Congress, NASA

A minor kerfuffle over LC-39A letters

On Friday morning, the space subcommittee of the House Science Committee held a hearing on NASA infrastructure. One of the topics that came up in the hearing was NASA’s plans to transfer control of Launch Complex 39A to a commercial entity, a process that has raised concerns among some in Congress about allowing a single company to control the pad, versus making it a multi-user facility. A few members of the subcommittee raised just those concerns in the hearing, although NASA officials testifying could say little about the process since the procure is still open (and being contested by Blue Origin to the GAO.)

However, not everyone in Congress is opposed to potentially turning over LC-39A to a single entity (in this case, SpaceX.) Earlier this week, the Florida Congressional delegation released letters calling on NASA to continue the process to transfer the pad, without explicitly siding with any particular company. When it was his turn to question the witnesses at the hearing, Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) attempted to enter those letters into the record.

He was stopped, though, by subcommittee chairman Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS). “I’m going to reserve the right to object to the inclusion of the material in the record until my staff and I have the time and opportunity to review it,” he said. That was an unusual move: typically letters and other documents are routinely entered into the record by committee members without objection.

Posey looked a little stunned by Palazzo’s move. “Mr. Chairman, with all due respect, I will yield to that,” he said after a pause of several seconds. “I have never heard of that rule before.”

“Neither have I, until the last minute,” Palazzo said.

Posey did read several lines of the House letter that he and the rest of the state’s House delegation has signed. “I think you’ll be pleased to include the letter when you the opportunity to read it, or your staff does,” Posey said to Palazzo.

After Posey’s five minutes of questioning ended, Palazzo did indicate that the letters had been entered into the record without objection, and reminded members to provide copies of documents they wish to submit for record to his staff. “I thought we had supplied you with copies of them,” Posey said, noting that several other members of the committee had received them. There is no mention of the Florida letters in the section of the hearing charter about LC-39A, although it does note a letter by five senators opposed to any exclusive use deal for the pad.

Update 9/21: SpaceX provided a statement on Friday evening regarding its interest in Launch Complex 39A, indicating it would be open to a multi-user arrangement. “SpaceX has nearly 50 missions on manifest to launch over the proposed 5 year lease period and we can easily make use of the additional launch site,” the company stated. “At the time we submitted the bid, SpaceX was unaware any other parties had interest in using the pad. However, if awarded this limited duration lease on 39A, SpaceX would be more than happy to support other commercial space pioneers at the pad, and allow NASA to make use of the pad if need be.”

87 comments to A minor kerfuffle over LC-39A letters

  • Wow.

    That’s astonishing that Palazzo (R-MS) wouldn’t let Posey (R-FL) enter letters into the record. OldSpace pushing back. OpenSecrets.org says that Lockheed Martin is one of Palazzo’s largest campaign contributors.

    Palazzo claimed in his opening statement that NASA doesn’t know what infrastructure it needs! Well, of course it does. He claimed this was because President Obama won’t let NASA throw everything into human deep-space exploration … which, conveniently, would use facilities in his district.

    I think Posey is getting an education real quick into how OldSpace pork is cornered and fighting back ruthlessly, no matter who they have to buy off.

  • Watching the hearing … Mo Brooks (R-AL) claims NASA needs 39A as backup for SLS. The NASA rep says there is no backup need for SLS. Brooks says he’s wrong. Wow.

  • Here’s what Posey said after Palazzo shut him down:

    People here are trying to weigh in, actually, before that process is completed. Our position is we need to complete the process. We are not taking sides in the formal configuration of the launch pad, whether they’re single- or multi-use. They’re looking at both. We just want our space program to move forward. We want to alleviate Monday-morning quarterbacking and second-guessing. We have Inspector Generals who do that for us.

    You know, we’ve used charts, we’ve seen charts in this committee that are a matter of record, that show over two dozen of our space programs that we call “Missions to Nowhere” over the last two decades and billions and billions and billions of dollars wasted because we have the parochial interests of different members trying to micromanage what NASA does.

    It’s like a City Councilman trying to tell a police chief who to arrest and not who to arrest.

    Wow. Just … wow.

    • Coastal Ron

      Yes, wow. Like a drunk that suddenly has a moment of clarity.

      And in one of those rare cases of agreement, Posey said:

      Our position is we need to complete the process. We are not taking sides in the formal configuration of the launch pad, whether they’re single- or multi-use.

      And

      We want to alleviate Monday-morning quarterbacking and second-guessing. We have Inspector Generals who do that for us.

      That’s right. Unless Congress is going to object to the goals of the lease, and force NASA to rebid the process with the new goals, Congress is not adding value by getting involved. Most of what the government does is covered by the laws that Congress has already put in place, so they only need to be concerned that the laws were followed, not what the outcome was.

    • vulture4

      Posey is complaining about Congressional micromanagement of NASA??? Incredible.

  • I’ve uploaded the entire hearing to YouTube. This link takes you to the part where Posey is shut down:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vO0qJg8L4VY&t=56m30s

  • DCSCA

    “However, not everyone in Congress is opposed to potentially turning over LC-39A to a single entity (in this case, SpaceX.)”

    This is a non-starter.

    NewSpace has zero credibility in HSF operations. They’re not even a player in this game so comparisons to OldSpace HSF ops is a strawman argument seeking parody through false equivalency. Space X has flown nobody. So any proposal for long term exclusivity leasing of national assets over to a single entity with zero HSF experience is not going to fly. And any NASA manager pushing for it as a short-term budgeting ploy needs to follow Garver out the door. They might just as well turn LC-29A over to Paramount Pictures or ILM, both of which have as much experience in HSF operations as Space X– and w/a much higher ROI as well.

    • Coastal Ron

      DCSCA whined:

      NewSpace has zero credibility in HSF operations.

