Congress, NASA

Nelson warns of partisan “chaos” regarding NASA authorization

Immediately after the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee wrapped up its hearing on a draft NASA authorization bill Wednesday morning, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) offered his views on the subject at a Space Transportation Association luncheon on the other side of Capitol Hill. Nelson, chairman of the space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, said his committee was working on its own version of a NASA authorization bill that would be ready by mid-July or perhaps sooner, in order to support appropriators.

Nelson made it clear that the Senate bill would differ in some key ways from the House bill. “I’m not going to approve of keeping it at 16.8 [billion dollars], because it would run the space program and NASA into a ditch,” Nelson said, referring to the overall budget authorized for NASA in the draft House bill. He was specifically critical of the earth sciences funding level in the House bill, saying it was “completely wiped out” in the bill. “You think Barbara Mikulski is going to allow that?” he asked, referring to the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“What we’re going to try to mark up is a balanced program,” he said, citing progress in both commercial crew development and the Space Launch System and Orion programs, as well as science programs, including the James Webb Space Telescope.

Nelson was particularly concerned that the authorization process would become divided along partisan lines, something that has traditionally not been the case for NASA. “The space program was always not bipartisan, it was nonpartisan,” he said. “The question is, are we going to have the ability to mark up a NASA authorization bill other than is it going to be a partisan vote?” Nelson said he was prepared to get a Senate version passed by relying solely on the Senate’s Democratic majority, but hoped that wasn’t necessary.

Even if the Senate is able to approve a NASA authorization in a “nonpartisan/bipartisan” manner, “what plays out over the rest of the year is nothing but chaos.” He expects that the House will delay decisions on key bills until a deal is made on increasing the debt ceiling, a point that he thinks may be delayed until late this year because of the improving economy.

While Nelson was hoping to find a bipartisan approach to a NASA authorization, he wasn’t shy about making some partisan jabs of his own. “If you want to play footsie with the Tea Party, you may as well say ‘sayonara’ to our manned space program and unmanned space program,” he said. He later gave some “homework” to the standing room only audience of space industry professionals. “I want you to get off your duff and stop playing ‘nicey nicey’ with these people who want to whack NASA because they’re wedded to an ideology that doesn’t make sense,” he sai, referring to sequestration. “It will set back our space program for years, and you all have got to stop being neutral.”

192 comments to Nelson warns of partisan “chaos” regarding NASA authorization

  • amightywind

    Congratulations to the House for attempting to reform the NASA budget. Earth sciences have no place in NASA. The leftist shibboleth ‘balance’ is another way of saying the Senate cannot set priorities against real budget constraints.

    If you want to play footsie with the Tea Party, you may as well say ‘sayonara’ to our manned space program and unmanned space program

    I see no reason to run 2 manned space programs (or is it four?). SLS is all we need. As for the unmanned program, there are 50 active missions and more coming. I think the Senator exaggerates.

    I want you to get off your duff and stop playing ‘nicey nicey’ with these people who want to whack NASA because they’re wedded to an ideology that doesn’t make sense

    Yeah, lower taxes, restrained spending, the rule of law, enforced immigration law are so troublesome. I can see why the Senator is troubled. Wanna fight? Lets party!

    • E.P. Grondine

      One little problem, AW. The Ares 1 suffered from very severe combustion oscillation problems, and did from the very start. In booster mode, it is not re-usable, and thus assures that you have high launch costs.

      As far as “partying” goes, you want to spend the taxpayers’ hard earned money and money borrowed from China to fly a few men to Mars or the Moon?

      • amightywind

        As far as “partying” goes

        I was quoting Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘Commando’ as he prepared for a knife fight. Doesn’t anyone watch the classics anymore?

      • Joe

        The Ares I has not existed for some time now and was not even mentioned in the post to which you are supposedly replying.

        So (even accepting your description of its status at cancellation) why were you bringing up the Ares I?

        • Guest

          Ares I, Ares V, the SLS and even Liberty are all interchangeable cancellations (Constellations) at this point, Joe. Only the seriously unobservant would deny that.

          • Joe

            He was referring to what he perceived as technical weaknesses of the Ares I (thrust oscillation, lack of reusability) not his (or your) estimations of what might be cancelled. Only the “seriously unobservant” would not have noticed that.

            The Thrust Oscillation was not a problem on the Shuttle and will not be on the SLS.

            The Shuttle SRBs were reusable and the SRBs for the SLS can be as well. The real question is whether it is cheaper with SRBs (or any other recoverable booster stage) to recover/refurbish/reuse them or simply build more new ones.

            • amightywind

              I’ll never understand the rap the SRBs over 30 years after a single failure (when they were flown out of specification). They have not experienced a single problem since. You would think reusing a successful component like that would be a no brainer.

              • Coastal Ron

                amightywind said:

                You would think reusing a successful component like that would be a no brainer.

                Using them as originally intended, as boosters, is fine. It’s when they wanted to use them as the primary and only motor that it became a bad idea.

                If you’re not able to do the research to find out why that is, then just look around and see how many SRM’s are powering large rockets all by themselves. The market is pretty smart, and Michael Griffin thought he was smarter – turns out he was wrong…

              • common sense

                Yep I am sure you don’t understand. Even though it’s been said to you multiple times. Research the several posts and read. You’ll see it’s magic.

              • Joe

                Ron,

                The original subject was an HLV. Mr. Grondine attempted to change that to what he perceives to be the shortcomings of the Ares I, which has nothing to do with the original subject.

                You are now attempting to return to the non-subject of the Ares I (big surprise), complete with the requisite personal insults aimed at anyone who dares to disagree with you.

                No point in continuing this.

              • common sense

                “No point in continuing this.”

                Please don’t then.

                Have a nice evening.

            • Guest

              Well, Joe, considering that the SRBs takes thousands of workers to erect, have to be sent back all the way to Utah to be refueled, takes many months if not years to be refueled and shipped back to the cape where they take months to be integrated by thousands of workers, and present an extreme danger to those workers sitting loaded in the VAB, I guess I’m going to have to go with the refuelable liquid reusable boosters on this one. Expecially since they are light, quickly refuelable on the pad, and can be erected and integrated by a small team of experienced aerospace workers.

              But if your object is jobs with nothing much to do, I guess SRBs perform their jobs well.

              • Joe

                “I guess I’m going to have to go with the refuelable liquid reusable boosters on this one.”

                Good, as soon as you come up with the money to pay for them I am sure a lot of people (including me) will be anxious to talk to you. Until then, not so much.

              • Guest

                Joe, I’m pretty sure cancelling ATK’s no bid cost plus contract would pay for them TEN TIMES OVER. Increased performance, greater safety, lower cost and reusability. I guess you just don’t buy into those themes.

                Not to mention sooner availability.

            • E.P. Grondine

              Hi Joe –

              Let me see if I can explein this to you.

              We could have the NLS (DIRECT) and two manned launch systems for a part of the money wasted on the Ares 1, with no disruption to our technology base.

              NLS, just as SLS, featured a damping load for the thrust oscillations.

              Besides the thrust oscillation problem, solids ar not truly re-usable, so our heavy lift launch will be expensive until this is fixed, and our launch industry will be open to competition.

              If there is or was a legitimate defense need for on demand launch, then DoD should have paid for it, and not NASA.

              Further, if there is a legitimate defense need for on demand launch, DoD can now buy KT-2′s from China far cheaper than they can from ATK.

    • Coastal Ron

      amightywind said:

      Earth sciences have no place in NASA.

      Except you are literally throwing the baby out with the bath water if you think gutting NASA’s Earth Sciences budget without transferring that responsibility somewhere else makes sense.

      2013 has brought at least six different billion-dollar natural disasters in just five months, and you and the Republican’s in the House think that ignorance is bliss. It’s costing far more to be ignorant than it would be to fund NASA (or whoever else, as long as someone is funded for Earth Science).

      • amightywind

        I am more than willing to fund research for tornado/hurricane prediction and hazard mitigation through NOAA. Maybe even volcano hazards research though USGS or NSA. For the hippies in Antarctica, nothing. Let NASA launch rockets.

        BTW, hurricane Sandy was a category 1. If people live on the Atlantic shore they must understand they will be wiped out periodically. That risk should be assumed by the private insurance markets, not my tax dollars through NASA or FEMA.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM

          Well, prediction of occurring hazards is like trying to steer a stampede through a field. Far cheaper to mitigate the hazard by preventing it, which in US case would be to put a stop to anthropogenic warming.* That is the NASA Earth Sciences work that would most obviously recoup most money immediately.

          Is NASA related “hippies in Antarctica” the climate scientists there, or just the meteorite hunter sorties? As interested in astrobiology, I support the latter, and as interested in a cheaper*, less hazardous future I support the former.

          * We know this, IPCC summaries tells us that since, oh, -07 I think. Maybe not the regional connection to US hurricanes and other risks that now has escalated in cost. But that will likely go into the next summary of the totality of climate science.

        • Coastal Ron

          amightywind said:

          Let NASA launch rockets.

          Which is not part of their charter.

          What is part of the NASA charter is:

          (1) The expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space.

          If you want to advocate for a change in NASA’s charter, great. But as of now the NASA charter does call for Earth Science. And last I looked, there are no “hippies” anymore in mainstream America, but there is a bipartisan concern about what’s happening around the Earth that could affect us here in the U.S.

          And while you may want to advocate for turning back the clock on environmental issues, I’d rather live in Bakersfield Calif. (most polluted city in the U.S. year-round) than in a place like Beijing where health is not a concern. Funny, it really seems like you’d rather be living in China than the U.S. in some respects… ;-)

    • Dick Eagleson

      Earth sciences have no place in NASA.

      Quite so. There are maybe three federal agencies with some semblance of legitimate interest in space-based earth science: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior – in that priority order. If any of them need a bird in the sky that looks down at us earthworms, let them put out an RFP and see what comes in by return mail. Except for the fact that the whole process is done in burn-before-reading fashion, that’s what the NRO and NSA do and neither of them involves NASA in the process either. I happen to think weather satellites are very important. The fact that the U.S. weather sat fleet is getting both thin and elderly is a direct consequence of its being an N-th-level priority of an agency – NASA – that isn’t, basically, in the weather business. The NOAA is in the weather business. Moving met-sats, and budgets, under NOAA purview guarantees a superior level of advocacy for them in inter-agency budget battles. Get them the heck out of NASA!

      • E.P. Grondine

        USGS was left out of the earlier list of spacecraft users.

        All of those federal agencies have need for spacecraft, none of them have any ability to build and launch them, a skill which lies with NASA.

        As far as any deficiency in services to those agenciews goes, my guess is that responsibility may likely be laid at the feet of former AASS Ed Weiler.

        There are also state level consumers of data from spacecraft.

        I will note that it is very tough to kill research on the effects of CO2 on climate, if any, when it is spread among 15 programs.

    • Hiram

      “Earth sciences have no place in NASA.”

      Except for what the Space Act says …

      (d) Objectives of Aeronautical and Space Activities.–The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives:

      (1) The expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space.

      The Space Act is what tells Congress what has a place in NASA, and human knowledge of the Earth seems to fit right in. It is truly amazing how many people bloviate on what NASA should or should not do, without consulting that seminal document that formally governs the agency.

      I mean, I think that fundamental decisions about space exploration have no place in Congress, but they are legally obligated to make them. I could also make assertions about what viewpoints have a place in online forums, but I won’t go there.

      I think what you mean is that Earth sciences have no place in the Space Act. That’s a matter for Congress to wrestle with, and there seems to be no incentive or interest in doing so.

    • sunman42

      “Amightwind?” Mighty windy. “Earth sciences have no place in NASA.” I hope you have a direct connection to the Divine as authority for that, because we mortals have to go by The Space of 1958, as amended: “he aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives:

      (1) The expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space.

      ….”

    • Daniel Kerlakian

      “I see no reason to run 2 manned space programs (or is it four?). SLS is all we need”

      What agency should be responsible for commercial crew? COTS is almost complete (for Orbiatal) and CRS (for SpaceX) is going smoothly. Commercial Crew will give us American access to LEO and is the foundation for a larger commercial industry. Although these programs should have begun prior to 2006, their cost and lifespan of around 15 years are small compared to their benefit to human space exploration.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Nelson seems not to realize that the space program has already been set back years and he is part of the cause.

    • Coastal Ron

      Mark R. Whittington said:

      Nelson seems not to realize that the space program has already been set back years and he is part of the cause.

      Obviously you’re talking about the SLS debacle, which Nelson does support along with a number of Republicans – it’s a bipartisan mess in that regard.

      Don’t worry though, as there continues to be a constant stream of people testifying that the SLS is not needed – even harmful – for NASA. The House hearings yesterday with Tom Young and Steve Squyres were very clear in that regard, as they were in stating that the Moon is not on the critical path for getting to Mars.

      Not that the politicians wanted to hear it, but both Young and Squyres also stated that it is political interference that is keeping NASA from being effective with the budget they have. It was nice to have that made public though – who knows, maybe something will come of it…

      • E.P. Grondine

        Hi CR –

        1) Is there a place for ULA, Huntsville, Michoud, Stennis and Kennedy in your vision for the future of the US in space, or does it just include California and Texas?

        2) Your views on Thiokol, AKA ATK?

        3) Do you think “man made global warming” is real?
        Or do you thinks it is imaginary conspiracy by green fascists seeking to control our lives?
        Or do you, like me, just don’t know?

        4) How do you think the manned Mars flight “enthusiasts” are going to make out on this in the end?

        However this plays out, it is going to be real interesting.

        It kind of makes you pity the foreign observors whose job it is to estimate US plans for our space industry.

        • Coastal Ron

          E.P. Grondine said:

          1) Is there a place for ULA, Huntsville, Michoud, Stennis and Kennedy in your vision for the future of the US in space, or does it just include California and Texas?

          To have redundant, cost-competitive access to space and beyond, we need competition. The more the merrier. I want ULA to be a part of that, and no doubt they will, but for me the question is how hard they will fall in the face of real competition before they get their act together and get competitive.

          And I’m not one for saying we need to define our goals based on keeping people employed, so I think it’s more than OK to let employment levels fluctuate at government supported facilities.

          2) Your views on Thiokol, AKA ATK?

          As a government contractor, they know how to play the game. I don’t begrudge them that, since every other large contractor is just as good at the game as ATK is. And since their involvement in the hardware end of NASA is at the lowest point in decades, I don’t really feel the need to care about what they do.

          3) Do you think “man made global warming” is real?

          I think most everybody on both sides of the global warming debate would say we humans are adding more to the atmosphere than nature would on it’s own. The question is whether what we do has a real effect on what’s happening with the Earth. I think it does. To what degree is still debatable, but I support the overall goal of lowering our carbon footprint.

          4) How do you think the manned Mars flight “enthusiasts” are going to make out on this in the end?

