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Revised exploration roadmap sees asteroids and Moon as temporary stepping stones to Mars

ISECG roadmap

The ISECG roadmap of missions to asteroids, the Moon, and Mars. (Click to enlarge.)

On Tuesday, the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG), a group of 12 national space agencies that includes NASA, ESA, and Roscosmos, released a revised version of its Global Exploration Roadmap. The document is intended to outline a general strategy for human and robotic exploration over the next few decades, with human missions to the surface of Mars as the long-term goal.

The original version of this document, published in September 2011, offered two scenarios: an “Asteroid Next” approach that sent humans first to near Earth asteroids, then to the Moon and Mars; and a “Moon Next” alternative that sent humans first back to the surface of the Moon, then to asteroids and Mars. The new version offers a single scenario closer to the “Asteroid Next” approach, with humans first going to a captured near Earth asteroid per NASA’s plans as part of its asteroid initiative, with human lunar missions included before crewed missions to Mars in the 2030s. Also included in the mix are “extended duration crew missions” in cislunar space, such as at a Lagrange point.

What is clear is that this roadmap is not intended to establish long-term or permanent presences on asteroids or the Moon, at least by government agencies. The near Earth asteroid aspect of the roadmap includes only two crewed missions to such bodies, at least one to the asteroid NASA seeks to redirect into lunar orbit. (Unlike the 2011 roadmap, the new edition makes no mention of any deep space human missions to near Earth asteroids.) Those crewed missions would come some time in the mid-2020s, after the EM-2 SLS/Orion test mission and perhaps even one of the extended duration crewed missions in cislunar space.

The roadmap sees human missions to the surface of the Moon some time in the late 2020s (about 60 years after Apollo 11), using lunar orbit or a Lagrange point as a staging post for such missions. But those human missons peter out in the early 2030s, and the report makes it clear there is no place n the strategy for an extended human presence on the Moon, at least led by national agencies. “[T]he mission scenario defines a lunar campaign with an ‘exit strategy’ consistent with moving forward with Mars mission readiness,” it states. “However, participating agencies recognize that the fundamental capabilities are available to suport additional missions in the event that lunar science or other exploration activities are identified.”

The expectation of the strategy is that commercial entities will take over activities in some of these areas as the agencies press on to Mars: the roadmap includes roles for commercial or government platforms in low Earth orbit to replace the International Space Station, and “potential commercial opportunities” in both cislunar space and the surface of the Moon (but not, oddly enough, near Earth asteroids, given that companies have recently expressed an interest in prospecting and mining such objects.) The roadmap treats these places less as interesting destinations in their own right than as places to gain experience for human missions to Mars.

243 comments to Revised exploration roadmap sees asteroids and Moon as temporary stepping stones to Mars

  • Jim Nobles

    Is somebody gonna have to tell Elon he can’t go to Mars unless he goes to the Moon first? I’m glad it’s not me.

    • Coastal Ron

      Jim Nobles said:

      Is somebody gonna have to tell Elon he can’t go to Mars unless he goes to the Moon first?

      Well keep in mind that Musk is not part of any government organized effort to go to Mars. He has been quite clear that this is a personal goal of his, and that he is using his personal company (SpaceX) to get there.

      Also keep in mind that no one else besides the U.S. has been to the Moon. We’ve been there, done that six times, although “some people” refuse to acknowledge that. So everyone else would like to get to the Moon and check it off their “bucket list” – I’m OK with that. But we don’t need to lead the way there, nor do we even really need to participate in that part of the effort (but I would imagine we would send somebody along if others are going).

      So adding the Moon to an international list of “things to do on our way to Mars” is OK, but like DBN pointed out, this planning document lacks any real effort behind it (i.e. no money). It is truly a wish list, and nothing else.

      • Columbus to Queen Isabella: Your Majesty, I would like further funding to further explore the “New World”.
        Queen Isabella to Columbus: been there, done that. Any other continents you can discover?

        Bob Clark

        • @Robert Clark,….Brilliant analogy, my friend!! If we keep having this MORONIC “been there, done that” attitude, we are fast going to run out of places in the solar system in which to go to, just once, plant a flag, grab some rocks, and mark off forever as a place NEVER TO BE VISITED AGAIN. Just how many virgin-land visits can we do, just for the cheap thrill of it??! At some point you have got to reach the stage of the second-round exploration, where you go beyond just the quick, few-day-span surveying mission.
          By the way, the unmanned space probe enthusiasts never seem to tire of sending further, increasingly-sophisticated space probes to the planets. Why can’t manned space travel be a continuing tale of second & third generation visits to the planets, starting with the Moon? Also, stingingly annoying, is this lame attitude that there has to somehow be “an exit strategy” for the Moon. Why hasn’t there been ANY talk about an Exit Strategy for Low Earth Orbit, & space stations emplaced there?! Project Constellation provided us a unique opportunity to finally leave LEO, and do greater exploits in deep space, but the current presidential administration had other ideas! Now we are trapped going around in circles for another two decades, at least!

          • Coastal Ron

            Chris Castro moaned:

            …and mark off forever as a place NEVER TO BE VISITED AGAIN.

            Too bad you’re bad at reading comprehension. The Moon is not a primary destination for NASA, since we’ve already “been there, done that”. Bolden did state that NASA wouldn’t mind going back as part of an international effort, but that we wouldn’t lead it – and I would agree with that. And only a lunar-tic would somehow interpret that Obama put the Moon off limits for all time…

            Plus Chris, you seem to think that NASA has unlimited funds available, but it doesn’t. NASA doesn’t even have enough funds to use the grossly expensive SLS and MPCV. And unless NASA invests in the technology and techniques that will open up EVERY location in space, then NASA can’t even afford to go back to the Moon even if someone told them to.

            As long as you keep ignoring the money side of the equation, you will forever be frustrated in what NASA does and doesn’t do.

          • Vladislaw

            It wasn’t a brilliant analogy… actually it was a totally wrong analogy.

            Columbus was funded the majority by private money and it was a commercial operation were columbus expected to receive 10% of all the land found and made governor and admiral of the ocean sea.

            A taxpayer funded trip to the moon where no land is going to be claimed and does now allow for land ownership is not an anology.

          • pathfinder-01

            His goal was to find a route to the east to establish trade between the China and Europe by sea and he failed at that goal. He was not sent out to discover new lands, they knew it was a possibility (new unexplored route and all) but that wasn’t what the Columbus, his bankers, and the Crown paid for. Note the private sources of funding. The ships were also build and owned privately (the Crown Seized the and compensated their owner).

            Isabella and Ferdinand did not say “This nation shall commit itself to sending a man across the Atlantic, and returning him safely to port.” Then build a ship yard for the sole purpose of doing so and then build ships just to do so. His mission was to return profit to the crown via trade. If you want to get people to go to the moon find a profitable motive for doing so. There are lots of areas of the earth that were not settled or became unsettled for economic reasons.

            “where you go beyond just the quick, few-day-span surveying mission.”

            In this decade we survey thing robotically. It is cheaper. As anyone knows attempting to live somewhere is totally different than attempting to just visit there. Even on earth it takes a lot more capital and resources to establish permanent settlement than just do a quick visit. The Antarctic base for instance pretty much goes to a skelton crew in winter due to difficulty of importing food or growing it and the moon is even worse in terms of ability for humans to survive without very expensive import from earth. And people usually settle in an area for a reason(resources, trade routes, ect..).

        • Coastal Ron

          Robert Clark said:

          Queen Isabella to Columbus: been there, done that. Any other continents you can discover?

          Exactly! If his goal was to discover new places, not exploit or settle, then going back to the same exact place makes no sense, now does it?

          NASA has already conquered the Moon. Since it’s charter does not involve exploitation or settlement, and the acknowledge goal is Mars, going back to the Moon is a distraction. Steve Squyres, who is Chairman of the NASA Advisory Council, even stated that in his testimony to the House recently.

          If NASA’s charter is conquering the unknown, then the Moon is the wrong destination.

          • I think most space advocates and most people at NASA would say that part of NASA’s task is the settlement of space.
            Certainly some of the financing will come from private funding and some from NASA. What NASA could do that could go a big way towards furthering that goal would be to set up the infrastructure of orbiting lunar-derived propellant depots. This would help not only with possible manned trips to Mars but also for exploiting the resources in asteroids, where according to scientists there is an unimaginably high amount of mineral wealth.

            Bob Clark

            • Coastal Ron

              Robert Clark said:

              I think most space advocates and most people at NASA would say that part of NASA’s task is the settlement of space.

              It doesn’t matter what space advocates say, and for that matter, it doesn’t matter what government employees of any agency say. Employees are hired to do a job, and if they don’t like the direction of the organization they work for they can leave.

              And if you’ll notice, there are former NASA leaders and workers that are working on space exploitation, transportation and tourism. They didn’t sit around complaining, they are trying to make something happen outside the security of their former government jobs. I salute them for taking risks.

              Certainly some of the financing will come from private funding and some from NASA.

              If you want to talk about his subject, then you have to use the proper terms – it’s not NASA deciding to fund the settlement of space, it is the President and Congress that would be saying that it would be in the best interests of the U.S. Government to promote the settlement of space. And that hasn’t happened yet.

              No doubt when that issue is raised by elected officials (sorry Newt) there will be a lot of debate about why U.S. Taxpayer money should be spent on such an effort, and I would welcome such a debate, since I believe we should expand our presence out into space.

              But that hasn’t happened, and NASA gets too little money to do just basic space exploration, so any talk about NASA helping to settle space is like saying the SLS is going to lower the cost of space exploration… ;-)

              • Fred Willett

                Actually the goal of US space policy is to settle space.
                To “bring space within our economic sphere” said one of Bush’s folk(paraphrased) and Obama said “to allow people to live sustainably beyond the earth” (again paraphrase).
                Both mean settlement.

        • Vladislaw

          Actually Columbus never really received funding so much as he received permission. The three ships were old second hand and third hand or more. This was not a top of the line high tech excursion. It was not the king and queen who financed him, it was a syndicate of bankers, including the Medici.

  • Florida Today does a weekly thumbs up, thumbs down editorial column.

    From the August 21 Florida Today:

    Thumbs down: To NASA — and Congress and the White House — for budget and scheduling news that makes us want to lie down in the middle of U.S. 1. Flat funding and technical challenges for the Orion crew capsule almost certainly mean delays of the next human spaceflight by the U.S. government, scheduled for 2021. Moreover, the U.S. House passed a budget that cuts NASA by 6 percent. Equipment that would enable Orion to land somewhere (like the moon) appears decades out.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    These non-binding, unbudgeted, ISECG documents aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, nevertheless the cost of all the trips overseas involved in writing them. The ISECG has been producing useless roadmap after useless roadmap since 2009:

    http://www.globalspaceexploration.org/documents;jsessionid=50103E9782EBD7CAB4320A2B37F3D3DE

    Despite years of planning, no substantive bilateral or multilaterial agreements have come out of all this ISECG churning. It’s far past time to shut down the ISECG fig leaf and either pursue actual agreements with foreign partners on funded exploration missions or admit that no exploration missions are in the cards.

    • Hiram

      I think there is some value in having an arena for discussions about international space cooperation. They may be non-binding, but they draw some lines in the sand about priorities of other countries. Wish that this had been done before Constellation basically told other countries that they were invited to participate with us down in the dirt on the lunar surface, and not about getting there. That was an astro-diplomatic flop, and a strong lesson about international planning. You can’t pursue actual agreements if you don’t have a good sense about what your prospective partners want. The premise that the U.S. “runs the show” in space exploration, and it’s up to everyone to line up behind us and get their checkbooks out, is simply not credible these days.

      We are totally unable to tighten the screws and pursue actual agreements because we don’t have a clue about what we really want to do, and how much we can afford to do. What we want to do has to be guided, in part, by what they want to do.

      • josh

        if i was the head of esa i would never partner with nasa again. they have been totally unreliable, changing plans every couple of years. i know it’s not entirely their fault btw.

        • Andrew French

          So who would you partner with if NASA is so unreliable? Just sayin…

          • josh

            i would fund skylon and try to foster a commercial space industry in europe. no partnerships required for that.

            • Neil Shipley

              By the time Skylon makes it anywhere near operational, and I have serious doubts about that given the degree of complexity, it’ll cost so much that it’ll be like a NASA big government program e.g. Cx and DOA. But go ahead and fund Skylon if you like, it’s your money.
              To me, it’s really about keeping highly paid and technologically literate engineers and scientists occupied so they don’t go elsewhere. That’s apart from feeding Alan Bond’s passionate dream.
              Cheers.

          • Fred Willett

            So who would you partner with if NASA is so unreliable? Just sayin…
            ESA is partnering with the Russians.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “I think there is some value in having an arena for discussions about international space cooperation.”

      The value of foreign relations is derived from the actions that follow. There have been none from the ISECG for over a half decade.

      It is important to keep lower level channels of communication open. But don’t waste time and money producing roadmaps and plans with no high-level agreements or national budgets behind them. And no one, especially the NASA Administrator, should be pointing to such useless documents as evidence of substantive support for or progress towards actual international human space exploration missions.

      “They may be non-binding, but they draw some lines in the sand about priorities of other countries.”

      These ISECG “products” bear no relationship to reality. The one, actual, non-US contribution to our supposed “international” human space “exploration” architecture — ESA’s service module for MPCV — doesn’t even appear on the roadmap above.

      “Wish that this had been done before Constellation…”

      The ISECG grew out of Griffin’s “Global Exploration Strategy”, a plan to create a plan that did nothing substantive beyond providing an international fig leaf for Constellation via talks with low-level foreign bureaucrats. The ISECG’s ineffectiveness and non-relevance is a feature, not a bug, of its origins.

      Agree with the rest of your post.

      • Hiram

        “The value of foreign relations is derived from the actions that follow. There have been none from the ISECG for over a half decade.”

        Major policy alignment never happens on timescales of half a decade. This is a good point, but our expectations have to be realistic.

        It’s a fair point that the GES was just a fig leaf for Griffin’s U.S.-centric dreams. I would hope that other space agencies learned a lesson from that in their forward participation in ISECG. We should focus less on its ineffectiveness and more on its potential.

        One important role that it plays is a route for involvement of CNSA (China) in international space cooperation. That has, thus far, been quite successful, and badly needed.

        ISECG is less about making plans, and more about encouraging alignment of plans. We should not measure value by the number of plans ISECG comes up with. It’s a serious question as to whether our plans (such as we imagine them to be) are even consistent with the plans of other nations. How does what we want to do fit into a framework that the international community agrees with? Even a dyed-in-the-wool American exceptionalist and flag-carrier wants to know this.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “One important role that it plays is a route for involvement of CNSA (China) in international space cooperation.”

          China is obviously important, but CNSA isn’t party the roadmap above or the latest ISECG document it came from. This is just more evidence of how irrelevant the ISECG and its “planning documents” are.

          “ISECG is less about making plans… We should not measure value by the number of plans ISECG comes up with. It’s a serious question as to whether our plans (such as we imagine them to be) are even consistent with the plans of other nations.”

          Then the ISECG should stop publishing plans, roadmaps, and related documents.

          Again, if the low-level bureaucrats want to get together every six months to see what’s new, hash things over, and even publish some formal meeting minutes, fine. It can’t be any worse than the wishy-washy proceedings of the toothless NASA Advisory Council.

          But drop the pretense of these useless plans and roadmaps that no one with any real power has agreed to, that have no budgets behind them, and that don’t even recognize the few actual agreements (ESA SM for MPCV) or incorporate the biggest players (like China).

          “How does what we want to do fit into a framework that the international community agrees with?”

          If we start negotiating real agreements with real diplomats with budgets behind them, we’ll find out. But we’ll never find out playing PowerPoint roadmap darts with low-level bureaucrats. The latter is what Griffin wanted with GES and we’re allowing the ISECG to carry on in the same useless tradition instead of pursuing real agreements on real exploration architectures and missions.

          (Of course, we don’t have a real exploration architecture or a real exploration mission, but that’s a different thread…)

          • Hiram

            This is a quote from the GER … “The Global Exploration Roadmap is driven by a set of goals and supporting objectives that reflect commonality while respecting each individual agency’s priorities.”

            That’s significant. One can look at the GER, as I noted, as an existence proof of a plan that can be consistent with priorities of individual agencies. I guess I regard that as an accomplishment. But let’s face it, we’re never going to start “negotiating real agreements with real diplomats with budgets behind them” until we have that existence proof.

            I would agree it’s a shame that this is called a “roadmap” or a “plan”, in that it’s not necessarily a roadmap for anyone. It’s more of an existence proof that there can be one. If you insist on looking at it as a roadmap or a plan, you can’t help but be disappointed.

            Fundamentally, we in the U.S.don’t have much of a clue of what we really want to do. So armed with that indecision, getting high level diplomats representing different countries together with us to sign agreements is nuts.

            The agreement that needs to be negotiated is between NASA and the American taxpayer. You’d think that would be possible to do, but it sure hasn’t happened yet.

            ISECG may not be setting out to do what we’d dream about getting done, but that dream is a wet one, and likely a highly personal one as well.

  • Vladislaw

    So .. in 2020 ..we will either have the ISS or we won’t, and commercial space stations… or not.

    In 2028 we might have commercial opportunites for human landings on the moon?

    The SLS is going to be around in 2030?

    Now that’s a roadmap – (said in his best crocodile dundee voice)

  • guest

    To me the most interesting thing is that the goal, way off to the right, is “Sustainable Human Missions to the Mars System”. But nothing about the Orion capsule approach has anything to do with sustainable missions anywhere.

    And yet the Orion capsule approach is the only thing we’ve been doing for nearly a decade and likely the only thing we will continue to do for another generation. ISS put us on a track to sustainable missions but the next appropriate stage would be to begin to move the sustainable mission capability away from LEO. Instead what we are doing is Apollo on steroids. Apollo was never sustainable.

    It would have been far more advisable to simply re-establish the Apollo CSM for a reentry capability; that was assuming we needed it; with commercial crew we really didn’t need it, so Orion is wasting a lot of time and money building a capability we do not need.

    If the revised exploration roadmap is the right approach, then we should have focused on the systems that establish that sustained beyond earth orbit capability. Orion isn’t it.

