’s useful. In my opinion, this is the most important and pressing argument for making the Moon our first destination beyond LEO. Because of the detailed exploration of the Moon undertaken during the last 20 years, we have a very different understanding of its properties than we did immediately following Apollo. Specifically, the Moon has accessible and immediately usable resources of both energy and materials in its polar regions, something about which we were almost completely ignorant only a few years ago. For energy, both poles offer benign surface temperatures and near-permanent sunlight, as the lunar spin axis obliquity is nearly perpendicular to the plane of Earth’s orbit around the Sun. This relation solves one of the most difficult issues of lunar habitation – the 14-day long lunar night, which challenges the design of thermal and power systems. In addition, once thought to be a barren desert, we have recently found that the Moon contains abundant and accessible deposits of water, in a variety of forms and concentrations. There is enough water on the Moon to bootstrap a permanent, sustained human presence there. Water is the most important substance to find and use in space; not only does it support human life by its consumption and provision of breathable oxygen, in its form as cryogenic liquid oxygen and hydrogen, it is the most powerful chemical rocket propellant known. A transportation system that can routinely access the lunar surface to refuel, can also access all of cislunar space, where all of our national strategic and commercial (and much of our scientific) assets reside (many satellites reside above LEO and are inaccessible for repair). Such a system would truly and fundamentally change the paradigm of spaceflight and can be realized through the mining and processing of the water ice deposits near the poles of the Moon. Space exploration should be a driving force in our economy not merely a playground for scientists or a venue for public entertainment.” – Paul Spudis

          • @Anne Spudis,…Those are terrifically well-put arguments in favor of us dealing with the Moon first; which I cheerfully agree! Paul Spudis is a supremely brilliant space advocate, who recognizes the awesome potential & technological rewards that await us in the second round of Lunar exploration with astronauts. I have read with avid wonder, many of his writings & articles. The future enterprise of a human lunar return will require the consistent voice of such advocates, in the engineering & scientific fields.

          • Coastal Ron

            Anne Spudis didn’t really say anything except for:

            – Paul Spudis

            Is it possible for you to post something that isn’t a link to a Paul Spudis article, or a direct quote from a Paul Spudis article?

            Are you some form of RSS feed for Paul Spudis?

          • JimNobles

            While I’m certainly glad Dr. Spudis hasn’t fallen down and quit like I was afraid he might have I feel I should point out the main problem with his ideas. His plans and the plans of other Moon development enthusiasts all suffer the same flaw. They count on Uncle Sam paying for them. I don’t think any reasonably aware space advocate these days feels that can be counted on.

            Until a cogent plan can be submitted that doesn’t include that flaw all the plans are, in my opinion, science fiction at best or simply wishful thinking at worst.

  • I saw this headline on Yahoo! Finance and thought they were talking about the Chinese government bribing members of Congress:

    “Wake Up Bacon Fans: Get Used to the Idea of Chinese Companies Buying American Pork Producers”

    I wonder how much it would cost China to buy off Frank Wolf?

    • Dark Blue Nine

      LOL — I didn’t make that connection when I saw that headline.

      Good one.

    • Hiram

      Now, there’s an idea. SLS can launch 50 tons of pork into deep space. The Porcine Return Mission could capture the carcases, and have humans rendezvous with them. Another economical payload for a payload budget-less SLS. But aaargh, we’d have to buy the pork from the Chinese! Of course, Shelby would approve of any kind of space pork.

      The human space flight mission of NASA, as NASA sees it, is precisely what Louis Friedman envisions. It’s about creating heroes, by doing audacious things. But NASA is wringing it’s hands over the fact that it can’t think of audacious, hero-making things to do that are affordable, or that have any semblance of defensible rationale. As long as that’s NASA’s self image, it will indeed just fade away as a vital federal agency. They’ve gotten presidential and congressional support for that sad self-image. I really feel sorry for them. They’re between a rock and a hard place of their own making.

  • common sense

    “I wonder how much it would cost China to buy off Frank Wolf?”

    Hmmm

    Can they buy Virginia?

  • An interesting article this week on a Florida business web site which suggests it may not be much longer before NewSpace renders SLS irrelevant:

    “The Real Space Cowboys”

    [Golden Spike] plans to begin test flights in 2017, with lunar landings to take place in either 2019 or 2020. The expeditions will be marketed to governmental agencies, companies and individuals in the U.S. with a big emphasis on targeting foreign countries for the purposes of science, commerce, tourism, entertainment and education.

    “What we’re doing is making it possible for countries that don’t have space programs to have one,” [founder Alan] Stern said. “It’s a turnkey service. It’s rather like, in the airline business, most countries don’t build their own airliners, but they can form an airline and buy from Boeing or Airbus.

    “They don’t have to have a big aerospace establishment to have an airline. We’re making it possible for countries around the world who want to do lunar explorations, who want to step up in the 21st Century, to do it by simply going out and buying an expedition.

    Personally, I think their time line is overly optimisic, but then isn’t everyone when it comes to projecting their space programs?

    More importantly, if you read the article, Stern indicates they’re looking at multiple launch vehicle candidates, all of which fly out of the Space Coast.

    On May 17, NASA issued an Announcement for Proposals for commercial use of LC-39A. We know SpaceX is one interested party for the Falcon Heavy.

    It isn’t too much of a stretch to see a Falcon Heavy with a Dragon capsule and a Golden Spike lunar lander on that pad by the end of the decade.

    The commercial vehicle will stack in the Vehicle Assembly Building’s High Bay 1 and launch from 39A. The SLS will stack in High Bay 3 and launch from 39B. Side-by-side comparisons.

    For the sake of argument, let’s take at their word the timelines on paper for SLS and Golden Spike. SLS has an unmanned test flight looping the Moon at the end of 2017. Maybe Congress funds a crewed test flight in 2019, an Apollo 8 redux. And then the asteroid rendezvous in lunar orbit in 2021.

    Golden Spike, meanwhile, has a test flight in 2017 with lunar landings in 2019-2020. Again, side-by-side comparisons mission-wise.

    If Golden Spike and partners pull off a lunar landing for a fraction of the cost of SLS — in parallel with SLS — one has to wonder how much longer the porkers can protect the Senate Launch System. It should also be noted that Richard Shelby will be 86 in 2020, and Bill Nelson 78. One of both may have departed the Senate by 2020. Will any one porker powerful enough to protect SLS still be around?

    The rest of the decade will be a one-on-one race between NewSpace and OldSpace. Let’s get ready to rumble. :-)

    • common sense

      Don’t forget that MPCV and by extension SLS is a back up for commercial crew.

      So in case a commercial capsule cannot find the Moon we’ll send an SLS with an MPCV or an MOCV with an SLS, sorry for the confusion. Now they won’t be able to come back because you know heat shield cracking and parachutes overwhelmed and whatnot. But I wonder if they will use the LAS on first flight because the SLS cannot loft the MPCV.

      Dunno. Just askin’

      Some kind of a back up we have here.

