Congress, NASA

Garver on NASA’s opportunities and challenges

NASA has a number of opportunities for the future, including ways to partner with the private sector, but those effort face challenges that are often in the form of opposition from Congress, NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver said Friday.

Garver, giving a keynote speech Friday at the NewSpace 2013 conference—an event with a particular focus on commercial space—in San Jose, California, outlined what she saw as some opportunities for the agency to work with the private sector, including the agency’s asteroid initiative. She said the recent request for information (RFI) for the program had generated more than 400 responses, and the agency was just beginning to review them. “We could not be more excited about this opportunity,” she said.

The challenge, though, is that the agency’s asteroid initiative has run into opposition from some in Congress. “There are a few people—you can argue staff or members—on the Hill in a few key places who think that this is going to keep us from going back to the Moon,” she said. “Our challenge is to help people understand that not at all what this mission will do. This doesn’t sidetrack anything.”

Later, talking with reporters, Garver said she was uncertain if the RFI responses and NASA’s analysis of them would help build a stronger case for the asteroid initiative for those in the House in particular who have opposed it. “We’ll see if they’ll be more supportive as we address the actual criticisms they have had,” she said, “or if it really is just something that we’re not going to be able to get consensus on because of the partisan nature of Washington right now.”

Garver saw similar challenges with NASA’s commercial crew program. “We have bipartisan support, but it still seems to be something that a few key folks on the Hill… seem to want to cut this budget,” she said in her conference speech. “Why is it that this program doesn’t have broader support?”

“To keep competition as long as possible, and to accelerate the time when we are no longer sending money to Russia but spending those dollars with US companies, we need the full funding. We need as close to the full funding as we can get,” she told reporters later. She said the Senate appropriations bill, which offers $775 million for the commercial crew program—a little less than the $821 million requested by the administration—would be good. The House version of that bill, however, only offers $500 million for the program. Garver didn’t explicitly say, though, whether the lower House funding would cause NASA to slip the planned 2017 date for beginning commercial crew flights to the ISS.

Garver also mentioned in her speech a couple less controversial initiatives. One is an RFI released in early July regarding commercial lunar landers. “This will be our first step in assessing interest in public-private partnerships to jointly develop a robotic lander that could demonstrate technologies that enable research for government and commercial customers,” she said of the new RFI.

That, she said, is part of a broader suite of efforts, ranging from NASA’s LADEE lunar mission slated for launch later this year to a study by Bigelow Aerospace under a NASA Space Act Agreement on commercial lunar exploration architectures. “Does it sound like we’re not going back to the Moon?” she said. “Our lunar strategy would open up the Moon for a truly sustained lunar presence, and one that would extend our economic sphere of influence.”

She also mentioned the Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities synopsis released by NASA earlier this month to identify potential ways NASA could support commercial space ventures through unfunded Space Act Agreements, in a manner analogous to the COTS and CCDev efforts. “This is an exciting development,” she said, stating there was interest in this new effort not just from outside organizations, but from within NASA itself. “We’re energized by this,” she said. “It really is a sea change.”

129 comments to Garver on NASA’s opportunities and challenges

  • Hiram

    Garver certainly does show off here the need for the kind of strategy that Congress is asking for. “Does it sound like we’re not going back to the Moon?” says she? Well, Lori, yes it does. Because neither LADEE nor Bigelow fits into any clear plan that you’ve advanced to do it, notwithstanding the fact that your boss, the President, once said there was no need to do it. In fact, they don’t fit into any clear plan to do anything at all. Needless to say, neither does ARM. They can each be called “good ideas”, in the sense that they are creative, intellectually challenging, technology-enabling, and even exciting. But they aren’t grounded in any overall strategy. That overall strategy needn’t include dates. In fact, Congress doesn’t want dates.

    It is somewhat remarkable that she refers here to a “lunar strategy” that “would open up the Moon for a truly sustained lunar presence, and … extend our economic sphere of influence.” I’m sure not aware of any lunar strategy, so I have to assume that she’s just making this up. To the extent that the long range goal is to put people on Mars, the importance of these things really isn’t clear.

    • Coastal Ron

      Hiram said:

      I’m sure not aware of any lunar strategy, so I have to assume that she’s just making this up.

      There is a constituency that she is marketing to. Besides who that constituency is, the question is whether that constituency is influential enough to do something about what she is talking about? To date no one has been influential from the space exploration side, only the hardware building side (where the big bucks are on programs like SLS, Orion, etc.).

      To the extent that the long range goal is to put people on Mars, the importance of these things really isn’t clear.

      Which has been the failure of all plans to return to the Moon. Spending 17 years and $88B to create a source of water on the Moon doesn’t make a lot of sense when we can just ship it up from Earth in less time and for a fraction of the cost, yet people are swayed by the romance of the idea more than the practicality. Such is the state of NASA today – not enough practicality with what it’s budget is spent on.

      • Hiram

        The relevance of the Moon to Mars is being sold by the lunatics as low-gravity resource development. That is hugely important if we’re going to be sending lots and lots of people and equipment to Mars, as in colonization and settlement. But colonization and settlement aren’t part of ANY Congressional plans. They are the stuff of wet dreams of space advocates. If we’re going to be sending a couple of blokes to Mars every ten years or so, which is perhaps borderline affordable with a level NASA budget, we don’t need a propellant factory on the Moon.

        I’m beginning to think that the real value of the Moon to Mars is recovering some sense of spacefaring that we thought we were getting comfortable with in the Apollo era. We don’t have that sense anymore. Not at all. We are desperately afraid of risk, and are paralyzed by the essentially zero rationale we have for going beyond LEO, except to enable other trips beyond LEO. We need to recover that sense and shake off those fears before we venture further.

        If Lori was marketing to a constituency, that constituency is not dumb enough to believe that there is really any “lunar strategy” that she is referring to. Who’s gonna buy it?

        • Coastal Ron

          Hiram said:

          If Lori was marketing to a constituency, that constituency is not dumb enough to believe that there is really any “lunar strategy” that she is referring to. Who’s gonna buy it?

          Politics is not logical. And when you have a big venue and say something new, it’s for a reason.

          We just don’t know that reason yet, and who the interested parties are.

          • Hiram

            That’s right. Politics isn’t logical. But we aren’t talking about logic. We’re talking about truth. If a politician says something that seems wholly indefensible, like the idea that NASA is happily sitting on a “lunar strategy”, then that politician is going to get (as per the DC Post tracker) four well deserved pinocchios.

            But yes, if Lori is hinting at something like this, we should be sitting up and taking notice. There is a “lunar strategy”? Really? In fact, the “strategy” she’s referring to here sounds a lot like VSE.

            • Coastal Ron

              Hiram said:

              If a politician says something that seems wholly indefensible … then that politician is going to get (as per the DC Post tracker) four well deserved pinocchios.

              Ooh, I’m sure they are scared of that… ;-)

              Only the politicians that have constituents that read the DC Post tracker care about that, which I think is a very small minority. To a politician, it doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks about them, all that matters is what their voting constituents think.

              And there are few politicians that have constituents that would care about what NASA does, so that narrows down the list somewhat.

              In fact, the “strategy” she’s referring to here sounds a lot like VSE.

              That’s a possibility. Maybe she’s just restating the VSE, and it only sounds like something new because they haven’t talked about it in a long time?

              • Hiram

                “Ooh, I’m sure they are scared of that… ;-)”

                But of course Lori Garver isn’t a legislative politician, and her “voting constituents” are people sitting on the Hill. All of them read the DC Post, and they all vote. I’d say that quite a few of these “constituents” care at least somewhat about what NASA does, in that it is a small but very conspicuous part of the discretionary budget.

                “Maybe she’s just restating the VSE, and it only sounds like something new because they haven’t talked about it in a long time?”

                This would be significant because it’s a different “they”. The current management at NASA hasn’t talked about VSE at all. Although Constellation was a management failure, many look back on VSE as a policy success — a real attempt to provide rationale for space exploration. The complete disappearance of it has struck many as curious.

          • Jim Nobles

            -
            We just don’t know that reason yet, and who the interested parties are.

            Bigelow might have got done with his report and submitted early. He’s like that.

            As for NASA’s lunar plan, such as it is, I belive it mainly consists of saying, “Those dumbasses in Congress aren’t going to give us any money for a moon plan so we’ll just have to see what Bigelow and the other commercial boys come up with. Maybe there’s something we can work with there.”

      • Joe

        “Which has been the failure of all plans to return to the Moon. Spending 17 years and $88B to create a source of water on the Moon doesn’t make a lot of sense when we can just ship it up from Earth in less time and for a fraction of the cost, yet people are swayed by the romance of the idea more than the practicality.”

        The estimated minimum amount of water ice at the Lunar North Pole is 600 Million Metric Tons (1.32 Trillion lbs.).

        Divide $88 Billion by 1.32 Trillion lbs. and you get 7 cents a lb.

        So, for anybody who cares, “Coastal Ron” is asserting that water can be shipped from Earth (to some place in space – he does not specify where – for a total cost, including development of the specialized hardware to do the shipping) for a total cost of 7 cents a lb.

        I would leave it to anybody who wants to think about that any further to access its credibility.

        • pathfinder_01

          Given that one needs to build a plant, collect ice and process it, run said plant (which means sending spare parts and making repairs) it is probably going to cost more than 7 cent a gallon on the moon a lot more.

          Also would it be wise to use all the water on the moon for any one purpose? And what if the demand is less than that say it is only 60MT a year or even zero as there are ways to get off the moon without lox/loh. This is what is meant by business case until you have someone to sell it to at a known amount there is a heck of a lot of risk and no upside to the taxpayer.

          Investors can invest in whatever they want and I do think private investment should lead the way but I would be against any government backed plan to mine water. There is no known customer or known amount to even know if lunar mining is economically sensible.

          LEO spaceflight on the other hand there is at least 2 known customers the US government via NASA and tourist(of which 7 people paid up to 40 million before NASA hogged the available seats of Soyuz. There are also tourist that are still waiting). There is benefit to taxpayers lowering the cost to get people into LEO as well as possibly generating revenue via tourist.

          Human BEO spaceflight at the moment just creates a lot of cost and not much as much benefit to the tax payer.

          • Joe

            “Human BEO spaceflight at the moment just creates a lot of cost and not much as much benefit to the tax payer.”

            I disagree with you, but that is really a completely different discussion.

            Question (and it is not meant to be a sarcastic one): If you really believe that, then you have no interest in this discussion. So why are you entering it?

            • pathfinder-01

              “be a sarcastic one): If you really believe that, then you have no interest in this discussion. So why are you entering it?”

              I take the view that HSF should benefit humanity and BEO spaceflight is just too limited at the moment in terms of cost and capability. I think that the first step towards expanding further out isn’t a government lead moon landing program that defines what technologies should be used and how but something more organic. The first step IMHO is lower the cost to LEO for humans such that NASA isn’t paying 100% of the bill which is why I like the idea of commercial spaceflight. Once humans and their necessary cargo can go to LEO cheaply enough some will want to go further out and this will drive humanity towards the stars.

              I am no fan of any program that attempts to define what systems we should use like LOH/LOX propellant or government owned HLV because they lock you into methods that may not make any sense.

              There are many ways to lift something off the moon you could do a space elevator from the moon, rail guns, produce solid fuel from lunar regolith, produce oxygen from lunar regolith and so any plan the bets the house on one method (loh/loh) isn’t wise. Any plan that makes arbitrary amounts of this propellant isn’t wise either why 150MT a year? What if you use solar electric propulsion then you wouldn’t need anywhere near that much propellant.

              There are ways to lift things off earth that drive costs down say using contracts instead of owning the system outright.

              On earth our technologies developed more by experience and usefulness than by government dictate. On earth we try different things and learn what is the best combination or best method for doing something that is how humanity advanced. Edison didn’t invent the light bulb; he invented the first commercially successful one. He invented a light bulb that could last long enough and cost cheap enough to make an impact on how people lived. HSF hasn’t gotten to that point yet, lots of other space things like communications satellites, weather satellites, spy and navigational satellites have gotten to that point and HSF needs to.

              Anyway in terms of BEO spaceflight I will bet that the first use of lunar ice is probably going to be life support and not propellant because it is low hanging fruit. Instead of needing to fill a tank with tens of MT of propellant to get off the moon you just need to produce a few gallons a day but those few gallons would enable a longer tourist trip or more time on the lunar surface. It is a lot cheaper/simpler/faster to design a system that produces a few gallons a day vs. Something that needs to hold and crack out metric tons a year.

              The Spadis plan puts the cart (people who could actually use the water for something) before the horse (production of lunar water).

        • Coastal Ron

          Joe opined:

          Divide $88 Billion by 1.32 Trillion lbs. and you get 7 cents a lb.

          Apparently you haven’t read the Spudis/Lavoie plan – they only proposed to set up a facility that could produce 150 metric tonnes of water per year for that $88B.

          Do you know the difference between 150 metric tonnes and 1.32 Trillion lbs? I know some people have problems converting to metric, but it should be pretty obvious that they are not the same.

          Since everything else you wrote was based on vastly incorrect assumptions, the rest of what you wrote can be safely ignored.

          • Joe

            Yes Ron and some people have difficulty telling the difference between developing new resources at a location more convenient to where they will be used and trying to ship those same resources in from a much less convenient location.