    Something along the lines of the Nautilus-X, a modular, long duration, vehicle based on ISS elements and systems, but with advanced propulsion technology is what was needed. If we really are talking about throwing such a vehicle away every time we use it, then you wind up needing a reentry capsule, and you have those with either the Space-X Dragon or Boeing CST. But why would you stupidly be talking about throwing away your most advanced system every time you use it? About the only way the reentry capsule approach makes senses is if you go to a Buzz Aldrin cycler that stays on an Earth-to-Mars orbit and you launch your crew directly to the cycler or return them directly to earth instead of going to a way station such as an ISS. But that kind of system probably makes less sense if we are really going to Mars’ surface, since I doubt we will want the Mars crews returning direct to earth. In any case, Dragon and CST still could do the job and Orion is an overly expensive redundant expense that we can ill afford and its most significant impact is that it delays planetary missions by a generation.

    • Egad

      But nothing about the Orion capsule approach has anything to do with sustainable missions anywhere.

      And yet the Orion capsule approach is the only thing we’ve been doing for nearly a decade and likely the only thing we will continue to do for another generation.

      The Mission Scenario graphic does show an “Evolvable Deep Space Habitat” in the early 2020s, about the time of EM-2. It would be interesting to know who is supposed to develop that, if anybody.

      • Ben Russell-Gough

        Given that it is mostly Spacelab/ISS Node/MPLM heritage, likely the Italian company behind those modules. I also expect to see something ATV-heritage emerging as the EDSH’s service module. So, in other words, tax dollars going to European companies.

  • Guest

    Why does the US government need to fund a NASA program to put a human being (presumably American) on the surface of Mars again? I must have missed it.

    Also, can anybody remember a time when NASA was this screwed up, when some very clear existential national security threats of a global nature clearly now exist, and when private industry is clearly able to conduct the now useless and ill advised missions that NASA and congress (and a bunch of astronomers and geologists) claim they must perform (Orion, SLS and Webb, Mars 2020)? Because again this situation appears extreme.

  • Paul H.

    So, at the bottom it says SLS & Orion (Upgrade) in order to do Mars missions. Does this mean the SLS will need to be refitted in the mid 2020’s in order for it to do anything? Which i’m assuming will mean additional funding for this to be done?

    • Egad

      Does this mean the SLS will need to be refitted in the mid 2020′s in order for it to do anything?

      To the modest extent one can understand and believe what NASA has said, SLS seems to have three phases:

      1: Basic core + 5-segment SRB + iCPS + EuroSM + CM. This will fly first in EM-1 in 2017 and last in EM-2 in 2021.

      2a: Basic core + advanced boosters + either iCPS or Dual Use Upper Stage + someSM + CM. This for EM-3 in 2023 and probably forward to the end of the decade.

      2b: Sameish as 2a, but a cargo version for unknown cargo in 2029.

      3. Full-up 130 tonne in the 2030s using a full-size upper stage for unknown missions, but maybe a NEA asteroid or Mars fly-by if a long-duration habitat gets developed by then. Crewed landings on Mars NET 2040s.

      As for the poor old Moon, who knows?

      You should not bet your 401K or even a nice bowl of menudo on any of the above. But it’s what NASA has been saying for the last year or so.

      • Ben Russell-Gough

        I think that the basic SLS + dual-use upper stage will probably emerge as the effective end product. No budget will exist for the advanced boosters, wide-body upper stage and CPS AND payloads. NASA will have to choose between the Block-II/III versions and actually doing something with it.

        • Guest

          Compared to fully reusable methane and hydrogen offerings in both single stack and booster assisted with cross feeding versions by SpaceX and Blue Origin? Surely you must be joking. Get a grip, man, the program is completely unsupportable and failed after eight years and twenty billion dollars blown. It’s over. Get over it. All that is left is watching the monsters stumble around for another decade more. And nobody cares about another decade of lost opportunities and another twenty billion dollars lost by the NASA military congressional industrial complex, it’s peanuts compared to the real terminal losses. Asteroid detection is for scared liberals. Besides, didn’t they just say they’ll find another hundred more with WISE? lol.

          • Ben Russell-Gough

            I’m a SpaceX fan but I don’t make the mistake of seeing the distant, proposed final model of Falcon Heavy (which, if it ever flies, is as far away as SLS Block-II) as the salvation of anything right now. Elon is good at promising but the results will take a bit longer… maybe a lot longer than promised, IMHO at least.

            • Guest

              I guess a scheduled test flight of a new launcher next month, and another scheduled test flight of a new cross feeding arrangement of a new launcher next year, and a closed cycle cryogenic methane engine program just isn’t enough to convince you. How about a non explosive stage clustering mechanism? How about a proposal to take over a large launch pad previously considered to be useless? How about competition for said previously useless launch pad? You just aren’t getting it. Run some simple sims and get back to me, ok? Right now how this is shaping up clearly indicates that hypersonic booster reentry is soon going to be on Elon’s worklist.

              Ding dong the monster and the zombie are dead. Nothing can save them now.

              • Matt McClanahan

                If a schedule and a proposal are enough to convince you of anything, then I’ve got a propsal to sell you a bridge, scheduled to be completed in a year or so. Don’t worry, I’ve built bridges before, so there’s no chance this one’s schedule will slip repeatedly.

              • Guest

                I guess I’ll just have to rely on SpaceX public statements combined with SpaceX public demonstrations and SpaceX published photos and media then.

                Everyone’s schedules slip repeatedly. It’s called life. NASA’s schedule is no launches of Constellation, SLS or Orion at all. Since 2005. And none anticipated for a long time, if ever. That speaks volumes to me.

        • Coastal Ron

          Ben Russell-Gough said:

          I think that the basic SLS + dual-use upper stage will probably emerge as the effective end product.

          As I’ve said before, I have no doubt that Boeing and NASA can produce a rocket that works. The question is whether there is a need for it. If there is no need, then regardless how well it works the product overall is not worth the money being spent on it.

          I’m a SpaceX fan but I don’t make the mistake of seeing the distant, proposed final model of Falcon Heavy (which, if it ever flies, is as far away as SLS Block-II) as the salvation of anything right now.

          What the Falcon Heavy represents is a significant reduction in the cost of getting mass to orbit. For anyone that wants more stuff being done in space, that should be something to be celebrated. Three things though:

          1. Being that the Falcon Heavy is just a Falcon 9 with two 1st stage cores strapped on, and that SpaceX plans to move the first flight unit to the launch pad within a year, this is not some distant promised product.

          2. The advantage that the Falcon Heavy has over the SLS is that the Falcon Heavy doesn’t have to fly 2-3 times per year in order to support a standing army of launch personnel. Nor does it need to fly 2-3 times per year in order to maintain a safe operational cadence. The SLS does, but recent statements by NASA have shown that they won’t be able to support a safe operational cadence for the SLS.

          3. Like everything SpaceX does, there is no “final model of Falcon Heavy”, only what they are offering today, which is up to 6.4 ton to GTO for $77.1M, and 23 ton to GTO for $135M. Reusability may change those specs, and future upgrades like higher energy upper stage engines may change that too. But for what they are selling today, NASA is completely covered for what they have funded – and that’s all that matters.

      • Vladislaw

        I thought there was only a handful of the old shuttle main engines.. when and where do the new main engines come in?

        • Fred Willett

          Not till flight 5 of SLS which, given the projected flight rate will be some time in the mid 2020s. And that’s assuming SLS actually flies.

        • Egad

          Like Fred said, not until EM-5; EM-4 is nominally scheduled for 2025, so 2027 appears to be the first possible use of the new RS-25E engines. It may not be until 2029 if a dual-launch mission using the new cargo version of SLS is contemplated.

          Speaking of the RS-25E, indications are that it’s going to be substantially different from the STS RS-25 and need several years of development and testing. One should look for that to appear in NASA schedules and budgets, probably after 2015 when work on J-2X finishes up.

  • Jim Nobles

    I am curious to know how many people think SLS/Orion will exist in 2020? Honestly?

    • Vladislaw

      wow … this flagrant anti NASA talk has to stop. Why 2020 is just around the corner .. just think in only 8 more years that Orion capsule will launch a human crew in 2021 … that is only 17 years to build that technological marvel called the MPCV … you will sure be changing your tune when THAT launch finally happens.

      • Jim Nobles

        I feel I should clarify something. I, for one, am not anti-NASA. I am no even anti-heavy lift. But I am very much anti-SLS/Orion and I am anti-corruption. I do believe that those politicians who foisted SLS on us are guilty of defrauding the American taxpayer out of billions of dollars by forcing an inferior product on us at completely unjustifiable cost. I think those politicians should be in the penitentiary instead of having cushy jobs in Washington.

        As for the question of whether SLS/Orion will exist in 2020, I think it is unlikely but not impossible. But if it stll exists I think it will be because of the political corruption and not because of any technical merit.

        That’s my opinion.

        • Vladislaw

          Jim, I do hope you realize I was joking .. and I agree with you about SLS.

          • Jim Nobles

            I knew you were joking but it gave me an opportunity to address some things. Some people have tried to paint us as anti-this or that because we don’t support a giant pork system designed to funnel taxpayer money to just a few in return for votes and campaign contributions. So I thought I’d speak up and express how I feel about the situation. I hope I was not too ambiguous.

        • Guest

          That’s odd you say that because I believe this charade has gone on long enough and that puts me firmly in the vocally anti-NASA camp. Seriously, this has to stop.

      • A first manned flight of the Orion in 2021 will be 17 years since it began? Is that true?

        Bob Clark

        • Vladislaw

          President Bush announced The Vision for Space Exploration in Jan of 2004. The document was released in Feb of 2004.

          The Vision for Space Exploration

          I seem to have a different take on this document and what it was proposing.

          I thought it was going to do a down and dirty small capsule on slightly upgraded EELV, the Atlas. This would be more that enough until commercial crew came online.

          The VSE called for vehicles that would be modular and built in space and would utilize fuel depots and be reusable. Now, you pretty much have to be insane to think that mean’t something other than the Nautilus-X.

          There was and is NOTHING else at NASA that could possibley fulfill those requirements that were called for and come away with the idea that the orion capsule was that vehicle.

    • Andrew French

      I am firmly in the camp that is pro-NASA and anti- SLS/Orion, which will not exist in 2020 and hopefully not by 2015! If it is allowed to continue much longer, it will consume the productive aspects of what NASA actually does provide.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “I am curious to know how many people think SLS/Orion will exist in 2020? Honestly?”

      After Columbia, the Bush II White House shot their wad on NASA reform with the VSE. Even with Griffin & Co. retrenching and the failings of ESAS and Constellation becoming apparent, NASA was too low a priority to attempt another fix post-VSE (or beneath notice altogether in the absence of a Columbia-like crisis). The job of fixing NASA again was left to the next Administration.

      We’re in the same situation now. Until the next Administration takes office in early 2017 (or there is some exogenous crisis), there is no political impetus to terminate SLS or MCPV, regardless of the worsening programmatics and technical issues. Schedule will just slip to accommodate budget growth and setbacks. The Obama Administration shot its wad on NASA reform when it accepted SLS and MPCV, and the uselessness of ARM is testament to how little the White House is paying attention now. They’re just checking boxes and maintaining fig leaves. (The President said something about an asteroid a few years back…) Real NASA reform will again be left to the next Administration. And the next Administration won’t be in a position to have another run at reforming NASA until ~2018.

      That means that EFT-1, and probably EM-1, will go off. After reading the latest GAO and IG reports, EFT-1 will probably slip to 2015+ in the next year or so. It looks like any slips in the MPCV schedule are one-for-one now, so that will slip EM-1 to 2018+ and EM-2 to 2022+. EM-1 will be on the bubble, but absent a slip to 2020+ will probably be allowed to go forward like Ares I-X even if the next Administration is clearly making a go at NASA reform. EM-2 (and any follow-on mission) is almost certainly a goner if the next Administration tries to reform NASA.

      Of course, that assumes that the next Administration tries to reform NASA. That’s not a given. Looking at what happened under the Bush II and Obama Administrations, the next White House may come to the conclusion that fighting the special interests at NASA is just not worth it, and allow the agency to pass fully into the parochial arms of Congress. This has happened with other agencies, like the Army Corps of Engineers, which has a budget dominated by large, unreviewed, non-competed congressional earmarks. We may be on a similar path with NASA today.

      A lot may depend on future NASA Administrators. NASA is sufficiently technical that Congress will defer at least some of the time to a strong, independent, and active NASA Administrator like Goldin. But given that the befuddled Bolden was handpicked by Nelson, not the White House, there’s no guarantee of a strong, independent, and active NASA Administrator either.

      • Vladislaw

        Good points, the snowball has been rolled to the top of the hill… and been shoved… nothing to do now but what this snowball turn into a big one, sucking up all the human spaceflight money as it rolls along and then … crashes at the bottom into an unrecognizable pile of nothing.

    • Ben Russell-Gough

      If Orion survives as far as 2020, it will be a combination of inertia and a lack of confidence in the availability of a viable US-sourced alternative. If it survived as far as 2030, I’ll be shocked.

  • Vladislaw

    Jeff,

    Off topic but have you seen this:

    http://www.usaspending.gov/

    If you type in NASA .. there is a lot of data at your fingertips for your type of research.

    • Coastal Ron

      Gary Warburton said:

      The cracks are beginning to show.

      Unfortunately, no. It doesn’t matter what those outside of Congress think, and even in Congress it only matters what the people on the Senate and House appropriations committees want. As of today there is nothing to upset the equilibrium that keeps the SLS and MPCV money flowing.

      What we are waiting for is an inflection point, which will likely be when someone in Congress takes on the challenge of pointing out how hideously expensive and unneeded the SLS and MPCV are. Who that is, and when that will happen is unknown, but I think it will be by next year. Time will tell…

      • Gary Warburton

        No, not in congress but it is the first article from a major news organization where Nasa is forced to answer criticisms that -I`ve- seen. There may be more though. One reason I don`t believe in Micromanaged Congressional Oversight. They should never be promoting a specific rocket it is beyond their expertise.

        • Coastal Ron

          Gary Warburton said:

          …but it is the first article from a major news organization…

          AL.com is a major news organization? Maybe in Alabama, but not nationally.

          And if you noticed, only three people commented on that article, and I was one of them. I don’t think it got wide attention…

        • Vladislaw

          ah ,, Gary? NASA has been on the GOA’s most dangerous, as far as breaking budgets and schedules, agency since 1990. There has been decades of news articles pointing this out. The budget for NASA is so small . it BARELY rates an asterick in budget graphs of where the budget goes. (if it even gets an asterick) all that ever happens is,, we get some new kabuki theater and the pork train just keeps on going.

          • Gary Warburton

            You know Vladdislaw I thought, politicians were susceptible to logical criticism these ones don`t seem to be. How is that?

            • Vladislaw

              It’s like I said later in the thread. Without competition, they say things like “space is hard” for why nothing is getting down as long as they could keep all the roadblocks in place they were safe to pedal that BS.

              Once commercial crew is operational and Bigelow puts up a station, the congressional house of pork is going to be VERY hard to justify. Look for a 100% reversal though, they will say it was only through their efforts it happened blah blah blah

      • Neil Shipley

        Yes your absolutely right on this CR. For those in Congress who pushed for the SLS, it’s about jobs only and SLS is providing that. For the others, they don’t care enough to get involved and are happy simply to go along with those that want SLS – at the moment.

        • Vladislaw

          it is not that they don’t want to get involved, they don’t want to gore anyone else’s ox.

          you vote for my pork and I will vote for yours.

          You see without competition, a congressional member can’t attack. Once there are cheaper commercial alternatives congressional members will no longer vote for that pork, the “pork premuim” will be chopped out of the NASA budget as they switch to commercial and that money will be pork somewhere else.. ethonal, nuclear, wind, education .. etc .. someone will be able to justify pork better.

      • Fred Willett

        What we are waiting for is an inflection point
        It will probably come when Musk announces the completion of the raptor engine which will give him a high ISP methane upper stage for the Falcon Heavy. Elon needs a bigger upper stage to offset the penalty of carrying reusability hardware on his FH second stage.
        However the raw numbers of a FH with a raptor powered upper stage is going to be somewhere close to 70t to LEO inviting a direct comparison to SLS.
        $0 development dollars from NASA vs $18B for SLS.
        Around $150M a flight vs $1B+ for SLS.
        And probably flying sooner.
        It takes a lot to embarrass a politician, but that might just do it.

  • josh

    this silly “we have to go to the moon/asteroids first before we can go to mars” thing has been going on for far too long. utter waste of time and resources. good thing spacex is going straigt to mars. doesn’t really matter what nasa’s longterm plans are at this point. they’ll never come to fruition anyway.

    • Neil Shipley

      Elon and SpaceX have a few things to tidy up before they head for Mars but here’s hoping they do.
      Cheers

    • Fred Willett

      this silly “we have to go to the moon/asteroids first before we can go to mars” thing has been going on for far too long. utter waste of time and resources.
      flight to moon = 2 weeks max.
      Flight to mars = 2 years min.
      Some intermediate missions between the two are essential. Probably working up.
      So you need say, a 60 day mission, 120 day mission. etc before you commit to a 500 day+ mission. So if you’re going on a short mission (say 120 days) then you might as well go somewhere useful.
      i.e. an asteroid.
      However that is just plain impossible at the moment. You need in space stuff we just do not have.
      Like Nautilus.
      You’re not going to do any sort of mission BEO with just MPCV.

      • A_M_Swallow

        Plus time on planet in Mars/Moon base can be the same.

        • Fred Willett

          And of course time on the lunar surface helps you shake the bugs out of your transportation hardware. No?

          • A_M_Swallow

            Time on the Moon helps you get the bugs out of your habitat. From now on the rocket is the easy bit.

            • Dark Blue Nine

              “Time on the Moon helps you get the bugs out of your habitat.”

              No, it doesn’t. Gravity, atmospheres (or lack thereof), solar input, temperature swings, and toxins are all very different. There is little feed forward from a lunar to a Mars habitat.

              • A_M_Swallow

                Temperature is the outside. Habitats have an inside. Cost control requires the insides to be as similar as possible.

              • @Dark Blue Nine,….. You say that there’d be “little feed forward from a Lunar to a Mars habitat”. So, I suppose that there’s a lot of feedback coming from LEO stations, which are safely within the ionosphere/van allen belts; plus get regularly resupplied from Earth, every few months??! The ISS astronauts never have to deal with regolith dust; also the temperature swings of LEO upon the outer hull of the modules bears little resemblance to the surface conditions of the Red Planet. All of your arguments belittling the Moon as a testbed for Mars, can apply to Low Earth Orbit also!

              • Coastal Ron

                Chris Castro moaned:

                So, I suppose that there’s a lot of feedback coming from LEO stations, which are safely within the ionosphere/van allen belts; plus get regularly resupplied from Earth, every few months??!