    • Monty

      it may not be much longer before NewSpace renders SLS irrelevant

      Careful. I’m right there with you in hoping that SpaceX and Orbital succeed, but everyone is talking as if the Falcon Heavy is already a fait accompli. The FH hasn’t even flown once yet, yet everyone is throwing it out there as an alternative. Even the Falcon 9 v1.1 is running into development troubles, or so I’m told.

      I’ll feel a lot better once FH and F9 v1.1 flies a few times without incident.

      And Orbital’s dependence on Yuzmash (Ukraine) for core stage and engines on Antares worries me a bit. It makes me wonder if Orbital has the engineering experience in-house to iterate on the vehicle and make it competitive once NASA’s ISS resupply contracts run out.

      • Hiram

        That’s the wonderful thing about commercial space. They don’t need rationale that serves the nation. They just need rationale that serves themselves. NASA is wholly unable to come up with compelling rationale for taxpayer-supported human space flight, and that’s why the NASA human space flight program is just limping along. Now, I don’t have a clue about what rationale will really serve the commercial space industry, but it isn’t up to me. Would commercial space develop missions for exploration, adventure, audaciousness and, gulp, STEM education? Nah. They do it to make money. They get some money from NASA, but that money sure isn’t for those four things. NASA would never relinquish hero development stuff to them.

        Speaking of gulping about STEM, the current plan to move many space education activities out of NASA is going to come down like a load of bricks on human space flight. The whole “inspiration” thing is going to get outsourced to NSF and DEd. Those agencies are going to think twice about the value of human space flight and cool looking helmeted astronauts to STEM education. Ten years from now, we’ll see a new generation of constituent that looks somewhat differently at human space flight, because they won’t have been spoon-fed by the space hero geeks.

        Having said that, I’ll say it again. I love human space flight. But I sure don’t quite understand why.

        • common sense

          “Having said that, I’ll say it again. I love human space flight. But I sure don’t quite understand why.”

          I’d say for the sheer fun of flying into space! Darn! What would I have done for that?! Say what? Not enough of a reason? Well to me it is. ;)

          • Hiram

            Well, *I* love it. Not sure why I should love taxpayer dollars being spent on behalf of giving us sheer fun. In fact, it’s about giving us the sheer fun of watching others fly into space. Pretty sheer, that fun.

            • common sense

              Oh come on. Don’t be a downer now. Did you not apply to become an astronaut at some point? When I see them gracefully float in the ISS I still feel the need, the need for speed.

        • DCSCA

          “That’s the wonderful thing about commercial space. They don’t need rationale that serves the nation.”

          QUESTIONER: “Would you stand behind recommendations that more stress or emphasis should be put on getting private entrepreneurs and the commercial sector involved in a more rapid fashion than is being accomplished today?”

          NEIL ARMSTRONG: “Well, of course that, uh, that concept has been, uh, encouraged in recent years, uh, I think predominantly the problem is that, uh, the projects are quite massive and it is very difficult to do little– little projects that are within the reach of the– of, uh, typical industrial concerns. And consequently it takes some united effort and because many of the activities are regulated by the governments involved why, uh, government is to some extent a participant in any case.”– excerpt from Apollo 11 crew News Conference, 5/26/89

          The future is Luna, not LEO. LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles, no where, fast.

          • Hiram

            Well, uh, the commercial investment in space communications is VASTLY larger than the federal investment in human space flight. What dummies those commercial folks were to do that. They should have left that all to the feds.

            Luna goes in circles, also to nowhere. Slower than we go in LEO. The issue isn’t circles, it’s about what you do there. This “going in circles” business is really pretty funny. It’s very uncreative criticism. You want to tell the ECLSS engineers that they’ve been going in circles in LEO? You want to tell the human factors folks that? You want to tell the space logistics people that? You want to tell the EDL people that?

            Sure, we can send humans to the Moon to mine water (and plant flags) there, but unless you really have something sensible and affordable to do with that water, it’s just going to be water and flags going in circles. In fact, we have Apollo hardware up there right now that’s just going around in circles.

      • common sense

        “Careful. I’m right there with you in hoping that SpaceX and Orbital succeed, but everyone is talking as if the Falcon Heavy is already a fait accompli. The FH hasn’t even flown once yet, yet everyone is throwing it out there as an alternative.”

        This though is very true. But FH is still years ahead of SLS in its (non) development. Bear in mind that SLS and before it Ares LVs have been in development for years already. The result: Ares 1X. By the same token SpaceX has provided F1, F9 and Dragon. And all successfully. So who is more likely to deliver you think?

        “Even the Falcon 9 v1.1 is running into development troubles, or so I’m told.”

        Depends on what the troubles are but any new vehicle will face some. My worry is more in terms of strategy. Here SpaceX has a new apparently reliable LV and yet before even making profit with it they go into another radically different version. So I may question whether it is a wise move. On the other hand being wise is not exactly what Elon or SpaceX is about. And so far being not wise has paid off quite nicely…

        “I’ll feel a lot better once FH and F9 v1.1 flies a few times without incident.”

        We all will and those who have stock in the company even better than better. Just sayin’

        “And Orbital’s dependence on Yuzmash (Ukraine) for core stage and engines on Antares worries me a bit. It makes me wonder if Orbital has the engineering experience in-house to iterate on the vehicle and make it competitive once NASA’s ISS resupply contracts run out.”

        I don’t think Orbital will be a major player after the CRS contract runs out. It seems to me they did not strategize beyond that. But I don’t know. Just looking at their LV and concept as a whole.

        • Here SpaceX has a new apparently reliable LV and yet before even making profit with it they go into another radically different version.

          It’s different, but I don’t know why you say it’s “radically” different. It’s just a stretch with new (tested) and better engines.

          • common sense

            “It’s different, but I don’t know why you say it’s “radically” different. It’s just a stretch with new (tested) and better engines.”

            From what I have seen only. It has a different engine configuration as well and the stretching that most certainly required a redesign of the structure and some of the fuel system/pipes among other things. And trying to make the thing structurally able to reenter. Maybe “radical” is too much but it still is a significant redesign. And if I were an investor it would worry me that they did not build on their success with the current version, unless of course they figured a fundamental flaw with that one.

            If it were me but then again it is not me I would have built on the current generation and take more flights especially outside their NASA customer to bring in the cash and then move on.

            We’ll see. Soon I guess.

            • Coastal Ron

              common sense said:

              And if I were an investor it would worry me that they did not build on their success with the current version, unless of course they figured a fundamental flaw with that one.

              Falcon 9 v1.1 is just an evolutionary version of the v1.0, and they had to make a change in order to launch the upcoming GEO payloads and full-capacity CRS flights.

              They have been planning this upgrade for many years – since at least 2008 when they signed the CRS contract, since the first two CRS flights were limited in how much payload they could carry because of the limitations with the Falcon 9 v1.0 capabilities.