          There is no “this”, since there is no government effort to reach Mars at this point – it’s all powerpoint slides. And with the way Congress is wasting NASA’s money, NASA will never get to Mars on it’s own – they’ll be lucky to hitch a ride on a private expedition.

          It kind of makes you pity the foreign observors whose job it is to estimate US plans for our space industry.

          If I were them I’d be in awe of our U.S. aerospace industry, from top to bottom. We have mature industries that can make wonderfully complex systems, and we have lots of very innovative entrepreneurs starting out small and building up their capabilities. No one is even close to matching us.

      • Mark R. Whittington

        Ah, no. I’m referring to Congress and the White House chronically mandating NASA do this thing and that and then not appropriating the funds to do those things. It is a bi-partisan problem.

        By the way, I’m pretty sure that there is not a “c=constant stream of people testifying that the SLS is not needed – even harmful – for NASA.” SLS is not the problem. Constantly arguing about it is a distraction from the real problem.

        • Guest

          I would have to disagree and say that a government funded expendable launch vehicle (SLS) and capsule (Orion) with only a dozen or so remaining engines, that might fly once in the next five years, and which will then be instantly obsoleted by another vastly cheaper and larger commercial reusable launch vehicle system that will also fly within the next five years (MCT) – is a real problem. I have yet to find anyone willing to acknowledge the seriousness of this inevitable and daunting problem.

          • Coastal Ron

            Guest said:

            …and which will then be instantly obsoleted by another vastly cheaper and larger commercial reusable launch vehicle system that will also fly within the next five years (MCT)…

            I don’t know where you come up with these flights of fancy. Musk has stated that the MCT is their Mars Colonial Transport, and they have not stated that they are working on it yet.

            Considering the amount of time that it is taking them to build the Falcon Heavy, and the amount of work they have in front of them, it would be out of the realm of possibility that they would be able to fully fund such a transportation system internally and get it operational within 5 years.

            And since Musk has not defined what the MCT is, and what it will consist of, assuming it’s some sort of direct replacement for the SLS is just pure speculation. And in any case, even if it somehow became operational in five years, Congress could care less since the SLS is jobs program benefiting specific states that SpaceX is not yet in.

            I have yet to find anyone willing to acknowledge the seriousness of this inevitable and daunting problem.

            That’s what happens when you only talk to yourself – many of us have known for years what type of retardation the SLS program is having on NASA.

            • Guest

              I don’t know where you come up with these flights of fancy. Musk has stated that the MCT is their Mars Colonial Transport, and they have not stated that they are working on it yet.

              I rather think the engine is the first priority. He’s going to have a big engine within five years. If you honestly think he isn’t going to have a booster core at that time to put it on your level of delusion is astonishing. That’s what I keep seeing here all across the board, complete denial of what is going to be happening in the next five years. Anybody talking about anything after that can be completely disregarded because even in the next TWO YEARS it’s going to be a completely different landscape. Profound differences to the nonsense we see today within congress and the aerospace industry. Business as usual? Meh. So good luck with all the SLS and MCT bashing. The future awaits you. The rest of won’t be there with you.

              • Bennett In Vermont

                “…and MCT bashing.”

                no one here is bashing SpaceX’s plans for the MCT, yet you seem to have your panties all abunch over the perceived criticism of a program that hasn’t even been rolled out yet.

                “That’s what I keep seeing here all across the board, complete denial of what is going to be happening in the next five years. “

                How can one deny what hasn’t happened yet? One can question whether something is likely  to happen, but denial really doesn’t come into it.

                I think Musk will do the best he can to develop systems that allow him to achieve his goals, but engineering and testing take the time they take, unless you have an unlimited budget and even that doesn’t cut the time required to zero.

                And I’m certainly not willing to insult an entire comment board based on my personal take on the progress of SpaceX. YMMV.

              • Guest

                I think Musk will do the best he can to develop systems that allow him to achieve his goals, but engineering and testing take the time they take, unless you have an unlimited budget and even that doesn’t cut the time required to zero.

                Well, Jeff asked to cut the insults so by insulting everyone here nobody is directly affected. Let me put it to you another way. Musk will in two years OWN the launch industry, and will have access to billions of capital. He could go public with it now if he wanted. It’s only going to get worse. By advocating legacy launch vehicles over legacy engines you are doing everyone a disservice here. The engines won’t have a chance unless they are recovered somehow in a new core stage system that can be recovered or reused somehow. That is the harsh metric that almost to an individual here you just don’t get.

                That’s not an insult. It’s an observation and a prediction. Carry on.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                If you honestly think he isn’t going to have a booster core at that time to put it on your level of delusion is astonishing.

                I’ll say it yet again – you are late to the party concerning both SpaceX and subjects like the SLS and MPCV.

                You pretend to be the champion of SpaceX, but in fact not too long ago you were advocating for spending MORE money on the SLS. Who knows what you’ll be pretending to champion tomorrow.

                As to SpaceX, Musk is pretty open about what they are doing, and most of us NewSpace supporters keep abreast of what he is doing. If he announces something new, great. But as of now all they have said is that a methane engine is something they want, and no doubt Tom Mueller has already been working on one. When will it appear? Who knows.

                But they don’t need the methane engine to dominate the current launch market. Even your prediction for what’s happening in two years ignores the reality of the commercial launch market, which is that satellite operators don’t want to depend on a monopoly, no matter how benign it may be. They always book back-up flights for every payload, and they make sure their satellites can be launched by at least two different launch providers. But no doubt, SpaceX will be a dominate player in this space.

                Satellite operators are a cautious bunch, and that is why the launch market won’t respond to major change quickly, such as if SpaceX perfect reusability. Who would benefit from reusability the most is the crew transportation market, since that is where more frequent trips could be added if the price falls substantially.

                As to the MCT, I haven’t heard anyone bashing it, so I don’t know what hallucinations you are having. I do know that you don’t know what it is, which makes your supposed defense of it even funnier.

                Change is coming, and SpaceX is a big part of it. But it’s not the change you pretend to see.

              • Guest

                Satellite operators are a cautious bunch, and that is why the launch market won’t respond to major change quickly, such as if SpaceX perfect reusability. Who would benefit from reusability the most is the crew transportation market, since that is where more frequent trips could be added if the price falls substantially.

                I don’t think you are getting it yet. Elon can go it alone now.

                He doesn’t need anyone, certainly not the current launch industry as customers, they’re going to swarm over to him anyways in droves.

                It’s what comes after that. If the US government refuses or otherwise fails to fund any of it, it doesn’t matter one bit anymore. They’re all just along for the ride now. If they want a rocket, it will have to be a substantially different one than the one they are designing.

                Big rockets are on their way. Bash them all you want. They’ll just get bigger, and better. lol. I, for one, welcome our new trillionaire overlords.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                I don’t think you are getting it yet. Elon can go it alone now.

                I’ve always been a SpaceX fan, but I’m also a business oriented kind of guy too. And I know that Musk is also, so I think you are being way too enthusiastic and unrealistic.

                He doesn’t need anyone, certainly not the current launch industry as customers…

                Though SpaceX is private, with over 3,000 employees they need a constant stream of revenue, so saying they can “go it alone now” is unrealistic. And they wouldn’t do that anyways, since they are using their business customers to fund the development of lower cost transportation systems.

                …they’re going to swarm over to him anyways in droves.

                You don’t know the industry very well. As I’ve pointed out, they are very leery of being locked into any one launch provider. You think they will change? Not likely. Sure they will increase their use of SpaceX (they already are), but they still spread around their business.

                Big rockets are on their way. Bash them all you want.

                You continue to be ignorant of the reasons why many of us don’t like the SLS. It’s not because it’s a “big rocket”. It’s because it’s a rocket without any known or funded need. And because of that we’ll be spending $30B to launch just a few missions before it’s shut down for being too expensive.

                IF there was a identified need, and the economics of it worked out, then why wouldn’t I support such a transportation system?

                You make too many assumptions.

              • E.P. Grondine

                Hi Guest –

                Why do you think that other nations will not simply duplicate SpaceX’s technology, and offer it at lower cost?

                While Musk chose powered descent, I am not sure that that is the cheapest or most reliable technology for fly back re-use.

        • Coastal Ron

          Mark R. Whittington said:

          Constantly arguing about it [i.e. the SLS] is a distraction from the real problem.

          Spending $30B for a rocket that has no known need is a real problem Mark.

          And there is currently no “National Imperative” that requires the $20B+/year worth of additional funding NASA would need to fully use the SLS.

          The problem Mark is that NASA is being asked to do far more than they can afford to do, which means lots of jobs are supported, but NASA will not be able to do much. The spending profiles and missions need to be in sync with each other, and currently they are really out of whack.

          Speaking of which, the first thing I’d whack to get the spending back in line is the SLS, but I’m sure you already knew that… ;-)

        • Hiram

          “Ah, no. I’m referring to Congress and the White House chronically mandating NASA do this thing and that and then not appropriating the funds to do those things. It is a bi-partisan problem.”

          Can’t argue with that. It’s been happening for many years, and many Congresses and many White Houses are to blame.

          Of course, to the extent that Congress and the White House mandate NASA to do extraordinarily dumb things, not appropriating the funds and letting those things die is a merciful approach. NASA has a rich history of such projects. It’s also one that puts money in the hands of constituents, which is what Congress is most concerned about. The metric for success isn’t who gets sent where, but how much money get into my constituents pockets.

        • Joe

          “Ah, no. I’m referring to Congress and the White House chronically mandating NASA do this thing and that and then not appropriating the funds to do those things. It is a bi-partisan problem.’

          Actually Mark that is a rhetorical trick that Ron uses. He takes what you obviously meant puts words in your mouth and says you meant exactly the opposite. He seems to think that is somehow clever.

        • josh

          the opposite is true: sls the central problem. and nasa will not move forward until it is not resolved, i.e. cancelled.

        • “SLS is not the problem. Constantly arguing about it is a distraction from the real problem.”

          Mark, you can no longer claim ignorance about other HLV alternatives than SLS for human flight to the Moon and beyond, as well as nonHLV alternatives that you have been informed about numerous times.

          The real problem is NASA being set up for failure by politicians with SLS the way they were with Ares 1. Those talented agency people don’t deserve that.

          What kind of American are you that you would prefer a launch system that wastes billions more of the taxpayers money than it has to and gives the Chinese extra time to over take the U.S.’s technical lead? You need to care more about your country’s future in space and less about your blind religious loyalty to an obsolete way of doing things.

          We’ve had the engineering and technical knowledge to build and operate launch vehicles to put craft in orbit for over fifty years. Having talented NASA personnel working on yet another launcher we don’t need (SLS) is an insult to talented NASA engineers who should be working on more advanced cutting-edge methods for getting humans out into the inner solar system. The irony is that just a fraction of the funds being wasted on SLS would be enough to make enormous strides with projects which would advance truly cutting edge space propulsion. Projects that those same NASA personnel could be working on instead of just earning a paycheck for a working on a vehicle that will get us nowhere in both the literal and figurative sense.

          I and others want the U.S to be Number One in human spaceflight and to reap the benefits of the associated technology as soon as possible. It’s a shame influential people on your side of the issue are hindering that goal.

          • Justin Kugler

            I’m not a religious man, but I’ll say “Amen” to that.

          • Guest

            You keep saying that over and over and other people keep pointing out to you that the alternatives you speak about are vastly too expensive for anything but high value DoD and Interplanetary payloads. The ONLY alternative is a launch vehicle where the first stage lands to fly another day, and there is only one commercial launch vehicle and service company that intends to supply that service. That is what has to change. Your conventional alternatives to human space exploration are DOA, as is space exploration itself until you can afford to do it and supply some overriding imperative to do so, and thus far you have spectacularly failed to provide such motivation.

            • “The ONLY alternative is a launch vehicle where the first stage lands to fly another day, and there is only one commercial launch vehicle and service company that intends to supply that service.”

              You are correct as far as ultimately making space travel the most affordable it can be. That does not negate the fact that there are other methods that can significantly lower flight and in-space travel costs in the meantime, though granted not as much cost savings as reusability will ultimately offer. The difference in our positions as far as this point is concerned is that I advocate doing both: cost cutting measures that are relatively easy, relatively cheap and can be implemented soon while we are working on the tougher issue of reusability. That is exactly what SpaceX is doing now.

              I am talking about these as alternatives to SLS, not as a replacement for reusabilty. Reusability is what we truly need, but that doesn’t exclude other methods that can lower cost in the meantime.

              “You keep saying that over and over and other people keep pointing out to you that the alternatives you speak about are vastly too expensive for anything but high value DoD and Interplanetary payloads.”

              Not according to NASA’s own cost comparative study of an SLS type vehicle to a system of commercial launchers and depots.
              http://images.spaceref.com/news/2011/21.jul2011.vxs.pdf

              Not according to ULA’s earlier cost comparative study:
              http://ulalaunch.com/site/docs/publications/AffordableExplorationArchitecture2009.pdf

              And not according to the University of Georgia’s three studies, the latter of which directly compares SLS as it is currently defined versus using depots and SpaceX launchers
              http://images.spaceref.com/news/2011/F9Prop.Depot.pdf
              http://www.newspacewatch.com/docs/IAC-12.D3.2.3.x15379-NASAStudy.pdf
              http://spirit.as.utexas.edu/~fiso/telecon/Wilhite_2-13-13/Wilhite_2-13-13.pdf

              Where is your evidence to the contrary? More than just your opinion please, but add studies and evidence that we can all access verify your statements. I love to be proved wrong because then I learn something. But I become very exasperated when presented with pontification without proof. That’s the reason why people have seen so much of the latter side of me on this blog.

              As SpaceX is proving, reusability can be developed in tandem with other cost saving tech. It’s not an “either/or” proposition.

              • Oops, In the comment above I meant to say “Georgia Tech” instead of “University of Georgia”. That’s what I get for writing a comment when I’m in a rush to leave the house!

            • Coastal Ron

              Guest said:

              The ONLY alternative is a launch vehicle where the first stage lands to fly another day, and there is only one commercial launch vehicle and service company that intends to supply that service. That is what has to change.

              In a perfect world, sure. But we don’t live in that perfect world.

              For instance, SpaceX (a for-profit entity) is not going to be open sourcing his technology for reusability. That means that anyone that wants to rely upon the same physics that SpaceX uses has to invent the technology that enables it for themselves. I hope they do, but it will take time – and lots of money.

              Your conventional alternatives to human space exploration are DOA, as is space exploration itself until you can afford to do it and supply some overriding imperative to do so…

              You’re sure making this a personal issue. Rick is not the sole person advocating for lower-cost exploration systems, and he is quite open about the work done by others for proposing lower-cost exploration systems.

              Plus you ignore the years of advocacy that Rick has been doing here on Space Politics, so yet again you pretend to be “the keeper of the flame” when you don’t even know who you’re talking to.

              …and thus far you have spectacularly failed to provide such motivation.