                Do you have any idea what we’re doing on the ISS? At all?

                Just from the standpoint of human physiology, we now think we know how to counteract the deleterious effects of zero gravity. And to test out their theories they are going to run a one-year test on two astronauts. You can’t do science like that in the Orion on a 21-day trip, and you can’t do science like that on the Moon.

                As to radiation, that has been a lower priority mainly because we have so many other more important technologies and techniques that need to be addressed before we have to worry about long-term radiation effects on humans, but I guess you missed the announcement where Bigelow will be installing one of their inflatable modules on the ISS to test (in part) it’s ability to mitigate radiation?

                As to logistics, I’m not sure what the heck you are talking about. No matter where we go in the solar system, we are unlikely to find the same feedstocks we have on Earth that we’ll need for self-sufficieny. Because of that, lowering the cost to move mass to orbit becomes very important if we plan to do more in space, and a commercial cargo transportation system in space becomes as important as the one we have here on Earth.

                People that think we can become self-sufficient on the Moon with just water and moon dust are just plain crazy… real lunar-tics.

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “So, I suppose that there’s a lot of feedback coming from LEO stations”

                There’s more because the trip to Mars is basically a multi-month stay inside a zero-g space station, not that much different from current ISS rotations.

                It’s not applicable to surviving on Mars, but it is applicable to the very difficult trip to and from Mars. The Moon is not.

                “which are safely within the ionosphere/van allen belts;”

                I never wrote that ISS could accurately model the radiation environments for a trip to Mars. I wrote that NASA had sent instruments onboard the MSL (Curiousity) mission to Mars to get these readings.

                Don’t be an idiot. Read and comprehend what I write before you reply.

                “plus get regularly resupplied from Earth, every few months??!”

                A lunar outpost would get resupplied and crew rotated every six months under Constellation, just like the ISS.

                Think before you post, stupid.

                “The ISS astronauts never have to deal with regolith dust”

                And neither will Mars astronauts. There is no lunar regolith on Mars.

                Think before you post, stupid.

                “also the temperature swings of LEO upon the outer hull of the modules bears little resemblance to the surface conditions of the Red Planet.”

                I never wrote that ISS could accurately model the thermal environments for a trip to Mars or for habitats on Mars. I wrote that the lunar environment doesn’t accurately model Mars missions.

                Don’t be an idiot. Read and comprehend what I write before you reply.

                “All of your arguments belittling the Moon as a testbed for Mars, can apply to Low Earth Orbit also!”

                Outside the zero-g environment on a trip to Mars, I never wrote that ISS or any other LEO environment is a good model for Mars missions or habitats.

                Just because I point out how lunar missions are radically different from Mars missions, doesn’t mean that I think LEO missions are much better.

                Don’t be an idiot. Read and comprehend what I write before you reply.

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “Temperature is the outside. Habitats have an inside.”

                It’s all about the outside.

                You have to be able to reject excess heat from the inside, which requires radiators on the outside. The environment that those radiators have to reject heat into greatly changes the type and design of those radiators.

                You have to be able to heat the inside, which requires power from the outside. That power will either be solar or nuclear. In the solar case, the solar flux will be different, which will drive you towards different sizes and types of solar arrays, likely even different types of solar cells. In the nuclear case, that nuclear source will need to reject a lot of excess heat, which means more radiators, which differ according to the environment. (See above.)

                We haven’t even touched how the presence of a thin atmosphere (Mars) versus a vacuum (Moon) changes things. Or how the Martian day versus the two-week lunar night changes things. Etc., etc.

                “Cost control requires the insides to be as similar as possible.”

                They won’t be. Cost control requires that you start with a clean sheet and design intelligently and efficiently to each of these very different environments instead of getting stupid and inefficient about trying to adapt, integrate, and run legacy hardware in conditions it was never designed for.

                This isn’t like beefing up car chassis and calling it an SUV.

                It’s the difference between designing a house for Mt. Everest and a house for Death Valley.

                Only much, much worse.

          • Dark Blue Nine

            “And of course time on the lunar surface helps you shake the bugs out of your transportation hardware. No?”

            No. The duration, delta-v, masses, and return trajectories involved are very different. You’re not going to use a lunar transit stage to get to Mars. You’re not going to use a heat shield for reentry from a lunar trajectory to perform reentry from a Mars trajectory.

            • Fred Willett

              I was being sarcastic. It just doesn’t work in text mode. (sigh)
              And you’re totally right. Lunar habitats are of limited utility in proving out a Mars Transport system.

            • @DBN,……How about the radiation-exposure problem, alone? On the surface of the Moon, the sheer planetary bulk of the place shields the astronauts in one direction: from the bottom/from the ground. But you’d still have to design your habitation module to withstand cosmic rays from the above direction.

              How about having to survive & withstand a solar flare event? The hull & walls of the main habitat module could be sectioned into hollowed-out segments, that could be filled with regolith material, and can be designed to have this material loaded into these inner wall spaces, on the Moon’s surface——-after landing next to, locating & retrieving such a permanently landed vehicle. (As I’ve previously mentioned, unmannedly-landed cargo vehicles can be emplaced on the Moon, prior to the crew being sent there. Such variant lunar landers would be the catalyst for the Outpost-type Phase of astronaut visits; either as heavy-cargo-landers or as habitation-base landers, which would land one-way, of course.)

              The valuable on-surface experience of dealing with regolith-shielded habitation modules, for multi-week/multi-month-long expeditions, will serve as a demonstrative technology-model, for how future interplanetary missions can be done. (Your shielding material could even be water or another chemical liquid. The point is that these are materials & substances which can be obtained on the Moon’s surface; and even if they’d add some weight to the structures, again, these are already modules which have been sent down to the lunar ground, one-way.)

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “How about the radiation-exposure problem”

                The solar flux is different on the Moon and on Mars. And being on a planetary surface like the Moon is not a good analog for long-duration space transport, because a planetary body blocks half of the cosmic rays.

                NASA didn’t measure the radiation exposure of a Mars trip by putting instruments on the Moon. They put instruments on the Mars Surface Laboratory (Curiousity) mission.

                We’re not going to

                “The hull & walls of the main habitat module could be sectioned into hollowed-out segments, that could be filled with regolith material”

                Water and polyethylene are the best radiation shields. You want lots of moderately dense, lightweight hydrogen atoms. Lunar regolith ain’t that. In fact, if you don’t make it thick enough, the spalling effects from lunar regolith may actually make the crew’s radiation exposure worse.

                “The valuable on-surface experience of dealing with regolith-shielded habitation modules, for multi-week/multi-month-long expeditions, will serve as a demonstrative technology-model, for how future interplanetary missions can be done.”

                Lunar surface operations are almost useless as a model for other planetary surface operations. Lunar astronauts only suffer a communications lag of a second or two with mission control. Mars communications with Earth, however, can take up to low tens of minutes. We’re going to have to invent entirely new modes of operation for Mars for which the Moon is a useless testbed.

              • Vladislaw

                “Lunar Regolith Usage

                Regolith protection would be in the form of a shield or blanket of regolith covering the habitat with each threat requiring a different blanket thickness for adequate/ acceptable protection.

                Radiation:

                A shield to protect against radiation exposure in a lunar habitat must reduce crew exposure levels from lunar radiation sources (GCR & Solar) to acceptable levels. A layer/shield of regolith accomplishes this reduction by increasing the mass/material a radiation source must traverse to reach the crew. The more material a radiation source passes through the more its radiation energies are reduced or stopped by its particles interacting with the material. Specifically, solar wind particles have such low energies (keV) that they are stopped in less than a micrometer of regolith while solar event particles will pass through ~50-100 centimeters of regolith before being significantly mitigated (See Figure 4). In addition, heavy nuclei GCR particles are stopped by ~10 centimeters of regolith while all other GCR (GeV) particles are stopped by 1000g/cm3 of material which equates to 5 meters of lunar regolith (2g/cm3) or the Earth’s atmosphere [Heiken 1991]. However since NASA’s current acceptable limit for radiation exposure is 25 rem/month not zero, less than 5 meters of regolith shielding (i.e., 10cmAL- – Standard Space Vehicle Shielding = 13cmregolith ) would be acceptable GCR protection. Therefore based on the maximum protection required, as described above, 1– 2 meters of regolith appears to be adequate for effective shielding of a lunar habitat to avoid radiation sickness in the crew [Silberberg 1988].”

                http://rcktmom.com/njlworks/LunarRegolithPprenvi2.html

                16 feet is quite a bit of regolith to toss on top of an inflatable habitat.

            • Dark Blue Nine

              “16 feet is quite a bit of regolith to toss on top of an inflatable habitat.”

              Or push up out of the lunar gravity well and on to Mars.

              Lunar resources makes sense for lunar activities. They don’t make much sense for anything else.

              • @Dark Blue Nine,….Look, whatever turns out to best be, the main radiation protectant for surface habs on the Moon, you can’t deny that the technological exercise has tantalizing implications for how the approach to the problem will be done later, on the Red Planet!
                Sure, there are engineering analysts who surmise that lunar water might turn out to do the job adequately—–and by the way, whatever water-like liquid substance that can be sizeably extracted from the lunar ice, will be the way to go. Be it hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, some liquid mix of such chemicals—–bingo! We’d have our needed quasi-water protectant——to fill up such narrow-spaced, wall-segments. Whether the shielding material ends up being regolith or water, both are substances to be found & mined from the Moon’s surface, once a cargo-lander and/or surface habitation-module is emplaced.
                Plus the degree of durability of such a radiation-protection scheme, could be analyzed over just how well it can do the job. Perhaps even the trans-lunar/trans-mars spacecraft can subsequently be built with such a similiar storm-shelter section (or module)—–in this case, most likely the water-protectant variation, to reduce the weight.

              • Coastal Ron

                Chris Castro theorized:

                Look, whatever turns out to best be, the main radiation protectant for surface habs on the Moon, you can’t deny that the technological exercise has tantalizing implications for how the approach to the problem will be done later, on the Red Planet!

                Yes, we can deny that the Moon is a good analogy for Mars, because it isn’t.

                Humans will go back to the Moon some day, but not for the reasons you think.

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “Sure, there are engineering analysts who surmise that lunar water might turn out to do the job adequately—–and by the way, whatever water-like liquid substance that can be sizeably extracted from the lunar ice, will be the way to go. Be it hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, some liquid mix of such chemicals—–bingo!”

                There’s no “bingo” in lunar ISRU. It requires tens of billions of dollars of spending. Even advocates like Paul Spudis admit that lunar water will require $88 billion and 30 missions over 10-16 years before reaching a breakeven point where more surplus water can be exported (to a Mars mission or anything else) than consumed:

                “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

                If I need to get water into space for manned Mars missions, I can just buy a Delta IV Heavy launch that will put over 20 metric tons of Earth water into LEO for less than $500 million. I could buy over 150 of those for less than Spudis’ $88 billion lunar water production plan and have over 3,000 metric tons of Earth water in space before one gallon of lunar water gets delivered.

                If you want to go back to the Moon, great, go back to the Moon. But don’t make up technically and economically ridiculous and false arguments about how the Moon is on the path to Mars. It’s not. It’s a huge detour.

      • Humans have easily survived trips to the Moon and back. Even the current shortest trip to Mars requires much longer exposure to zero gravity — not healthy for humans. There is also the much higher chance of high radiation. Yes, a sufficiently massive vehicle can shield from that. On Mars there are poisons in the atmosphere and soil. The gravity is also different. I’ll believe humans can live on Mars when such is proven.

        I think we should be aiming for very large space stations — something like the L5 colonies that were proposed four decades ago. But only after testing of living organisms in much smaller facilities.

        It is going to take a long time to settle humans off the Earth, if it is possible. I think it can be done. Still, though, a long time. We have a great deal to learn.

        • Fred Willett

          we have a great deal to learn
          Just so.
          Personally I feel the getting to Mars bit is less of a problem than just an engineering problem as far as gravity goes. After all a big centrifuge is all that’s needed to solve the micro gravity problem and that’s just engineering. Nautilus with its centrifuge module would be perfect.
          Radiation is a problem we haven’t even begun to consider.
          But long term life on Mars (or the moon) is a bigger problem for the permanent settler. We know there are problems with adapting to zero gravity on ISS. We know that just moving to a high altitude environment here on earth induces physical changes in people. But exactly zero work has been done on the extent of adaptation that will occur in Mars or Lunar gravity. Nothing. Zip.
          It is essential that this work be done before we attempt to send long term residents to either planet.
          If NASA was seriously considering settling either location this work would be being done at ISS right now.
          It is not.
          That should tell you a lot about NASA’s plans for Lunar or Mars missions.

  • DCSCA

    “Roadmaps” when properly framed, make for great, if not quaint antiques to hang in the den or office in the GPS era.

    This is just more meaningless planning prattle adding to the era of ‘free drift.’

    Project Lasso is dead.

    And space policy pronouncements from the current admistration are just the leading edge of a feckless, ineffective presidency already well into lame duck status, less than a year into term two. This duck’s goose is pretty much cooked. Stick a fork in him, his effectiveness is essentially done.

    • @DCSCA,……We can only hope! Project Lasso-an-asteroid, one of the dumbest spaceflight proposals I’ve ever seen, to have been taken seriously by NASA, marches on, because the President called for a manned mission anywhere but the Moon. The stupid “we’ve already been there” attitude, that keeps us from ever leaving the safety & comfort of LEO! [Doesn’t anybody out there, in TV-land, see that we’ve definitely been to LEO hundreds of times, on capsules & stations, doing the same old thing, decade after freaking decade!]

  • amightywind

    Why must the US allow this rag tag of nations to dangle from its space exploration coattails? Where’s the debate? We’re going to Mars with Putin, really? We should be long past the point of holder our nose with that gangster. George Bush set up Constellation to get other nations out of the critical path of development. Obama reversed it. How’s that working?

    • Ben Russell-Gough

      No, GWB set up the VSE in an attempt to give NASA a post-Shuttle direction. Griffin set up Constellation to feed his personal need to be seen as the greatest rocket designer in history and to pander to the huge NASA community that wishes it was still 1971.

    • Coastal Ron

      amightywind said:

      George Bush set up Constellation to get other nations out of the critical path of development. Obama reversed it. How’s that working?

      Considering how much foreign money we were borrowing to prop up the bad hardware decisions Griffin made, I’d say Obama did pretty good.

      Now if we can just wipe away the last vestiges of Constellation (i.e. SLS and MPCV) so we can move on to an affordable, sustainable, and more technologically advanced exploration system, then we’ll finally be able to forget the whole Griffin-era distraction.

    • josh

      as long as commercial crew is funded it’s working out ok. everything else is secondary. it’s the only real nasa hsf project at the moment. mpcv and sls are make work projects that will get cancelled after billions spent without delivering any value.

    • Vladislaw

      Windy … I want to suggest a new concept to you, it’s called, reading.

      windy prevaricated:
      George Bush set up Constellation to get other nations out of the critical path of development.”

      This is from the COVER LETTER signed by President Bush, that prefaced The Vision for Space Exploration

      “Goal and Objectives
      The fundamental goal of this vision is to advance U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests through a robust space exploration program. In support of this goal, the United States will:
      • Implement a sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond;
      • Extend human presence across the solar system, starting with a human return to the Moon by the year 2020, in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations;
      • Develop the innovative technologies, knowledge, and infrastructures both to explore and to support decisions about the destinations for human exploration; and
      Promote international and commercial participation in exploration to further U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests.”

      [boldface mine]

      So of the four MAJOR primary goals, international participation is a part of it.

      Further on the President writes:

      “D. International and Commercial Participation
      • Pursue opportunities for international participation to support U.S. space exploration goals; and
      • Pursue commercial opportunities for providing transportation and other services supporting the International Space Station and exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit.

      PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
      JANUARY 14, 2004

      Wrong again.

  • Egad

    Somewhat relevant to how NASA is thinking about this, see PDF page 21 in

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/710715main_12-11_Future_Plans.pdf

    NASA Advisory Council Meeting:
    Full Session
    William Gerstenmaier
    November 28, 2012

    Just how they are going to pay for that is the question.

    • Ben Russell-Gough

      They’ll have to be willing to make compromises – the Block-II development of SLS is a dead duck, IMHO. Hell, the whole SLS project might have to be sacrificed and the program might end up being EELV-upgrade-launched (Boeing were foresighted enough to design the architecture to fit inside a 5m PLF). What is necessary is for them to tell the politicians that they can do ‘x’ in a certain way in a certain time frame at their current budget.

      However, I’m not sure Congress would be willing to see SLS die in exchange for cool missions 10-20 years from now.

    • Vladislaw

      I thought this was rather amusing, from page 12:

      “The Un-crewed Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) in 2014 and Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) in 2017 will validate innovative approaches to space systems development to ensure the systems are safe for human travel, reduce cost, and demonstrate spacecraft post-landing recovery procedures.”

      Innovative? ya it sure was an innovative approach…

      reduce cost? seriously? As Steven Colbert would say .. those are some pretty big brass balls to use the words reduce cost in connection to ANYTHING SLS or MPCV.

  • Hiram

    “‘Roadmaps’ when properly framed, make for great, if not quaint antiques to hang in the den or office in the GPS era.”

    I wouldn’t bother to frame it. It wasn’t intended to be framed. The GER is posited as a “living document” that is intended to track the intentions of the international community with regard to space. A common misconception is that these strategic planning documents are intended to be some long-lasting rule of law. They aren’t. They are merely an existence proof that, at any one time, the international community can have a productive discussion about their priorities, which may well change. Such productive discussions are actually rather recent, and highly enabling, so fresh reminders of that capability are encouraging.

    Yes, Project Lasso, as you must know, is Windows software that manages priorities of your programs so they don’t hang your system. NASA could really use this software in their asteroid advocacy, no?

    The space policy pronouncements from the current administration are indicative of its ineffectiveness largely because there are next to none of them.

  • James

    The value of this Road mapping activity is simply to get folks talking to each other, understand where they are coming from, what are their constraints etc.

    Nothing more. Nothing to see here. This is not the droid you are looking for.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    With the evolvable deep space habitat and all other aspects of the Boeing SLS exploration strategy seemingly on the verge of being adopted as policy by NASA, expect the asteroid redirect mission to fade away or even turn into a solely-robotic mission. With SLS expensive and hard-pressed to reach a flight rate of 2/year, if adopted, this road-map would have precedence over the Obama/Bolden White Elephant Mission.