            If you want to have a discussion as to where the cutoff point would be (in terms of efficiency)in exploiting lunar resources and using your shipping “plan” then you would need to be able to say how much water you think is required for the space operations you support in your “plan”

            To do that you would need to answer (at a minimum) the following questions about your “plan’s” goals:
            (1) Where do you want the program to go (in real physical terms – Moon, Mars, Alpha Centauri?)?
            (2) What do you want accomplished when it gets there. Are these human missions or robotic? Is the goal pure science, flags and foot prints, mining, settlement?
            (3) How much mass do you believe (based on you best engineering judgment) will need to be transferred to that location to achieve your goals?
            (4) How much water (again in your inestimable best engineering judgment) would have to be delivered to what orbital locations to support the goals defined by the above questions?
            (5) What would be the DDT&E cost to develop the complete transportation system to provide this water from the Earth’s surface?

            When you have answered these questions there will be a basis to discuss the relative cost of the two approaches, until then everything “you wrote can be safely ignored”.

            I am sure everyone will look forward to your elucidating straightforward answers to these straightforward questions.

            • Coastal Ron

              Joe said:

              …and some people have difficulty telling the difference between developing new resources at a location more convenient to where they will be used and trying to ship those same resources in from a much less convenient location.

              Again, you haven’t appeared to have read the Spudis/Lavoie plan. They proposed to develop a system that wasn’t just for local consumption (i.e. on the Moon), but to support all non-Earth requirements.

              If the water was only for local consumption, then the calculation would be based on how much how much activity there was, and how much demand there was. Then you would size your production accordingly. As of today though, there is zero forecasted demand, since there are zero funded plans for keeping humans on the Moon long enough that they need a steady supply of local water. Future water demand is not enough justification for risking $88B in taxpayer money, especially with the Congress we have today.

              As for water and water-derived propellant, you have to look at the economics the first amounts of demand will have to consider. They could A) contract for propellant to be shipped up from Earth as they need it, or B) commit $88B and 17 years towards building a small water & propellant facility on the Moon (and the risk that $88B and 17 years may not be enough time and money to do so).

              For small demand that does not have unlimited resources and time, they will go with the easy choice, which is shipping the propellant and water from Earth as they need it. And notice no one in the government has been pushing the Spudis/Lavoie plan, since even the government doesn’t have that big a need for water and propellant.

              Now that calculation may change if the demand for propellant and water becomes big enough, and the cost of shipping water and propellant from Earth is not decreasing fast enough. I think we all hope that time comes sooner than later, since that would mean we’re doing a lot more in space. But that will likely be decades.

              • Joe

                “Again, you haven’t appeared to have read the Spudis/Lavoie plan. They proposed to develop a system that wasn’t just for local consumption (i.e. on the Moon), but to support all non-Earth requirements.”

                And you appear to not understand the (very) basic fact that the Moon’s shallower gravity well makes any place in cis-lunar space, including LEO, more accessible from the Lunar Surface than from the Earth’s surface.

                You also made no attempt to answer any of the questions. At least you are consistent. You like to attack other people’s detailed proposals (or at least what you misunderstand about them), but never offer any constructive alternatives. That is the reason a useful discussion with you can never happen.

                Have a nice day.

              • Coastal Ron

                Joe said:

                And you appear to not understand the (very) basic fact that the Moon’s shallower gravity well makes any place in cis-lunar space, including LEO, more accessible from the Lunar Surface than from the Earth’s surface.

                In this case, “more accessible” doesn’t mean much if it costs more. Sure the time it takes to order and get fuel delivered could be less if the fuel is coming from the Moon, but A) does that matter (i.e. is the demand so unpredictable that quick order cycle times are better), and B) what does it ultimately cost to keep a refueling station open on the Moon?

                The costs to resupply from Earth are far more predictable than the costs from getting resupplied from the Moon. Spudis/Lavoie think they have captured all the major costs, but there are so many unknowns about what they are proposing that it’s impossible to predict what the real costs are. If anything, if history is any guide, their predictions are far too optimistic.

                You also made no attempt to answer any of the questions. At least you are consistent.

                My what big crocodile tears you can shed.

                You’ve already shown that you track what I say on prior posts, so you can find the answers to most of those questions on recent comments I’ve made.

                But the response I did provide was for the real question at hand, and that is affordability, which is something that you don’t appear to want to address. What can we afford to do in space?

                As of now, if you were to testify in front of Congress that you wanted them to fund a water processing station on the Moon, and that it would cost $88B, I don’t think you’d find any supporters. And absent taxpayer money, the only way we’ll expand out into space is because of entrepreneurs like Bigelow and Musk, and they aren’t talking about water processing on the Moon either.

                So instead of living in a fantasy world, maybe you could help propose plans that are more likely to actually see the light of day and can be sustainable within the current NASA budget?

                Have a nice day.

                Why thank you Joe. You too… ;-)

              • Joe

                “In this case, “more accessible” doesn’t mean much if it costs more. Sure the time it takes to order and get fuel delivered could be less if the fuel is coming from the Moon, but A) does that matter (i.e. is the demand so unpredictable that quick order cycle times are better), and B) what does it ultimately cost to keep a refueling station open on the Moon?”

                Your level of fundamental non-understanding on these issues is so profound that it makes talking about it with you practically impossible. In some cases the transit time from the Moon to the site of use would be (depending on the orbit) longer. That is not (and never has been) the point. The point is the delta V required to get the payload (whatever it is) from the Lunar Surface to the point of use. Just as an example the delta V from the lunar surface to LEO is about 1/22 of that required to reach LEO from the Earth’s surface. Additionally the lunar surface to orbit vehicles can be made single stage and reusable, the earth surface to orbit vehicles cannot. That translates in to dramatically lower operating cost for the Lunar based option.

                Then it becomes a matter of a classic trade study. Is the capital investment to establish the lunar facility worth the cost compared to what you plan to do with it? Since you steadfastly refuse to give a consistent position on what kind of program you support, it is impossible to make such a trade for ever changing positions.

                I have kept track of your constantly shifting positions because it is necessary to keep track of what you are claiming from one moment to the next.

                Sometimes you say:
                Coastal Ron July 10, 2013 at 3:36 pm • Reply
                “I think the President and the Congress should state that the next goal for the U.S. in space is to be a spacefaring nation. And the initial phase of that would be to create a reusable transportation system to the region of the Moon (EM-L, LLO, etc.).
                As part of that the government may decide to fund destinations too, like an EML Gateway, but the focus is on developing the transportation system itself. NASA and the government would not own any part of the transportation system, but NASA would be the agency in charge of spending government funds as needed to put such a system in place.”

                Others you say:
                Coastal Ron July 29, 2013 at 12:10 pm
                “As of now, if you were to testify in front of Congress that you wanted them to fund a water processing station on the Moon, and that it would cost $88B, I don’t think you’d find any supporters.”

                Yet your rather grandiose proposal from only a few weeks ago would likely cost at least the $88 Billion you now deride. Yet by your own description the spending has no goal other than to have the government turn any capabilities over to an unnamed entity to use (or not use) as it sees fit.

                I know it is asking too much for you to learn some of the basic fundamentals about a subject on which you purport to be an expert, but it would not seem unreasonable to ask you to pick a side and stay on it for longer than three weeks.

              • Coastal Ron

                Joe incorrectly stated:

                The point is the delta V required to get the payload (whatever it is) from the Lunar Surface to the point of use.

                But then more accurately said:

                Then it becomes a matter of a classic trade study. Is the capital investment to establish the lunar facility worth the cost compared to what you plan to do with it?

                Bingo! It boils down to how much things cost, not how much delta V is required.

                For instance, if someone needed 50mt of propellant delivered to LEO by 2018, what would it cost and where would it come from?

                The $88B Spudis/Lavoie plan could not be used, since it takes 17 years to get into production. But assuming the test flights of the Falcon Heavy go well, then we could source that propellant from Earth for about $128M. Using Delta IV Heavy would be more (as would any other rocket), but still far less than $88B.

                Assuming the demand continues, the same customer would continue to make decisions based on their demand, their opportunity cost, and what the available alternatives are and their risk levels (i.e. trade studies). Propellant from Earth is far less risky than propellant from the Moon – for the foreseeable future at least. There is going to have to be a lot of demand to change that.

                Then Joe said:

                Since you steadfastly refuse to give a consistent position on what kind of program you support…

                Ah, but you do know what I support (i.e. a reusable transportation system to the region of the Moon). You even quoted me. But I didn’t specify where the propellant would be coming from, since that is up to the operators to decide.

                But a transportation system that moves people to the places they have a desire to go is far different than placing a big bet on where the lowest cost source of water and propellant will be. I don’t know why you have a hard time seeing that.

                All I’ve been stating is something that is pretty apparent – there is little support for the Spudis/Lavoie plan, and for the obvious reason that it does not address any known constraints. Throw in it’s high price tag, and the risky supply & demand bet it’s making, and it’s no wonder it’s a non-starter.

                But hey, there are plenty of businesses spending their own capital to test out new business cases, so if you feel so strongly about it, there are alternatives to taxpayer money. Better polish up those presentation skills though… ;-)

              • Joe

                Coastal Ron July 29, 2013 at 3:38 pm
                “Bingo! It boils down to how much things cost, not how much delta V is required.”
                Since you obviously have no understanding of things like delta V and its effect on cost you would like to dismiss it. But no Ron, it “boils down to” what kind of program you want to have. If you want to have closed in non-expanding program then you want to restrict yourself to delivering all your mass from Earth. If you want an open ended expanding program then you want to develop lunar resources. Or if you are you what you want changes from minute to minute depending on the humidity.

              • Coastal Ron

                Joe said:

                Since you obviously have no understanding of things like delta V and its effect on cost you would like to dismiss it.

                No, in fact I want to let the market determine where it should source it’s supplies from.

                Apparently you feel that the government should be standardizing everyone on hydrogen/oxygen as the only fuel to be used in the future, and that the government should be supplying all of it from the Moon – which is pretty bizarre, don’t you think?

                it “boils down to” what kind of program you want to have.

                “Program”, goal, whatever you want to call it, if you haven’t been able to figure it out yet, me personally, I like open competition of ideas and solutions.

                And if asked, I think the U.S. should, as part of becoming a “Space Faring Nation”, back the development of a reusable transportation system to the vicinity of the Moon.

                Who the players are, what the technologies they use, and what type of fuel they use and where it comes from is up to them.

                If you want an open ended expanding program then you want to develop lunar resources.

                When you say “program”, it seems to me that you mean government controlled. If so, I think that is the wrong approach. NASA gets too little money to expand humanity out into space, which is what I assume you mean when you say “an open ended expanding program”. And as of today there is no such “program”, so apparently then lunar resources aren’t even needed by your definition.

                And you keep assuming that lunar resources are less expensive. Maybe some day they might be, but it’s impossible to predict when that would be – unless you think you have all the answers. Do you?

                No, I think the only way we’ll expand humanity out into space is through a combination of government and private efforts. It won’t be fast, and it won’t be well funded, which is why I don’t see anyone stepping forward to risk their money on a long-term effort to build a water & fuel production system on the Moon. Until there is significant demand, it would be a waste of capital.

                So while you may think it’s a no-brainer, all you have are a bunch of unproven assumptions. If you want to spend some of your personal fortune “buying down the risk”, then by all means go ahead. Good luck finding co-investors.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “The estimated minimum amount of water ice at the Lunar North Pole is 600 Million Metric Tons (1.32 Trillion lbs.).

          Divide $88 Billion by 1.32 Trillion lbs. and you get 7 cents a lb.”

          This is totally wrong. It makes the erroneous assumption that Spudis’s plan could mine an entire lunar pole for $88 billion. That’s ridiculous and it results in a cost per pound of water that’s off by six (6!) orders of magnitude.

          Even if it worked perfectly, Spudis’s plan would not produce 600 million metric tons of lunar water for $88 billion.

          Spudis’s plan spends $88 billion on 30 missions to develop and emplace a capability that could theoretically produce 100-150 metric tons of lunar water per year at the end of a 10-16 year timespan. Moreover, most of or all of this 100-150 metric tons of annual production gets consumed just sustaining Spudis’s architecture. As Spudis himself writes:

          “Our estimate of capabilities within a 16-year initial window shows… a lunar surface resource
          production of roughly 100 MT per year of cryogenic propellant.”

          “Our architecture stops after 30 missions and at a production level of 150 MT of water per year, the threshold for the production and export of
          surplus product.”

          “By the time of arrival of the first human crews [year 10], we plan for the production of 150 MT of water per year, enough to completely supply the lunar transportation system with propellant.”

          http://www.spudislunarresources.com/Bibliography/p/102.pdf

          Even if we make the unrealistic best-case assumption that the Spudis architecture can produce 150 metric tons of water per year starting in year 1 (not year 10 or 16), that’s production of only 2,400 metric tons of water over 16 years, not 600 million metric tons. And at a total cost of $88 billion, that’s $37 million per metric ton or $16,607 per pound, not seven cents per pound.

          Of course, Spudis’s plan can’t produce 150 metric tons of water starting in year 1. He’s imprecise, but his plan doesn’t reach 150 metric tons (or 100 metric tons) until year 10 (or year 16), after his plan has spent most or all of its $88 billion budget. So to actually get thousands of metric tons (or any other sizable amount) of water, Spudis’s architecture will have to run operationally for some number of years at some additional cost above the $88 billion development budget. Spudis conveniently leaves out those operational timeframes and costs, but it won’t be cheap as his architecture includes several crewed missions per year, which will easily drive the cost into the range of $20,000 to $30,000 or more per pound of water.

          And even then, most of the annual production is needed to keep Spudis’s architecture afloat. His plan doesn’t have “surplus” for “export” until sometime after it hits a production level of 150 metric ton per year. Again, Spudis conveniently leaves out the costs of scaling his architecture up so that it can produce a substantial “surplus” for “export”, but this will drive the cost per pound of water well over $30,000 for many years to come.