              If I were an investor, I’d be more concerned if they weren’t increasing the Falcon 9 capabilities…

    • DCSCA

      The rest of the decade will be a one-on-one race between NewSpace and OldSpace. Let’s get ready to rumble’

      Except it won’t. Once again yuo attempt to seek parody through false equivalency. ‘NewSpace’ has failed to even attempt to launch, orbit and safely return anybody from LEO, let alone Luna. Government, aka ‘Olsspace’ have been flying people into and back from LEO – including several trips to Luna– for over half a century. Spaceflight is hard. And as Gene Cernan said, NewSpacer ‘doesn’t know what it doesn’tr knowe yet.” And what it does know, it fully owes to the likes of Cernan, Armstrong, Lovell, Kraft, Lunney, von Braun, et al, the Oldspacers who don’t just talk the talk, but have walked the walks– bothe space and moon- as well.

      • “Once again yuo attempt to seek parody through false equivalency. ‘NewSpace’ has failed to even attempt to launch, orbit and safely return anybody from LEO, let alone Luna.”
        At least they have launched, orbited and safely returned a craft and its contents from orbit. The next step is launching humans. What they have done is still more than can be said for SLS, both now and in the future. Yet, the fact that SLS vehicle has not even been built and has not done anything at all doesn’t seem to keep you from thinking it will. With an actual orbital track record (even if it hasn’t lofted humans yet) Newspace has a better case for its belief than you have for yours.

        What you say is even worse B.S. when you bring up Kraft, who is totally against SLS and wants to go the Commercial launcher/depot route instead.

        You are so full of it.

        • Monty

          I can still remember back in the Falcon 1 days when people assured me that SpaceX was doomed to failure, that they were a flash in the pan, that they’d never reach the ISS. I loved watching the naysayers eat crow when the first Dragon capsule docked with the ISS. The Dragon capsule was designed from the beginning to carry human beings to and from orbit; I have no doubt that it will soon do so.

          I try not to get too gung-ho on SpaceX, though. They are still a young company, and it’s not yet clear how well the Falcon 9 v1.1 or Falcon Heavy will perform. We won’t know until SpaceX has some launches of these systems under their belts. But the success of the Falcon 9/Dragon stack has earned SpaceX the benefit of the doubt, in my view.

          SpaceX is a going concern with an actual launch track-record. To casually dismiss them by saying they can’t launch astronauts into orbit is especially rich, given that NASA can’t do that at present either.

        • DCSCA

          “With an actual orbital track record (even if it hasn’t lofted humans yet) Newspace has a better case for its belief than you have for yours.” says Rick.

          Except it doesn’t. but if it comforts you to beleive otherwise, fine. You have nothin to worry bout and can easily secure adequate financing in the private capital markets to get NewSpace flying people into and back from LEO safely. Yes, you can beleive Reaganomics will carry you to the star. =eyeroll=

          “At least they have launched, orbited and safely returned a craft and its contents from orbit.”

          Congratulations– you’ve accomplished what was being done in the late 1950s. The Russian and American governments were doing that over half a century ago– with everything from spy cameras, science instruments and eventually men and women. Your initial claim to fame was stunting with a wheel of cheese.

          As to Kraft, etc., Lunney, Von Braun, Cernan, Armstrong, Lovell, et al, nobody agrees 100%. He has been wrong. Von Braun was wrong about LOR and acknowlwdge it. And the Kraft Report was flawed when it marked shuttle as safe and operational and its conclusions regarding commercialism are open to criticism. But even at 90, Kraft sees the way forward via cis-lunar space ops and developing methods, hardware and procedures necessary for the confidence to press on outward to Mars. He’s right about that path. He’s just wrong about SLS. But generally speaking, these are the people that managed getting people off this planet. Your NewSpace guys have orbited nobody. and that isn’t B.S. at all. It’s fact. And any milestones are totally owed to the OldSPacers who showed the way. So calm down and enjoy a wedge of cheese.

          • Coastal Ron

            DCSCA opined:

            Except it doesn’t.

            Except it does, which is why NASA wants Commercial Cargo & Crew.

            The Russian and American governments were doing that over half a century ago…

            Which is the point you miss – now the technologies and capabilities are within reach of the private sector, so our government no longer needs to do it. How dense can you be?

            And in case you haven’t noticed, one small U.S. company (i.e. SpaceX) is on track to EXCEED the capabilities of entire countries. That in itself is the real geo-political strategy, where our industries can compete with anyone in the world, even if they have unfair economic advantages.

            And apparently you think that is a BAD thing?

            No wonder you are known as “Putin-boi” around here… ;-)

            • DCSCA

              NASA wants Commercial Cargo & Crew.

              Except it donesn’t but follows what factions direct it to do. Only the invasive poison from privateers hell-bent on privatizing all things government– of which ther is a faction which has infected NASA– want that. Shuttle remainns a case study of the absurd notion of trying to make government a profit center. Government is not a business, Ron. Get over it. And the wreckage from the Reagan era- a philosophy soundly rejected by the American electorate-should have taught you that by now.

              • Coastal Ron

                DCSCA opined:

                Shuttle remainns a case study of the absurd notion of trying to make government a profit center. Government is not a business

                It’s so funny when you try to make a point to bolster your argument, and you end up bolstering MY point instead.

                The Shuttle was indeed a lesson to be learned, and that lesson was that the government should not be in the transportation business – at all. And yet you support NASA getting back into the transportation business, even though NASA can’t even afford to use what it is building.

                If NASA used existing and near-term commercial transport, it would have $30B MORE that it could be using to build exploration hardware.

                I guess you don’t really want NASA building exploration hardware, do you…

          • When you talk about Armstrong, Cernan and Kraft, Kraft was the only one of the three who actually designed and built the hardware that got Armstrong and Cernan to the Moon. At first he had not looked deeply into commercial launchers and had some doubt and voiced that doubt with Armstrong and Cernan. Now that he has investigated the matter he wants that and depots instead. Armstrong and Cernan were just pilots and passengers of that hardware, if it hadn’t been for Kraft and other top notch engineers, then they would have had no ship to fly. By definition, they know less about such matters than engineers such as Kraft.

            The rest of us give you reasons backed by evidence for our opinions. Yet the best points you can come up with are such brilliant arguments as:
            “==eye roll==”
            and
            “tick-tock tick-tock”

            I repeat, you are a joke.

      • josh

        i’ve said it before: you’re stuck in the 60s. the old times are not coming back, get used to it.

      • JimNobles

        -
        The rest of the decade will be a one-on-one race between NewSpace and OldSpace. Let’s get ready to rumble’

        Not really, old space is pretty much dead. Sure the body is still wriggling and there are gurgling noises coming from the mouth but once SpaceX was able to post its prices on the web and undercut everyone it was basically over.

        Old space lovers can deny it all they want but it’s staring us all right in the face. Unless “Old Space” can come up with something wonderful and new to compete with they are going the way of the dinosaurs. All they have to say now is: “Well. We are reliable!” and that can carry them for a bit but not much longer.

        As for what their fathers and grandfathers have done in the past, who cares? Today and tomorrow are what matter.

    • DCSCA

      “On May 17, NASA issued an Announcement for Proposals for commercial use of LC-39A.”

      As a NHL, the DOI may have something to say about the disposition of said facilities.

      • Coastal Ron

        DCSCA mumbled:

        As a NHL

        NASA is not part of the National Hockey League…

        the DOI may have something to say about the disposition of said facilities.