      I think the commercial companies that built the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Shuttle and ISS vehicles would disagree with you, as would all of their employees. Add on to that United Space Alliance, which ran the Shuttle program for NASA – they would disagree with you too.

      YOU are the one that has no credibility on this subject.

      So any proposal for long term exclusivity leasing of national assets over to a single entity with zero HSF experience is not going to fly.

      Regardless what ignorant statements you make, HSF is the not the issue with who does or doesn’t get to lease LC-39A. And that’s because the government is going to demolish LC-39A if no one leases it, and the government really doesn’t care what the lessor uses it for. If SpaceX wants to launch cement into space using LC-39A, great, just keep sending in those monthly lease payments.

      They might just as well turn LC-29A over to Paramount Pictures or ILM, both of which have as much experience in HSF operations as Space X– and w/a much higher ROI as well.

      Do you have a reading problem? The government released an AFP, and anyone could bid for the facility. ANYONE.

      Apparently Paramount Pictures and ILM didn’t see any more value in LC-39A than the government did, and they too could care less if the government demolishes it.

      SpaceX is willing to pay to use the facility, and if they have the best offer, then there is no reason why they shouldn’t win the right to use it. Regardless what you say.

      • DCSCA

        =yawn= Exclusiviy is a not starter, Ron. NewSpace has no crdibility in HSF operations, Ron. Thisi s a matter of fact. Deal with it. It has failed to even attempt to launch, orbit and return any crews from LEO. Seeking parody through false equivalency doesn’t fly, fella.

        “SpaceX is willing to pay to use the facility, and if they have the best offer, then there is no reason why they shouldn’t win the right to use it.” says Ron.

        Really. So ‘willing to pay’ and ‘best offer’ are your metrics. Then open up leasing bids to Russia, or the PRC which, BTW, actually have more HSF experience than Space X, Patamount and ILM combined. Sheesh. .

        “SpaceX is willing to pay to use the facility” dreams Ron. Only w/sweetners, exclusivity and assorted w/gov’t subsidies. That’s a no go. ILM and Paramo8nt have as much experience in HSF as Space X, Ron. And produce a higher ROI.

        KSC is a national asset, Ron, owned by the people of the US. Its no a playpen for NewSpace hobbyists w/zero HSF experience. If Space X craves a launch facility– Elon can pay to build one like the good little capitalist he professes to be anyplace along the equator Exxon is willing to lease access to National Parks, too, Ron. No doubt you’d welcome turbibf Yellowstone over to Big Oil, too.

        • Justin Kugler

          This is absurd. It’s an unused launch facility that SpaceX is willing to pay to make it useful again. If they make a better offer than Blue Origin, there is no reason why they shouldn’t get the deal.

          These “hobbyists” got the Air Force to agree to lease them a pad at VAFB and open up future contracts for bid. Give me a break.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA whined:

          NewSpace has no crdibility in HSF operations

          Whine about this all you want, but it’s not a requirement for the LC-39A lease.

          And since NASA plans to tear down LC-39A unless someone leases it, multi-use or NASA co-use is not a requirement either.

          This is very clear if you knew how to read a proposal, but I guess you don’t.

          Really. So ‘willing to pay’ and ‘best offer’ are your metrics.

          Not mine, that would be the U.S. Government. Again, reading is not your strong suit, so maybe you should defer to those that can both read and comprehend… ;-)

          KSC is a national asset, Ron, owned by the people of the US.

          It is excess government property, and is being offered for lease under Solicitation Number: AFP-KSC-LC39A.

          And AGAIN, NASA has said if no one leased it they were going to demolish it. That’s the choice Bub – being demolished, or being leased to one of the two NewSpace $Billionaires that you despise.

          • DCSCA

            And since NASA plans to tear down LC-39A unless someone leases it

            Won’t happen, Ron, unless it is allowed to folow the rought of LC-14. The DOi has a aay in it.

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA whined:

              unless it is allowed to folow the rought of LC-14. The DOi has a aay in it.

              It’s excess infrastructure that NASA says they have no use for. None.

              Whine all you want, but that is the reality.

        • Jim Nobles

          DCSCA why do you continue to play these games? You know it makes you look dumb.

          SpaceX is probably going to get the 39A bid either as sole user or primary user. SpaceX is likely going to be the next member of the United States space program to launch Americans into space from American soil. SpaceX is busting their arses to try and pull other technological rabbits out of the hat and will probably score some of them as well.

          And that’s not to mention the other commercial players who are trying to get us back into being a space-faring nation again. Why do you put everything commercial down? It just makes you look stupid. The entertainment value wore off long ago.

        • “NewSpace has no crdibility in HSF operations, Ron. This is a matter of fact.”

          Okay, and?

          Even accepting that just for the sake of argument, who said the launches from 39A necessarily had to be manned? I suspect the majority won’t be. Is that even a condition? Not that I can see. And even you know better than to say there’s no unmanned operations credibility now.

          “Then open up leasing bids to Russia, or the PRC which, BTW, actually have more HSF experience than Space X, Patamount and ILM combined. Sheesh. . ”

          ITAR and political appearances aside, perhaps they just see no need to do so, anyway? Certainly Russia already has its own unused HLV launch facilities…

          Again, where did ‘past manned space experience’ become a condition of bidding?

          “KSC is a national asset, Ron, owned by the people of the US.”

          And KSC already has the stubs and foundations of plenty of similar ‘national assets’ with ‘Abandon in Place’ stenciled on them. Why are you determined to let this become another one? Pad 39A is not an unalterable Holy Altar. If the dream is that it should be a second SLS pad, please stop yawning and wake up.

          SpaceX already launches from another disused pad (LC40) that it refurbished on its own dime and still leases. Somehow you fail to find this simple fact to be indicative of anything…

          • DCSCA

            “SpaceX already launches from another disused pad (LC40) that it refurbished on its own dime.”

            Inaccurate. LC-40 was refurbished w/tax dollars during the TARP mess. This is a matter of public record. Look it up.

