NASA, Other

A forgotten anniversary

Most of the space community spent this past Tuesday, January 14, examining the details of the omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2014 that funds NASA at ann overall level of $17.65 billion. Overlooked in that analysis, though, was another event: Tuesday marked the tenth anniversary of the speech by President George W. Bush at NASA Headquarters that formally unveiled what became known as the Vision for Space Exploration, a space exploration policy that has since been superseded by the Obama Administration’s policy, but whose shadow still stretches across the agency and the broader industry today.

The anniversary itself went largely unnoticed in the media. “Remember When George W. Bush Wanted to Send People to the Moon Again by 2020?” read the headline of a National Journal article Tuesday, one of the only articles about the Vision’s tenth anniversary. It only superficially examined the life and death of the Vision, and in its original version claimed NASA received $86 billion in 2004.

An op-ed in USA Today by Rand Simberg a day later looked a little more closely at the history of the Vision, blaming the Vision’s demise on NASA’s implementation of it through the Constellation program. Despite the chaos of 2010, when the Obama Administration “did a poor job of explaining its plans,” Simberg believes NASA is back to realizing the original, broader goals of Bush’s policy of “opening the cosmos” rather than the more specific goals of the policy of returning humans to the Moon by 2020. “But it is a future based not on nostalgia for the expensive crash Apollo program of 40 years ago, but more on traditional American values: competitive private activities, with both public/private partnerships and independent entrepreneurial activities from Internet billionaires.”

One similarity between the Vision for Space Exploration and the Obama Administration’s policy is the focus on Mars as a long-term goal: while they differ on where to go in the near- to mid-term, both plans feature humans going to Mars. “With the experience and knowledge gained on the Moon, we will then be ready to take the next steps of space exploration: human missions to Mars and to worlds beyond,” Bush said in his 2004 speech, without setting a specific deadline for such missions. Obama, in his April 2010 speech at the Kennedy Space Center, was more specific: “By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it.”

A decade after Bush’s speech, is NASA really any closer to being able to send humans to Mars? One group thinks so. In a statement Tuesday by the Mars exploration advocacy group Explore Mars, a group of experts recently concluded “a human mission to Mars is both feasible and affordable assuming policy consistency among international space agencies and levels of funding consistent with pre-sequestration levels and modest increases annually in line with inflation.”

That conclusion was based on the findings of a three-day meeting held in Washington last month by a working group of more than 60 experts from various government, industry, and academic institutions. That group endorsed six principles for human Mars exploration, including that it is technically feasible by the 2030s and that it should be “the priority for human space flight over the next two to three decades.” That means making use of the International Space Station, and making sure that future human spaceflight activities are “prioritized in a manner that advances the objective of initial human missions to Mars beginning in the 2030s.”

As for what constitutes affordable, the report accompanying the release says that means spending at least a little more than today. “Current flat budgets are not realistic and result in reduced buying power over time. Modest increases will be necessary to achieve adequate support of this and other NASA priorities,” the report states. ” Budgetary increases for inflation must also be included as a minimum, so that NASA and our international partners’ buying power can be maintained for the duration of this long-term program.” (emphasis in original)

That budget stability, though, is hard to come by, as the Vision for Space Exploration demonstrated. In the infamous “sand chart” released with the Vision in 2004 (see slide 14 of the FY 2005 budget presentation by then administrator Sean O’Keefe), the administration projected that, by fiscal year 2014, NASA would have a budget of about $20 billion, with about a third of that being spent on exploration programs. The actual FY14 appropriations bill gives a little less than a quarter of its $17.65-billion budget on exploration programs—and that budget has been widely praised by the space community as being better than expected.

119 comments to A forgotten anniversary

  • Hiram

    “…blaming the Vision’s demise on NASA’s implementation of it through the Constellation program.”

    That’s only partly true. The other part of the reason for its demise was that the White House pretty much washed its hands of it. The president didn’t talk it up, and didn’t promote it. The Vision didn’t have legs. Most conspicuously, they didn’t fund it properly. They did their “event” and called the “exploration” box checked. Of course, we’re seeing that same thing right now with an administration that (we had been led to believe from some admittedly casual remarks of the current president) wants us to send humans to an asteroid. Has the White House tried to promote that since then? Nope. Like for Constellation, they just handed it off to NASA, with the understanding that that technical, engineering, and science agency would develop credible policy and promote national enthusiasm.

    “A decade after Bush’s speech, is NASA really any closer to being able to send humans to Mars? One group thinks so …”

    Sigh. With all due respect to this august group, they laid out very general plans for HOW to get to Mars, but totally avoided the question of WHY to go to Mars. No, polling results don’t count, because those polls don’t explore the WHY. They didn’t have to actually answer that latter WHY question, but could have at least addressed it, and commented on how rationale to go to Mars needed to be presented and instilled in the national zeitgeist to get NASA closer to being able to send humans to Mars. So, in the end, this group thinks that we have the propulsion, navigation, life support, and precursor capabilities to send people to Mars. But unless the country has a consensus about why we should go, and why it’s worth the enormous amounts of money to do so, it will never happen.

    Yeah, we all have our own reasons why we should send people to Mars, but here is a group chartered to make the whole thing sound credible, and they didn’t seem to have any reasons. That’s just embarrassing.

    • Mark R. Whittington

      Quite right, though in George W’s defense one gets the impression that he meant to have a space exploration program. Obama on the other hand clear;y doesn’t want one.

      • Hiram

        “in George W’s defense one gets the impression that he meant to have a space exploration program”

        W meant to have a “vision”, because that’s what the CAIB said we needed. He announced his Vision and checked that box. As to whether he meant to have a space exploration program is another matter entirely. My guess, from his lack of support for it after his announcement, is that he really didn’t. Obama is at least being honest about his commitment, or lack thereof, and not giving any one mixed signals.

        But again, a real visionary human space flight program won’t happen until a president says I WANT THIS, and keeps saying it. That’s the first element of sustainability, for the president to really sustain his/her own commitment to it. In fact, it didn’t even happen with Kennedy, though Apollo survived at least in part to honor his vision. One might give Reagan credit for sticking to his guns on the space station, however.

      • Egad

        Obama on the other hand clear[l]y doesn’t want one.

        Except, of course, that he did lay out an exploration plan/vision back on April 15, 2010. It appears unlikely that the goals he laid out will be accomplished in the time he envisaged, but that’s due to the budget (and, of course, Congress). I agree that his administration hasn’t shown any particular enthusiasm for pushing for the plan, but it’s had more serious things to do.

        http://www.nasa.gov/about/obamaspeechfeature.html

        [President Obama:]

        “Early in the next decade, a set of crewed flights will test and prove the systems required for exploration beyond low Earth orbit,” the president said. “And by 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the moon into deep space. We’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history. By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it.”

        • 1. Obama was against returning to the Moon

          2. Talked about a mission to an asteroid by 2025 with no beyond LEO missions for 15 years

          3. Talked about orbiting Mars in the 2030s with another huge gap in time with no beyond LEO missions.

          4. Then he talks about the possibility of Mars landings beyond the 2030s.

          It was an absolutely crazy politically and technologically unsustainable space policy that no one in Congress took seriously and no astronaut in NASA took seriously. And I suspect that President Obama didn’t even believe in any of it. Obama’s beyond LEO program for NASA was just– a ruse– that he hoped would eventually push Congress towards defunding and ending NASA’s manned space program as commercial crew capability emerged. Even Bolden said during his visit to Israel at the time that there may not even be any need for NASA astronauts in the future. Such ideas must have been coming from Holdren and Obama.

          Of course, Obama’s crazy policy caused Congress to step in and impose the development of a heavy lift vehicle upon him– which is definitely not what he Obama wanted. During his first campaign for President, Obama said that he wanted cuts in NASA’s beyond LEO program in order to use those funds for social programs.

          Marcel

          • E.P. Grondine

            Hi Marcel –

            Obama’s first choice for NASA Administrator was blocked by he Congress.

            His first plan died as well.

            He then went with Bolden.

            And then with the DPT architecture, back from Golden and O’Keefe’s time.

            Someday you’ll figure it out.

            In the meantime here’s a hint: ATK

          • Gary Warburton

            If you remember Mr. Obama originally didn`t want to start anything until the best way of proceeding had been studied and investigated. Also he was very interested in Mr. Musk`s efforts and talk about bringing down costs and developing reusability. It was Mr. Nelson and the bulky republicans that forced the archaic SLS on Nasa. We`d have been much farther ahead if Mr. Obama`s original ideas had happened.

          • Gary Warburton

            Marcel, If you remember Mr. Obama originally didn`t want to start anything until the best way of proceeding had been studied and investigated. Also he was very interested in Mr. Musk`s efforts and talk about bringing down costs and developing reusability. It was Mr. Nelson and the bulky republicans that forced the archaic SLS on Nasa. We`d have been much farther ahead if Mr. Obama`s original ideas had happened.

      • @Mark R. Whittington,….. President Obama definitely did NOT & does NOT care about America having a human space program. If he could have dismantled NASA entirely, he would have done it. So he went about eliminating NASA piece by piece, by setting it up for further project cancellations & making any concepts for beyond-LEO activities more unviable, politically. He and his minions knew perfectly well, that Commercial Crew would NEVER be up to the task of handling anything beyond the ISS, and that this stark reality was totally fine with him, as manned space-faring does NOT fit into the picture of the socialist, nanny-state utopia. Under the commercial-space manifest, America will be confined to LEO for the next twenty years!

        • Coastal Ron

          Chris Castro said:

          President Obama definitely did NOT & does NOT care about America having a human space program. If he could have dismantled NASA entirely, he would have done it.

          What pure bunk Chris. Please stop this ignorant rant of yours. Please.

          Whereas the Constellation program would have caused the U.S. to abandon space for more than a decade (except for short Orion training flights) while the Ares V and Altair landers were built, Obama fought for extending the lead the U.S. has in space science and space operations with the ISS.

          Plus, Obama has fought for the creation of a new private transportation capability to transport humans to space.

          Any normal person would see that your claims are baseless.

          • Mr. Obama holds the bulk of the blame, for why NASA is currently building a Heavy-Lift rocket with NO fixed purpose, right now! Were there a Lunar mission in place, the reasons for constructing it would automatically be clear. But our Supreme Leader saw it fit to swing the wrecking ball on his predecessor’s initiative. Why do you think there now is NO motivation for developing planetary surface space-suits, dust management systems for lander cabins, deep-space radiation protection systems, new manned surface roving vehicles, and the like?? Barack, in his wholesale ignorance led the charge, to this present-day LEO stagnation, that we’re in.
            What is shocking to me, is just how many people fell for all the snake oil promises of Commercial Crew! How could they be so gullible to believe all of the Commercial Space hype?! Focussing exclusively on the ISS for yet another decade & a half, and sending up scores of millionaire space tourists to it, will do nothing towards the long-run goal of opening up the Solar System for astronaut sojourns. Under the current President, NASA’s overall mission has been drastically downsized, reduced to bland mediocrity.

            • Coastal Ron

              Chris Castro said:

              Mr. Obama holds the bulk of the blame, for why NASA is currently building a Heavy-Lift rocket with NO fixed purpose, right now!

              No, a few in Congress are responsible. Obama went along with their demands because he got most of what he was looking for (i.e. cancel the unaffordable Constellation, save the ISS, create Commercial Crew).

              Were there a Lunar mission in place, the reasons for constructing it would automatically be clear.

              Not clear enough for Congress. The vast majority of Republicans in the House that had major NASA programs voted to CANCEL the Constellation program. No one in Congress has stepped forward to sponsor legislation for a return-to-Moon program. No one.

              Why is that Chris?

            • Coastal Ron

              Chris Castro said:

              What is shocking to me, is just how many people fell for all the snake oil promises of Commercial Crew!

              What, that American companies would be able to build spacecraft that could transport NASA personnel safely to LEO destinations?

              Where are the “snake oil promises” in that?

              My, you are the dramatic one around here… ;-)

            • Hiram

              “Mr. Obama holds the bulk of the blame, for why NASA is currently building a Heavy-Lift rocket with NO fixed purpose, right now!”

