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The National Academies wants you(r thoughts)

The National Academies’ Committee on Human Spaceflight is continuing its congressionally-mandated study on the US human spaceflight program, with meetings of two of its panels planned for next week in California and Washington, DC. (The public and stakeholder opinions panel meeting in DC next week is primarily closed to the public, likely for good reason but not without some degree of irony.) While some of its deliberations take place behind closed doors, the committee is soliciting public input in the form of brief white papers. The papers, not to exceed four pages, are supposed to address questions on the key benefits of and challenges to government human spaceflight, as well as “the ramifications and what would the nation and world lose if the United States terminated NASA’s human spaceflight program.” The papers are due July 9.

The committee is making the papers submitted available for public viewing, and those already submitted range the gamut one might expect when opening comment to the public. Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt has submitted a paper on “Deep Space Exploration: An American Imperative”, where he focuses on a return to the Moon lest China “take over the exploration of the Moon from the United States and the free world.” Joseph Kerwin, who flew on the first Skylab mission 40 years ago, submitted a brief letter arguing that “nothing useful will happen in space as long as NASA churns out studies, spends millions on unneeded facilities and projects peripheral to its duties under the Space Act.” But there’s also the submission of what appears to be nothing more than an odd illustration by a Mr. Alfredo Aguilar Jr., with the summary, “No this is not a joke. This is the the new shape of air to space flight.” Okay…

113 comments to The National Academies wants you(r thoughts)

  • Guest

    Oops, sorry, posted this accidentally in the previous thread, Hopefully the moderator will catch it.

    You never know, they might be giants, or not.

    What I would rather know here is why I should bother writing yet another white paper for these people, when their track record on this subject has been nothing less than abysmal.

    • Hiram

      “…when their track record on this subject has been nothing less than abysmal.”

      Who are you referring to here? These committee members represent a new committee. The NRC committees are formed to establish policy consensus by smart and independent people, by contract to the funding agencies, and often as directed through them by Congress. Their “track record” is the studies that they have organized, and those studies are pretty much revered by Congress. If their track record is abysmal, no one bothered to tell Congress or the funding agencies. Which NRC study are you having problems with?

      No, don’t bother to write one.

      • Guest

        The NRC committees are formed to establish policy consensus by smart and independent people, by contract to the funding agencies, and often as directed through them by Congress. Their “track record” is the studies that they have organized, and those studies are pretty much revered by Congress. If their track record is abysmal, no one bothered to tell Congress or the funding agencies. Which NRC study are you having problems with?

        The NAC studies through the years that didn’t prevent Constellation and it’s zombie stepchild’s, SLS and MPCV, but rather, enabled them to occur and thrive. You could apply that reasoning to the decadal surveys the the Webb Space Telescope as well.

        • Hiram

          The NAC studies? We’re talking about NRC studies. The NAC is hand selected by the administrator. The NAC members really aren’t that “independent”.

          As to Decadal Surveys, the astrophysics survey wholeheartedly recommended JWST on the basis of the science potential. The problems of JWST have absolutely nothing to do with science potential.

          Keep trying …

          • Guest

            No, it has to do with them selecting a mission that was too expensive when many other far more pressing missions with much more relevant science closer to home and extreme necessity present themselves, vis a vis asteroid impacts. Yes I blame the decadal surveys and the numerous demonstrably flawed studies that created and enabled the program to proceed. Ditto the NRC or NAC or whatever you want to call them, these crackpot ideas (SLS, MPCV or whatever you want to call them) don’t come out of a vacuum. They are the result of bad premises.

            CYA all you want. I assess blame to obvious problems then then move on to more credible sources of ideas, information and proposals, analyses and studies. That was my question, why should anyone continue to assist these people at all when it’s obvious they are the source of the problems?

          • E.P. Grondine

            Hi Hiram –

            Once again we have a space committee with no impact experts, just as the earlier astronomy panels had no impact experts.

            You can not have a fair game with a loaded deck.

        • Coastal Ron

          Guest said:

          The NAC studies through the years that didn’t prevent Constellation and it’s zombie stepchild’s, SLS and MPCV, but rather, enabled them to occur and thrive.

          Not at all. You keep confusing the origin of the SLS as being part of some “plan”. It’s not, and neither really was the MPCV.

          The SLS was conceived as a jobs program, to stave off large numbers of job losses from the cancellation of the Constellation program. Blaming NAC studies for the SLS is pretty ignorant.

          • Guest

            Not at all. You keep confusing the origin of the SLS as being part of some “plan”. It’s not

            That’s your meaningless semantics. The fact that these programs still exist at all is ample demonstration there is something seriously wrong with the process, whatever you want to call it. I have no faith in these people anymore, sorry.

            They are less than a year away from total irrelevance. It’s worse than that. The funny part is that they don’t have a clue what is coming. Nor do you.

    • Coastal Ron

      Guest said:

      What I would rather know here is why I should bother writing yet another white paper for these people…

      EXACTLY! I think you should punish them by not writing yet another white paper. That will show them!

  • Thanks for that. I didn’t know the submissions would be available for public viewing.

    Bob Clark

  • Brett

    “the ramifications and what would the nation and world lose if the United States terminated NASA’s human spaceflight program.”

    One of the bigger casualties might be the unmanned program, at least at its current level. NASA performs a useful role in lobbying for these programs, whereas if they were stand-alone they’d probably run into perpetual budget cutting and limitations a la the Superconducting Super-Collider if they ever went above $1 billion in costs.

    Or maybe not, since the Europeans run a program without manned spaceflight. Honestly, if we could get more funding for the unmanned program following a cancellation of the manned program, I’d be okay with that. I don’t care about manned spaceflight that much, and I’m happy to let non-governmental actors lead the way with gradualist improvements if the demand and support for it are there.

    • amightywind

      I don’t think most Americans would be satisfied with such a moribund program, especially with the Chinese threatening to rule outer space. The Europeans have a 2nd rate program at best.

      • Coastal Ron

        amightywind said:

        I don’t think most Americans would be satisfied with such a moribund program…

        It’s kind of moribund today, and I don’t see any protests out in the streets. Me thinks you overestimate how interested most people are in government-run space stuff.

        The Europeans have a 2nd rate program at best.

        And since we’re relying on them for the Orion Service Module, what does that make us?

        • amightywind

          A second rate program.

        • DCSCA

          “Me thinks you overestimate how interested most people are in government-run space stuff.” dreams Ron.

          Except you’re wrong.