        What is a “DOI”? Or do you mean DNI?

        In any case, all east coast NRO launches are conducted out of CCAFS Launch Complex 37 & 41. LC-39A is part of the civilian John F. Kennedy Space Center.

        • DCSCA

          Ron, LC-39 is a NHL and DOI has input into that arena.

          • Coastal Ron

            DCSCA mumbled:

            LC-39 is a NHL and DOI has input into that arena.

            I keep telling you NASA is not part of the National Hockey League. Can’t you understand that?

            Now if you have a different definition for “NHL”, then you should spell it out. But since you didn’t, and left it up to your readers to define it, I defined it.

            Notice how I had to correct you on “DOI”?

            In any case, there are no national security payloads that can’t be launched out of existing launch facilities, so you can drop your little fantasy that somehow NASA will play a “critical part” in our national security.

            The people responsible for DoD/NRO space assets gave up on relying on NASA decades ago, right after Challenger. And Columbia just reinforced that conclusion.

            NASA is not to be trusted with our national defense, and they could turn LC-39A into a Disney amusement park and it wouldn’t affect our future needs in space…

            • DCSCA

              Do youe own homework, Ron. Stephen knows that Florids has several HNLs in his area and DOI does have input on it.

              • Coastal Ron

                DCSCA said:

                Stephen knows that Florids has several HNLs in his area…

                Now you say they are “HNLs”, whereas before you said “NHL”. Which is it?

                Don’t you understand how confused you sound?

                and DOI does have input on it.

                Assuming you mean something like “Director Of Intelligence”, dream on. NASA has never been key to anything intelligence related (for a number of obvious reasons), and we’re talking about a currently useless plot of land.

                As always, you fail to persuade.

  • A M Swallow

    The Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM) is really 3 different but related missions.

    1. A planetary defense mission to set up and use space based telescopes to detect asteroids and other objects that threaten the Earth. Hopefully this will grow into a permanent strategic reconnaissance operation.

    2. A planetary defense mission to move an asteroid. This exercise will permit NASA to learn how to perform active defense measures. The first target will be a small asteroid because this is compatible with our existing technology and a simple way of ensuring that any beginners mistakes do not result in mass deaths. Later missions are likely to use bigger machines to deflect larger asteroids away from the Earth.

    3. A scientific mission to send astronauts to extract samples from the captured asteroid. Having acquired an asteroid it would be inefficient to give up the chance to study it.
    Note: Asteroid scientists probably invented ARM but this may be the first time that NASA HQ has requested funding from Congress.

    NASA is the agency used for these missions to reassure other countries that this is not a weapon’s program. Should an asteroid need destroying, possible using nuclear weapons, then control shall be passed to the Department of Defence.

    • E.P. Grondine

      Hi AMS –

      Thanks for the summary.

      Since my stroke I don’t really get involved or comment too much publicly on these topics, but I think you have over-simplified the relationship between DoE (Department of Energy) and DoD (Department of Defense), and particularly the operational relationship.

      There are non-nuclear alternatives for dealing with most impactors except for the very largest and hardest of them, but most of those techniques depend on early detection.

      PS – I’d like to apologize to everyone for all of my typos and grammatical errors in my posts here.

    • Hiram

      You have the three different missions right. Let’s just not confuse the relative importance of them, though.

      “A planetary defense mission to set up and use space based telescopes to detect asteroids and other objects that threaten the Earth. Hopefully this will grow into a permanent strategic reconnaissance operation.”

      Profoundly important.

      “A planetary defense mission to move an asteroid. This exercise will permit NASA to learn how to perform active defense measures. The first target will be a small asteroid because this is compatible with our existing technology and a simple way of ensuring that any beginners mistakes do not result in mass deaths. Later missions are likely to use bigger machines to deflect larger asteroids away from the Earth.”

      ARM would use an asteroid capture strategy that would be COMPLETELY different than what we would do with a larger, more dangerous asteroid. In fact, for a larger more dangerous asteroid, we wouldn’t be doing any capturing at all. This mission would do NOTHING to avoid future “mistakes” on that score.

      “A scientific mission to send astronauts to extract samples from the captured asteroid. Having acquired an asteroid it would be inefficient to give up the chance to study it. Note: Asteroid scientists probably invented ARM but this may be the first time that NASA HQ has requested funding from Congress.”

      That’s nuts. We have missions ongoing that will “extract samples” from asteroids. Right now. Oh, “having acquired an asteroid” we should study it? Uh huh. But we don’t need to capture it to study it. Oops. The asteroid science community, as represented by the NASA SBAG has, however, not been invited to comment on ARM. I have to assume that it’s thought that they too would say it’s value is at least scientifically nuts. While there were some asteroid scientists on the Keck/KISS study, I’m not aware of any who are attached to ARM.

      “NASA is the agency used for these missions to reassure other countries that this is not a weapon’s program. Should an asteroid need destroying, possible using nuclear weapons, then control shall be passed to the Department of Defence.”

      DOD does a huge amount of surveillance work that can’t be categorized as a “weapons program”, and I’m sure other countries understand that. Should an asteroid need destroying with nukes, it makes sense for DOD to do that because DOD knows vastly more about nukes than NASA does. Reassurance of other countries doesn’t come in to this at all. By the way, the surveillance capabilities of DOD might well make DOD a better agency to be responsible for detection of these threats.

      • A M Swallow

        Hiram wrote

        DOD does a huge amount of surveillance work that can’t be categorized as a “weapons program”, and I’m sure other countries understand that. Should an asteroid need destroying with nukes, it makes sense for DOD to do that because DOD knows vastly more about nukes than NASA does. Reassurance of other countries doesn’t come in to this at all. By the way, the surveillance capabilities of DOD might well make DOD a better agency to be responsible for detection of these threats.

        Spy satellites are considered military.

        As for NASA vs. DOD running Spacewatch – there are very good grounds for the DOD to run the dangerous asteroid detection program. However other countries will suspect that the Pentagon plans to weaponize the program by ‘forgetting’ to pass on the warning. Using NASA as the manager demonstrates that it is no conspiracy.

        Any such missions would feed into the United Nations proposed International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN). See press release United Nations Office for outer Space Affairs 20 February 2013 called “Recommendations of the Action Team on Near-Earth Objects for an international response to the near-Earth object impact threat”.
        http://www.oosa.unvienna.org/pdf/misc/2013/at-14/at14-handoutE.pdf

  • The cost to NASA for lunar or other BEO missions can be cut drastically, perhaps by three orders of magnitude, by following a combination of four cost-cutting approaches.

    1.)Commercial space approach. SpaceX and now Orbital Sciences have shown that as much as 90% off of the development cost can be cut by the cost-sharing of the commercial space approach.

    2.)Go small. NASA’s SEV weighs about a third that of Orion. Orbital’s Cygnus weighs about a quarter. Imagine how small, and low cost, your lunar mission could be if you only had to transport a quarter of the mass to the Moon.