          This is just a ridiculous amount of money and time spent to get a relatively small amount of useful water into space. We can contract with ULA today to put over 150 metric tons of water annually into LEO on seven Delta IV Heavy launches per year. At $435 million per launch (http://www.nss.org/articles/falconheavy.html), that would cost $3.1 billion per year. Over 16 years, that would cost $50 billion, a savings of $38 billion over Spudis’s $88 billion plan. And it would actually put 150 metric tons of water into space every year starting in year 1, not some small fraction of 150 (or 100) metric tons starting in year 10 (or 16).

          Spudis’s plan is just way too expensive. To compete even with today’s most inefficient launchers, the cost has to come down many times over, and the timeline to first surplus/export must be shrunk by many years.

          • Joe

            You almost (inadvertently I suspect) made a point with this quote from Spudis: “Our architecture stops after 30 missions and at a production level of 150 MT of water per year, the threshold for the production and export of surplus product.”

            It is the threshold not the end point of new resource development. It is the very beginning. It is not the end point. Whether or not it is worthwhile to pursue such an activity depends on what kind of program you want to have. An open ended expanding program favors use of lunar resources. A closed program that only wants to maintain some level of status quo favors shipping everything from earth. If you want to read more about the distinction, you could look at the posts above.

            As for the rest of the angry over the top rhetoric (calculations being off by 6 orders of magnitude – complete with exclamation point – etc.), one thing I have learned from this comments section is when I draw that much venom I have credibly made a point someone does not want to hear. Thanks for the complement (however unintended it may have been).

            • Dark Blue Nine

              “It is the threshold not the end point of new resource development. It is the very beginning. It is not the end point.”

              That is a point I was making. Spending $88 billion and 10-16 years just to get to a breakeven point and the “very beginning” of exporting surplus lunar water is a ridiculous proposition.

              Start ordering Delta IV Heavy LVs (or pick your favorite existing launcher) and you can start exporting Earth water to space in a couple years. And if you spend $88 billion on those launches, you’ll put 4,650+ metric tons of water into LEO a decade or more before the first surplus metric ton of lunar water can be exported. Per Spudis’s own figure of 500 metric tons of propellant per manned Mars mission, today’s inefficient launchers could fuel nine manned Mars missions with Earth water-derived LH2/LOX before Spudis’s plan would deliver the first metric ton of surplus lunar water — for the same amount of money.

              Under Spudis’s numbers, lunar water ice is the extraterrestrial equivalent of spending hundreds of millions of dollars and a decade or so setting up and operating a oil rig and refinery halfway across the country in Texas to fuel your car, when existing tanker trucks will bring gas to your doorstep next week for hundreds of dollars.

              I’m sorry, Spudis’s plan makes no sense logistically, programmatically, in terms of a business plan, or any other way. His numbers have to come way down to compete with the existing alternatives.

              “Whether or not it is worthwhile to pursue such an activity depends on what kind of program you want to have. An open ended expanding program favors use of lunar resources.”

              Spudis never gets to the “open ended [sic] expanding program”. Spudis’s plan is to spend 10-16 years and $88 billion just to get to a breakeven point and start exporting surplus lunar water. He would have to spend more tens of billions of dollars and years on operations and scaling up the infrastructure before exporting substantial quantities of surplus lunar water — plans and quantities which he conveniently never details.

              Spudis’s plan is a self-licking ice cream cone, not an “open ended [sic] expanding program”. For the first 10-16 years and $88 billion, it produces lunar water just to sustain its own transportation and infrastructure.

              “As for the rest of the angry over the top rhetoric (calculations being off by 6 orders of magnitude – complete with exclamation point – etc.)”

              Look, I was/am shocked by your lack of reading comprehension and/or poor math abilities (or both). It’s not anger. For someone who is a proponent and presumably familiar with Spudis’s plan, it’s strange and sad that you would make statements implying that Spudis’s plan would effectively mine all the water ice from one lunar pole and that your cost calculations would be off by six orders of magnitude.

              “one thing I have learned from this comments section is when I draw that much venom I have credibly made a point someone does not want to hear. Thanks for the complement (however unintended it may have been).”

              It’s not a “complement [sic]” and you lost credibility as soon as you started making claims about mining all the water ice from an entire lunar pole for $88 billion and throwing up costs that are off by six orders of magnitude.

              • Joe

                “That is a point I was making. Spending $88 billion and 10-16 years just to get to a breakeven point and the “very beginning” of exporting surplus lunar water is a ridiculous proposition.

                Start ordering Delta IV Heavy LVs (or pick your favorite existing launcher) and you can start exporting Earth water to space in a couple years. And if you spend $88 billion on those launches, you’ll put 4,650+ metric tons of water into LEO a decade or more before the first surplus metric ton of lunar water can be exported. Per Spudis’s own figure of 500 metric tons of propellant per manned Mars mission, today’s inefficient launchers could fuel nine manned Mars missions with Earth water-derived LH2/LOX before Spudis’s plan would deliver the first metric ton of surplus lunar water — for the same amount of money.”

                We are repeating ourselves, but again it depends on the kind of program you want to have. Your assertion that the Delta IV can deliver 4650+ Metric tons to LEO in 16 years would require 10 launches per year for 16 years all successfully completed even when you do not subtract payload for orbital maneuvering the rendezvous and docking/berthing. All due respect to the Delta IV Heavy it is a hanger queen not even the people who work on it believe it could do that and that would be a maximum for any earth based launcher. Then you have reached a maximum of 290 metric tons per year. If that is the limit of your ambitions I guess that is fine. If you want a more expansive program then you are going to have to go to extraterrestrial (that is lunar) resources.

                As to your assertion that your responses are not angry:
                - Spudis’s plan is a self-licking ice cream cone
                - I was/am shocked by your lack of reading comprehension and/or poor math abilities
                - It’s not a “complement [sic]” and you lost credibility

                To pick just a few statements from your most recent post, sure sounds angry (self-licking ice cream cone – maybe a little unhinged) to me.

              • Coastal Ron

                Joe said:

                All due respect to the Delta IV Heavy it is a hanger queen not even the people who work on it believe it could do that and that would be a maximum for any earth based launcher.

                If the demand is there, then it’s not hard to ramp up production. ULA has already stated that they have room to expand their current factory, and they can add more shifts.

                As to the failures, if the contract with ULA is for delivered cargo, not for the launches, then it is up to them to cover for any losses. Plus, the overall cost is likely to be far lower than the 1ea price DBN quoted (volume pricing), and so that would cover a loss situation too.

                And with something of this scale, it is likely that more than one launch provider would be used, so the factory limitations likely would not come up, and since the Delta IV Heavy is the most expensive option, the overall cost would likely be far lower.

                Using open competition solves a lot of the problems you raise.

                As to your assertion that your responses are not angry

                Oh come on Joe, it’s not like you’ve never displayed dismay or disdain for someone, right? More crocodile tears… ;-)

              • Joe

                Ron,

                If you knew anything about launchers, you would know it is not just about ramping up production. It is about all the processing required.

                They can produce as many units of Delta IV’s as they want and they will still find it hard to successfully launch 10 a year for 16 years. That is 160 launches well more than the shuttle (the most used vehicle to date – no matter how much you detest it) flew in almost twice that long.

                Even if it did that would only deliver to orbit water. No vehicles to receive it, no vehicles to use it (see what happens when you do not have a plan?).

                I suppose it is cute the way you and Dark Blue Nine are trying to tag teams this. Guess you do not think you can handle it alone. But I am getting bored with all the redundancy of all your reassertions of the same bogus points. So you guys can play with each other for the rest of the evening.

              • Coastal Ron

                Joe said:

                They can produce as many units of Delta IV’s as they want and they will still find it hard to successfully launch 10 a year for 16 years.

                Not a good problem solver, are you Joe?

                First of all, as I already stated (but you ignored), such a requirement would likely be competed out, and multiple providers would be used. That reduces the manufacturing and launch constraints you brought up.

                DBN likely used the Delta IV Heavy as an example because it is the most expensive launcher of it’s class, so if the economics work for it, then they’ll certainly work for less expensive options. And as he showed, the economics do work for Delta IV Heavy compared to the Spudis/Lavoie plan.

                And, of course, you forget that launchers like the Delta IV Heavy would be used to support the Spudis/Lavoie plan too, and lots would be needed.

                As to your “No vehicles to receive it, no vehicles to use it” comment, that is where we are today with the SLS, yet you support the development of it. Now how do you justify your position?

              • Guest

                if it did that would only deliver to orbit water. No vehicles to receive it, no vehicles to use it (see what happens when you do not have a plan?).

                What is wrong with the empty upper stages that are needed to deliver the water, Joe? They seem perfectly capable of storing water, lots of tanks and plumbing and stuff. What’s you plan, tossing them into space? lol.

                Get a grip.

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “We are repeating ourselves”

                You’re not repeating yourself. You keep changing your argument.

                First your argued that Spudis’s plan would mine all the water from an entire lunar pole for under $88 billion, producing a cost per pound of water of seven cents.

                When it was shown that you didn’t comprehend Spudis’s plan in detail and that your math was off by six orders of magnitude, you argued vaguely that Spudis’s plan was somehow “open ended [sic]” and “expanding”.

                It was then shown that Spudis’s plan conveniently never gets to the timelines and costs of the operations and expansions necessary to move beyond breakeven and actually export surplus water. So now you’re down to nitpicking launch rates and throwing accusations about “anger”.

                Instead of lame attempts to save face by repeatedly changing your argument, you could just admit that you interpreted Spudis’s plan incorrectly and/or that your math was off. (Or that you never bothered to read Spudis’s plan in the first place.) It would save you and us a lot of time.

                “All due respect to the Delta IV Heavy it is a hanger queen”

                By definition, hanger queens don’t fly or won’t fly again. The Delta IV has launched six times in the heavy configuration, 22 times altogether, including 34 cores total. Another Delta IV Heavy launch is scheduled for next month (!) and even NASA’s first MPCV test flight (EFT-1) will launch on a Delta IV Heavy next year. I no fan of Delta IV Heavy costs, but she’s hardly a “hanger queen”.

                “not even the people who work on it believe it could do that”

                It has never been utilized, but the EELV program has a basic launch rate requirement of 18 launches per year (12 from CCAF and six from VAFB), a sustainable maximum launch rate requirement of 23 launches per year, and a surge launch rate requirement of 26 launches in any one year. Ten launches per year is well under those requirements.

                “and that would be a maximum for any earth based launcher.”

                Very wrong. Soyuz, for example, has launched over 1,700 times in its 46-year history. That’s an average rate of over 36 launches per year. Soyuz has hit peak production rates of 60 vehicles per year.

                “If you want a more expansive program then you are going to have to go to extraterrestrial”

                There’s no need to “go extraterrestrial” in this scenario when the maximum sustainable Delta IV launch rate is far from utilized, and the Atlas V and Falcon families have not been touched.

                It’s also erroneous to assume that one, new, very limited lunar infrastructure will somehow support a larger launch capability from the Moon than the decades-old, deep infrastructures that multiple launch providers on Earth have access to.

                “(that is lunar) resources.”

                Extraterrestrial is not synonymous with lunar. Billionaires are putting money into Planetary Resources’ focus on NEO resources. No one is putting money into Spudis’s lunar plan.

                “As to your assertion that your responses are not angry:
                - Spudis’s plan is a self-licking ice cream cone”

                The term “self-licking ice cream cone” has been used since 1992 to describe any self-perpetuating program or activity that exists only to sustain itself:

                http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1992ASPC…26..599W

                A lunar program that is ostensibly about supplying water more cheaply than alternatives, but that can’t deliver the first ton of exportable water until 16 years later at a cost of $88 billion — and which doesn’t even detail the timelines and costs of actual production — certainly fits the definition of a self-licking ice cream cone. It’s not an angry description; it’s an accurate one.

                “- I was/am shocked by your lack of reading comprehension and/or poor math abilities”

                I still am. It’s shock, not anger. Are you really that poor of a reader that you actually thought that Spudis’s plan would mine all the water from an entire lunar pole for $88 billion? Or are your math skills so poor that you don’t understand that a pound of lunar water won’t cost seven cents when you pay two orders of magnitude more for a bottle of water from a terrestrial vending machine?

                Or are you smarter than that, but a troll who never bothered to read Spudis’s paper and gets his jollies by feigning ignorance?

                Let us know when you figure it out.

                “- It’s not a “complement [sic]” and you lost credibility”

                You claimed that I had given you a compliment and found you credible. I corrected that claim. That’s not anger. It’s just accuracy.

    • L1 Station, fits everybody’s plans and is the next step.

      NASA needs Elon develops a cheap reusable LEO to BEO vehicle to haul stuff and later passengers.

      Garver has a very enabling vision.

  • Robert G Oler

    the problem of course is that the GOP and some Dems are stuck in a make believe world that is constructed to do two things…one keep the low information voters lined up and two support the space industrial complex that is mindless but must be fed. Humanity will never go back to the Moon or to Mars or any where else as a sort of Apollo redux…the Space Station saw to that..it is all far to expensive eventually we, the US will go there as part of new industries developing the tech ologize to enable the products of a new United States …

    until then sloth, torpor, and timidity

    Robert G Oler Greetings from the Indian sub continent

  • RockyMtnSpace

    “… to create a source of water on the Moon doesn’t make a lot of sense when we can just ship it up from Earth in less time and for a fraction of the cost, yet people are swayed by the romance of the idea more than the practicality. Such is the state of NASA today …”

    Such is the state of “new spacers”, relative to mining the moon for water, given the tone of discussions at the conference in which Lori made these remarks. Many are investing (or have investors) willing to put up tens of millions in VC to realize this romantic idea. As a self-proclaimed new-space advocate, I would think you would applaud these efforts, not deride them.