          =yawn= Clearly you weren’t around in 1957. Or 1961 as Shepard was lofted— or when Glenn was orbbited in 1962. Or when 204 burned in ’67. Or 8 orbited Luna in ’68 and 11 landed in ’69. Americans expect government to react and follow through because as usual– and as history has shown over the 85-plus year history of modern rocketry- profit-driven comercial interests, when prsented with the opporrtunity to take the lead in this field, fail to seize the initiative, balked, and let government carry the fiscal burden and technical risks. ‘Most people’ were heavilly invested in it– as best as the could- as print coverage and television numbers from that era demonstrated. HSF is a projection of geo-political prowess and economic vigor on Earth. And the United States has always been reactive, not proactive in this field. That aspect of American culture and character has not changed.

          • Coastal Ron

            DCSCA mumbled:

            Except you’re wrong.

            =yawn=

            Apparently not, since the subject bores even you.

            Clearly you weren’t around in 1957.

            I was. See what happens when you assume?

            ‘Most people’ were heavilly invested in it

            As entertainment, yes. That’s also why Apollo 13 was being bumped from TV coverage until they had that little program.

            And in case you haven’t noticed, there is no public hue and cry about our lack of sending humans beyond LEO for the last 40 years. But there is great interest in the technological marvels that Apple deems to unveil to us infrequently throughout each year. I’d say there is far more public interest in the upcoming Mac Pro than there is in the upcoming Orion spacecraft.

            HSF is a projection of geo-political prowess and economic vigor on Earth.

            No matter how much you say that drivel, it’s not true.

            You seem to lack a sense of scale for how little what NASA does matters in the world. For instance, Microsoft and Intel spend as much on R&D as NASA gets in it’s entire budget. Very little of NASA’s budget goes for anything technologically interesting.

            And the only “geo-political” part of NASA has to do with the ISS, and since you think that should be ended, apparently you are contradicting yourself.

            And the United States has always been reactive, not proactive in this field. That aspect of American culture and character has not changed.

            We haven’t reached the “reactive” part for 40 years, so I’m not sure why you think it has any importance. Although you tend to live in the far, far, past, so maybe it’s a psychological condition you have. I would suggest you seek proper medical help…

            • DCSCA

              HSF is a projection of geo-political prowess and economic vigor on Earth.” …No matter how much you say that drivel, it’s not true.” dreams Ron.

              Except it is. And Rocco Petrone said it repeatedly as well.

              • I have to partially agree with DCSCA on this one. HSF progress that is economically practical to implement in the long run is indeed a reflection of a country’s geo-political prowess and economic vigor. Commercial Crew is producing progress toward real economically practical HSF that will ultimately significantly undercut the capabilities of other countries’ HSF programs, SLS is not doing anything to achieve that effect (perpetual development will see to that — see the Booz-Allen-Hamilton report). The former will increase the aforementioned prowess and vigor, the latter will not. Neither project is flying humans now, but the former will be and maybe even before the latter is cancelled from lack of significant progress.

              • Coastal Ron

                DCSCA dreamed:

                Except it is.

                If it was, you’d be able to explain it. Funny how you have never been able to… ;-)

          • @DCSCA
            I was around for all of the events you mentioned. I remember being very upset during the last few Apollo missions when sports events were broadcast on the networks instead of some of the moon walks. Excitement for the general public was dimming even then.

            As for your most persuasive argument, “=yawn=”, I’m afraid I have no answer on a level to equal it. :) Maybe having a lobotomy to get my IQ down that low would remedy that situation?

            • common sense

              “Maybe having a lobotomy to get my IQ down that low would remedy that situation?”

              Please don’t! We need all the IQ we can get in this business. Can you see yourself going tick tock in your head everyday just like him???

              Ah.

          • DSCA, not surprisingly to everyone but yourself, the general public reacts to something novel, or something disastrous or very nearly so. Apollo 13 was already ‘just another Moon flight’ to most people, until ‘the problem.’

            Where’s the support after something’s done for the eighth or tenth successful, but ‘boring’ time? Not unlike Rick, I know what it is to always have been a ‘space geek’ from the Mercury days, and to know that a great many people were not as interested in these things as I. It’s still true. If you get your big-rocket-and-program-to-match, it’ll happen to that, too…but the massive operating cost will still be there, after the attention spans have ended for most.

            (And strangely, a non-dramatic mission is exactly the kind you want, particularly if you’re the crew, for it means that everything worked as it should have…)

      • DCSCA

        “I don’t think most Americans would be satisfied with such a moribund program, especially with the Chinese threatening to rule outer space. The Europeans have a 2nd rate program at best.” muses Windy.

        Consider this, Windy– if Americans abandon Luna to the PRC and focus on Mars, and the people of the world see Chinese at work establishing a foothold on Luna– a place easily seen around the world in the night sky– while Americans are no where to be seen chasing some red dot few can find in the night sky, who really ‘wins the hearts and minds’ on Earth in that scenario? The PRC of course.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA said:

          if Americans abandon Luna to the PRC…

          Apparently you think visiting six small places on the Moon confers ownership, since you feel that we’ve “abandoned” the Moon.

          And apparently you also feel that the only way to reach the Moon is via a government-run program. How quaint.

          Luckily entrepreneurs don’t feel the same way you do (nor does Congress), and I have no doubt the private sector will be back on the Moon before NASA is. They’ll be strip mining it as soon as the demand shows up – and likely they will be strip mining advertisements in the Moon that we’ll be able to see while they are doing it, for companies like Facebook and Apple even. Capitalism will prevail!!

        • Americans are not abandoning Luna to the PRC. NASA is focusing on Mars and leaving Luna for private American efforts. Your statement only holds if one takes the antiquated position that NASA equals all American spaceflight.

          If we had to rely only on SLS, we would indeed be abandoning Luna to the PRC since SLS is not a practical solution (even if it had a much higher development budget).

          Get over it.

      • Robert Clark

        An interesting point. I’m discussing the European space program on some other forums. And it surprises me the European posters seem to have no inclination to question the ESA’s decision not to pursue manned spaceflight.
        I think the ESA has become second rate now to the Chinese space program now that the Chinese have manned spaceflight even though ESA has the leading satellite launch system and has some impressive planetary science successes. And if India and Japan succeed in manned space flights by 2020 as they plan, ESA will be superceded by them as well.
        So the idea here is manned spaceflight trumps your successes in unmanned spaceflight in evaluating the “prestige” of your space flight program. But why then do I not feel the same way about the U.S. space program? Probably because the U..S. did develop an extensive manned spaceflight program and it it is only a temporary interruption now in when it is reinstituted.

        Bob Clark

        • Coastal Ron

          Robert Clark said:

          I think the ESA has become second rate now to the Chinese space program now that the Chinese have manned spaceflight…

          Apparently your only measurement for gauging a country’s space capabilities is whether they can launch humans to LEO.

          I think that is very shortsighted, especially given the fact that China did not wholly develop their own space technology.

          One point of comparison is that ESA has been flying their Ariane 5 since 1996, whereas China is having trouble building the large bodies of their rocket equivalent, the Long March 5. Also, ESA has built sophisticated modules for the ISS, and builds the most capable supply tug in existence (ATV). ESA has far more mature technology, and far more capabilities than China does.