    3.)Use existing components. The huge development costs for the Apollo program and of Constellation were because they had to use all newly developed components. Those costs would be reduced greatly if you only had to adapt already existing components. No Saturn V, Ares V, or SLS, and their huge development costs, require.

    4.)Use international partners. The cut in development cost by engaging in cost-sharing is already included in the commercial space approach. However, the cost to NASA can be cut even further by sharing development costs with our international space partners such as the ESA and Japan.

    Bob Clark

    • common sense

      All right Bob I think you need a lot more work here.

      “The cost to NASA for lunar or other BEO missions can be cut drastically, perhaps by three orders of magnitude, by following a combination of four cost-cutting approaches.”

      Three (3) orders of magnitude??? Really? So if the program say cost is $100B then we could afford it for only $100M with your measures below? Are you sure? And what BEO missions are we talking about? Are they all created equal?

      “1.)Commercial space approach. SpaceX and now Orbital Sciences have shown that as much as 90% off of the development cost can be cut by the cost-sharing of the commercial space approach.”

      I don’t understand what this means. Please elaborate.

      “2.)Go small. NASA’s SEV weighs about a third that of Orion. Orbital’s Cygnus weighs about a quarter. Imagine how small, and low cost, your lunar mission could be if you only had to transport a quarter of the mass to the Moon.”

      So? Are you saying we need to change the mission? The requirements? How do you decrease mass and still answer the requirements. Of course saving mass will save cost but you cannot just say “save mass”. It usually comes to another type of price. So how do you go about saving mass? And then how do you change the integration with the SLS?

      “3.)Use existing components. The huge development costs for the Apollo program and of Constellation were because they had to use all newly developed components. Those costs would be reduced greatly if you only had to adapt already existing components. No Saturn V, Ares V, or SLS, and their huge development costs, require.”

      This is plain wrong. Constellation’s requirements included they use existing systems and subsystems. For example the Shuttle SRB or Boeing commercial airplane avionics. Whether NASA in the end realized it was not feasible and chose to develop some is another story, the story of bad requirements, the story of not understanding ever-chaning requirements. You cannot simply say you will use existing anything. Proof: SpaceX develop entirely new systems and subsystems and came out far cheaper than Constellation.

      “4.)Use international partners. The cut in development cost by engaging in cost-sharing is already included in the commercial space approach. However, the cost to NASA can be cut even further by sharing development costs with our international space partners such as the ESA and Japan.”

      And who will tell the partners to participate? ESA barely agreed to one (as in only 1) SM for the MPCV. International partners is not about decreasing cost. It may even bring the cost up as you have to deal with among other things antiquated ITAR requirements that create a lot of overhead.

      Bob, get better informed, your advocacy will get better. Otherwise it only is hot air.

      • Robert Clark

        Three (3) orders of magnitude??? Really? So if the program say cost is $100B then we could afford it for only $100M with your measures below? Are you sure? And what BEO missions are we talking about? Are they all created equal?

        “1.)Commercial space approach. SpaceX and now Orbital Sciences have shown that as much as 90% off of the development cost can be cut by the cost-sharing of the commercial space approach.”

        I don’t understand what this means. Please elaborate.

        NASA itself estimated that development of the Falcon 9 cost 1/5th to 1/10th what it would have cost under the usual fully NASA financed procedure:

        SpaceX Might Be Able To Teach NASA A Lesson.
        By Frank Morring, Jr.
        Washington
        AW&ST April 25/May 2, p. 24

        “I think one would want to understand in some detail . . . why would it be
        between four and 10 times more expensive for NASA to do this, especially at a
        time when one of the issues facing NASA is how to develop the heavy-lift launch
        vehicle within the budget profile that the committee has given it,” Chyba
        says.
        He cites an analysis contained in NASA’s report to Congress on the market for
        commercial crew and cargo services to LEO that found it would cost NASA between
        $1.7 billion and $4 billion to do the same Falcon-9 development that cost SpaceX
        $390 million. In its analysis, which contained no estimates for the future cost
        of commercial transportation services to the International Space Station (ISS)
        beyond those already under contract, NASA says it had “verified” those SpaceX
        cost figures.
        For comparison, agency experts used the NASA-Air Force Cost Model—“a
        parametric cost-estimating tool with a historical database of over 130 NASA and
        Air Force spaceflight hardware projects”—to generate estimates of what it would
        cost the civil space agency to match the SpaceX accomplishment. Using the
        “traditional NASA approach,” the agency analysts found the cost would be $4
        billion. That would drop to $1.7 billion with different assumptions
        representative of “a more commercial development approach,” NASA says.
        http://aerospaceblog.wordpress.com/2011/05/24/spacex-might-be-able-to-teach-nasa-a-lesson/

        And for Orbital Sciences, both a 5 metric ton class launcher in the Antares and a pressurized capsule in the Cygnus, were developed at a cost to NASA of only $288 million, something that would have cost billions under the traditional fully NASA financed approach:

        Orbital Sciences development costs increase.
        By: ZACH ROSENBERG WASHINGTON DC 06:09 30 Apr 2012
        http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/orbital-sciences-development-costs-increase-371291/

        The article mentions the cost increase but the total is still markedly less than a fully NASA financed system.
        Also important in the Antares/Cygnus case, is the low cost Orbital had to pay in this development, only $184 million. This low cost is very important in justifying a company engaging in the cost-sharing approach of commercial space.

        In regards to only a few hundred million dollar cost to NASA for a lunar mission, remember this is under cost sharing with part of the cost shared by companies and by our international partners. In addition the total will be reduced because of the commercial space approach. Also, key is that you don’t have the huge development costs of a large rocket such as the Saturn V, Ares V, or SLS.

        Bob Clark

        • Coastal Ron

          Robert Clark said:

          NASA itself estimated that development of the Falcon 9 cost 1/5th to 1/10th what it would have cost under the usual fully NASA financed procedure

          That’s not even a magnitude of one, much less three.

          In regards to only a few hundred million dollar cost to NASA for a lunar mission, remember this is under cost sharing with part of the cost shared by companies and by our international partners.

          Government cost sharing is one thing, but I don’t think you understand why businesses kick in their own money on programs – because they intend to ultimately PROFIT from getting the business. I don’t think you understand that.

          Until there is a revenue stream attached to going to the Moon, no business is going to be cost sharing with our government. In fact, the lessons from the current Commercial Crew program are going to stop ANY future partnerships unless Congress decides to fully fund the program. If Congress cuts it too much, and Boeing has to pull out and take a loss on the program, then that could be the end of public/private collaborations for quite a while.

          Also, key is that you don’t have the huge development costs of a large rocket such as the Saturn V, Ares V, or SLS.

          But you still support anyways, since you support the continuation of the SLS. You can’t have everything Bob, you have to make a choice.

          • The commercial partners would be Golden Spike, Planetary Resources, Inc., Deep Space Industries, Moon Express, etc.

            Bob Clark

            • And of course Bigelow.

              Bob Clark

            • Coastal Ron

              Robert Clark said:

              The commercial partners would be Golden Spike, Planetary Resources, Inc., Deep Space Industries, Moon Express, etc.