    • Coastal Ron

      RockyMtnSpace said:

      As a self-proclaimed new-space advocate, I would think you would applaud these efforts, not deride them.

      I do support private efforts to develop business cases and test them out. Some of those might even attract some level of government investment if they are for things the government needs or wants to promote.

      However the plan I referenced (17 years & $88B) was the Spudis-Lavoie plan, and Spudis specifically called out for it to be primarily taxpayer funded and government run. There is no business case for taxpayer-funded fuel production on the Moon, even if some of the early developments (like robotic exploration of the Moon) would be of interest to NASA.

      Essentially they were making a bet like those that support the SLS, that although there is no known need today, and plenty of alternatives offered by the private sector, that eventually a massive government-funded capability will be needed. NASA doesn’t get enough funding to risk on such a venture, especially when it’s risking so much money already on the SLS and Orion/MPCV.

  • I caught part of Lori’s speech online … I was stunned when she openly referred to those “key” members of Congress who were motivated by “pork” — she used that word.

    I can’t imagine that, in the history of the agency, any other deputy administrator has had the courage to publicly and openly bite the hand that feeds NASA.

    That’s why I want to see the entire speech. Hopefully it surfaces on YouTube.

    • Robert G Oler

      Hopefully this is part of a larger plan by the administration to grow some …well anatomical parts…and pick a fight with Congress over some issues

      Robert G Oler Greetings from the Indian sub continent

    • I was stunned when she openly referred to those “key” members of Congress who were motivated by “pork” — she used that word.

      I was in the audience, and a little surprised as well. But she didn’t name names.

      • DCSCA

        Garver’s frustrated. So’s Bolden and he all but admitted it last month in a CSPAN inerview. They’re carrying water for a policy that’s as dead as Apollo 13′s service module. And they know it.

        Three years left– msybe two of any consqquence– and the Obama Administration space policy has nothing to show but shelving Constellation (a complete 180 from his early campaign position BTW) and– to the public’s perception anyway– killing off the manned space program– a source of nationasl pride. This is an era of ‘free drift’– a time when NewSpace could and should be flying crews. But they don’t. They fly nobody. Because the risk of failure still outweighs the value of success.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA mumbled:

          and the Obama Administration space policy has nothing to show but shelving Constellation…

          If that’s all Obama accomplished with NASA, that would be a pretty good accomplishment. Constellation was going to suck the life out of NASA in order for it to survive the long string of incompetent decisions Michael Griffin made with it’s design. We are far better without it than if it would have been allowed to continue.

          …and– to the public’s perception anyway– killing off the manned space program– a source of nationasl pride.

          In one sentence you claim the public doesn’t care about space, and then you say the public sees it as a source of national pride. You don’t have a clue what’s going on.

          I talk with technical minded business people all the time, and they are generally aware that we have a space program, but none of them see the need for going back to the Moon. The efforts we make with robotic explorers is understood to be part of our base desire for understanding our universe, so it is “allowable” as long as it’s not too expensive.

          I have yet to find anyone in the general public that supports the SLS though.

          …a time when NewSpace could and should be flying crews.

          Because NASA never asked for them to be supporting the ISS at this point. Duh!

          You have been schooled on this many times, by many people – do you have a mental deficiency that keeps you from remembering simple information?

    • As Rand and Jeff both know I was also present for Lori’s discussion topic. I don’t think Rick Tumlinson, SFF co-founder, was particularly happy with my choice of seats, directly in front of Lori at the podium, as he stood up and glared at me with laser precision. :) Later, I convinced myself that Lori took notice of my wry smile at her very mention of the word ‘pork’. All in all, Lori and the administration “Get it” as Rick would say regarding competition and new thinking.

      TPiS is working both sides of the aisle on a daily/weekly basis dealing with every topic on the ‘Newspace’ horizon. Further, we have another blitz style venture to Washington in the works pressing more members of Congress to “Get it”. I was asked many times this weekend if we would see positive progress in our efforts. My answer to that is our efforts are paying off with new House and Senate committee members. But the entrenched few, those that really matter, the unnamed, will only be ‘aged out’ for real change. It is a bitter pill to swallow but reality is what it is.

      However, we won’t stop working, we can’t. It is a great feeling when you hear a side discussion by a group of big-time space execs, and one says in conversation, “What does the TEA Party in Space guys think?” Yes, that brought another wry smile from yours truly.

      Hope all is well to all regulars here.

      Gary Anderson
      Shout out to Trent! Great to meet you!

      • You too Gary. I haven’t seen where Andrew posted that picture he took, if he has yet. :)

      • Coastal Ron

        Gary Anderson said:

        My answer to that is our efforts are paying off with new House and Senate committee members.

        And who would they be?

        Tea Party favorites Rubio and Cruz just voted against the Senate NASA bill, and in the House I’m not aware of anyone besides Rohrabracher that support “NewSpace”.

        Help me see the correlation here.

  • Fred Willett

    Could it be that the penny has finally dropped with the upper echelons of NASA. There is no funding for missions with SLS, so the best alternative is to get into agreements with the private sector in the hope of generating the cheaper technologies necessary to progress HSF.
    When you can’t do what you want you do what you can.

  • vulture4

    “I was stunned when she openly referred to those “key” members of Congress who were motivated by “pork” — she used that word.”

    She is derided by many of the “old boys” and can be irritating but personally I have never heard Garver say something she did not mean, and hadn’t thought out clearly, although occasionally when addressing Congress she says things she has to say but obviously does not believe. Unlike any of the recent administrators, She has the qualities we need in a leader.

  • vulture4

    The first step in sending people to the moon or Mars is practical human access to LEO. Until we can put a person in orbit for less than $1M, there will only be a handful of people in space and it will be nothing more than a stunt.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Any “lunar strategy” is meaningless unless there is real money and resources devoted to it, which the president has not asked for and Congress doesn’t seem to be willing to provide. Jeff’s story did not note Garver’s other proposal, to go to a larger than planned asteroid, carve out a chunk of it, and then take it to lunar orbit. An interesting idea, but again one that won’t work unless it’s paid for.

    • Robert G Oler

      any lunar strategy or strategery is meaningless unless the under lying reason for doing such an effort is based on something other then “give a government agency something to do to keep it busy and its contractors employed” There is no hint of any method where the US sending people to the Moon or anywhere else is more then just the space station with another destination. What you Mark are for is corporate welfare

      robert G Oler Greetings from the Indian sub continent

    • Jeff Foust

      Retrieving a boulder from a larger asteroid is also not a new idea: it came up during last month’s asteroid initiative workshop at NASA Headquarters, as I’m sure Mr. Whittington recalls.

      • Mark R. Whittington

        Jeff, to be sure, but I am also pretty sure that neither Garver nor anyone else has thought through how difficult and costly it would be. The unstated problem of space policy is that too many things are being proposed that sound great. But we are pretending that these things can be done on the cheap. Things cost what they cost and we had better face up to that fact and respond accordingly.

        • Fred Willett

          Until something like Moore’s Law starts to work in the space field then there is not much chance of man going back to the moon or on to Mars, or anywhere else.
          Something like Moore’s Law is likely if, and only if, SpaceX manages some sort of reusability and some degree of cost reduction.
          Like Roger Bannister and the 4 minute mile. Once he had done it everybody and their dog was breaking it. It wasn’t doing it that was the problem. It was HOW to break the 4 minute mile that needed to be demonstrated.
          Up till now the efforts at reusability have been half hearted or people have talked themselves out of even trying.
          “There’s no market.” “It can’t be done.”
          All that.
          Only SpaceX is making a serious effort at reusability and lowering costs.
          If they succeed others will follow and perhaps surpass their efforts. Who knows.
          But there will be competition and that will drive down prices, and that will open up space to us all.
          But first someone has to be our Roger Bannister.

          • DCSCA

            But there will be competition and that will drive down prices, and that will open up space to us all.
            But first someone has to be our Roger Bannister.

            Thio is nonsense.

            “NASA managers saw their responsibilities in political terms and took it upon themselves to justify NASA where it mattered most: to the President, to the Bureau of the Budget, whose fiscal authorities set the terms of the annual budget request, and to Congress, which had the power to modify that request. What Sapolsky has said about Polaris surely applies here: Competitors had to be eliminated; reviewing agencies had to be outmaneuvered; congressmen . . . newspapermen and academicians had to be co-opted. Politics is a systemic requirement. What distinguishes programs in government is not that some play politics and others do not, but, rather, that some are better at it than others

            http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4102/contents.htm

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA mumbled:

              Thio is nonsense.

              If only you put as much effort into your communications skills (i.e. typing) as you do in digging up useless history references, then maybe you would be better understood.

              But just to be clear, even if you did actually use spellcheck, and your sentences made sense, what you wrote in response to Fred Willett still wouldn’t be relevant in the 21st century.

              I mean really, why you think our current activities in space (and wanting to go in space) are related in any way to the Polaris program is pretty weird.

  • James

    Garver: “Our challenge is to help people understand that not at all what this mission will do. This doesn’t sidetrack anything.”

    She’s right about that, because there is nothing to sidetrack.

    Garver: “Our lunar strategy would open up the Moon for a truly sustained lunar presence, and one that would extend our economic sphere of influence.”

    LADEE is not part of a grand lunar strategy. If NASA were serious about a grand lunar strategy, there would have been follow on missions to LRO. But the RLEP Program was defunded and the series of Explorers to follow LRO never materialized once CX was cancelled.

    Garver: One is an RFI released in early July regarding commercial lunar landers. “This will be our first step in assessing interest in public-private partnerships to jointly develop a robotic lander that could demonstrate technologies that enable research for government and commercial customers,”

    Public Private partnerships – they allow NASA to say ‘hey we are serious about this’, w/o having to pony up any serious money for hardware – which is Obama’s goal, i.e. keep the expensive developments off my calendar, but I”ll talk about how committed I am to Exploration BEO.

  • Jim Nobles

    -
    Public Private partnerships – they allow NASA to say ‘hey we are serious about this’, w/o having to pony up any serious money for hardware – which is Obama’s goal, i.e. keep the expensive developments off my calendar, but I”ll talk about how committed I am to Exploration BEO.

    NASA doesn’t have any serious money for hardware and Congress doesn’t seem inclined to give them any. Other than for SLS and Orion.

    What the hell do you expect the President to do? Use his afro-american magic powers to influence the minds of those goobers in Congress so that they will start allocating the funds NASA needs to do everything everyone wants them to do?

    It may just be because I’m getting old and cranky but supposed space enthusiasts who can’t be bothered to learn and take into account the politics really annoy me.

    • Mark R. Whittington

      Jim, Obama could at least have asked for an appropriate funding level. He might have also not so casually and abruptly cancelled Constellation without consulting anyone.

      • Guest

        Actually, many here believe it would have been a much smarter move to veto the 2010 authorization bill and reaffirm his cancellation of Constellation, and then we would be here three and a half years later having to do this all over again. Hopefully he learned his lesson the hard way and will either cancel SLS/MPVC or cancel NASA.

        The SLS’MPCV is a dog and everybody knows it. They have only two real choices now, cancellation, or a huge infusion of cash so that the core stage can be boosted with liquid boosters and can be delivered to orbit without causing a huge mess of foam debris, where it can be used for whatever. Surely somebody can think of something. With the amount of money they are spending they should be able to fix the damn thing, certainly if they take the contracts away from Boeing and Lockheed, the primary antagonists in this whole sordid affair.

        Read the paper, Mark. Or do I have to publish it as an op-ed?

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “He might have also not so casually and abruptly cancelled Constellation without consulting anyone.”

        This is an idiotic and/or ignorant statement given the existence of this White House commissioned, blue-ribbon committee and their public report:

        http://www.nasa.gov/offices/hsf/home/index.html

        How dumb and misinformed can you be…

      • Hiram

        Constellation was cancelled less “casually and abruptly” as it was created. Remember the “60-day report”? I don’t recall Constellation being the result of any serious consultations.

      • Robert G Oler

        Mark there is no data to support the assertion that SLS or Orion are having completion issues because of funding. NASA cannot to this day tell anyone what the development and operational cost are of either SLS and Orion, they cannot proffer a hard schedule for the programs.

        It is useless and rhetoric of the worst kind to argue for simply “throwing money” at a project to advance its completion date. NASA is approaching in constant dollars having spent as much on the SLS and Orion system has it took to build the space shuttle system including the first orbiter… That should tell any thoughtful individual where the issues lie…but all you are interested in doing is being anti Obama…what happened to you?

        Robert G Oler Greetings from the Indian sub continent

    • James

      Obama only supports NASA in the context of: it allows him to say he’s supports creating Tech jobs. That’s it. He hasn’t shown any interest in what NASA might do, could do, or even wants to do.

      Obama’s emphasis on NASA as an R&D organization supports his political interests. Doing anything that looks like leadership to work with Congress to pony up money for ‘hardware’ is not in Obama’s playbook.

      Remember, when he was campaigning, he wanted to ‘delay’ Cx, and use the money for educational purposes. That’s what we have now, a NASA Exploration Program that is in perpetual delay.

  • vulture4

    Mark, GW Bush never funded Constellation. In fact, when he first introduced in (back when O’Keefe was administrator) none other than John McCain pointed out that the cost estimates were unrealistic and asked how the Bush Administration was going to pay for such a program in an era of tax cuts and deficits. He did not get an answer. This exchange is documented on Stephen’s website. Both the CAIB Report and the Augustine Commission pointed out that the money for a major BEO program is not available from taxpayers, and that there is little or no chance they will change their minds.