    I’ll be very interested if this mission road-map is ultimately approved because it has several elements that interest me:

    1) It potentially restores a flight to an NEA as part of the road-map;
    2) It has an ‘off-ramp’ where the Mars lander tests on the Moon can be turned into a lunar program in its own right;
    3) It is ‘launcher neutral’, being potentially workable using existing launchers and LEO assembly/provisioning.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “With SLS expensive and hard-pressed to reach a flight rate of 2/year”

      Even with an unlimited budget, SLS can’t hit two launches per year over any sustained length of time. The production requirements are one SLS every other year. It would take NASA two years to stockpile two SLSes to hit a flight rate of two launches per year for one year, and then there wouldn’t be another SLS launch for another two years.

      “With the evolvable deep space habitat and all other aspects of the Boeing SLS exploration strategy seemingly on the verge of being adopted as policy by NASA… if adopted, this road-map would have precedence…”

      This roadmap isn’t going to be adopted. Bolden downplayed it in an interview with a Houston newspaper. And the ISECG has been producing these “roadmaps” for years with no impact on what NASA or any of the other space agencies involved are doing or negotiating with each other.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    It should be noted that the roadmap differs from Obama space policy by mentioning the Moon at all.

  • Jim Nobles

    Actually the “Back To The Moon” crowd actually have a shot at getting it done if they’d use the resources coming online instead of waiting on Uncle Sam and a very iffy SLS to do it for them.

    With Falcon Heavy development already paid for and Bigelow Habitat development already paid for all they really need is a lander.

    So why aren’t they working that angle? It doesn’t make sense to wait for Congress and NASA to maybe eventually do it.

    • Guest

      For the sole reason that they no longer have that caliber of leadership or talent.

    • josh

      because the “back to the moon” crowd on here consists of people who are stuck in the 60s and who want to relive apollo. silly, i know.

    • Vladislaw

      If all the real hard core moon first people started chanting for commercial it would do more good then supporting SLS.

      Boeing, Lockhead, SpaceX all had heavy lift options that would have already been flying now.. and at cheaper prices so there would have been some actual money for hardware to launch.. as it is .. 17 years .. for a disposable capsule and rocket .. for 17 years they are going to chant for the rocket to nowhere.

    • Fred Willett

      Actually if Musk can get his Falcon 2nd stage to soft land from orbit then you have a lunar lander right there.
      And a Mars lander.

      • Jim Nobles

        Actually a moon lander based on a reuable F9 second stage might be easier than an Earth return stage. No thermal problems with atmospheric entry. I have no idea about propellant needs though.

        • Fred Willett

          Actually if you can refuel a 2nd stage on orbit it can push a fair load of cargo through 6k/s of delta-v and that’s more than enough to go anywhere in the Earth/Mars/Moon region. Including the Mars and Lunar surfaces. Just add fuel depots and landing legs as required. I would bet apples and oranges that this is Musks MCT. As hefty a methane raptor powered 2nd stage as he can manage. It gives him plenty of margin for reusability. It gives him Mars and Lunar landers and a great in space stage to push stuff (and people) around the system.

          • Good point. Lunar derived propellant depots open up the entire inner solar system, including, quite importantly, near Earth asteroids that contain unimaginable amounts of mineral wealth.

            Bob Clark

            • Coastal Ron

              Robert Clark said:

              Lunar derived propellant depots open up the entire inner solar system…

              You’re reading too much into this Bob.

              First of all Fred didn’t say where the fuel was coming from, only that fuel depots enable us to use existing launchers to move larger mass payloads to further distances. Unless someone is willing to offer up $100B over a 20 year period in order to set up a lunar propellant manufacturing system, the propellant for the fuel depots won’t be coming from the Moon.

              And if we need methane, not LH2, then that’s going to take even more money and time to create from lunar resources.

              Who do you think is providing this large amount of money of such a long period of time? Surely not our Congress.

              For now and into the foreseeable future, all fuel will be coming from Earth, and that will be because it’s the overall least expensive place to source it from. Trying to source fuel from the Moon would actually hamper our exploration goals, not enable them, because of the high cost of setting up the infrastructure on the Moon.

              • Unless someone is willing to offer up $100B over a 20 year period in order to set up a lunar propellant manufacturing system

                There’s no intrinsic reason why it would have to cost that much, or take that long.

              • Coastal Ron

                Rand Simberg said:

                There’s no intrinsic reason why it would have to cost that much, or take that long.

                Likely not. But the Spudis plan assumes inefficiencies that require it to be that expensive, otherwise the economics for the whole plan don’t make sense.

                Cheap lift would lower the cost to build a lunar propellant facility, but cheap lift also eliminates the near-term need for such a facility. That causes Spudis to use pretzel logic…

    • Ben Russell-Gough

      I should note that the Boeing plan upon which this plan is based could, hypothetically, work with only EELVs (with already-planned upgrades) and Falcon Heavy. The use of SLS is just a sweetener to attract the politically orthodox in NASA.

  • NASA just released a new notional video of the Asteroid Initiative mission:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXvsi7DRyPI

    • Vladislaw

      I was all ready to jump against this but decided to watch it first, I have to admit… it looked better than the way I imagined the mission going down. You could revisit the way they show it being done.

      • Vladislaw wrote:

        I was all ready to jump against this but decided to watch it first, I have to admit… it looked better than the way I imagined the mission going down. You could revisit the way they show it being done.

        Lori Garver has made it very clear in recent weeks that they’re open to tweaking this. That’s why they solicited input from all comers. Make it better if you can.

        As debated here ad nauseam, the driver here is the lack of funding for anything more spectactular coupled with the demand from Congress to do something with SLS. We can argue until we’re blue in the face about SLS’s merits or lack thereof, but this is the hand dealt NASA by Congress.

        My personal opinion is that within five years Falcon Heavy will blow the doors off SLS — perhaps literally, if it launches from 39A — but if ARM gives purpose to this program then so be it.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “the driver here is the lack of funding for anything more spectactular coupled with the demand from Congress to do something with SLS.”

          Congress isn’t demanding that SLS/MPCV do something. The House explicitly rejected ARM in its bills and the Senate was silent in theirs. The House has sponsored empty measures about lunar return, and the Senate is asking NASA for yet another human space exploration plan with Mars as the endpoint.

          We know what legislation looks like when Congress wants something like SLS/MPCV. That legislation looks like the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, and it dictates technical, budget, schedule, contract, and workforce specifics in considerable detail.

          Congress isn’t dictating any specifics with respect to SLS payloads or MPCV missions. They’re rejecting asteroid redirect plans out of hand, they’re asking for more plans about other targets, and they’re making empty, unfunded pronouncements about yet others.

          As long as SLS and MPCV keep the old Shuttle workforce from voting certain congressmen down in the next election, Congress is not interested in actual space exploration hardware and missions. That would require real work. They’re fine with fig leafs.

          “but if ARM gives purpose to this program then so be it.”

          To give a purpose to SLS and MPCV, ARM would have to have a purpose other than providing a fig leaf for SLS and MPCV.

          The whole thing is a self-licking ice cream cone. Nothing more.

      • josh

        yeah, pretty pictures. actually i think i’m coming around. here’s why: this mission is cheap compared to a lunar return. so nasa will waste some money but at least not tens of billions. instead of trying to build an unsustainable lunar architecture nasa will do this stunt mission and by the time they’re done spacex will probably be half-way to mars so we can then transform nasa hsf into a cots-like program.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “this mission is cheap compared to a lunar return”

          It’s not. The ARM mission as defined in the Keck study is $2.6 billion. But that study’s cost estimates assumed that all the relevant technologies had been matured on the ground and were ready for flight. There’s at least some few hundreds of millions of dollars in getting those technologies matured — maybe a lot more depending on how easy or hard a NEO target NASA can identify and characterize. But I’ll call it $3 billion even.

          Then there’s the costs of the MPCV mission to visit the NEO once it’s in lunar orbit. That’s supposed to launch in 2021, four years after the first 2017 unmanned SLS/MPCV shakedown. At a run-rate of $3 billion per year to keep the SLS and MPCV programs together, that mission will cost ~$12 billion. Combined with ARM, we’re looking at ~$15 billion total.

          Contrast that with $6.4 billion to develop Golden Spike’s human lunar architecture thru its test mission — call it $7 billion — and the $1.5 billion cost for repeat manned missions to the lunar surface using that architecture.

          So $15 billion for a couple astronauts to visit one, seven-meter rock in lunar orbit for a day or so.

          Or $15 billion for 12 astronauts to visit multiple locations on the lunar surface over six missions.

          I’m no big human lunar return supporter, but I’d take the latter over the former, any day.

          • josh

            i was referring to a lunar return based on one of nasa’s unaffordable architectures (see the exploration roadmap), not golden spike.

            but you’re correct, if you factor in the annual program costs even this mission is going to cost a small fortune. still less than if nasa were to develop altair or something like that.

          • Vladislaw

            Gosh . and here I was just starting to like this and here you come along with those pesky details… details details … sheesh …

            I honestly thought this was going to be a cheaper way about it. But .. once again .. when you add the “pork premium” it makes the project rather silly.

  • amightywind

    The diagram repeatedly refers to an upgraded SLS. Why didn’t they just build the Ares V configuration and have it done? Requirements are requirements. Mike Griffin was right.

    • josh

      ares v was even more of a monstrosity than sls, that’s why. sls block 2 will never happen anyway.

    • Ben Russell-Gough

      Because most of the bits of that model don’t exist right now. As for Ares-V? In all probability it was probably too heavy to actually get off the ground. They’d actually given up on guessing an in-service date before they finally pulled the plug on Griffin’s grandiose ego-trip.

      • Guest

        As for Ares-V? In all probability it was probably too heavy to actually get off the ground.

        I’m almost positive anything with two five segment ATK SRBs bolted to it will get off the ground. Ares V, being a papaer rocket, certainly could launch if built. You can’t make these kinds of dumb statements without inviting a response. Ares 4.5 (SLS) is not substantially different that the original Ares V design, and it appears that it will get off the ground as well, if built and launched. Apparently NASA has no intention of delivering it to orbit, however, which does solve a lot of problems for them as well.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Why didn’t they just build the Ares V configuration and have it done?”

    Because it breaks the budget to develop three new engines at the same time.

    “Requirements are requirements.”

    What NASA manned space mission or architecture has a written requirement for a 188 metric ton launch to LEO?

    Provide a link.

    “Mike Griffin was right.”

    Between Ares I, Orion, Constellation, MSL, and JWST, Griffin arguably didn’t get one important thing right during his entire tenure as Administrator.

    • josh

      msl was a success i think. started before griffin though.

    • Vladislaw

      I rememebered the supporters of this monster saying .. the costs really come down if you launch it 5 – 6 times a year. 940 metric tons of hardware at the average price that NASA pays per ton of ANY hardware that gets launched and you are looking at the price of the space shuttle program .. there is just not enough money to build any hardware if NASA builds a monster rocket.

      • Hiram

        “I rememebered the supporters of this monster saying .. the costs really come down if you launch it 5 – 6 times a year.”

        Exactly right. This is an old and daft argument, in terms of saving money. If you launch it 6 times per year, you’re going to be paying for six SLS payloads each year. Remember that cost roughly scales with payload mass. If you launch rocks, a limiting low cost per kg payload, the argument might be sensible. Even then, that’s a kiloton of rocks in LEO every year for $3B. The argument didn’t work with shuttle, and it sure won’t work here.

        • Vladislaw

          I agree, one commenter said launch a giant telescope. Great .. so theres one launch .. now what. Even if you redid all the great telescopes in that series, that included the Hubble, that is still only one year of launches.

          If the james webb costs 8 billion? How much would a 188 ton james webb be? Plus a 188 ton Hubble, Chandra .. etc..

          20-40 billion a piece and a decade to build each one?

          People just do not understand just how much hardware you have to launch for a monster rocket.

        • Ben Russell-Gough

          This is one of the reasons I like the Atlas Phase-2/3A. It is an SHLV but a single-stick version (Aerojet SRM-augmented) could be used for space probe and heavy NRO payload launch and the like. It might even be cheaper than D-IVH. So you still get the economies of scale without the need to create SHLV-sized payloads to launch the thing.

          The DIRECT group’s calculations for the Jupiter system’s affordability basically depended on the LEO version, with Orion and the shuttle payload bay-like cargo carrier, replacing the shuttle as the primary US support vehicle for the ISS. That would have meant an instant extra 3 flights/year, more if make-work science missions using MPLM-derived spacelabs were included. In essence, they were assuming that it would be costing no more than the shuttle to operate because it was using payloads that would otherwise be launched on the shuttle. It probably also assumed that Congress would kindly rescind the Space Act provisions that demands NASA launch on commercial wherever possible so some D-IVH-bound payloads would launch on the LEO version with the DIVUS-derived upper stage.

          In their defence, even the DIRECT group (in their ‘v.2.0′ AIAA presentation) said that shuttle-derived is costly and that it was a political rather than budgetary choice.

          • Fred Willett

            An even better path than a heavy lift is fuel depots.
            Whatever your lift to LEO if you have a refuelable in space stage you can make that payload to LEO the same as a payload to anywhere.
            FH = 50t to LEO. Refuel your 2nd stage and it can push 50t to L5 refuel there and you can push 50t to Deimos. Refuel there… and so on. The point is heavy lift is sorta like rocket porn. It’s great to think about but it really distracts you from actually going places and doing stuff.

      • vulture4

        I agree; LV manufacturing is a mature industry and in reality there are no major economies of scale to be gained from higher launch rates. Even agressive new technologies like SpaceX can only reduce costs by 20-30%. Most of the cost of launch is in LV and spacecraft fabrication. Consequently, only full reusability can reduce the cost of human spaceflight to a sustainable level.

        • Vladislaw

          I would have to disagree, we have not even scratched the surface of economies of scale. When the entire planet is building a couple hundred rocket engines a year… nope.

          How about rocket engine .. FACTORIES .. Rocket tank factories, Rocket faring factories.

          When you look at the all other forms of transportation there are multiple manufacturers of all elements of that transportation system. Cars, planes, boats etc.

          When we are producing a couple thousand per a year we will be reaching true economies of scale.

  • guest

    The asteroid rendezvous looks like a fun mission if you are on it. It might catch the public’s attention for a few days. Then what?

    So we are spending tens of billions of $$ and about 20 years to reach a point where we can do one mission that is about as exciting as an Apollo trans-earth EVA, like those done on Apollos 15-17? If you recall, those who lived through them, those EVAs were barely even noticed by anyone.

    Maybe two or three years later we’ll do a repeat?

    I guess its something to do. Really does not advance technology. Really does not advance science.

    Really not nearly as sophisticated as most Shuttle EVAs or ISS EVAs.

    This will prove the capability then, of what exactly?

    That we have enough confidence in the Orion capsule to do a 2 week mission?

    Based on Apollo which had far more flight test experience by the time of any of the lunar missions, we never had the confidence to get around an Apollo 13 type of incident. We always depended upon the LM to provide critical backup capability as long as we could during the mission. Remember Apollo 16 and the SPS anomaly and almost cancelled the landing? Given what we learned I’d guess we’d never have approved another Apollo 8 style mission. This mission is essentially the same as an Apollo 8 style mission. Has safety ever considered this for Orion and given their approval? My guess is that they have not.

    I think you’ll need that evolvable space habitat with a backup ECLS attached, along with an auxiliary propulsion unit in order to get the redundancy that would be needed for a safety buy off. My guess is no one has even thought through this.

    I think NASA manned space flight needs some serious attention and renewed discipline.

    • @guest,….True. Sending two combined spacecrafts to deep space seems to be much safer. Hence I favor the old Apollo CSM & LM approach, with regard to future Lunar trips. (Even with the solo-vehicle trans-lunar/outbound idea being floated around; involving an advance-launching of the lunar lander, sent into a lunar parking orbit, where it loiters there awaiting a docking crew, for the eventual landing.) But whichever flight-plan is ultimately chosen for the second round of Moon expeditions——the current craze of the Asteroid Retrieval Mission has glaring flaws in it, and should be scrapped, just as the former “let’s visit an asteroid in interplanetary space” idea was. The ARM idea is quite pointless, and it has as its genesis the Obama/Bolden anti-Moon bias! The Moon itself likely harbors many such geologic specimens of NEO meteorites already, next to any of its craters.

      • Coastal Ron

        Chris Castro said:

        Sending two combined spacecrafts to deep space seems to be much safer. Hence I favor the old Apollo CSM & LM approach, with regard to future Lunar trips.

        You really need to enter the 21st century Chris. Why don’t you want to use modern technology and techniques?

        Do you also advocate that we should only travel through the air in open cockpit piston airplanes? Or travel by horse between cities? Revert to sail-powered cargo vessels?

        You can’t keep humans healthy in a cramped capsule in space, no matter how many $16B capsules you stick together.

        And since you insist on ignoring the lack of money as a factor in anything you want NASA to do, you forget that there is only one Orion Service Module that is planned to be built, and the money for that one Service Module is coming from the European Space Agency (ESA), not U.S. Taxpayers. That is a good thing, but it also means that NASA has no money for building any future Service Modules, which means there won’t be any money for your double-Orion mission.

        Poor Chris. Reality trumps your fantasies… ;-)

        • @Coastal Ron,….The basic physics of sending astronauts to the Moon, have NOT changed in 40 or 50 years! A Heavy-Lift rocket can most efficiently launch an earth-escape-stage rocket, along with one of the specialized spacecrafts, into a parking orbit——yeah, yeah, take your pick or earthian or lunar orbit, and your variation of an EOR and/or LOR flight-plan.
          Why you’d want to bother with arcane & unproven-as-viable concepts such as orbital fuel depots and fully-reusable spacecrafts, is beyond me!! It is quite amusing how NONE of these supposedly “game changing technologies” are currently being investigated at the ISS! A lot of the time it seems like the Mars zealots are just relying on the idea, that these would-be spaceflight techniques are going to magically spring out of engineering laboratories, sometime on the nick-of-time before they are ready to fly their Mars mission.
          A large amount of naivety, appears to rule in that camp. Just have a look at this wild idea brewing, about sending a two-person crew into a free-return, 501-day-duration mission to flyby Mars in 2018! I mean, if they have SO much confidence that this celestial objective can be done, why not perform a shakedown, test flight to flyby the Moon, first?? Surely a much-shorter, six or seven day, circumlunar flight would prove to be a good rehearsal for a lot of the milestones involved with such a plan?? Oh wait, I forgot: the Mars-or-bust people would rather just pretend that the Moon doesn’t exist!!