          • DCSCA

            “SpaceX already launches from another disused pad (LC40) that it refurbished on its own dime” wishes Frank.

            Except they didn’t.

            Re- taxpayer dollars spent for SpaceX launch facilities:

            “In October 2009 NASA provided a pre-solicitation notice regarding an effort to be funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The commercial crew enabling work would include a “base task” of refurbishing and reactivating SLC-40 power transfer switches, performing maintenance on the lower Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE) substation and motor control centers, installing bollards around piping, replacing the door frame and threshold for the Falcon Support Building mechanical room and repairing fencing around the complex perimeter. Several optional tasks would include work installing conductive flooring in the Hangar Hypergol area, performing corrosion control inspection and maintenance of the lightning protection tower’s structural steel, upgrading and refurbishing other facility equipment and performing corrosion control on rail cars and pad lighting poles, painting several buildings, repairing and improving roads, and hydro-seeding the complex.”

            Any attempt to say SpaceX refubished LC-40 ‘on their own dime’ is simply wrong,

            Publix tax dollars from the United States Treasury were used. End of story. .

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA whined:

              Any attempt to say SpaceX refubished LC-40 ‘on their own dime’ is simply wrong

              No, it’s a fact.

              In April of 2007 SpaceX was cleared to leased the SLC-40 facility, and in May of 2008 – 17 months before the pre-solicitation notice you cite – SpaceX started demolition of the SLC-40. You can view the demolition video here.

              The first Falcon 9 rocket arrived at SLC-40 in late 2008, and was erected for the first time on January 10, 2009. That would still be 9 months before that pre-solicitation notice you cite.

              So while the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) money was nice, SpaceX hadn’t been counting on it for their use of SLC-40, and had already been spending their own money to make the sight ready for launches.

              As usual, you are ignorant of the facts.

              End of story.

      • Fred Willett

        @DCSCA
        So any proposal for long term exclusivity leasing of national assets over to a single entity with zero HSF experience is not going to fly.
        SpaceX already has two long term leases over national assets. SLC 40 where they have already launched 5x Falcon 9s and a pad at Vandenburg where they have a F9R which has passed its hot fire test and is ready to fly at the end of this month.
        And there is no suggestion SpaceX wants SLC 39A for HSF They want SLC 39A for their Falcon Heavy. All SpaceX’s HSF flights will go from their existing SLC 40 pad on Falcon 9.

    • Vladislaw

      Why would you want to compare it to “old school” … like somehow today’s commercial companies should try and emulate them…

      Take a look at old school NASA and our first foray into space:

      “Impact and legacy
      The project was 22 months delayed counting from the start until the first orbital mission.[183] It had a dozen prime contractors, 75 major subcontractors, and about 7200 third-tier subcontractors, whom together employed two million persons”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_spacecraft

      If today’s commercial companies copied this they would look like

      like …

      NASA and never get anything done because all they could afford to do is feed the army, but never let it off the base.

  • Florida Today has published an article about the hearing, although it doesn’t mention Posey being denied submission of his letters:

    “NASA Spends Millions Maintaining Unused Facilities”

    • Coastal Ron

      Stephen C. Smith said:

      Florida Today has published an article about the hearing…

      There is a passage in that article that bears repeating, since most people are obviously not aware of the alternatives that NASA are considering:

      Members of Congress are raising concerns about NASA’s plan to lease the historic Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which costs the agency $1.2 million a year to maintain. The pad, which supported the Apollo and shuttle programs, is no longer being used. Agency officials said they will demolish the pad unless they find a tenant.

      So the choice is not whether the pad might be needed in the future by NASA. The choice is whether taxpayers will have to pony up money to demolished the pad, or that NASA finds someone willing to take over LC-39A and use it for purposes that could return money back to the taxpayer.

      LC-39B is all NASA needs for the SLS, and in fact Bolden has stated numerous times that they plan to make LC-39B multi-use capable, since they don’t plan on using it enough to merit it being a single-use facility.

      • Coastal Ron wrote:

        So the choice is not whether the pad might be needed in the future by NASA. The choice is whether taxpayers will have to pony up money to demolished the pad, or that NASA finds someone willing to take over LC-39A and use it for purposes that could return money back to the taxpayer.

        This is the ironic hypocrisy of today’s hearing. Nominally it was about how to allow NASA to dispose of obsolete infrastructure. The NASA IG was rather blunt, repeatedly, about how political interference has forced NASA to build infrastructure it didn’t need, or not to dispose of infrastructure that has no purpose.

        And yet here we have Palazzo and Brooks brazenly claiming that NASA needs 39A as a “backup” for SLS which is absurd — all in the name of keeping the Falcon Heavy off 39A.

        One wonders what would happen if SpaceX were to suddenly declare its interest in using 39B for Falcon Heavy as a joint user with SLS. I’m sure Palazzo and Brooks would change their minds and now claim that multi-use was impossible.

      • Guest

        What happened to ‘abandon in place’?

        • Coastal Ron

          Guest said:

          What happened to ‘abandon in place’?

          Likely deemed to be more expensive in liability than just tearing it down – which would have to be done no matter who uses it. Having the lessor spend their own money to tear it down makes better sense.

          • vulture4

            It’s not absolutely certain it would all be torn down. SpaceX has suggested they might use the FSS and slidewires for flight crew emergency ground egress.If they got rid of the RSS and most of the Shuttle-era wiring and plumbing, maintenance would not be much different from any of the other structures at the cape.

  • josh

    puppets like palazzo and brooks are bought and paid for, they say what the people who fund their campaigns (old space) tell them to say. they’re a disgrace to democracy.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    If awarded LC-39A, SpaceX has promised to share the pad with NASA and other users anyway:

    http://nasawatch.com/archives/2013/09/spacex-statemen.html

    What a bunch of sound and fury signifying nothing…

    • Mark R. Whittington

      That was a shrewd move on SpaceX’s part. It means that a future administration will have the option to bump up the launch tempo for SLS when the inevitable change back to a return to the moon happens in the next administration.