              Oh c’mon. That’s just a flying fallacy. Congress TOLD NASA to build an SLS. It was never in the original budget of the Administration. The Administration didn’t want to do it. NASA can’t tell Congress, “Eh, no can do, guys!”

              “Were there a Lunar mission in place, the reasons for constructing it would automatically be clear.”

              Wait, so now you’re saying that a lunar landing program, deemed unaffordable by reviewers, would have justified SLS? So we have to start a lunar landing program to justify SLS? That way, we’d not only have an unaffordable lunar landing program, but a launcher for it. Of course, since we can’t afford to launch many of those launchers, that fits, I guess.

              “Why do you think there now is NO motivation for developing planetary surface space-suits, dust management systems for lander cabins, deep-space radiation protection systems, new manned surface roving vehicles, and the like??”

              Because we’re not going back to the Moon. Seems pretty sensible.

              “Under the current President, NASA’s overall mission has been drastically downsized, reduced to bland mediocrity.”

              Bland mediocrity? Just wait until we have an SLS that we can’t afford to launch anything with.

            • erhuh

              Land on the moon with what? There was insufficient money for the lander program. That wasn’t Obama’s doing according to Augustine. The reality of the program is dictated by funding levels and Congress has shown no great inclination to throw additional money at a lunar program either.

        • Vladislaw

          So the way in which President Obama went about dismantling NASA was to repeatedly ask for higher funding … to quote bugs bunny “what a maroon”

          • @Vladislaw,…..By the way, wasn’t 2015 supposed to be just about the year that amazing “game-changing” new space technologies were supposed to spring out of laboratories, according to NASA chief administrator, Charles Bolden?! Barack originally wanted to put off the development of any conceptual Heavy-Lift rocket until around that year, after eliminating Constellation. Ironically enough, in the total absence of a manned Lunar plan, I would be inclined to agree, that perhaps THAT course would’ve been the wisest—-under THOSE exact bad circumstances. The SLS is too premature, too shaky-foundationed & too half-baked of a project, in my opinion, as conceived today, to succeed——given that it has NO specified mission to carry out.
            After one or two more election cycles, America will eventually gain a wiser & more adept chief executive, who’ll restore the manned Lunar goal, and at such & such a time will come the right time for creating a new Heavy Lift rocket.

            • wasn’t 2015 supposed to be just about the year that amazing “game-changing” new space technologies were supposed to spring out of laboratories, according to NASA chief administrator, Charles Bolden?!

              Yes, and it would have been if Congress hadn’t take the funding for them and funneled it to the Big Monster Rocket that has no mission. The next time you write something informed and intelligent will be the first, I think.

            • Vladislaw

              Actually, what President Obama said was “No later than 2015″. At which time the U.S. would have had a new domestic engine to use on it and wouldn’t need russian engines.

              IF you spent the time to watch Administrator Bolden’s remarks on this he made a special point to retell his, he has went to the President and SPECICALLY asked about the date, as he felt it mean’t do not even begin thinking about it UNTIL 2015. The President told Bolden NASA should be ready to go by NO LATER than 2015.

              If you did an honest assetment of what would have been funded in that budget our Nation would be in a lot better position with alot more tools in the tool box.

              Closed loop life support
              nuclear material production for RPG generators
              nuclear power and propulsion
              Fuel depot and transfer technology.
              Domestic engines for heavy lift

              To name just a very few … instead we are spending the money just to keep the brooms being pushed in the porkonauts districts building the never to be operational SLS/MPCV.

            • erhuh

              The technology programs were barely funded. The President’s vision did not go anywhere. Do you follow this at all or just get angry and come here to spread talk radio talking points?

    • Coastal Ron

      Hiram said:

      With all due respect to this august group, they laid out very general plans for HOW to get to Mars, but totally avoided the question of WHY to go to Mars.

      And in general you have been very good at pointing this out for all human activities in space – WHY do we do any of it?

      And I agree there is no consensus, either for explicit or implicit reasons. Everyone that comes to Space Politics likely have their own, and they may even share some commonality to what others think, but from a political standpoint we don’t have a very explicit one.

      Yes there are lots of things said in NASA’s charter, and it even gets updated over time, but our politicians adhere to the charter when it’s convenient and disregard the charter when it’s convenient too, so no neutral outside observer would think the NASA charter has any real sway.

      I think our efforts in space are very much like what we do here on Earth with our support of science and engineering. We spend lots of money on pursuits that may or may not lead to something. Why? Because we have found that in the long run it pays off.

      But what is the payoff of sending humans to space? Yes, yes, humans are explorers, but our history is full of explorers that did it on their own, not as part of a massive and sustained government endeavor. So what part DOES the government have? Supporter, funder, participant, observer?

      I have my own answers (I think), but if we want significant government money going towards sending humans out into space, then we as a nation need to come to some sort of consensus. The sooner the better too.

      My $0.02

      • Hiram

        “Yes, yes, humans are explorers …”

        As are those humans sitting in Pasadena with their hands on the controls. Our communications and IT revolution has made the historical connotation of the word “explorer” really antique. These humans in Pasadena are brave, but they’re brave in a different way. They aren’t risking their lives, except perhaps commuting to JPL on the LA freeways, but they might also be risking their careers. They may not grow bushy beards, but they might get mohawk haircuts. It’s not like they’re a home base that is keeping in touch with distant travelers. These folks are assuredly in control. No, human space flight has little to do these days with real space exploration. Humans haven’t gone anywhere near any other planet. That’s not to say human spaceflight isn’t important, but it sure isn’t singularly important for that reason. With regard to our outlook on exploration and our new technologies, let’s all just grow up.

        If you want to talk about space exploration, the issue isn’t whether the government does it. The issue is whether space exploration can uniquely mean human space flight.

        But that’s exactly right. We all have our own reasons for human space flight, but unless the nation comes to a consensus about its real value to national needs, and at least has a president that is enthusiastic about it, it’s all just a dream. The “Affording Mars” folks didn’t even swing at the ball.

        • Coastal Ron

          Hiram said:

          As are those humans sitting in Pasadena with their hands on the controls.

          To clarify, the subject I was discussing was government funding of the human exploration of space. And by that I mean sending humans into space.

          If you want to talk about space exploration, the issue isn’t whether the government does it.

          Again, I’m only talking about government-funded human exploration of space. Privately funded human exploration efforts can do whatever they want with the money they get from private sources. I wish them well.

          However some of my tax money goes towards government space-related stuff, so I have an interest in what it’s spent on. I do see value in the robotic exploration of space, and I think it is the best method to use to lower the risk of eventually sending humans to places out in space.

          I also think that humanity should try to expand out into space, although I do acknowledge that there is no immediate need to do so. Because we don’t have to rush out into space, I think we should have a sustained and constant effort to figure out how to survive and thrive out in space, but how that is done using taxpayer money is undefined. But I think public money should be used.

          The question is how much public money should be used, and for what. We should have a public discussion about this, but at the moment it doesn’t look like there is enough interest to do so. I hope that changes, even if it doesn’t result in any increases in funding for NASA.

        • seamus

          Earlier this month NASA and NASM (the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum) held two panel discussions on Mars robotic and human missions.
          http://marsrovers.nasa.gov/newsroom/pressreleases/20140106a.html

          Video of both discussions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMl7Q0KHcQ4

          At 32:45, there’s a question from the audience about the perceived competition between robotic and human exploration programs.

          Dave Lavery, head of Solar System Exploration at NASA, replies: “From the standpoint of someone who builds robots for their career, and I’m a roboticist by background, and that’s what I’ve done even before I got into the Mars program, I can’t imagine anything better than human footprints on Mars. The robots are there as precursors, and they are there as the tools paving the way, and we use them now because that’s all we can do at the moment. But there’s no misunderstanding that our long-term real goal is human exploration of the Red Planet.”

          And Steve Squyres, chief scientist for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, follows up: “Yeah, I’m a robot guy, but humans can’t get to Mars soon enough for me. Did an interesting experiment once. We were out in the field with one of our test rovers, and it was exploring around and I had some geologists with me, and I would watch the human geologists do their thing on Earth, and then I would convert– I would time how long it took them to do things, and then I’d convert that into equivalent time for a robot. And what our magnificent state-of-the-art vehicles can do in a day, these guys could do in about 30 seconds. So I’m a huge, huge fan of human exploration.”

          • Hiram

            “I’ve done even before I got into the Mars program, I can’t imagine anything better than human footprints on Mars.”

            There is no question that bringing human cognition to Mars is profoundly important. The question is how human spaceflight does that. Will all due respect to Lavery and Squyres, feet on the ground may not be necessary, and feet on the ground requires very special technology. Surface systems are entirely different than on-orbit systems. Let’s be honest. This isn’t about robots or robots versus humans. It’s about time delay from the Earth. That time delay, for Mars (or Venus, or Titan, or Pluto), is a huge handicap in emplacing human cognition there. With astronauts orbiting overhead, controlling mobile, dexterous, and sensor-outfitted machines on the ground, you can do things in minutes that it would take hours to do from the Earth.

            And don’t tell me that we don’t have the telerobotic technology to do that. We do, and it’s getting better rapidly. We have it in hospitals for surgery, and for undersea operations. In fact, the dexterity of such a telerobot is going to be greater and more precise than the dexterity of a gloved human. The vision of such a telerobot will be better than a pair of human eyes. Those are just facts. Moreso, by shared operation, those telerobots will work for much longer than a human could do an EVA.

            So I’m a huge huge fan of human capability and awareness, and to the extent human space flight can provide that capability and awareness, so much the better. But putting human feet on the ground may not be necessary to do it. Just putting human feet nearby may be what’s needed.

            • seamus

              “…feet on the ground may not be necessary, and feet on the ground requires very special technology. Surface systems are entirely different than on-orbit systems.”

              Sure, telerobotics requires telepresence. Mars orbital capability naturally comes before boots on the ground. But are we just gonna go 4/5 of the way to Mars and stop there? Because we couldn’t afford a few measly billions to develop a modular, general-purpose space habitat?

              Surface systems are not entirely different than orbital habitats. All you need is a soft landing and your habitat modules can be located anywhere. They should be multi-purpose from the start, designed to work in LEO, at Lagrange points, on the Moon, then eventually on Phobos and Mars itself.

              Science isn’t the only thing humans do in space. Eventually we will live and work there full time. The resources available in the solar system are incredible. How can we afford not to develop them?

              Once humans are living and working in space, the science will follow. Then we can really answer those questions about what conditions were like on Mars 3 or 4 billion years ago.

              • Hiram

                “But are we just gonna go 4/5 of the way to Mars and stop there?”

                Works for me with the Marianas Trench, or Antarctica. As a place to spend a lot of time, I much prefer New Zealand to Antarctica, and I’d much rather be on a ship in Micronesia than several miles underwater. But rocks and gravity seem to define exploration for many space enthusiasts.

                “Eventually we will live and work there full time.”

                Hey, no question about that. You can’t settle and colonize with robots! Colonization and settlement is off the table for telerobotics.

                “The resources available in the solar system are incredible. How can we afford not to develop them?”

                Well, unless you envision human miners with pickaxes, shovels, and big biceps, one might well do it telerobotically. We do loads of mining here on the Earth telerobotically. A lot of what Rio Tinto does is telerobotic. Who fixes the robots? Well, if they have a high degree of telerobotic dexterity at their command, humans still fix them, through telerobots they control. Here on Earth, human repair personnel are cheap, so we don’t need to do it that way.

                “Surface systems are not entirely different than orbital habitats.”

                Dust contamination and seal reliability, thermal control, power generation and storage … it’s going to be quite different down in the dust where the wind blows and the sun goes up and down. Nope, not “entirely different”, but still pretty different.

        • In regard to the robots vs. humans debate, Doug Turnbull wrote an article about it for Space.com a few weeks ago: http://www.space.com/24150-robots-future-of-interplanetary-research.html

          • Hiram

            “Doug Turnbull wrote an article about it for Space.com a few weeks ago”

            Well the problem with that article is that he presumes that robots and humans are interdependent, but never tries to explain what he means by that. Let face it, robots are cheaper than humans, but if you’re operating that robot from the Earth, it’s a MAJOR handicap to task completion. So the real argument isn’t about humans versus robots. It’s about humans-onsite versus robots-controlled-by-humans-on-Earth. The misunderstanding about that argument is pretty pathetic. In no way shape or form is a robot on Mars controlled by a human on Earth better than a human on Mars. The right way to look at that interdependency is (1) you send cheap robots to scout things out before you send expensive people and (2) you send people to operate robots from nearby before you send people down to the surface, if you even really need to do the latter. But you might not! Of course, people staying in orbit around Mars are a lot cheaper than people getting sent down to the surface.