          • Small correction: In my above comment, on the first paragraph, I meant to type: “——yeah, yeah, take your pick OF earthian or lunar orbit, and your variation of an EOR and/or LOR flight-plan.”

          • Coastal Ron

            Chris Castro said:

            The basic physics of sending astronauts to the Moon, have NOT changed in 40 or 50 years! A Heavy-Lift rocket can most efficiently launch an earth-escape-stage rocket, along with one of the specialized spacecrafts, into a parking orbit…

            As I have stated many times, I have no doubt that NASA and Boeing can build an HLV that works. Unlike you, I have great faith in our nations aerospace industry.

            The issue though is cost, not capability. What will the SLS cost to lift it’s rare payloads?

            And even more importantly, will Congress ever fund NASA to use the SLS? If they won’t, or they won’t provide enough funding to safely use the SLS (2-3 times per year according to NASA), then we don’t need the SLS. Shut it down, we have less costly alternatives.

            Why you’d want to bother with arcane & unproven-as-viable concepts such as orbital fuel depots and fully-reusable spacecrafts, is beyond me!! It is quite amusing how NONE of these supposedly “game changing technologies” are currently being investigated at the ISS!

            You are ignorant. Tremendously so… there is no denying it.

            And you really have no idea what we’re doing on the ISS. None. Nada. Zip.

            First of all, the ISS itself is a reusable spacecraft, so for the last 12+ years we have in fact proven the viability of reusable vehicles in space. Various vehicles routinely resupply everything that is needed on the ISS so that we don’t have to throw away and replace the 450mt of vehicle that we spent $Billions putting into space.

            Secondly, if you survey the aerospace industry itself, you will find that they do not see any technological roadblocks to implementing fuel depots and the other technologies and techniques we’ll need to “gas & go” in space just like we do here on Earth. None.

            Do we need to refine the technologies and techniques? Sure. But the laws of physics and nature are not stopping us, it’s just a matter of doing the work to perfect it. It will happen, otherwise we’re not getting far.

            And how you can argue against refueling in space is pretty ludicrous. Without it we can’t afford to return to the Moon, much less go anywhere. So I guess you are against returning to the Moon now.

          • Hiram

            It’s a bit hilarious how you can think of SLS as satisfying “basic physics”. That is, we went to the Moon before with an HLV, so “basic physics” says we need an HLV to get to the Moon.

            What “basic physics” text are you working from?

            “Why you’d want to bother with arcane & unproven-as-viable concepts such as orbital fuel depots and fully-reusable spacecrafts, is beyond me!! It is quite amusing how NONE of these supposedly “game changing technologies” are currently being investigated at the ISS!”

            Well, if you want to test fuel depots, there is little sense in doing it at a habitat. The idea of a fuel depot is that it shouldn’t need people there to make it work. Are you thinking gas station attendants? “Fill-er-up, please!”

            In fact, the game changing technology that is being addressed at ISS is depoting PEOPLE in space. That’s a lot harder than depoting fuel. But ISS has, and is, proving people depoting handily. As to fully reusable spacecraft and ISS, Dragon is going that way, as funded by the ISS program.

            “Just have a look at this wild idea brewing, about sending a two-person crew into a free-return, 501-day-duration mission to flyby Mars in 2018! I mean, if they have SO much confidence that this celestial objective can be done, why not perform a shakedown, test flight to flyby the Moon, first?? ”

            Well, partly because that Mars flyby mission won’t really do anything, except prove that people can survive the long trip. So in terms of capabilities, there isn’t much to shake down. If it’s about survival for a long time in space, then geez, just do it in LEO. It’s not about confidence, it’s about funding.

      • Vladislaw

        Here is a video that explains Chris:

        I want to do Apollo again

        Chris doesn’t want to see fuel stations and reusable space based vehicles, he wants to do apollo again and damn the costs..

        • @Vladislaw;……The sheer physics posed by the engineering task of sending a manned vehicle to the Moon, have NOT changed in 40 or 50 years! A Heavy Lift rocket is still the best way to do the task! Furthermore, some variation of Lunar Orbit Rendezvous (LOR) and/or Earth Orbit Rendezvous (EOR) grants the flight-plan some ideal efficiency, in terms of spacecraft specialization. [The lunar transport/orbiter craft has a unique use during the mission, as well as the lunar landing module.] There are parameter reasons for doing things similar to Apollo; and I’d be willing to bet that if China does indeed decide to leapfrog over us, and send its taikonauts Moonward, that they’ll do it in a very Apollo-like way, give or take a minor difference or two.
          The main Shenzou craft most likely’d be the Command/Service Module analog; and then some uniquely designed craft for the landing would be built——and I have a feeling that the Chinese will have NO fear NOR anxiety about having to construct an “expensive” lander-vehicle! Theirs, when it gets built, will be just the SECOND such-built lander, in the entire history of humankind, to be put to use in the deep space field, for landing spacemen upon another world! They’d have every reason to be ultra-proud of their astonishing acheivement, of starting the second round of manned Lunar exploration!!

          • Vladislaw

            No it’s not, if it was the best way, it would have been affordable enough to keep the program going for 40 or 50 years. You can not throw away a 747 after every flight. You can not toss away 3 billion worth of hardware after every flight to the moon. That is insane and until we come to terms with reusable lunar landers, reusable earth departure stages and fuel stations. You will be stuck in LEO.

            Congress will never fund, long term, throwing away 3 billion in hardware per flight. They refused to fund it in the past, they will refuse to fund it in the future.

            They WILL fund a 100 billion dollars for a pork rocket to nowhere as a jobs program .. thats all.

            • Formerly Guest

              They WILL fund a 100 billion dollars for a pork rocket to nowhere as a jobs program .. thats all.

              I’m sorry then to have to be the one to point out to you that the $100 billion dollar SLS jobs program to nowhere will in fact be throwing away roughly $3 billion dollars of nearly irreplaceable propulsion hardware on every single flight, flights that will in fact, go nowhere, with nobody.

              • Coastal Ron

                Formerly Guest said:

                …the $100 billion dollar SLS jobs program to nowhere will in fact be throwing away roughly $3 billion dollars of nearly irreplaceable propulsion hardware on every single flight, flights that will in fact, go nowhere, with nobody.

                You keep thinking that people like Vladislaw and many others of us somehow support the SLS. We have been very consistent in pointing out the lack of need for a government HLV and the economic insanity that is the SLS program.

                So far you have been all over the map on your support or non-support of the SLS program, so trying to lecture us on the good and bad of the SLS is like a drunk driver lecturing sober drivers on how to avoid smacking into a tree like he has just done.

                As to your “nearly irreplaceable propulsion hardware” comment, there are no materials on rocket engines that are in short supply, so it’s more a matter of overall cost as opposed to scarcity that is a factor in the SLS. The propulsion hardware is proven and easy to replicate as needed – all that’s missing is money, but that is a problem the entire SLS program shares (as well as a lack of real need).

              • Formerly Guest

                Dude, at least I’m having the conversation. In fact, I’m WINNING the conversation (hat tip to Al Gore). So let’s talk about costs and time frames of SSME production after 20 years with a company that has changed hands a couple of times and is basically flying and trying to buy Russian engines, through the courts, where these newly produced reusable hydrogen engines will be subsequently be immediately destroyed after every launch. The entire concept is ludicrous. So, as one alternative of many, I developed and presented various options for possible SLS program asset uses in both the government and commercial sectors after its inevitable cancellation. If you construe that as support, so be it.

              • Coastal Ron

                Formerly Guest said:

                Dude, at least I’m having the conversation. In fact, I’m WINNING the conversation (hat tip to Al Gore).

                Yes, I’m sure you are a legend in your own mind… ;-)

                So let’s talk about costs and time frames of SSME production after 20 years with a company that has changed hands a couple of times and is basically flying and trying to buy Russian engines, through the courts, where these newly produced reusable hydrogen engines will be subsequently be immediately destroyed after every launch.

                My background is in manufacturing operations, so I find it funny when you obsess over a component part of a system that is by nature hideously expensive, regardless if you could reuse the engines or not.

                And again, the main problem with the SLS is that it does not address any known current or future need, which means that even if it was somehow the least expensive option (which it isn’t), there still wouldn’t be a need to build it.

                So, as one alternative of many, I developed and presented various options for possible SLS program asset uses in both the government and commercial sectors after its inevitable cancellation.

                Commercial doesn’t need bigger launchers yet. SpaceX can offer a larger launcher because they offer it at a competitive price, but the market will take quite a long time to make use of it’s maximum capabilities. However Elon Musk is building the Falcon Heavy for his own needs too, so that confuses some people.

                As to government launch needs, the Air Force won’t use a NASA launcher, and commercial launchers satisfy their current needs. For NASA, it doesn’t get enough money from Congress to fully use a government owned & operated HLV, even if it magically appeared ready to use tomorrow.

                We are at least 10 years away from needing a launcher bigger than what is currently available from commercial providers, and commercial providers are the best choices for providing that bigger launch capacity whenever it finally materializes. Nothing you propose for the SLS will change that, and will only sap more money from U.S. Taxpayers.

              • Formerly Guest

                This isn’t about the ‘market’ anymore, the US is broke, the religious huns are beating down the door and the planet has reached a critical population where the educational systems and industrial infrastructure can no longer keep up with demand without compromising the ability of the biosphere to function in the manner that seven billion people desire.

                It’s over. You have UTTERLY FAILED to grasp the big picture, this is about salvaging a terminal cancer called humanity. It requires a whole lotta big resusable heavy lift launch vehicles and a credible plan.

                All you are offering is more of the same, sorry, but I do not buy it.

              • Hiram

                “It’s over. You have UTTERLY FAILED to grasp the big picture, this is about salvaging a terminal cancer called humanity. It requires …”

                … a serious plan for population planning. Contraceptives, etc.

                How many reusable heavy lift launch vehicles are you going to need to mitigate the population explosion? Yeah, a whole lotta them. That’s a tall order, sending a billion or more people to Mars, and creating educational systems and industrial infrastructure for them, as well as any sort of biosphere. Oh, don’t forget the contraceptives!

                You have utterly failed to grasp the big picture. Sorry, but I do not buy it.

              • Formerly Guest

                That’s a tall order, sending a billion or more people to Mars

                I really don’t remember saying that, I believe that’s Mr. Musk’s excuse for developing his space architecture, mine is considerably different.

                So, you could start with reading comprehension and argument logic. I’m rather more interested in fundamental cryogenic propulsion and resuable vehicle design, since everyone agrees there is no money for payloads and the fuel and water can be delivered directly with the launch vehicles. These are the fundamental and first steps to far more sophisticated mission designs and commercial market exploitation than the simple and naive fuels depot and old space landers discussed here.

              • Coastal Ron

                Formerly Guest said:

                It’s over. You have UTTERLY FAILED to grasp the big picture, this is about salvaging a terminal cancer called humanity. It requires a whole lotta big resusable heavy lift launch vehicles and a credible plan.

                As a work of fiction, the recent movie “2012” actually did portray the money side of things pretty well – you need a large stream of funds in order to do anything significant, and that is not easy to do.

                And let’s remember that you are counting on NASA to provide the “whole lotta big resusable heavy lift launch vehicles”, and apparently you are the only one with “a credible plan.”

                It doesn’t matter what kind of “credible plan” you have if you’re the only one that knows about it. And if your plan relies on a political system that could care less about “your credible plan” to fund it, then what are the chances of success? Likely zero.

                But hey, if you think Earth is doomed, then I would imagine we’ll see your name on the list of applicants for the one-way trip to Mars, right? ;-)

              • Formerly Guest

                But hey, if you think Earth is doomed

                I don’t base my understanding of the world on Hollywood movies, thanks.

                I use my understanding and demonstrated participation in science and technology, along with a good perusal of the current scientific and technical literature, to guide me in my understanding and decision making processes. So yes, unless some simple basic changes are made in our execution of our space based data gathering priorities, and in reusable rocketry and basic energy conversion processes, the world is doomed. Both science and technology are real clear on that. And it’s not as if many varied fiscally, scientifically and technologically sound alternatives to business as usual aren’t available. There are very clear avenues of progress that must be followed for any salvage of the situation. Reusable rocketry is the most straight forward example, as evidenced by Mr. Musk’s almost immediate recognition of that ten years ago, and his early commercial successes in that area. To tell you the truth I consider most of the engineering problems in this area solved already and have moved on to far more difficult but related problems. All that remains now is for the American people to realize how badly NASA and their government representatives have screwed them with respect to the Constellation fiasco. It won’t take long now.

      • Hiram

        “The Moon itself likely harbors many such geologic specimens of NEO meteorites already, next to any of its craters.”

        As does the Earth. On the Moon they’re polluted on the outside with lunar regolith, and on the Earth they’re polluted on the outside with Earth dust, atmosphere, and water, but you’ve got a big selection. Take your pick.

      • amightywind

        Sending two combined spacecrafts to deep space seems to be much safer.

        Agreed. Lockmart’s Plymouth Rock concept seemed plausible. It elegantly meets Obama’s supposed goal. So why did the leftists dream up the ridiculous asteroid capture idea?

        • Hiram

          “So why did the leftists dream up the ridiculous asteroid capture idea?”

          Duh, because it was cheaper. TWO Orions? Wanna know why Lockmart dreamed up that idea? One hint … they are prime for Orion. You can call that “elegant” if you want, I guess.

          News to me that the asteroid capture idea was dreamed up by “leftists”. Oh, you mean the asteroid capture strategy that is a hidden part of Obamacare? Who would have known?

          • amightywind

            Joining two Orions has more to do with the requirements of the duration of the mission and delta V. What would you have them do, join an Orion with a Dragon?

            • Coastal Ron

              amightywind said:

              Joining two Orions has more to do with the requirements of the duration of the mission and delta V.

              It doesn’t hurt that Lockheed Martin, who has been promoting this idea, is also the entity that will benefit the most from it. Follow the money…

              The idea of connecting two Orion MPCV is the result of unoriginal thinking, not that it’s the best way to go on a long journey in space. There still isn’t enough room for proper exercise, and instead of hauling around one large heatshield, you have to haul two.

              And this approach can’t be scaled up for traveling for longer periods of time with more people – what are you going to do, dock a whole bunch of Orions together like a Suliban helix?

              The sooner we start building space-only vehicles like the proposed Nautilus-X, the sooner we’ll be able to do real space exploration beyond LEO. Since the primary function of a capsule is to land it’s cargo on a planet with an atmosphere, adding “lipstick to the pig” by adding new requirements is exactly why we’re spending $16B for an upsized Apollo capsule without a Service Module (ESA is paying for that).

          • Vladislaw

            Instead of splashing a single Orion at 1 billion+ a pop… I got an idea … lets splash those disposable orions TWO At a time!

  • Hiram

    We can argue about the relevance of human lunar surface missions to feed-forward for Mars trips. This GER is pretty specific about the ways they might be relevant. But what I find eyebrow-raising is what it DOESN’T believe might be important for this. This GER does NOT consider a human return to the Moon part of a path to get to Mars because of the potential availability of lunar resources (propulsion, shielding, oxygen). The GER wisely suggests that such resources should be scoped out, but they aren’t making any assumptions about their availability or the economics thereof. I find this smart, and perhaps a little surprising in view of the loud Moon-first advocates who swear that lunar resources are what will get us to Mars.

    In the context of international space cooperation, this is a fairly profound policy statement. Don’t bother trying to forge international relationships for lunar trips who specific purpose is resource development to get us to Mars. The international consensus seems to be that such resource development isn’t necessary to get to Mars.

  • guest

    The difference is likely whether you want to develop a sustainable, ongoing program in which missions fly from the vicinity of Earth to Mars repetitively over many years and decades versus the idea that we should do a flags and footprints land on Mars and then look for some other goal in spaceflight for another generation.

    If you want to do the sustainable, repetitive concept and in time build up depots, outposts, bases, then you look for an infrastructure to get you the resources as cheaply as possible. If you simply want to spend about 35 or 40 years building up a capability to do a single flags and footprints mission, kind of like Apollo; perhaps you will even do a half dozen missions. Then build a few SLS rockets and a few Orion capsules; seal the 2 or 3 crewmembers in the can, and send them off to “explore”. Just like with Apollo, in 100 years our children or grandchildren will be able to look at the National Geographics and photos, and wonder ‘what were their grandparents thinking’.

    We can answer that today for Apollo. Despite the fact that some (like von Braun) protested the method, everybody got behind the mission design because it was, arguably, the fastest way to put Americans on the moon and we had to do that for political reasons.

    The argument for the Constellation method is a lot less developed or agreeable to those who want a long term future in space. In fact even those who used the argument that it was simple, safe, and soon (Griffin, Cook, Gerstemayer, Hanley, Geyer…) would have a difficult time explaining to you why its taking them 15-20 years and tens of billions of dollars to rebuild a capability we already knew how to do.

    • Hiram

      I’m presuming that this was meant as a reply to my post above.

      “The difference is likely whether you want to develop a sustainable, ongoing program …”

      Perhaps this means that the international community isn’t entirely beholden to that idea.

      “Just like with Apollo, in 100 years our children or grandchildren will be able to look at the National Geographics and photos, and wonder ‘what were their grandparents thinking’?”

      I have to assume the presumption here is that our descendants will look at what we’ve done after Apollo, and rant about our stupidity. On the other hand, it might be exactly the opposite. Our descendants may well decide there was little that could be done with the Moon, so leaving a few footprints was the best idea. In the 1950s, the idea of Antarctica being colonized was all the rage. We could look back at that idea now, and just say “whew!”

  • Guest

    Hiram- I beg to differ. You need to look at Antarctic exploration and how there has been steady progresss over the last 75 years and (it really goes back 400 years), how today the Antarctic does have long term permanent outposts, bases, there are people living there permanently, and there are a lot of people making there livlihoods from Antarctic tourismand colonization..

    The US space program seems to be laboring under the “leadership ” (really there is not much of that) of those who have an ‘operations’ bent. These are the people who think we need to go somewhere other than LEO right away or those who think we have to do an asteroid misssion because it gives the astronauts and flight controllers a mission using the already defined spacecraft. Why aren’t they thinking in terms of developing the spacecraft and systems that are needed? I think its a case of the cart before the horse.

    We won’t get there with this kind of thinking.

    The exploration roadmap is a step in the right direction. Except the emphasis is on exploration. The emphasis needs to be on systems development and expansion ofncapabili

    • Coastal Ron

      Guest said:

      how today the Antarctic does have long term permanent outposts, bases, there are people living there permanently, and there are a lot of people making there livlihoods from Antarctic tourismand colonization..