              Golden Spike is tourism, and Planetary Resources and DSI are focused on mining asteroids and NEO’s. As always, they would want to know “what’s in it for me” before they commit to something that is different than what their business plan calls out for.

              And again, given the history so far with public/private partnerships with NASA, they are going to be VERY reticent to bet the farm on the government. Congress is too unreliable, as it continue to prove with Commercial Crew.

              And of course Bigelow.

              The nature of what Bigelow is doing makes it easy for him to partner up with the government, although he is pursuing a private business case along side of it. It’s like SpaceX, where they will sell to anyone, but don’t want to be beholden to the government.

              If Congress gets it’s act together and authorizes a program that is a win-win for private companies, then maybe. But government funding is a fickle thing – just ask Michael Griffin about his Constellation program…

    • Coastal Ron

      Robert Clark said:

      The cost to NASA for lunar or other BEO missions can be cut drastically, perhaps by three orders of magnitude

      That would mean a $100B NASA mission would only cost $1B, and that’s not going to happen. In any case, you are mixing apples and oranges to make your predictions, such as:

      SpaceX and now Orbital Sciences have shown that as much as 90% off of the development cost can be cut by the cost-sharing of the commercial space approach.

      The Air Force report I saw said 3X, not 5X, for developing a Falcon 9 equivalent rocket, not Taurus or any of the spacecraft. Mixing apples and papayas.

      NASA’s SEV weighs about a third that of Orion.

      The SEV is a space-only vehicle, whereas the Orion is meant to return to Earth. More apples and grapes comparison.

      Look, the key is to understand your requirements up front, in very clear terms. We don’t have that today with either the SLS or the MPCV, which are diluted versions of Constellation hardware, and they were poor choices even for the Constellation job.

      And it’s not just the hardware choices, but the whole eco-system they have to operate in over their lifetime. For instance, are we being pennywise but pound foolish building a single-use exploration vehicle? Wouldn’t it be less expensive over time to build a space-only exploration vehicle, and do personnel transfers in LEO using commercial transportation?

      We’re not going to get magnitude reductions in cost on an entire exploration architecture the first time we try, no matter who does it – not the equivalent version between a NASA on and a non-NASA one. But achieving a 2X reduction today would be pretty good.

      Unfortunately, as long as Congress is forcing NASA to build the SLS, we’ll never know, since NASA won’t be able to afford ANY HSF exploration efforts.

      And, as I recall, you still support the SLS. How does this whole post true up with that?

      • Robert Clark

        “The Air Force report I saw said 3X, not 5X, for developing a Falcon 9 equivalent rocket, not Taurus or any of the spacecraft. Mixing apples and papayas.”

        That Air Force report was comparing to for example the EELV program which itself used cost-sharing to reduce development costs to the government (the Air Force.)

        Bob Clark

        • Coastal Ron

          Robert Clark said:

          That Air Force report was comparing to for example the EELV program which itself used cost-sharing to reduce development costs to the government

          And look how well that turned out! Boeing and Lockheed Martin would say that part of the EELV program did not turn out well. Since then, once they created a monopoly, they might be doing OK, but that no longer resembles a public/private partnership.

          I know that the private sector can do things for far less than the government can for a defined product or service, but so far you have not been able to show one, much less three orders of magnitude potential in cost reductions.

          And keep in mind that I’ve worked in the government contracting and commercial products industries, and I used to help develop internal costs. I have a pretty good idea where the extra government costs come from.

          There is no magic wand. Space will be an expensive place to live and work for the foreseeable future.

          • Robert Clark

            For both the Falcon 9 and the Antares the development cost to NASA was an order of magnitude cheaper than by following the usual procedure where NASA fully finances all development costs. Launchers this size typically would cost billions in development costs, while under this commercial space approach it cost in the hundreds of millions.

            For the low cost lunar or BEO missions being reduced by three orders of magnitude in cost by the combination of those four factors I mentioned, just not having to develop that huge launcher results in a line in the development cost budget being reduced from tens of billions of dollars suddenly to zero. Because of their large size, the development costs for these huge launchers dominates the development cost for such missions. Then the reduction in development cost due to this factor alone is actually more than an order of magnitude.
            For the size factor, just being say one-quarter in size results in the development cost for the various stages and spacecraft being reduced by approximately a factor of four.
            Now tack on the factor of cost-sharing with our international partners, ESA, Japan, Canada, etc, then the reduction in cost to NASA could be reduced by another factor of two.
            When you combine all these factors and considering that cutting out the huge development cost of a HLV results in actually more than an order of magnitude reduction, the total reduction in development cost can actually be more than three orders of magnitude.

            Bob Clark

            • Coastal Ron

              Robert Clark said:

              For both the Falcon 9 and the Antares the development cost to NASA was an order of magnitude cheaper than by following the usual procedure where NASA fully finances all development costs.

              This is an assumption you have, but it is unsupported by any real evidence.

              In fact, there are no comparable launchers to the Falcon 9 or Antares that NASA has ever built, so you are making a completely invalid comparison.

              If anything, the closest comparable rocket to the Falcon 9 would be the Atlas V, and that was a done as a partially government funded development effort.

              All of your assumptions are fictitious, and I say that as a ardent fan of commercial space, and someone that does in fact keep track of the real costs of space hardware. But you are not doing commercial space any good by coming up with these fantasy comparisons.

              If anything, you are actually setting up unreasonable expectations for future costs, and that is very very bad. So please stop this.

              And until you agree that the SLS program should be stopped, you can’t really be a true fan of commercial space, since the SLS is the complete opposite of commercial space.

              Just sayin…

    • Monty

      I agree with everything but #4.

      Partnering with other nations, especially Russia, often causes more problems than it solves. And I don’t just mean ITAR. Part of the reason ISS is such a white elephant is that relying on the Russians has driven up the cost (both for delivery of modules and to pay for ferries to and from the station). It also forced us to alter the orbit to an inclination and altitude that Russian boosters could reach.

      I have no problems partnering with the ESA. I do have problems partnering with Russia and China. These nations are not our friends or allies. They are competitors, and maybe even enemies. It is foolish to depend on them for critical parts of our own space program. Even depending on Ukraine (as Orbital does for Antares) is problematic. It’s a pity because Russia and China have a lot of superb engineering and technology to bring to the table, but the security risks and costs offset the benefit of including them in our space plans.

      Partnering is a good thing, all other things being equal…but all other things are not equal.

      • Monty

        Here’s a good article on why international partnering is often a bad idea: Collapse of ESA-Roscosmos Crew Vehicle Partnership Holds Lessons.

        • Coastal Ron

          Monty said:

          Here’s a good article on why international partnering is often a bad idea:

          If you want to trade articles, here is one where it’s good for NASA:

          NASA Signs Agreement for a European-Provided Orion Service Module

          And of course you are forgetting the 450mt elephant in the room that proves international cooperation does work, and that is the ISS. No one country on their own had the political resources to create such an asset, yet all of them together were able to build it and keep it staffed for over 12 years now.

          All partnerships are not good, just as all partnerships are not bad. The motives and incentives of all the potential partners have to align.