            If, on the other hand, it’s about human muscle flexing rather than task completion or scientific research, why even consider robots? As Neil Tyson says, they don’t have ticker tape parades for robots. So we have to make up our mind exactly what we’re trying to accomplish. We don’t need ticker tape parades for science accomplishment.

            • So the real argument isn’t about humans versus robots. It’s about humans-onsite versus robots-controlled-by-humans-on-Earth.

              Or humans on Phobos or Deimos operating robots on Mars.

              • Hiram

                “Or humans on Phobos or Deimos operating robots on Mars.”

                That certainly should be part of the trade space.

                But the canonical humans-versus-robots argument presumes (without any explanation at all) robots that are controlled from the Earth. That’s what Lavery and Squyres were presuming. That’s where the “humans can do more on Mars in a minute than robots can do in an hour” largely comes from. In many respects, the value of human space flight is that we can send humans close enough that humans can control robots in near-real-time in environments that are inhospitable to human bodies. Now Mars is certainly more hospitable to human bodies than, say, Venus is, but hospitability has to include affordability, and I think it’s likely that keeping humans in orbit around Mars, perhaps on Phobos or Deimos, where they can accomplish tasks on the surface, is cheaper than sending those humans down to the surface. That’s something that needs some careful thought. Certainly, as our telerobotic capabilities improve and mature, it becomes more likely.

    • Most conspicuously, they didn’t fund it properly.

      Constellation never fit the budget laid out in the sand pile. Mike just imagined that the money would somehow appear to fit his plan, anyway, instead of coming up with a plan that fit the budget.

      • Hiram

        My understanding was that Griffin had received some kind of assurance from the White House that the sand pile would increase in size. Is that not the case? If so, I have to suspect that they were pretty vague promises. That being the case, that doesn’t forgive Griffin for developing a plan that absolutely depended on those vague promises.

        The exercise of imagining that money would somehow appear to fit the plan is, of course, precisely what is going on right now with SLS, and being able to use it.

        • My understanding was that Griffin had received some kind of assurance from the White House that the sand pile would increase in size. Is that not the case?

          I don’t know. It’s the first I’ve heard of it. I had the impression that he figured if he could keep the porkers on the Hill happy, particularly Shelby, that the needed budgets would be forthcoming.

      • Vladislaw

        Griffin went to the hill and pushed pay as you go… if your program is utilizing pay as you go, which Griffin said constellation was following, it impossible to underfund it, by definition.

  • Well, I didn’t forget it … I wrote a lengthy blog article about it and posted it on that day:

    “VSE + 10”

  • Mark R. Whittington

    The budget projections from 2005 proves the lie that Michael Griffin was responsible for the demise of Constellation. If the funding had transpired as planned, we would be on the moon before 2020.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “The budget projections from 2005 proves the lie that Michael Griffin was responsible for the demise”

      No, they don’t. Per Augustine, Griffin’s version of the VSE required an additional $3 billion per year, every year. The actual VSE budget never assumed such a huge budget increase or anything close to it.

      “of Constellation.”

      Griffin killed the VSE and CEV. But his version of Constellation is unfortunately still partly around, including Ares V (SLS) and Orion (MPCV).

      “If the funding had transpired as planned, we would be on the moon before 2020.”

      Under Griffin, Ares I/Orion had slipped to 2017-2019 and grown into a $40 billion monstrosity. As a result, all the work, even studies, on the Ares V HLV and the Altair lunar lander, had been terminated to feed that beast. Griffin’s lunar plan took a huge, expensive detour into a LEO dead-end. The budget had nothing to do with it.

    • Mike Griffin knew how much money was planned for VSE. He chose a high-cost architecture that required more than that, then complained because he didn’t get the unplanned budget. Stop trying to rewrite history.

    • I believe the Constellation program had a bad architecture since it had drifted away from establishing a permanent outpost on the Moon and advocated developing an expendable lunar lander instead of a reusable lunar lander.

      However, if the $3 billion a year ISS had been allowed to be decommissioned after 2015, there’s no reason why the Constellation program could not have achieved its goal of placing humans on the Moon by 2020– without any increases in the NASA budget.

      Marcel

      • Coastal Ron

        Marcel F. Williams said:

        I believe the Constellation program had a bad architecture since it had drifted away from establishing a permanent outpost on the Moon…

        Hold it right there Marcel, your memory of the VSE is inaccurate.

        Here are the most relevant passages in the VSE that talk about what were should be doing on the Moon:

        NASA will make progress across a broad front of destinations, starting with a return to the Moon to enable future human exploration of Mars and other worlds.

        And

        Under this new Vision, the first robotic missions will be sent to the Moon as early as 2008 and the first human missions as early as 2015 to test new approaches, systems and operations for sustainable human and robotic missions to Mars and beyond.

        If you do a search of the VSE (like I did), you will not find the words “permanent” or “outpost” regarding the Moon, and it is clear from the passages I referenced above that the Moon was just a training location, and not the real destination.

        You may wish for a permanent outpost on the Moon, but that was not what the VSE was supposed to provide. Sorry to burst your bubble…

      • @Marcel Williams;……In my view, building a reusable lunar lander, from the outset, would have been much too ambitious, technologically. A disposable one—–or even a few-times-of-use one (recall the idea of having an Orion CEV that would’ve been reusable for about three or four mission-flights, that was floated around, at about the openning years of the VSE), in my opinion, would’ve fit the bill fine. The Altair lander, as proposed, would’ve certainly’ve been upgradable to perform longer-than-just-sortie missions. Just as the old Apollo lunar modules had been increased in their capacity for longer surface stay times, so too would this new landing vehicle. Plus, with the introduction of an unmanned variant—–something that was studied into, but never done during the Apollo years—–the ability to send up further equipment & provisions to the Moon, ahead of the crew’s arrival, would have made the first multi-week and multi-month long surface stays possible.
        I see nothing wrong with the sortie mission concept, at the beginning series of flights, in order to fully test-out our landing & lunar-orbiting modules. A great deal of selenologic science would come out of these first few expeditions, in any case, and we’d be able to visit a variety of new landing sites—–places that Apollo never got to go to, like Schrotter’s Valley, Marius Hills, & Copernicus Crater. But certainly afterwards, moving on to the outpost mission concept would be a must, in terms of proving our much-increased expedition capabilities, and paving the way for eventual manned interplanetary flight. Project Constellation, as originally conceived, would’ve led to all of these great things, within a span of time of say, the four years that the Apollo expeditions flew.

        • Coastal Ron

          Chris Castro said:

          A great deal of selenologic science would come out of these first few expeditions…

          It’s funny how much passion you have for “geology”. That you are willing to risk so much taxpayer money to learn about the composition of rocks that will likely be around for far longer than humans will be.

          Why Chris? Why are they so important to you? Why spend so much money on learning about the rocks in this one place in the universe, and not someplace closer (like Earth) or farther away (like Mars)?

          • @Coastal Ron;…..THAT is a big problem with today’s space exploration fans: they seem to think that the destination always has to be different, each & every time——with the obvious exception made for Low Earth Orbit!!
            It is true, I harbor much enthusiasm for further astro-geologic work being done on & at the Moon. There’s NO doubt in my mind, that the scientific data that arises from Luna, will have solid relevancy toward what will be discovered upon other such airless, rocky planetary bodies, such as the gas-giant planets’s moons (moon with a lower case M), plus minor planets, such as the large, near-spherical asteroids. On such dwarf planets lay much geologic differentiation, and intriguing evolutionary processes which are fully worth further investigation.
            New findings that’ll enrich scientific knowledge, will never be found, without additional & more advanced inquiry, via newer astronautic expeditions. Recall how the Moon’s polar ice reserves were discovered & confirmed way after the last Apollo mission!

            • Coastal Ron

              Chris Castro said:

              THAT is a big problem with today’s space exploration fans: they seem to think that the destination always has to be different, each & every time…

              Since we’re only reached out to the Moon, I think you have a pretty myopic view of our choices. If the choice is the Moon or Mars, lots of people want to get to Mars. Yes, some want to return to the Moon, but overall Mars is the bigger draw.

              You want to focus on the Moon. Good for you. But the reasons you have for going to the Moon are not very interesting for most folks, so just be aware of that.

              …with the obvious exception made for Low Earth Orbit!!

              If we could afford to operate the ISS at EM-L1, or in orbit around Mars, OF COURSE I’d rather be there. But for what the ISS is built to do, operating it outside of LEO makes no financial sense.

              And before you saying anything, do what you want to do on the Moon makes even less sense, so you have the problem of not being able to identify a good enough ROI for those that would be able to pay for returning to the Moon. Cry about it all you want, but that is the reality of the situation.

              Recall how the Moon’s polar ice reserves were discovered & confirmed way after the last Apollo mission!

              Yes, without people. There is lots that can be done to characterize and explore the Moon without spending $100B on sending humans to the Moon for a very short period of time.

              And again, unlike Apollo, which was driven by the international politics of the day (i.e. the Cold War), there is NO such motivation driving space exploration today, regardless if it’s the Moon, Mars or anywhere else.

            • Hiram

              “New findings that’ll enrich scientific knowledge, will never be found, without additional & more advanced inquiry, via newer astronautic expeditions. Recall how the Moon’s polar ice reserves were discovered & confirmed way after the last Apollo mission!”

              I can’t resist pointing out that those polar ice reserves were discovered and confirmed without newer astronautic expeditions. That’s not to say that newer astronautic expeditions aren’t a good idea, but that’s not a convincing example.

      • erhuh

        1) Create HSF plan relying on some future WH-Congress to cancel functioning ISS
        2) ???
        3) Profit

  • AMG40

    It’s both sad and predictable that the country has not been able to get its act together on any human space program beyond ISS and Shuttle. It’s sad because I think we will regret wasting the time, energy, talent, and treasure with little that is of real use to show or to build upon. It’s predictable because the core rationale for human space is not strongly related to any obvious compelling need.

    The country has had a decade to try to get its act together. I’d suggest that the whole US human space program take a timeout (defer a decision on ISS extension for now). Stop work on all new developments. I don’t think we can in good conscience continue the charade.

    • @AMG40,…..I agree with you completely. Consider that in that same ten year span, from the time President George W. Bush conceived the basic building blocks for Project Constellation, in January 2004 up until now, that in such a length of time, solid progress should’ve been there to show, for all that initial effort. By contrast, President Kennedy made the big speeches outlining the plans for Project Apollo, in both 1961 & 1962. From the time of the Rice University speech, up to the time of Apollo 11, took up a time span of less-than-ten years. Can you imagine, if the politicians & the NASA of today were up to the task, of moving that quickly with things?! Just what majestic space exploration initiatives would be acheived, within the span of a decade, then?!

      • Hiram

        “Just what majestic space exploration initiatives would be acheived, within the span of a decade, then?!”

        Just having a $35B/yr budget for NASA would be majestic as well. Because that’s what it took to make Apollo. Can you imagine, if the politicians & the NASA of today had that kind of money? That kind of money was defensible in the 1960s because of the very real Soviet threat. That threat was about missles and bombs flying overhead. Those were the days when things flying overhead represented real threats. Sputnik was a humbling symbol that the Soviet Union could put things over our heads. There is no such flyover threat that we’re up against now. Please understand that Kennedy and his legacy weren’t buying “majesty”. They were buying technological exceptionalism for a frightened public which, at least for human space flight and lift technology, is not a need today.

        It’s so simple, isn’t it, to complain about what the Kennedy legacy accomplished forty years ago, and how we ought to be doing the same? But in doing so, you need to lay out justification for doubling NASA’s budget. Because that’s how we did it. Sticking it to the Chinese is not digestible rationale. As to technological exceptionalism over the Chinese, to the extent that’s important, there are many venues in which that game is being played, and human spaceflight is frankly not an important one. The important venues are ones that directly impact the quality of life, such as energy generation and biomedical advances.

