NASA, White House

Report: White House approves plans for ISS extension

The Orlando Sentinel reported last night that the White House has approved plans to extend ISS operations beyond 2020 to 2024. NASA is expected to announce the extension this week, likely in conjunction with an international conference on space exploration featuring officials from over 30 nations tomorrow and Friday in Washington. Such an extension would require keeping the roughly $3-billion-a-year wedge for the program in the NASA budget into the mid-2020s, as the article reports; it also requires the assent of the station’s international partners.

The decision is at least a partial victory for NASA: the 2024 date falls short of the 2028 extension that some have advocated, noting technicals reviews have confirmed that the station’s components can continue operating until then, when the oldest modules turn 30 years old. In an email obtained by the Sentinel, NASA administrator Charles Bolden says the decision “will, hopefully, prove beneficial to our international partners as they struggle with decisions on funding for their space programs.” It’s not clear what would happen, though, if some of those partners decide not to continue funding station operations beyond 2020.

78 comments to Report: White House approves plans for ISS extension

  • DCSCA

    And the lame duck quacked.

    Obama Administration spending proposals are pretty much DOA with this Congress. They’re battling for minimum wage increases and unemployment extentions as it is with Congress demanding offsets for everything.

    The ISS represents past policy planning for a Cold War era long over. It has virtually no relevence to the current geo-political scenario and does not fit w/21st century BEO planning. And the ‘orbiting zombie’ has failed to return anything close to justify the $100-plus billion expense and throwing more borrowed money at is won’t change this. LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles, no where, fast. Splash it and move to BEO ops. Head for Luna; head for a Red Moon on the rise. .

    • @DCSCA;…..Totally agree with you! I see the ISS as a project WAY passed its expiration date of being or yielding anything useful! Heck yeah, it should be de-orbited & splashed down by 2020!!

      • DCSCA

        Thing is, Chris, NewSpace is desperate ot keep it up– without it, they’re toast. And even after it’s splashed, they’ll be saddled with a fleet of little LEO spaceships w/no place to go other than a museum. And America will have wasted billions of dollars for another decade of just going in circles, no where, fast, as it has been doing for 40 years. It’s crazy. And a waste of resources. The future is Luna– and a Red Moon is rising.

        • josh

          the moon is irrelevant. china is going there for prestige only. in other words the old “whose d*ck is bigger” game. if that’s your sort of thing…

          new space will do just fine, with or without the iss. spacex is going to mars. old space on the other hand is toast, no matter what, sorry to break it to you.

          • Vladislaw

            China isn’t sending humans their .. their budget is so miniscule they will not have a space station .. for about a decade. Then have stated they plan to start using it for research. They are getting bogged down with a base. No moon landing.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA opined:

          And even after it’s [i.e. the ISS] splashed, they’ll be saddled with a fleet of little LEO spaceships w/no place to go other than a museum.

          No, you are talking about NASA right now, who has many spaceships in museums.

          The beauty of using existing launchers is that Boeing, Sierra Nevada and SpaceX don’t have to fly on every launch of their rockets, since the Falcon 9 and Atlas V fly regularly for non-crew payloads.

          Because of that the private spaceships can patiently wait for potential users. And those users know that unlike the government rockets, which require Congressional budget approval to fly, the private rockets already have years of customer backlogs, and they only need to be added to the already robust flight schedules.

          Potential users are more likely to test out new business models if they have confidence that what they test will be available in the future. And that is what Boeing, Sierra Nevada and SpaceX will be able to promise, since their transportation systems can be affordably flown at low flight rates.

          Contrast that with the SLS, which is too large for any known needs, either in the government or the private sector. And for those that dream about building something big enough to fly on an SLS, they won’t bet their careers on building something for it because they know how unlikely it is that the SLS will be available when they need it. That would be a career ending choice.

          But that same customer would not have to worry about building a payload to go on an EELV sized launcher, because there are so many choices of launchers available around the world.

          These are the economic realities that support the transition away from government-operated space transportation systems, and instead to the government relying completely on the private sector. And in fact, NASA is the last bastion to convert, since the DoD/NRO already rely 100% on the private sector. It’s just a matter of time…

        • @DCSCA;…..Indeed it will be an ultra-boring, ultra-dreary next-fifteen-years-in-space, if all the United States does is focused on the ISS! Think about it: the year 2029 rolls in, and all NASA has been engaged in is flying to & from the ISS (or an ISS-2). Every ounce of American technological ability oriented exclusively to LEO station operations, for yet another decade—-the 2020′s. What an awful & wasteful prospect, this likely future time-line will bring!
          The long-run future of NASA is now riding on exactly what the Chinese ultimately do in space, in that same next decade-&-a-half. If China copies the ISS to the letter, and gets itself bogged down in LEO, then America’s space future is doomed: we’ll simply be two nations stagnating together! But if, on the other hand, China does merely a limited interlude in LEO—–if it builds a lesser-scale, less-extravagant space station, perhaps; maybe something more like the Skylab—–smaller & intermittently occupied, so that it doesn’t need a continuous crew—–their approach to an intermediate project, with which to gain further spacecraft experience, while being more able to scrap having to stay forever in LEO——would certainly bode better for their eventually moving on to the Moon.
          Duplicating America’s LEO-only approach: Copying the ISS, and getting trapped in LEO, would be ill-advised, for China to do! THAT prospect virtually guarantees that NEITHER nation will leave Low Earth Orbit, by 2030!!

