Congress, NASA

Bolden and House committee clash over NASA priorities

In a hearing about NASA’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal by the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee on Thursday, many key members expressed concern about agency priorities, including funding levels for the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket and Orion spacecraft, while NASA administrator Charles Bolden argued that NASA’s commercial crew effort was its top priority.

“Congress has made clear that the Space Launch System (SLS) is a top priority of the Human Exploration program, yet for the third year in a row the administration has reduced the budget for this vital asset. The President’s budget seeks a reduction of $219 million for launch vehicle development,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the full House Science Committee, in a statement issued after the hearing. Those comments echoed what he and other key committee members said in their opening statements regarding SLS and Orion funding.

“Commercial crew is the critical need for this nation right now,” Bolden said in response to a question from the subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), about the lower level of funding for SLS in the FY15 request versus the FY14 appropriations. “I don’t need a Space Launch System and Orion if I can’t get my crews to low Earth orbit.”

“Basically, you’re saying that you’re reducing the SLS/Orion budget in this to fund commercial crew,” Palazzo responded. “There’s a $219 million cut.”

Palazzo also pressed Bolden on the schedule for commercial crew, arguing that NASA has stayed on schedule for introducing commercial crew services by 2017 in the last couple of years despite the program not being fully funded; thus, he asked, why did the problem need full funding now to stay on schedule? Bolden noted that the commercial crew program originally had a goal of 2015 for beginning such flights. “We would now find ourselves months away from launching Americans from American soil, and I would not have to worry about paying the Russians another $450 million,” had the program been fully funded from the outset, he argued. “If we don’t get what the President requested, I can’t guarantee 2017, I can’t guarantee competition, and we will continue to pay the Russians.”

Bolden also clearly laid the blame for those delays on Congress. “This committee, this Congress, chose to rely on the Russians because they chose not to accept the President’s recommendation and request for full funding for commercial crew. You can’t have it both ways.”

The subcommittee’s ranking member, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), asked Bolden how confident he was that commercial providers could meet that 2017 schedule if the program does receive the requested $848 million in 2015. “It is high,” he responded. “My confidence level for making 2017 with robust competition is not as high.”

Later in the hearing, subcommittee vice chairman Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) took issue with Bolden’s comments. “I must admit, I am somewhat astonished by your testimony that shifts responsibility from this administration to Congress for America’s current inability to launch astronauts into space,” he said. Brooks blamed the Obama Administration for canceling the Constellation program, retiring the Space Shuttle, and other issues, including increasing funding for welfare programs “that put a higher priority on buying election votes, no matter the loss of funding for NASA.”

Bolden doubled down on his support for commercial crew. “If the Congress chooses not to fund commercial crew, this nation has no plan” for getting astronauts to the ISS if Russia cuts off access to the station, something he emphasized he didn’t think would happen.

During a later exchange with Brooks, Bolden said that without the ISS, he would recommend that SLS and Orion be cancelled. “I will go to the President and recommend that we terminate SLS and Orion because without the International Space Station, I have no vehicle to do the medical tests, the technology development, and we’re fooling everybody if we think we can go to deep space if the International Space Station is not there,” he said. “I don’t want anybody to think that I need an SLS or Orion if I don’t have the International Space Station.”

157 comments to Bolden and House committee clash over NASA priorities

  • Mark R. Whittington

    “I don’t want anybody to think that I need an SLS or Orion if I don’t have the International Space Station.”

    A remarkably silly statement on the level of his mission to the Muslims gaffe.

    • yg1968

      The ISS is important for testing out BEO objectives. Nothing silly about that comment.

      • Bolden’s statement is absolute nonsense.

        1. The ISS can’t help you learn about protecting astronauts from the interplanetary cosmic radiation because it lies within the Earth’s protective magnetosphere

        2. The ISS can’t help you learn about using hypergravity to help mitigate the deleterious effects of microgravity because the ISS habitat modules are too small to accommodate a human hypergravity centrifuge

        3. The ISS can’t help you learn about using full artificial gravity because it can’t rotate to produce artificial gravity

        4. The ISS can’t tell you if the human body can adjust to low gravity environments on the Moon and on Mars. Astronauts visiting Mars may have to be on the Martian surface for more than a year!