          The ability to fly humans is well within ESA’s capabilities, but they chose not to so they could spend money on the ISS and other space efforts. It has been a choice for them, not a lack of ability.

          I think you need to reevaluate the way you rate.

          • The ability to fly humans is well within ESA’s capabilities, but they chose not to so they could spend money on the ISS and other space efforts. It has been a choice for them, not a lack of ability.

            Yes, I am aware it is within their capabilities. It is my opinion that developing their manned space program should be one of their priorities just as it was for the Chinese.
            Look at how much more greatly the Chinese space program was perceived when they achieved manned spaceflight.

            Bob Clark

            • common sense

              Europe as a whole has little if no interest in HSF. And it’s not about to change.

            • Coastal Ron

              Robert Clark said:

              Look at how much more greatly the Chinese space program was perceived when they achieved manned spaceflight.

              Show us evidence of that.

              And show us evidence that it matters.

              You have to be careful about using what’s known as “vanity metrics”. For instance, what has ESA lost because the Chinese have a manned space program? Have they lost business customers? Not that I can see.

    • Hiram

      NASA performs a useful role in “lobbying”? What dimension are you sitting in? Federal agencies and agency employees do zero “lobbying”. With regard to manned and unmanned space flight, NASA does what Congress tells them to do.

      The unmanned program is already “stand alone”, in that it’s being run out of an entirely different Directorate than human space flight. That “one of the bigger casualties might be the unmanned program” if the NASA human space flight program was terminated, makes zero sense. Now, if the human space flight program is terminated, it is possible that NASA will be cut more broadly, but if manned spaceflight is terminated, it’s hard to get past the fact that the biggest casualty will be manned space flight.

      • Brett

        NASA performs a useful role in “lobbying”? What dimension are you sitting in? Federal agencies and agency employees do zero “lobbying”. With regard to manned and unmanned space flight, NASA does what Congress tells them to do.

        And NASA goes to Congress and the White House and tells them, “We need this amount of money”, and then complains in public if they don’t get it. That’s lobbying, even if it doesn’t fit the legal definition of being a lobbyist.

        The unmanned program is already “stand alone”, in that it’s being run out of an entirely different Directorate than human space flight. That “one of the bigger casualties might be the unmanned program” if the NASA human space flight program was terminated, makes zero sense.

        NASA lobbies for both. If NASA gets seriously neutered by the cancellation of the manned program, then the unmanned programs have less political cover and are more vulnerable to political sabotage a la the SSC.

        • Hiram

          NASA complains in public if they don’t get enough funding? Really? Wow, you are indeed living in another dimension. I can imagine that a NASA manager might express disappointment if he or she didn’t get the funding he or she wanted. But “complain”? Oh no. As an agency official, you work for the White House, and you can get scalped by Congress. You take your budget number, salute, and say “Yes BOSS!”

          Now, during budget development, and passback, there can be some back-and-forth between NASA and OMB. But that’s hardly “lobbying”. It’s about deciding how much one needs to do the tasks you’re being told to do. Lobbying is about deciding what tasks you want to do. Congress and the OMB can ask NASA “What can you do that meets these needs?”, and NASA can come up with options and costs.

          As to NASA influencing Congress, Congress can ask NASA for options, but NASA will not go up to the Hill and try to sell a plan without being expressly invited to do so.

          The word lobbying is a really bad one to use here.

          “then the unmanned programs have less political cover and are more vulnerable to political sabotage a la the SSC.”

          .. and who is the “biggest casualty” if human spaceflight gets canceled? Human space flight.

      • amightywind

        Federal agencies and agency employees do zero “lobbying”.

        The federal bureaucracy plays it down the middle, calls balls and strikes, does as ordered, has no political agenda? Amusing. Like the IRS, or federal unions, or even Obama’s water carriers at NASA? No the federal government is quite political and indeed malevolent. Reforming it is the great challenge of our times.

        • Hiram

          The federal bureaucracy works for the White House. As you say, they do as ordered. Congress can give directives to the federal bureaucracy via the WH/OMB. Lobbying is done in Congress. Agency workers don’t set foot in Congress unless they are asked. They don’t go knocking on doors, buying drinks, or slipping bills. Their political agenda is that of the White House, except they don’t set it.

          NASA is a “malevolent” organization? Heh.

  • What I’d like to submit:

    Dear National Academies —

    Congress doesn’t care what you think. Enjoy wasting your time.

    But thanks for trying.

    What I will submit, I’m writing now. :-)

  • guest

    Too bad they didn’t enable voting for (or against) each of the papers. I wonder if those who submit papers will be entitled to testify at one of their sessions?

  • Coastal Ron

    In general I think the questions they are asking are the wrong ones. For instance, what are they trying to learn about when they ask about “the ramifications and what would the nation and world lose if the United States terminated NASA’s human spaceflight program”?

    That is a really pointless question. Are they trying to find out if anyone cares about human spaceflight?

    If we did terminate NASA’s HSF program, it certainly wouldn’t affect our industrial base much, I can tell you that. And as of now, it won’t affect anything much in space, since every nation (ourselves included) are a decade or more away from doing any meaningful HSF outside of LEO.

    In fact, it might actually spur our private sector more than it is now, especially since Boeing and Lockheed Martin would be freed up from the pointless SLS and MPCV programs.

    The committee should be getting at the heart of the discussions these days, which are:

    - What role should NASA play in future HSF?

    - Considering NASA’s NACA roots, and the success NACA had in developing our aviation industry, how much of a role should NASA play in helping to establish new space industries?

    - How much should NASA rely on the private sector, and how much should NASA do on it’s own?

    - When NASA winds down it’s need for space assets like the ISS, should it destroy them or transfer them to the private sector?

    They need to ask questions that change the status quo in meaningful ways.

    Any other questions I missed?

    • Hiram

      I have to say that the purpose of this National Academy study isn’t to convince Congress of anything. The committee isn’t dumb enough to think they’re going to do that with cogent policy and rationale, even in view of the fact that the study was mandated by Congress. The only thing that counts for Congress is jobs and dollars in my district, and looking “responsible” (which is why the study was mandated in the first place).

      But what this study could accomplish is fostering a real national discussion about the value of and rationale for human space flight. That’s a discussion the public has never really had. The public wants human space flight because (1) it’s cool, (2) it projects strength. There are lots of examples of those reasons besides human spaceflight. And (3) it’s just like those long ago adventurers on their sailing ships who we revere. We can do better than that.

      “Are they trying to find out if anyone cares about human spaceflight?”

      I’m sure they can find someone who cares. But they would really like to know if there is some national consensus about whether we as a public care. We care historically, in that we’ve derived national pride from human space flight. But do we care looking forward?