              And you ignore what many of us have been saying for quite a long time – far longer than you’ve been commenting here. We know that NASA won’t be getting an increase in budget, and we know that space exploration is expensive. These are known knowns.

              But we also know that NASA could be doing more if it had less political influence, which was brought up specifically at the House hearing earlier this week. Will that change? Likely not, but that doesn’t mean we don’t advocate for it.

              As for you? One minute you advocate for the SLS, the next for SpaceX. Who knows what the next shiny object of your affections will be…

              • Guest

                As for you? One minute you advocate for the SLS, the next for SpaceX. Who knows what the next shiny object of your affections will be…

                I’ve never advocated for the SLS, I have merely pointed out that the SLS as designed defeats any use it may have as a ‘destination’ in space, due to its neglect to make the core stage reusable, and its booster stages liquid fueled and landable, something that is an engineering triviality. The only problem I find with a complete redesign is finding a big enough launch pad with appropriately placed booster landing spaceports, and even that problem has now been almost trivially solved. Thank me later. Thankfully, developments at SpaceX are going to obviate this discussion in less than a year from now. Certainly by then reality will make the SLS principles come to their senses. Somebody has to be responsible for this debacle. Who are they?

            • E.P. Grondine

              Hi Guest, RB -

              “The engines won’t have a chance unless they are recovered somehow in a new core stage system that can be recovered or reused somehow. That is the harsh metric that almost to an individual here you just don’t get.”

              I get it, and got it a long long time ago. From my point of view, what both of you can not see is the reason why the US launch industry stagnated for 40 years: ATK.

              The SLS boosters are aupposed to be re-competed, but that is in 2017, if I remember correctly. If the US continues wasting money on large solid grains, then we will loose the international competitive race.

              Now you all can stand around in a circle and shoot each other, or you can figure out how to bring about the better future.

          • DCSCA

            “I and others want the U.S to be Number One in human spaceflight and to reap the benefits of the associated technology as soon as possible.” cries Rick.

            Then we welcome your support for SLS/MPCV and government HSF. We can always use another ‘booster’ -thanks Rick.

            • That statement is an oxymoron, DCSCA. And there is no use in my repeating the overwhelming amount of evidence. You’ve seen it all and you choose to ignore because it is not what you want to believe. Dream on. You can’t go to the Moon in something that will never fly.

              That’s the difference between you and me. If SLS really was practical I would be all for it. I actually wish you were right, since then all of those resources that could be used for real spaceflight advancement would not be wasted. It has nothing to do with what I want. It’s what reality dictates.

          • E.P. Grondine

            Hi RB –

            “Reusability is what we truly need”

            I agree, and I also do not want to see SpaceX put in a monopoly position. But putting ULA in the re-usable flyback first stage- booster market does not require shutting down SLS and its supporting technical base.

            What it does require is confronting ATK (Thiokol) and their claims in very direct and clear terms.

          • Robert G Oler

            Well said RGO

  • You know – there was a “quiet peace” if you will. There were some things that were agreed to and everyone, while not happy with the deal, at least was content.

    There was no provocation or action taken by anyone inside TPiS. Moreover, our actions on the Hill were very subtle and almost complementary in some aspects. Clearly, there is a complete lack of understanding of what we want and what we can afford.

    These actions are shameful and Senator Nelson, you know better.

    Andrew Gasser
    President, TEA Party in Space

    • E.P. Grondine

      Hi Andrew –

      As far as “partying” goes, you want to spend the taxpayers’ hard earned money and money borrowed from China to fly a few men to Mars or the Moon?

    • Coastal Ron

      Andrew Gasser said:

      There were some things that were agreed to and everyone, while not happy with the deal, at least was content.

      You seem to think that Nelson’s comments are directed at you or your organization, even though you have been pro-space.

      I think his comments are directed at the anti-space wing of the Tea Party, which really is the anti-anything-government wing.

      These actions are shameful and Senator Nelson, you know better.

      Don’t even start down that road unless you’re willing to defend Senator Shelby’s actions wrt the SLS. Words can be forgotten, but wasting $30B on an unneeded rocket cannot.

      It doesn’t matter what politicians say, it only matters what they do. And up until now what they have been doing with NASA has been bipartisan, although clearly not completely good. No ones hands are clean.

    • Mark R. Whittington

      Andrew, I doubt that Nelson is even aware of your little group. He was clearly referring to the Tea Party movement as a whole, which he imagines to be a mob of yahoos. He is an ignoramus in that regard.

      • Mark – his office was instrumental in ITAR reform. No – he knows exactly who we are and what we are trying to accomplish. But thanks for the upgrade – does this mean we are officially not three dudes in mom’s basement now?

        Nelson knew better…

        • Mader

          Everyone knows what he was refering to – right-wing (I mean, even more right-wing than usual) republican loons from Tea Party. That Tea Party, not your group with similiar name.

          It is nice to have delusions of grandieur.

  • I am not defending Shelby at all in this deal. He is just as culpable.

  • Senator Nelson is an old-school politician. He thinks politicians of both parties should quietly divide their pork in private without letting partisan politics get in the way.

    The 2010 compromise delayed by three years fundamental disagreements between parties, federal branches, the space-industrial complex, and space advocates. Those cracks are starting to surface again, and it remains to be seen if Nelson and others can Spackle them over for another 2-3 years.

    • josh

      wasting another 5 billion or so in the process on the pork rocket. cancel sls now and give the money to commercial crew and a new commercial beo exploration program.

    • yg1968

      Senator Nelson is one of the better politician. He was a strong supporter of commercial crew.

    • Gerald R Everett

      I hear you, but Nelson doesn’t have Kay Bailey Hutchison to work with anymore. The relevant duo in Senate space policy is now the dark lord of Alabama and Senator Mikulski. Nelson’ right about Sen. Mikulski not being willing to role over on Earth science but she will give Shelby whatever he wants to protect James Web & Earth science. Shelby wants the SLS and to protect the cost plus gravy train he is a master at manipulating. He recognizes the threat of fixed price milestone base contracting and the power of space act agreements in the hands of a NASA willing to partner on any number of future projects. This could be a watershed moment. SLS could be a bargaining chip in the upcoming budget fights. Most congress critters don’t know or care about the SLS and it is just big enough of a target to draw fire.

      • E.P. Grondine

        Shelby’s problem is that ATK has managed to tie Alabama’s fate to its own fate. In my opinion, he needs to disentangle the two.

  • DCSCA

    “Nelson was particularly concerned that the authorization process would become divided along partisan lines, something that has traditionally not been the case for NASA.”

    Nelson best review The Congressional Record– the space program has always been a source of divided loyalties and partisian priorities since the Kennedy/Johnson days, when conservatives fought funding for Apollo… and well into the shuttle days when those of a similar mind set in the Reagan days pushed ‘privatization’ that poisoned the program wit disasterous results.

    Nelson would do better to start asking what return the American people are getting for continuing funding the ‘orbiting zombie;’ the aerospace ‘WPA’ projet as the late Deke Slayton called it; the Cold War relic representing past planning from an era in the late 20th century that is long over; the $100 billion boondoggle known as the ISS. Or perhaps Nelson should look into the gold-plated Martian probe, Curiosity, which was billed as a two year project, which landed last August with much fanfare and an over-budget price tag of $2.6 billion. Nearly a year in, the billion dollars of science return from it is harder to find than Mars itself is in the night sky.

    • Hiram

      “Nearly a year in, the billion dollars of science return from it is harder to find than Mars itself is in the night sky.”

      You ought to get out more. The fact that you can’t find science in MSL is no great surprise. The history of your posts make it clear that science is not easily visible to you. Speaking of which, Mars is hard for you to find in the night sky? Well, right now it is behind the Sun, but it’ll be out in a month or so. Your vision must be pretty bad if you have a hard time seeing Mars most of the time. Can you make out the Moon? Try squinting.

      The American public is hugely proud of Curiosity which was a triumph of Exploration within minutes of landing. Yes, Exploration with a capital “E”, and without space helmets. Cheaper than exploration with space helmets too, the real science from which has been sadly lacking. The mission has been a hugely rich source of information about Mars, which has been evident in every planetary science journal and professional meeting. Not that you know anything about those.

      Let me suggest that one of the impressive accomplishments of your “orbiting zombie” was the hugely successful international partnership that created this awesomely complex facility. Now that it’s becoming abundantly clear that mankind isn’t going anywhere in space without close international collaboration, the success of ISS in developing a deep and sustainable international collaboration and partnership is actually pretty astounding. Our nation doesn’t do “sustainability” in space otherwise, do we? So the value of that partnership is evident. You’re saying the “era” of international partnership is long over? Heh. It’s just beginning.

      • DCSCA

        “You ought to get out more. The fact that you can’t find science in MSL is no great surprise. The history of your posts make it clear that science is not easily visible to you… The mission has been a hugely rich source of information about Mars, which has been evident in every planetary science journal and professional meeting.” pleads Hiram.

        Again, do share what data was worth $1 billion so far from this redundant. over-priced, throw-away Martian probe. Good luck.

        “Let me suggest that one of the impressive accomplishments of your “orbiting zombie” was the hugely successful international partnership that created this awesomely complex facility.” insists Hiram.

        =yawn= So were the shuttle-Mir flights– and a lot less expensive, too. ISS represents political planning from Cold War thinking; an era from the last century long over. Salute it, stamp it ‘mission accomplished,’ splash it and press onward— and outward. Luna awaits.. LEO is a ticket to no place, going in corcles no where, fast.

        Apologies for any and all typos.

        • Hiram

          As I say, you need to get out more. I’m not going to abstract the volumes of papers that are being written and presented in the planetary science community from MSL (and described excitedly in the popular press), nor regale you with the enthusiasm that the mission has generated in the public. Because you’d just deny that. We’re getting what we paid for. I’ll hold MSL up against any billion dollar class NASA mission you’d like to compare it to, in comparison of real value. To your chafing about getting out of LEO, we can point to MSL and say, that’s us, doing real exploration.

          No, Shuttle-Mir did not exemplify anywhere near the scale of technical, engineering, and management cooperation we’d need to mount an international mission to Mars. In fact, what that program did was pave the way for the ISS cooperation, which was vastly more ambitious. Your comparison of Shuttle-Mir to ISS reveals your frame of mind on this, and perhaps your misconception of the scale of effort on ISS. LEO is a ticket to many places, though I’ll admit that the transfer opportunities have never been made that clear. The Moon is, as we abundantly proved forty years ago, not necessarily a ticket to anywhere, except to the mind-show about what exploration used to be in the good old days in the wet dreams of grizzled, senior members of the Apollo generation. Future exploration, even with humans on board, isn’t going to look anything like Apollo. I know it’s hard to accept, but you’d better get over it.

          What a sad thing it would be for real exploration to happen, while the self-styled exploration historians are in a state of denial about it.

      • Now that it’s becoming abundantly clear that mankind isn’t going anywhere in space without close international collaboration

        That’s not clear at all, let alone “abundantly” so.

        • Hiram

          Fair statement. The Chinese may well do that. It sure isn’t clear for them. We, the U.S., however, will not. Is there anyone with political power and space credibility who thinks we will? There are some who think we ought to, but that’s a different judgement.

  • “Nelson best review The Congressional Record– the space program has always been a source of divided loyalties and partisian priorities since the Kennedy/Johnson days, when conservatives fought funding for Apollo…”

    The most prominent and adamant opponent of Apollo in those days was Senator William Proxmire, who awarded his much publicized “Golden Fleece Award” to the Apollo project multiple times. He was anything but a conservative.

    “Nelson would do better to start asking what return the American people are getting for continuing funding the ‘orbiting zombie;”

    Domo aregato, Mr. Roboto (In case you are unfamiliar with the song, it means “Thank you very much Mr. Robot” in Japanese)

    The fact that you don’t see that orbit is just the first step to other things proves that you have the reasoning power of a robot (that is none, you just repeat the same thing over and over just like a robot). Again, the current orbital accomplishment is more than SLS will ever see.

    • DCSCA

      You’d do well to review the Congressional Record as well.

      Proxmire was always after what he felt was gov’t waste but it was Mondale who was a vocal critic of Apollo in that era (chiefly due to insufficent space pork tossed his way) — but that doesn’t negate the factsual record of strong, vocal opposition by conservatives in Congress toward Apollo in that era– it’s a matter of public record, Rick. Read it, if you can stand pouring over it. Better still, revisit Barry Goldwater’s famed ‘Cow Palace’ acceptance speech, where he voiced oppoasition to Apollo expenditures– the criticism lost in the smoke of more fiery, ‘extremist’ rhetoric. Yet he made certain he was invited to the Apollo 11 launch– and sat with LBJ to witness the lifroff. =eyeroll=

  • PR

    We all know the real reason GOP wants to gut Earth science budget is that
    they don’t want satellites spying on the Earth while they pollute it.
    It’s a shame for the polluters are ruining the world for their very own children all for a few gold coins.

  • Crash Davis

    The fact that you don’t see that orbit is just the first step to other things proves that you have the reasoning power of a robot (that is none, you just repeat the same thing over and over just like a robot). Again, the current orbital accomplishment is more than SLS will ever see.

    Pot, kettle, black.

    To accuse a poster of doing something (repeating a statement over and over again) and then to demonstrate the very same behavior (probably every day over the last 2 years) is rich. Nice work Rick. You’ve made your point very succinctly on how clueless and inane you are. Your true colors shine.

    • “To accuse a poster of doing something (repeating a statement over and over again) and then to demonstrate the very same behavior (probably every day over the last 2 years) is rich. Nice work Rick. You’ve made your point very succinctly on how clueless and inane you are. Your true colors shine.”
      What I am accusing him of is repeating the same thing without giving evidence to back it up. But then subtle differences in meaning were never your strong point were they? Yes, I will repeat the reasons supporting my position as long as people act like they never saw the evidence I posted or they never read it or they purposely misinterpret it.

      It’s one thing to state an opinion, another to back it up with valid evidence. That’s the difference between a commenter and a troll.

      • I do apologize for calling him a robot. That was uncalled for.

      • DCSCA

        “What I am accusing him of is repeating the same thing without giving evidence to back it up.” whines Rick.

        NewSPace has failed to even atemtp to launch, orbit and safely return enybody. Thast’s pretty strong evidence for a faction that keeps trying to attain parody through false equivalency with a half century of successful government HSF operations. and, of ocurse, repeating messaging is marketing 101, a basic media skill used to move everything from cars to toothpaste to a nation. Which is why you rant against SLS al lthe time– or perhaps it is it just to move a book.

        Whether you like it or not, HSF is an instrument of politics; a means of projecting national policy– it’s political science, not rocket science that drives it. The evidence for it is the capablity itself.

        Human spaceflight in this era projects geo-political influence, economic vigor and technical prowess, around the globe for the nation(s) that choose to do it. And it plays out on a stage with high visibility that demands performance with engineering excellence from all the actors. The bounties from which are all reaped by the participating nation(s) on Earth. That’s why government’s do it.