        But the idea that we should simply stand down, because we really don’t know what we want to do with human spaceflight, is an interesting one. Of course, if our human spaceflight is underwritten by the need to demonstrate exceptionalism, we don’t really have that choice. The only sensible strategy is to keep plugging away at it until we can figure out why we’re doing it, and always be the best at it at least until we do. It should be understood that in the geopolitical arena, human spaceflight is a venue to exercise exceptionalism because we made it that way. China is just playing a fairly meaningless game that we made the rules for. The premise that human spaceflight accomplishment makes you a major player on the world stage is one that we designed and, of course, to China, it’s all about being a major player on the world stage.

        I think I mentioned this before, but China is positively eating our lunch on genomics and sequencing, key elements of biotechnology. The worlds most complete library of species, and what we are as a species, with ramifications for food supply, illness treatment, life span, environment, and evolution, is at BGI in Shenzhen. The promise of that work, being done by four thousand people there, is VASTLY more important to humanity at least in the near term than the promise of human space flight. It looks to me as if they are designing a new game of exceptionalism, and if we want to remain as a major player on the world stage, we’re going to have to start playing it seriously.

  • Gary Miles

    It is unfortunate that USA Today would allow historical revisionist Rand Simberg to publish that piece of tripe, but then publishing nonsense seems to be the norm at USA Today. Not only did Congress vote for the VSE in one of the most bipartisan votes of Congress, they also voted for the Constellation architecture to implement VSE by the same margin – unanimous consent in the Senate and at least 415 votes in the House. The actual NASA budget showed that Constellation was consistently underfunded due to machinations of OMB and timeline delays as a result, NOT because of technical issues or cost overruns. Furthermore, there no short amount irony that Mr. Simberg should choose to praise President Obama in his “leadership” of NASA when anyone who has read Simberg’s blog are well aware of his rampant criticisms of many of President Obama’s policies. The simple fact is that has shown no leadership or interest in NASA or its programs refusing to provide clear or convincing vision.

    Mr. Simberg’s reliance upon the altar of capitalism to raise the fortunes of human spaceflight rings hollow. Consider that the X Prize winner Scaled Composite has been developing their suborbital launch program since 2001 and more than ten years after winning the prize. Virgin/Scaled still has not had a commercial flight despite promising that commercial flight is on the horizon almost every year since 2003. Most the other X Prize contenders have not developed anything beyond their design reviews and scale models. Only a few have had actual test flights and hardware. None have demonstrated a suborbital or orbital launch carrying human passengers besides Virgin/Scaled. Sierra Nevada appears closest now to launching an orbital flight perhaps in another year.

    I am big fan of SpaceX and have enjoyed their success. However, the reality is that this year, 2014, is the first year that SpaceX will have a full flight manifest of 14 flights, one which was just launched successfully this month. Nearly 2/3rds of these flights will be for commercial satellite launches, with most of the remaining for ISS resupply missions, and then the one Falcon Heavy test launch. SpaceX was founded in 2002 and spent nearly 12 years to reach this point. They have been incredibly successful. But they would not have gotten this far without this far without the COTS funding from NASA and CRS contract for ISS. In the end, it was the federal government that enabled SpaceX to succeed and build on that success, not the vaunted halls of capitalism and private investors. One should also remember that much of the rocket technology that SpaceX utilized in the Merlin 1D engine is based on the evolutionary design of the LEM pintle injector engine developed by NASA. For that matter Bigelow’s inflatable spacehabs are direct evolution of the Transhab that NASA pioneered and develop. Virtually all of the rocket technology that exists today was developed through government funding and not private investments or capital markets.

    Finally, Rand Simberg’s insistence that a space infrastructure can be built using current launch systems that lift 30mT at most is tantamount to claiming that the new Golden Gate Bridge can be built using 1/2 ton pickup trucks to transport all the supplies and construction materials. Simply ludicrous.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “The actual NASA budget showed that Constellation was consistently underfunded due to machinations of OMB and timeline delays as a result, NOT because of technical issues or cost overruns.”

      Bullcrap.

      NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate received $2.4 billion (17%) more than what was promised in the FY 2005 VSE budget.

      Here’s the FY 2005 runout for Exploration Systems when the VSE was released:

      FY05 $ 1,782M
      FY06 $ 2,579M
      FY07 $ 2,941M
      FY08 $ 2,809M
      FY09 $ 3,313M

      Total $13,424M

      And here’s what was actually approved for Exploration Systems in the operating plan for each fiscal year, plus Recovery Act funding in FY10:

      FY05 $ 2,685M
      FY06 $ 3,050M
      FY07 $ 2,870M
      FY08 $ 3,299M
      FY09 $ 3,506M
      Rec. $ 400M

      Total $15,810M

      When you subtract the latter from the former, Exploration Systems received the following increases over the FY 2005 VSE budget:

      FY05 $ 903M
      FY06 $ 471M
      FY07 $ -71M
      FY08 $ 490M
      FY09 $ 193M
      Rec. $ 400M

      Total $2,386M

      In every fiscal year with the exception of FY07, Exploration Systems received hundreds of millions of dollars more than what was promised in the FY 2005 VSE budget.

      In total, Exploration Systems received nearly $2.4 billion more than what was promised in the FY 2005 VSE budget.

      It is simply not true that Exploration Systems failed to develop Ares I, Orion, and the rest of Constellation on time due to budget cutbacks. The opposite is the truth — Ares I, Orion, and Constellation failed despite a 17% increase in the Exploration Systems budget.

      “It is unfortunate that USA Today would allow historical revisionist Rand Simberg to publish that piece of tripe…”

      You should look in the mirror and check your facts before trolling others with accusations of “historical revisionism” and “tripe”.

      “Finally, Rand Simberg’s insistence that a space infrastructure can be built using current launch systems that lift 30mT”

      Bullcrap again.

      I don’t know what your weird obsession is with this one person, but he’s right — a number of industry, university, and non-profit studies show that various human exploration missions can be carried out, always at substantial cost-savings, without SLS. In fact, NASA’s own internal study shows the same.

      Do some research before you make such dumb, unsupportable statements.

      • Dark Blue Nine, all you need to do to call out their bluff is refer them to this video of the Senate Science Committee hearing two weeks after Bush delivered the VSE speech:

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

        No less than John McCain, who chaired the committee, called out in his opening remarks the mismatch between the “Vision” and the requested funding:

        I’m very curious to hear how Administrator O’Keefe thinks we can implement the President’s proposal with the very limited resources that have been proposed. Two days ago, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the deficit in Fiscal Year 2004 would reach $477 billion. It’s been reported that the President’s new proposal could cost between $170 billion and $600 billion. Needless to say, the $12 billion that the Adminstration has suggested be spent over the next five years falls far far short of what might actually be required to return to the Moon and reach for Mars and beyond.

        McCain said, “A vision without a strategy is just an illusion.”

        It was obvious to anyone paying attention that the VSE — and I believe Sean O’Keefe used the word “Constellation” during the hearing — that the Bush administration wasn’t asking for the funding to match the program they described.

        And let’s not overlook the nonsense of splashing the ISS right after spending $100 billion to build it.

        Or the nonsense of developing a vehicle to fly to a place that wouldn’t exist much longer.

        Or the four-year gap baked into the cake from the very beginning.

        Or the reliance on the Russian Soyuz during that gap.

        It was all there for the world to see. Unfortunately, many of the committee members were only interested in protecting the pork for their states and so they were only listening to hear how it affected them, not the government space program.

        • Gary Miles

          Stephen, First, there is no bluff. Second, if you are going to make claims, then prepare to provide sources to support your claims. DB9 did not provide a single source for his previous claims. Where are these multitude of studies from universities? Show me the links to their study reports. Third, Constellation was not an idea promulgated by Sean O’Keefe. The program didn’t even exist at the time of the VSE was announced in January of 2004. The Constellation Program was created in 2005 based on the Exploration System Architecture Study conducted by NASA under the new Administrator Mike Griffin. The ESAS and its funding structure was formalized in the 2005 NASA Authorization Act in December 2005. And guess what? John McCain voted for it. Go figure.

      • Gary Miles

        Yes, I am so uninformed and have no idea what I am saying. I guess that means that Jennifer Rhatigan, Deborah Neubek, and Dale Thomas don’t know what they are talking about either. Who are they? The authors of the Constellation Program: Lessons Learned report published in 2011 which details the funding shortfall and its impact. Go take a look at those nice data charts showing NASA budget shortfalls and impact on schedule. In the first 3 years from, 2006 – 2008, the Constellation Program was underfunded by $2.5 billion. What few people seem to understand is the OMB determines what NASA can request. And those charts are based on real data. You can certainly check the sources listed in the report. But of course these people are clueless and just spewing propaganda. Then there is the Augustine Commission and their Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee Final Report and this particular paragraph in Chapter 4:

        Since Constellation’s inception, the program has faced
        a mismatch between funding and program content. Even
        when the program was first announced, its timely execution
        depended on funds becoming available from the retirement
        of the Space Shuttle (in 2010) and the decommissioning of
        the ISS (in early 2016). Since those early days, the program’s
        long-term budget outlook has been steadily reduced
        below the level expected by NASA. As shown in Figure
        4.3.2-1, the Exploration Systems Architecture Study of 2005
        assumed the availability of a steady-state human spaceflight
        budget for exploration of about $10 billion per year. In the
        subsequent FY 2009 and FY 2010 budgets, the long-term
        projections for funding have decreased. The FY 2010 President’s
        Budget Submittal suggests a steady state funding of
        about $7 billion per year.

        And there is a nice little graph to accompany this quote in the report. The conclusion of the report of course was that if NASA wanted to do any big space project like visit an asteroid or return to the Moon, Congress and the President was going to have to significantly increase NASA’s budget. But oh nevermind because apparently nobody on the Augustine committee knew what they were talking about and obviously hadn’t done proper research.

        Of course I could mention Neil Armstrong, James Lovell, and Eugene Cernan who published a letter in USA Today sent to President Obama, calling for restoration of Constellation Program. One of their main points was that the program was underfunded. Column: Is Obama grounding JFK’s space legacy?. Check out their letter. But hey, these guys are a bunch of old has-beens who were brainwashed by NASA and are incapable of intelligent thought. They clearly are clueless and have not done the real research.

        Remember Scott Horowitz? NASA astronaut and NASA administrator who wrote “A Trajectory to Nowhere” stating the obvious that Constellation was underfunded. Then there is this article posted in The Space Review, “Ares evolution” which also details the funding shortfalls. Again showing that NASA was underfunded $2.5 billion in the first 3 years of the Constellation program. But Horowitz is of course a former NASA lackey and ATK prol. So clearly he doesn’t know what he is talking about and hasn’t done his research.

        I then could mention Jeff Foust. Did you bother to actually read his post to the end where Jeff mentioned that according to the NASA 2005FY Budget presented by Sean O’Keefe NASA’s budget was suppose to be around $20 billion. Close to the missing $2.5 billion of funding that we seem to keep running into. But then I guess Jeff hasn’t really done his research and doesn’t know what he is talking about right?

        You might also understand that the Constellation Program and the Exploration Mission Directorate are not one and the same. Constellation was but one part of the Directorate. Much of the funding went to other projects like for instance the Hubble ST repair mission for which Congress approved additional funding beyond the original projection. You also might consider that the 2005 FY projections were prior to Congress approving the Constellation program. So funding for Constellation was not even in that original budget projection. But I guess I don’t know what I am talking about either. Sigh. I have a whole bunch of more links, but I given you quite a bit. Go do your own research.

        • Coastal Ron

          Gary Miles said:

          Yes, I am so uninformed and have no idea what I am saying.

          OK. And the way you say it doesn’t help either.

          Go take a look at those nice data charts showing NASA budget shortfalls and impact on schedule.

          I’d be glad to admit that the Constellation program as envisioned by Michael Griffin never got the level of funding that Michael Griffin thought it needed. Yep, glad to admit that.

          But Michael Griffin’s Constellation architecture was highly inefficient, and it consumed too much budget for the result it was going to give.