    Even Constellation supporters in Congress are unwilling to ask the public to pay what it will really cost, in fact they are pressing for tax cuts. When Obama made the Bush Tax Cuts permanent, that ended any possibility of a taxpayer-funded “Apollo on Steroids”.

    • Mark R. Whittington

      Vulture, Obama had the option of funding Constellation under the $900 billion stimulus package. John Logsdon recently pointed out at a Baker Institute conference that he also could have followed the Augustine recommendation of upping NASA’s budget by $3 billion and going with a sensible, moon first mission. Obama did none of these things. The “blame Bush” gambit after five years of the current administration bungling does not work.

      • Guest

        Mark, you just can’t seem to come to grips with the fact that Constellation, and thus by default, SLS and MPCV, are TECHNICALLY FLAWED architectures. No amount of funding is going to save this thing unless radical changes are made in the design and mission.

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “Obama had the option of funding Constellation under the $900 billion stimulus package.”

        Which is exactly what the President did, dummy:

        http://www.space.com/7622-nasa-spends-stimulus-money-moon-program.html

        Cripes, what a repetitive ignoramus…

      • Hiram

        Yep, and Obama could have had the federal reserve print three billion dollar bills. He could have trucked them over to NASA headquarters himself!

        Obama was smart enough to realize that Congress would never, ever, sink their teeth into a $3 billion budget bumpup for the agency. That’s what a “sensible” mission looks like to you? That was a Mike Griffin delusion that W didn’t even buy. No one can blame Bush for not buying it. What one can blame Bush for is letting Mike Griffin, his appointee, get so deluded.

      • numbersguy_101

        That $3B extra per year often gets tossed around, even to this day. It’s amazing how myth trumps reality by lacking context. Assuming it could have happened (separate issue) go back and see what the reception was to that option for an extra $3B a year (the $3B in the Augustine committee report).

        What I saw was that the NASA and Constellation leadership did NOT rally around the idea, suggesting how to significantly move up either schedule, content or confidence. Instead some vagueness about the 2030′s became some vagueness about the mid 2020′s. The vagueness about improving operations and costs, so as to be more sustainable once operational (also Augustine), became caution about moving too fast and upsetting the skill base. Just when everyone should have said they’d do whatever it took to make the best use of an extra $3B/year all you got across industry, NASA and Constellation leadership was expressions of caution and hemming and hawing. Why?

        Because the $3B came with strings attached – to improve ways of doing business, to increase efficiency of development, and to design for sustainable operations. Noooo…Cx wanted the money, not the advice. When that started (which actually surprised me), it was clear that here was a program that wanted money, but no obligations. Cx wanted money, but did not want to make promises. Naturally-even for those who would have enjoyed supporting a rehabilitated Cx program (like myself), it was clear the thing was totally INCORRIGIBLE. It was time to kill it.

        • numbersguy_101 wrote:

          Cx wanted the money, not the advice. When that started (which actually surprised me), it was clear that here was a program that wanted money, but no obligations. Cx wanted money, but did not want to make promises. Naturally-even for those who would have enjoyed supporting a rehabilitated Cx program (like myself), it was clear the thing was totally INCORRIGIBLE. It was time to kill it.

          Thank you for that.

          This is yet another essential point the Constellation huggers miss. Would the taxpayers really want to give another $3 billion a year to a dysfunctional organization notorious for delivering projects way over budget and years late?

          It would be like offering another bottle of Jack Daniel’s to an alcoholic.

          • Robert G Oler

            ” It would be like offering another bottle of Jack Daniel’s to an alcoholic” A waste in all cases MD does better

            Well said

            Robert G Oler Greetings from the Indian sub continent

    • For the record, the Senate Science Committee hearing referenced by vulture4 is on YouTube at:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ub2tdhyNwDk

      Fascinating stuff, because it lays the blueprint for everything that’s been screwed up about NASA in the last decade.

      The OldSpace troll is claiming that all would have been well if Obama had magically increased NASA’s budget by $3 billion every year. This of course ignores the U.S. Constitution, which states that the Congress determines the budget, not the President.

      The Congress could have increased NASA’s budget by $3 billion a year way back in 2004 if it wanted to. They chose not to. They voted instead to adopt the Bush program which would tell everyone the U.S. had a Moon program, without actually funding one. NASA became corporate welfare for Boeing, Lockheed Martin and ATK, assuring that jobs were protected in the states and districts of those on the space subcommittees.

      But the OldSpace troll also misleads you by failing to mention that part of the Bush plan was to decommission the ISS in 2015 and splash it into the ocean in 2016. The Ares I had one purpose — to ferry crew to the ISS. Even if Obama had increased NASA’s budget by $3 billion every year to assure Ares I would fly by 2017, it still wouldn’t have had a place to go. To save ISS would have meant even more money on top of increasing the budget for Ares I.

      The OldSpace troll also overlooks all the fundamental design problems with Ares I, starting with the obvious — no one in human spaceflight history has ever launched a person on a vehicle that had a strictly solid-fuel first stage. With good reason. As demonstrated by the Ares I-X test flight.

      By the way, when was the next test flight, Ares I-Y, going to be? This year, in 2013. That’s how far behind it was. Ares I-Y would have been uncrewed as well.

      As for the supposed Moon rocket, Ares V, that wasn’t going to fly until at least 2028, if ever. It would have required a massive investment in funding far beyond the $3 billion a year demanded by the OldSpace troll. Yet he seems to deliberately confuse Ares I and Ares V, hoping you won’t notice.

      Constellation deserved to die. Congress, in the end, agreed.

      • Guest

        Constellation deserved to die. Congress, in the end, agreed.

        Can you explain to me then why it still lives and why both houses of congress and both political parties including the president, who signed the 2010 authorization bill still insists on funding it by 2014 authorization legislation? Thanks in advance.

        • Coastal Ron

          Guest said:

          Can you explain to me then why it [the Constellation program] still lives…

          Though the SLS and Orion/MPCV are leftover jobs programs from the cancellation of the Constellation program, no one could seriously say the Constellation program continues.

          The Moon is no longer an official goal, and there is no hardware being funded for beyond-LEO activities (EDS, lander, etc.). NASA can’t even afford to build a Service Module for the Orion/MPCV, and though ESA has committed to building a Service Module for the MPCV, it has only committed to build just one.

          The Constellation program was cancelled.

          • Guest

            You are confusing VSE with Constellation. There is no ‘goal’ except to extend the jobs program that was Constellation. SLS/MPCV IS CONSTELLATION without Ares I. If you continue to deny that you are just another Constellation apologist.

            The fact that NASA is soliciting for names for this nonsense from middle and high schoolers is a big flag that they are extremely worried about this thing.

            • Coastal Ron

              Guest said:

              There is no ‘goal’ except to extend the jobs program that was Constellation. SLS/MPCV IS CONSTELLATION without Ares I.

              The Constellation program had a goal (i.e. the Moon), and the program had a defined architecture for meeting that goal.

              The SLS and MPCV have no goals beyond becoming operational.

              If you can’t see the difference, then you need to seek professional help.

              If you continue to deny that you are just another Constellation apologist.

              You are funny. You’re still the newbie around here, whereas I was on this forum during the days of the Augustine review and cheering on the cancellation of the Constellation program.

              I advocate for the end of the SLS and MPCV programs so that NASA can be freed up to work on real space exploration technologies and techniques. Last I saw, you were still advocating modifying the SLS for SSTO reasons – throwing even more money at an unneeded government transportation system.

              You lack perspective, to put it nicely…

              • Guest

                Last I saw, you were still advocating modifying the SLS for SSTO reasons – throwing even more money at an unneeded government transportation system.

                Only because the program doesn’t seem to want to go away and I want to build infrastructure instead of ‘going someplace’. I don’t look at these things as ‘transportations systems’ because there are no payloads that we can realistically afford that can’t be launched with existing systems.

                That’s your problem, you think the millions of billion dollar payloads are suddenly going to appear if the cost of ‘transportation’ comes down and/or the volume goes up., which quite honestly, that ain’t gonna happen. When the cost goes down and the volume goes up, all you are gonna have is a bunch of reusable rockets with no payloads. If those rockets aren’t RVs and trailers (i.e. – habitats and cryogenic storage) then you’ve still got nothing. Nothing like the blind leading the blind here. You just don’t get it and I don’t think you ever will.

                But, I still keep posting and writing papers and doing the sims for the benefit of those who do ‘get it’, or at least might finally get it.

              • Coastal Ron

                Guest said:

                Only because the program doesn’t seem to want to go away…

                Yet you keep advocating throwing more money at it. You don’t see the disconnect there, do you?

                …and I want to build infrastructure instead of ‘going someplace’.

                I have stated, for longer than you’ve been commenting here, that I am destination neutral. I want to work on transportation infrastructure that can take us everywhere. That is why, as Joe has pointed out, I advocate that the government should support the creation of a reusable transportation system to the region of the Moon.

                That’s your problem, you think the millions of billion dollar payloads are suddenly going to appear if the cost of ‘transportation’ comes down and/or the volume goes up.

                I’ve never stated that, so it’s a figment of your imagination.

                In fact I’ve stated that because NASA’s budget will likely stay at present levels (maybe even decline), that it will be a slow expansion out into space. What will help is the private sector getting more involved, but it will still be slow. The first indication we’ll have about how fast or slow it will be is if Bigelow can get his leased station business going, and if so, how fast it expands.

                But overall NASA can create, launch, and use more space hardware without the SLS and MPCV than with them, so that is why I focus on ending both of those programs.

                But, I still keep posting and writing papers and doing the sims for the benefit of those who do ‘get it’, or at least might finally get it.

                So you say, but I haven’t seen them, and I know of no one that has said they have. But hey, if it keeps you sane, by all means keep doing them… ;-)

              • But hey, if it keeps you sane, by all means keep doing them…

                There’s not much available evidence that it does that.

            • Hiram

              “SLS/MPCV IS CONSTELLATION without Ares I.”

              And without Altair, and without surface systems, relay sats and, as has been pointed out repeatedly, without any designated purpose. SLS/MPCV are the parts of Constellation that the nation wasn’t brave enough, or creative enough, to cancel along with the rest. Constellation was identically a system conceived to achieve the goals of VSE. SLS/MPCV won’t achieve the goals of VSE. Not by a long shot. QED, SLS/MPCV ain’t Constellation.

              • Guest

                Constellation was identically a system conceived to achieve the goals of VSE. SLS/MPCV won’t achieve the goals of VSE. Not by a long shot. QED, SLS/MPCV ain’t Constellation.

                Neither would Constellation. They’re both identical vaporware. Unfortunately they insist on going forward with Ares 4.5 and Orion to the detriment of the credibility of NASA, Congress and the President.

        • Hiram

          It’s interesting. The FY10 NASA authorization legislation never once refers to “Constellation”, nor do the FY14 bills. The FY07 auth legislation did several times, but carefully did so with regard to planning info Congress wanted to get, and not as a directive. As noted, the goals of Constellation have totally disappeared.

          So if Constellation still lives, someone forgot to tell Congress about it.

          But that’s right, what remains of Constellation are leftover jobs programs, at least one of which (SLS) will, like Constellation was going to do, bankrupt the agency. At least Constellation had a specific purpose for an HLV and Orion. At present, we basically have none.

  • William Mellberg

    “Does it sound like we’re not going back to the Moon?” she [Garver] said.

    When the Obama chapter in America’s space history is written, Ms. Garver will no doubt get a large share of the blame for the chaos that has marked America’s space program since she became NASA’s Deputy Administrator. Her cancellation of Constellation without having a carefully planned alternative policy has resulted in one flip flop after another — and still no specific destination and still no specific goal in mind (not counting NASA’s asteroid du jour press releases). Ms. Garver truly put NASA on a mission to nowhere.

    She now talks about going back to the Moon. But just a few months ago, her boss (General Bolden) said, “NASA will not take the lead on a human lunar mission … NASA is not going to the Moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime … I don’t know how to say it any more plainly … NASA does not have a human lunar mission in its portfolio and we are not planning for one.”

    Those quotes are from Jeff Foust’s story of April 5, 2013:

    http://www.spacepolitics.com/2013/04/05/back-to-the-moon-not-any-time-soon-says-bolden/

    Talk about mixed signals and poor leadership.

    “Poor leadership.”

    That could be the title for the space history chapter describing the Obama administration’s “contributions” to space exploration. Of course, that title could be used to describe the Obama administration’s mishandling of so many other things — including the economy.

    “Poor leadership” pretty much says it all.

    • Coastal Ron

      William Mellberg said:

      Her cancellation of Constellation without having a carefully planned alternative policy…

      Actually there was a carefully planned alternative policy – it was in the NASA FY11 budget request.

      As the Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group (which includes NASA and space industry representatives) pointed out in their 2012 “NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities” report:

      - Success in executing future NASA space missions will depend on advanced technology developments that should already be underway.

      - NASA’s technology base is largely depleted.

      - Currently available technology is insufficient to accomplish many intended space missions in Earth orbit and to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

      We don’t need an HLV for long-term space exploration, but we do need basic technology that is not being funded today. No doubt that is part of the reason why Congress can’t fund any missions for the SLS, since there is no space exploration hardware in development for it to launch.

      When the Administration was requesting the cancellation of Constellation, the Administration’s plan was to focus NASA on developing key technologies that we’ll need to leave LEO, and defer the decision on transportation needs until we better understood what our true needs were. But Congress didn’t want to lay off so many people during a deep recession – which is a legitimate political consideration – and so we ended up with the political compromise that included the SLS and Orion/MPCV.