        The ISS can only tell us what we already knew from Skylab forty years ago: microgravity environments are inherently deleterious to human health.

        Marcel

        • Reality Bits

          full artificial gravity

          I think you have been way too many Star Trek episodes lately …
          BTW, what was your college degree in and job experience?

          (a) The rather bright folks at JSC proposed a centrifuge module for the station in that rather nice presentation on Nautilus. Can always increase the spin speed to simulate different gravity fields. Make it larger diameter, it’s an inflatable system if necessary. Would go a long way to reduce microgravity effects on the human body during “deep space” travel.

          (b) You failed to mention that ISS is useful for developing a RELIABLE ECLSS. Can’t go shipping someone off to the cosmic boonies w/o a robust ECLSS. Helpful if you do it in LEO since you can ship new parts up easily and worse case pull everyone off quickly.

          (c) For radiation you do a pilot study on ISS with either Water Walls or Polypropylene (or anything else someone comes up with). If a technology looks promising (and the ECLSS problem is solved) then send a manned outpost either to GEO or EML1 to give it a trial run close enough where we can fix stuff if it breaks.

          • There are no rotating spacecraft in Star Trek producing artificial gravity. Guess you’ve never watched a Star Trek episode. Maybe you were thinking of Babylon 5?

            There is no Nautilis at the ISS. And you’re not going to deploy a Nautilis with the super heavy ISS for interplanetary journeys.

            The ISS is not at the Earth-Moon Lagrange points where we actually need to test future interplanetary vehicle concepts in a fully exposed cosmic radiation environment. The SLS would allow NASA to deploy such stations to the Lagrange points with a single launch.

            Water walls at least 50 cm thick are going to be required to protect astronauts from major solar events while also reducing annual radiation exposure exposure during the solar minimum to around 20 Rem per year. And that’s going to require a significant increase in mass.

            Cosmic Radiation and the New Frontier
            http://newpapyrusmagazine.blogspot.com/

            Marcel

            • Coastal Ron

              Marcel F. Williams said:

              The ISS is not at the Earth-Moon Lagrange points where we actually need to test future interplanetary vehicle concepts in a fully exposed cosmic radiation environment.

              That’s because the ISS wasn’t designed to be an EML station, it is supposed to be a general purpose laboratory – and it’s very good at doing that. And since we have lots of traffic going between Earth and the station, it needs to be as close as possible to Earth.

              The SLS would allow NASA to deploy such stations to the Lagrange points with a single launch.

              We don’t have a requirement to launch stations in a single launch, and that makes station designs unnecessarily complicated (and pretty small). The ISS was easily assembled using over 40 flights, so we know how to do modular assembly. Reverting back to monolithic designs doesn’t make sense.

              Using the research that we’ve done on the ISS, the next step would be an EML station though. Unfortunately the SLS and Orion are sucking up all the available funds to build and operate an EML station, and that won’t change if they ever become operational.

              • “The ISS was easily assembled using over 40 flights, so we know how to do modular assembly.”

                The fact that it took 40 flights means that it wasn’t easy to assemble which is why its one of the most expensive structures ever built.

                A single SLS could deploy a microgravity station with more internal volume than the ISS with a single launch.

                Marcel

              • Coastal Ron

                Marcel F. Williams said:

                The fact that it took 40 flights means that it wasn’t easy to assemble which is why its one of the most expensive structures ever built.

                Duh, of course it’s the most expensive space station ever built since it’s by far the LARGEST space station every built.

                But since 27 of the ISS assembly flights used the Shuttle at a known cost of $1.2B each ($32.4B), we’ll save a lot of money using commercial launchers the next time we need to build a 450mt modular structure in space.