          For instance, instead of spending $30B+ on a new rocket for moving the Orion spacecraft to LEO, NASA could have used the Delta IV Heavy. Per ULA, it would have cost less than $2B to upgrade Delta IV Heavy for crew, and of course it was available well before Orion. And unlike the Ares I, which kept forcing design changes on the Orion, the Orion could have been built for far less money if it was to fly on the Delta IV Heavy – and flown sooner.

          But Michael Griffin needed the Ares I to absorb part of the development cost of the Ares V, which was going to cost a massive amount of money. But did we need the Ares V to go back to the Moon? No. Even ULA produced a detailed study (i.e. “Affordable Exploration Architecture 2009″) showing how we could use existing launchers to sustain a permanent presence on the Moon. We had options that were both quicker and less costly.

          The blame for the shortfalls and overruns can be placed directly at the feet of Michael Griffin. His insistence on using an unaffordable architecture led the Constellation program to it’s ultimate demise. Not Obama, not the Republican’s in Congress that voted for the cancellation. Michael Griffin.

          Get over it.

          • Gary Miles

            Ron, the ESAS funding levels were authorized by Congress in the 2005 NASA Authorization Act. But has been pointed out countless posts authorization acts and spending bills are two separate pieces of legislation. The spending bills approved by OMB did not fund Constellation at the levels authorized by Congress. It is hard to argue that Constellation was an inefficient architecture when its funding was short circuited from the beginnning. Hey, I would love to get over it if you tossers would quit trying to tear down SLS. When hell freezes over I guess.

            • Coastal Ron

              Gary Miles said:

              It is hard to argue that Constellation was an inefficient architecture when its funding was short circuited from the beginnning.

              No it’s not hard to argue that, especially when compared to alternatives that would have used existing or new term commercial launchers, Constellation was definitely using an inefficient architecture.

              Hey, I would love to get over it if you tossers would quit trying to tear down SLS.

              I love technology solutions that solve real problems. The SLS doesn’t do that, and it will be consuming $30B+ of taxpayer money that could have gone toward exploration payloads and missions that could have been flown using existing launchers. $30B+ buys a lot of hardware Gary.

              When is the SLS going to be funded to do something? You know, like justify the expense of building it? Where are the multitudes of customers that have money allocated for SLS-sized payloads? It’s definitely not NASA, and yet only NASA is likely to be the user of the SLS.

              So yes, I’d like to tear down the SLS, and stop NASA from wasting so much taxpayer money.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “I guess that means that Jennifer Rhatigan, Deborah Neubek, and Dale Thomas don’t know what they are talking about either… Remember Scott Horowitz?”

          Gee, would the program manager, deputy program manager, and chief of staff for the Constellation Program have a reason to blame their program’s problems and termination on budgets?

          Naw…

          Gosh, would the astronaut who is so responsible for the Ares I design that it was nicknamed the “Scotty Rocket” and who oversaw the Constellation Program as the Associate Administration for Exploration Systems have a reason to blame his rocket and mission directorate’s problems and termination on budgets?

          Naw…

          How naive can you be?

          “As shown in Figure 4.3.2-1, the Exploration Systems Architecture Study of 2005 assumed the availability of a steady-state human spaceflight budget for exploration of about $10 billion per year.”

          You’re confusing ESAS with the VSE, dummy. ESAS came a year after the VSE, and was Griffin’s pet study to justify Ares I/V. Among many other poor assumptions, ESAS assumed ridiculously optimistic budget projections that bore little resemblance to the VSE.

          “The conclusion of the report of course was that if NASA wanted to do any big space project like visit an asteroid or return to the Moon, Congress and the President was going to have to significantly increase NASA’s budget.”

          No, the conclusion of the Augustine Report was that the NASA budget required an increase of $3 billion per year to finish Ares I/Orion on time and proceed with a lunar program based on “program of record” (Constellation). The committee offered several, less expensive options for lunar, NEO, and Mars exploration using different program elements.

          “Did you bother to actually read his post to the end where Jeff mentioned that according to the NASA 2005FY Budget presented by Sean O’Keefe NASA’s budget was suppose to be around $20 billion. Close to the missing $2.5 billion of funding that we seem to keep running into.”

          There’s more in the NASA budget besides Constellation, dummy. The NASA topline budget was reduced without reducing Exploration Systems. Instead of cutting his pet Constellation Program, Griffin terminated fission power and propulsion development, cut ISS and microgravity research back to astronaut-related research only, cut the aeronautics directorate almost in half, cut the Mars Exploration Program in half, and flatlined the rest of space and earth science, among other things.

          “What few people seem to understand is the OMB determines what NASA can request.”

          And Congress overrode the White House’s requests and boosted Exploration Systems for years in NASA’s appropriation bills. The White House proposes, and the Congress disposes, dummy.

          “And those charts are based on real data.”

          It’s the wrong data, dummy. Looking at the overall NASA budget figures or the overall human spaceflight budget figures doesn’t tell us what’s happening in Exploration Systems. And using Griffin’s fanciful ESAS assumptions as a baseline doesn’t tell us what NASA’s marching orders were in terms of budget constraints under the VSE.

          “Much of the funding went to other projects like for instance the Hubble ST repair mission for which Congress approved additional funding beyond the original projection.”

          Exploration Systems received nearly $3 billion MORE than what it was supposed to receive under the VSE. That amount swamps HST, COTS, and any other gnats that funded under Exploration Systems.

          “You also might consider that the 2005 FY projections were prior to Congress approving the Constellation program.”

          Now you’re confusing Constellation with the VSE, dummy. The VSE is the policy and budget that gave NASA its marching orders, not Constellation, which is just the implementation program. Griffin’s version of Constellation deviated severely from the VSE, including the budget, which is the underlying cause of it failure.

          “Yes, I am so uninformed and have no idea what I am saying.”

          Exactly.

          • Gary Miles

            Dark Blue Nine, personal attacks do little to persuade anyone to your point of view. No I have not confused the VSE with the Constellation Program. I pointed out that the FY2005 Budget was presented in February of 2004 only several weeks after the Vision of Space Exploration was announced by George Bush BEFORE the Constellation Program was approved by Congress in the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 passed on December 30, 2005. You are claiming that the Constellation Program was fully funded based on FY 2005 Budget projections released a year before the program was authorized by Congress.

            The NASA Authorization Act of 2005 formalized the findings of the Exploration System Architecture Study including the funding structure. But if you are going to resort to insults, then have the balls to put your real name up instead of hiding behind some crappy blog name.

            • Dark Blue Nine

              “I pointed out that the FY2005 Budget was presented in February of 2004 only several weeks after the Vision of Space Exploration was announced by George Bush BEFORE the Constellation Program was approved by Congress in the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 passed on December 30, 2005. You are claiming that the Constellation Program was fully funded based on FY 2005 Budget projections released a year before the program was authorized by Congress.”

              This is ridiculous and idiotic.

              Authorization bills only set budget ceilings and they do so for _only three fiscal years_. They don’t provide actual funding and they set no policy beyond their three-year horizon.

              The President’s FY 2005 Budget was a _five-year_ budget. The VSE budget was a _16-year budget_.

              To pretend that a three-year bill provides more approval and policy direction than five- and 16-year budgets for a multi-year/-decade undertaking like the development of a human space flight architecture is ridiculous.

              Moreover, to use a three-year baseline as the metric against which to analyze the spending on a program that lasted five years is sheer idiocy. Either you have zero understanding of what authorization bills are and do or you can’t perform preschool math and don’t know the difference between three and five.

              Regardless, how dumb can you be?

              “The NASA Authorization Act of 2005 formalized the findings of the Exploration System Architecture Study including the funding structure.”

              No, it didn’t. The 2005 NASA Authorization Act provides no “funding structure” beyond a topline budget ceiling for the “Exploration Systems and Space Operations” account.

              Have you actually ever looked at the Act?

              “Dark Blue Nine, personal attacks do little to persuade anyone to your point of view.”

              It’s not a personal attack. It’s a fact. You’re naïve enough to take histories of programmatic failures written by the managers in charge during those failures at face value. You’ve confused a White House policy document with a NASA architecture study and a NASA program. You foolishly believe that every budget item in a large organization like NASA moves in lockstep with the organization’s topline. You either have never looked at the legislation you’re thumping or you can’t perform preschool math.

              You’re a huge, flaming dummy. It’s a fact.

              “put your real name up instead of hiding behind some crappy blog name.”

              This from an idiot who’s stupid enough to employ two blindingly obvious anagrams — Gary Miles and Miles Gray — as pseudonyms to conduct his anonymous trolling?

              Really?

              • Gary Miles

                DB9, I do not use Miles Gray. That is not one of my blog names. My only other previous blog name was Nella Selim. Keep jumping to wrong conclusions and making up crap. That is your MO.

              • Gary Miles

                Jeff Foust can vouch that I do not use Miles Gray if you wish to ask him. You seem to think that I am the only one who makes these points. Many people both inside and outside NASA and the Constellation program have argued the same points. Just because former managers issued the report on lessons learned concerning the Constellation, is not an argument for asserting that their report is therefore automatically biased and prejudiced. What is more their report is backed by the budget data. The report openly acknowledged that the funding solution as approved in the ESAS was unrealistic given the poisonous political environment that existed in Congress. The report concluded that, NASA should have planned a more robust program amenable to funding delays instead of an optimal program.

                The Augustine Committee report made it abundantly clear that if Congress and the President wanted NASA to do any kind of human exploration program beyond LEO that one, a heavy launch system with a lift capability of at least 70 mT would be critical to accomplishing that goal in a reasonable timeframe. Two, the report also provided multiple options which required increase of $3 billion a year to accomplish any of those options including the asteroid mission. The committee report also made it clear that at current funding levels, NASA would unlikely to be able to pursue any deep space exploration program even after developing a heavy lift vehicle. The bottom line of the report, NASA is underfunded and cannot carry out human exploration missions without a funding increase.

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “Just because former managers issued the report on lessons learned concerning the Constellation, is not an argument for asserting that their report is therefore automatically biased and prejudiced.”

                Sure it is. The concept is called an unreliable narrator. Look it up.
                They have every professional and personal incentive to make themselves look as good as possible in the programmatic “history” they’ve written, and that includes shifting blame for programmatic failures onto other parties, like those responsible for NASA’s annual budgets.

                “What is more their report is backed by the budget data.”

                What “budget data”? There’s one graph in all of the sources you’ve pointed to, and it uses ESAS — an architecture study — as its baseline, not NASA’s budget. Horowitz’s little unprofessional interview on americaspace is even worse, throwing out vague accusations about curiously rounded off cuts (-25%, -50%) with no references to any actual dollar figures. (So very reminiscent of the engineering rigor Scotty put into his rocket.)

                If you’re so big on “budget data”, then use my figures. They’re actual, dollar figures taken from NASA’s actual, annual budgets. If you doubt them, you’re more than welcome to look them up on the NASA CFO’s website.

                “The Augustine Committee report made it abundantly clear that if Congress and the President wanted NASA to do any kind of human exploration program beyond LEO that one, a heavy launch system with a lift capability of at least 70 mT would be critical to accomplishing that goal in a reasonable timeframe.”

                So what? Your argument was in favor of Ares I, which was a less than 25-ton (and falling) launch vehicle. It was 45 tons short of this Augustine recommendation. This is yet another good reason for Ares I’s termination.

                “Two, the report also provided multiple options which required increase of $3 billion a year to accomplish any of those options”

                Bullcrap. The report rated other options as more economical than the program of record, including options that employed an EELV-derived 70-ton HLLV.

                “NASA is underfunded and cannot carry out human exploration missions without a funding increase.”

                More bullcrap. Architectures exist that can get two astronauts back on the Moon for a cost of less than $7 billion through the first mission and $1.5 billion for each mission thereafter:

                http://goldenspikecompany.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/French-et-al.-Architecture-Paper-in-AIAA-Journal-of-Spacecraft-and-Rockets.pdf

                At the time of its termination, Ares I costs through 2015 had ballooned from $28 billion to $40 billion:

                http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2009-05-06/news/Shuttle_1_orion-rocket-plan-for-nasa

                That amount of money could have bought the $7 billion architecture above and 22 follow-on missions to the Moon.