      There is no private property at the Antarctic, or any of the trappings of civilization where people can be born and live out their lives.

      The bases and outposts may be “permanent”, but they are not fully functional communities where families can become established and grow. Plus they don’t have an economy to speak of, since they don’t have natural resources that can be exploited.

      The Antarctic bases may be good analogies though for what our future will look like in space, at least until we can start exploiting natural resources in space. Once you get property rights and an economy going, then you get the ability for communities to get established and grow. But we’re a long way off from that for now…

    • Hiram

      “You need to look at Antarctic exploration and how there has been steady progresss over the last 75 years”

      I did, and what I see there is steady progress in scientific research. That’s why those people are there. McMurdo and the polar station are research stations.

      No, there aren’t any people that live in the Antarctic permanently, any more than there are Americans who are deployed to Iraq permanently. Every person in Antarctica has a place outside of Antarctica they call home.

      You’re right that the emphasis of the GER roadmap is on “exploration” and, depending what you want to achieve, that goal may be highly limited. So what is it you want to achieve? You want permanent colonies on the Moon or Mars? Why? What’s the reason for doing so? Congress isn’t talking about permanent colonies on the Moon or Mars. The White House isn’t either (and for that matter, neither is NASA). So if we’re talking about colonization and settlement of space as a goal, then SOMEONE in a position of power HAS to admit that. “Exploration” is a sneaky word that somehow implies or connotes colonization and settlement, to people who already believe in it. But unless we’re ready to admit that’s a goal, then we’re sure not ready to adopt it as a goal. We won’t get there with that kind of thinking.

      I respect your passion for systems and capability development, but if you’re going to sell that idea to the taxpayer, you’d better come up with a reason why.

  • Guest

    ccapabilities.. With that you enable exploration.

    • Formerly Guest

      That’s got to be the dumbest and most damaging meme I’ve heard repeated here yet. Not only is ‘exploration’ (especially human exploration) an obsolete paradigm, it has no (as in ZERO) value to a nation and a world that is facing some extremely dangerous problems much closer to home. It is damaging our prestige and putting us in danger.

      This is clearly the biggest NASA and congressional and presidential screwup yet, much closer to spending trillions on unnecessary wars. This is not a mere jobs program, this is about the future of life on and off the planet. We are playing hardball now.

      • Hiram

        While I’d like to stay out of this argument, I feel compelled to say that this post is insightful, and is a lesson we should all be paying attention to. The “exploration” paradigm is a historically-based one that really is of little long term interest to a modern and technically sophisticated civilization. If we want to learn about remote places in space, we can now send robotic surrogates there to tell us about them. The “exploration” paradigm for modern human spaceflight isn’t, however, a “NASA and congressional and presidential screwup” though. It’s a cultural screwup. We’ve sold our souls, in human spaceflight, to this concept of “exploration”, which in our collective minds, sorta means something good and noble. We bow down at the altar of “exploration”, not even quite understanding what that word now means. Of course, the GER doesn’t dare try to tell us what that word means, following closely with NASA budget proposals and advocacy documents.

  • From today’s Florida Today:

    “Faith in Rocket’s Progress Stumbles”

    The rocket and spacecraft NASA is developing to carry crews into deep space already face questions about whether they’ll be ready, without additional funding, to blast off on a first test flight in late 2017.

    The programs are proceeding with daunting budget challenges and an above-normal risk of delays or cost increases, according to recent agency reports and statements.

    Any significant slip in the first, uncrewed flight would delay hiring at Kennedy Space Center that is expected to ramp up ahead of the mission. It also could push back a first crewed flight targeted for 2021, driving up the cost on a program tentatively planning to spend more than $22 billion during the next eight years.

    • Vladislaw

      From that article:

      “Counting work begun during Constellation, NASA has already spent more than $15.5 billion on SLS and Orion.”

      So if SLS is launched 10 times, that puts the price at 1.5 billion per flight, now we have to add in the 2.8 billion the program gets from now until first crewed flight in 2021. That will double the cost. Now add in what the operations costs will be per year after 2021.

      Yes this sure was an “innovative” way to return to the moon.

      sheesh…. this is insane.

  • Matt

    Boots on the ground in the Lunar Regolith as a stepping-stone to Mars…I can live with that. L2 Gateway, Human-assisted Mars sample return, Mars orbit/moons prior to the big one: Mars proper. That is a real Flexible Path-not this half-baked stuff the administration’s been peddling since ’10. And notice the escape clause on continued lunar exploration: . “However, participating agencies recognize that the fundamental capabilities are available to support additional missions in the event that lunar science or other exploration activities are identified.” Wonder what Charlie Bolden or Dr. Holdren thought when they saw that?

    • Vladislaw

      And you honestly believe, if we land on Luna and set a base that we will not be bogged down forever? There will be no money for anything else. Hell according to the OIG report there isn’t even enough money to finish building half the hardware to get into LEO much less land on Luna.

      Once we drop into the lunar gravity well we will be bogged down and that will be an end to manned space exploration, as funded by taxpayers.

    • Coastal Ron

      Matt said:

      Wonder what Charlie Bolden or Dr. Holdren thought when they saw that?

      Likely nothing. What other countries want to do on the Moon is not our concern, since we already know how little there is to do there without a massive effort (and no one can afford that today).

      Keep in mind that this is not a U.S. Government planning document, it’s an international one that not everyone has to follow. For us, since we’ve already been to the Moon, we can skip this step and move directly to the L2 Gateway and traveling beyond.

      As was stated by both Steven Squyres (Chairman of the NASA Advisory Council) and former Lockheed Martin executive A. Thomas Young during recent House testimony:

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

      • It is certainly true you can get to Mars without going to the Moon. But the question is can it be done in an affordable and practical way. The last NASA Mars Design Reference Mission (DRM) proposes using ca. 10 launches of a 150 mT class super heavy lift vehicle to get to Mars. However, with the SLS at best launching every two years, and some estimates make it once every 4 years, that is not a likely scenario.

        Moreover to cut travel time the DRM proposes using nuclear thermal propulsion (NTR). That would clearly be an expensive and long-lasting development. And then there is the additional political problem of launching large amounts of nuclear material into orbit.

        In contrast if you had lunar derived orbiting propellant depots, you would have virtually unlimited amounts of propellant. Then travel time could be cut to weeks rather than months using currently existing chemical propulsion engines.

        Dr. Paul Spudis discusses the impracticality of the NASA DRM here:

        Risky Business: ISRU and the Critical Path to Mars
        Posted on June 21, 2013 by Paul Spudis

        The current NASA Mars Design Reference Mission utilizes 8 launches of a super heavy-lift vehicle (150 tons to LEO) to construct the 500-ton Mars craft in Earth orbit (another analysis projects 10-12 launches of same). More than 80% of this mass is propellant. If the HLV ends up costing a couple of billion dollars each, the cost of a human Mars mission is not only unaffordable – it will never be undertaken. And don’t think that the hallowed New Space “cheap access” to LEO will save you either; those vehicles are too small (much less payload than 150 tons) and will need to use storable propellant because the LOX-hydrogen (LH2) cryogens will boil away into space between their individual launches. Storable propellants have much less energy than LOX-H2 and thus, besides the complexity of logistical assembly from a greater number of flights, the total required mass in LEO multiplies frighteningly.

        http://www.spudislunarresources.com/blog/risky-business-isru-and-the-critical-path-to-mars/

        Bob Clark

        • Coastal Ron

          Robert Clark said:

          In contrast if you had lunar derived orbiting propellant depots…

          Look around you Bob. Is the reason NASA isn’t leaving LEO because we lack ideas or the ability to implement them? We lack money.

          When asked how soon astronauts could potentially set foot on Mars under NASA’s current budget constraints, Thomas Young, the former executive vice president of Lockheed Martin, says the outlook is bleak.

          With the current budget, bear with me, I would probably say never” Young said during a meeting of the U.S. House of Representative’s space subcommittee.

          And you have proposed nothing that changes that paradigm. The Spudis/Lavoie plan sucks $88B and more than 17 years out of our efforts in space, and assumes things that have yet to be proven. Who is going to risk that much money? And when?

          The NASA DRM’s were based on a number of assumptions, and if you’ll notice, none of them assumed we’d be sourcing fuel from the Moon. Even they didn’t think that would be affordable.

          What does change the current paradigm is lowering the cost to access space. For instance, in the example that Spudis gives he assumes that 400 ton (800,000 lb) of propellant will be needed in LEO for a Mars spacecraft. Using the SpaceX Falcon Heavy, that would only be about 8 launches costing $1.1B. That is very doable using current expendable versions, and even more doable if they perfect some form of reusability (likely just the boosters to start).

          In contrast, Spudis requires someone to commit $88B and 17 years of time to building up his proposed lunar propellant facility. $1.1B vs $88B?

          For that same $88B, I could spend $86B on building a spacecraft to get to Mars (way more expensive than it needs to be), and $2B on the fuel for it. With the Spudis plan you only get the fuel, not the spacecraft to use it.

          Do you see the problem here Bob? Do you understand the math?

          You need to be smarter about this Bob.

          • <blockquote.Look around you Bob. Is the reason NASA isn’t leaving LEO because we lack ideas or the ability to implement them? We lack money.

            I have to say I am dismayed by the solutions suggested. No doubt in response to the calls to return to the Moon, NASA revealed this study:

            Dual SLS launch campaign required for NASA’s Lunar return.
            August 21, 2013 by Chris Bergin
            http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2013/08/dual-sls-required-nasas-lunar-landing-option/

            Note that it still proposes a lunar lander at the Altair’s, 45 metric ton(mT) size. And since it will be using two launches of the 105 mT version of the SLS, this will have 210 metric ton capacity to LEO, actually more than Constellation was planning.
            That’s what they proposed. If you want to return to the Moon, there is no other way of doing it. You HAVE to use a 45 metric ton lander. There is no other way to have a lander unless it weighs as much as the Altair. There could not possibly be any other way, past, present, or future, to do it that uses a smaller lander than the Altair and therefore could have a smaller mission size than Constellation.
            That is what they concluded.

            Bob Clark

            • Coastal Ron

              Robert Clark said:

              You HAVE to use a 45 metric ton lander.

              First of all nothing is set in stone. NOTHING. And the last I looked NASA was still proposing an up-sized Apollo lander, which has very dangerous access requirements (astronauts have to climb 20ft up a ladder).

              There are plenty of options, and one of my favorite is from ULA. Their 2009 study (“A Commercially Based Lunar Architecture“) used a very modular approach, with much safer lander designs (reusable too). So there are other options.

              But let’s say NASA couldn’t think of anything better than a 45mt lander. That could still be lofted to LEO by a Falcon Heavy, and fueled up either in LEO or LLO. No SLS required.

              That’s the beauty of in-space refueling, which also cuts down on the total number of flights required for lofting mission hardware.

              There could not possibly be any other way, past, present, or future, to do it that uses a smaller lander than the Altair and therefore could have a smaller mission size than Constellation.

              No they did not conclude that Bob. What are you smoking? They just sized the lander to the SLS version they thought they would have at that point.

              Try to stick to reality Bob – you are very bad at fiction.

              • But let’s say NASA couldn’t think of anything better than a 45mt lander. That could still be lofted to LEO by a Falcon Heavy, and fueled up either in LEO or LLO. No SLS required.

                The required propellant and propulsive stages would be so large that you would need three launches of the Falcon Heavy to do it.
                Making the lander comparable in size to the Apollo lander you could do it in one.

                Bob Clark

  • Exactly, my friend!! Why combat the inevitable intermediate goal so much? The Moon is the ideal testing ground for everything that NASA would need to do prior to an interplanetary flight! All this resistance towards that, by the Mars enthusiasts, has been so counter-productive! If they so badly want an “exit strategy” for the Moon, then they should also contemplate one for LEO! At just what point can we allow ourselves to end, with this whole research-station-in-LEO crusade, and move full-fledged onto greater things?? Once our new cislunar spacecrafts have proven viable for Moon journeys, we can always discuss maybe sending a manned trip to visit the quasi-satellite Cruithne, during one of its closer approaches to the Earth, on its solar orbit. Voila: therein could be a compromise answer to this current burning desire to see an NEO up close.

    • Coastal Ron

      Chris Castro said:

      The Moon is the ideal testing ground for everything that NASA would need to do prior to an interplanetary flight!

      This has been debunked so many times Chris. Do you have a learning disability?

      At just what point can we allow ourselves to end, with this whole research-station-in-LEO crusade, and move full-fledged onto greater things?

      Why do you refuse to understand what we’re doing with the ISS? There is only so much hand holding we can do with you… are you unable to take notes and remember where you put them?

      For instance, you said reusable vehicles were a fiction, yet you refuse to acknowledge that the ISS itself is a reusable vehicle. Plus we keep refueling the ISS, so refueling in space is not a fiction either (which Boeing and Lockheed Martin disagreed with you too).

      When are you going to wake up to reality?

  • Very glad to see the old Columbus was funded by the Spanish Crown myth finally being busted.

  • Jim Nobles

    -
    Chris said, “The Moon is the ideal testing ground for everything that NASA would need to do prior to an interplanetary flight!”

    No it isn’t. That’s nonsense. For all the reasons people have pointed out to you. You’ve just got the Moon Fever complicated with a bad case of Thick-Headedness.

    I do think the moon is going to be developed but the idea that it must be developed before anyone goes anywhere else is stupid. First of all the people who want to go to Mars and are working on it (mainly SpaceX with NASAs help) have no intention of developing the Moon first. Why? Because it simply isn’t necessary for their plans.

    That doesn’t mean thet the people who want to develop the Moon have to sit idle while those people interested in Mars continue with their plans. There are other people who want to go to the Moon also and some of them are working to see it happen. I’m sure they could use some help.

    I think there are several issues surrounding this whole “we need to go back to the Moon” thing. I think there are some good people who think it is critically important that we develop the moon to turn America into a spacefaring nation. I sympathize with them and basically agree with them. They are who I was. The real difference between us is that I don’t for an instant believe that the government is going to give NASA enough money to even start doing a proper job of developing the Moon or anyplace else. When I was a Space Cadet I ignored things like, “Where’s the money going to come from?” Now that I am a Sober Space Cadet I don’t ignore those things anymore.

    I think another issue is that some of the people who supposedly want to go back to the moon don’t have good enough reasons. I think some got their feelings hurt very badly when Constellation was cancelled and they are still having issues with it. Basically they want to go back to the Moon because they’ve been told they are not going to and they don’t like that. Even though it was never their money or decision to make. I think some of the Moon people are pure wingnuts, they want to go back to the Moon because that demon Obama said we weren’t. That want to make that Leftist, Liberal, Baby Killing, Crack Smoking, Non-citizen. Hip-Hop S.O.B. eat his hateful words. These people have real issues and I’m pretty sure we have a few that post on this forum time to time.

    Some of the “Back To The Moon” people are just intellectually challenged. They are unable or unwilling to do the basic arithmetic necessary to tell if the current program of record is capable of delivering what they want even if it was reoriented towards getting to the Moon soonest. And they are unable or unwilling to consider commercial alternatives which might get the United States back to they Moon even sooner than any program of record could.

    Maybe they don’t trust commercial efforts. Maybe they actually do want to relive the heady days of Apollo’s glory. Who knows.

    But consider this. We have absolutely no reason at all to believe that the government is ever going to give NASA enough money to even begin a proper job of developing the Moon. Many would argue that is not government’s job anyway unless we are the Soviet Union or Red China.

    There is commercial hardware coming online that has already shown more promise than the government’s hardware building efforts. Sure NASA, with contractors, can design and build equipment that mostly works. But can they do a good job of it? Can they make it at best cost and operate it in a manner that won’t kill the programs just from the sheer weight of taxpayer money it takes to make it all work? At this point that doesn’t look encouraging.

    • Hiram

      Trying to stay on topic here, the GER does, in fact, consider human lunar surface missions to be of some value to Mars mission readiness. See page 20 and 21. The reasons stated are

      • Demonstrate staging operations with an Earth-return vehicle
      • Demonstrate extended crew mobility and habitation systems
      • Demonstrate advanced power systems
      • Characterize human health and performance, combining deep space and partial gravity environment exposure
      • Demonstrate operations concepts and enhanced crew autonomy for surface exploration
      • Potentially provide the opportunity for advancing concepts related to use of local resources

      That being said, this rationale is extremely thin. It is, in many cases (e.g. advanced power systems, staging operations), irrelevant to the lunar surface, and pretty hand-waving for the others. I have to assume that the GER authors understand that. The point they’re making is that sure, we could use a human lunar surface trip to retire some risk in going to Mars, but they leave the necessity of such risk retirement completely up in the air. I interpret their words as “sure, if we do a human lunar surface mission, we could use it for preparation for Mars”, but NOT that it is required, or even the best way to prepare for a human trip to Mars. Had they considered a human return to the lunar surface advisable, or a necessity, to succeed with a human trip to Mars, they sure would have said that. They didn’t. They’re just covering their rear and being diplomatic, here.

      “OBSERVATION: With the goal of enabling several partners to contribute critical capabilities to future human missions, agencies note that near-term collaborative missions on the ISS, in the lunar vicinity, on the lunar surface, and robotic missions may be used to simulate and better inform preparations for future international missions to Mars.”

      “May be used.” Indeed it may.

      • Matt

        I do agree: it is CYA and being diplomatic. Remember Augustine? I direct you to pp. 41-45, where in the outline of the Flexible Path, various “offramps” to Flexpath “destinations are mentioned: p. 43, especially:

        “Exploration along the Flexible
        Path would not likely complete
        our preparation for the exploration
        of Mars. At some point
        we would likely need to gain
        more experience landing and
        working on an extra-terrestrial
        planetary surface. This could
        be done on the Moon with specialized
        lunar systems, or with
        systems designed for Mars”

        And p. 45:”The Moon First and Flexible Path destinations are not mutually
        exclusive; before traveling to Mars, we will probably
        both extend our presence in free space and work on the lunar
        surface. For example, if we had had explorers on the Moon
        for a decade, but never more than three days from Earth,
        would we easily commit to a mission that took our astronauts
        away for three years? This seems unlikely. Likewise,
        if we had worked in space for a decade, would we commit
        to landing on a planet 180 days away without practice? This
        seems equally unlikely.”

        The road to Mars has a rest stop on the Lunar regolith.

        • Coastal Ron

          Matt said:

          The road to Mars has a rest stop on the Lunar regolith.