      But since Congress is more focused on the funding stream than space exploration, we have capabilities being developed that are either out of date (i.e. the Orion/MPCV) or not forecasted to be needed for decades (i.e. the SLS). If nothing changes, that means NASA won’t be able to leave LEO for the next couple of decades… if then.

      But there was a plan.

      • Hiram

        With all due respect to the FISO presentation about it, the NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities” report there summarized work by the 2012 NRC committee chartered to review the NASA advanced technology roadmaps. See

        http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13354

        I think the point of the OP was that NASA didn’t have a carefully planned alternative policy to go to the Moon. But, as you say, the carefully planned alternative policy just didn’t see near term value in doing that, and made a strategic judgement that technological advancements needed to precede any such thrust that was intended to be sustainable and useful for further missions.

        • Coastal Ron

          Hiram said:

          I think the point of the OP was that NASA didn’t have a carefully planned alternative policy to go to the Moon.

          Yes, that is the common complaint. For some, anything less than making a direct effort to get boots on the ground on the Moon is deemed as not space exploration, and not acceptable.

          Apparently building up fundamental capabilities to go anywhere, including the Moon, is not worthy.

      • DCSCA

        “But there was a plan.” spins Ron.

        Word games, Ron. The plan was a plan to study the problem, which isnt a plan at all. Obama’s 180 from his early campaign position on Constellation can be traced to his disinterest in space, wanting to finance education programs, and the Garver/Griffin feud– the policy paper was penned, Obama read it at KSC in 2010, Constellation was shelved, he put space in the out box and moved on to more pressing issues. Constellation was shelved and ‘free drift’ arrived. Obama’s space legacy will be cancelling Constellation, proposing Project Lasso and delivering Project Goose Egg.

    • Robert G Oler

      LOL that is really an unfair statement. No one has been more critical of Garver then I…but in the end what is happening at NASA HSF has like it has been almost the agencies entire life been representative of society and trends as a whole.

      we are in a period of national evolution where the foundation of the nation as a whole is going through a transitional phase, where the methods and standards that once worked no longer do, and worse a large, though decreasing segment of the people and politicians refused to acknowledge the change, much less participate in its evolution.

      NASA and its toadies, and that includes the politicians are stuck in an era of “logical next steps” …we did this so now let’s do that and when that gets done just go to the next thing that comes up….all without any serious public support or evidence that those programs do more then just corporate welfare…so hence the corporate welfare has become the prime motivator of policy

      This is the essence of SLS and Orion…once the “moon thing” ended its been a series of ever more costly and less effective programs that finally have gotten down to just building something with no real pretense about what it does.

      if this was just a NASA issue then Garver might have a large amount of blame, but its not. The full range of federal government spending is now caught up in maintaining what was not really evolving. This is why we are building aircraft carriers that serious people are projecting service lives of 70 years (ok imagine its 1913 and we are building ships that are projected to sail until 1983…goofy)

      People who want ” another Apollo” are people who believe that the threats in the Mideast are just like we faced from the Doviets…one or two dimensional thinkers. Garver has to deal with those. some are here

      Robert G Oler greetings from the Indian sub continent

    • DCSCA

      When the Obama chapter in America’s space history is written, Ms. Garver will no doubt get a large share of the blame for the chaos that has marked America’s space program since she became NASA’s Deputy Administrator” notes William.

      Yep. Garver is a lobbyist by experience and operating outside the area of her competence, as the lunar flip-flopping demonstrates. She held the mon out as a future point over 30 years ago during the station battles, when she was lobbying for contracting the ;aerospace WPA’ project, as the late Deke Slayton labeled it. She champions contracting, not spaceflight.

  • numbersguy_101

    Have you ever looked at this like a mystery novel, where everything falls in place once the question is answered “who benefits”?

    Take the idea of setting sights on an asteroid mission, vs. the Moon. Who benefits?

    If I choose to set sights on an asteroid mission, many new players in human spaceflight would seem to benefit. We’ll need a low cost way to capture the asteroid. After all, there is not much budget leeway, if any, deviating from monies already assigned and allotted. So the asteroid mission keeps the notion of different, new ways of doing business on the front burner.

    Then we’ll need to get to the asteroid. A jaunt to a Lunar orbit or such can be met by any assortment of vehicles (SLS, Atlas, Falcon Heavy, etc) and spacecraft (CST, Orion, Dragon) in work. So again, the door to new entrants is kept open, which is to say, new entrants are favored.

    Take the Lunar side of this “who benefits” question. The moment a Lunar plan comes about SLS/Orion benefit, touting their heavy lift, and how a Lunar Lander has to be big, and habitats even bigger, and how they will run all this, as “big” is their business. There is a little problem though. The SLS/Orion program are barely letting loose budget info on their program at it’s current scope, and they would do even LESS to show the budget feasibility, on zero extra money, of an actual, official Lunar mandate. So Lunar with no extra money is something SLS/Orion does NOT want to deal with.

    Hence-asteroid.

    • Neil Shipley

      Hence nothing except a jobs program which is ok if that’s all you want. Seems that’s all Congress wants. Sad for us who want more:(

  • vulture4

    It could be more. There really are quite a few people at NASA and its contractors who can develop useful technology for terrestrial and space applications, and there are a variety of modest programs already doing so, though they are a small fraction of the agency budget. There is no question in my mind that given the choice, Garver would put far more resources into technology development.

  • I like the fact that Garver at least does not rule out Moon missions. This is in strong contrast to how Bolden has addressed the idea.
    She also seems to understand that the purpose of returning to the Moon is not to repeat Apollo, but to have a sustained presence that will aid in out expansion to other destinations in the Solar System, including to asteroids.

    What’s interesting is that NASA’s plans for example for a Gateway station in cislunar space includes lunar robots that would be used to produce lunar propellant. But if you are going to use that propellant, you have to have lunar landers/ascent vehicles.
    Then you might as well produce landers to carry crew. But the important fact is they don’t have to be as large and expensive as the Altair lunar lander. By going small we can produce a lander to make multiple flights for the cost of a single Altair flight that would wind up carrying *more* to the Moon than the amount transported by the Altair.

    Bob Clark

    • Coastal Ron

      Robert Clark said:

      I like the fact that Garver at least does not rule out Moon missions. This is in strong contrast to how Bolden has addressed the idea.

      Bolden never ruled out sending American’s back to the Moon. He just said that it wouldn’t be part of an American-led effort. Because, you know, we’ve been there, done that already.

      What’s interesting is that NASA’s plans for example for a Gateway station in cislunar space includes lunar robots that would be used to produce lunar propellant.

      You’re getting ahead of yourself. Remotely operated robotic systems could be used for anything.

      But if you are going to use that propellant, you have to have lunar landers/ascent vehicles.
      Then you might as well produce landers to carry crew.

      The first problem you are ignoring is the lack of any interest or money for a Gateway station. Even if it becomes a reality, then many new destinations beyond the Moon open up, and those would compete for the still-likely-constrained government money. The economics of the day will dictate where we have to go versus where we want to do.

    • DCSCA

      “I like the fact that Garver at least does not rule out Moon missions.”

      That’s sucker bait. Same chatter she pumped out when pushing station 20 years ago in the press. She’s a lobbyist. all that matters to Garver is that contracts are let. She has no interest in what for or where we go in space.

  • Fifty-five years ago today, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act.

    Dramatic pause for the shameless plug promoting my blog article about how NASA came to be.

    For this forum, and for this topic thread, I pick up where the article ends.

    Once NASA put boots on the Moon, it had no clue what it was to do next. Neither did Congress or the White House.

    As I wrote in the article, JFK changed NASA from an aerospace research and development agency into a propaganda organ dedicated to enhancing U.S. prestige. In fact, the word “prestige” shows up time and again in internal JFK administration documents justifying the Moon program.

    The “prestige” issue has been replaced in today’s rhetoric by “inspiration,” but both are nebulous and in my opinion fallacious.

    Garver is trying to end forty-four years in the wilderness for NASA, by returning it to its R&D roots. She doesn’t come right out and say it, because it would honk off Congress even more than they are already.

    We are in the midst of a great battle for the future of American spaceflight. On one side is the space-industrial complex that gets fat on OldSpace. On the other side, a new generation of space progressives determine to open space to the masses.

    When Lori talks about going to the Moon, what she’s really saying is that it won’t be a vehicle designed and built by NASA. The agency might buy a ride, just as they will with commercial crew. But no more Constellations — and, implicitly, SLS.

    Sure, NASA has to build SLS because Congress told them to. NASA has to play along and pretend there’s a use for SLS, even though Congress three years after ordering it still hasn’t told NASA what it’s to do with SLS.

    Just my opinion, but I think Lori is buying time for NewSpace. She knows SLS is a waste of money. She can’t win that argument with Congress. So she plays along, while NASA quietly accelerates NewSpace.

    In late March, NASA signed an unfunded Space Act Agreement with Bigelow Aerospace, acting as an advisor while Bigelow pulls together an alliance of NewSpace entrepreneurs and spacefaring nations to plan a commercial lunar program.

    That’s the Moon program Lori talks about. She just has to be careful about how she says it, because she doesn’t want to tip her hand to the fools in Congress. They’re clueless, but they’re not THAT clueless.

    • Neil Shipley

      Nice summation of the current NASA situation also as I see it, but that matters not. Now if Congress can just continue to bicker, we’ll get to see what NewSpace can do :)

    • Robert G Oler

      Stephen I am pretty proud of the politics and analysis I do…but your post was perhaps the best, most articulate, and brief assessment of the situation I have read . Steeley eyed policy analyst Sir

      Robert G Oler Greetings from the Indian sub continent

      • DCSCA

        “Stephen I am pretty proud of the politics and analysis I do…but your post was perhaps the best, most articulate, and brief assessment of the situation I have read” boasts Oler.

        That’s not saying much, Robert.

        Particularly as Stephen is flat out, NewSpace-spinning-wrong.

        For starts, he posts “Once NASA put boots on the Moon, it had no clue what it was to do next. Neither did Congress or the White House.”

        This is not true.

        “NASA did a lot of plannin in the late 60s and early 70s on what its initiative after Apollo should be. That got grandiose after the success of Apollo… 12 person space station by 1975; a 50 person space station by 1980 and a hunderd person space station a few years later. And they realizrd that throwing awy the rockets every time would kill the economics. They needed something resusable. Something to ‘shuttle’ from the earth to the space station.” — John Logsdon, Space Policy Institute.

        You can start w/t Congressional Record circa Aug/69 and revisit comments by Von Braun et al. Anybody who asserts on this forum that “Once NASA put boots on the Moon, it had no clue what it was to do next” is hardly a credibly source to embrace for accuracy or analysis. Unless you embrace being wrong-headed as well.

    • DCSCA

      “Garver is trying to end forty-four years in the wilderness for NASA..” aspins Stephen.

      Garver is a lobbyist by trade, Stephen, part of the very ‘SIC’ you chide. So to propose she is trying to ‘end it’ is just nonsense. You really ought to get to know the players before you start doing the play-by play.

      “We are in the midst of a great battle for the future of American spaceflight. On one side is the space-industrial complex that gets fat on OldSpace. On the other side, a new generation of space progressives determine to open space to the masses.” spins Stephen.

      False equivalency, of course, Stephen.

      HSF is an instrument of politics; a means of projecting national policy– it’s political science, not rocket science that drives it.

      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.

      HSF is, in effect, a loss leader in this era for projecting national power 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 market it is trying to create and service. That’s why governments do it.

      “The “prestige” issue has been replaced in today’s rhetoric by “inspiration,” but both are nebulous and in my opinion fallacious.” says Stephen.

      To attempt to label motives and rationale like ‘prestige’ or ‘inspiration’ as ‘fallacious rhetoric’ betrays a stunning lack of understanding what motivates people into action. The rationale for HSF by the United States government in the 21st century was made in the 20th century by President 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.” That’ not only prestigious, but inspirational as well. Get a clue, Stephen.

  • Actually there might be more interest in a “station” in cis-lunar space than in the asteroid mission, whether manned or unmanned. Proponents of the asteroid retrieval mission like it because it would provide a convenient place for staging the trips to the retrieved asteroid. But proponents of a return to the Moon like it, even if unmanned, to serve as propellant depots.
    From my reading on the latest discussions about the asteroid retrieval, which NASA wants, the proposals do include some type of station in cislunar space from which to stage the missions in order to allow repeated visits, not just a one off.
    Also NASA is currently testing controlling robots on Earth from the ISS to test the idea of controlling robots remotely on the Moon by astronauts on a station at L2.

    Bob Clark

  • Robert G Oler

    Mark Whittington don’t you ever feel bad for getting everything wron? you got it wrong about the Stimulas, about the 12 election, Iraq, have you gotten anything correct since the Bush43 years and now this from your blog

    “One can speculate that Americans would have reacted in two ways. First they would have pointed fingers and demanded, “Who lost the moon?” Then, reacting much like the country did after Pearl Harbor, Americans would have demanded a redoubling of efforts to explore space, perhaps going to the moon on a larger scale, perhaps mounting an attempt to be the first to land on Mars.”

    You are stuck in a Cold War 1960s approach to politics…turn off Fox and grow up before you and the right wing die out

    Robert G Oler Geetings from the Indian sub continent …where the other day I got to fly the Mig 29

  • Nice article in The New York Times today about the asteroid initiative and Republican opposition:

    “Plan to Capture an Asteroid Runs Into Politics”

    Nice graphic, too, summing up how the asteroid capture would work.