          • Coastal Ron

            Chris Castro said:

            But if, on the other hand, China does merely a limited interlude in LEO—–if it builds a lesser-scale, less-extravagant space station…

            Oh, if ONLY the Chinese would tell us what they are doing, wouldn’t that help our angst!!!

            You are funny Chris. The Chinese have told us what they are doing. Small LEO stations, and robotic exploration of the Moon. Oh, and they are looking at others things too, but only looking for now, no commitments.

            Duplicating America’s LEO-only approach: Copying the ISS, and getting trapped in LEO…

            If you don’t want to acknowledge that we don’t yet know how to keep humans alive for long periods of time in space, then I feel sorry for you. You apparently are for RISK, and not only that but the waste that comes from unnecessary risk, both in lives and money. To say I disagree would be an understatement.

            THAT prospect virtually guarantees that NEITHER nation will leave Low Earth Orbit, by 2030!!

            I know you don’t understand why, but the vast number of space advocates do want humans to reach far out into space, to expand humanity well beyond Earth. But you need more than an unaffordable HLV, you need to spend a lot of time and money developing the technology and techniques that humanity needs to not only stay alive beyond Earth, but THRIVE.

            And we’re not there yet. If we tried today, with NASA’s empty exploration cupboard, it would be a temporary effort that wastes vast sums of money. That would be stupid.

            Don’t be stupid. There are smarter ways, but they take time. So be smart.

            • @Coastal Ron,….The task of rehearsing keeping astronauts in space for extended periods of time—–is a task best done upon a planetary surface, and the Moon certainly fits the bill. Hovering in LEO, decade after decade, and citing the need for larger biological research is just plain cowardice!!
              The job of resupplying a Moonbase, and getting it capable of longer & longer time spans of near-self-reliance, and keeping the crew relatively safe from the high radiation levels, is the true test-bed for interplanetary voyages! Low Earth Orbit is, by contrast, way too easy & unchallenging. I mean, just how close to the Earth could we possibly put astronauts, and still claim to have put them “in space”??! Do you see some of the problem? LEO stations are just the mere, easy way out! The bare-minimalist approach to doing anything space-related. Astronauts don’t have to ever go anywhere, under this LEO-only paradigm.

              • Hiram

                “The task of rehearsing keeping astronauts in space for extended periods of time—–is a task best done upon a planetary surface”

                It depends what you think the risks are. If the risks are gravity and dust, then the Moon is a good place. Though we know quite a bit about gravity and dust. If the risk is the vacuum of space, the ISS is a fine place to do the rehearsal. I think the main risk is the latter.

                As to keeping astronauts safe from high radiation levels, the Moon is a pretty silly place to do it, because half of the sky is blocked. If we want to learn about radiation shielding, dropping down into the lunar gravity well and landing on a surface where thermal control and power is especially challenging is just dumb. But the idea of a cis-lunar habitat, say, at a Lagrange point, or in lunar orbit, makes some sense, for that reason.

                “I mean, just how close to the Earth could we possibly put astronauts, and still claim to have put them “in space”??!”

                Well, if “space” is a vacuum, it’s pretty handy that we don’t have to go all that far to get to it. But maybe the word “space” has some meaning for you beyond the tasks we’re talking about? No, I don’t see any of what your problem is. Is “space” to you about far away-ness? Perhaps we need to send astronauts to a place where the Earth looks small. We need to test the psychological effects of a small-looking Earth, no? Gosh, they might just go nuts!

                “Low Earth Orbit is, by contrast, way too easy & unchallenging … just the mere, easy way out! ”

                Wow. I know a lot of space agencies and industries that would argue with you about that. You call ISS “easy”? I have to ask what experience you bring to bear that allows you to make that statement. I mean, I can say that anything, for which I have no experience to bring to bear, is easy. What’s easy is saying that.

                “Astronauts don’t have to ever go anywhere, under this LEO-only paradigm.”

                James Cameron went down to the bottom of the Marianas trench last year. My goodness, that was only seven miles under the surface. Hah! He didn’t hardly go anywhere, did he? That was probably really “easy” too, no? No, I don’t bring a lot of experience to bear on deep ocean dives, but hey, that won’t stop me from saying it.

                Pathetic. To the extent that you’re desperately afraid of China’s intentions to dominate the Moon, that could be a more sensible reason for leaving LEO.

      • Coastal Ron

        Chris Castro said:

        I see the ISS as a project WAY passed its expiration date of being or yielding anything useful!

        It is amazing to see that some people think NASA is ready to send humans out into space for long periods of time beyond LEO. That all of the issues relating to keeping humans alive and healthy far from Earth has not only been solved, but that the technology to do that has already been proven out enough that the failure modes are well understood too.

        Where you get that impression is beyond me… science fiction stories?

        • Vladislaw

          What else is truely amazing is .. because of the pork premuim NASA has to pay for everything the station took a decade to build, especially because NASA was saddled using the pork rocket shuttle program to put the modules up.

          Now after a decade it FINALLY gets finished because of pork spending they say .. let’s splash it so we can send even MORE PORK on the SLS pork rocket to nowhere.

    • josh

      ofc this extension will be approved by congress. too much pork in play to cancel it.

  • amightywind

    Congress should prevent our lame duck President from making binding decisions about anything past 2016. What will ISS accomplish in 4 more years of operation beyond torching $12 billion? What it has since it was launched. Nothing. Let us hope ‘our partners’ understand this before they write a check.

    • josh

      what will the sls accomplish other than recreating capabilities that already exist (falcon heavy) and blowing through 30 billion in the process. oh, and obama is president until january 2017. let that sink in…2017. again: 2017. lol…

    • Vladislaw

      Since you are a psychic that can see into the future can you also post the lottery numbers for the next four years? Since you already no the outcome of ALL the experiments that will happen over the next four years.