                A single SLS could deploy a microgravity station with more internal volume than the ISS with a single launch.

                We don’t need “internal volume” in space, we need right-sized and affordable hardware that helps us figure out how to expand out into space in the most affordable way. And the SLS doesn’t do that, so the faster people realize that there is not enough need for an HLV at this time to merit operating the SLS, the faster we can get on with affordable & sustainable human space exploration.

            • Reality Bits

              You said:

              full artificial gravity

              There is no such thing as “full artificial gravity”. You have been watching too much sci-fi on TV.

              A rotating laboratory attached to the ISS, such as the one mentioned in the FISO presentation I referenced, relies on centripetal force to produce an effect SIMILAR to a gravitational force. This is simple Newtonian physics.

              The ISS is not at the Earth-Moon Lagrange points where we actually need to test

              Did you ACTUALLY read what I wrote? I said, then send a manned outpost either to GEO or EML1. Did I say send the ISS there? Manned Outpost does not equal the ISS.

              There is no Nautilis at the ISS. And you’re not going to deploy a Nautilis with the super heavy ISS for interplanetary journeys.

              Point 1: You never read the FISO presentation I referenced. Your statement clearly demonstrates that.

              Point 2: You again show your abject ignorance of basic physics. “Heavy” is a non-scientific term applied to describing a MASS within a gravitational well, the convention is to refer to the MASS of the ISS instead of the WEIGHT. Things “weight” less in microgravity at LEO (that is why they call it “weightlessness”) than they do at the “1G” field strength at Sea Level on Earth, but their MASS is the same.

              You never responded to the ECLSS comment. No Breathable Air = No Astronauts. Your SLS fetish can’t solve that one, eh?

              I’d rather not follow the self-serving link to your own blog since you clearly don’t have a grasp on basic physics let alone an understanding of space medicine. I have no interest is reading more dreck.

              So what are your qualifications? Inquiring minds would like to know…

              • 1. Did you read my post? The ISS is not at the Lagrange points. So pumping $3 billion a year into the ISS doesn’t help you deploy a station at a Lagrange point. It takes that money away!

                2. Again, there is no Nautilis device at the ISS and you don’t need the ISS to deploy it. Plus its not clear that such a small diameter centrifuge will solve the problems associated with the Coriolis effect.

                Guess you don’t know much about biology either which is probably why your afraid to print your own name on your post.

                Marcel

    • Hiram

      As was pointed out years ago, the intent of the Administration here was fostering partnership out of a fractured relationship, not unlike the efforts to partner with the former Soviets.

      To the extent that we will need international dollars to support an eventual human mission to Mars, I think it quite possible that one of the seats will have a Koran laying on it. Got a problem with that? I don’t. There have been 11 Muslim astronauts thus far, including one who bought her own way.

      I should say that for a Mars trip, unlike for a LEO jaunt, establishing qibla will be easy. It’s that blue-green ball way over there.

    • Robert G Oler

      the only silly thing is justifying federal spending on a vehicle which has no mission…none.

      You are good Mark at justifying technopork it is welfare for industrial complexes RGO

  • amightywind

    NASA’s priorities come from congress. If they say build SLS/Orion he is expected to salute and say, “Yes sir!”, or resign if he disagrees. The NASA Administrator is not hired to set NASA’s agenda. He is there to execute the one set by congress. He has slow walked SLS since he took the job. These big government activists are really too much.

    …for getting astronauts to the ISS if Russia cuts off access to the station

    We didn’t have to be in this position. Bolden’s ineptitude is why we are here. Oh, yeah. Amightywind has been warning about the dangers of collaborating with the Russians for years.

    • amightywind

      the last couple of years despite the program not being fully funded; thus, he asked, why did the problem need full funding now to stay on schedule?

      Amightywind pointed out this inconsistency earlier this week. Bolden’s claim defies established principles of cost, time, and quality in project management. Perhaps we should add ‘waste’ to the list.