      • Ferris Valyn

        Mark – we discussed this (or rather, other people discussed this already, including the hearing witnesses) – the launch pad is not the limiting factor in launching SLSes. Its not even CLOSE.

        • Mark R. Whittington

          That is assuming NASA’s current launch schedule. SpaceX has seen the writing on the wall, hence its wise move to drop the demand for sole use.

          • Coastal Ron

            Mark R. Whittington said:

            That is assuming NASA’s current launch schedule.

            As has already been pointed out to you, the SLS launch schedule is limited by many more things than the capacity of the launch pad (like any known & funded need), and unless you plan on launching 20+ SLS per year, NASA won’t need a second launch pad.

            In other words, never.

            SpaceX has seen the writing on the wall, hence its wise move to drop the demand for sole use.

            It was like Bush43 promising to protect Texas from polar bears – the likelihood of that promise needing to be kept is pretty remote… ;-)

            So what do they lose by saying they will share with those that will never show up?

            • Mark R. Whittington

              Actually if one proposes to return to the moon, two launch pads are going to be essential unless you propose to launch the lander and the Orion weeks or even months apart.

              • pathfinder_01

                And why not launch them apart? There are trajectories and technology that didn’t exsist in the days of Apollo that can make sending the lander or any cargo ahead without the crew attractive. Namely the weak stable boundy trajectory which can double payload as well as solar electric propulsion.

                We also have greater ability to assemble and dock in space. I am no fan of SLS but I have an even greater dislike of the Apollo midset of need to send everything all at once or the CXP one where you had a stage boiling off and needed to launch another rocket within a day(which given the relaibility of shuttle technology was probably too much to ask).

              • Coastal Ron

                Mark R. Whittington said:

                Actually if one proposes to return to the moon…

                Which no one with any money is proposing. But go ahead…

                …two launch pads are going to be essential unless you propose to launch the lander and the Orion weeks or even months apart.

                Well, why not? Why do they have to wait in LEO for a crew?

                In fact, if the lander is reusable, this isn’t even an issue since the lander will be permanently stationed at the Moon (on the surface or in LLO).

                This is the 21st century, yet you are stuck in a 20th century mindset (i.e. the disposable Apollo model). Get updated.

          • Vladislaw

            SpaceX made this offer for five years of multi use because there is no one else that can launch in five years…

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “It means that a future administration will have the option to bump up the launch tempo for SLS”

        No future administration has that option. The launch rate for any vehicle is limited by its production. Per its production requirements, over the long-term, SLS is limited to one launch every other year.

        “That is assuming NASA’s current launch schedule.”

        The current launch schedule for SLS is only slightly less than one launch every other year.

        “when the inevitable change back to a return to the moon happens in the next administration.”

        There’s nothing “inevitable” about lunar return. It hasn’t happened in over four decades despite a couple White House initiatives. There’s no reason to believe it will happen in the next four decades. There’s certainly no reason to think that it will happen under the next administration.

        “That was a shrewd move on SpaceX’s part… SpaceX has seen the writing on the wall, hence its wise move to drop the demand for sole use.”

        SpaceX never had a “demand for sole use”. Per the company’s statement, SpaceX didn’t even know that another company was interested in LC-39A.

        Can’t you read?

        • Egad

          Per its production requirements, over the long-term, SLS is limited to one launch every other year.

          It’s a bit of a technical point and not really documented, but the head of the Michoud Assembly Facility recently opined that they could produce up to two SLS cores per year. If, of course, there were the funding available for the rockets and whatever payloads they would carry.

          http://www.spacenews.com/article/civil-space/36012tooling-processes-coming-together-for-%E2%80%98affordable%E2%80%99-space-launch-system

          Using these and other tools, and an employee work force of “significantly less than 1,000,” NASA and Boeing could produce as many as two SLS cores a year, according to Patrick Whipps, the agency’s resident manager for Michoud.

          • Coastal Ron

            Egad said:

            but the head of the Michoud Assembly Facility recently opined that they could produce up to two SLS cores per year.

            Jim Muncy said the same on the “The battle for Launch Complex 39A” article comments, plus he said that ATK is currently limited to just one flight set of SRM’s per year.

            To increase the production rate will cost money, and since the SLS is a government-owned product, that money has to come from Congress, not from the contractors.

            If instead NASA were allowed to use commercial launchers for it’s needs, then any increase in flight rate would be covered by the launch providers as part of their per/launch pricing.

            Yet another reason why the government trying to run their own space transportation system doesn’t make sense.

      • Vladislaw

        Are you still getting paid 8 cents a word to babble nonsense?

        The SLS.MPCV is going to cost north of 3.5 billion a launch .. there is no “bump up” of the launch schedule. more than two launches a year and it will kill the entire space budget .. there wouldn’t be enough funding left over to do anything. It costs 150 million a month for the standing army. that is 1.8 billion … one launch .. every couple years.. that’s it…..

        but don’t worry .. your crony capitalism you support will still be delivering your pork sandwich to the usual suspects..

        you make yourself look like a moron with each post.. I would ask for a raise in pay.

    • DCSCA

      “If awarded LC-39A, SpaceX has promised to share the pad with NASA and other users anyway.”

      ‘Promised?’ LOL Meaningless in business unless its in a contract.

  • Breaking news … Jim Lovell switches sides, endorses NewSpace for lunar exploration:

    “Back to the Moon, Commercially”

    • common sense

      Nice. The first of many to come I am sure. Tough luck for tick-tock!!!

      • DCSCA

        “Jim Lovell switches sides, endorses NewSpace for lunar exploration” says Stephen. “Nice” coos CS.

        Pffft. What a misleading statement to make and cling to.