      They average about 800 experiments per year. Since you can see the future can you please post the name of the 3200 experiments that will happen on the ISS for the next four years.. and they kindly posts the result of each of the 3200 experments?

      • amightywind

        I can say this with great certainty, no result achieved by ISS will be worth the $100 billion wasted on it so far. That some is the most ever spent on any science project. The work done on ISS is utterly trivial.

        • Hiram

          “I can say this with great certainty, no result achieved by ISS will be worth the $100 billion wasted on it so far.”

          If it were only a science project, it’s worth might be arguable. But it isn’t. The science community certainly wouldn’t identify it as that. To many, it’s a geopolitical tool. The worth of that is hard to gauge. More accurately, I think, it’s a space-systems test bed. Now, what’s been a little awkward about that is that it’s never really been that clear what it’s a test bed FOR. But as we do concept engineering for notional BEO missions of any kind, what we’ve learned on the ISS, for ECLSS, AR&D, large power systems, space systems robotics, space materiel degradation, and human factors in zero-g, has been priceless. I can say with great certainty that it is hard to conceive of any credible Mars mission being designed without being informed by what we’ve learned on ISS. Calling the expertise we’ve gained on ISS “utterly trivial” is just reflexive badmouthing. We understand that you’d rather the ISS would just go away, but denying its accomplishments is kind of inane.

          In fact, if you go back and look at Mars exploration concepts before ISS, they were really pretty laughable. Ya think a beefed-up Apollo capsule would have done the job?

  • So now it comes down to a funding battle between ISS and Senate Launch System.

    Are front row seats still available?

  • Dark Blue Nine

    The article indicates (or speculates) that China’s plan to launch its own mini-station in 2020/22 played into the Administration’s decision. If accurate, it’s interesting that any U.S./China competition (such as it is) for partners in human space flight is emerging in LEO, not at the Moon or any other exploration target, despite predictions and warnings otherwise going back to Griffin.

    • Ben Russell-Gough

      Back during the days of Kennedy, the White House was sensibly advised that any competition must be one in which the US could fight. That was one of the reasons they targeted the Moon – it was something that they were confident they could do before the Russians, a space station was not.

      In this context, I think that the Powers That Be have concluded that a continual presence in LEO would be easier for NASA to manage than China (who have yet to fly one crew per year). A competition to reach Lunar orbit or even Lunar surface would have too many unknowns and I’m pretty sure that the political leadership would be less confident of it being a competition that it would be possible to demonstrably win.

    • DCSCA

      “despite predictions and warnings otherwise going back to Griffin.”

      =yawn= In fact, concerns over the PRC HSF initiatives in LEO and BEO intentions toward Luna go back to O’Keefe. CBS News aired a package referencing U.S. nat’l security considerations in the Bush administration the evening of the VSE announcerment in 2003.

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “In fact, concerns over the PRC HSF initiatives in LEO and BEO intentions toward Luna go back to O’Keefe.”

        No they don’t. O’Keefe met with his Chinese counterpart and applauded China’s first human space flight:

        http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=15592

        http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200310/16/eng20031016_126118.shtml

        “CBS News aired a package referencing U.S. nat’l security considerations in the Bush administration the evening of the VSE announcerment in 2003.”

        The Bush Administration wanted to cooperate with China on civil space:

        http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=1005

        “=yawn=”

        Stop posting ignorant lies and you’ll have more time for sleep.

        • DCSCA

          “In fact, concerns over the PRC HSF initiatives in LEO and BEO intentions toward Luna go back to O’Keefe.” “No they don’t.” insists dbn.

          Except they do.

          For the record, ‘dbn’ : from the January 14, 2004 CBS Evening News– Bill Plante reporting:

          “…Like the first voyage to the moon– a race to beat the Russians– the return trip is also driven by national security concerns. China, which just put its first man into orbit, also envisions a lunar base. [John Pike:] ‘This [the Bush] administration, very concerned about China as our future competitor, wants to make sure that if the Chinese have people in orbnt around the moon, that America would have people in orbit around the moon soon there after…’

          There is no mention nor inference of any plans for a cooperative space venture being pursued by O’Keefe or Dubya between the PRC and the United States in the package.

          • Vladislaw

            Ya and boy was the bush administration TOTALLY wrong about that one.. no chinese orbiting the moon. Bush said land on the moon as early as 2015, three times in the VSE the Bush Administration said land on the moon as soon as 2015.

            As everyone can plainly see, According to NASA we are still at least another decade away from landing.

            Gosh were are all those chinese human landers the Bush Administration was worrying about?

          • Dark Blue Nine

            “There is no mention nor inference of any plans for a cooperative space venture being pursued by O’Keefe or Dubya between the PRC and the United States”

            So what? Your assertion was that O’Keefe feared China’s human space flight program. Just because one, lousy, network news report doesn’t reference any cooperative efforts between two national space programs, doesn’t mean that the leaders of those space programs fear each other. That’s goofy logic. I don’t fear my neighbor because we’ve never worked on anything together. Silly and childish.

            Moreover, I provided you with two references to O’Keefe meeting with and congratulating China’s space leaders. Here’s another, a CNSA report, repeatedly stating that various cooperative efforts were on the table during O’Keefe’s meeting with then-CNSA head Sun:

            http://www.cnsa.gov.cn/n615709/n620682/n639462/54344.html

            Try reading and comprehending more than one source instead of vainly clinging to one lousy opinion in one sparse, 30-second network news report.