                NASA has never needed more money. NASA has desperately needed to stop spending tens of billions of taxpayer dollars on duplicative, egregiously expensive, and very poorly conceived launch vehicles.

                “I do not use Miles Gray. That is not one of my blog names”

                Sure. The first time we’ve seen both “Gary Miles” and “Miles Gray” on this forum (at least in months or years), and they’re coincidentally appearing in the same thread. What luck!

                And while we’re at it, a meteorite fell on my backyard this morning, leaving behind a crater than uncovered an unknown oil deposit, and I’m now rich!

                Give me a break…

                “Please continue to be disrespectful and continue your namecalling.”

                What do you expect when you enter a forum for the singular, express purpose of attacking someone else with a bunch a falsehoods? If you want to make Rand Simberg look bad, at least have the balls to confront him on his website, and at least have the brains to not do it by trying to debate topics that are way over your head. And if you can’t take the heat you’re going to invite by making personal attacks, then don’t go in the kitchen in first place, you wussy dummy.

          • Gary Miles

            So Congress authorized the funding level presented by the ESAS in December 2005. However, an authorization bill and a spending bill are two different pieces of legislation. The OMB approved NASA spending bills that were far less than the ESAS funding levels approved by Congress. In the first 3 years of Constellation, the program was underfunded by $2.5 billion. Making claims that the Constellation program was inefficient and wasteful have little merit when CxP funding was short-circuited from the very beginning. So the people mentioned above, irregardless of what their association was with the Constellation are telling the truth and they have the budget data to back up what they are saying as provided in their reports and sources. Yes, Congress have passed spending authorizing larger budgets, but that extra money did not go to Constellation exclusively. You keep referring to the Exploration System Mission Directorate, how about showing what actually went to Constellation Program? You have provided no specific data for that program. Only for ESMD.

            • Bob

              “The OMB approved NASA spending bills that were far less than the ESAS funding levels approved by Congress.”

              OMB does not approve spending bills. They develop budget proposals that Congress is free to adopt or ignore as they develop their approps bills. As DBN might say, “Lawdy…”

              • Gary Miles

                Bob, NASA’s budget requests are submitted to Congress through the OMB. OMB determines what NASA can ask for and recommend.

          • Gary Miles

            One correction. The NASA Authorization Act of 2005 was passed almost two years after FY 2005 Budget was released.

    • Coastal Ron

      Gary Miles said:

      SpaceX was founded in 2002 and spent nearly 12 years to reach this point.

      Do you think they should have done it faster, or slower? You are very unclear about what point you are making. For instance, are you saying that you could have done it faster?

      But they would not have gotten this far without this far without the COTS funding from NASA and CRS contract for ISS.

      So? They even stated that. Is this supposed to be some sort of secret you are uncovering? It’s not.

      One should also remember that much of the rocket technology that SpaceX utilized in the Merlin 1D engine is based on the evolutionary design of the LEM pintle injector engine developed by NASA.

      Yes, that was developed well over 40 years ago. You do realize that lots of private innovation is the result of taxpayer funded research? Part of NASA’s charter is to disseminate taxpayer funded technology into the private sector. Duh!

      Regarding the pintle type engine they use for the Merlin, it’s not that SpaceX used that technology, but that they used it in a new way – that’s what’s called Disruptive Innovation. That technology has been around for decades, so why didn’t anyone else do what SpaceX did? Huh?

      SpaceX also uses a technology called Friction-stir welding (FSW) to build the bodies of their rockets, and that too is not technology they invented. Why aren’t you crowing about that? Or the computer technology they use for their redundant control systems, which no doubt can trace some of it’s development from government sources.

      It doesn’t matter that technology was developed with taxpayer money decades earlier, it only matters that new uses can be found for that technology, and that is what SpaceX excels at – extracting the maximum value out of the technology it can afford to use. And THAT is something the private sector does better than the government. And we should be celebrating it, not dismissing it.

      • Gary Miles

        Ron, first off. Other companies did take the pintle injection engine technology and develop the concept further. In fact TRW developed several engines, TR-210 and TR-106. The TR-210 was used in the Delta Launch platform from 1972 to 1988. TR-106, aka the Low Cost Pintle Engine (LCPE) was developed through the Space Launch Initiative that had one of the highest specific thrust several years before SpaceX was founded. Guess who was the lead engineer behind the TR-106? Tom Mueller, who joined SpaceX in 2002. TRW sued SpaceX for trade infringement. The case was settled out of court. Why was SpaceX able to develop the engine further, because Elon Musk had a huge personal fortune and the ISS. The ISS provided a critical platform for commercial development through COTS funding which SpaceX was able to obtain.

        • Coastal Ron

          Gary Miles said:

          The ISS provided a critical platform for commercial development through COTS funding which SpaceX was able to obtain.

          OK. So what?

          You seem to think that SpaceX is unique some how. They aren’t. Taxpayer funded technologies are licensed and used all over the place every day. It’s a good thing, yet you seem to see it as evil somehow.

          And Elon Musk has been quite public about how much NASA has help SpaceX. I don’t hear Boeing and Lockheed Martin being so public about the taxpayer-funded technologies they use.

          Sheesh!

          • Gary Miles

            That’s exactly right, taxpayer funded technologies. In other words, much of today’s rocket technology and innovations are funded by the government. NASA in particularly. No SpaceX is not unique, and as I pointed out previously, other companies have also taken advantage of NASA’s technology program. However, SpaceX rocket technology did not come directly from NASA, but TRW and their pintle injector engine. So commercial companies are really not the technology innovators are they? Rand Simberg and so many of you seem to think that somehow capital enterprise is going to get humanity into space and beyond low earth orbit. And you have wasted enormous amounts of time attacking NASA and government in general. You cherry pick facts and promote myths in order to satisfy your narrow view that private enterprise is humanity’s ticket to outer space. Most of the commercial space companies today exist and do business because of government funding. Without that source of revenue, the technology innovations from NASA, the ISS, there would be no real commercial space market.

            • Coastal Ron

              Gary Miles said:

              However, SpaceX rocket technology did not come directly from NASA, but TRW and their pintle injector engine.

              Well, Northrop Grumman (who owns TRW) and SpaceX sued each other, and both agreed to drop their suits. Apparently there wasn’t anything SpaceX was doing that TRW could claim.

              But I did find an interesting article talking about the difference between the engineers working at TRW and when they went to work for Musk at SpaceX. An interesting quote:

              At TRW, Brogan says, he had to toil for years on a program that everyone knew was doomed because of a change in government priorities, but had already been paid for. “That program really destroyed my soul,” he says.

              If you’ve never worked for a giant defense contractor, you wouldn’t understand this. I’ve worked for several, plus I’ve worked for nimble companies, so I understand the value that SpaceX creates versus “OldSpace” companies.

              No SpaceX is not unique, and as I pointed out previously, other companies have also taken advantage of NASA’s technology program.

              SpaceX is unique in how much value they create with existing technology, regardless if it was taxpayer funded or not. THAT is their innovation, that they practice “Disruptive Innovation”. You either understand what the concept is or you don’t, and I’m guessing you don’t.

              You cherry pick facts and promote myths in order to satisfy your narrow view that private enterprise is humanity’s ticket to outer space.

              NASA certainly isn’t for a couple of very simple reasons:

              1. The politicians that fund NASA could care less

              2. NASA doesn’t get enough money to leave LEO anymore.

              Look, I don’t foresee space hotels anytime soon, but what I do believe is that NASA will never have the charter or the money to push humanity out into space. The private sector is the only group that will have the will and the resources to do it, but again, it won’t be fast.

            • erhuh

              There is a generation or three that has had first row seats to watch NASA twist in the political winds. NASA is an important piece of the puzzle but it does seem like an expanded commercial role might allow them to do more with less. Plus, new players in various states may also help to create more political capital for national investment in space. And there is always the dream of private spaceflight as a new market to help float the older goals. We will see.

  • E.P. Grondine

    What happened?

    Griffin spec’d Orion to require the Ares 1.

    Ares 1 suffered from severe combustion oscillation problems, as do large solids, without a sufficient damping load.

    Then Orion went over mass.

    I suppose we’ll all have to put up with the BS and spin until the NASA documents are released on this fiasco.

    But even then, facts never have intruded nor ever will intrude on some people’s thinking.

    Especially when their illusions are so much more tasty to them.

    • Gary Miles

      The Ares I did not suffer from oscillation problems. That entire story manufactured off a blatantly flawed Air Force report. In fact, the oscillations on the SRBs were far less than what engineers had predicted and turned out not to be an issue. Where do you come up with this crap?

      • Gary Miles wrote:

        The Ares I did not suffer from oscillation problems. That entire story manufactured off a blatantly flawed Air Force report. In fact, the oscillations on the SRBs were far less than what engineers had predicted and turned out not to be an issue. Where do you come up with this crap?

        The Government Accountability Office audit, August 2009:

        http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09844.pdf

        NASA is still struggling to develop a solid business case—including firm requirements, mature technologies, a knowledge-based acquisition strategy, a realistic cost estimate, and sufficient funding and time—needed to justify moving the Constellation program forward into the implementation phase. Gaps in the business case include

        * significant technical and design challenges for the Orion and Ares I vehicles, such as limiting vibration during launch, eliminating the risk of hitting the launch tower during lift off, and reducing the mass of the Orion vehicle, represent considerable hurdles that must be overcome in order to meet safety and performance requirements; and

        * a poorly phased funding plan that runs the risk of funding shortfalls in fiscal years 2009 through 2012, resulting in planned work not being completed to support schedules and milestones. This approach has limited NASA’s ability to mitigate technical risks early in development and precludes the orderly ramp up of workforce and developmental activities.

        That’s not the USAF. That’s the independent government auditors.

        Now explain why you know more than the USAF and the GAO.

      • Coastal Ron

        Gary Miles said:

        The Ares I did not suffer from oscillation problems.

        To quote from Jim Hillhouse, a staunch Ares I supporter (and owner of the AmericaSpace blog):

        Thrust oscillations occur on all solid rockets due to a coupling of the structural resonance of the launch vehicle with the pressure wave created during burning of the solid rocket propellent.

        From that same article called “Options Approved for Ares I Thrust Oscillation Mitigation“, NASA certainly thought that thrust oscillation was a real enough concern that they added significant weight to the Ares I to mitigate the issue. That of course further impacted it’s ability to carry out it’s sole purpose (i.e. to carry the Orion capsule to orbit), which caused many engineering headaches and wasted untold amounts of NASA’s budget.

        And why? Because Michael Griffin lied about the need for the Ares I when he said that the Delta IV Heavy could not meet the needs of safely carrying humans to orbit. He lied. NASA even admitted after Griffin left that the Delta IV Heavy does in fact meet their needs for carrying humans to orbit, and NASA could have save $Billions and a decade of wasted time by using the now proven ULA launcher.

        • Gary Miles

          Coastal Ron, NASA never added any dampeners to the Ares I. That was an option they were considering if the tests showed the oscillations at the level that the computer model predicted. In fact, the oscillations were far less than expected and the design was not changed.

          • Coastal Ron

            Gary Miles said:

            NASA never added any dampeners to the Ares I.

            Well they certainly didn’t have a chance to, since Ares I-X flew on 10/28/2009, and less than four months later Obama announced that he was canceling the Constellation program.

            Something you should consider though Gary, as you blindly defend the Ares I – why the heck were we trying to fly humans to space on a single-stick solid fuel rocket? It had never been done before, and oscillation issues were a fact, not a fiction, and it was only a question of how much.

            Add in that during Michael Griffin’s reign at NASA that they thought he Ares I was going to cost at least $28B to develop, and you have to wonder why? Why in the world was the Ares I worth $28B?

            Have you ever asked yourself that Gary?