      • common sense

        ” The only thing that counts for Congress is jobs and dollars in my district, and looking “responsible” (which is why the study was mandated in the first place).”

        Agreed.

        “But what this study could accomplish is fostering a real national discussion about the value of and rationale for human space flight.”

        Maybe I am way to cynical but I don’t think that it’ll happen. The public was involved with the Augustine Committee and I wonder what the results of that involvement actually was.

        ” But they would really like to know if there is some national consensus about whether we as a public care.”

        I surmise there is no consensus whatsoever. Suffice to look at the advocacy community, those who really care enough to make themselves visible.

        • Bennett In Vermont

          Asking “the public” about anything of substance is a waste of time. If you asked “the public” what constituted good food, the likely “consensus” would be “…a McRib sandwich with fries and a coke”.

          These jokers would do better if they narrowed their target audience to “anyone who has posted comments on a science or spaceflight related blog”. But that would make too much sense for a funded committee, which by design needs to waste as much money as possible while delivering nebulous conclusions that please the funding source.

          • common sense

            “If you asked “the public” what constituted good food, the likely “consensus” would be “…a McRib sandwich with fries and a coke”.

            Not just the public. Once upon a time http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketchup_as_a_vegetable

            “a funded committee, which by design needs to waste as much money as possible while delivering nebulous conclusions that please the funding source.”

            Pleasing them or not won’t make a difference. Once upon a time a so-called Augustine Committee told Congress that we could not afford Constellation. So what did they do? They wisely cancelled it. And then???? We implemented SLS and MPCV. So who in Congress really cares what committees actually tell Congress?

            • Guest

              Once upon a time a so-called Augustine Committee told Congress that we could not afford Constellation. So what did they do? They wisely cancelled it.

              The executive branch cancelled Constellation with no fanfare at all. Congress didn’t like that much.

              And then???? We implemented SLS and MPCV.

              No, ‘we’ did not. Perhaps ‘you’ did in your feverish mind. SLS and MPCV have yet to be ‘implemented’, after 20 billion plus wasted.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                The executive branch cancelled Constellation with no fanfare at all. Congress didn’t like that much.

                Yet in the end they voted for it. Don’t get confused by what Congress says, all that matters (good or bad) is what they do. And they voted overwhelmingly to cancel Constellation.

                No, ‘we’ did not. Perhaps ‘you’ did in your feverish mind. SLS and MPCV have yet to be ‘implemented’, after 20 billion plus wasted.

                You are arguing over essentially what the definition of “is” is.

                after 20 billion plus wasted.

                This from someone that until recently was advocating that Congress should spend MORE on the SLS in order to incorporate things you think make it “better”. What a hypocrite.

      • Coastal Ron

        Hiram said:

        I have to say that the purpose of this National Academy study isn’t to convince Congress of anything.

        Convince, no. But if it’s not part of an effort to educate Congress about “the will” of the people they serve, then what’s the point?

        But what this study could accomplish is fostering a real national discussion about the value of and rationale for human space flight. That’s a discussion the public has never really had.

        I tend to agree with Bennett that the public at large doesn’t really care.

        But why do you think this is a discussion we’re never really had? It’s been 50 years since Kennedy’s Moon speech, and 40 years since we last left the Moon. Plenty of opportunity. I think the public has in fact shown it’s lack of enthusiasm for all things space, but that “some people” refuse to believe that.

        If anything, I think the public “tolerates” spending on space for the same reason that they tolerate spending on pure science – because they know that it’s the right thing to do. But without an official goal or direction, with a stated outcome that they can judge (Apollo was “beat the Soviets to the Moon”), then there is nothing for them to be engaged on. And that’s where we are now.

        We care historically, in that we’ve derived national pride from human space flight. But do we care looking forward?

        Surveys usually fail when they ask questions that are too nebulous and non-specific, and the committee question that I pointed out is too nebulous and non-specific. Garbage in, garbage out.

        • Hiram

          “But why do you think this is a discussion we’re never really had? It’s been 50 years since Kennedy’s Moon speech, and 40 years since we last left the Moon. Plenty of opportunity.”

          Yep. Opportunity never taken. Isn’t it sad? The public still thinks that human space flight is all about “exploration”, where “exploration” is defined by flags and footprints, with helmets, gloves, bad hair and golf balls. Actually, VSE was the closest thing we’ve had to a real effort to understand the real purpose of HSF, and its relevance to the future of the nation. For Apollo, the relevance to the nation was defined by JFK. It was to exercise leadership, by beating the USSR. Mission accomplished.

          • Coastal Ron

            Hiram said:

            Actually, VSE was the closest thing we’ve had to a real effort to understand the real purpose of HSF, and its relevance to the future of the nation.

            I’m not sure if I’d go that far, but the VSE was a good attempt at solidifying a path for us to follow. Unfortunately the implementation of it via the Constellation program screwed it all up.

            As to the rest of what you’ve been talking about, I think we’re pretty close overall. And I’ve enjoyed your perspective – glad you’ve been adding your voice (as well as some other new-ish people too).

        • Hiram

          P.S. “Looking forward” is neither “nebulous” or “non-specific”. “Looking forward” is also hardly “garbage in”. Everything we do is aimed about caring in a “looking forward” manner. But if our motivations for human space flight are just … gee, we could be just like Apollo, that would be daft. Being just like Apollo is not, in itself, any sensible rationale.

    • Robert Clark

      Some good points. Perhaps you should include them in your proposal to the committee.

      Bob Clark

      • Coastal Ron

        Robert Clark said:

        Some good points. Perhaps you should include them in your proposal to the committee.

        Not only did you mention the committee and the ability to make submissions first in an earlier blog post which most likely did not see (good job Jeff for making it it’s own post), but you have been doing your darndest to get people to submit something too.

        Good job Bob!

  • vulture4

    Looking at the currently posted entries, I am not encouraged. I do not see much that would convince anyone who isn’t already convinced.

  • James H

    “I do not see much that would convince anyone who isn’t already convinced.”

    I don’t see much at all. This thing has been on the street a few weeks and so far only a handful of inputs? Come on people, you can do better!

  • Fred Willett

    Committees look back at whats happened and try to project forward to what might happen and what should happen.
    You miss the revolutions, and a revolution may be happening right now.
    SpaceX is attempting to create a reusable rocket. If they succeed (and they may not) then everything changes.
    I’ve been running some figures – not rocket equation figures, economic figures – and it seems clear that if SpaceX succeeds not just the price, but the way we go to space will change dramatically.
    For this reason the above study is likely to prove worthless.
    Run your own figures.
    It quickly become obvious that a reusable launch vehicle can not go beyond LEO. The upper stage with reusable hardware is just too heavy and there is the added penalty of the extra fuel you’d use returning an upper stage from GEO.
    When you look at the figures reusability implies the use of a reusable in space transfer vehicle to go from LEO to GEO. And that implies fuel depots.
    Do the sums and even with all this extra hardware reusability is still way cheaper than expendables. Even for low reusability numbers.
    The bottom line: If SpaceX succeeds then expect a quick development of a considerable space infrastructure. All done commercially.