    • josh

      griffin? that guy made his incompetence, arrogance and cluelessness abundantly clear. his whole china rising schtik was an attempt to get money for his ill-conceived rocket designs (ares 1/ares 5).

    • Vladislaw

      Griffin was obviously not trying to actually get to the moon. He sat and testified in senate and house public committee meetings on space, that once China had the launch capability of an Atlas V heavy or the Delta IV heavy that China could goto the moon.

      Griffin actually had the balls to sit their and rant about how china could be doing moon landings with only 4 launches.

      It sure begged the question, if China only needs a 25 ton launcher to get to the moon, why was america planning on spending 104 billion developing 2 new rockets when America already had two rockets they could use?

      Of course not ONE SINGLE congressional member asked that question.

      The fix was already in with the ESAS and griffing banning use of the EELV’s.

  • Robert G Oler

    It has been a slow walk, but the inbred management at NASA, with no fresh blood has finally ground to almost a complete halt in terms of being able to execute any program or project. There is not enough money in Christendom (to paraphrase the Admiral that got the Tomcat named after him) for NASA to go back to the moon in any meaningful fasion…ohthey could probably with 100 billion pull it off once with two astronauts for maybe a week…

    but the next missionwould cost another 10 billion.

    the space station is the only thing that they can keep going and they can barely manage that.

    A space station life extension, coupled with the exciting news about commercial lift (on so many fronts) is essential, as is removing the space station operation from NASA. We need to get the cost down (ie less people on the ground…say a standing army in the US of 100 people) and the utilization up. RGO

  • China’s focus is on dominating lunar resources since they realize that simple lunar resources like water could enable them to dominate cis-lunar space and possibly the rest of the solar system.

    If the ISS is extended beyond 2020 without increasing the NASA budget then NASA could end up being trapped at LEO for another decade or more while China dominates the Moon. But Bolden has already said that he has no problem with that:-)

    Ironically, this policy might force America’s emerging Commercial Crew industry to be dependent on Chinese manufactured lunar fuel and possibly even Chinese spacecraft if they want to transfer paying passengers to the lunar surface from LEO– as cheaply as possible. So China could end up profiting and possibly even having some control over America’s emerging Commercial Crew industry.

    China could also end up partnering with the US and other countries for a journey to Mars, providing lunar fuel for the interplanetary vehicle and lunar water for mass shielding the vessel from cosmic radiation.

    Marcel

    • Robert G Oler

      there is no data which supports that analysis Marcel…dont be like Whittington and succumb to fear or panic or terror RGO

    • pathfinder_01

      “Chinese manufactured lunar fuel and possibly even Chinese spacecraft if they want to transfer paying passengers to the lunar surface from LEO– as cheaply as possible. So China could end up profiting and possibly even having some control over America’s emerging Commercial Crew industry.”

      It will be decades to never before any country could offer either spacecraft or propellant from the lunar surface to anywhere cheaper than it can be done from earth. The moon lacks industry. The earth has Hydrogen, Oxygen available in forms that take less energy to produce than splitting water. The Earth has people who want to use those chemicals for things other than just spaceflight and the means via exsisting rockets to send those propellants as well as many more propellants some of which are more suitable for a trip to Mars(Methane, Aragon, Xenon, ect.) into space. Lower gravity does not overcome lack of industry. (i.e. if you need to build a rocket on earth to ship to the moon it just makes it more expensive than just to build and operating it from Earth.)

      There is no lunar propellant market for China to dominate any time soon.

      • seamus

        Not China, not NASA, but private industry will likely develop lunar fuels first (and soon). And it will be transformational.

        “Since water is abundantly available on the moon, as corroborated by recent NASA observations, it can be harvested, transported to LEO and converted to liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants to be sold commercially at much lower prices… Lower-cost propellants in space will transform access to and invigorate operations in space. Importantly, our business model indicates this can be realistically done within the decade.” — Bill Stone, founder of Shackleton Energy

        http://www.space.com/10619-mining-moon-water-bill-stone-110114.html

        • Hiram

          “our business model indicates this can be realistically done”

          Ah ha ha! This is the business model of …. Shackleton Energy? Who the @#$%^&*( are they? With all due respect to Bill Stone, and the concept of “realism”, they probably have, gasp, a Business Manager (who might know a little about technology)! These guys are based in a building about the size of a quonset hut out in the sticks. They have a cool million dollars in seed money, and just need only twenty five billion more. Now, if Lockheed or Boeing or some energy megacorporation were seriously interested in this, and saw a business model in it, I’d be a lot more interested.

          I agree that if anyone does this, it’ll be private industry. But I haven’t seen a believable case coming out of private industry to do it.

    • Coastal Ron

      Marcel F. Williams said:

      China’s focus is on dominating lunar resources…

      One little lander on the Moon, and another that is supposed to bring back a small lunar sample? Really Marcel?

      If that were any indication, then it must be obvious that the U.S. is focused on dominating Mars resources, because we’ve landed lots of robotic missions there AND we’re planning a Mars sample return.

      …since they realize that simple lunar resources like water could enable them to dominate cis-lunar space and possibly the rest of the solar system.

      Oh please, and you call yourself a business person? Water is not a scarcity, so how in the world could they “dominate” anything related to water? Hmm?

      If for some reason there was high demand for water or water related byproducts, then China would be competing with water sourced from the Earth. And based on what we know today, that water would likely be transported by SpaceX, which plans to reduce the cost of a Falcon 9 flight down to the $7M/launch range. Considering that China would have to spend $100B to set up water production on the Moon, and that water is relatively scarce on the Moon, how in the world are they supposed to “dominate”?