          But one thing is very clear – NASA isn’t getting any big boost in budget, and it’s more likely that we’ll see more international partnerships for doing things in space than less.

        • Robert Clark

          Actually the ESA and actually any industrialized country could afford to make their own crew module by following the commercial space approach. SpaceX spent an estimated $300 million developing the Dragon. A half-size capsule the size of say the Cygnus we might estimate under the commercial space approach to cost half that, in the range of $150 million.

          Bob Clark

          • Coastal Ron

            Robert Clark said:

            Actually the ESA and actually any industrialized country could afford to make their own crew module by following the commercial space approach.

            I’m not sure you understand what the “commercial space approach” is. And by definition, countries can’t use a commercial approach since they are not commercial entities, but government-run entities.

            SpaceX spent an estimated $300 million developing the Dragon. A half-size capsule the size of say the Cygnus we might estimate under the commercial space approach to cost half that, in the range of $150 million.

            NO! Size is not proportional to cost.

            Even if you wanted to talk just the material cost of a spacecraft, the reductions in cost would be minor. For instance, if you are going to build a pressurized vessel, you still need the same tooling and test equipment no matter what the size of it is, and you still need pretty much the same sub-systems like power, hydraulics and computers.

            And you still have the same test programs you have to run through, regardless if it’s three people or seven. Still need a recover ship, and not one that is half the size.

            Your assumptions are WAY off base.

  • Michael Listner

    It’s nice to see NASA can find money in its budget to promote this mission. Everything else when it comes to outreach takes a hit, but not this.

    • Hiram

      “Promotion” is cheap.

      • DCSCA

        “”Promotion” is cheap.” says Hiram.

        Except it’s not. Particularly in a noisy media universe. If they want to punch through the noise, it’s gonna cost them.

        In shuttle, Apollo, Gemini and Mercury days, they got a lot of free help from the news media. Won’t happen this time–Project Lasso is already fast becominmg a punch line. Even space advocate Stephen Colbert lampooned the idea on his show. The asteroid grab will never happen. It’s just make work for bureauccrats for the rest of the Obama Administration.

        Apologies for typos- Allergies.

        • josh

          bullshit. if you have an exciting mission (to mars) you get lots of free coverage. people are not interested in your rehash of apollo or this asteroid boondoggle, no amount of money spent on promotion will change that.

          • DCSCA

            “bull==it if you have an exciting mission (to mars) you get lots of free coverage.” dreams josh.

            Except you don’t. ‘Lots’ is a pretty loose metric… you can literally tally media coverage for past Mars missions that totals just a few hours,josh. For instance, in the case of Mars Curiosity, the EDL for a few news cycles which can literally be counted in a few hours worth of free media. That $2.6 is nearly half over per NASA’s mission profile, and the ROI to date remsins minimal and the media coverage since touchdown even less.

            You can go back and review the Spirit and Opportuninty coverage just a year after the Columbia loss (which had about a weeks worth of coverage BTW, then Iraq was attacked)and find similar time devoted to the EDL and a weeks worth of hourly pressers in the news cycle at JPL that tally up to about a day or two of free media coverage. Review coverage of Sojourner and media time devoted to the EDL for the first Mars landing and imagery since the 1976 Vikings and you’ll see it probably had the most time devoted to it as it coincided w/a shuttle mission and July 4 celebrations. And the Vikings back in ’76 got live network coverage of the EDL and the first color images beamed back and led netwoerk newscasts, then daded fast from the headlines as well.

            People cheer the engineering triumphs, not the science gping on and w/o pretty pictures, media loses interest PDQ. There’s a probe headed for Pluto launched a decade ago if memory serves. No outlet will give it any coverage until its flyby… and that will tally maybe a day of coverage. You really don’t know much about media, josh. And the NASA PAO people did for a long time until they lost the ear of the press and cutbacks in that area began on both sides of the fence. CNN dissolved its technology and science group a few years ago, josh. And FYI, jodh, nobody cares what you had for dinner.

            • josh

              lol, you’re out of touch, dcsca. people love missions to mars as evidenced by the huge interest in the media every time there is a launch/landing. the moon? crickets. deal with it.

              btw: try to keep your posts succinct, will you? you write a lot and say nothing. just bla bla bla. lol

              • DCSCA

                “people love missions to mars ” wishes josh.

                Except they don’t. particularly whrn the price tags come due. But the do cheer the engineering successes of EDL. For about 72 hours. Three news cycles, as history – and videotapes show. Even JPL ceases daily pressers after a week. Keep trying, josh.

            • Hiram

              My point was that “promotion” is a lot cheaper than actually doing it. Which they won’t.

              The point about media lifetime is a fair one. But the nice thing about science missions is that media coverage isn’t the success metric. There is stuff to be gained whether or not CNN is harping on the mission. The scientists are amused by the coverage, but that’s not what the mission is about. You can point to that gain proudly after the fact. That’s not true for human space flight. For human space flight, the primary goal is that the event itself it be a press ratings driver. Once the chutes come out, the event disappears from the media, and the astronaut heroes fade from the scene. The excitement and audaciousness drive the media coverage, and both of those things evaporate when it’s done. At least that’s the way it’s been on any human space flight mission post-Apollo.

  • josh

    much ado about nothing. i’d be surprised if this mission ever gets off the ground.

  • Today’s Google+ Hangout on Asteroids is now on YouTube at:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJq91w3sqvk

  • Explorer08

    Perhaps the only thing left to us anymore is to say, “Go Shenzhou!!” or “Hooray for Shenzhou!!”

    • josh

      shenzou is inferior to dragon.

      • NeilShipley

        And yet Shezou is carrying crew and Dragon isn’t. Now why is that?

        • Great point, Neil! The Shenzou is as versatile as the Russian Soyuz, and could very well be the lunar transport/orbiter spacecraft, for the great time in the future when China finally sends its spacemen Moonward! I for one, have NO problem seeing China reach the Moon first in the 21st century! They will expand upon Apollo’s grand-for-their-time accomplishments, and after their first sorties, to test out their lander modules, they’ll land large, unmanned cargo landers, and commence with multi-week/multi-month outpost expeditions. If the sight of the red flag of China upon the Lake of Dreams has the effect of pulling the United States out of its complacency & 40-year laurel-resting stupor, then it’ll be a silver-awesome turning-point moment in space history! So, Hooray for Shenzou! Go, Shenzou! Hooray, for the Chinese Moon Quest!

          • E.P. Grondine

            Hi Chris –

            Given current US economic thinking, who knows?

            Perhaps Congress will shut down NASA, and hire Walmart to buy the US space program from China at a far lower cost.

            Walmart, where they roll back prices everyday!

          • Neil Shipley

            Actually I was being facitious Chris.

            My question was to make people think. This clearly went over your head so I’ll provide you with the answer. NASA and it’s excessively bureacratic ways and Congress and their refusal to provide the funding required to eliminate the dependancy gap of the U.S. on Russia for human space transport.