    • Fred Willett

      The strange thing is that with reusable rockets your mass to LEO goes down, but the net mass to GEO can actually go up. This is because your in-space transfer vehicle starts from LEO fully fueled while a disposable upper stage has spent most of it’s fuel getting to LEO. Again reusability changes everything.

    • Robert Clark

      I’ve been running some figures – not rocket equation figures, economic figures – and it seems clear that if SpaceX succeeds not just the price, but the way we go to space will change dramatically.
      For this reason the above study is likely to prove worthless.

      The advantages of reusability with propellant depots could be what you would write about to the committee.

      Bob Clark

      • Fred Willett

        I’m not a US citizen, nor in the space industry (Australia doesn’t have one) so I don’t pretend to expertise in this field.
        I’m just an interested amateur.

    • Guest

      If they succeed (and they may not) then everything changes.

      Why do people keep saying that in the face of irrefutable physical evidence?

      Status quo is like some kind of religion.

      • Fred Willett

        No, many serious engineers think reusability is unlikely. Even Elon Musk says he’s only recently become convinced it’s possible.

        • Guest

          Excuse me if this engineering scientist considers their thoughts inane and their actions an unproductive waste of time and funds. If they weren’t taxpayer funds it wouldn’t be so laughable. History isn’t even on your side – the ISS and even the HST have already been proven to be reusable and many deep space probes have been repurposed already.

  • DCSCA

    “I’ve been running some figures…” – crows Robert.

    Maybe you should read the papers. Space X has flown nobody. Meanwhile, the PRC just launched a crew of three on its fifth manned spaceflight… this mission to its space platform. They’re on the move.

    The very fact that the subject of terminating U.S. manned spaceflight has been broached in the wake of other nations pressing on is simply another indication of ‘free drift’… or outright decline of the United States. Once upon a time, a group of people were divided over a proposition of national importance and what to do. A third said do nothing. A third were indifferent and a third pressed for action. The 33% led the 66% of indifferent and opposed… broke with the British Crown and created the United State of America. Pressing on has little to do with financing and everyting to do with leadership.

    Beancounters seldom break new ground and are remembered more as obstacles to success rather than catalysts for progress. Today, the U.S. spends $2 billion/a week in Afghanistan alone– or roughly NASA’s annual budget in about nine weeks. No, the problem isn’t money- especially as governments can borrow it at virtually zero interest these days to finance ‘projects of scale’… the problem is proactive leadership… as Project Lasso sorely shows. A space program built around reacting to others proactivities is a program that follows, not leads. Right now, what the U.S. need to do is articulate a viable rationale for HSF in the 21st century, adopt it as part of the national character and press on. Luna awaits.

    • “Space X has flown nobody.”
      And neither has your favored SLS and won’t ever, just as its predecessor Ares 1 didn’t.
      What’s sarse for the goose, …

      “Meanwhile, the PRC just launched a crew of three on its fifth manned spaceflight.”
      As Clark Lindsey noted here (with boldface for emphasis added by me): http://newspacewatch.com/articles/reusable-rockets-esa-wants-its-ariane-6-chinese-launch-crew-.html
      “And the Chinese launched a crew to orbit today for the first time since last June, proving that they too can keep spaceflight a rare and expensive event just like the other guys:

      • DCSCA

        =yawn= So you believe the Chinese are behind because they dont operate at the pace of the West. Quite a foolish mind set, Rick. .Governments have been putting people into space for over half a century– Space X has flown nobody.

        • No I believe that the Chinese will ultimately find themselves behind because they are following the same old economically inefficient methods all the other governments are following.

          I see you your “=yawn=” and raise you a “=sneeze=”, “=hiccup=” and “=nose twitch=”, none of which add anything to my argument that your “=yawn=” does. :)

          Anyway, the Chinese say they are worried about not being able to meet SpaceX’s launch prices. If that continues, that fact alone will decide the issue, not just for the Chinese, but the Europeans and the Russians as well. Are you really that stupid?

  • Justin Kugler

    I do know some of the people on this committee and I have heard unequivocally that their conditions for joining were that this not be another exercise in drinking NASA’s own bathwater.

    This request for public input is intended to take the discussion back to first principles – Why should we have a national human space flight program? What purposes should it serve? How can we create a national program that delivers value to the country and serves its interests?

    Interestingly enough, we’re debating these same questions of rationale at the international level in the MIT/Skoltech Space Strategy Study.

  • common sense

    “the ramifications and what would the nation and world lose if the United States terminated NASA’s human spaceflight program.”

    I think this is a loaded suggestion. Why does it have to be yes/no type assertion.

    I don’t think anyone really actually wants to terminate NASA HSF program. This is a totally stupid statement. I am sure some do but this is not the point now is it?

    The real question is the level of involvement that NASA should have in any HSF program. Should they pay for rides? Should they design vehicles? Build vehicles? Define missions?

    The day NASA terminates all HSF will be a sad day and it does not have to come to that but with friends like these who need enemies?

    Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

    • Justin Kugler

      It’s a thought exercise intended to push people to think about what’s really important. The question implicitly recognizes that many people have a hard time appreciating something until it’s gone, so it challenges them to think about the issue from that perspective.

      • common sense

        Justin, I understand what you mean but I don’t think the question reflects reality. Why not ask the real questions? Those that have an impact today? Why not ask the public if they think american industry, ingenuity and pragmatism should be first and foremost? What public are they reaching out to? Do you really assume the public “at large” will participate?

        I would like that our community gets real some day. That they realize that the public “at large” does not care enough to understand what the ramifications are after terminating Shuttle that we subsidize the Russian space industry – something hat made geopolitical sense 25 years ago.

        Why not ask the public if our government should support the development of a US commercial space industry? By creating high paying jobs? By innovating and searching for very unusual markets the american way?

        Why not ask the public if NASA should commit its limited and shrinking resources to some idiotic redundant space systems supposedly a back up to commercial systems that are 2 orders of magnitude cheaper?

        Maybe we shoul stop treating the public like idiots and ask the right question. Just maybe.

        • Justin Kugler

          I’ve learned from studying forecasting techniques that sometimes the best paths are illuminated precisely by asking questions that don’t reflect current reality.

          The points you raise are subsets of the three broader questions the committee asked. Isn’t the discontinuity between commercial development and central development one of the “greatest challenges” they speak of?

          I’m inclined to agree with Robert Clark’s repeated suggestion. Why don’t you come up with your own answers to those questions and submit them?

          • common sense

            “I’ve learned from studying forecasting techniques that sometimes the best paths are illuminated precisely by asking questions that don’t reflect current reality.”