            • Gary Miles

              Never said the thrust oscillations problems were fiction, I said they were not real. What is more to the point is that the naysayers blew up the issue far beyond its actual impact on development and the timeline. Rand Simberg claimed in his article that the Constellation program was cancelled due to its ongoing technical issues and the impact on the development and launch schedules. That is a complete myth and falsehood. The Ares I development schedule slipped due to inadequate funding. What is more, Rand then uses these falsehoods concerning technical issues to attack SLS development. Paradoxically, if Rand had simply argued that SLS is not worth building because Congress lacks the will or leadership to fund such projects properly using the funding problems of Constellation program and the resulting delays as the basis for his assertions, then Rand would have a credible, legitimate argument. I may not agree with his conclusions, but I could hardly disagree with the facts as supported by Augustine committee report, NASA’s own internal documents, the testimonies of the people who worked on the Constellation program, and many very respected outside observers who have agreed that underfunding was the main issue.

              As for the Ares I…well I am a former aerospace engineering major whose primary interest was developing an integrated launch system utilizing a maglev rail launcher and scramjet technology which at the time I was attending university was under a great deal of study. Unfortunately life intruded in a rather unpleasant way in my senior year. As someone who has enjoyed amateur rocketry and high powered rocketry all of his life, the design of the Ares I is both unique and innovative. It’s reliability and simplicity are its greatest design features. Do you know that in the over 130 launches of the Space Shuttle that not a single SRB failed. Not even in the Challenger disaster. Even after that massive explosion, the SRBs continued to operate and had to be detonated downrange by the RSO. Some people think the SRB failure was the cause of the accident, but it wasn’t. It was the outgassing of one of the SRB segment seals damaging the ET and igniting the hydrogen fuel that caused the explosion. As for whether the $29 billion dollars is worth the development of Ares I, that is more of a philosophical argument. Of course that cost figure included the Orion spacecraft which is still being developed. That depends on whether someone believes that NASA is the best avenue to deep space exploration and space infrastructure development.

              • Coastal Ron

                Gary Miles said:

                Never said the thrust oscillations problems were fiction, I said they were not real.

                NASA believed they were real, as did ATK – because SRMs do have thrust oscillation, so the unknown issue was whether it was severe enough to require engineering changes. That is what testing is for, but NASA had to have a solution in place in case the worst case proved to be the norm.

                You still do not acknowledge though how risky an SRM only rocket was. It had never been done before for human flight, and this Ares I family tree picture shows the engineering nightmare it created for the Orion engineers.

                The Ares I development schedule slipped due to inadequate funding.

                It may be true that the Ares I never got the amount of funding that Michael Griffin planned for it to get. But that is life Gary. That happens all the time, and if you have such a fragile development schedule that it can’t adapt to reality, then maybe it’s not worth pursuing.

                Regardless though, it is undeniable that the Ares I development program and budget kept changing Gary. Undeniable. And it’s undeniable that the Ares I changes caused schedule and budget changes to the Orion program too. Undeniable.

                And per the Augustine Commission, they suggested that future programs needed to be structured so that they produced results on a frequent basis. That you can’t consume budget for decades and not have anything visible to show for it.

                The Ares I, per Michael Griffin’s budget, was going to cost $28B before it became flight worthy. Think about that – $28B!! And by the time it was cancelled Michael Griffin was forecasting that the Ares I would have cost $40B. $40B!!

                For a simple 25mt to LEO launcher. Falcon Heavy will be able to lift 53mt to LEO, and only cost the U.S. Taxpayer $135M per launch.

                Does that help you to understand why so many people saw the Ares I as a waste of taxpayer money? That there were many less costly alternatives that Michael Griffin could have pursued?

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “The Ares I did not suffer from oscillation problems.”

        More bullcrap:

        “NASA Says Ares Rocket May Shake Too Much
        Vibration Problem Plagues SRB Design”
        http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?do=main.textpost&id=49cacce1-5b73-48f9-9dd1-67aa83acc78e

        “Severe vibration problem plagues moon rocket design”
        http://www.chron.com/news/nation-world/article/Severe-vibration-problem-plagues-moon-rocket-1783506.php

        “ESMD To Talk About Ares Thrust Oscillation Problems”
        http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=26232

        “That entire story manufactured off a blatantly flawed Air Force report.”

        The “Air Force report” on Ares I was about whether Orion’s parachutes could survive the radiant heating from hot SRB fragments in the event of an abort. It had nothing to do with the thrust oscillation problem:

        “Report: Ares I crew couldn’t survive blast in first minute”
        http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2009-07-18/news/new_1_nasa-constellation-program-rocket-ares-i

        This problem continues to threaten a human-rated SLS.

        “In fact, the oscillations on the SRBs were far less than what engineers had predicted and turned out not to be an issue.”

        If the thrust oscillation problem “turned out not to be an issue”, then there would have been no reason to weaken the Ares I interstage with a ring of c-springs, take on the cost and risk of adding the largest damper ever to the Ares I upper stage LOX tank, and add the complexity, cost and risk of active mass dampers on the Ares I lower stage.

        “Where do you come up with this crap?”

        Look in the mirror. You’re full of it.

        • Gary Miles

          First, I said that Ares I did not suffer from oscillation problems. Second, did you actually read the articles for the links you provided? The oscillation issue were found in the computer modeling program not the actual test vehicle. In other words a potential oscillation problem. Let me emphasize, the oscillation was based on a computer model and not actual test data. NASA and ATK had expected there might some issue with oscillation. But actual engine thrust tests performed by ATK, sensors on Space Shuttle SRBs, and the Ares 1-X test flight all showed that the oscillations were far below what the computer model predicted. ATK’s tests revealed that thrust oscillations were a third of what the computer predicted, and the test flight showed that the oscillatons were 10 times less than model prediction. Well within the acceptable limits of vibration criteria that posed no risk to the astronauts. So the Ares I actually did not suffer from oscillation problems. And even if it thrust oscillation had been determined to be a real issue, NASA and ATK had already came up with several solutions to mitigate the risks in 2008. Here are some articles for you to peruse.

          Ares I-X Flight Test Yields Few Feared Vibrations

          Ares I-X Knowledge Capture Report_Vol 1_FINAL

          Ares I-X Engineers Discuss Flight Test Results

          So the potential thrust oscillation problem turned out not to be real.

          • Dark Blue Nine

            “First, I said that Ares I did not suffer from oscillation problems.”

            The statement is still wrong, regardless of how you phrase it. The program wasted high-tens to low-hundreds of millions of dollars, untold man-hours, and approximately a year of schedule chasing multiple solutions to its “oscillation problems”. And the design was severely compromised by those solutions, which variously weakened the interstage, introduced new elements on a scale never before attempted, and reduced reliability with active countermeasures.

            Just because Scotty never got to fly his pet rocket doesn’t mean that the program behind it didn’t suffer immensely from the idiocy of his design choices. And thank gawd it was never built as compromised as it became by all the “solutions” necessary to fix Scotty’s choices.

            “The oscillation issue were [sic] found in the computer modeling program not the actual test vehicle.”

            That’s because there never was an “actual test vehicle”, dummy. NASA never flew a single-stick, five-segment SRB to test what the agency was seeing in its single-stick, five-segment SRB models. Thank gawd they didn’t, or they would likely have rained burning solid fuel over much of the launch range.

            “ATK’s tests”

            ATK performed a ground firing with the five-segment SRB bolted horizontally to concrete pylons secured in bedrock. The firing bore no resemblance to a single-stick, five-segment SRB in flight. The firing had more in common with the Shuttle (or SLS) stack than Ares I.

            “the test flight”

            Ares I-X used Atlas V avionics to fly a four-segment SRB with a dummy upper stage and weights substituting for Orion. It bore no resemblance to an Ares I flight with a five-segment SRB lower stage, J-2X upper stage, and actual Orion payload.

            “So the potential thrust oscillation problem turned out not to be real.”

            Says what? Your imaginary 5-segment SRB test flight?

            “The oscillation issue were found”

            “oscillatons”

            “And even if it thrust oscillation”

            Ugh. Learn middle school grammar.

            • Gary Miles

              This is where you reveal the limits of your knowledge. Thrust oscillations (TO) occur toward the end of the first stage flight and are not dependent upon the orientation of the test vehicle. So whether the test vehicle is lying horizontal or vertical has no impact on TO. Here is some information from NASASpaceflight.com, Ares I Thrust Oscillation meetings conclude with encouraging data, changes. Yes the ATK engine fire test using the 5 segment booster provides relevant and real data.

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “So whether the test vehicle is lying horizontal or vertical has no impact on TO.”

                It matters whether the SRB is bolted to concrete pylons sunk in bedrock, bolted to another large damper like the ET, or stupidly flying in a single-stick configuration that it was never designed for, dummy.

              • Gary Miles

                DB9, do you understand that the force of the oscillations against dampeners, actuators, and bolts can be detected with sensors and analyzed? That analysis can provide accurate results on the effects of thrust oscillations even on SRMs bolted to a test stand.

                Please continue to be disrespectful and continue your namecalling. Because that really bolsters your reputation.

              • Coastal Ron

                Gary Miles said:

                do you understand that the force of the oscillations against dampeners, actuators, and bolts can be detected with sensors and analyzed?

                Gary, it was NASA’s computer simulations that originally caused them to think that thrust oscillation was going to be a problem. You say real testing showed that the computer testing model was wrong, but now you say that ATK should have been able to successfully simulate free-flight conditions on the ground with an SRM solidly mounted to the ground and dampened.

                You can’t have it both ways Gary.

              • Gary Miles

                Ron, ATK performed an SRM engine test on the 5 segmented rocket at their facility in Utah. The results of that hardware test showed that the thrust oscillations were less than a third of what the computer simulation predicted.

              • Gary Miles

                DB9 is claiming the results of that test are not valid because it was bolted to a test stand. The thrust oscillation are a result of the resonant frequencies of the combustion vortices toward the end of the 1st stage. Does not matter whether test vehicle is bolted to the stand, or in free flight the force oscillation will remain the same. That is what shock absorbers (dampeners) do. When you drive a car, it experience a shaking motion due to the unevenness of the pavement. The shock absorbers, do not reduce the force of the shaking, they simply prevent the force from being transmitted to you. So having Solid rocket motor won’t change the force of the thrust oscillations. There were hundreds of sensors on test vehicles including the bolts and dampeners connecting it to the test stand.

              • Coastal Ron

                Gary Miles said:

                Does not matter whether test vehicle is bolted to the stand, or in free flight the force oscillation will remain the same.

                I think a lot of people would disagree with you.

                In free flight you can get harmonics going that would not show up when bolted to the ground. The masses change, and so do the frequencies. And that’s why real-life tests have to be preformed.

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “DB9 is claiming the results of that test are not valid because it was bolted to a test stand.”

                Yes, I am. You can’t measure how a structure couples to and resonates in response to a force if you strap that structure to something else that prevents it from resonating.

                This is high school physics. We can measure the force with which we hit a tuning fork until we’re blue in the face. But that tells us little to nothing about how that tuning fork responds to being struck. And we have no hope of measuring that response if we strap the tuning fork onto a table so that it can’t resonate.

                “The thrust oscillation are a result of the resonant frequencies of the combustion vortices toward the end of the 1st stage.”

                No, thrust oscillation is the result of the solid rocket’s structure coupling to and resonating with the repeated forces from the collapsing vortices in the combustion flow. The frequency of the collapsing vortices does nothing unless it couples to and causes the solid rocket’s structure to resonate.

                “… the force oscillation will remain the same.”

                There is no such thing as a “force oscillation”. Again, learn high school physics.

                “When you drive a car, it experience a shaking motion due to the unevenness of the pavement. The shock absorbers, do not reduce the force of the shaking, they simply prevent the force from being transmitted to you.”

                A goofy analogy. We’re not talking about forces being transmitted to the driver (although that was also a serious concern with Ares I). We’re talking about the coupling of forces to a vehicle’s structure that result in resonant oscillations that shake the structure apart. The average car’s structure experiences no dangerous resonant oscillations. The occasional speed bump or pothole is nothing like the highly frequent and repetitive forces of resonant burning in a solid rocket motor.

                “So having Solid rocket motor won’t change the force of the thrust oscillations.”

                This isn’t even a complete sentence.

                Go back to high school, learn basic physics, and brush up on your English while you’re at it.