    • Reality Bits

      Let’s look at Mo Brooks’ engineering credentials:
      He graduated from Duke University in three years with a double major in political science and economics. He later graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1978.

      Since when does a Lawyer know ANYTHING about engineering? What makes him qualified to dictate a specific engineering design?

      • Hiram

        “Since when does a Lawyer know ANYTHING about engineering?”

        One could say this about almost anyone in Congress. The issue isn’t how much he knows about engineering, but how incompetent he seems in creating solid space policy.

        “What makes him qualified to dictate a specific engineering design?”

        What makes him abundantly qualified to dictate a specific engineering design is that he can trace the dollar flow of that specific engineering design, and a lot of it ends up in his district. To the extent that SLS is a jobs program, which it fundamentally is, Brooks’ credentials are immaculate. I don’t look to Congress to decide policy on the basis of credible engineering design. We rely on them to decide policy on the basis of national needs and, in Brooks’ dim mind, dumping dollars on AL-5 is a national need.

    • Robert G Oler

      No, the NASA administrator does what the President tells him/her to do RGO

  • Henry Vanderbilt

    Bolden has a point. ISS and Commercial Crew are both space programs, while SLS is a never-fly jobs program. Given a flat NASA budget, Congress was going to need to decide which they actually want sooner or later. Looks like the fight is getting underway.

    What’s new here is the implication in the last paragraph that ISS is now also on the block to feed the SLS maw. SLS supporters may be overreaching here if they’re attacking ISS – aside from clarifying the choice between SLS pork and functioning space programs, ISS (unlike Commercial Crew) has a larger regional Congressional support base than SLS.

    Every time MSFC has taken on JSC head-to-head in the past, they’ve lost. Interesting times!

  • yg1968

    Very impressive testimony by Bolden. He essentially blamed Congress for the 2 year delay for commercial crew. It’s about time that he tells it like it is.

    • Ben Russell-Gough

      What was genuinely funny was the response that he’s not allowed to blame them for some reason. These guys don’t have much experience with anything except parades of yes men telling them that they’re right all the time, do they?

    • There’s not enough manned spaceflight traffic to the ISS to support more than one private company. So private companies really need to be focusing on private stations and stop whining about not getting enough tax payer dollars.

      Marcel

      • Vladislaw

        No one is whining at all .. they are mearly stating if you want a product and service by X date you need to cough up funding… no whine just the facts.

        The ones who should stop whining is the SLS porkonauts who can never have enough to feed the beast..

        16.5 BILLION for a 4 person, water landing, disposable capsule .. and they are WHINING for more…

        sheesh … lets keep things in perspective here.

        • You guys whine everyday about insufficient tax payer funding for Commercial crew development.

          I’m all for increasing public funding for Commercial Crew companies to develop private spacecraft to travel to– private– space stations. But I’m certainly not in favor of using the hyper expensive ISS as a $3 billion a year make-work program for Commercial Crew companies! That’s extremely wasteful!

          You could get substantially more private space traffic to orbit by simply giving private companies a $1 billion a year to transport private Americans to– private space stations– rather than spending $3 billion a year on the ISS. And if we had a space lotto system, it probably wouldn’t cost the tax payers any money at all to support private Commercial traffic to LEO.

          But private investors are sitting on two trillion dollars of potential investment money. Instead of whining to the tax payers about more money, they should make their business case so that they can get more private financing if they think the tax payers are being too miserly.

          Marcel

          • Vladislaw

            He was not refering to people that post on this blog, he was refering to boeing Snc and spacex, they are not whining.

          • Reality Bits

            You ever hear about the concept of “Launch Customer”. NASA Cargo and Crew transportation to the ISS helps “prime the pump” to allow the service to be established which can net be used to access commercial stations.

            Basic economics. I suggest you go read about the Airmail Act of 1925 …

            As for private funding, I believe the comment from SpaceX was that 400M was invested by NASA during COTS and 450M was invested by SpaceX during COTS.