            All right then. We’ll see the impact of this exercise I assume soon.

            “I’m inclined to agree with Robert Clark’s repeated suggestion. Why don’t you come up with your own answers to those questions and submit them?”

            Yeah why? Because I am in this business, have been for some time and I see how things actually work.

            Again. Call me cynical if you have to. Or lazy.

            This only is an exercise as pointed out by Hiram above that “The only thing that counts for Congress is jobs and dollars in my district, and looking “responsible” (which is why the study was mandated in the first place).”

            I am not convince one bit otherwise.

            • Justin Kugler

              Actually, the study was mandated because a few people in Congress actually listened to the people who said the national human spaceflight program needs clear, validated direction akin to that provided the space science communities by the Decadal Surveys.

              • common sense

                “the people who said the national human spaceflight program needs clear, validated direction ”

                I am so sorry Justin but I don’t accept that.

                This WH provided exactly that with the FY-11 budget and Congress found every other excuse to kill it. No destination was the common denominator, and of course any destination would do so long that destination is the Moon. Because of course SLS/MPCV will take us to the Moon. Not that we know when but eventually some day when cows fly SLS/MPCV will too.

                Now what the hell is a clear, validated direction? And who will provide that? The National Academies? I would hope since you are working in this business that you realize that it has absolutely nothing to do with that.

                AND furthermore, what are the National Academies interested in when it comes to HSF? What makes them the right people to address HSF in the US? Are we talking science? Are we talking economic development?

              • Justin Kugler

                The White House did absolutely no prep or external validation before they dropped that plan on Congress. That’s why it was DOA.

                Congress ordered NASA to go to the National Academies because they’ve already shown they can do the job in organizing and validating space science priorities through the Decadal Surveys. They’re a third party that Congress largely trusts. Every time I speak with a current or former staffer I hear about the distrust between Congress and HQS.

                This is about discussing and illuminating a clear purpose for having a national HSF program – one that isn’t just riding Apollo’s vapor trail. This is our best opportunity to communicate to Congress both a reason and a way to get beyond the dead-end status quo.

              • common sense

                “The White House did absolutely no prep or external validation before they dropped that plan on Congress. That’s why it was DOA.”

                You mean they did not get Congress to agree with them I assume. Otherwise what prep are you talking about? Validation by whom?

                “Congress ordered NASA to go to the National Academies because they’ve already shown they can do the job in organizing and validating space science priorities through the Decadal Surveys. They’re a third party that Congress largely trusts. Every time I speak with a current or former staffer I hear about the distrust between Congress and HQS.”

                Yeah right “space science priorities” surely, possibly. But HSF is space sciences? Are you sure?

                “This is about discussing and illuminating a clear purpose for having a national HSF program – one that isn’t just riding Apollo’s vapor trail. This is our best opportunity to communicate to Congress both a reason and a way to get beyond the dead-end status quo.”

                I don’t agree. Again Augustine Committee already happened and we all saw the results. And those in the Augustine Committee actually have a lot more credentials when it comes to HSF than those at the NAC.

                I am afraid you seem to miss the point that Hiram and others have made. Congress is not about finding an objective role for HSF. It is about finding ways to direct funding to their States/districts and nothing but that. Once again this is a debate that will go nowhere like the (in)famous bridge.

              • Justin Kugler

                You keep missing my point. The whole point of this exercise is that it’s not all the usual suspects saying the same things over again. Augustine wasn’t listened to by Congress precisely because it was perceived by Congress as an excuse by the White House to do nothing.

                I didn’t say HSF was space sciences. I said the National Academies have credibility with Congress because they’ve managed the selection of space sciences priorities and Congress is trying to create an analogue of that process for human space flight.

                Congress won’t move past the status quo until we can show them a strategic plan that advances exploration while still satisfying their parochial concerns. Augustine didn’t go that far. This group can, particularly if we help point the way.

              • common sense

                “You keep missing my point.”

                No I don’t think I am.

                “The whole point of this exercise is that it’s not all the usual suspects saying the same things over again. Augustine wasn’t listened to by Congress precisely because it was perceived by Congress as an excuse by the White House to do nothing.”

                The point is not that this committee is organized by the Academies. The point is that it is the same Congress. Hence no change on the horizon but you are free to believe otherwise. Only time will tell.

                “I didn’t say HSF was space sciences.”

                You said Congress goes to the Academies to get guidance for HSF since they have expertise in space sciences. And my question to you is what does HSF have to do with space sciences? Why do the Academies have the required expertise in terms of HSF to determine its future?

                “I said the National Academies have credibility with Congress because they’ve managed the selection of space sciences priorities and Congress is trying to create an analogue of that process for human space flight.”

                And I am telling you it is irrelevant to HSF. But again you are free to believe otherwise.

                “Congress won’t move past the status quo until we can show them a strategic plan that advances exploration while still satisfying their parochial concerns. Augustine didn’t go that far. This group can, particularly if we help point the way.”

                That Justin is wishful thinking. You keep saying that the WH did not do a good job and it is not true. The WH gave them a good plan for the future. Not only that but Flexible Path essentially was the spiral approach tentatively implemented for the VSE. Congress is a group of hypocrites and if you think that the Academies will help then good for you. We’ll see how they satisfy their parochial concerns which are votes and jobs.

                We’ll see.

          • common sense

            More to the point. I don’t need a debate we are way past any debate.

            Now all I need is entrepreneurs, individuals, private actors to act and to demonstrate what they can do without a debate. And some are doing exactly that.

          • common sense

            How much more debate do we need? Where is SLS? Where is MPCV? What are we debating again? Who is debating?

            http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20130611/SPACE/130611024/Commercial-space-companies-expect-Brevard-push

  • James H

    “the ramifications and what would the nation and world lose if the United States terminated NASA’s human spaceflight program.”

    Although ominous and frightening, I don’t think it is too far fetched to see this happen unless some changes are made to the conduct of the program.

    There is discussion ongoing about why so few payloads of any significance are coming forward for ISS and why after forty years of effort no one has come up with anything of significance to design or produce in space.

    That argument defines whether or not ISS may be continued post 2020. Maybe they will decide to keep it going until 2030, or maybe not if the decision is made that its just wasting time and resources. Or maybe it gets hit by a catastrophic anomaly.

    In the meantime, MPCV/Orion won’t fly for real until 2021 or later. My guess is they will have problems on next year’s flight, owing to ongoing issues and based on Orion’s past performance. Dragon, CST and Dream Chaser will all be flying within a couple years and another commission will recommend that owing to Orion’s difficulties, ridiculous expense, and the availability of equivalent commercial systems at far less expense, Orion gets cancelled within a year or two. Even if it doesn’t get cancelled, a stunt flight every couple years is hardly a space program.