        This is not an independent endorsement. For God’s sake, Lovell is now signed on on the advisory board of GS. Just as Griffin is.

        They’re paid spokespersons, Stephen. Window dressing at best; and at worst. pitchmen. Lunar Lobbyists.

        Jim Lovell is nearly 86 years old. He retired from NASA in 1973. He has not had any hands on HSF affiliations in flight operations or spaceflight management in four decades. His last lunar activity was working the lunar science back room during Apollo 17′s EVAs. Lovell is paid window dressing for GS.

        Gerry Griffin is nearly 80 years old. He left NASA/JSC in January, 1986– nearly three decades ago. He is window dressing for GS as well.

        Both these distinguished individuals, who owe their most significant professional achievements- historic successes in HSF- to government managed and funded HSF operations, are now paid by GS to pitch the company line. Nice work if you can get it at their age.
        Tick-tock, tick-tock, indeed.

        • Hiram

          “Pffft. What a misleading statement to make and cling to.”

          Yes, Lovell is on the Golden Spike Board of Advisers. I suspect that if he’s paid, it’s a tiny stipend. Tiny stipends don’t buy allegiance. Don’t confuse “Board of Advisors” with “Board of Directors”. The latter are compensated generously, because they have fiduciary responsibility to the company. I suspect Lovell is on the GS BoA because he believes in GS. Just walkin’ the talk. But he is certainly window dressing for it. Nice curtains!

          Jim Lovell is actually 85 years old, and indeed has not had any hands on HSF affiliations in flight operations or spaceflight management in four decades. Of course Gene Cernan, dedicated commercial space denier, is 79 years old, and hasn’t either. One wonders what stipends he’s getting from Lockheed, Boeing, and ATK.

          • DCSCA

            “I suspect that if he’s paid, it’s a tiny stipend.”

            Big or small, once you’re a paid spokesperson you’ve compromise your position. Lovell is a paid spokesperson now just like Griffin and this is not an independent endorsemnt. Just as back in the day, Schirra pitched Actifeds, Conrad sold Sunglasses, Shepard and a few other Apollo era astronauts peddled Coors, Armstrong briefly hawked Chryslers (and was severly criticized for it by his colleagues BTW) Carpenter endorsed Oldsmobiles, Cernan dabled in oil and Aldrin lends his name to video games and toys. Even Lindbergh once was a spokesperson for TWA and Yeager peddled Cutty Sark scotch and Rolex watches.

          • DCSCA

            Jim Lovell is actually 85 years old– in fact, as atated, he is nearly 86– he will be 86 in March. =sheesh=

        • Vladislaw

          wow what a difference in attitude for old people that support your nonsense.. nothing but praise for the old boys that bashed NASA and the President’s support of commercial space.

          http://www.spacepolitics.com/2011/09/23/did-yesterdays-sound-and-fury-signify-anything/#comments

  • amightywind

    Leasing Pad-39A is an act of national sabotage by NASA. They should be used for future SLS missions, not plundered by newspace insiders.

    • As others have shown, there will hardly be enough SLS activity for one such pad, but you would require the indefinite maintenance of both, without even museum value. ‘Should’ is irrelevant. The choices are lease it, or scrap it. There is no door number three, Monty…

      And the money that ‘newspace insiders’ would have to put into it themselves to do anything with it, and paying an ongoing lease (just as at SLC-40) is a pretty strange variety of ‘plundering,’ in my book.

  • Coastal Ron

    Stephen C. Smith said:

    Jim Lovell switches sides, endorses NewSpace for lunar exploration

    No surprise really. All it took was for him to sit down and actually review and listen to what they were doing.

    Pity other former Apollo astronauts haven’t done the same…

    • Coastal Ron wrote:

      Pity other former Apollo astronauts haven’t done the same…

      Yeah, good luck getting Cernan to do that … although Walt Cunningham’s name keeps coming up as the source of a lot of misinformation treated as reality by Apollo-era astronauts. It should be interesting to see how they respond to Lovell’s article.

      • I’ve been communicating with Walt. He may be coming around.

        • Rick Boozer wrote:

          I’ve been communicating with Walt. He may be coming around.

          Well, that’s encourgaging.

          Elon Musk in an interview lamented that Neil Armstrong refused to accept his invitation to tour the SpaceX facilities.

          I’d like to see Lovell, Cernan, Cunningham and the others who’ve been so vocal opposing NewSpace to visit Hawthorne and give Elon a chance to make his case.

          I’m working on a blog article about this which I’ll post this afternoon.

          • DCSCA

            “I’d like to see Lovell, Cernan, Cunningham and the others who’ve been so vocal opposing NewSpace to visit Hawthorne and give Elon a chance to make his case.” dreams Stephen.

            Pfft. DCSCA would like to see Musk attempt to launch orbit and safely return a crewed spacecraft from LEO, too. Maybe if he did that, they’d pay a visit. Because they know hype isn’t flight.

            They wont set themselves up for that photo op. Cernan certainly wont- he’s media savvy. Lovell as well. Cunningham– well, an Apollo 7 crewman could lend credibility to a manned spacecraft that still has to be tested on-orbit, crewed, with a photo op– but its weak. and Armstrong was much too savvy to get suckered into a photo op w/Musk. Heck, the guy stopped siging his name on things long before he died and even took legal action on his barber– and took issue with Hallmark for that benign Christmas ornament years ago– the settlement going to Purdue. No way Armstrong was going to Hawthorne. and neither will Cernan.

            If Musk wants photo ops at Hawthorne, All he has to do is actually launch, orbit and safely return somebody aboard one of his birds. That’s Tony Stark 101.

        • DCSCA

          “I’ve been communicating with Walt. He may be coming around.”

          When was the last time anyone gave weight to what Walt Cunningham had to say about HSF– October, 1968– or after the tell all, ‘The All American Boys’ was penned– or we could just ask Chris Kraft why he never flew again. Then blame Wally.