        It is space projects of scale that matter. Which is why, in the long run, short-sighted forays by deep-pocketed NewSpace hobbyists do not. Hence, LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles, no where, fast.

        HSF is, in effect, a loss leader in this era for projecting national power, prestige and nurturing a perception of leadership. And in politics, perception is a reality. Which makes a drive to 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.

        Commercial is welcome to come along for the ride– to supplement and service an exploration/exploitation outpost on Luna, established by governent(s). But they’ll never lead the way in establishing such a facility on their own The largess of the capital requirements involved coupled w/t low to no ROI prevents it; the very parameters of the ‘free market’ it is trying to create and service. That’s why governments do it.

        The rationale for HSF by the United States government in the 21st century was made in the 20th century by 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.”

        Re- Jeff Foust’s comment– well said.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA opined:

          Human spaceflight in this era projects geo-political influence…

          Not like the Apollo era, which is apparently your only frame of reference.

          Human spaceflight in this era is a sign of international cooperation, and since NASA doesn’t get enough money to mount your so called “space projects of scale” on it’s own, it’s the only way forward for space exploration.

          And it’s funny you rave about “space projects of scale”, yet you want to end the only “space projects of scale” that is currently going (i.e. the ISS). You lack consistency.

          Commercial is welcome to come along for the ride– to supplement and service an exploration/exploitation outpost on Luna, established by governent(s).

          That’s not how the world works. Sorry.

          There are things that the government does well, such as doing the things that companies and individuals can’t or won’t do. But once something has been mastered, and there is money to be made, then that’s when the government should step aside. To put that in simple terms for you, that means that it used to be that it took countries to build satellites and launch them into space, but now both of those functions are done by the private sector.

          So far this decade has been remarkable for all the interest and effort the private sector has been putting into space ventures. Who would have thought just a few years ago that we’d have TWO companies competing to mine asteroids, a company preparing to take tourists to the Moon, and a non-profit expedition to send two humans to Mars this decade.

          The U.S. government has no interest in mining, nor even returning to the Moon. And NASA’s Mars ambitions are so far into the future that during the House hearings this week, NASA’s chances of getting to Mars were described as “NEVER” with it’s current budget. The private sector is in the lead, and it will be NASA that will be following.

          This is not the 60′s bub. Get used to disappointment… ;-)

          • DCSCA

            “Commercial is welcome to come along for the ride– to supplement and service an exploration/exploitation outpost on Luna, established by governent(s).”

            That’s not how the world works. Sorry.

            Except it is, Ron. And if you fel otherwis, NewSpace will enver fly anybody on its own without the safety net of government to blame for any mishaps.

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA said:

              And if you fel otherwis

              Do you hate the letter “e”?

              NewSpace will enver fly anybody on its own without the safety net of government to blame for any mishaps.

              Since the term “NewSpace” is described as “an emergent private spaceflight industry”, at some point in the not so distant future NewSpace efforts like SpaceX will no longer be “NewSpace”, and most likely they won’t be “OldSpace” either. Some other description will be invented or adopted to describe the new space industry that has shaken off the shackles of the past.

              NASA in some ways is rapidly becoming part of the past, and not a future enabler, and that’s really what galls you I think. And as was pointed out at the House hearing last week, the two witnesses rightly stated that if NASA’s budget profile doesn’t change, it will never reach Mars, which everyone agrees is the goal (and the Moon is a distraction from getting there too).

              In your mind everything has to be led by the government, because that’s the way we did it in the 60′s. Well it ain’t the 60′s any more, sorry to point this out to you bub.

              Space commerce is well established, and is expanding in a number of ways. To your current point (which is different than other points you have made over time), government regulation of industries is pretty much the norm, so your argument is some sort of straw man one.

              The core of my argument hasn’t been about government regulation, but whether (per your previous statements) NASA will be leading and the private sector will always be regulated to just following. I showed where the private sector is taking the lead, and that bothers you. Well too bad.

              The role of the government is not to be in the way of commerce, and commerce is what we need if we’re going to expand our presence out into space. NASA should be helping that, but pork programs like your precious SLS actually slow down our expansion, not enable it.

              Apparently you don’t want a future for humanity in space, all you want is to relive the 60′s. Again, they are long gone, and not coming back. Sorry to be the one to keep telling you this…

              • DCSCA

                “The role of the government is not to be in the way of commerce, and commerce is what we need if we’re going to expand our presence out into space.” whines Ron.

                Nobody is stopping NewSpace from flying anybody but the very parameters of the market it wishes to service.

                Which makes a drive to 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.

                Commercial is welcome to come along for the ride– to supplement and service anexploration and exploitation facility on Luna, established by governent(s). But your NewSpace firms will never lead the way in establishing such a facility on their own. The largess of the capital requirements involved coupled w/t low to no ROI prevents it. The ‘free market’ it is trying to create and service keeps it’s future limited. That’s why governments do it. It is space projects of scale that matter. Which is why, in the long run, short-sighted forays by deep-pocketed NewSpace hobbyists do not. Hence, LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles, no where, fast.

                Reaganomics is not going to fuel the expansion of the human experience out into space, Ron. The only place that business plan works is in Hollywood– see Destination Moon- , the profiteers turned rocketeers were after uranium.

                For NewSpace, the risk of failure outweighs the value of success. If they fly and fry a crew on their own, the business will go the way of the zeppelin. Hate to keep reminding you, but the 80s are over and trickledown has been soundly rejected.

        • “NewSPace has failed to even atemtp to launch, orbit and safely return enybody.”
          In order for NewSpace to fail to launch anyone, they must first attempt it. You know they are working toward that.

          My faux pas that Jeff addressed has nothing to do with that. My credibility is still greater than yours because, while I may have made inappropriate snarks sometimes, my arguments are logically consistent with reality. Yours aren’t. Again you’re just trying to use an issue brought up hear that has nothing to do with spaceflight to obscure the weakness of your position. That’s a low trick.

          Like I said in another comment, I love to be proved wrong because then I learn something new. When you have verifiable evidence to support your positions, I’ll be the first to acknowledge their validity. To you what you want to be true is all that matters, regardless of external facts.

          • DCSCA

            “…my arguments are logically consistent with reality. Yours aren’t.” dream Rick.

            Hmmm. Reality check, Rick- for over half a century, government HSF ops have been placing people into LEO and returning them— including nine side trips to Luna space with six landings. Meanwhile, “NewSpace” has flown nobody but seeks parody through false equivalency w/gov’t HSF ops. No sale, fella.

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA opined:

              for over half a century, government HSF ops have been placing people into LEO and returning them…

              Your whole argument boils down to “if it hasn’t happened in the past, then it can’t happen in the future”.

              And that argument is ridiculous of course, for everything, not just space related stuff. It’s like driving a car forward by only looking in your rear-view mirror. That’s not how the world works (although who knows, maybe that’s how you drive).

              Meanwhile, “NewSpace” has flown nobody but seeks parody [sic] through false equivalency w/gov’t HSF ops.

              Considering that the government only just stopped flying people to space for free last year, it’s no wonder that the private market hasn’t stepped forward to offer a for-profit transportation system. How could they have competed against free? Duh!

              I keep suggesting that you take some form of basic class in economics, and I plead again for you to avail yourself of professional education. Your inability to understand simple private market concepts limits your ability to talk intelligently about what motivates (or demotivates) private industry (which is what NewSpace is).

        • Hiram

          “Human spaceflight in this era projects geo-political influence, economic vigor and technical prowess, around the globe for the nation(s) that choose to do it. And it plays out on a stage with high visibility that demands performance with engineering excellence from all the actors. The bounties from which are all reaped by the participating nation(s) on Earth. That’s why government’s do it.”

          That’s very well stated. (Except for the part about reaping bounties, which has never been all that evident.) But one can be skeptical about what makes it that way, such that governments want to do it. Our nation has no shortage of projects that project economic vigor and technical prowess, and even ones that have high visibility demanding engineering excellence. What makes human spaceflight special? In truth, it isn’t even that special to us, because we only spend $8B/yr on it. As you say, “perception is reality”. That being the case, we owe it to ourselves to understand why it’s perceived that way.

          As to federal human spaceflight investment projecting leadership better than commercial space, I have to assume that’s the case just because federal human spaceflight investment has some history behind it. Our own history in that, I have to note, has not projected a lot of “leadership” in a long, long time. Yes, we exercise leadership on ISS, but that’s what you consider a zombie program. Of course, that “leadership” now also has us buying rides from the Russians. Got better examples of our “leadership” in human spaceflight that can be considered even vaguely contemporary?

          • DCSCA

            That’s very well stated. (Except for the part about reaping bounties, which has never been all that evident.)

            except ity is. Every dollar invested in HSF ops is spent on earth- the bountie being economic, political and those famed Cernan ‘intangible’ that NewSpace and planetary science geeks deride.

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA mumbled:

              except ity is.

              What the heck is “except ity”

              Every dollar invested in HSF ops is spent on earth- the bountie being economic, political…

              Pork spending of every kind is that type of stimulus, regardless if it’s space related or not.

              The question is whether U.S. Taxpayer dollars (both individuals and businesses) are going to create more value by the government than the taxpayers could have done on their own.

              Take the SLS for example. After $30B has been spent, all that will exist is the capability, but in order for the U.S. Taxpayer to see any return from it’s investment, it has to continue to spend $Billions every month for decades in order to “payback” it’s initial investment. And since there is not “National Imperative” that is driving the need to throw SLS-sized payloads into space, as of now it’s a bad investment of time and money.

              In contrast, the $716.1 that has been committed to the COTS program has created an industry capability that can satisfy both government AND commercial future needs. And the government (or really, the U.S. Taxpayer) only has to pay for the future services, as the transportation systems that are used also have other customers.

              So not all every dollar spent by the government has the same ROI, and in some cases it can be a negative ROI (which is what the SLS is so far).

              …political…

              You have failed, over and over again, to support this theory of yours.

              …and those famed Cernan ‘intangible’ that NewSpace and planetary science geeks deride.

              Yes, like the efforts of Bush43 to protect Texan’s from polar bears. Those types of intangibles.

              I’m sorry Mr. Moonbeam if you have a hard time defining the benefits of borrowing 43 cents of every NASA budget dollar from the Chinese, but you really should. The U.S. Taxpayer deserves a rational explanation that doesn’t involve mysticism…

            • Hiram

              Well, that’s exactly the problem. When your rationale is based on “intangibles”, you’ve got a big problem. Every federal dollar is spent on Earth. Most of it in vastly more tangible ways. So human spaceflight is the best way to spend dollars on Earth? Weird.

              The “economic” bounty of human spaceflight is highly suspect. You mean the dollars that end up in the pockets of aerospace contractors? That’s not “bounty”, but simply payoff. Oh, maybe you mean “the inspiration thing”? What a load of crap. Probably was then, certainly is now.

              The “political” bounty sure ain’t what it used to be. Tell us what we’ve done in the last decade with human spaceflight that has produced political bounty.

          • DCSCA

            “What makes human spaceflight special?” eonders Hiram.

            This: “We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.” -FK, 5/25/61. That’s the rationale for HSF by the United States- and it is just as valid today as it was in 1961.

            • Hiram

              ““We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.”

              As in, if the Soviets do it, we have to do it also. No “exploration” or “inspiration” silliness here. It’s about beating the Soviet buggers.

              In the rest of JFK’s speech, he noted “For while we cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first, we can guarantee that any failure to make this effort will make us last.” As in, we’re out to at least not be the last. THAT was JFKs entire rationale for human space flight.

              That was a pretty good rationale for human spaceflight in the 1960s, but it doesn’t cut the mustard in the current century. If the rationale for some endeavor is defective, being last is no big deal.

              Are you really, truly, daft enough to say that JFKs stated rationale for human spaceflight in 1961 is what should make it special to us today? In the same speech, JFK pledged money to accelerate the Rover nuclear rocket. That rationale wasn’t even good enough for the 1970s.

              • DCSCA

                “That was a pretty good rationale for human spaceflight in the 1960s, but it doesn’t cut the mustard in the current century.” suggests Hiram.

                Except it does. Particularly as human spaceflight in this era projects geo-political influence, economic vigor and technical prowess, around the globe for the nation(s) that choose to do it. And it plays out on a stage with high visibility that demands performance with engineering excellence from all the actors. The bounties from which are all reaped by the participating nation(s) on Earth. That’s why government’s do it. The Kennedy rationale remains valid: “We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.”

              • Coastal Ron

                DCSCA opined:

                Except it does.

                Except it doesn’t.

                And it plays out on a stage with high visibility that demands performance with engineering excellence from all the actors.

                This describes virtually every transportation service in the world, including trains, planes, and automobiles.

                And nothing NASA is doing with the SLS or MPCV is worthy of that description anyways.

                The SLS is a smaller rocket than the Saturn V, uses leftover technology from the Shuttle, and uses manufacturing technology that was proven out by the companies building commercial airlines. In the field of rocket technology, a little 3,000 person company in California is the acknowledged technology leader, not NASA.

                The MPCV is a poorly upscaled version of the 60′s era Apollo capsule, and it’s 20% overweight despite being built in an era of Computer-aided engineering (CAE) and Finite element analysis (FEA). Add in the fact that NASA has to beg ESA to build a Service Module for it (and good for only one flight), and why in the world would anyone envy us for that building THAT?

                As usual you have failed to provide any supporting examples for your “theories”, and you continue to demonstrate that you never left the 60′s.

              • Hiram

                The idea that whatever mankind undertakes free men must fully share seems to presume that, in this day and age, there are serious and leadership-threatening space accomplishments that are being done by unfree parts of mankind, that we have to duplicate. Who are you thinking about these days? China? Their human space flight program is decades behind ours. You want us to share their promising, but honestly somewhat dated capabilities? Yes, I know you view the Chinese space program as being a grave national threat but, aside from threatening to do what we did forty years ago, what else is there that they are doing? You belittle commercial spaceflight on the basis of what they haven’t yet done, but are willing to jump in the political fallout shelter on the basis of a Chinese space program that hasn’t yet done a whole lot. Some inconsistency there, no?

                There isn’t anyone else. Russia is our partner, and is a very different nation than it was forty years ago.

                No, it doesn’t cut the mustard, and you know it, but you’re afraid to admit it.

                As noted above, there are far more important geopolitical venues for technology competition that are more deserving than human spaceflight. Human spaceflight offers nothing to our national security posture, which is pretty much why our armed forces don’t do it. There is a vast array of technological and engineering wisdom that does offer national strength, both economic and defensive, and it doesn’t wear helmets or have bad hair.

                Using human spaceflight as a metric for technological success does a grave disservice to more deserving and nation-serving engineering activities.

                I look at human spaceflight as symbolizing noble adventure and as such, it’s a valid investment. Up to a point. That, by the way, is not what Kennedy was advocating. To him, the Apollo program was much less about a noble adventure, and much more about putting the Soviets in their place. The importance of noble adventures in geopolitics is vastly overrated, however.