            If you remember the press conference regarding the COTS 2/3 flight that berthed (docked!) with the ISS, Elon made the point that the flight conditions for the space vehicle were sufficiently benign that a person would have been quite comfortable so there is no real reason for retarding the use of the Dragon capsule for crew. Let’s face it, people say it’s got no LAS but that’s just an excuse. How many flights did the Shuttle make and it never had an LAS except in the early days and that was basically useless.

            On your response regarding China, you’re clearly over-estimating the abilities and progress of the Chinese while underestimating the resources and resolve of the U.S. Hardly patriotic assuming you’re a U.S. citizen which btw I’m not.

            Irrespective of the reduced funding levels, we’ll see at least one of the CCiCap companies develop a human-rated vehicle in the next few years and incidently, that will be well before MPCV ever flys a human. If NASA insists on flying MPCV only on SLS, well then it’ll never happen given the funding levels and the problems both systems are currently facing vis a vis the recent GAO report.

            I think that Keith Cowing over at NASAWatch summed it up for me in his recent article prior to heading off on his Summer break, regarding the current NASA efforts – one word – dismal. Don’t hold your breath waiting to be rescued by NASA. Just a suggestion.

            This is a long speel for me and my fingers are now tired so I’ll sign off.
            Cheers from DownUnder.

        • josh

          because shenzou development started in the 90s. it’s a soyuz copy, straight out of the 60s.

        • Coastal Ron

          NeilShipley said:

          And yet Shezou is carrying crew and Dragon isn’t. Now why is that?

          If you look at the time scale from when Russia sold China the technology they used for the Shenzhou (not Shezou), it was eight years before they launched their first human. And all they had to do was scale up a working, proven design.

          NASA released their first CCDev award in 2010, and SpaceX has stated that they plan to fly their first crew flight in 2015.

          I’d say that considering the lack of funding, the Commercial Crew participants are doing pretty well.

  • pathfinder-01

    “And yet Shezou is carrying crew and Dragon isn’t. Now why is that?”

    Shezou and Soyuz were designed to be manned spacecraft first. Progress came later and there is no cargo version of Shezou(China plans to use the Tiangong for resupply when it builds it’s “true” space station).

    The COTS program did not require that spacecraft which can deliver cargo be capable of carrying people. Dragon was built with the idea of being modified into a people carrier but only had to meet COTS-C. There were four levels of COTS that any spacecraft could be designed for this program. COTS-A was unpressurized cargo delivery. COTS-B was pressurized Cargo delivery (Cygnus meets this one), COTS-C was pressurized cargo delivery and return (Dragon meets this one). COTS-D which was never activated was for delivery and return of crew.

    “Let’s face it, people say it’s got no LAS but that’s just an excuse. How many flights did the Shuttle make and it never had an LAS except in the early days and that was basically useless.”

    More complicated than that. The shuttle’s side mount design and mass restrictions made adding an LAS very difficult. LAS systems carry risk too and they thought with the shuttle that they could design a spacecraft safe enough that one was not needed (sound a bit like the arrogance in the design of the Titanic). There were questions if one would even be useful in the event of a rocket failure.

    The risk of an LAS was present in Apollo. Basically the top mounted LAS of Apollo had to come off at a certain point during the launch. If it failed to come off the Apollo spacecraft would be unable to go to the moon with the extra mass of the LAS, unable to dock since the docking port was blocked by the LAS and unable to reenter properly with the LAS still attached. All three are major risks that every flight had. This is also why the CCREW craft don’t use top mounted LAS systems(with Apollo and Soyuz control systems of the time were unable to handle the dynamics of a rear LAS.).

    The Challenger disaster changed that attitude. Basically the crew of Challenger survived the explosion/break up of the shuttle. What killed the crew was either the cabin depressurizing (hopefully) or the cabin slamming into the ocean (the part of the disaster that is absolutely not survivable). If the cabin did not depressurize then it is hoped that G forces knocked the crew out cause if not it was a terrifying two minute plunge. If there was an LAS system present the crew would have had a fighting chance to get out alive.

    Challenger’ computers sensed a drop in fuel pressure and were attempting the turn off its engines, power systems failed(and there is evidence the crew tried to use the circuit breakers to get them back) and one of the crew was able to activate an supplementary oxygen system. The shuttles video camera record about 3 seconds worth of video before the power failed after the break up. So there is some evidence that either the computer or the crew could have the system. Needless to say that after this experience no NASA spacecraft will be allowed to carry a crew without an LAS.

    • common sense

      “Dragon was built with the idea of being modified into a people carrier ”

      Minor correction. Dragon was concurrently designed to carry cargo and crew. Just sayin’

      ” This is also why the CCREW craft don’t use top mounted LAS systems”

      Tractor LAS are a pain in the neck to make work properly. These things tend to be very, very aerodynamically unstable. In addition as the propellant rapidly disappears it creates a very abrupt change in CG location. Apollo used a rudimentary canard system while that on Orion was controlled with multiple motors exhausts a la Soyuz. Go ask the Constellation people…

      “If there was an LAS system present the crew would have had a fighting chance to get out alive.”

      This is not a correct statement. Nobody knows that. The flowfield of a sidemount LAS is so complicated that it is absolutely unclear they might. Parachutes on a separable capsule of some sort might have worked as well. But it is so complicated and massive that the added risk are far too great.

      ” Needless to say that after this experience no NASA spacecraft will be allowed to carry a crew without an LAS.”

      The CEV LAS started with the Astronaut Office if I am not mistaken. People obviously dismiss the added risk of such an additional complex (sub)system to the overall LV. There is no clear reason why a LAS can save the day. The Ares-I-CEV LAS might have killed the crew just not right away. And no sometimes you cannot make a LAS work. Would you have ejection seats and parachutes for every passenger on a 747? If not why not?

      A LAS is no clear guarantee the crew will survive. The Dragon LAS is more motivated by retro-propulsion landing rather than crew safety… FWIW.

      • Neil Shipley

        Yes that’s my understanding on LAS as well. I’d also add that MPCV is still being designed with a top mounted rocket LAS and no one to this day, really knows whether or not the system will work.

  • pathfinder-01

    “The Ares-I-CEV LAS might have killed the crew just not right away. And no sometimes you cannot make a LAS work. Would you have ejection seats and parachutes for every passenger on a 747? If not why not?”

    True about that system and true sometimes you can’t make it work. On a 747 not really practical too much variation in size/mass of passengers too much weight and too many passengers as well as lack of training for said passengers. The B-52 and many military jets do have ejection seats. LAS systems are not 100% fool proof and for the shuttle they would have been a nightmare to install after the fact design wise but for other situations more useful. Not a 100% chance it will work, but better than zero.

    • common sense

      “Not a 100% chance it will work, but better than zero.”

      My 747 example was a caricature of course. Yet to me this is very unclear especially since you may increase the risk of loss of vehicle by merely adding a LAS…

  • Jim Nobles

    This Moonies vs. Martians argument could go on forever but I’ll just say this: There’s plenty of good reasons to develop the Moon but if you guys think the Martians are going to wait for you to develop ISRU industry on the Moon before they attempt to invade Mars you have lost your damn minds. They are not getting any younger and there’s no reason for them to wait.

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