    At the end of the article:

    Given the fiscal climate, the Republicans’ Moon ambitions are just not possible, according to Louis D. Friedman, a former executive director of the Planetary Society, a nonprofit group that promotes space exploration.

    “Frankly, it comes down to this or nothing,” Dr. Friedman said, referring to the asteroid plan. “This at least does everything we need in the American space program at a price we can afford while we debate when we are going to make those bigger commitments.”

    • DCSCA

      “Once NASA put boots on the Moon, it had no clue what it was to do next. Neither did Congress or the White House.”

      This is simply wrong. and whoever penned it is uninformed. They had plenty of plans– all scuttled, cancelled, studied and shelved by the Nixon Administration– save one— shuttle. It’s a matter of public record.

      “Garver is trying to end forty-four years in the wilderness for NASA, by returning it to its R&D roots.”

      Garver is a lobbyist. That is her forte. Best you revisit her role in pitching and soliciting ststion in the 80s and early 90s over lunar missions– her spweech rhetoric today is the same as then. She never met a contract she didnt like. And the quicker she is jettisoned from NASA, the better off it will be. Garver is part of the problem, not the solution. and what’s worse, tshe’s carrying water for an administration whose space policy is all but dead. It was put in the out box in 2010 at KSC.

      Project Lasso is dead.

      It’s not just ‘republicans’ but Ameicans who find this a foolish waste of resources. It is fodder for late might comedians and brings chuckles from the media whenever it comes up– if at all.

    • Constellation is not fiscally possible. But Constellation is not the only possible lunar return architecture. Just go for smaller missions, and you wind up carrying more payload and making more manned landings to the Moon, than with just one large landing at a time occurring infrequently.

      Bob Clark

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “‘Frankly, it comes down to this or nothing,’ Dr. Friedman said, referring to the asteroid plan. ‘This at least does everything we need in the American space program at a price we can afford while we debate when we are going to make those bigger commitments.’”

      ARM isn’t NASA’s only affordable option and it doesn’t do “everything” the civil space program needs. A human Mars circumnavigation mission using the Inspiration Mars architecture would do much more to advance human space exploration capabilities, but cost $1-1.6B less than ARM (not including ARM’s technology development and the follow-on SLS/MPCV mission, which add billions more to ARM). An infrared telescope in a near-Venusian orbit would do much more to advance planetary defense, but cost $2B less than ARM. High-power SEP can be demonstrated on a mission that costs $2B+ less than ARM.

      But even if ARM was NASA’s only choice, ARM is just not ready to go according to the experts. It has a poorly defined justification and goals, and lots and lots of technical, schedule, and cost issues:

      “(7) DRAFT FINDING – Planetary science

      While the SBAG committee finds that there is great scientific value in sample return missions from asteroids such as OSIRIS-Rex, the Asteroid Redirect & Return Mission (ARRM) has been defined as not being a science mission, nor is it a cost effective way to address science goals achievable through sample return. Candidate ARRM targets are limited and not well identified or characterized. Robotic sample return missions can return higher science value samples by selecting from a larger population of asteroids, and can be accomplished at significantly less cost (as evidenced by the OSIRIS-REx mission). Support of ARRM with planetary science resources is not appropriate.

      (8) DRAFT FINDING – Searching for Potentially Hazardous Objects

      There is great value in enhancing NASA’s capabilities in small body discovery and characterization. The enhancement to NEO discovery and characterization efforts proposed as part of the Asteroid Initiative would be greater still if it were to be continued for more than one year. The discovery of smaller asteroids (i.e. potential ARRM targets) is an expected byproduct of this campaign expansion. There is concern that a focus on acquiring ARRM targets, and ARRM itself, can come at the expense of the detection rate and follow-up observations of 140m and larger asteroids.

      (9) DRAFT FINDING – Relevance of ARRM to Planetary Defense

      Given the size of the ARRM target (< 10m), ARRM has limited relevance to planetary defense. Retrieving a NEO this small only tangentially benefits planetary defense, as the stated target body may not be representative of the larger, hazardous bodies.

      (10) DRAFT FINDING – Mission Objectives

      ARRM does not have clearly defined objectives, which makes it premature to commit significant resources to its development. The mission description/objectives fidelity appears to be lower than a "selectable" Discovery mission. NASA statements that deployment of a solar power array is sufficient for mission success, but capture and return of an asteroid to lunar orbit is not, brings into serious question the importance of investment in the asteroid capture and return portion of the mission plan. Firm baseline and minimum requirements must be set in order to assess the cost-effectiveness of achieving those requirements and to assess the value of the mission with respect to exploration goals. The Mars 2020 Science Definition Team released a 150+ page document outlining the mission objectives and merits. There is little comparable justification provided with respect to ARRM, yet ARRM is expected (by some estimates) to be a higher cost mission. The SBAG finds that formation of an independent Mission Definition Team (MDT) prior to commitment of significant resources and mission confirmation would allow for community participation in the relevant fields for the mission (including small body science) and provide a non-advocate peer review of the expected benefit if mission success criteria are met. In place of science objectives and traceability, the strategic knowledge gaps (for HEOMD) and technology roadmap (for STMD) can be used to provide traceability necessary for successful mission implementation.

      (11) DRAFT FINDING – Target issues

      The population and physical characteristics of low delta-velocity targets having diameters less than 10m are poorly constrained by observations. Because of their intrinsic faintness and long synodic periods, characterization must be undertaken over a short time period primarily during the discovery apparition. Such small objects may be rapidly rotating rubble piles, which could be hazardous to spacecraft during interactions with the target object. The mission must be designed to account for these large uncertainties in the properties of potential targets, which could greatly increase the complexity and cost of the mission. It is impractical to begin the planning and design of any mission to capture such an asteroid in the absence of a pre-existing study on the population and the physical characteristics of its members. Such a study would necessarily take a number of years if commenced now, assuming it is adequately resourced. A robust characterization campaign is imperative. Target characterization will be challenging and is expected to be of the utmost importance to mission success.

      (12) DRAFT FINDING – Schedule risks

      Because of long-synodic periods, a missed launch window will not be recoverable for the same ARRM target. Therefore, multiple targets meeting orbital and physical characteristic requirements and having appropriately phased launch windows will need to be discovered. Given the poor knowledge of the population of these objects, this is a significant mission risk. The stated schedule for the ARRM, which posits funding of a ~$100M study in FY14 and launch in 2017, is unrealistic.

      (13) DRAFT FINDING – Cost risks

      As a mission that serves as a technology and operations demonstrator, the management approach and acceptance of risk needs to be better defined to determine the feasibility of the aggressive schedule and its impact on cost and mission success criteria. The full-cost target, funding profile, and funding sources are not provided and limits any credible assessment of the schedule and mission cost to the various directorates. Lack of clarity of both resources available and resources required limits any determination of mission value, merit, and/or whether the mission is the most efficient use of available resources to achieve NASA's objectives."

      http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=44398

      • Egad

        There’s a NASA briefing to the Advisory Council going on even as we type. It will be interesting to see if the SBAG findings you quote come up.

      • Egad

        Speaking of SBAG, they seem to be Not On The Team wrt ARM:

        http://www.lpi.usra.edu/sbag/findings/

        FINDINGS FROM STEERING GROUP MEETING (AT LPSC), MARCH 20, 2013

        (3) The “Capture an Asteroid” Mission Proposal Being Considered by NASA. At our July 2012 meeting in Pasadena a presentation on an asteroid retrieval mission was given by John Brophy of JPL. While the meeting participants found it to be very interesting and entertaining, it was not considered to be a serious proposal because of obvious challenges, including the practical difficulty of identifying a target in an appropriate orbit with the necessary physical characteristics within the required lead time using existing or near- to long-term ground-based or space-based survey assets. When it came to our attention that this project was being seriously considered by the agency, SBAG — representing broad expertise in asteroid science and mission planning — offered to provide an independent technical review of this proposal. The NASA Small Bodies Assessment Group is co-chartered by HEOMD and SMD. The SBAG Terms of Reference state that it is responsible for “providing science input for planning and prioritizing human and robotic exploration activities for the small bodies of the Solar System.” This includes near-Earth asteroids. Failure of HEOMD and SMD to utilize SBAG in this situation seems a peculiar decision and raises the serious question of the extent to which HEOMD and SMD wish to make decisions based on restricted input promoting specific outcomes.

        HQ Response: The ARM was brought forward by the Administration as a Presidential Budget initiative. As such, to a certain point, information about it was embargoed by the Administration until the President’s budget was announced — two months later this year. It was therefore not possible for HEOMD and SMD to use the community forums for input during this period. In fact, only a handful of individuals within both the Directorates knew of the budget initiative. Now that the budget announcement is out and the Asteroid Initiative formally introduced, we are engaging the community forums as you have seen with the Target NEO 2 Workshop and the SBAG 9 meeting.

    • Egad

      “Frankly, it comes down to this or nothing,” Dr. Friedman said, referring to the asteroid plan. “This at least does everything we need in the American space program at a price we can afford while we debate when we are going to make those bigger commitments.”

      Along those lines,

      http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/07/nasa_defends_space_launch_syst.html

      NASA defends Space Launch System against charge it ‘is draining the lifeblood’ of space program

      Lee Roop | lroop@al.com By Lee Roop | lroop@al.com
      on July 29, 2013 at 2:28 PM, updated July 29, 2013 at 2:31 PM

      (snip)

      Asked about the criticism that SLS is sucking up so much money NASA can’t develop anything to fly on it,[NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development Dan] Dumbacher blamed “reality.” If there was more money, he said, NASA would do things differently, develop more things at one time. But there isn’t more money.

      “Recognizing that we are in a restrained fiscal environment, we have a tight budget to work with, that budget allows us to build the space launch system and Orion, and Orion will fly on SLS,” Dumbacher said.

      “Once we get SLS and Orion built, we have the foundational capabilities, two of the key elements that we need for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit. Once we get those into operations phase, the budget wedge, so to speak, opens up, and that’s when we start to develop the next elements we need for exploration, be it habitats, landers, whatever’s needed for exploration. But because of the budget constraints, we have to do that step by step. The first step is SLS and Orion.”

      Habitats, landers, whatever. Que sera, sera. It would be interesting to know when NASA expects SLS to get into the “operations phase” — 2017? 2021 or 2023?

      • Coastal Ron

        Egad said:

        It would be interesting to know when NASA expects SLS to get into the “operations phase” — 2017? 2021 or 2023?

        Well that is the main issue here. The SLS will be sitting around for years without anything to do. How is that safe?

        And if the SLS is so vitally needed, then why isn’t Congress temporary bumping up their funding so the SLS will have something to do when it becomes operational?

        More proof the SLS really is a jobs program, not an exploration program.

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “It would be interesting to know when NASA expects SLS to get into the ‘operations phase’ — 2017? 2021 or 2023?”

        With respect to opening up a “budget wedge” for other architecture elements, as Dumbacher alluded to in the article your quoted, it doesn’t happen any earlier than 2030, and probably not until 2035. This 2011 leaked NASA document shows that there is no funding for “In-Space Elements” until after 2030, assuming an $18.7B+ NASA budget that has to pay for SLS/MPCV:

        http://images.spaceref.com/news/2011/NASA.SLS.Budget.Aug.2011.pdf

        NASA’s budget this year is $16.9B. So if we keep going the way we’re going, Dumbacher’s “budget wedge” probably won’t open up until 2035 or later.

        • Coastal Ron

          Dark Blue Nine said:

          NASA’s budget this year is $16.9B. So if we keep going the way we’re going, Dumbacher’s “budget wedge” probably won’t open up until 2035 or later.

          Once the money is found, then we still have to build the SLS-sized mission elements.

          Considering how long it takes NASA to build much smaller mission elements these days, it could take a decade or more before they would be ready to start launching SLS missions that don’t involve the MPCV. Some recent history to consider:

          Mars Science Laboratory – 0.9mt mass, $2.5B total cost, 7 years from call for proposal to mission launch.

          James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) – 6.2mt mass, est. $8B total cost, and ~18 years total time till launch.

          I guess you could even look at the SLS itself as a reference, especially since it’s supposed to be using existing technologies in order to speed up development. As noted above, “speed up development” in this case apparently means 15-20 years, as well as $30B+ of NASA’s meager budget.

          So what can we expect for SLS-sized mission elements?

          Any SLS supporters want to help assuage our fears?

  • DCSCA

    “People who want ” another Apollo”…” etc., etc.

    The only ‘people’ on this forum who keep referencing ‘another Apollo’ are NewSpacers. Returning to Luina isn’t replicating Apollo. But it is the next logical and pragmatic step outward for HSF activities.Half a century of LEO ops has been a tricket to no plaee, going in circles, no where, fast.

    • Coastal Ron

      DCSCA opined:

      The only ‘people’ on this forum who keep referencing ‘another Apollo’ are NewSpacers.

      No, the reference is in HOW you and other “government programs of scale” supporters want to go back to the Moon.

      Returning to Luina isn’t replicating Apollo.

      I don’t know what “Luina” is, but going back to the Moon with a program like Constellation was is what is meant by “another Apollo”.

  • DCSCA

    “There is great value in enhancing NASA’s capabilities in small body discovery and characterization.”

    “Value” is relative.

    Curiosity reached Mars a year ago and was billed as a two-year mission costing Americans $2.6 billlion. So far, the $1.3 billion ‘value’ of the data returned is dubious at best.

    Mars chatter by NewSpacers is such a waste of time– particulary has they’ve flowen nobody. .Review the EVA video of the last manned lunar expedition by the United States in late 1972- Apollo 17. Just getting to the moon was– and still is- hard. And conductng surface work was hard as well- from deploting simple experiments to repairing a fender. Establishing a permanent foothold on Luna is going to be a challenge of equal engineering and and logistics today as Apollo was fifty years ago. Which amkes chatter about Martian retirment colonies all the more silly by NewSpacers.