            From their website:
            SpaceX is a private company owned by management and employees, with minority investments from Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Valor Equity Partners

            I would include Orbital Sciences in the same light as SpaceX. Kudos to both.

          • It’s quite ignorant to imagine that ISS serves no purpose other than as a market for transportation companies.

            • Reality Bits

              Yes ISS is useful for more than just a transportation market. I was trying to argue a narrow point about using ISS as a launch customer (no pun intended) for kickstarting privately-operated LEO access for cargo/crew.

              Broadly based arguments seem to not make it through to Comrades Williams and Windy.

      • Reality Bits

        There’s not enough manned spaceflight traffic to the ISS to support more than one private company.

        Says what reliable source? You?

        ISS wouldn’t be the only destination if a reasonable cost per seat for acess to LEO can be achieved. Seems like Bob Bigelow would agree.

        • And that’s exactly why the future of Commercial Crew is not in traveling to the ISS. Its in traveling to private space stations. Two to four manned spaceflights to the ISS can’t sustain more than one company. And its an extremely wasteful and inefficient way to promote private traffic to orbit.

          Marcel

          • Fred Willett

            Bigelow has said repeatedly that he will not put up a private space station until he has redundant access for crew and cargo.
            Currently there is exactly zero commercial crew access to space. Hence no Bigelow stations.
            The whole point of NASA’s commercial crew (and before that commercial cargo) programs is to create the conditions necessary to enable real commercial space activity.
            Marcel is saying Commercial should do the work without govt involvement, well Bigelow has tried.
            He offered prizes.
            He offered contracts.
            The risks for commercial companies was too great. The investment required was too high.
            NASA’s COTS and CCicap programs mitigates some of the risk (but not all of the risk).
            Now commercial cargo has happened.
            Commercial crew is happening.
            We will soon see if NASA’s seed money has worked and if a real commercial space industry will emerge.

          • Vladislaw

            well gosh it is to bad that Boeing and SpaceX have nothing else to launch on their rockets so they will go broke only flying a couple ISS flights … oh wait ..

          • Coastal Ron

            Marcel F. Williams said:

            And that’s exactly why the future of Commercial Crew is not in traveling to the ISS.

            You keep forgetting that Boeing, Sierra Nevada and SpaceX all have a better idea what their potential markets are than you.

            For instance, the winners (we have to have at least two) of the Commercial Crew contracts will be flying NASA crew flights through at least 2024, which is 7 years. And SpaceX has already said that they anticipate that Bigelow will be part of their crew transportation business in the future.

            You also forget that private companies know how to create new markets, and they will be creating their own ideas about how they can increase the amount of flights to space.

            But it starts with the ISS, since that is what is known as a launch customer, and having NASA certify a transportation system is going to be important.

            So stop trying to eliminate markets – you should be doing the opposite.

            • Nothing wrong with creating more markets. Just do it efficiently. Spending $3 billion on the ISS– doesn’t do that!

              Marcel

              • Coastal Ron

                Marcel F. Williams said:

                Spending $3 billion on the ISS– doesn’t do that!

                You don’t understand why we need the research being done on the ISS – unfortunately until you do you will not understand what is needed to move humanity further out into space.

              • Reality Bits

                Marcel, Need to build affordable access to LEO first. Once that happens and the service stabilizes, Bigelow will launch his private space stations.

                I agree with NASA HEOMD, ISS is the second-and-last NASA-managed space station in LEO. All future LEO station needs will be leased from commercial providers. Once this is in place, yes, recycle ISS components.

                NASA can focus on a NASA-managed EML1 Gateway Station. Once a private market is built for EML or LLO services the management of EML can be turned over to a commercial company with NASA leasing what they need.

                NASA needs to get out from under all/most of the PPE (Plant, Property & Equipment) that is killing the budget. Salaries, Spacecraft and Science is where NASA should be spending it’s non-aeronautical funding.