    • DCSCA

      “All it took was for him to sit down and actually review and listen to what they were doing.” dreams Ron.

      How naive.

      This is the same Jim Lovell who was snagged auctioning off the Apollo 13 reentry checklist- for over $388,000 a few years ago.

      • Coastal Ron

        DCSCA said:

        This is the same Jim Lovell who was snagged auctioning off the Apollo 13 reentry checklist- for over $388,000 a few years ago.

        And which Congress later made clear was perfectly legal.

        In fact, obviously you didn’t know this but there have been at least 85 items from Apollo 11 that have been sold at auction by the Apollo 11 crew since Congress clarified who owned what. Imagine that.

        So I guess that’s doesn’t denigrate Lovell the way you think it would.

  • DCSCA

    “Just a few weeks ago, the 44th anniversary of Apollo 11’s historic mission fulfilling U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to safely land a man on the Moon came and went. It was marked by little fanfare.” says Lovell.

    Nobody marks the 44th anniversary of anything, except a marriage. The 45th, perhaps; the 50th, most certainly. But not a 44th.

    “No doubt, America’s space program has gone on to some remarkable achievements: Apollo-Soyuz, Skylab, the space shuttle, the Hubble Space Telescope, Mars rovers and the international space station — a lasting home in space occupied by a global crew 24/7, 365 days a year.” says Mr. Lovell.

    From the outside looking in, that’s a quaint overview. Mr. Lovell fails to note that the very people who managed ASTP saw it as a waste of time and hardware– but he’d left NASA two years before the filight. The HST was a disaster thanks to NASA cost-cutting and Perkin-Elmer– saved only by more costly repairs nd some keen on-orbit servicing. . And, of course, Lovell actively championed deep-sixing Mir and supported the assembly of the $100 billion boondoggle, the orbiting zombie, the ISS–whose ‘orbital community’ consists of six — (most not Americans BTW). That’s a poker game, not a community. And Lovell’s business experience should tell him the ISS has failed to come anywhere close to producing a ROI to justify the cost beyond its Cold War genesis. .

    “But for many people, including old astronauts like myself, the human exploration of the Moon remains America’s crowning achievement amid the stars. It is certainly an event worthy of repeating, and many of us have long argued for sending new generations of explorers back to our closest celestial neighbor as a first step toward developing the skills and technologies needed to travel deeper into our own solar system.: ays Lovell.

    That’s a romantic distillation of history by Lovell. However, he and his Apollo colleagues were not launched into the history books as ‘explorers,’ but recruited to fight a Cold War battle– as his Apollo 8 crewmates, Bill Anders– and Frank Borman– have often stated.

    Indeed, Lovell’s most historic flight, Apollo 8, was conceived and flown as a direct response to a similar mission in work planned by the Soviets, uncovered by the CIA. And his famed, ill-fated Apollo 13 flight motivated NASA boss Bob Gilruth to entertain and later tacitly endorse truncating Apollo, bringing the program to a close..

    “Some in Congress are at this very moment talking once again about forcing NASA to establish a program to sustain a human presence on the Moon. I, unfortunately, am not optimistic as we have been here before. ” notes Lovell.

    So ‘failure’ is an option after all, to Mr. Lovell. Another myth busted. We’ve been to the moon before, too- which is essentially the argument President Obama made when, ill-advised by staff no longer in his orbit, Constellation was shelved.

    “Until now I have been very doubtful and indeed critical of many existing commercial space ventures that are largely funded by taxpayer dollars. But after several meetings with Golden Spike executives, including the chairman of its board — my old friend — former Apollo Flight Director Gerry Griffin, I became convinced that we truly are on the cusp of a brand new era of commercial lunar space travel.” In other words, Mr. Lovell wasn’t ‘convinced’… ‘until now’ when he became a paid consultant pitching a private firm for government business. Essentially, he is now a lobbyist.

    “The idea of an American aerospace firm orchestrating important scientific and exploratory missions for government space programs around the world as well as corporations and adventurous individuals is extremely exciting.” This is the Lovell/Griffin GS line. It’s also bogus. Aerospace firms are in business to make money. Not ‘explore. ‘

    “I was so convinced that I am now an adviser to the company as it progresses through its first wave of lunar lander and spacesuit studies.” notes Lovell. Great, as a compendated spokesperson no doubt you’ve invested in GS– beyond your reputation– so you have a stake in the firm’s success.

    “In fact, NASA itself should look carefully at what Golden Spike is doing and incorporate its plans into America’s national space ambitions. “The agency, in my opinion, should be among Golden Spike’s first customers and biggest allies.” says paid-spokesperson Lovell.

    There’s the sales pitch.

    Just like Schirra pitched Actifed, Carpenter endorsed Oldsmobiles, Conrad pitched MD and sunglasses; Shepard and others peddled beer; Cernan dabbled in oil and even Armstrong once pitched Chryslers– not to mention Aldrin’s endorsement affiliations– to name a few. Even Lindbergh pitched TWA and Yeager lent his name to aerospace firms, Rolex watches, computer and video games– and Cutty Sark scotch. Nothing wrong with it. But lets be clear, a paid spokesperson sells the company line and is not an independent voice.

    “As the company said in its debut press conference last December, Golden Spike is not about America going back to the Moon but about the American entrepreneurial spirit leading the rest of the world to the Moon. I say let’s all get onboard and return to where we belong.” says Lovell.

    And Lovell says it only now as a member of the firm’s advisory board, not before, as an independent voice.

  • DCSCA

    Let’s give desperate NewSpacers some help as they seem more interested in seasoned aerospace/Apollo-era endorsements (or photo ops) from the past rather than making their own mark and flying anybody today.