              • E.P. Grondine

                Hi Hiram –

                It is a historical fact that at the time of the beginning of the “space race” in the 1950′s both Venus and Mars were hoped by some space “enthusiasts” to be Earth-like.

                If the US lost the race to the Moon, JFK was positioning the US to race the Soviets to Mars.

                By about 1964 it became clear that neither Mars nor Venus was Earth-like. In the US, work was stopped on using the Saturn 5 for a race to Mars, and resources shifted to the Moon race. In the Soviet Union, work was stopped on the Heavy Inter-Planetary Spzcecraft, and resources were shifted to the Moon race.

            • Robert G Oler

              DCSCA
              June 23, 2013 at 8:20 pm · Reply
              “What makes human spaceflight special?” eonders Hiram.

              This: “We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.” -FK, 5/25/61. That’s the rationale for HSF by the United States- and it is just as valid today as it was in 1961.

              I am not so sure that really any nation doing human space flight believes that even the Chinese. I’ve had the opportunity the last week (and will have more in the future) to interact a lot with people in the space business on the Indian sub continent…and that is not the general feeling as to why both India and China have either active or want to be human space flight programs. The Chinese flight got a lot of attention inside China but little almost none in the region. I am in the region now and in large measure the Chinese flight was either not covered well and in some cases actually panned for what it accomplished. Sorry Robert G Oler

        • E.P. Grondine

          Hi DCSCA –

          “Which is why, in the long run, short-sighted forays by deep-pocketed NewSpace hobbyists do not. Hence, LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles, no where, fast.”

          One more time. Musk is a businessman interested in wroking with new tachnologies. LEO is one market, and also the stepping stone to GEO.

          Human spaceflight is part of spaceflight generally, and its main siginifcance is in demonstrating competency in spaceflight as a whole.

          Its main significance is not satisfying the “thrill” of “exploration”.

          • Hiram

            “Human spaceflight is part of spaceflight generally, and its main siginifcance is in demonstrating competency in spaceflight as a whole.”

            If we were going to demonstrate competency “in spaceflight as a whole”, you’d think we would be developing and implementing nuclear propulsion, propellant depoting, new generation reusable launch vehicles, and radiation mitigation strategies. Oh, maybe human spaceflight doesn’t demonstrate competency in THAT much of a whole.

            Launching humans as demonstrating competency in spaceflight as a whole is like putting a human on a tractor to demonstrate farming as a whole.

            • E.P. Grondine

              Hi Hiram –

              Once again, there is far more to space than flying a few men to Mars, or “exploration” as some space “enthusiats” speak about it now.

  • Jeff Foust

    Let’s stop with the personal attacks, please. If you disagree with this simple request, please do not post comments here. Thank you for your cooperation.

    • Jeff,

      I don’t disagree with that request; in fact, it is quite reasonable. I apologize for sometimes getting personal, but you have to agree that my postings mainly consisted of valid evidence based opinion.

      But I am tired of trolls that just state opinions without the facts to back them up and who expect other people to accept those opinions as the truth just because they say so. I know of at least one prominent space industry analyst who has stopped posting here because of the endless stream of nonsense repeated over and over again without any evidence to support it and the perpetual ignoring of that evidence by both trolls and identified ideological zealots. It is their right to continue post their unfounded statements, even though they have got to know they are lying.

      It’s shame that all people are not persuadable by the facts. Those here who are open minded have already accepted the evidenced based facts. The only other ones left are the closed minded bigots.

      This is my last post on this blog. Not because I can’t post personal attacks, but because of the futility that prompted my angry response when all appeals to reason failed. The purveyors of false propaganda will continue to spout unsubstantiated nonsense, so what is the use? I have better uses for my time. Goodbye.

      • common sense

        Since I am the one who originated the “robot” remark, please Rick let me take the responsibility.

        However and unlike you I see no point in taking it back. DCSCA is not foreign to any abrasive if not inflammatory comments of its own. There is no reasoning to be done, it has been attempted multiple times.

        If DCSCA were to bring its arguments to the 21st century rather than relying on a past long gone it would be most welcome. I would love to hear a reasoned counter argument to our position on commercial space but so far… And no, DCSCA, Apollo won’t do since, you know, the geopolitics of its time are long gone. Those who attempt to recreate such a world by using China are so outside of the reality that their argument does not hold water either. The USA and the USSR were competitors at all and any levels. The USA and China are partners in so many ways that a Cold War with China is unlikely and what would we prove to the world by redoing Apollo?

        Anyway you have a honorable way to try and deal with others who don’t and I wish it’d be successful.

        • DCSCA

          “I would love to hear a reasoned counter argument to our position on commercial space..” spins CS.

          =blink= Again with the reach for parody through false equivalency. You have no ‘argument’ to make’ in HSF– you fly NOBODY. You want to pitch a credibile position, earn some credibility– fly someone.

          “The USA and China are partners in so many ways that a Cold War with China is unlikely…” dreams CS.

          =blink- This mind set is not only immature- it’s naiive and reveals a failure to grasp the emerging realities of 21st centurty geopolitics. .

          “…what would we prove to the world by redoing Apollo?”

          The only people on this forum who have posted comments about an ‘Apollo redux’ are you– and Stephen. It’s a strawman– and you know it.

          • common sense

            “=blink= Again with the reach for parody through false equivalency. You have no ‘argument’ to make’ in HSF– you fly NOBODY. You want to pitch a credibile position, earn some credibility– fly someone.”

            Who is NASA flying these days?

            “=blink- This mind set is not only immature- it’s naiive and reveals a failure to grasp the emerging realities of 21st centurty geopolitics. .”

            What are the geopolitics of the 21st Century? From a mature perspective. Ideally it would a mature and intelligent perspective but I’ll go with mature to start. Not senile mind you.

            “The only people on this forum who have posted comments about an ‘Apollo redux’ are you– and Stephen. It’s a strawman– and you know it.”

            Do you know what Constellation and then SLS/MPCV were/are supposed to be used for?

            Now you may want to check your blinking issue with a doctor.

          • Robt G Oler

            The only war the US will in the next fifty years engage in with the PRC is a fight for the survival of the US economy which is hampered by policies such as SLS and Orion as much as it is threatened by the Chinese To talk about a Cold War 1960s style means simply that you don’t understand the region Or the end of the superpower era. Sadly you are not alone RGO

      • DCSCA

        “I know of at least one prominent space industry analyst who has stopped posting here because of the endless stream of nonsense repeated over and over again without any evidence to support it…” spins Rick.

        Hmmm. You have posted no evidence to support this assertion. As if it matters anyway. For what you’re saying for this this supposed ‘analyist’ is that they don’t have the courage of their convictions or rather, those who is bankring them to pitch a position. –

        While on the other hand, NewSpacers who’ve flown nobody seeking parody through false equivalency w/half a century of successful gov’t HSF ops is evidence enough. 1+1=2, not 11, Rick. You fly nobody. That’s pretty credible evidence in our reality.

        “But I am tired of trolls that just state opinions without the facts to back them up and who expect other people to accept those opinions as the truth just because they say so.”

        Which is precisely what you did in your own posting. So what we have is Boozer’s NewSpace Axiom: — “It’s my way or the highway.”

        You don’t have the courage of your convictions, Rick. Von Braun,(who DCSCA met many years ago) was once asked what it took to get to the moon and his five word response was: “The will to do it.” You see, he believed in his position and fought for it.

        “The purveyors of false propaganda will continue to spout unsubstantiated nonsense…” laments Rick.

        You mean NewSpace chatter about balloon hotels, gold-spiked lunsr tourist runs, Red Planet retirement colonies and bareboned loops around Mars, of course.

        “…so what is the use? I have better uses for my time. Goodbye.”

        Your choise, Rick. But failure is clearly an option w/you, NewSpacer Rick. If you don’t have the courage to battle for your positions it’s little wonder NewSpace hasn’t gotten anybody up around and down safely yet– and won’t anytime soon.

        • E.P. Grondine

          DCSCA –

          Thiokol (ATK) has been NASA’s downfall since the Shuttle.

          We’re just watching the latest installment.

          I have the hard facts $8 Billion and 7 years lost in support of my argument, along with the hard realities of engineering facts in support of that assessment.

          Along with two tapes of Fletcher on Thiokol’s activities.

          If our system of government is still working, at some point in the legislative process reality will intrude.

          Facts win in the end.

      • Santoron

        Rick Boozer said “The purveyors of false propaganda will continue to spout unsubstantiated nonsense, so what is the use?”

        Why, to combat the spread of misinformation, advocate for better HSF policy, and educate laypersons(such as myself) about the benefits and drawbacks of competing initiatives, of course!

        Sure, if your goal is to convert your opponents, I’d agree the efforts are likely futile, but you can do quite a bit of good if your desire is to influence the opinions of more… reasonable folks. As a long time “lurker” of this forum, I’ve learned much from the ideological back and forth that might seem pointless to those involved. It would be a shame to see that discourse lessened in the future…

        I realize this reply is likely far too late for Mr. Boozer to see himself. Just my $.02, FWIW…

    • A general comment about trolls and peronsal attacks …

      As I’ve suggested many times, the simplest way to deal with a troll is not to respond. Trolls troll for the purpose of getting attention. If you respond in any way, especially in the way they want, you give them a victory. Don’t respond, and you deny them the attention they want. You prove that they are losers.

      Not responding also ends the back-and-forth. It’s perfectly okay if the troll gets the last word. Most of us here are sentient enough to spot a liar when we read one.

  • Robert Moore

    Gosh PR wake up. It is Obama that wants to shut down the coal mines that give us 75% plus of our power in order to “save the planet” from green house gas co2. However CHINA will be putting out 90% more co2 than us. WE don’t legislate CHINA. Remember that when your Grandma is freezing cold burning the furniture to stay warm. Politics of space this is not.

    • Coastal Ron

      Robert Moore said:

      It is Obama that wants to shut down the coal mines that give us 75% plus of our power in order to “save the planet” from green house gas co2.

      I’m not sure how do deal with someone who is so lacking in facts.

      First of all, we don’t get 75+% of our electricity from coal. We got 37% of our electricity from coal last year, and 30% from natural gas.

      And what is driving the reduction in coal usage is cheap natural gas. What the frack you say?

      Yes, fracking, that topic that has been in the news for the past couple of years? That’s the reason why coal is being displaced – pure capitalism. Not Obama.

      Politics of space this is not.

      There are a number of Republican’s that don’t want the government to know what’s going on here on Earth. They may be a minority, but they have since it costs money to do Earth science, they can piggyback on the sentiment for reducing government spending wherever they can.

      I think they are wrong, and that their efforts will not only hurt their constituents, but hurt the U.S. in general. The more we know about our surroundings, the better we can make decisions. Ignorance is NOT bliss.

    • pathfinder-01

      Ah people use natural gas, oil and rarely electricity to stay warm in winter. Coal fell out of favor for heating houses before WWII! Coal may have powered the early industrial age but the number of uses for coal has been decling since the mid 20 centuary. The only major use today is electricity and even then it use has been declining in favor of natural gas, wind power, solar, and other green power. Anyway the big environmental problem with coal isn’t CO2, its Acid rain and Mercury. What is driving the change is the fact that at the moment natural gas is cheaper than coal.

      Like SLS keeping up old technology isn’t a good idea in the long run. I rather like my gas powered furnace that does not need a delivery truck and does not need to have ashes removed, as well as the gas powered stove, water heater and dryer! Not to mention simply setting a thermostat is much easier than shovling coal!

    • From an AP article published yesterday:

      “IEA: Global Renewable Energy Growing Fast”

      enewable energy is growing fast around the world and will edge out natural gas as the second biggest source of electricity, after coal, by 2016, according to a five-year outlook published Wednesday by the International Energy Agency.

      Developing countries are building more wind, solar and hydro-electric power plants to meet rising power demand and combat local pollution problems. And the costs of renewables are falling below the cost of traditional power sources such as coal, natural gas and oil in some markets with high-priced power.

      Let’s see how the pro-Big Oil members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology try to spin this one.

  • BE

    When the Republicans/Tea Partiers go after NASA, it will be game over. It may just be too late to speak up.

    • No one in the TEA Party movement is going after NASA. SLS does not mean NASA. SLS is a program inside NASA…

    • DCSCA

      When the Republicans/Tea Partiers go after NASA, it will be game over. It may just be too late to speak up.

      Are you kidding? The GOp is pushing for Luna and Mars missions in their latest House budget– to the point that it was ridiculed on MSNBC’s ‘ed Show’ by the host over the weekend. and he’s a progressive.

  • common sense

    Sweet. Need to watch till the end though.

    It might inspire you Sen. Nelson.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hbRKAVZBlRc

  • DCSCA

    I look at human spaceflight as symbolizing noble adventure and as such, it’s a valid investment. Up to a point.

    There’s no denying the emotional element– the romance of adventure– but as you say, up to a point–but it is political science not rocket science– nor the ‘romance of adventure’ that fuels HSF in this era. Viewed as an instrument of politics, the way forward comes into focus. And in this era, that’s a return to Luna for Man, and his machines sent to Mars-which is turning out to be a stellar proving ground for long distance robtic development.

    • Hiram

      Glad to hear that even if you don’t consider MSL a scientific success, you consider Mars to be a stellar proving ground for it doing long distance robotic development.

      But the “political science” that weighed so strongly with Apollo had little to do, really, with going to the Moon. That’s not well appreciated. It was about beating the Soviets decisively in one of their own proven strengths. Had we chosen to beat them decisively in another arena of their proven strength, that would have worked well too in asserting geopolitical power.

      We could have kept building bigger H-bombs, no? Except that was a competition with huge survival risk. We also had to work with the somewhat awkward (in that context) test ban treaty that kept us from showing our power with awesome pictures. Awesome seismic signatures don’t rate.

      Space wasn’t a magic ingredient for the recipe of decisive exceptionalism. Sending humans to the Moon was just one implementation strategy for asserting that exceptionalism. One that happened to be convenient at the time, and was well targeted at a Soviet strength. So your template for this “instrument of politics” is a geopolitical conflict that simply doesn’t exist anymore, in an arena that now offers no real competition for us.

      Nope, the Chinese aren’t real competition for us. They want to be, and they’re moving forward, but we’re far ahead of them, even if they plunk some humans on the Moon to gaze at our old monuments there. So by sending troops of humans out into space to occupy the Moon or Mars or an asteroid, who exactly are we asserting exceptionalism to? What does it prove if we beat the technological crap out of a nation whose capabilities are several decades behind ours? That makes it an “instrument of politics”?

      • DCSCA

        “Glad to hear that even if you don’t consider MSL a scientific success, you consider Mars to be a stellar proving ground for it doing long distance robotic development.”