    You lose ISS, no Orion forthcoming, then anyone associated with the US/NASA program can go home. Then the US program is over and it becomes a question of whether or not to start something new.

  • Okay, I submitted my white paper. It’s at:

    http://www8.nationalacademies.org/aseboutreach/DetailFileDisplay.aspx?id=1097

    It’s titled A New Economy: U.S. Human Spaceflight in the 21st Century.

    The summary:

    For the first time in the history of U.S. human spaceflight, the private sector is on the verge of creating a viable industry that liberates low Earth orbit from taxpayer funding. In short, within a year or two you will no longer have to be a government employee to go into space.

    • common sense

      I did not check your chronology and references but if I have to base a judgement on the rest I would say very, very nicely done.

    • Neil Shipley

      Hi Stephen. Great summary of NASA’s history up to and including so-called Newspace. Terrific conclusion. Very well done indeed.

    • Coastal Ron

      Stephen C. Smith said:

      Okay, I submitted my white paper.

      It represents my view very well – good job Stephen!

      Any way we can vote for your submission?

      • Coastal Ron wrote:

        Any way we can vote for your submission?

        I don’t see any way to express an opinion about any of the white papers.

        It’s interesting to see the wide variety of responses to a general topic, ranging from my “new economy” to the guy who thinks China is in cahoots with terrorists to those who think we should keep doing the same thing we’ve been trying to do the last 40 years without success.

        Thanks to all who read the article. About all I can suggest is to send the link for the white papers page to as many people as possible so all points of view can be read. The link is:

        http://www8.nationalacademies.org/aseboutreach/publicviewhumanspaceflight.aspx

    • By the way … As an historical curiosity, I ran across on YouTube this September (?) 1958 film footage of NACA Director Hugh Dryden introducing Keith Glennan as the first administrator of NASA. Dryden remained as Deputy Administrator.

      I think it’s a shame that some in Congress want to erase his name off NASA’s flight center at Edwards AFB, because he had a lot more to do with NACA/NASA aeronautics research there than Neil Armstrong.

      Anyway, an interesting film because it’s a window into the times. These were the people who had to figure out what NASA was supposed to be. The film is at:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ic4G-8qX_bk

    • Crash Davis

      The more appropriate question may be, “How do we get the U.S. government out of the way of human spaceflight?”

      Maybe one of the most inane illustrations of naive groupthink with regards to spaceflight ever created. Were you actually serious when you composed this piece of prose vomit?

      Stephen, without the U.S. government, there would be no Commercial Crew program. There would be no Commercial Cargo program. There would be no SpaceX. You live in a fantasy world.

      • common sense

        If at least you knew what you are talking about.

        Idiot.

      • E.P. Grondine

        Hi Crash –

        You ought to read Stephen’s paper for the howlers in its history of the space program.

        But you have made a mistake yourself. SpaceX was going to happen regardless of what action NASA took.

      • DCSCA

        =Maybe one of the most inane illustrations of naive groupthink with regards to spaceflight ever created. Were you actually serious when you composed this piece of prose vomit?” noted C.Davis.

        Well said.

        “Stephen, without the U.S. government, there would be no Commercial Crew program. There would be no Commercial Cargo program. There would be no SpaceX. You live in a fantasy world.” notes S. Davis.

        Well said, again. THe efforts of desperate NewSpacers to seek parody with govrnment space ops throgh false equivalency doesn’t fool anyone– particularly those clutching thep urse strings, which is why private capital markets remain wary of trhe low to no ROI from their busienss models. So they seek government financing– cheap money- intended or established governmsnt space ops. Ops which have been flying peopel into and back from LEO for over half a century. Space X has flown nobody. and, of course government will always play a role. The ‘fantasy’ of ‘getting out of the way’ is mere left over residue from the Reaganesaque mind set of ‘privatization’ which poisoned the civl spacve agency decades ago.

        Per the late Neil Armstrong:

        “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

        “…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

      • Neil Shipley

        Did Stephen ever suggest that? No. What he’s suggesting is that it is time NOW for the gov’t to move aside and that it should have happened earlier.

        • Neil Shipley wrote:

          Did Stephen ever suggest that? No.

          But that’s all the trolls have. Not one of them has disproven any fact in the article. So they resort to lies and smears. Always the first sign that they know they’ve lost the debate.

          Doesn’t matter. The only opinion that matters is that of the National Academies. They don’t pay attention to trolls either.

          • DCSCA

            But that’s all the trolls have. Not one of them has disproven any fact in the article. insists Stephen.

            Are you kidding??? See C. Davis’s posting. your history chronology alone is simply wring, nto to mention the absurd notion that government should get out of the way—- without government subsidies and a faux customer base, NewSpace is a piedream.

        • DCSCA

          “Did Stephen ever suggest that? No. What he’s suggesting is that it is time NOW for the gov’t to move aside and that it should have happened earlier.” squawks Neil

          Which was soundly refuted by more experienced individuals=– like Neil armstrong.

    • Thanks for that. It expresses a view I happen to agree with.

      Bob Clark

  • Dark Blue Nine

    There’s not much point to an NRC committee to define the value proposition of the US human space flight program — nevertheless soliciting public opinions on the same — if NASA’s human space flight program can’t get its act together on the simplest development tasks:

    “NASA is carrying out a series of tests to ensure the agency’s Orion spacecraft can successfully jettison its protective fairings, or covers, during its ride to space. During the first of these tests, two of the three fairing panels separated as planned, but a third didn’t.

    The fairings are panels that will protect Orion’s service module from the environment around it, whether it’s heat, wind or acoustics…

    During the test, all pyrotechnic mechanisms and bolts separated as planned but the third fairing panel did not completely detach.”

    http://spaceref.com/missions-and-programs/nasa/constellation-program/orion/nasas-orion-program-first-fairing-separation-test-provides-data-to-validate-design.html

    Fairing separation? Really? After eight years of development, MPCV can’t get a lousy, static, fairing separation test to go right?

    What a joke…

    • Neil Shipley

      Further to your point DBN, why are fairings required anyway? Dragon doesn’t need them and the ATV which is to serve as the first service module apparently, also doesn’t require them on the uphill ride.

      This just sounds like so much make-work that appears to be the hallmark of these programs.

      • common sense

        “why are fairings required anyway?”

        Initially I believe radiators were located on the SM and aeroheating associated with the insane trajectory of the SRB would damage them.

        Now since the LV keeps changing for the overall MPCV who the hell knows what requirements were associated with those fairings?

        It’d be nice to see the SM to really appreciate.

        Note further that the SM now becoming an ESA deliverable who knows what the SM will look like? Or is it a NASA design that ESA will build? I seriously doubt the latter though.

        So what the heck!? Let’s have fairings…

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “why are fairings required anyway?”