    Lovell is nearly 86. Griffin is almost 80. Borman is nearly 86. Anders will be 80 in October. Cunningham is nearly 82. Mike Collins is 82. Aldrin is 83. Dave Scott is 81. Tom Stafford is 83; Worden is 81; Jim McDivitt is 84; Mitchell is 82; Dick Gordon is 83; Duke is nearly 78; Schmitt is 78; Cernan is nearly 80; Glynn Lunney is almost 77; Rusty Schweickart and Ken Mattingly are 77; Fred Haise, 79; Bean is 81; Gene Kranz just turned 80; Chris Kraft is nearly 90; John Hodge, 84. John C. Houbolt is 94; George Mueller is 95. John Glenn is 92; Scott Carpenter, 88. Chuck Yeager, nearly 91. And John Young turned 83 today, September 24. Happy birthday, John.

    Bob Gilruth, Robert Seamans, Rocco Petrone, Eisele, Schirra, Kurt Debus, Slayton, Armstrong, George Low, Conrad, Swigert, Shepard, Roosa, Cooper, James Webb, Jim Irwin, Ron Evans, Sam Phillips, Joe Shea, Brainerd Holmes, North American’s Harrison Storms; Graumman’s Tom Kelly; Walt Williams, Scott Crossfield, Max Faget and Wernher Von Braun—- all gone now.

    Accordingly, it might behoove “NewSpace” to stop seeking the approval of “OldSpace” hands or ‘ancient astronauts’ who’ve made their mark on the skies and start earning credibility on their own by doing what these individuals so proudly accomplished decades ago through government financed and managed aviation and HSF operations. In other words, FLY SOMEONE.

    • Hiram

      “they seem more interested in seasoned aerospace/Apollo-era endorsements (or photo ops) from the past rather than making their own mark and flying anybody today”

      Let’s see. Golden Spike has a Board of Advisors of 16 individuals, ONE of whom, Jim Lovell, is Apollo era. (Well, OK, you can count Nancy Conrad as well if you like.) You’re hallucinating if you think that at least this commercial enterprise is “more interested” in such endorsements. With regard to approval by “OldSpace” hands or “ancient astronauts”, I frankly think that while modern commercial outfits consider these folks historical heroes, they’re not overwrought about endorsements from them. I’ll bet they don’t waste any of their time cultivating these endorsements. Such endorsements sell well inside the beltway, though.

      As to flying someone, we’re looking at commercial institutions that have credible plans and schedule for doing so. It’s going to happen. So your tick-tocks are counting down, rather than up. That must frustrate you intensely.

      It should also be frustrating that NASA has been talking about sending humans outside of LEO for forty years. But they haven’t managed to do so. Don’t you think it’s way past time for your beloved government financed and managed space agency to start making their own mark and FLY SOMEONE out there? It’s been all talk, with schedules falling left and right. In fact, we don’t even fly anyone to LEO right now, which we proudly accomplished decades ago. SpaceX is a lot closer to flying humans into LEO than NASA is. Everyone accepts that. Ouch.

      Keep squirming.

    • Coastal Ron

      DCSCA opined:

      …by doing what these individuals so proudly accomplished decades ago through government financed and managed aviation and HSF operations. In other words, FLY SOMEONE.

      You have a romantic, but wrong, remembrance of the past.

      Most of the people you idolize were pilots, but pilots did not design the hardware they flew, nor did they build them. I give them their due for risking their lives, but they were the paid talent to do so.

      The innovations that happened during the 60′s was not that Armstrong or Cernan were able to operate a vehicle, but that America was able to build vehicles that could be piloted by humans AND do the wonderful things they did.

      And that’s why you don’t understand what’s going on today.

      The innovations that are going on today have nothing to do with being able to stick a human in a spacecraft and launch them to space. The innovation today is in lowering the costs to access space for both cargo and humans – what humans, and where they go is immaterial. What IS material is whether it can be done in a repeatable, scaleable way, and a business can be built around that.

      That is why your whining about “FLY SOMEONE” makes us laugh at you. Being stuck in the 60′s means you just don’t understand what is going on in today’s world, and likely never will.

      The schedule for Commercial Crew is quite public, as are the plans by the companies for when they plan to fly their company crews – do you need help finding them? There is no need to do anything quicker than what they plan, and if anything, following your mantra would be like forgetting the lessons of the Shuttle Challenger (i.e. fake launch dates are dangerous).

      These will be frustrating years for you as you wait for SpaceX to patiently assemble their innovative hardware, but just try and remember that they are building a profitable transportation business, not trying to launch rockets and people for meaningless reasons (i.e. what you want them to do).

      • DCSCA

        America was able to build vehicles that could be piloted by humans AND do the wonderful things they did.” reams Rob.

        Hmmmm. Apparently you are not aware that Soviet Russia also built spacecraft capable of being piloted by their crews– when permitted and/or given the codes to override the ground. And Soyuz is still operational, too.

        “…there have been at least 85 items from Apollo 11 that have been sold at auction by the Apollo 11 crew since Congress clarified who owned what. Imagine that. So I guess…”

        Yes, you’re guessing, Ron. You will find nothing auctioned or sold by Neil Armstrong. He was distressed to learn his own signatures wre being bought and sold some years back– not to mention his hair– and all but stopped signing nhis name. That Collins, but mostly Aldrin, has chosen to auction off some items is their choice. But Aldrin’s position on that was established many years ago, Ron, when he chose the path to good health, embrace his status , or ‘celebrity’– however you wish to frame it, and capitalize off it. Nothing wrong with it– that’s American culture today– but it does mean his positiions must be taken within the context of his endorsements. Now Lovell’s is at it as well. So his sales pitch for GS conforms to the company line that is paying him. Armstrong didn’t do that— particularly after the criticism he got in the early 70s for hawking Chryslers– criticism BTW leveled by many of his colleagues and peers– including Lovell, who also was somewhat critical of him for remaining much too aloof a la Lindbergh and not being more vocal on space issues. On the other hand, Dave Scott felt Armstriong handled it all just right. You really dont’ know the history of this at all, Ron. And it shows.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA whined:

          reams Rob

          Still having a “defective keyboard” issue? You type fast and loose, just like how you use “facts”… ;-)

          Apparently you are not aware that Soviet Russia also built spacecraft…

          The point, which you missed, was that it wasn’t because of Neil Armstrong that we were able to meet Kennedy’s goal of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth”, but because of the vast industrial base the U.S. could call upon. We did not have a shortage of qualified people that could have done what he did – he just happened to have the most visible job.