      Come on, use you head.

      Ironically, this policy might force America’s emerging Commercial Crew industry to be dependent on Chinese manufactured lunar fuel and possibly even Chinese spacecraft if they want to transfer paying passengers to the lunar surface from LEO– as cheaply as possible.

      Again, since there is no shortage of water on Earth the most likely scenario is that water will be shipped up from Earth for far less than it takes to set up shop on the Moon. China is going to look pretty silly when SpaceX is delivering water from Earth for a fraction of what it costs China to produce it on the Moon. It would be like China trying to ship coal to Wyoming – what’s the point?

    • DCSCA

      If the ISS is extended beyond 2020 without increasing the NASA budget then NASA could end up being trapped at LEO for another decade

      Yep. But it won’t happen. Any discretionary expenditures proposed by the administration are going to be slaughtered in Congress. It is beginning to look like the PRC is planning to lauinch a manned lunar mission from its platform in LEO; and return to LEO to transfer and reentry. They wont need to develop a HLV to pull this kind of mission off which likely can save them years in development time. Their objective it to get people ther in this century and hallmark it as theirs, on their own timetable, at their own pace. More power to them, for Luna is wide open if the U.S. clings to the ISS, which represent 20th century Cold War planning from the Reagan days– an era long, long over..

      • Coastal Ron

        DCSCA opined:

        Any discretionary expenditures proposed by the administration are going to be slaughtered in Congress.

        First of all the ISS is a budgetary line item, not listed under discretionary expenditures. Secondly, one advantage the ISS has is that it’s an ongoing program, and the Shuttle program showed how Congress is OK with letting existing programs continue unless something changes.

        Now there could be a change with the funding commitment from our partners, and then Congress would have to decide what to do about that – increase the ISS allocation, hold it the same and de-scope the mission, or even decide to end the ISS program. Too early to tell.

        However if it does continue, then the ISS is the de facto “geo-political” strategy for the U.S. in space, and not the SLS. The ISS is showing how international cooperation in space can be done and what the benefits are, and Sierra Nevada’s agreement with ESA and DLR shows that even the commercial folks are part of our “geo-political” strategy for the U.S. Galling, eh?

        What certainly is clear is that the SLS doesn’t have any funding to do anything after it becomes “operational”, so it clearly has nothing to do with “geo-political” strategy – unless that strategy is to borrow as much money as we can from China to build a useless rocket… ;-)

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “It is beginning to look like the PRC is planning to lauinch a manned lunar mission from its platform in LEO; and return to LEO to transfer and reentry.”

        Yeah, the Chinese going to magically bleed 11km/s of velocity before hitting Earth’s atmosphere with fairy dust.

        Don’t comment on topics you know nothing about.

        “They wont need to develop a HLV to pull this kind of mission”

        Which is exactly why SLS should be terminated.

        • DCSCA

          “Which is exactly why SLS should be terminated.”

          SLS is a geo-political strategy for the United States. You really ought to keep up with the politics of spaceflight as your anti-government, NewSpace spin is quite transparent. .

          • Dark Blue Nine

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

            To do what? To keep the U.S. program stuck in LEO while the Chinese land on the Moon without wasting years and resources building an HLV they don’t need to accomplish the task?

            Do you realize how stupid your argument for SLS is when you claim that the Chinese don’t need an HLV to land on the Moon?

            “You really ought to keep up with the politics of spaceflight”

            Great, enlighten us. What “geo-political strategy” does SLS fulfill or contribute towards? Besides pork, what are the political goals of SLS?

          • Vladislaw

            What is the political point America is trying to convey to China. Our Nation can waste resources more than any other country on the planet?

            CONstellation 12 billion .. not one single sub orbital or orbital launch.

            MPCV/Orion 16.5 BILLION to develop a disposable, water landing capsule that will cost over 1 billion a pop.

            SLS 50 BILLION to develop a rocket that MULTIPLE american companies said could be done for 3-7 billion.

            When the Chinese are done wiping the tears of laughter from their eyes, and they can finally contain the hysterical laughter of American PORKONAUTS in congress they finally understand the insanity of pork barrel politics at NASA and why nothing is getting done.

        • DCSCA

          “Yeah, the Chinese going to magically bleed 11km/s of velocity before hitting Earth’s atmosphere with fairy dust.” headfakes dbn.

          You’re scared.

          You know, dbn, two generations ago Mao said his country couldn’t orbit a potato. 40 yeas later they’re doing pretty well of late – in the HSF game as well as their lunar pursiuts. NewSpace– well, the hobbyists have failed to even attempt to orbit anybody yet. So poo=pooing the successes of the PRC is just whistling past the graveyard only betrays the genuine fear short-sighted anti-government, pro-commercial types have. Scared of a big government respone to a ‘Red Moon’ on the rise which will claim tsp the resources on hand and put the LEO NewSpace/ISS laundry runners OOB– which, by hitching their star to the doomed ISS, is inevitable anyway. The future of spaceflight = particularly HSF–is w/big governmentr projects of scale. Not w/NewSpace.

          • Dark Blue Nine

            “You’re scared.”

            No, I’m pointing out the physical impossibilities in your statement. A capsule on a lunar return trajectory can’t stop at a space station in LEO. It doesn’t have the necessary dV and must bleed off its velocity in the Earth’s atmosphere.

            If you knew anything about the Apollo Program you idolize or just managed to pass high school physics, you’d understand this basic reality. But you don’t, so you waste more of this forum’s time correcting your ignorant idiocy.