        Absolutely-. Pepper the Resd Planet w/all the probes you can afford– but that’s the key- affordability. You misunderstand. My beef w/MSL is the bost overrun. $2.6 billion was too much for a throw-away probe. JWST is out of control as well. These throw away probes should be dropping in cost- not rising and both these projects got out of hand likely due to a management problem rather than a hardware expense issue. But it has to be brought under control. Same red flag scuttle shuttle HSF—not purpose but expense. That’s what grounded shuttle through ‘the gap.’

        • E.P. Grondine

          Hi DCSCA –

          Whether it was safety, parts out of production, or other factors, the bottom line is that ATK’s failure to deliver Ares 1 anywhwere near on time or on budget is what led to the current launch gap.

          And then there was Griffin shutting down two manned launch systems…

      • DCSCA

        Nope, the Chinese aren’t real competition for us.

        Sure they are. They’re flying. ansdthey’re going to Luna. As Gene Cernan told me years ago about Soyuz during the last ‘gap’ just before shuttle flew– ‘They are there. we are not.’

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA opined:

          They’re flying. ansdthey’re going to Luna.

          No, they are only going to LEO, as they just proved last week.

          As far as the Moon goes, all they have stated is that they are “studying” it.

          And as far as announced hardware programs go, they won’t even have the ability to put a small space station in LEO until the end of this decade – the Moon is still quite a ways in the future for them.

          Plus, you keep trying hard to ignore the private industry efforts America has to reach the Moon mine the asteroids, and to go beyond. If anything, that shows how far behind the Chinese really are, since it takes the entire country of China to utilize copies of 60′s era USSR hardware, but here in America we have companies – COMPANIES – that are producing far more modern space systems and being far more aggressive in what they want to do in space compared to the Chinese.

          A true American would celebrate that, not cheer on Putin and Keqiang.

        • Hiram

          “They’re flying. ansdthey’re going to Luna.”

          (1) So what? To do what we did forty years ago? That’s competition? Nope. C’mon. Tell you what. Let’s challenge the Chinese to a “competition” in hockey. Yep, we could redo the “Miracle on Ice”, and get intense national pride and score geopolitical points out of it as we did with the Soviets in 1980. What, China has no expertise in hockey? No sweat. We’ll still flatten them, and puff out our chests when we do.

          (2) They SAY they’re going to Luna. Actually, it’s correct that what that SAY is that they’re studying it, which their competence entitles them to do. Hey, SpaceX SAYS they’re going to do a lot, which they’re competence entitles them to do, but you won’t give them the time of day. What is it with you? Now, Musk also SAYS he’s going to Mars, which I have to be pretty skeptical about. He doesn’t have that much competence.

        • Hiram

          P.S. Re the Chinese, as of a few days ago in LEO, we are there, and they are not. They aren’t even going round’ and round’ anymore, but rather mainly go up and down.

      • E.P. Grondine

        Hi Hiram, DCSCA –

        Oh yeah, NASA robotics.
        (Let see, that was 1991 or so. PLM (TMIS) was around 1983-4. And when the hell will NASA get Donna Shirley back?)

        Note that it is not based in Detroit, where the car companies are. Not even in nearby Glenn.

        Insztead it was a gift to Pennsylvania.

        Either of you ever taken a look at the US robotics industry?

        As it now sits, all NASA is doing is developing coders fot foreign equipment.

      • E.P. Grondine

        Hi Hiram –

        “the _______ aren’t real competition for us.”

        And where have we all heard that before?

    • Coastal Ron

      DCSCA opined:

      Viewed as an instrument of politics, the way forward comes into focus.

      In order for that to be true, there would have to be political consensus on a goal for HSF, and that does not exist in any way, shape, or form at all.

      If anything, NASA is a funding funnel for certain constituents, not a finely tuned agency with a clear HSF goal.

      And in this era, that’s a return to Luna for Man, and his machines sent to Mars-which is turning out to be a stellar proving ground for long distance robtic development.

      Funny how no one in Congress is really pushing the Moon. Sure there is some talk, but the acknowledged goal is Mars. The only question is whether it’s necessary to go to the Moon as part of going to Mars, and the two expert witnesses at the House hearing last week said it was not only NOT necessary, but it would be a distraction of funds and time.

      If you want to see humans back on the Moon, send money to the private firm Golden Spike – they are more focused on getting to the Moon than Congress or NASA, and they have more money behind their effort than NASA does.

      At some point “government” is not the answer. We’re at that point now for getting humans to the Moon.

  • DCSCA

    “By about 1964 it became clear that neither Mars nor Venus was Earth-like. In the US, work was stopped on using the Saturn 5 for a race to Mars, and resources shifted to the Moon race.” notes EP.

    In fact, in early ’64 Dryden was still talking Mars missions. And as yuo likely know, Soyuz was designed for lunar missions.

    • E.P. Grondine

      Hi DCSCA –

      “In fact, in early ’64 Dryden was still talking Mars missions”

      But not shortly afterwards. I agree that the timing is very important for historical research.

      The Soyuz had other purposes.

    • Coastal Ron

      DCSCA opined:

      And as yuo likely know, Soyuz was designed for lunar missions.

      And still hasn’t left LEO. I guess the Moon wasn’t that important after all…

      • E.P. Grondine

        Hi Hiram, CR – If either of you are trying to draw lessons
        gtom the history of cosmonautics, my observation is that the effetc
        of the political porcess in the US is nearly as screwed up as the
        Soviet Union’s were when they met their disasters in cosmonautics.
        And those were and are truly pretty absymal. The current ARM is the
        way out of this mess, in my view.

  • William Mellberg

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “And still hasn’t left LEO.”

    That’s not exactly correct.

    Soyuz flew four circumlunar missions as the unmanned Zond-5, Zond-6, Zond-7 and Zond-8.

    In fact, Zond-5 was the first spacecraft to fly to the Moon and return to a landing on Earth.

    • Coastal Ron

      William Mellberg said:

      Soyuz flew four circumlunar missions as the unmanned Zond-5, Zond-6, Zond-7 and Zond-8.

      I think that makes my point even more – the USSR/Russians have had the ability to go to the Moon, just like we’ve had the ability to return to the Moon.

      Why haven’t they? It wasn’t deemed worth the effort.

      Absent a “National Imperative” for the U.S. to spend money on a return to the Moon, it’s far more likely that a private sector-lead effort will be the next to set foot on the Moon. And I would see that as a good thing.

  • William Mellberg

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “I think that makes my point even more – the USSR/Russians have had the ability to go to the Moon, just like we’ve had the ability to return to the Moon. Why haven’t they? It wasn’t deemed worth the effort.”

    That does not make your point even more. The reason the Soviets never sent a manned Zond spacecraft around the Moon is that they lost the opportunity to be ‘first’ when Apollo 8 beat them in December 1968. Moreover, by July 1969, Americans had walked on the Moon. And the USSR was unable to match that achievement at that time. So a mere lunar flyby with Zond/Proton would have had no real propaganda value — and very little scientific value at that point. Brezhnev and his Politburo comrades were only concerned about the propaganda value of such a mission.

    Of course, the Soyuz spacecraft has been suggested for commercial circumlunar trips, as Jeff Foust reported nearly a decade ago:

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/199/1

    • Coastal Ron

      William Mellberg said:

      So a mere lunar flyby with Zond/Proton would have had no real propaganda value — and very little scientific value at that point.

      Nor apparently today either. And that was what the topic of conversation was, the value of going to the Moon.

      DCSCA thinks that there is an upcoming gold rush to reach the Moon, and I see no evidence of that. Many people have claimed that there is great value in going to the Moon, yet we haven’t found that reason (or been able to sustain one) in the 40 years since we were last there. Certainly not from a government-funded perspective.

      I think we will eventually return to the Moon, but not because of a government led effort, but because of adventure and later commerce. It might even be the Golden Spike Company that returns there next, although the odds are against them (and everyone else).

      But despite the ability of the U.S. and the USSR/Russia to go there, no one has yet. And that to me shows that going to the Moon is not important anymore, and that it was only important from a political standpoint, not a scientific or resource one.

      • DCSCA

        “DCSCA thinks that there is an upcoming gold rush to reach the Moon, and I see no evidence of that.” bluffs Ron.

        DCSCA said no such thing– but Luna is the next logical step outward and any attempt to spin otherwise is just denying the obvious. And FY!, the Soviet government had greenlighted its lunat landing plan on at the end of January, 1967– by ‘coincidence,’ just after the 204 fire. Leonov was training for it in a crude lander and the hardware remains in Russia today. William Mellberg nails it– the success of Apollo 8 and the failure of the N-1 is what ended it for the Russians– there simply was no propaganda vlaue for them after 8. ‘Course, a SRM would have been a propaganda coup– hence Luna 15 tried to ‘scoop’ Apollo 11– and crashed.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA opined:

          but Luna is the next logical step outward and any attempt to spin otherwise is just denying the obvious.

          It was in 1968, but as of 1969 we attained that goal. Then we went there five more times. It was on the TV, didn’t you see it? We’ve been there, done that already.

          Geez you’re slow to pick up on this.

          Now that we’ve conquered the Moon, the political consensus is that Mars is the next goal. Oh sure, there is some talk about using the Moon as a place of practice before we set off to Mars, but Mars is the goal.

          there simply was no propaganda vlaue for them [USSR] after 8.

          And still none today. And that was pretty much all the Moon was good for, propaganda value.

          Oh sure the science part was neat, since scientists could validate their ideas about how the Earth formed. But that’s not a critical information need, and the U.S. Taxpayer could care less about how the Moon formed.

          Face it Putin-boi, there is no public support for returning to the Moon. Regardless how “logical” you think it would be.

      • Hiram

        Actually, going to the Moon is important, at least from a scientific standpoint. But the science that needs to be done there sure doesn’t need people there to do it. Orange soil or no orange soil. These days, that orange soil would have been spotted at a distance with a high resolution spectral reconnaissance imager, and led a rover with a scoop and analysis tools straight to it. With all due respect to Harrison Schmitt, he did what only a human could do at the time. But times have changed. Dramatically. It’s a new world, technologically.

        Schmitt didn’t find the purple or green soil that these assets will find.

        As to the importance of going to the Moon for resource development, the only resource that shows much real value is water, and the water carries value only in the context of plans to do vastly more space flight. We have no such plans. Let’s not hallucinate with plans that might materialize if only we had cheap propellant that would let us go anywhere and do anything. Because even we could go anywhere and do anything, we’d still be faced with the awkward question — why?

        But let’s face it. If you want to send people into space, sending them to the Moon offers vastly more return than sending them to a tiny, anonymous (and almost certainly worthless) asteroid. Of course, the former would be more expensive, and that expense is what’s driving the show. ARM is all about finding something halfway affordable, and making up excuses for why it’s worth doing.

        • Coastal Ron

          Hiram said:

          Actually, going to the Moon is important, at least from a scientific standpoint.

          Yes, yes. Better understanding how the Earth evolved. And I’m sure you will agree that it’s not a pressing issue, so whether we do it next year or next century, it won’t affect U.S. Taxpayers.

          But the science that needs to be done there sure doesn’t need people there to do it.

          Agreed. I think this is an overlooked aspect, in that many people that rightly say we’ve “been there, done that” with humans, would indeed support a progressively more expansive robotic exploration program for the Moon. There is far more overlap between robotic exploration on the Moon and Mars then there is for human exploration for the Moon and Mars.

          As to the importance of going to the Moon for resource development, the only resource that shows much real value is water, and the water carries value only in the context of plans to do vastly more space flight.

          I agree again. It’s a classic chicken and egg problem. We don’t need the water until we have lots of local demand, and we likely won’t have lots of local demand until there is a need to do ISRU. It’s not an easy business case to make anyhow, since water from the Moon competes with water from Earth, so right until water from the Moon is produced, the least expensive water source is the Earth (and may still be until lunar ISRU becomes a mature process).

          But let’s face it. If you want to send people into space, sending them to the Moon offers vastly more return than sending them to a tiny, anonymous (and almost certainly worthless) asteroid.

          I don’t see any real value in visiting an asteroid for scientific reasons.

          I do see value in visiting an asteroid as part of proving out our exploration abilities – our ability to roam beyond Earth with competence and confidence. In other words, the destination is not as important as the journey would be, since a successful journey would mean that we’re ready to go further out into space.

          Visiting asteroids and sampling them for science sake is better done with far less expensive robotic systems.

          • Hiram

            “the destination is not as important as the journey would be”

            That’s a powerful thought, but I’m not sure this nation is ready to accept that (though I very much am). Exploration, as our nation views it, is about “destinations”. I recall the trepidation about going to Earth-Moon Lagrange points because there was nothing solid there. How could that ever be considered “exploration”, going to a place in empty space? (I guess as much as journeys to LEO could be …) By that token, we could envisage all kinds of “journeys” into deep space that would prove out our capabilities, and our ability to roam. But if a rock isn’t connected to such a journey, it somehow doesn’t count.

            Unfortunately, these planned asteroid journeys are critically dependent on having a rock available, and good rocks are hard to find. The launch window is wholly driven by the orbit of the best one, which will drive cost and safety. If the journey is more important than the destination, why are we screwing around with asteroids?

            • Coastal Ron

              Hiram said:

              Exploration, as our nation views it, is about “destinations”.

              The destination is widely acknowledged to be Mars.

              But we’re not going to get to Mars in one fell swoop. If we’re going to go to Mars in a confident and competent way, we have to practice first – an asteroid makes for an interesting practice trip. This was talked about in the Augustine Commission, so I’m not the first to talk about this.

              How could that ever be considered “exploration”, going to a place in empty space?

              Every Mercury mission, every Gemini mission, and the Apollo flights just prior to Apollo 11 went to an empty place in space. They were all leading up to Apollo 11, but sometimes it’s better to test out your systems at intermediate points along the way.

              By that token, we could envisage all kinds of “journeys” into deep space that would prove out our capabilities, and our ability to roam. But if a rock isn’t connected to such a journey, it somehow doesn’t count.

              That’s kind of like saying if our Navy doesn’t pull into port halfway around the world, then they didn’t go anywhere – even though they were doing operations just off shore.

              The launch window is wholly driven by the orbit of the best one, which will drive cost and safety.

              You are using the Apollo mindset, where every mission starts with a critical launch window on Earth.

              Instead, once we develop a reusable exploration vehicle, we can “push off” any time we like. That could be out of LEO, but more likely we’ll keep our exploration vehicle out near the Moon most of the time, and all we’ll need to do is send crew, fuel and supplies out to it in advance.

              • Hiram

                I think you may have misunderstood some gentle sarcasm in my post. As I said at the beginning, I am very much able to accept your presumption, but I’m afraid the nation is not. I am perfectly happy with “empty space” as a destination — a point in space that is determined dynamically and by enabled capability, than by a rock being there. But I fear the public is not. As noted, all human spaceflights since Apollo have been to empty space, though we’re less confident calling those missions true “exploration”.