          As with all suggestions, they are valid at the time they are uttered, but become increasingly out of touch with reality as time goes on. For instance, if you remember back when the Augustine Commission was doing it’s work, NASA’s budget was larger and it was thought there was political support for ambitious HSF exploration. Fast forward to today, and NASA’s budget is being slashed, and there is no consensus on going anywhere beyond LEO – the House even wants to make it illegal for NASA to do planning.

          And the biggest fact you ignore is that Congress is not implementing the “Flexible Path”, but instead is focused on funneling as much money as possible into hardware that isn’t needed for the “Flexible Path”.

          As to whether we need to stop at the Moon on the way to Mars, that will depend on what technology and capabilities we develop prior to committing to a trip to Mars.

          For instance, if we continue to send increasingly larger and more capable rovers to Mars, that will prove out our future landing techniques, and that makes it less likely we have to use the Moon for landing practice.

          But I think we’ll spend a lot of time (i.e. years) in Mars orbit before we venture down to the surface of Mars, which means we’ll be more focused on keeping people alive and healthy in orbit, which doesn’t need to be perfected or validated on the Moon either.

          And as was said in testimony to the House this past June by Thomas Young (former executive vice president of Lockheed Martin):

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

          His comments were based on the current budget environment. In fact, when asked how soon astronauts could potentially set foot on Mars under NASA’s current budget constraints, Thomas Young, the former executive vice president of Lockheed Martin, says the outlook is bleak.

          With the current budget, bear with me, I would probably say never

          So really, arguing over whether it’s worthwhile to go to the Moon before heading on to Mars is like arguing over the arrangement of deck chairs on the Titanic…

        • Hiram

          “The road to Mars has a rest stop on the Lunar regolith.”

          Nice way of putting it. Rest stops are optional. Unless I’m on a superhighway, I’d prefer to stop on the roadside and piss in the grass.

        • The latest post on this blog has a quote from Garver saying the medical community would not sign off on a several hundred days long mission to an asteroid. Since a mission to Mars would be even long under current plans, this means they would not sign off on such a mission even if we could afford it.
          This gives further reason to get the propellant for such a mission from lunar-derived propellant depots. Using them, we can cut the mission time to weeks instead of months.
          If this really is the way NASA views such long flight times to an asteroir or Mars then they should be upfront about this and acknowledge the current plans are undoable even with sufficient funding.

          Bob Clark

          • Coastal Ron

            Robert Clark said:

            This gives further reason to get the propellant for such a mission from lunar-derived propellant depots. Using them, we can cut the mission time to weeks instead of months.

            This is non-sensical logic Bob. It doesn’t take us weeks and months to get to the Moon, so how the heck is leaving from the Moon supposed to cut months off the trip to Mars?

            And your cockamamie idea that propellant from the Moon would somehow be less expensive that from Earth is so wrong it’s laughable.

            Please go do the math on this so you don’t look so ignorant.

            • Travel time is a function of speed. To get high speed, i.e, delta-v, to shorten travel time, you need a large rocket. It would be prohibitively expensive and take far too long to get such a large rocket, comparable to the size of an entire Saturn V, placed into orbit. For instance the current NASA Mars DRM would take about 10 launches of the full version of the SLS. At a launch rate of only one every 2 to 4 years, it would take 20 to 40 years to get all the mission elements into orbit and, at such a low launch rate, several tens of billions of dollars in launch costs alone.
              But keep in mind that 80% to 90% of the mass of a rocket is just propellant. If you could get that propellant mass from the Moon then you could already have that large mass in space. The reason why it would be easier getting it into lunar orbit from the Moon’s surface than getting it to LEO from the Earth’s surface is due to the difference in the required delta-v’s to orbit. For the Moon, it’s about 2 km/s compared to about 9 km/s for Earth.
              By the exponential nature of the rocket equation that is a huge difference. For instance compare the size of the Apollo lunar lander ascent stage, not even the full lander, to the size of the rockets needed to launch a manned capsule from Earth. Plus the fact that single stage to lunar orbit capability with no atmosphere means it would be easier to have reusable launchers to lunar orbit.
              Not only that, the required delta-v to lunar orbit is so low that all those proposals of lowering launch costs to LEO by cannon launch, rail launch, etc. to only do a portion of the speed to orbit, would actually be able to do the full launch to lunar orbit. That is, currently existing non-rocket methods could be used to launch cargo from the Moon’s surface to lunar orbit. This would greatly cut the cost to send this cargo to lunar orbit since you would not be expending expensive spacecraft elements to reach orbit, or even using reusable rocket elements.

              Bob Clark

              • Hiram

                How many full versions of the SLS is it going to require to put a propellant extraction plant and perhaps rail guns and cargo cannons on the Moon? How long would it take to get that plant up and operating and in serious production? At a current anticipated SLS launch rate, it’s going to take quite a while, and quite a lot of money.

                In making decisions about this, one really has to decide if the ultimate goal is to send humans to Mars, or to send LOTS of humans to Mars. Congress has said nothing about the latter, nor did the NASA Mars DRMs. That being the case, propellant factories (and or rail guns and cannons) on the Moon don’t make a lot of sense right now. If taxpayer dollars are going to be expended on colonization and settlement of Mars, someone in charge simply has to admit that.

                The idea that Mars cargo is easier to launch from the Moon than from the Earth is exactly right. But the idea that this cargo just happens to exist on the Moon is sadly mistaken. Aside from propellant, and maybe oxygen, 100% of that cargo needs to come from the Earth. Note also that for cargo, travel time isn’t a constraint, so the propulsion to get it to the Moon isn’t a lot different than what you’d need to get it to Mars.

                By the way, a really fast trip to Mars has its own penalties. One of which is capture. That in itself will require a lot of propellant.

              • Coastal Ron

                Robert Clark said:

                Travel time is a function of speed.

                And getting propellant from the Moon is a function of money and time.

                Who is providing the money, and when does the clock start?

                If you say the U.S. Government is providing the money, then you are living in a fantasy world, as no one in government has suggested that they would fund such a thing.

                For instance the current NASA Mars DRM would take about 10 launches of the full version of the SLS. At a launch rate of only one every 2 to 4 years…

                There you go again, Bob. You ignore the reality of other alternatives by ignoring the use of commercial launchers to supply propellant. And as I already pointed out, it would only cost $1.1B to use the Falcon Heavy to deliver the amount of propellant required to LEO for the previously mentioned Mars spacecraft. That is less that the cost of one SLS flight.

                Let us know when you find the $88B for the lunar propellant factory, and we’ll start the 17 year clock for when it’s supposed to be done. In the mean time everyone else will be using SpaceX tankers, because they can get their propellant for less money and they don’t have to wait 17 years… ;-)

            • I don’t believe it could be done with 10 launches of the Falcon Heavy. If 8 to 12 launches, call it 10, are required of a 150 mT class launcher presumably that means ca. 1500 mT is required to LEO to get all the propellant, various propulsive stages, landers and habitats, and power stations, etc. to orbit. That’s 30 launches of the Falcon Heavy, close to $4 billion in launch cost.
              But a bigger problem is the number of launches. It doesn’t seem likely you could launch a large rocket like that more than 3 or 4 times a year. That would be 7 to 10 years simply collecting the various mission elements in orbit to do one flight.
              And it still wouldn’t solve the problem of the travel time. The radiation issue remains unsolved for round trip travel times in space of a year to a year and a half. Another issue is that NASA’s Design Reference Mission (DRM) doesn’t even include artificial gravity. But we already know that astronauts after six months in zero-g are not able to even walk on return, requiring days to weeks of recuperation time.

              Bob Clark

              • Coastal Ron

                Robert Clark said:

                But a bigger problem is the number of launches. It doesn’t seem likely you could launch a large rocket like that more than 3 or 4 times a year.

                You can have opinions on things like that, but in reality things like that will be based on facts, not opinions.

                My background is manufacturing operations, and I’ve been the person who creates the master scheduling plan for a factory producing 1/2 $Billion in consumer products. Scaling up an existing factory is pretty easy once you’ve proven out your manufacturing processes.

                The current SpaceX factory was initially set up to build 12 Falcon 1st stage bodies per year, plus 12 2nd stages. If they cannot perfect reusability in the near-term, then the only way to launch more rockets would be to build one or more factories (it could be one large one, as the current factory is really small). Building a new factory doesn’t take that long, even if you have to do it from scratch – call it a year or less.

                So less than two years after getting a firm order to ramp up their launches of Falcon Heavy to whatever rate is needed (6/year, 12/year, etc.), they can be ready. And SpaceX is already trying to get two new launch facilities, which would be more than enough to handle that launch rate. They will be ready way before the payloads they need to carry will. Not an issue.

                And if SpaceX does perfect reusability for the Falcon Heavy boosters, that lowers the number of 1st stages that have to be built, and likely lowers the costs too.

                SpaceX won’t be the constraint, the payloads will.

              • Coastal Ron

                Robert Clark said:

                And it still wouldn’t solve the problem of the travel time. The radiation issue remains unsolved for round trip travel times in space of a year to a year and a half.

                Well propellant from the Moon wouldn’t solve that either, so are ready to drop lunar ISRU as any sort of factor in reaching Mars?

                As far as the radiation goes, we are only going to reach Mars if we allow the people going to accept risks. Radiation is part of that, as is the possibility of no rescue if something bad were to go wrong. There are things that are being tested today to fully understand the radiation risk and possible mitigation strategies, so we’ll just have to see if they find solutions before we are ready to go. I think we will.

                Another issue is that NASA’s Design Reference Mission (DRM) doesn’t even include artificial gravity.

                If you look at the diameter requirements for artificial gravity, we won’t be able to afford it for quite a while. That’s why the zero-G research on the ISS is so important, and it looks like our 12+ years of research are starting to pay off. We can get to the orbit of Mars fine without artificial gravity.

                But we already know that astronauts after six months in zero-g are not able to even walk on return, requiring days to weeks of recuperation time.

                You’re not keeping up with the latest research. Astronauts don’t suffer the same debilitating effects as they used to, and that is why two astronauts will be doing a full one year experiment – to see if the mitigation strategies continue to work over long periods of time.

    • @Jim Nobles;……If you are suggesting that some of us in the Moon-first camp have the Cancellation of Constellation as an additional reason to despise the Obama administration, hey dude: you may be right! I did not consider myself the Tea Party type, prior to February of 2010, but since then, I have inevitably jumbled together all the things I’ve disliked about the Obama agenda, and let me tell you, the demolishment of America’s would-have-been Lunar program certainly made it easier to detest the rest of the liberal game plan for America. Okay, okay, I shall keep the partisan political rant to a minimum, but suffice to say, I cannot envision a conservative administration having gone thru the same course, pulling the rug from under a human Lunar Return, which had so much promise & grandeur to it!

      Ironically, it was John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, who commited this country to do the most incredible acheivement ever done, in the history of space travel! “We do this, not because it is easy but because it is hard!”——-This great national leader said, at Rice University in 1962. Fast forward to April of 2010, and you have a polar opposite, defeatist message to America, saying basically that we are NOT the brave & daring country that we once were, and that glued to LEO is where we need to be, repeating the same tired & dull space station exercise——something the Soviets had been doing continuously from 1971, with the Salyuts, all up to the time that the MIR was retired.
      If you guys in the Mars camp want to talk about NASA repeating its past over & over again, you have only to look up above at the ISS! But regardless of that repeating-the-past, its-Groundhog-Day-all-over-again situation; the demotion of NASA’s ambitions have put us on the fast track to to oblivion & irrelevancy. Commercial Spacers will NOT save the day! They WON’T even have a mere earth orbit capsule flown with an astronaut, by the time this President leaves office! Again I reiterate: the government space program is a necessary evil; it is the only tried & true way that anything major & beyond-LEO is ever going to get off the ground!

      • amightywind

        You are a fine American. It encourages me that others out there see our feckless space program for what it is. It need not be that way.

      • Hiram

        “… you have only to look up above at the ISS!”

        Indeed, a powerful and inspirational taxpayer reminder about our promise and technological grandeur.

        http://spotthestation.nasa.gov/

        “Ironically, it was John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, who commited this country to do the most incredible acheivement ever done …”

        … beating the technological crap out of the USSR.

        “Fast forward to April of 2010, and you have a polar opposite, defeatist message to America, saying basically that we are NOT the brave & daring country that we once were, and that glued to LEO is where we need to be, repeating the same tired & dull space station exercise——something the Soviets had been doing continuously from 1971, with the Salyuts, all up to the time that the MIR was retired.”

        That’s hilarious. I guess that’s why the Russians are enthusiastic partners with us on Station, because they’ve been doing that tired and dull stuff continuously since 1971. What our President (and, ironically, the last many as well) have been saying is that we may be brave and daring, but we aren’t rolling in dough. You don’t pretend to be brave and daring by printing greenbacks.

        The only thing that is more abysmal than patently unrealistic plans are starry eyed individuals who worship them.

      • I did not consider myself the Tea Party type, prior to February of 2010, but since then, I have inevitably jumbled together all the things I’ve disliked about the Obama agenda, and let me tell you, the demolishment of America’s would-have-been Lunar program certainly made it easier to detest the rest of the liberal game plan for America.

        And yet, the only Tea Party members who care at all about space (Tea Party in Space) opposed Constellation and oppose SLS. Because they oppose wasteful government spending and pork, when the same goal could be achieved for far less money, and in a much more free-market way.

      • “We do this, not because it is easy but because it is hard!”

        That’s a stupid reason to do something. So it’s not surprising, of course, that you repeat it.

        • Matt

          If you’ve seen film of JFK’s speech at Rice Univ., where he makes that statement, he quotes George Mallory, who died climbing Mount Everest. Mallory was asked why he risked his life to attempt Everest, and he replied, “Because it’s there.” And JFK added, “Space is there, and the moon, planets, and stars are there. And we’re going to climb that mountain.” Too bad we’ve stopped after only the foothills-but the peak will come.

          • Coastal Ron

            Matt said:

            Too bad we’ve stopped after only the foothills-but the peak will come.

            Do you have any idea what is holding us back from doing anything other than simple “Flags & Footprints” type excursions? It’s not “inspirational speeches”.

            Just check out the “NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities” from the Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group. They said in part:

            – Success in executing future NASA space missions will depend on advanced technology developments that should already be underway [but are not]

            – 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

            – Future U.S. leadership in space requires a foundation of sustained technology advances

            We built the ISS to work on a lot of the roadblocks to sustained space exploration, and Obama tried to get funding to address even more roadblocks. We could be making more progress, but Congress isn’t interested in reducing the roadblocks to space exploration, they are interested in supporting their constituents.

            And in case you are wondering, no, an HLV and an upsized Apollo capsule are not on the list of “Must Have’s” for us to do space exploration in a competent and confident manner.

            I do agree that we will get there some day, but it’s interesting to note that the people that are most enthusiastic about expanding humanity out into space are entrepreneurs, not politicians. And I see that as a good thing.

            • Vladislaw

              Bill White, who used to post here said we have to go around NASA and not through it. Once that barn door is opened… commercial access to LEO, there will be no need for NASA and they will be forced to get their innovations from the private sector.

            • Matt

              Ron, unless you’re willing to work through the political process, and remember that Congress writes NASA’s checks, your plans will get tossed. Congress exercised its prerogative when they tossed that disaster known as FY 11 and wrote their own authorization and funding bills. You may say it’s pork, but to members of Congress (of both parties, I might add) it was about protecting their constituents and their interests. Pretty speeches and vague promises of a vibrant commercial space sector do not answer their short-term and medium term concerns. Something this Administration failed to take into account. Again, if this Administration had really cared enough to fight for that FY 11 budget that you defend, they would have expended the necessary political capital to do so. And when presented with the alternative, the President went along with it.

              Said it again, Ron, and I’ll repeat: the “Commercial Uber Alles” approach-to the detriment of all else-is a political non-starter. DOA, bottled in committee, whatever. Supporting ISS with cargo and crew-and later on, supporting an L-2 gateway and a lunar base (if TPTB decide on such a faciiity), then yeah, that’s stuff the private sector can do. But actually exploring? Returning to the lunar surface, going to a non-captured NEO, then Mars flyby/orbit/Martian Moons? Those are what the space agencies do. Not Lord Musk or his competitors. They only get involved if they think money’s to be made. Not much profit in exploration. There is money to be made in supporting and servicing in exploration-related activities, and that, you can bet they’ll land on with both feet. But going to new places and revisiting old ones? Leave that to the space agencies.

              • Hiram

                “Returning to the lunar surface, going to a non-captured NEO, then Mars flyby/orbit/Martian Moons? Those are what the space agencies do.”

                But they don’t know why they’d do it. At least, their rationale is one that tends to limp. Oh, they’re “exploring”. What a handy catch-all and completely ill-defined word that one can use to describe anything one wants to do. Yep, ISS astronauts are “exploring”, according to NASA. Oh, the suborbital pilots will be “exploring” too. They’ll probably get badges for “exploring”. I’m going to go to the beach and “explore” there.

                “They only get involved if they think money’s to be made. Not much profit in exploration.”

                So why, exactly, do we do “exploration” if it has no quantifiable value? In fact, much of NASA human spaceflight is seriously handicapped by the fact that it has no quantifiable value. Honestly, value can be assessed in more than dollars, but still, I’d like to see that value called out explicitly, and more cogently than just putting footprints on new rocks.

              • Coastal Ron

                Matt said:

                But actually exploring? Returning to the lunar surface, going to a non-captured NEO, then Mars flyby/orbit/Martian Moons? Those are what the space agencies do.

                I don’t know if you can understand this Matt, but NASA ain’t doin it right now either. Why? Because while they are forced to build an unneeded HLV and $16B Apollo-era capsule, they don’t have the funds to do any exploration.

                And I have never said that for-profit companies want to do pure science-oriented exploration. You conflate a number of the issues that are in play here, and that is certainly one that you confuse.

                What I and others have stated is that as long as NASA is forced to build expensive and unneeded hardware, that NASA won’t be able to afford to go anywhere. BUT, if NASA used existing commercial launchers and was allowed to build exploration hardware that leveraged modern technology and techniques (i.e. ISS proven hardware), then NASA could afford to do space exploration at a modest pace.

                That’s the choice Matt. Either Congress uses NASA as a funding stream for their districts and NO EXPLORATION GETS DONE, or NASA is allowed to spend taxpayer money more wisely and it’s able to afford modest space exploration efforts.

                Those are the only two choices Matt. Choose wisely.