            Stop posting on topics you know nothing about.

            “So poo=pooing the successes of the PRC”

            I’m not downplaying anything. I’m sure a modified Shenzhou could return from lunar orbit, but it’s not going to stop in LEO first.

            I’m just pointing out that you don’t have one clue about how space systems work.

            “Scared of a big government respone to a ‘Red Moon’”

            There has been no response to Chang’e 3. It’s a repeat of multiple, half-century-old U.S. accomplishments. And with three NASA missions in lunar orbit and two NASA rovers operating on Mars, that box has been checked and checked again today. The federal government could care less.

            What the White House and Congress do care about is competition for international partnerships in LEO as China gears up its space station program. That’s why the White House extended ISS yesterday and why congressmen on both sides of the aisle are applauding the move.

            “put the LEO NewSpace/ISS laundry runners OOB– which, by hitching their star to the doomed ISS, is inevitable anyway.”

            You’re so out of touch. NASA got approval just yesterday to extend ISS operations by another four years. For better or worse, the ISS “star” is shining brighter and longer than ever.

            “40 yeas later”

            “lunar pursiuts”

            “poo=pooing”

            “government respone”

            “claim tsp the resources”

            “big governmentr projects”

            Learn English and take a typing class, you illiterate, ignorant idiot.

          • josh

            you’re hysterical…

      • Robert G Oler

        based on what? RGO

      • Vladislaw

        They plan on getting people to the moon THIS century? So they have what .. another 86 years to go?

        Wow .. nothing like nailing down a date certain.

    • DCSCA

      China could also end up partnering with the US

      Won’t happen. They’re well on their way to hallmarking this century as theirs

    • josh

      what a ludicrous, harebrained ‘analysis’. don’t let facts get in your way, marcel…lol

  • Coastal Ron

    This extension may clarify a couple of things:

    1. Commercial Crew is not just something that will be needed for a couple of years, but for 6-7 years. Postponing the program further just sends more and more money to Russia for something we could be paying U.S. citizens and companies to do here in the U.S. With the recent successes the participating companies have been having in completing their CCDev & CCiCap milestones, this should be a no-brainer even for Congress.

    2. If something for the SLS is going to be approved to be built – a mega telescope, a mini EML research platform, an empty vessel for zero-G handball, etc.) – Congress will have to increase NASA’s overall budget in order to pay for it, or wait until 2024 to fund a use for the SLS. This puts the onus on SLS supporters to come up with a real reason why we need an HLV, and then push to get new funding to support it for 10-20 years of continuous operation. Expect to see SLS supporters in Congress push back on the ISS extension.

    3. Commercial Cargo is pretty well set through 2020, but extending the ISS through 2024 will allow NASA to consider simplifying their logistics by combining cargo and crew in the same flights. This would not be good news for Orbital Sciences, but it could be for Sierra Nevada, and I think the Dream Chaser is the vehicle many in NASA would really like to be flying on.

    No doubt there are more aspects to this – any thoughts?

    • Dave Huntsman

      The attitude of the Russians will be paramount here, as after the last ATV flies ISS will be 100% dependent on Russia to maintain ISS altitude. Wonder what they will decide to charge for that privilege?

    • Fred Willett

      All current down mass from ISS is by Dragon.
      Orbital, ATV & HTV have no down mass capability (except for trash disposal) and Soyuz down mass is minimal.
      One of the things NASA needs urgently is a back up down mass capability.
      CST-100 and Dream Chaser both offer this capability. Look to see all these companies get something in the next round of CRS contracts. For Orbital up mass and trash disposal. For CST-100, Dragon and Dream Chaser a mixture of crew and cargo up and down mass flights.
      As well look to see the contracts written in terms of reusability. A capability which will reduce prices and reduce ISS operating costs for all 3 crew/cargo vehicles.

    • Mader Levap

      “this should be a no-brainer even for Congress.”
      Reminder: better to spent 1$ in district of given politician and 9$ to Russia than 10$ elsewhere in USA.

      So yes, it IS no brainer, but result may be different from what you are expecting… :>

  • seamus

    As long as we are doing things in space, there will always be a need to maintain a permanent presence in LEO. For things like microgravity research that benefits Earth, rocket fuel depots, and assembly of the spacecraft that will take humans to Mars. Even if eventually a lot of those things are done at L1 or L2, LEO is still the first stop on the way to everywhere in the solar system.

  • James

    I could have sworn when i first read the title of Jeffs article it said “Obama Approves Plan to Terminate SLS & MPCV” Then I looked at it again I saw that indeed thats what it says!

    Bravo to Obama, this proves he’s got some stones!

  • Dark Blue Nine

    Unrelated, but cripes… what a waste:

    Useless $350 Million NASA Project Mandated by Congress

    http://www.standard.net/stories/2014/01/08/useless-350-million-nasa-space-project-mandated-congress

    “NASA will complete a $350 million structure to test rocket engines at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi early this year. Then, it plans to mothball the 300- foot-high, steel-frame tower for the foreseeable future.

    The reason: Congress ordered the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to finish building the facility even though the agency doesn’t need it.

    The tower was designed to test a GenCorp Inc. engine for a rocket program canceled in 2010. Its funding survived thanks to Mississippi Republican senators led by Roger Wicker, who crafted a provision requiring the agency to complete the work…

    The A-3 tower is a relic of President George W. Bush’s Constellation program, designed to send American astronauts back to the moon and beyond after the space shuttle’s retirement in 2011.