  • noominy noom

    I’m glad to see Mr. Bolden finally getting aggressive during his Congressional testimony. It is not much of a stretch to claim we can’t go anywhere in deep space without the ISS. We need some way to develop and test the techniques and technologies to travel farther and longer in space. Going forward from today, since the ISS is already in place and working (and how well it is working is a separate and complicated topic,) it is the most viable way to do the work we need to do.

  • Marek

    Its about time the NASA management spoke up.

    NASA management’s quiescence over the last many years-since Griffin came up with the Constellation redux, has caused a lot of this problem.

    They had plenty of assistance from Presidents and Congress but ultimately I put the burden to lead the nation’s space program on the NASA managers.

    The experts do not sit in Congress or in the White House and its not Holdren.

    Maybe Bolden has finally figured this out. I hope its not too late.

  • MrEarl

    Wow, those testosterone patches really work!

    I find it hard to comprehend that after the Soviet, er, Russian action in the Crimea there would be any question about full funding for commercial crew. The question REALLY is; How do we excelerate commercial crew access to the ISS? The second question is; How do minimize reliance on the Russian components?

    Windy, NASA’s priorities and direction comes from the executive branch, (unfortunately with this administration), it’s funding comes from congress. It’s called separation of powers, look it up.

    To me the solution to the problem of $219 million missing from the SLS/Orion budget is simple, raise NASA funding to cover it! That money doesn’t make a hill of beans to the budget overall.

    • amightywind

      Let’s look at some of the ‘direction’ that has come out of the executive branch.

      1. Obama cancelled Constellation. Congress revolted (as amightywind predicted it would) giving us the inferior, compromised SLS.

      2. Obama proclaimed the lunar mission dead and set the goal to visit an asteroid. How’s that going without a spacecraft or rocket? We’ve never even seen a concept mission profile. Lockmarts Plymouth profile rock used Ares.

      3. Obama declared the moronic asteroid lasso mission, hatched without consultation by his propeller head cronies in CA. That went over well. *Plonk*

      Meanwhile, Bolden has sold off launch support facilities at the Cape, effectively salting the ground on America’s space program after Obama.

      In the vacuum of leadership, congress is setting NASA’s direction.

      • Coastal Ron

        amightywind said:

        Obama cancelled Constellation.

        Too bad you don’t know or understand how your government works. The President can only suggest budget priorities, Congress is free to ignore them. And in the case of the Constellation program, Congress agreed to cancel Constellation, and a majority of Republicans in the House from NASA-heavy states (i.e. Florida, Texas, Alabama) voted FOR the cancellation. Explain that.

        Meanwhile, Bolden has sold off launch support facilities at the Cape…

        There is that reading disability again. NASA is only leasing their facilities, not selling. And since the SLS production rate is currently capped at two per year, LC-39B is more than able to handle NASA’s needs.

        One of your bigger “the sky is falling” comments.

        • amightywind

          You mean Obama’s rubber stamp democrat congress. Oh, yes. My mistake. And it was the Duma that annexed Crimea, not Putin. Get a clue.

          • Vladislaw

            The house of representatives, which controls the checkbook, is controled by the democrats and the H of R has been rubber stamping all of President Obama’s proposals?

            wow .. thanks for the heads up windy…

            I forget .. what was the record for filibusters for any President before President Obama? How many fillibusters did the rubberstamping senate do against this President?

          • Coastal Ron

            amightywind said:

            You mean Obama’s rubber stamp democrat congress.

            Republican’s didn’t have to vote for the Constellation cancellation – but they did. In droves.

            Get a clue.

      • Hiram

        “Let’s look at some of the ‘direction’ that has come out of the executive branch.”

        Constellation sort of cancelled itself. NASA’s plan for it was deemed “unimplementable” at least on the basis of the funding that Congress was going to commit to it, and the previous administration requested for it. That was a straightforward assessment that even Constellation managers admitted. The Congressional response was hardly a revolution. Congress said, well, instead of responsible exploration that we can’t afford to do, let’s just make a big rocket that we can’t afford to use. You could call that policy revolting, I guess. Well put.