          • Hiram

            The British Expeditions, which George Mallory was a part of, were funded by the private Royal Geographic Society. Not by the British taxpayer. If the Royal Geographic Society wants to buy in to the rationale “Because it is there!”, that’s up to them. If Elon Musk wants to push on to Mars, that’s up to him.

            The American taxpayer is, remarkably enough, a lot smarter than that. To the American taxpayer, the accepted rationale is “Because it does something for me!”, which putting humans into the cosmos doesn’t obviously do, nor would it have been had Mallory conquered Everest. So if our federal expenditures are going to climb that mountain, we need a better reason than it’s there. There is a whole lot of stuff that is “there”, that no one has the slightest interest in sending humans to, except perhaps as a stunt.

            Climbing mountains for the sake of climbing mountains is DUMB.

            BTW, the “NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities” was a study by the National Academy, and should be attributed as such.

      • Vladislaw

        CC wrote:

        “Ironically, it was John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, who commited this country to do the most incredible acheivement ever done, in the history of space travel!”

        That isn’t what was ironic. We were fighting an Idealogical war. Communism and a top down command economy v.s. democratic republican and free market capitalism.

        So what does Kennedy do? Orders a big government command economy solution. Kennedy’s biggest mistake was not saying:

        “The United States wants to put some lunar researchers on the moon and bring them back, how much per seat?

        Then do a fix priced contract. No cost plus.

        • Matt

          Trying to apply what you would want JFK to have done? If anyone had tried saying that, you would’ve been laughed out of NASA, the Congressional hearing rooms, and probably the White House as well-in no particular order. Back then, we had the will and the funding to get the job done. And we did. So why do you have a problem all of a sudden with how Apollo went ahead?

          • Vladislaw

            I have a problem with it because it was a transportation issue and the federal government has pretty much let commercial firms handle transportation. Also there were congressmen, members of the public and firms that wanted commercial. In fact, many thought that was going to happen. The government would shovel it over to the private sector. Pan Am and Hilton sure did but the government said no .. NASA would end up a monopoly.

            • Matt

              Vadislaw, they’re not sending “lunar researchers”, they’re sending test pilots. Land, grab some rock and soil samples, and get off. That’s what they were thinking in 1962-63. Their goal was not the commercialization of space, it’s getting to the Moon ahead of the Russians. And they did so. Enough said.

      • “We do this, not because it is easy but because it is hard!”

        Chris, I don’t believe he meant ‘do it in the hardest way possible.’ That’s where Constellation was going, and SLS may yet get there…

        • vulture4

          JFK listed three hard things that were done or attempted before Apollo. Anyone remember what they were?

          1. Why climb the highest mountain? (Accomplished by a New Zealander and a Nepalese).
          2. Why fly across the Atlantic (Accomplished by Adcock and Brown (UK) and by Lindberg (US, first solo).
          3. Why does Rice play Texas? (TMK Rice has never won. No one knows why they keep trying.)

          The purpose of the Apollo Program was to divert the US-USSR conflict from the nuclear arms race (which was in danger of destroying civilization, if not the entire species) to a symbolic contest between the nations. It was intended to demonstrate the superior technology produced by American industry. It is irrelevant to space exploration today except to show that times have changed.

    • The reason why the asteroid mission has been received with a singular lack of enthusiasm among space advocates, the general public, independent scientific agencies, and even the NASA rank and file is not because Obama is a democrat.

      Bob Clark

      • Matt

        Agreed, Robert. It is because the mission has neither been fully thought out nor explained. It is the administration’s communication (or more specifically, the lack thereof) that explains the lack of enthusiasm on the part of the parties mentioned. The only ones enthused about it are the Keck Institute (it’s their idea), the soon-to-be former Deputy NASA boss, Lori Garver, and Charlie Bolden. Interesting to note that the President himself has not mentioned this proposed mission. Gee, I wonder why?

        • Coastal Ron

          Matt said:

          Interesting to note that the President himself has not mentioned this proposed mission. Gee, I wonder why?

          Because it was Senator Nelson’s idea, not NASA’s.

          How odd that you left him off your list, since he was the first person to make it public. Kind of ruins your theory, eh? ;-)

          It’s also interesting that SLS and Orion supporters are against the first real mission proposed for the SLS and Orion – if you guys can’t think of a good use for the SLS and Orion, don’t expect us SLS and Orion detractors to come up with one…

          • Whether it was the White House’s idea or not they are currently embracing it.

            Bob Clark

            • Coastal Ron

              Robert Clark said:

              Whether it was the White House’s idea or not they are currently embracing it.

              Which shows you how much influence Nelson has with all things NASA.

              Obama gave it a good try to reform NASA and get it on the right path, and he did have a lot of success. But as a politician you have to learn to accept compromise, and the SLS and Orion were part of the price to pay to stop the unaffordable Constellation program, save the ISS (and all exploration technology and techniques we are getting from it), and get Commercial Crew going.

              NASA got it’s 0.5% of the President’s attention, and I think he’s declaring victory and letting things continue on their current path until the next President comes along.

              The next President will have to address the fiscal and programmatic inadequacies of the SLS and Orion program (i.e. $16B for a capsule without a Service Module), and they are likely to implode even before Obama leaves office.

              Once the SLS and Orion are gone, then NASA will be able to go back to creating innovative space exploration concepts that utilize the modern and low-cost transportation systems that already exist, and that frees up $Billions for actual exploration hardware. We can’t do that while the SLS and Orion are POR’s.

              • Vladislaw

                I hope they go with using up those old modules and do the lagrange point gateway, fuel depot, and nautilus-x. I just hope that congress does not strip NASA of the pork premium funding when they switch over to commercial services.

              • Call Me Ishmael

                Coastal Ron said:

                Once the SLS and Orion are gone, then NASA will be able to go back to creating innovative space exploration concepts that utilize the modern and low-cost transportation systems that already exist, and that frees up $Billions for actual exploration hardware.

                You cockeyed optimist. Once SLS and Orion are gone, they will be replaced by other Congressionally-mandated porkfests, just as Constellation was. There either needs to be a change in Congressional culture (not totally impossible; “earmarks” have largely disappeared, at least for a while) or those with the power to direct pork have to be interested in a different kind of pork (i.e. Shelby, Nelson, et al. are out of office, their replacements are freshmen with no power to direct anything, and the new subcommittee chairs have interests unrelated to jobs at KSC/JSC/MSFC).

              • Coastal Ron

                Call Me Ishmael said:

                You cockeyed optimist.

                Maybe. I’ve been accused of being an idealist too.

                Once SLS and Orion are gone, they will be replaced by other Congressionally-mandated porkfests, just as Constellation was.

                No doubt that could happen, but the SLS and MPCV are unique hardware programs – they were grandfathered in during the aftermath of the cancellation of Constellation.

                The SLS and Orion are very large programs led by Boeing and Lockheed Martin. But if the SLS and Orion are cancelled, and an open competition for what comes next is allowed, then that changes the political influence equation.

                For instance, the Commercial Crew program has been run pretty much without political influence, as are many of NASA’s programs. Boeing is OK working on Commercial Crew, so it’s not like they won’t participate in competitive contracts, just that they prefer non-competitive ones like the SLS (and they are not alone in that, of course).

                So the key here is to end the large hardware programs that lock NASA into decades of inflexibility. Changing transportation to space from a government-owned infrastructure line item to a competitive contract award will be a big step in fixing what’s wrong with NASA today.

                Politics will always be involved at the funding level, but the key is to keep politics out of the hardware definition and contract award part.

                My $0.02

          • Matt

            When a proposed mission lacks the support of the majority of those who would plan and execute it, that should say enough.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt said:

    When a proposed mission lacks the support of the majority of those who would plan and execute it, that should say enough.

    Hardly. Having spent the majority of my career in management, I don’t need employee buy-in when management makes decisions. Maybe you worked in communist type “workers paradise” collectives where the workers made all the decisions, but I would say that is a very small majority in the world today, and with good reason.

    In any case you are making assumptions here without facts. How do you know what % of people within NASA don’t support it? Did someone do an official survey?

    For that matter, do you know what % of people within NASA don’t support the SLS and MPCV? We should compare surveys, huh?

    If asked I have no doubt that NASA personnel would say they would rather be out exploring quicker, regardless who builds and operates their rockets. In fact I’d think more people would feel better having a proven launch operator being in charge of their transportation than a government agency – wouldn’t you?

    I’m no fan of the ARM, but then again that’s because I’ve viewed it as a lame excuse for a mission that mandates the use of the SLS and Orion. I guess you feel the same too. WOW, a point of agreement… ;-)

    • Matt

      Ron, when there’s a distinct lack of enthusiasm at NASA for this kind of mission-that should tell you enough. Again, it’s a lack of communication-on the part of this Administration-that explains it. Only now is NASA saying “Planetary Defense” as a justification for ARM. That’s certainly one very good reason, but others would argue-as the following article on Human Asteroid Missions points out: “Don’t send Bruce Willis to do a robot’s job.” http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=1620

      It’s easier to sell missions to the Moon and Mars because those are destinations that the public can identify and support. Selling ARM-or a visit to an NEO beyond Cislunar space? That has been very difficult-at best! It’s all about “making the sale.” And so far, this Administration hasn’t “made the sale.”

      I’d rather build the L2 gateway, and have missions to Earth-Sun L points than do ARM, and visit an NEO past Cislunar space, before going back to the Moon with boots on the ground. None of this ARM nonsense.

      • Coastal Ron

        Matt said:

        when there’s a distinct lack of enthusiasm at NASA for this kind of mission-that should tell you enough.

        You have yet to prove that there is any less lack of enthusiasm for the ARM as there is for the SLS and Orion/MPCV.

        As far as I’m concerned what you are expressing is your own opinion, and you have no independent proof on which to base it.

        Again, it’s a lack of communication-on the part of this Administration-that explains it.

        Not for the ARM. We know exactly what the goal is, and they even have a video animation out showing exactly what they will be doing.

        For myself, I knew as soon as the first person to announce the ARM (Senator Nelson) that this was a mission to find a use for the SLS and Orion, not one of real value for expanding our space exploration capabilities. And from that standpoint I thought it would be a waste of time and money. That you seem to agree, but for different reasons, is encouraging.

        It’s easier to sell missions to the Moon and Mars because those are destinations that the public can identify and support.

        It’s easy to sell missions to Mars because it is the one planet in our solar system that is closest to being like Earth. Since we’ve already been to the Moon there is not much reason to return, which was borne out by how easily the Constellation program was cancelled. Did you see where I went back over the votes to kill Constellation and found that the vast majority of Republican’s in Alabama, Texas and Florida voted FOR CANCELLATION? What does that tell you?

        I’d rather build the L2 gateway, and have missions to Earth-Sun L points than do ARM, and visit an NEO past Cislunar space, before going back to the Moon with boots on the ground. None of this ARM nonsense.

        Just as I’ve stated before. But at least we agree on something. Now if I can just get you to see the light on the SLS and Orion… ;-)

        • Matt

          Ron, I suggest you look at this from the Houston Chronicle….

          http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2013/08/dean-of-u-s-space-policy-critical-of-president-obamas-handling-of-nasa/?cmpid=houtexhcat

          John Logsdon, who has half a century of perspective closely following NASA, says the space agency’s human spaceflight program is floundering.

          During a teleconference Thursday, reported by Space Policy Online, Logsdon said the following:

          The “lack of leadership of this administration” has “put us in a situation which is unfortunate.”

          By this time President Obama should have invited international partners to work together to define the future of the space program and should have given NASA “a relatively crisp sense of what it’s role should be,” he insisted, but Obama “hasn’t done that” and “that’s been very disappointing to me.”

          In other words, Logsdon is critical of the administration’s decision to unilaterally push NASA into pursuing an asteroid mission for its human spaceflight program, rather than consulting with international partners. Like Congress, many of NASA’s international partners on the International Space Station would like to see the space agency return to the moon.

          He’s not directly critical of NASA, which is caught between the White House and Congress, however.

          Ron, you know as well as I do that politics gets in the way of everything. That FY 11 budget you passionately defend had zero chance because of the way it was presented: “This is what we’re going to do, so, Congress, approve it without debate or discussion.” WRONG. Congress didn’t like getting blindsided, and if the Administration was so passionate about it, why didn’t they spend the political capital pushing it through? SLS and Orion have the politcal support on The Hill. “Commecial Uber Alles” does not. Plain and simple.

          • Coastal Ron

            Matt said:

            you know as well as I do that politics gets in the way of everything.

            You say that, but then you contradict what you said and say:

            That FY 11 budget you passionately defend had zero chance because of the way it was presented

            And no, the Administration did not say:

            This is what we’re going to do, so, Congress, approve it without debate or discussion.

            You’re making that up. Are you intentionally lying, or have you deluded yourself into thinking this?

            The NASA budget was submitted along with all the other budgets, and just like every budget every Administration knows that Congress can ignore what they give them. That is nothing new, for ANY AGENCY.

            You apparently don’t know how our government works.

            Congress didn’t like getting blindsided…

            Funny, but Obama got most of what he wanted. I was disappointed that he didn’t get everything, but I understood the political sausage that happened. I also knew that the SLS and Orion ultimately would not survive, so I viewed it as a short-term set back. But make no mistake, Obama got most of what he wanted.

            And just in case you missed my other post, I went back and looked at the House voting record, and the vast majority of Republicans in Alabama, Texas and Florida voted to kill Constellation. Constellation would not have been cancelled if the politicians were as “blindsided” as you say they were.

            SLS and Orion have the politcal support on The Hill.

            People said that about Constellation in 2009. ;-)

            “Commecial Uber Alles” does not.

            You have no clue what you are saying, because no one has said that. And in case you haven’t noticed, the transportation systems that are making the most progress with the least money are commercial ones.

            Plain and simple.

            Yep, too bad you can’t understand it Matt.

        • Hiram

          “Not for the ARM. We know exactly what the goal is, and they even have a video animation out showing exactly what they will be doing.”

          Oh, come on. We know what ARM is going to look like. We know its conceptual architecture and implementation strategy. Yes, we even have a video. Gosh almighty, get out the popcorn and put your feet up! But we don’t have a clue what it’s supposed to be DOING. What is the goal? Hugging rocks? Capturing boulders? Going (sorta) far away? The rationale for ARM is, as has been discussed here repeatedly, largely lacking, mostly handwaving, and admittedly “flaky”. That being the case, it’s just grease for the SLS and Orion.

          What the Administration hasn’t explained is what ARM is for. The Administration runs to Congress looking for big bucks and a quick signature on the basis of a video animation? DoD should make a video animation of terrorists being shot, and run to Congress to get that activity funded.

          Frankly, this Administration has plenty to worry about besides human space flight, so it hands the ball to Bolden and Garver and trusts them to run with it. The “lack of leadership” of the Administration that Logsdon is pointing to is more a failure of leadership, in that Bolden and Garver didn’t know how to run. The “relatively crisp sense of what it’s role should be” given to NASA was “Do something good, and keep out of our face!”

          • Matt

            Exactly. This Administration’s lack of communication is well-known. Want to know why members of Congress (at least the ones on the relevant committees) are still angry with the Administration? They don’t like being blindsided, and essentially being told “rubber-stamp” our proposals. Expecting Congress to approve NASA’s (or any other department’s for that matter) budget without any kind of debate or discussion is a wasted effort.

            • Coastal Ron

              Matt moaned:

              This Administration’s lack of communication is well-known.

              And Congress has a well earned reputation for being deaf to many common sense proposals.

              Stop pretending Congress is not part of your problem Matt.

              Want to know why members of Congress (at least the ones on the relevant committees) are still angry with the Administration? They don’t like being blindsided, and essentially being told “rubber-stamp” our proposals.

              You keep saying that Matt, but Congress gave Obama most of what he wanted. Apparently they weren’t THAT hurt.

              Give it up Matt. If most of the Republican’s – Obama’s most vocal opponents – from Alabama, Florida and Texas voted IN AGREEMENT WITH OBAMA to cancel Constellation, then apparently Obama’s proposal made sense to them.

              Time to move on Matt.

              • Matt

                Ron, until I see serious Congressional action to kill SLS, “moving on” is not on my agenda. And you’re not answering my question: where is the Congressional pressure to kill SLS? It’s just Rohrabacher at present, and he’s only one vote. And in case you haven’t been paying attention, SLS is on schedule and on budget.

                The Commercial sector is not, IMHO, a one-size fits all solution to this country’s HSF problem. Especially when political considerations-which, Ron, with all due respect, you’re ignoring. Members of Congress are out to protect their constituents and their interests. Ignoring the legitimate concerns of those members of Congress who have either NASA or contractor facilities doing SLS or Orion work is not a good way to go forward. It is not “Pork.” If you want those members of Congress to support a HSF program based on commercially available rockets-but still using Orion and the ATV-based service module, say, you have to offer them something. Either becoming a second-source supplier for whatever rocket is chosen, work on some kind of L2 Gateway (though the Skylab II proposal is my personal preference), or something else entirely, but they have to have a reason to vote for it. Vague promises of a “vibrant” U.S. domestic commercial launch industry a few years down the road are not sufficient, nor is “trust us” when pressed for “where are we going, when, and how?”

      • Hiram

        “Only now is NASA saying “Planetary Defense” as a justification for ARM. That’s certainly one very good reason …”

        It may be a good reason, but it’s not one that ARM will serve significantly. In this picture, to the extent that ARM is about NEOs, it’s sold as being necessarily about planetary defense. That’s astonishingly naive. We can have a star party and go out and watch Perseids. As we do so, we can be proud of our efforts on behalf of planetary defense. I mean, we’re watching rocks from space, no?

        But you’re right. It’s not about tracking and being aware of threats. That would be too responsible. It’s all about putting boots places (and finding a use for SLS).

  • Matt

    One other thing: this is from Nasawatch and the Small Bodies Assessment Group:

    Small Bodies Assessment Group FIndings

    “While the SBAG committee finds that there is great scientific value in sample return missions from asteroids such as OSIRIS-Rex, 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

    Want scientific opposition to ARM? You have it.

    • Coastal Ron

      Matt said:

      Want scientific opposition to ARM? You have it.

      I’m not sure you realize this, but there is very little support for the ARRM from the commenters on Space Politics, for various reasons. So who are you trying to influence here?

      But what all this opposition does is further drive home the point that the SLS and Orion are not needed, and because of that YOU should be very concerned.

      If Congress doesn’t fund a use for the SLS and Orion soon, they are doomed for sure – even without the inevitable cost and schedule overruns that will be coming.

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