    … The tower was built specifically to test the J-2X engine, simulating how it would work in high altitudes as it powered those rockets.

    The engine was built by Aerojet Rocketdyne, a unit of Rancho Cordova, Calif.-based GenCorp, and is being tested elsewhere at Stennis…

    There are no rockets being developed for NASA that would need their engines tested under the high-altitude conditions for which the A-3 was built.”

    • Dark Blue Nine

      Ugh… it gets worse:

      “Similar to the OIG’s conclusions 5 years ago, the OIG found that NASA failed to follow its internal policies or its agreement with the DOD when it decided to spend approximately $352 million to refurbish and test the SLS core stage on the B-2 test stand at Stennis. Moreover, the OIG found that NASA did not adequately support its decision given that refurbishing the B-2 stand will be more costly and take longer than two other possible options: an Air Force test stand at Edwards Air Force Base in California and a test stand at the Marshall Space Flight Center. In addition, although SLS Program managers spent considerable time and money studying the B-2 option, they gave the joint NASA-DOD testing board minimal time to assess the cost, schedule, and risks of the other test stand options.”

      OIG Slaps NASA on Un-Needed Stennis Test Stands – Again
      http://nasawatch.com/archives/2014/01/oig-slaps-nasa.html

      Between A-3 and B-2, that’s over $700 million that Constellation/SLS has wasted on unused and duplicative Stennis test stands.

      This is how we’re going to break out of LEO? By wasting nearly a billion taxpayer dollars building engine test stands that SLS doesn’t need?

      What a joke…

  • DCSCA

    Time to educate desperate NewSpacers- and dn.

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

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

    It is space projects of scale that matter. Which is why, in the long run, short-sighted forays by deep-pocketed NewSpace hobbyists do not.

    LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles, no where, fast. Thethe ISS has fulfilled its 20th century, Cold War political objectives; goals sourced to the Regan era three decades ago. SLS/MPCV is the future. SLS is a geo-political strategy for the United States. (BTW, in ’03, NewSpace darling Carver wholly endorsed Orion, a return to Luna to establish a base then on to Mars.)

    HSF is, in effect, a loss leader in this era for projecting national power and nurturing a perception of leadership. And in politics, perception is a reality. Which makes a drive to establishing a permanent foothold on Luna, seen around the world by all peoples in their evening skies, all the more imperative for the United States in this century. Particularly as the PRC has taken aim at Luna and there’s a ‘Red Moon’ on the rise.

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

    The rationale for HSF by the United States government in the 21st century was made in the 20th century by President Kennedy. It is as valid today as it was in 1962:“We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.”

    • Ferris Valyn

      Huh? This is education? It reads more like an indoctrination. There is no justifications provided, no data provided, just a series of unsubstantiated claims.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “Time to educate desperate NewSpacers- and dn.”

      I’m betting that for the umpteenth time, you still can’t come up with any details or references on what “geo-political [sic] strategy” SLS/MPCV fulfills. Or even one concrete political goal for these systems besides Congressional pork. I’m anticipating meaningless paragraph after meaningless paragraph of buzzwords and gibberish.

      Let’s see if I’m right…

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

      And that “national policy” is what? Reference? Link?

      “Human spaceflight in this era projects geo-political influence, economic vigor and technical prowess”

      “Geo-political influence” to do what?

      What “economic” goal(s)?

      “Technical prowess” in what strategic technologies or industries?

      “The bounties from which are all reaped by the participating nation(s) on Earth.”

      What “bounties”?

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

      A “geo-political [sic] strategy for the United States” to do what?

      What’s the goal?

      “HSF is, in effect, a loss leader in this era for projecting national power and nurturing a perception of leadership.”

      “National power” to do what?

      “Leadership” of what? For what?

      I bet right. Meaningless paragraph after meaningless paragraph of buzzwords and gibberish, and you still can’t explain in any concrete way what the goals of SLS/MPCV are or what specific national strategy they’re fulfilling.

      Don’t worry, idiot. It’s not just you and your limited I.Q. No one else can explain SLS/MPCV either.

      “Which makes a drive to establishing a permanent foothold on Luna… the PRC has taken aim at Luna”

      A robotic lander and rover with a one-year life and the promise of a future robotic sample return don’t constitute a “permanent foothold” on anything, dummy.

      “… by President Kennedy. It is as valid today as it was in 1962: ‘We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.’”

      Kennedy delivered that speech in May 1961, not 1962, doofus.

      Stop posting on topics you are utterly ignorant of.

    • Coastal Ron

      Apparently the ISS extension and a complete lack of support for any SLS missions has spooked the she/he/it behind the DCSCA moniker.

      NewSpace keeps racking up more and more accomplishments and creating more and more capabilities that even other countries can’t duplicate. And the ISS looks like it will be going round and round in circles for many more years to come.

      In the mean time there is nary a peep in Congress about supporting their SLS with real things to do. Apparently Congress is so scared of DCSCA’s Chinese threat that they are applauding the ISS extension and completely ignoring other so called “government projects of scale” that would use the SLS.

      No wonder she/he/it came out of hibernation – these are worrying times for the adherents of the old ways of doing things… ;-)

    • Robert G Oler

      word salad RGO

    • Hiram

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

      This is an old and somewhat droning argument, and it isn’t much worth making more words on it, but it is perhaps useful to point out that human spaceflight USED TO BE an instrument of politics; a means of projecting national policy and strength. It really isn’t anymore.