  • Miles Gray

    As far as the slight increase in funding versus more significant increases, and the need to specify particular rationale for a human space program, remember how the NASA budget got established in the first place 45 years ago. Everyone was in agreement than that 1/2 of 1% was a significant enough amount to be able to continue a program and it was just about the right size that the US people and Congress would continue to support without raising any serious objections, and it worked for 45 years. As far as the last 10 years, basically a poor plan, poorly established, and poorly managed. Poorly managed enough that Congress and a lot of other people began to wonder what they were giving money to NASA for when NASA was failing to deliver. Not only failing to deliver safe functioning hardware, but failing to deliver even so much as a sensible plan. That was when the money began to decline. People are seriously questioning what is NASA for.

    NASA needs a plan, and Apollo redux is not a plan. Once NASA figures out the plan it has to be communicated. NASA communications over the last 5 years has failed to communicate. Then NASA needs to get its people in gear to develop the plan and they’d better make good use of the funds.

    • Coastal Ron

      Miles Gray said:

      …remember how the NASA budget got established in the first place 45 years ago.

      I see it differently – what NASA was needed for 45 years ago is not the same as what it’s needed for today. Well, except for pork programs, which are universal over time and every government agency.

      Everyone was in agreement than that 1/2 of 1% was a significant enough amount…

      NASA’s budget has never followed that formula. Not based on the actual budgets NASA got.

      Once NASA figures out the plan it has to be communicated. NASA communications over the last 5 years has failed to communicate. Then NASA needs to get its people in gear to develop the plan and they’d better make good use of the funds.

      NASA is a government agency that works for whoever is President, and the person who runs the agency (i.e. the NASA Administrator) is a political appointee chosen by the President. NASA may recommend what they’d like to do, but ultimately it is the President that has to back it, both as policy and through the budget process. Bottom line is that unless the President approves what NASA is doing, it doesn’t happen.

      And practically speaking, there is no set amount that NASA can be allocated out of the Federal Budget. It’s more a matter of what the politicians think is appropriate based on the need. No big need, no big budget. That’s pretty much where we are now.

    • Vladislaw

      Miles Gray wrote:

      “remember how the NASA budget got established in the first place 45 years ago. Everyone was in agreement than that 1/2 of 1% was a significant enough amount to be able to continue a program”

      Do you understand that you post fallacies of logic with almost every post?

      Define “everyone”

      Post a link that shows “everyone” was in agreement.

      Do you drive one of those little clown cars?

      year ……..nominal …….% of budget ..2007 Constant Mil $$
      1968 ……. 4,722 ………. 2.65% ……….. 26,139
      1969 ……. 4,251 ………. 2.31% ……….. 21,376
      1970 ……. 3,752 ………. 1.92% ……….. 18,768
      1971 ……. 3,382 ………. 1.61% ……….. 15,717

      You are starting to sound like ole’ Mark “wrong way” Whittington. Mark has not made a single correct point so far this century and you do not make any correct points either. A simple search and you would see what you are posting is contracy to the published facts.

      So, like mark, you must be a paid shill with the purpose of posting misinformation. Next time you post, find the link that the supports your lies.

  • Miles Gray

    As far as the solid motor oscillations, this was something well known, observed, and pronounced enough to be felt by the astronauts on every Shuttle launch. That was with the Orbiter separated from the solid motors which were of course attached to a large, massive tank. So the vibrations were dampened considerably. Extending the length of the solid motors amplified the force of the oscillations. This was something well known and understood right from the start.

  • Miles Gray

    As far as NASA management they have a serious deficit of anyone who has shown any kind of history of success. Most of those people were forced out over the last 10 years.

    NASA had promoted a large number of their more senior people (half of the senior ‘technologists’) to GS-15s and SES’s, and yet few if any of these people with promotions in the last 10-15 years had ever actually been involved in a serious design or development project. Many came out of ISS and yet the ISS US design and development mainly occurred 20 years ago and longer. More recent ISS development was done by the foreign partners. The closest the NASA people came was some integration (not known for efficiency) and mainly operations work.

    Compare and contrast that with the way in which the top level NASA management team was selected for Apollo and even Shuttle. The graybeards of the time got together and all of them had to agree before they would put individuals in charge of the program, major functions and systems.

    NASA management needs to be fixed and the managers trained or else there isn’t much need to continue the discussion. The entire HSF activity might just be turned over to commercial interests.

  • Rick P

    coastal ron said:

    “And practically speaking, there is no set amount that NASA can be allocated out of the Federal Budget. It’s more a matter of what the politicians think is appropriate based on the need. No big need, no big budget. That’s pretty much where we are now.”

    Check the history books. 1/2 of 1% was discussed by the President at the end of Apollo, and it has remained pretty close to that number for nearly 40 years.

    “ultimately it is the President that has to back it, both as policy and through the budget process. Bottom line is that unless the President approves what NASA is doing, it doesn’t happen.”

    Not really. The President presents a non-binding budget. Congress decides what NASA will do. You need look no further than SLS for something Obama did not want that Congress insisted be continued.

    • Coastal Ron

      Rick P said:

      Check the history books.

      I did. You can too at this Wikipedia page that charts NASA’s budget over time compared to the Federal budget.

      If you look at the chart, NASA’s budget has only now reached the 0.5% level of the Federal budget (actually 0.48% in 2012) and was double that as recently as 1993.

      In fact, 40 years ago in 1974 NASA’s budget was 1.21% of the Federal budget, or 120% above the “1/2 of 1%” number you cite.

      You need look no further than SLS for something Obama did not want that Congress insisted be continued.

      The President agreed to the SLS as part of the overall Constellation cancellation, the ISS extension, and the funding of the Commercial Crew program. I’d say he came out ahead in the whole deal, which is why he didn’t threaten a veto.

      So the part you are missing is that if a President truly doesn’t want something, they can veto the legislation telling NASA to do something the President doesn’t want NASA to do instead of signing it, and Congress would have to override the veto.

      NASA is normally not important enough to merit a veto, but it is an option that the President has available.

  • E.P. Grondine

    My thanks to all of those here who cleared up Gary’s confusion on the combustion oscillations.

    As that problem should have been caught very early, we now need to find out how they made it that far through NASA safety. And the fix that now.

    Space flight is hazardous enough without a broken safety system.

    A far as the whole deal goes, my current guess is that even if the numbers are right, if the House adds language forbidding work on the ARM, Obama will veto. Let me state that again to make it clear, my current guess (or “estimate” to put it more elegantly) is that if that language is included in any final legislation,

    Obama will VETO.

    Sometimes the times are not “normal”.

    • Gary Miles

      Except perhaps you need to read my response above. BTW, the issue was thrust oscillations which were predicted by a computer now since now shown through subsequent actual hardware tests to be far less than the model predicted. I provided sources. Go read them.

    • Vladislaw

      Without a line item veto the President would have to veto the entire appropriation bill and the NASA funding is just a small part. It is why Presidents always let congress screw the taxpayer through NASA.

      • Hiram

        “Obama will VETO. Sometimes the times are not ‘normal’.”

        Heh. I can see it now. Obama vetoes all government spending in an omnibus appropriations bill because Congress won’t allow NASA to send humans to an asteroid. Yep, we’d hear a lot about abnormality. One could question sanity. Oh, but if Congress was working properly, Obama would just have to veto a Commerce funding bill. No one will question that, eh? Oops. Department of Justice is down the tubes. That’s the FBI, DEA, U.S. Marshalls, and Federal Prisons. And of course, NSF, NOAA, and the Patent Office as well as well. Yep, footprints on an asteroid mean more to a nation than those, Obama would be ready to argue.

        So much for elegant estimation.

  • guest

    Coastal Ron said:
    40 years ago in 1974 NASA’s budget was 1.21% of the Federal budget, or 120% above the “1/2 of 1%” number you cite.

    I’d be hesitant to include the budget from the early 70s. They were still shutting down Apollo, flying Skylab, preparing ASTP and designing Shuttle. The budget started its downhill slide about 67 and continued until they were in the midst of Shuttle when it stabilized.

    • Coastal Ron

      guest said:

      I’d be hesitant to include the budget from the early 70s.

      I’d be hesitant to jump into the middle of a conversation when I haven’t read what the whole conversation is about.

      Go back and read why we’re talking about 40 years ago.

  • guest

    45 years ago the budget started on a downward trend which continued unabated except for a few years in the early 1990s. Most of the time its been under 1%.

    In 1967 as the budget was already being reduced Johnson asked Webb to put together a plan for what NASA could do after Apollo given the budget constraints. Webb said it was the President’s job. The President said it was NASA’s job. Webb quit. The next Administrator, Paine, did as he was told and, believing that everyone would support the Spiro Agnew plan, said we were going to Mars by the end of the century. When he was told we weren’t, he quit. The next Administrator, Fletcher, said we would build a Shuttle and a Station. The President and Congress decided Shuttle first and later maybe Station. NASA was also told to get the internationals on-board at that time. Two Administrators later, Beggs orchestrated the Space Station next logical step campaign. Reagan bought it (against the wishes of his OMB Director but with the support of other key aides) and with a focus on its potential commercial value. The overruns on Station in the early 90s caused a crisis, seen in the increasing budget numbers, the result of which they looked at cancelling station but it survived by a single vote. It also resulted in much of the management of the time being tossed out. It survived as much a result of the demise of the Soviet Union and bringing the Russians into the program as any other reason(s).

    Its time for NASA to come up with a reasonable new plan that is in line with the budget. Then maybe they can debate and convince the President and Congress which vehicles or rockets are or are not needed. If NASA could show it was actually capable of doing the job, maybe the budget would increase (a small amount).

    • Vladislaw

      The rooms full of engineers with slide rules and protractors were no longer needed as the design, development and testing was nearly completed. It was the plan from the start, if you go back and read what congress was debating, that funding would be a bell curve and the max funding peak would go down.

      So it was the plan from day one that the NASA budget would go down and not stay at it’s peak.

    • Coastal Ron

      guest said:

      45 years ago the budget started on a downward trend which continued unabated except for a few years in the early 1990s. Most of the time its been under 1%.

      Which has NOTHING to do with the original conversation. If you want to start your own line of arguments about something, fine. Just don’t pretend you’re adding to someone else’s conversation.

  • Explorer08

    I think we can all ignore Dark Blue Nine going forward. His name calling, bullying, and belittling of others indicates that he really does not know what he is talking about and has to use schoolyard tactics to try to be heard.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “I think we can all ignore Dark Blue Nine going forward. His name calling, bullying, and belittling of others”

      Please. Gary Miles/Miles Gray’s first post in this thread consisted of namecalling, bullying, and belittling of another blogger who rarely posts here:

      “historical revisionist Rand Simberg”

      “Simberg’s reliance upon the altar of capitalism”

      “Simberg’s insistence that… is tantamount to claiming that the new Golden Gate Bridge can be built using 1/2 ton pickup trucks”

      Worse, this personal attack was based on a bunch of total falsehoods about a launch vehicle and budget that are a half-decade old, long-decided, and long gone.

      If Gary Miles/Miles Gray has an obsession with debating Rand Simberg about Ares I and its budget, then he should have the gonads to confront Rand on Rand’s blog instead of backstabbing him here.

      And if Gary Miles/Miles Gray is going to engage in schoolyard namecalling and bullying against anyone on this forum right out of the gate, then he should not be surprised or offended to receive the same in return.

    • Vladislaw

      What an odd statement. The concept of DD (due diligence) must be a foreign concept to you. As a regular commentor here I have never been bullied by anyone other than the “monster rocket” crowd. The only time I have been called out is when I did not do enough DD first before I commented.

      From reading DB9′s comments, then reading the MASSIVE amount of links to data he supplies it is pretty easy to see who is trying to fertilze the soil here.

  • guest

    I tend to agree with Explorer08. In reviewing all of the posts above the only one resorting to personal name calling and belittling is dark blue nine. He is obviously smarter than everyone else and narcissistic. I did not see anything that Gary Miles or Miles Gray’s posts that would be reasonably considered as name calling, bullying,or belittling. There are plenty of differences of opinion and some erroneous information but only one person seems to be calling names.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “In reviewing all of the posts above the only one resorting to personal name calling and belittling is dark blue nine. He is obviously smarter than everyone else and narcissistic.”

      So after accusing me of “name calling [sic]” and “belittling”, what do you do?

      You belittle me with sarcasm and call me “narcissistic”.

      Pot, kettle, black?

      Be careful. Someone might call you a hypocrite.

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