                As to launch windows, I certainly am not using the Apollo mindset. The asteroids that have been identified as targets needed launches in a very narrow timeframe to make it possible to visit them in a propulsively economical way. That’s risky. Those restrictions may be somewhat relaxed in the ARM picture, in which the asteroid one is going to meet is already captured in a lunar orbit, though a pretty big lunar orbit.

              • Coastal Ron

                Hiram said:

                I am perfectly happy with “empty space” as a destination — a point in space that is determined dynamically and by enabled capability, than by a rock being there. But I fear the public is not.

                We’ve had the ISS in LEO, yet the “nation” hasn’t rebelled. No demonstrations in the streets.

                Go back a little further, and every Shuttle flight only went to LEO, which last I looked was a “empty space” destination. Didn’t hear much national angst about that either.

                My view is that it’s not the “where” as much as it’s the “what” our people are doing in space. That’s what attracts the attention of the media, and that is how “the nation” finds out what’s going on. When ISS crewperson Chris Hadfield was making all of his YouTube video’s, what interested people was “what” he was doing in LEO, not that he was circling LEO over and over again (i.e. empty space).

                When our Navy goes out on deployment, it’s not “where” they go that is the most important, but “what” they do wherever they go.

                The asteroids that have been identified as targets needed launches in a very narrow timeframe to make it possible to visit them in a propulsively economical way. That’s risky.

                If the exploration vehicle is at EM-L1, and the crew has arrived there a couple of weeks ahead of time to make sure the ship is prepared (did a test drive, made sure all the lights blinked, etc., etc.), then OK, something could go worng [sic]. But if we have refueling tankers, and we don’t use the most economical methods of propulsion, the launch window doesn’t become so critical – we just leave early and take a less fuel efficient route, but one that is less unforgiving to errors.

                And I guess that’s the point I’m trying to get across – we don’t have to live on the edge all the time, not if we have lots of additional capacity available for fuel in space. The ability to refuel in space provides a lot of benefits.

                This may require a longer explanation, but I’ll save that for another time.

              • Hiram

                “We’ve had the ISS in LEO, yet the “nation” hasn’t rebelled. No demonstrations in the streets.”

                Fair point, but the ISS was sold to the American public as a way to get to other places. It was going to be our gateway back to the Moon and to Mars. When that strategy collapsed, it was going to be about “science”.

                While there are no public demonstrations in the street against ISS, there are no parades down Main Street for it either. The public sees ISS as a symbol that the U.S. has some involvement in human space flight, but they really don’t have much of a clue what it’s for.

                “My view is that it’s not the “where” as much as it’s the “what” our people are doing in space. ”

                I have to disagree with that. I wish that were the case, but it’s not. As I said, the American pubic doesn’t have much of a clue about WHAT we do at ISS. But ISS has become a destination. We need to chew on this some more, about the importance of “destinations” (whether or not they happen to be rocks).

                As to narrow launch windows for Asteroids, until ARM, the strategy for sending humans to one was to launch one or two Orions at just the right time to meet up with a particularly providential one. Cooling ones heels at a Lagrange point hab was never part of the plan, at least as laid out by Lockheed in their “Plymouth Rock” concept.

              • Coastal Ron

                Hiram said:

                but the ISS was sold to the American public as a way to get to other places.

                No it wasn’t. “Getting to other places” was last on the list of uses for the ISS. First on the list was to be a laboratory, and in between were things like being a test facility for future space hardware. You can see the original MOU here.

                Even the ISS U.S. predecessor, Space Station Freedom, was a science platform.

                But we’re not anywhere close to being ready to travel to Mars. There is far too much technology that we need to develop and test out before leaving on such a challenging trip. Doing that experimentation and testing is what the ISS is primarily supposed to do.

                While there are no public demonstrations in the street against ISS, there are no parades down Main Street for it either.

                Why should there be? People doing work is hardly a reason to throw a parade. I have a friend that is a deep-sea diver, and his job is probably more dangerous than doing work on the ISS – nobody has thrown him a parade. We want space to be a routine place to live and work, and while it’s not quite “routine” yet, it’s not the unknown anymore either.

                The public sees ISS as a symbol that the U.S. has some involvement in human space flight, but they really don’t have much of a clue what it’s for.

                If you did ask, “science” would be the likely answer. But quite a few people are even aware the ISS exists, and that’s not unusual.

                But ISS has become a destination.

                Yes, it is. Regardless if it’s stationary in space, or orbiting a body in space, we think of wherever humans are as “destinations”. And that is because of “what” those humans are doing there, not necessarily “where”.

                As to narrow launch windows for Asteroids, until ARM, the strategy for sending humans to one was to launch one or two Orions at just the right time to meet up with a particularly providential one.

                That is not the only strategy that has been talked about, just the one you saw (powered by Lockheed Martin marketing money). That’s also Apollo-style exploration thinking, which is too costly to sustain.

                If the goal is to only take short trips out into space, then that strategy is OK. But if the goal is to expand humanities presence out into space, then there are better ways. Starting missions with a critical launch window from Earth makes the least sense.

              • Hiram

                “You can see the original MOU here.”

                I’m delighted that the Space Station was sold to the Russians as a lab. But that’s not what I said. I said that it was sold to the American people as a stepping stone to more distant places. The American people weren’t looking at that MOU. The public zeitgeist about Station was that it was a node for future human space travels. No one in their right mind would have thought that we would have returned to the Moon, or set off for Mars, without going via the Station.

                “That is not the only strategy that has been talked about, just the one you saw …”

                That’s the one that NASA expended some serious concept development effort on (and Lockheed marketing money DID help). Unfortunately. Putting a hab at EM L1 (or L2) and using that as a “gateway” for future travels is a far smarter way to send people long distances. That concept was developed in some detail by the DPT more than a decade ago.

              • Coastal Ron

                Hiram said:

                I’m delighted that the Space Station was sold to the Russians as a lab. But that’s not what I said. I said that it was sold to the American people as a stepping stone to more distant places.

                I am a space enthusiast, and I don’t remember that. Show me where it was “sold” to me as a stepping stone to more distant places.

                And in any case, for it to be such a thing, we’d have to be ready to go. We’re not any CLOSE to being ready to leave the Earth-Moon system. Not at all. What were we supposed to do with the ISS in the mean time?

                So whoever you think made that assertion was ignorant of the facts.

                That’s the one that NASA expended some serious concept development effort on (and Lockheed marketing money DID help). Unfortunately.

                NASA also spent time marketing the Nautilus-X and the EML Gateway. The co-joined Orion proposal was just one of many – fueled by corporate marketing funds.

                Putting a hab at EM L1 (or L2) and using that as a “gateway” for future travels is a far smarter way to send people long distances.

                Agreed.

              • Hiram

                “So whoever you think made that assertion was ignorant of the facts.”

                We do see a lot of that, don’t we.

                “NASA also spent time marketing the Nautilus-X and the EML Gateway.”

                Nautilus-X was innovative, but not a near-term approach to BEO space flight, and certainly not being developed specifically to support asteroid visits. It was to be quite an ambitious facility. You think we were going to launch a space station with a centrifuge BEO without testing that engineering in LEO? Nor was that concept development funded very generously, I believe. It was just a small team of engineers. In view of what was released publicly, Nautilus-X was largely a “pitch”, and not a design. I don’t believe the EML Gateway (which was, by the way, a concept heavily powered by Boeing marketing money) was particularly aimed at asteroid visits either. It was heavily oriented toward lunar surface support.

              • Hiram

                “Show me where it was “sold” to me as a stepping stone to more distant places.”

                By the 1990s, it was understood that the Space Station wasn’t really needed as a transportation node. In fact, the NCOS report in 1990 comes to this conclusion explicitly. But before that, there were a number of studies about how it (then Freedom) could be used in such a way. In fact, the 1985 Appropriations Act for NASA specifically stated that, among other uses for the Station, it would be, among other things, “a transportation node where payloads and vehicles are stationed, processed and propelled to their destinations”, and “a staging base for more ambitious future missions”. So at that time, Congress, at least, was pretty confident that Station would be used as a physical stepping stone to other places. It might not have been sold to you in this way, but it was sold to them.

                The 1987 Ride Report refers repeatedly refers to a proposal in which “a crew be transported from the Space Station to lunar orbit in a module propelled by a lunar transfer vehicle.” In fact, that report states that “The Space Station is an essential part of this initiative. As the lunar outpost evolves, the Space Station would become its operational hub in low-Earth orbit. Supplies, equipment, and propellants would be marshalled at the Station for transit to the Moon. It is therefore required that the Space Station evolve to include spaceport facilities.”

                Can’t get much clearer than that.

            • pathfinder-01

              The trouble with the ISS in regards to deep space travel is its orbit. Its orbit is perfect if you want to stage a deep space mission from LEO involving other nations but if you are attempting to go it alone a.k.a. CXP and looking for a justification for a large rocket then it isn’t very useful. Esp. of all you plan to do is restage Apollo. There have been other ideas for using the ISS as a staging point but they have not been supported at large.

              The Nautilus-X plan did want to test the centrifuge at the ISS before attempting to build the spacecraft. In terms of asteroid vast a EML-1 facility would give you an better idea about the radiation environment and if the shielding is enough.

              • Hiram

                You won’t test the radiation environment by sending humans. If you did, how are you going to prove later on, after the six month trip of those couple of astronauts, that they suffered a 20% chance of fatal cancer instead of 5%? If one dies, forty years later, it’s an “oops!”. If they don’t it’s “whew!” By which time, that fact is somewhat irrelevant anyway.

                If what you want to do is evaluate the “radiation environment”, we have tiny sensors that will do a grand job of that remotely, without any people. If what you want to do is to evaluate the biological response to that radiation environment, lab studies on human substitutes would be far more informative.

                Yep, Nautilus-X would have evaluated the centrifuge at ISS before attempting to design the spacecraft. Care to guess when that would have made Nautilus-X ready to launch? Maybe 2030s? We’d have humans playing pinball with asteroids by then.

                But that’s correct that ISS is, not well suited to a deep space mission anywhere near the ecliptic. But ISS is also not particularly well dynamically suited to Earth-to-LEO trips. So we’ve already conceded the dynamical penalty of its orbit. Have been living with that penalty for decades. Doesn’t seem to bother us a lot.

              • pathfinder-01

                For earth to LEO, ISS is fine. Its Orbit is able to be accessed by many nations/spaceports around the world. A 28.5 degree Orbit would maximize the amount that could be sent from KSC and the Shuttle mass issues (i.e. being a 100MT glider) greatly reduced what it could carry to the ISS. Other rockets are not hit with as large a penalty as the shuttle. Also Russia planned to leave that orbit for its own lunar missions so deep space is possible from that orbit. The weakness is that it is not ideal for KSC rather than anything else.

                The other weakness is political, if you have a space station in LEO it reduces your need for heavy lift. Let’s say you want to travel to l1/l2. A 20MT rocket could do that in 2-3 steeps. The NASA next plan of the early 2000’s was going to leave the from the ISS to an l1/l2 outpost. In one version the shuttle would lift an CTV to the ISS, on another flight lift an aft module and supplies, and on the third a Delta IV rocket would launch a kick stage to push the craft out. The trouble is NASA with the retirement of the shuttle NASA lacks a 20MT lifter and give the cheapness and existence of the EELV no point in them building one…and so not encouraged. NASA is stuck launching rockets when what manned spaceflight needs are spacecraft not rockets. Ever since the commercialization of space there has been little point in NASA launching rockets besides human spaceflight and the only point of SLS are jobs not exploration or advancing spaceflight at all.

  • E.P. Grondine

    And how bad is it? Two US launch firms fight over engines from Glushko’s shop:

    http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/news/2013/06/26/ula-faces-15-billion-anti-trust.html?page=all

    While many of you “NewSpacers” still think that the US tech base is not important.

  • William Mellberg

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “And that to me shows that going to the Moon is not important anymore, and that it was only important from a political standpoint, not a scientific or resource one.”

    Four decades ago, the Moon’s resources were not fully known. Water ice has only been discovered in recent years. And other resources need to be more thoroughly investigated. Which is why an armada of lunar robots has been exploring the Moon from orbit, and will soon be on the surface once again with a Chinese rover. While the original purpose of Apollo was political, it turned into a scientific program in the end — especially with the last three voyages of discovery (the ‘J’ missions). Lunar samples, including the famous ‘orange soil’ discovered by Harrison Schmitt during the Apollo 17 mission, continue to yield new scientific information. But Apollo only scratched the surface (literally), as Neil Armstrong pointed out during his testimony on Capitol Hill in May 2010. We should return to the Moon not to repeat Apollo … but to pick up where that pioneering enterprise left off.

    • Hiram

      I’ll say it again. The lunar science we want to do on the Moon does not, any longer, require sending people there to do it. The world is, technologically, a hugely different place than it was in the era of Armstrong and Schmitt. A properly equipped recon rover on the Moon, even controlled form the Earth, a la Lunokhod, could find soil of all hues in its travels across the surface, and do high quality analyses as well.

      Human beings, for doing in situ lunar science, have become largely obsolete. They could do good stuff, but at great cost which, we will remember, was the hallmark of Apollo.

      By the same token, we should pick up where Schackleton and Admunsden left off, and send human driven sleds across Antarctica. Think of what they could find! Think of what they could map! Is that where you’re going here?

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg said:

    And other resources need to be more thoroughly investigated.

    Why do we “need” to more thoroughly investigate? Who has defined this “need”?

    Scientifically it’d be nice, neat even.

    Which is why an armada of lunar robots has been exploring the Moon from orbit, and will soon be on the surface once again with a Chinese rover.

    I think “armada” is a bit of a stretch. And the Chinese are sending a rover to the Moon because they don’t yet know how to send one to Mars, or Venus like the USSR did in 1970. The Moon is indeed “interesting”, but more effort is still being put into Mars.

    We should return to the Moon not to repeat Apollo … but to pick up where that pioneering enterprise left off.

    I have no doubt that humans will return to the Moon. The real question is who the implied “We” is. Some think that NASA should expend significant resources to go to the Moon. However, if the goal is Mars then Thomas Young, the former executive vice president of Lockheed Martin, said at last weeks House hearing:

    I do not believe that landing on the moon or operations on the moon is a prerequisite to going to Mars,” Young said. “Given Mars as the focus, it’s not necessary. It’s probably a significant resource consumer that will take away from the time and effort to go to Mars.

    I think it’s time to leave the Moon to the private sector, at least as far as the U.S. is concerned. That’s not to say that the U.S. Government wouldn’t have an interest in co-funding some of the science output, but otherwise the U.S. Taxpayer doesn’t really have a need to spend a lot of money on the Moon. If there is an economic need, then the private market will do it.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Whether your “exploraton goal” is the Moon or Mars,
    in my view ARM is the best wzy of stabilizing the US launch technology base after the Ares 1 fiasco.

  • DCSCA

    “I think it’s time to leave the Moon to the private sector, at least as far as the U.S. is concerned.” reagans Ron.