    To keep the service module’s (SM’s) folded solar arrays and antennas from getting ripped off during ascent. Any secondary or science payloads attached to the SM would also need protection. Since they stick out, the SM’s reaction control thrusters may also need some protection.

    But the press release is incorrect to claim that the fairings “protect” the service module (SM) from “heat, wind or acoustics.” I buy “wind” and maybe “heat” for these exposed subsystems and payloads. But there’s no way these fairings protect anything from “acoustics”. Typically idiotic PR from NASA.

    “the ATV which is to serve as the first service module apparently, also doesn’t require them on the uphill ride.”

    ATV uses the Ariane fairing:

    http://spaceinimages.esa.int/Images/2012/03/The_protective_fairing_is_lowered_over_Automated_Transfer_Vehicle_Edoardo_Amaldi

    “Dragon doesn’t need them…”

    Dragon still uses jettisonable panels to protect the solar arrays attached to its trunk and the antennas attached to its capsule on ascent. But they’re smaller and less massive. You can see a jettisonable panel for a folded-up solar array here:

    http://spacevids.tv/wp-content/flagallery/falcon-9-dragon-crs-2/vlcsnap-2013-03-01-16h21m46s10.jpg

    “This just sounds like so much make-work that appears to be the hallmark of these programs.”

    It’s not make-work. They need to do something to protect those components.

    But it sure is lousy, amateurish work when you can’t pass a simple, static jettison test in a benign clean room environment on the first try these days. Especially with access to the kind of budget and schedule that Orion MPCV has had. When a project can’t get the simple stuff (like this or the failed Orion parachute test) right on the first try, it’s an ominous portent for the project’s more complex elements.

    One sad or hilarious note, depending on your point-of-view… In the press release, the geniuses working this test have a title for the nets they used to catch the falling fairings after they were jettisoned. It’s “Fairing Catch System”. Not “nets”. Not “catchers”. “Fairing Catch System”. For some lousy canvas stretched between a metal framework.

    Makes you wonder how many millions of taxpayer dollars went into designing and building the “Fairing Catch System”.

    At least the “Fairing Catch System” didn’t fail. Maybe if the team had spent a little less time on their precious “Fairing Catch System”, the actual fairing would have passed its test.

    Gives me a laughing headache just thinking about it…

    • Neil Shipley

      Yep stand corrected. Forgot about the Dragon solar array fairings. But still got to be make-work until the SM design is finalised.

  • guest

    “it’s an ominous portent for the project’s more complex elements.”

    The saving grace here is that the more complex systems are in the spacecraft service module which, although it won’t fly for another five years or longer, is to be designed and assembled by ESA and not by the NASA Orion people. It makes you wonder why so much is being spent on the Orion MPCV if most of the spacraft is a gift from elsewhere but this goes back to the purpose being one of the Congress spending money.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I think the fairing was necessitated by the crude Ares 1 launch vehicle for aerodynamics purposes (which may also have included acoustics problems.) Its a holdover from that time. Whether or not it is needed now in this configuration-I wonder if anyone has even examined the issue?

  • Dark Blue Nine

    CS: “Initially I believe radiators were located on the SM and aeroheating associated with the insane trajectory of the SRB would damage them.”

    G: “Correct me if I am wrong, but I think the fairing was necessitated by the crude Ares 1 launch vehicle for aerodynamics purposes (which may also have included acoustics problems.) Its a holdover from that time.”

    No, the fairings have nothing to do with old Orion heritage from Ares I/Constellation. For example, see how the ESA SM’s stowed solar panels (in blue) would be exposed to airflow without some covering in this image:

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/D9.jpg

    The second image on this page shows how the fairing panels enclose the rear of the SM to protect the solar panels and other exposed components:

    http://spaceref.com/missions-and-programs/nasa/constellation-program/orion/esa-workhorse-to-power-nasas-orion-spacecraft.html

  • DCSCA

    It’s a waste of time to pitch opinions to the elbow-patched faculty lounge set. Academia has little sway over the fate of HSF. For HSF is an instrument of politics; a mean of projecting national policy– it’s political science, not science that drives it.

    Human spaceflight in this era is a projection of geo-political power, economic vigor and technical prowess, by the nation(s) that choose to do it, around the globe. And it plays out on a stage with high visibility that demands engineering excellence from all actors. The bounties from which are all reaped by the participating nation(s) on Earth. HSF is, in effect, a loss leader in this era for securing the perception of leadership on this planet. Which makes establishing a permanent foothold on Luna, seen around the world by all peoples in their evening skies, all the more imperative for the United States in this century.

    The rationale for HSF by the United States in the 21st century was pretty much made in the 20th century by the late Presdient Kennedy. It is as valid today as it was in 1961:“We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.”

    • Coastal Ron

      DCSCA meant to say:

      Human spaceflight in this era is NOT a projection of geo-political power, economic vigor and technical prowess, by the nation(s) that choose to do it, around the globe.

      There, I fixed it for you. Especially since you have been unable, by any means, to back up this silly assertion.

      If only you watched the news, you’d see that all the things you talk about are still being based on terrestrial areas of concern, not those above the Kármán line.

      And as you conveniently keep forgetting, even the Chinese say they can’t compete with one small California company (i.e. SpaceX), so it’s pretty funny to say that they are somehow “competing” with us on other space-related things. In order to have a conflict over something, at the very least you have to have a perceived shortage of something (i.e. land, resources, countries aligned with your thinking, etc.), and we don’t have that in space.

      • Joe

        DCSCA meant to say:“Human spaceflight in this era is NOT a projection of geo-political power, economic vigor and technical prowess, by the nation(s) that choose to do it, around the globe.”There, I fixed it for you.

        I understand you disagree with DCSCA, but do you ever get bored with using that same juvenile snarky line over and over again?

  • “Human spaceflight in this era is a projection of geo-political power, economic vigor and technical prowess, by the nation(s) that choose to do it, around the globe.
    True, as long as don’t try to implement HSF with obsolete methods and technologies. We don’t build cars the same way we did in the 60s and we shouldn’t build launchers and spacecraft the way we did in that era.

    “Which makes establishing a permanent foothold on Luna, seen around the world by all peoples in their evening skies, all the more imperative for the United States in this century.
    Then you, by definition, should be against SLS. Development of it will get drawn out year after year, so no trip to Luna with it. For instance, the Block 1 version of SLS was originally scheduled to launch Orion-MPCV on its first unmanned test flight. However, because NASA realizes the Block 1 booster will not be ready when Orion is, they have contracted to launch Orion on a Delta IV (see http://www.spacenews.com/article/nasa-add-375m-lockheeds-orion-contract-delta-4-test ) This fact fits well with Booz-Allen-Hamilton’s assertion that every year SLS goes on will see more development time added in later years because it will be progressing more slowly each year. So if going to the Moon is truly your passion, you have chosen to back a dumb way of doing it.

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