      It was such an instrument when missles and launch technology were expressions of global strength. Those were the days when missle numbers (remember the gap?), range, and lift capacity (as in, bomb capacity) were the things that kept us awake at night. They were subjects that dominated international relations. Those were the days of fallout shelters, kids diving under desks, and Soviet satellites speeding overhead. Those were the days when launcher capability was an expression of power and technological competence, and putting humans on rockets and acting like pilots driving them was launcher capability expressed in boldface.

      But that’s not the way it is these days. We don’t lose sleep over launch vehicles, but rather with terrorists who might have bombs and poisons. Technologically, far-off hackers who can damage our national infrastructure over the internet are more frightening. So I guess if you’re glued to the Cold War era, you could assume that human space flight is still an effective expression of national power. But it really isn’t anymore. That’s an archaic view that, unfortunately, many people still cling to, mostly out of habit. What has been decried as a lapse in human spaceflight exceptionalism by the U.S. is, I think, revealing of that change. We don’t do it, because it just isn’t as important as it used to be.

      From the perspective of constructive (rather than destructive) technology exceptionalism, information technology (including robotics), energy generation technology, and biomedical technologies (in particular DNA sequencing) define the front lines of projecting national policy and strength these days. Those things were really fairly primitive or non-existent during the Cold War, but they are front-and-center now. It should not be ignored that PRC is blowing us away on DNA sequencing and data capacity, and thereby on genomic research. I worry about that more than about rovers on the Moon.

      So I have to listen to DCSCA’s rants as being more antique than completely wrong. His views have some real basis in international history, but much less so in contemporary policy. It takes some courage to admit that the rules have changed.

    • josh

      stop bloviating, you’re embarrassing yourself (again).

    • Mader Levap

      “NewSpace hobbyists”
      Apparently nine consecutive successful launches make for pretty good hobbyist nowadays. :>

      Do not worry, we all know you are just name calling, not seriously believing SpaceX are hobbyists by any meaningful definition of this word.

    • seamus

      “LEO is a ticket to no place”

      BS. LEO will not magically cease to be utilized once we finally start venturing BEO.

  • Hiram

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

    Which, to JFK, meant that we have as much right putting spy satellites and nuclear targeting systems as you do. That was a problem in international relations that he was addressing. There is no such problem that is extant now.

    That being the case, the U.S. government really doesn’t have that much of a rationale for HSF leadership. To the extent that HSF offers economic value to the nation, it certainly doesn’t. I find it curious that federal investment is the best or only way to project national strength. For a nation founded in capitalism, our true strength is what we don’t need the government to do.

    I think the real fear being expressed here is that commercial spaceflight will decide that a lunar outpost simply isn’t worth it to the nation. Because if they don’t, I can’t imagine that it will become a priority federal investment.

    [Let's hope this comment gets posted more promptly than my last one in this thread was.]

    • seamus

      The assertion that HSF doesn’t provide economic value is most certainly false.

      • Hiram

        “The assertion that HSF doesn’t provide economic value is most certainly false.”

        Well, it is noteworthy that you didn’t try to explain why you think it does provide economic value.

        Let me help you. No question that it supplies value to HSF contractors. But if that money weren’t spent on them, it would be spent on other engineering and technology contractors. HSF itself is irrelevant to the value equation. Economic value comes from spending money and producing goods that have value, not from shooting humans up in rockets. I suppose if humans are required to manufacture things in space, that could make a case. But at least now they most certainly aren’t required to do that.

        Many see human spaceflight as having geopolitical value, by raising national prestige. But that’s a different kind of value.

    • Vladislaw

      You are confusing two things here. Commercial human spaceflight adds to the GDP. If it is a growing industry it is in the government’s best interest to encourage it. If it was a sunset industry it would in the government’s best interest not to encourage it. (encourage equals taxdollars in support)

      All spending is not created equal. Public and private serve different functions.

      • Hiram

        “Commercial human spaceflight adds to the GDP. If it is a growing industry it is in the government’s best interest to encourage it.”

        That’s a simplistic definition of economic value. The Miley Cyrus industry adds to the GDP, but I don’t see the taxpayer out to underwrite her. OK, let’s say the entertainment industry as a whole. Science, technology, and engineering are pursuits that offer real value to the nation. But shooting humans up on rockets frankly does not.

        Besides, we were talking about LEADERSHIP in human space flight, not encouragement of it (as in, a wink and a tax loophole).

        To the extent that the private sector has the capability to do human spaceflight, which it will in a couple of years, it’s time for the federal government to relinquish leadership in it, except to the extent that it serves a national defense need. The private sector is in the best position to establish real economic value.

  • Robert Southwick

    So much dialog without any resolution. If the ISS goes (the demise) why not approach all R&D department of major companies and form a consortium to maintain and manage the ISS for their benefit thereby divesting the government and legislators for responsibility for public funds and releasing NASA from maintaining a LEO installation???? This subject has obviously become very personal and non-productive due to the “name calling.”

    • Hiram

      “why not approach all R&D department of major companies and form a consortium to maintain and manage the ISS for their benefit”

      Here’s why. It isn’t to their benefit. We’re talking $3B/yr. Hard to imagine any consortium of aerospace companies getting that much benefit out of ISS. If the federal government washes it’s hands of human spaceflight, industry will salute and line up behind them. Because, if the federal government isn’t interested in human spaceflight, ISS suddenly becomes a huge waste for everyone.

      By the way, this issue has hardly devolved into a name-calling personal one. There are strong arguments for both keeping and not keeping ISS. It’s a respectable policy debate that is going on. Such policy debates are actually extremely productive, because they flesh out the issue in much greater detail. But no, you’re not going to see a “resolution” here.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>