    The last thing on Earth– or off it- the United States should do is ‘leave the moon to the private sector.’ The 1980′s ‘free marketeer’ and Wall Street crook Ivan Boesky famously said to his wife, “What good is the moon? You can’t buy or sell it.” Only a Romneyesque corporatist would want corporations and their cronies BoDs to be managing the fate of Luna and other celestial bodies. As recent history has repeately demonstrated, ‘Masters of the Universe’ they are not.

    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

    “”… 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

    • Coastal Ron

      DCSCA mumbled:

      Only a Romneyesque corporatist would want corporations and their cronies BoDs to be managing the fate of Luna and other celestial bodies.

      Yet you have no problem borrowing $Billions from China in order to fulfill your lunar dreams.

      And who is that money paid to? Government contractors! Those “evil” corporations!!

      Geez you are thick to not understand that.

      Regarding Neil Armstrong, he’s dead. Leave the man to rest in peace, since he is no longer part of our future, only a part of our past. He is not able to respond to the proverbial “facts on the ground” – reality as it is today.

      Of course you apparently can’t relate to “facts on the ground” either, but while Armstrong has an excuse (he’s dead, Jim), you don’t. Get a clue…

      • DCSCA

        Dismissing– or for that matter, just dissing– the thoughtful postions presented by Neil Armstrong on HSF isn’t a wise strategy for commercial space advocates, Ron. Even Musk sought his approval- along with other experienced people in the field including those from the Apollo era. Get a clue indeed, Ron. .

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA opined:

          Dismissing– or for that matter, just dissing– the thoughtful postions presented by Neil Armstrong on HSF isn’t a wise strategy for commercial space advocates

          This has nothing to do with “commercial space advocates”. There are plenty of them/us that think NASA’s next destination should not be to develop a new capability or go to a new place, but to redo what was done over 40 years ago. Armstrong, for whatever reason, thought that too. But not all Apollo astronauts that walked on the Moon agree with that, nor do many “commercial space advocates”.

          Regardless, he’s dead now, so he can’t respond to the current reality. You seem to struggle with coping with the current reality too, but at least Armstrong has a valid reason – you don’t.

          And in any case, commercial space is not about destinations, but about who builds the hardware and is responsible for what portions of reaching destinations – any destination, including the Moon.

          It’s about the role of NASA in human exploration. And for anyone that’s read NASA’s charter, I don’t see any explicit mention of NASA being in charge of human exploration. But what is specifically mentioned before any talk about exploration, is this:

          C.) Commercial Use of Space.–Congress declares that the general welfare of the United States requires that the Administration seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space.

          I know it destroys the foundation of your “NewSpace” hatred, but so be it – it’s part of NASA’s charter to support “NewSpace”.

          Even Musk sought his approval- along with other experienced people in the field including those from the Apollo era.

          Not for returning to the Moon Musk didn’t. Musk invited Armstrong to see what the latest technologies were for reaching space. That Armstrong didn’t accept was a sign to me that he wasn’t interested in the future. That’s OK, as he did a lot to create the future during his early years, but it’s not a reason to blindly follow everything he said in his final years.

          Armstrong was a wonderful part of our past, but he has no say about our future. Let him rest in peace.

          • William Mellberg

            Coastal Ron wrote:

            “That Armstrong didn’t accept was a sign to me that he wasn’t interested in the future.”

            Mr. Armstrong’s refusal to single out SpaceX and praise Elon Musk wasn’t based on a lack of interest in the future. It was simply consistent with his long-standing policy of not making any commercial endorsements. If he praised SpaceX, he’d have to give equal praise to Orbital Sciences … and on and on. Armstrong did not want to get caught up with that sort of thing. He did not want to use his unique place in history that way. And Elon Musk’s tears on “60 Minutes” probably did not endear him to Mr. Armstrong — or make him any more inclined to say anything that might have been construed as a commercial endorsement.

            • Coastal Ron

              William Mellberg said:

              Mr. Armstrong’s refusal to single out SpaceX and praise Elon Musk wasn’t based on a lack of interest in the future. It was simply consistent with his long-standing policy of not making any commercial endorsements.

              Maybe, maybe not. Personally I wouldn’t have expected him to say anything after touring the facility, since Musk wasn’t showing him what SpaceX was doing in order to get his personal endorsement, but to show Armstrong what he helped inspire.

              And I would have hoped that Armstrong, Cernan and others would in fact have toured Orbital Sciences, Sierra Nevada, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and anyone else that they thought would be interesting – all without specifically endorsing anything anyone was doing, just “collecting facts”.

              And Elon Musk’s tears on “60 Minutes” probably did not endear him to Mr. Armstrong…

              Maybe you think there is an ulterior motive behind Musk’s emotions on that matter, but what I saw was a space enthusiast who was talking about someone he respected.

              Nevertheless, that’s all in the past…

              • DCSCA

                “Maybe you think there is an ulterior motive behind Musk’s emotions on that matter, but what I saw was a space enthusiast who was talking about someone he respected.” spins Ron.

                Then you need glasses. He wanted a photo op just as he did with Obama at the Cape.

              • Coastal Ron

                DCSCA opined:

                He wanted a photo op just as he did with Obama at the Cape.

                At least Musk has something of value to space exploration to show people when he has his picture taken with astronauts.

                How many pictures do you have with astronauts, where all you were was part of the press? ;-)

        • Neil Shipley

          Musk sought his approval and didn’t get it. That should tell you sufficient concerning Armstrongs’ views and judgement. Elon was upset as Armstrong was, if you like, an inspiration for his efforts, but Elon didn’t wallow in the past, he moved on. You know, something you should try sometime.

          • William Mellberg

            See my response to Coastal Ron on the same subject.

            Neil Armstrong’s refusal to give his “imprimatur” to Elon Musk and SpaceX had nothing to do with his opinion of the company or the man. It had everything to do with his policy of not endorsing commercial enterprises. There were very few exceptions to that policy over the years.

      • DCSCA

        “Musk invited Armstrong to see what the latest technologies were for reaching space. That Armstrong didn’t accept was a sign to me that he wasn’t interested in the future.” weeps Ron.

        Except it doesn’t.

        Per Armstrong himself: “[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

        We all know exactly what Musk was trying to do– and so were the Apollo people he was baiting for a photo-op.

        William Mellberg’s comments give you a good general policy by which NA managed his ‘endorsement’ prsctices– particulary after he got a little public criticism for his Chrysler endorsements in the ’70s. But to infer he had no interest in ‘the future’ is simply absurd– as his final few Congressional discussions show.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA mumbled:

          Except it doesn’t.

          There is no “it” in the paragraph you cited. First your spelling goes haywire, now your grammar does. What next?

          Per Armstrong himself:…

          And that statement about taking “many years and substantial investments…” is already far behind the times.

          You don’t need to endorse someone that gives you a tour of your factory, especially if you’re touring everyones factory. Armstrong didn’t want to keep up with current technology, and his comments showed that he didn’t understand the current generation of aerospace companies. That’s not a bad thing – heck, you don’t either. But if someone isn’t keeping up with current business and technology trends, they shouldn’t be surprised when their opinions don’t carry much weight. Armstrong’s congressional testimony didn’t move the needle on any issues.

          But as I said before, Armstrong was a wonderful part of our past, but he has no say about our future. Let him rest in peace.

          And just as an observation, if you’re not able to make your point on your own, you must not have a good argument…

          • William Mellberg

            Coastal Ron wrote:

            “Armstrong didn’t want to keep up with current technology, and his comments showed that he didn’t understand the current generation of aerospace companies.”

            You clearly did not know the man.

            I did.

            And you could not be more wrong about him.

  • E.P. Grondine

    The only news that matters (from nasaspaceflight.com)

    …fact:

    http://www.hatch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/releases?ID=602f9c19-1b78-be3e-e07e-fb550421a64a

    Hatch said in a local interview that they had consulted “unnamed experts” in the field and that they had been assured that a “130-ton” rocket would require solid boosters. (Three guess to get the letters for those “experts” right (ATK))

    In the article Hatch admits to “inserting” the proper language into the bill. And no, no one in the delegation that met with Bolden/Garver has yet admitted to “who” the “experts” consulted actually were. However they were “briefed” at their Utah state offices…

    As the article notes:
    “Hatch, Sen. Bob Bennett and Reps. Rob Bishop and Jim Matheson met with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver to ensure that they are on board with complying with the law, which outlines payload requirements for a heavy-lift space system that, experts agree, can only be realistically met by solid rocket motors like the ones ATK manufactures in northern Utah.”

    The meeting was precipitated by the NASA studies that “suggested” a Kero/LOX 1st stage and/or LRBs “might” be better than SRBs.

    “130 tons” was the language inserted I never meant to infer that Congress specified the entire engineering of the SLS, however as noted political considerations were rated higher than engineering considerations.”

    Like I told all of you before, the only thing worth following is ATK’s political “engineering”.

    • Coastal Ron

      E.P. Grondine said:

      The only news that matters…

      E.P., this is old news – November of 2010 old.

      And what has happened since then? NASA has decided to compete the SLS boosters before the SLS reaches operational status.

      You don’t have to obsess over ATK anymore…

      • E.P. Grondine

        Hi CR –

        Yeah, its old news. Its brutally concise as well.

        What I’ve seen since 1969 is ATK screwing up our space sector with their plitical engineering, with the events uner Obama just being the latrst installment. YOu have to remember that Obama will leave office in a short wile, and ince ATK sddopted a tactic of delay when he came, I’d have to say they are donig pretty well.

        I would not bet any money on whether the SLS boosters are finally actually competed, or how “fair” that competition will be.

        Do you want to take any bets on it?

        • Coastal Ron

          E.P. Grondine said:

          YOu have to remember that Obama will leave office in a short wile, and ince ATK sddopted a tactic of delay when he came, I’d have to say they are donig pretty well.

          Other than the SLS boosters, what is it you imagine ATK is involved with?

          And last I looked, NASA is only launching three SLS over the next 12 years (2017, 2021, 2025) – that’s not much activity to be concerned about.

          Again, in my view ATK is no worse a government contractor than Boeing or Lockheed Martin, and Boeing and Lockheed Martin have significantly more business with NASA than ATK does. Six SRM’s needed over a 12 year period is nothing.

          • E.P. Grondine

            Hi CR –

            “Again, in my view ATK is no worse a government contractor than Boeing or Lockheed Martin,”

            I think that neither Boeing or Lockheed Martin just wasted $8 billion and 7 years.

            “and Boeing and Lockheed Martin have significantly more business with NASA than ATK does.”

            ATK wzs trying to replace both Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

            But its worse than that. If you want to know why the US launch industry did not progress in the last 40 years, the answer is ATK.

            Now besides eninge powered descent, two other re-usable fly back technologies are drogeu chute and rogallo and drogue chute and folding wings.

            Further, ATK has endanered a large part of the US launch technology base.

            There’s far more to our space industry than SpaceX.

            • Coastal Ron

              Hi E.P.

              I think that neither Boeing or Lockheed Martin just wasted $8 billion and 7 years.

              If you look at the combination of Constellation, SLS and MPCV contracts, ATK has received far less money than either Boeing or Lockheed Martin. You lack perspective.

              ATK wzs trying to replace both Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

              That’s what competitors do. If the roles were reversed, Boeing and Lockheed Martin would have been trying to replace ATK. This is normal for large corporations.

              But its worse than that. If you want to know why the US launch industry did not progress in the last 40 years, the answer is ATK.

              ATK was a minor participant on the Shuttle program.

              According to the last clean costs I found, ATK received $68.6M for each Shuttle SRM set, but Lockheed Martin received $173M for each Shuttle External Tank. Add on top of that the $99M/month that United Space Alliance (Boeing & Lockheed Martin) was paid paid to run the Shuttle program, and you can plainly see that ATK was not a major player on the Shuttle program.

              As to the EELV program, ATK is only a supplier for SRM boosters. Boeing and Lockheed Martin are the ones that created a monopoly for government launches, and ATK has no say over the business.

              Further, ATK has endanered a large part of the US launch technology base.

              Not that I have seen, and not that you have shown.

              There’s far more to our space industry than SpaceX.

              And even more to our space industry than ATK.

              • E.P. Grondine

                Hi CR –

                Its strange to find you as ATK’s last apologist, attempting to indict the whole of the US space sector.

                Or maybe its not so strange.

                If you want to apologize for ATK, well, Boeing and LockMart both know who held control. It is true they cooperated,
                but it was not that they had much choice.

                How many engineers participated in DIRECT, and what lengths did they go to to conceal their identities?

                Your comparison of firms is not valid. While their costs are high, Boeing and LockMart delivered. ATK did not, and could not from the start.

                My own time and the resources here prevent me from walking you from 1969 through ATK’s response to Challenger under Reagan. The multiple launch studies over the years and their fates. ATK’s role in X33, and now this mess.

                I think there is a book in there waiting to be written…

              • E.P. Grondine

                Hi CR –

                While there are many who wish it were not true, my “perspective” is known to be pretty accurate. It focuses on key issues.

                Now you might not want to see SpaceX have competition, but I do.

                Your focus on some nominal dollar ammounts and standard corporate bahavior is disengenious, as it diverts attention from a long long history of poliical engineering by ATK.

                ATK not only did not deliver on Ares 1, they could not due to the laws of physics.

                What I want to see is the NextGen booster competition started before Obama leaves office.

                I want to see ULA with Marshall’s help well on its way to providing SpaceX with competition.

              • Coastal Ron

                E.P. Grondine said:

                Its strange to find you as ATK’s last apologist, attempting to indict the whole of the US space sector.

                I’m no fan of the Shuttle SRM’s, as I think they were promoted politically, not for their technical strengths (or lack thereof).

                But you see far more evil in ATK than I do, and I have worked for many government contractors. Part of the blame you assign to them was also the responsibility of the their customers, or politicians. And while they no doubt had some influence with politicians, they compete in the halls of Congress with other better funded corporations. They are no better or worse than any other large company.

                How many engineers participated in DIRECT, and what lengths did they go to to conceal their identities?

                I came to Space Politics as a DIRECT supporter, since I liked the idea of reusing existing technologies. However I received great feedback from many people about the cost issues with legacy hardware, and that is why I changed my opinion (and why I know what the Shuttle costs were).

                I understand why people thought DIRECT was a good idea, and interestingly enough, they were at odds with Michael Griffin, who did more to support ATK than DIRECT people did. You are barking up the wrong tree.

                ATK not only did not deliver on Ares 1, they could not due to the laws of physics.

                That blame rests solely on the shoulders of Michael Griffin, not ATK.

                Now you might not want to see SpaceX have competition, but I do.

                I am on record, on many forums, as saying we need competitive and redundant access to space, and that I hope ULA can become competitive once again.

                What I want to see is the NextGen booster competition started before Obama leaves office.

                I want to see the SLS program defunded so we don’t have to worry about the Advanced Booster Competition.

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