    The immediate future to challenge HSF activities is not lassoing asteroids or retiring on the Red Planet. The future is Luna. It is the place to develop and refine methods, hardware and procedures for off-planet HSF capabilities for the next 75-100 years. In the meantime, Mars is showing itself to be a superb proving ground for long distant robotic technology development and ops– as long as it stays cost-effective for throwaway probes (which Curiosity was not.) Leave Mars to the robots. The Moon awaits the return of Man.

    • Hiram

      “So far, the $1.3 billion ‘value’ of the data returned is dubious at best.”

      You just don’t give up, do you.

      You may have missed the excitement just a few weeks ago when it was revealed that SAM data showed pretty conclusively that Mars once had a rich atmosphere that it lost cataclysmically 4 Bn years ago. Of course, Curiosity long ago established the stunning existence of streambed-eroded rocks. The question of why Mars isn’t like the Earth, though in many respects looks like it used to be, is a profound one. Your wallowing in dubiousness is not shared with most of the American taxpayers who paid for the mission. Fortunately the goal of the mission was not to argue “value” to DCSCA.

      You’d rather have that $1.3B launching an empty SLS, I guess. Or maybe launching a payload well packed with a few dozen tons of tweedy academic scientists trying to hold their breaths.

      • DCSCA

        “The question of why Mars isn’t like the Earth, though in many respects looks like it used to be, is a profound one.”

        Not really. It may make for quaint, esoteric chatter in the faculty lounge around the coffee pot for the eggheaded, elbow-patched, ivory towered, get another government grant set. But it has profoundly little meaning to the American taxpayer.

        A family that can’t pay their food and gas bills, strggle for healthcare and look for work here on Earth could care less about your musings over Mars. Other than you want them to pay for your pleasure of contemplating it.

        “Your wallowing in dubiousness is not shared with most of the American taxpayers who paid for the mission.”

        Nonsense. Tell that to the taxpayers of Detroit, Michigan, USA

        If most Americans were even aware that they wasted $2.6 billion on a redundant Martian probe that has failed to return anything close to justifying the expense they’d go ballistic. In fact, it is your ilk who wallows in an elitist world of academic nonsense akin to navel gazing. 48% of Americans are at or near the poverty line. Your ‘taxpayers’ see their nation cannot keep its bridges up, has a failing education system; flagging infrastructure and a fragile financial system propped up by borrowing billions from an adversary who see the advantages at hand.

        Taxpayers who cared to notice over a 72 hour perioss last August cheered the EDL engineering success. The science return, dubious as it is, not so much. They cheered Apollo too. For the engineering triumph. The science… pretty much not. You have failed to justify the expenditure of $2.6 billion on a throw away probe that should be dropping in cost, not rising. After a year, there’s is no where near $1.3 billion in return to American taxpayers. And what’s more, you know it.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA mumbled:

          It may make for quaint, esoteric chatter in the faculty lounge around the coffee pot for the eggheaded, elbow-patched, ivory towered, get another government grant set. But it has profoundly little meaning to the American taxpayer.

          Funny, but that’s what is said about your plans to putter around more on the Moon… ;-)

          If most Americans were even aware that they wasted $2.6 billion on a redundant Martian probe that has failed to return anything close to justifying the expense they’d go ballistic.

          Stories about the MSL show up in the mainstream news all the time, so you can’t claim the public is ignorant of what we’ve been doing on Mars. And last I looked, there were no demonstrations in the streets about the science output of a robot explorer on Mars. Apparently you are wrong… yet again.

          Your ‘taxpayers’ see their nation cannot keep its bridges up, has a failing education system; flagging infrastructure and a fragile financial system propped up by borrowing billions from an adversary who see the advantages at hand.

          And $30B+ of that is going for your precious SLS, which is the biggest boondoggle of our current generation – justify that cost Putin-boi. Certainly not worth the money we’re having to borrow from China for it.

        • Hiram

          “in the faculty lounge around the coffee pot for the eggheaded, elbow-patched, ivory towered, get another government grant set.”

          Your college experience must have been pretty miserable. My condolences. But I bet they bought those elbow-patches with your tuition. Laughing all the way to the elbow-patch store.

          “A family that can’t pay their food and gas bills, strggle for healthcare and look for work here on Earth could care less about your musings over Mars. Other than you want them to pay for your pleasure of contemplating it.”

          Well, let’s see, that $1.3B can be spread over 100 million tax returns that had tax liability. That works out to a $13 refund to each of those taxpayers. How much food, gas and healthcare is that going to buy them? Get real. Let’s ask them how much of those things they’d like to give up for an SLS program with no payloads or identified rationale. How about going meatless for a year! Can call it “SLS Friday”.

          “Tell that to the taxpayers of Detroit, Michigan, USA”

          The Curiosity landing party on the Detroit riverfront plaza was a big hit, I believe. First time I’ve heard there were no taxpayers there …

          “They cheered Apollo too. For the engineering triumph. The science… pretty much not. You have failed to justify the expenditure of $2.6 billion on a throw away probe that should be dropping in cost, not rising.”

          For a throw-away probe, Curiosity has a lot of life left in it. But was Neil Armstrong a throw-away astronaut? He did what he did, and then, well, he didn’t do it any more. Those throw away astronauts are actually now increasing dramatically in cost.

          Yes, I admit, I’ve failed to justify it all … to you. No biggie.

          “After a year, there’s is no where near $1.3 billion in return to American taxpayers. And what’s more, you know it.”

          We’re reading minds now? Keep trying. But don’t strain your brain. Leave the thinking for the eggheads.

          • DCSCA

            Let’s ask them how much of those things they’d like to give up for an SLS program

            Pfft. SLS is a geo-political strategy for the United States.
            Curiosity was not.

            “For a throw-away probe, Curiosity has a lot of life left in it.” Which is a maningless statment as it wasn’t sent to Mars to determine how long it could function, as it. A probe that lasts an hour can deviler a lot more scuience.. Huygens (sp.) comes to mind. =eyeroll=

            “We’re reading minds now?” Hmm. Believe that was introduced into your rational by your own posting: “Your wallowing in dubiousness is not shared with most of the American taxpayers who paid for the mission.” Pot. Kettle. Black.

            “Stories about the MSL show up in the mainstream news all the time.” dreams Coastal Ron.

            Except they don’t, Ron. You know nothing of MSM ops and how 30 year old news directors at profit-centered newsrooms make decisions about what goes out on air. .

            • Hiram

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

              Whoaho! And I thought SLS was an HLV. Thanks for the clarification! A geo-political strategy with no established destinations or payloads. That oughta score some geo-political points, no? Now it comes out. SLS as “geo-political strategy”. Can you show me where, in Congressional legislation, it says that. I mean, Congress oughtta know.

              “Which is a maningless statment as it wasn’t sent to Mars to determine how long it could function, as it. A probe that lasts an hour can deviler a lot more scuience.. Huygens (sp.) comes to mind. =eyeroll=”

              Speaking of meaningless statements … would you like to rephrase in one that has meaning?

              “Pot. Kettle. Black.”

              I wasn’t reading YOUR mind, as you were mine. I was talking about the taxpayers I meet and talk to every day. Your dubiousness is not shared by them. Your pot seems to be somewhat beige.

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA mumbled:

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

              Apparently when you say that, you mean it’s a commitment we make to borrowing $30B+ money from China, right?

              Because that’s the only “geo-political strategy” that’s apparent with the SLS – debt, with nothing to show for it.

          • DCSCA

            “The Curiosity landing party on the Detroit riverfront plaza was a big hit, I believe. First time I’ve heard there were no taxpayers there …”

            Thank you for reaffirming my posting: Taxpayers who cared to notice over a 72 hour perioss last August cheered the EDL engineering success. The science return, dubious as it is, not so much.

            • Hiram

              “Taxpayers who cared to notice over a 72 hour perioss last August cheered the EDL engineering success. The science return, dubious as it is, not so much.”

              You’re saying that the Detroit riverfront plaza landing party for Curiosity was an “EDL success” celebration? That’s like saying that the celebrations about the killing of Osama bin Laden were about the successful firing of an M-16. When was the last Detroit riverfront landing party for Shuttle and Soyuz astronauts? What, they don’t get “EDL success” celebrations as well? I had no idea that EDL was that popular with the American public.

              What was being celebrated in Detroit (and many other venues) was the success in emplacing a piece of us that would do great things for human inquisitiveness.

          • DCSCA

            @Hiram:

            :.The great value of Apollo was that it “gave more meaning to the space program because people identify more readily with men than with machines..” –Dr. Thomas O. Paine

            And that’s the way it is. Deal with it.

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA mumbled:

              And that’s the way it is.

              Correction, that’s the way it WAS. And even then it was just one persons opinion, not a fact.

              50 years later, when people have far more interaction with technology than they sometimes do with humans, it’s a different world.

              You really do have problems letting go of the past, don’t you? You need to enter the 21st century…

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA opined:

    Curiosity reached Mars a year ago and was billed as a two-year mission costing Americans $2.6 billlion. So far, the $1.3 billion ‘value’ of the data returned is dubious at best.

    Science does not work linearly. And the science returned from Curiosity doesn’t end when Curiosity stops functioning. As I recall NASA saying, they are STILL processing the science returns from Apollo, and here we are four decades later.

    Just getting to the moon was– and still is- hard.

    Anybody that can replicate 60′s era technology can return to the Moon, so it can’t be that hard. And since Apollo did it six times successfully, we know it wasn’t just a fluke, but that they had identified all the challenges and correctly identified workable solutions.

    In reality, returning to the Moon is not “hard”, it’s just expensive. And especially so for government-run attempts, since the government doesn’t know how to do much of anything in a cost effective way.

    That’s why the Golden Spike Company (lead by ex-NASA personnel) is far more likely to reach the Moon next than NASA is, since they have identified a much lower-cost architecture – they don’t have to worry about political pork like NASA does, so they can be much more efficient with their capital than a government-run program can.

    Leave Mars to the robots. The Moon awaits the return of Man.

    The Moon is actually a much better candidate for robotic exploration than Mars is, so when the time comes when someone actually finds a reason to do serious work on the Moon (and who knows when that will be), it will more than likely be tele-robotic systems than human ones.

    The Moon does nothing to help us get to Mars, and as was recently stated in House testimony, going to the Moon as such is a distraction, not a help.

    • DCSCA

      “Science does not work linearly.” weeps Ron.

      Guess you’ve never heard of the Supercollider debacle. It can be tempered by cost-benefit analysis. And $2.6 billion for a redundant throwaway probe for more pretty red pictures and dubious data doesn’t pass the smell test, Ron. And you know it.

      “The Moon does nothing to help us get to Mars.”

      Except it does.

      And anybody who posts on a space blog that getting to Luna isn’t ‘hard’ is ignorant or a fool. Because it is very hard. Ask the people who’ve done it. Suggest you review EVA tapes of the Apollo expeditions and learn just how hard it is to get to the moon and actually do some work there. There is no reason to send humans to Mars in this time frame. Particularly as robotic probes- at least the cost effetive ones- are reinforcing why there’s no reason to go in this time frame. Manned Mars missions are on the is on the shelf– next to the binders marked Constellation.

  • DCSCA

    “Once NASA put boots on the Moon, it had no clue what it was to do next. Neither did Congress or the White House.” fibbed NewSpacer Stephen.

    “In its September 1969 report to thw president [Nixon], the STG recommended a balanced program of manned and unmanned space exploration and singled out as a primary goal a manned Mars mission before the end of the century. This…had been Mueller’s proposal for a long-term objective to succeed Apollo; but the idea had remained dormant virtually until the launch of Apollo 11, when Vice President Agnew had advanced what he called “a simple, ambitious, optimistic goal.” This was all that Mueller, von Braun, and Paine had needed and this goal, expanded into a plan of impressive scope, became the cornerstone of the STG report:

    1. A manned Mars mission by the mid-1980s; an orbiting lunar station; a fifty-man Earth-orbiting space base. Funding would rise from $4 billion in FY 1970 to $8-$10 billion in 1980.72

    2. Mars mission in 1986; $8 billion maximum in early 1980s.

    3. Initial development of space station and reusable shuttles, as in the first two options, but deferral of decision on Mars landing date, while maintaining goal of a landing at some point after 1980 but before the end of the century. The concurrent development of the shuttle and the space station would call for a rise to $5.7 billion in spending by 1976; if they were developed serially, funding would rise to $4-$5 billion.

    The most ambitious goals of the STG report were tacitly dropped; Nixon’s message of 7 March 1970, which was an endorsement of the third and least expensive of the STG options, made no mention of a Mars landing. The result of FOUR YEARS OF STUDIES and long-range planning was one “dry” orbital workshop launched in May 1973, four years behind schedule; three “visits” to the workshop by astronaut crews; and the commitment by President Nixon in January 1972 that a reusable space shuttle would be built.”

    The only person who has ‘no clue’ about this it appears, is you, Stephen.

    http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4102/contents.htm

    • Daddy

      Bravo, DCSCA!!! Thank you for reminding us of factual history.

      NASA’s limitations have been firmly submerged in the space leadership failures of this nation. Half a cent on the tax dollar doesn’t buy much vision. Constellation would have been easily achievable on a fraction of what NASA had during the Apollo era. The issue today is not staying within the boundaries of what we can afford, it’s having a vision that we SHOULD be willing to pay for in order to continue being a great nation.

  • I wonder if her mentioning congressional “pork” openly led to her resignation.

    Bob Clark

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