          Yes, you’re guessing

          Nope. Any person that knows how to use the internet can find that what I stated was a fact. Apparently YOU don’t know how to use the internet.

          You will find nothing auctioned or sold by Neil Armstrong.

          If you go look at what I read, I never said specifically Armstrong. I said “the crew”. Maybe you didn’t know it, but Armstrong was not the only person that flew on Apollo 11.

          As usual, you lack focus to be able to stay on the topic.

          • DCSCA

            You’re off in the weeds on this one, Ron. But if ‘Desperatle seeking Endorsements’ from Apollo era foks is the immediate goal of NewsSpace, we gave you a hand and posted a list. But you’d better work fast they’ll be gone in 20 years00 and NewSpace still won’t have flown anybody..

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA whined:

              and NewSpace still won’t have flown anybody..

              Which isn’t the goal of NewSpace, regardless how much you whine about it.

              The goal of NewSpace is to make doing things in space far more affordable than what OldSpace has been able to do.

              And within the next 20 years the goal is not to have talked with as many old astronauts as possible, the goal is to be a thriving, growing, and profitable business.

              You continue to show that you don’t have a clue what’s going on…

            • Dick Eagleson

              Closer to 20 months than 20 years, dude. I’ll even throw in a whole extra year on top of that. If no New Space outfit has orbited a crew by Memorial Day 2016, I’ll humbly beg your pardon.

        • Hiram

          Wait. So if you go to the Moon, or at least near it, you’re not allowed to associate yourself with a space exploration strategy you think is justifiable? Unless you can provide some proof that Lovell has been handed gobs of money by Golden Spike, your argument is simply nonsensical. As I said, I strongly suspect that if he’s been handed anything, it’s some sort of honorarium. I suspect that you’re just making stuff up about him being “paid” by Golden Spike. As I also said, being on a Board of Advisors means NOTHING fiscally. If you smile in the right direction, you too can be on a Board of Advisors. Putting your name on a desktop nameplate is really cheap.

          More likely, Lovell has been bathed in astronaut worship for so long that he simply wants to be associated with people who are doing exciting things in space. He wants his name linked to people who envision themselves as real explorers. Works the other way too. One might wonder how much Lovell paid Golden Spike to allow that link to be made, no? Yes, Lovell is window decoration for Golden Spike but, you know, Golden Spike is window decoration for the legacy of Jim Lovell as well. He knows that very well.

          • DCSCA

            =yawn= As Lovell’s commander on Apollo 8, Frank Borman, so eloquently put it- ‘Anyobody who thinks the Apollo program was about exploration is nuts.” Hill Andersm Lovell’s other fellow crowman on 8, has stated similar comments as well.

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA whined:

              Anyobody who thinks the Apollo program was about exploration is nuts.

              Which is what we’ve been telling you for YEARS! Literally years.

              To hear you tell it, the Apollo program was created for hero worship reasons, which is why you pretend to be the “Guardian of Apollo” 40+ years on.

              So now will you move on? You know, clear your basement of all those musty/moldy Apollo papers and VHS tapes?

  • Neil Shipley

    Could it be that they’re finally realising that NASA is so hamstrung by Congress that it’s no longer capable of achieving any mission without help. Latest being the SM for MPCV.
    I’ll await with interest, the results of the first SLS flight which is apparently on schedule to fly in around 12 months.

  • Neil Shipley

    Back on topic. Elon has delivered a cutting response to the delay tactics of BO and ULA. He also has, for the first time to my knowledge, openly acknowledged the ‘war’ now being waged by ULA and by other traditional aerospace companies against SpaceX.
    The first flight of F9 v1.1 is going to be very interesting. Good luck SpaceX and also to Orbital on their upcoming ISS rendezvous .

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    Purely for what it’s worth, in the media teleconference after today’s largely-successful maiden flight of the new version of Falcon-9, Elon Musk stated that SpaceX wanted to use LC-39A as the launch site for all their NASA missions, crewed and cargo (presumably including probes), whilst SLC-40 will be used for other customers’ launches.

    • Coastal Ron

      Ben Russell-Gough said:

      …whilst SLC-40 will be used for other customers’ launches.

      I wonder how that affects the need for a Texas site?

      Musk says they are still pursuing it, but he also said that they are working with the Air Force and FAA on identifying landing spots for Falcon 9R 1st stage on the eastern tip of Cape Canaveral. No doubt that would be for Florida launches, but would they use that same spot for Texas launches too? Hard to see why they would need the Texas launch site if they have a dedicated commercial (and already existing) launch facility in Florida.

      Other updates from Musk at that same telecom, Falcon Heavy engine tests are planned for their Texas test facility in the 2nd quarter of 2014, and that they don’t plan to try to recover the next two Falcon 9 flights, which are commercial flights. They do plan to try and recover the 1st stage of the CRS-3 flight, and may even have the landing legs installed (but won’t hold up the flight if they don’t).

      Plus, they feel between their Grasshopper flights and this first Falcon 9 v1.1 flight that they understand what’s needed to recover a 1st stage and possibly refly a Falcon 9 1st stage by the end of 2014.

      Exciting times!

      • Neil Shipley

        Too right. It’d be dead (and) boring without SpaceX. What are the odds that a single entrepreneur, namely Elon Musk, came along at what seems to be just the right time? As they say, timing is everything.

  • Jim Nobles

    Anyone got a URL for the telecom .mp3?

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