        Yes, the targeting of an asteroid for human visits was indeed pretty moronic. Thank Lori Garver for that one. But NASA desperately needed a mission for SLS without a gravity-well lander, and a moronic mission actually suits a moronoic launcher development effort pretty well. I suspect both will be cancelled before too long.

        As to salting the ground on America’s space program, U.S. commercial providers will enjoy the salty treat, and will be proud to represent America’s space program, at least to LEO. Did you not know that Elon has been an American citizen for more than a decade? Well, it’s true. Florida’s Space Coast my have some extra space available.

        In the vacuum of leadership, Congress is asserting it’s own vacuousness. Congress nobly dictated mega-launcher development. Have they nobly dictated a mission or destination for it? Oops. The air must be pretty thin up there on the Hill.

      • Reality Bits

        Meanwhile, Bolden has sold off launch support facilities at the Cape, effectively salting the ground on America’s space program after Obama.

        So LC-39B is “chopped liver”? Plu LC-39A is on a 5 year LEASE. I don’t see how LEASE = “sold off”. You ought to go talk to the automakers about them LEASING cars or REITs LEASING buildings.

        (as amightywind predicted it would)

        Again with the third person when talking about yourself. Do you have problems with personal pronouns? Or is it deeper than that?

        • amightywind

          Amightywind is happy to contribute to your sparse education.

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

          Illeism has many purposes. And I have used them all on this forum;)

          • Fred Willett

            I read your link on Illeism. This bit struck me as most apposite
            In this way personal bias is presented, albeit dishonestly, as objectivity.

          • Reality Bits

            I accuse you of Elmonic tendencies!

            illeism seems to be a way of coping with the difficulty that young language-learners have with first- and second-person pronouns, which famously are “shifters”, with reference that shifts from context to context.

            toddlers’ use of their names for self-reference comes up repeatedly on parenting discussion sites, usually in the context of blaming Elmo for it. Elmo refers to himself as “Elmo”, and parents reason that their kids picked up their illeism from Elmo.

            http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=577

            I see a similar pattern in your written comments, e.g. shifting from context to context without making a valid point. A bit like a mental toddler!

    • Vladislaw

      The republicans can not give THIS President a political success.. The President’s NASA budget proposal for commercial crew has been chopped and road blocked as much as possible .. I am sure they want to drag it out so no commercial carrier launches while he is still in office.. don’t want the credit going to him.

      • amightywind

        That is true. The first job of the GOP in a mixed majority government is to play defense. Lord knows this country needs that. If the GOP can delay the launch to 2017, and it doesn’t seem that they will need much help from a bumbling NASA, they can kill ISS and CC outright. By then Putin will have transgressed more and the red scare argument will be politically irresistible.

        • Vladislaw

          So the job of a mixed government isn’t finding solutions, or trying to get around an unrealible trading partner… the job is to make the problems even worse…

          lol .. hilarious..

        • Michael Kent

          “If the GOP can delay the launch to 2017, and it doesn’t seem that they will need much help from a bumbling NASA, they can kill ISS and CC outright. By then Putin will have transgressed more and the red scare argument will be politically irresistible.”

          And then what happens? We launch an Orion capsule on an Apollo-13-style jaunt around the moon once every other year? That’s your preferred spare program?

          SLS / Orion can’t fly manned until 2021, and then only once every other year thereafter. Any use of SLS for anything else (e.g. an unmanned Europa mission) increases the gap another two years. Without a space station and commercial crew, NASA’s not going anywhere significant.

        • Reality Bits

          Comrade Windy is waiting for the next glorious five year plan for the Senate Launch System!

          Gotta love that centrally-planned LV program fighting against the market-driven private enterprise. I though I heard Comrade Windy utter that with the SLS we will bury you, SpaceX! (all while banging his shoe on the table).

          • Vladislaw

            I have to agree, Windashovich has always been a Stalinist, big government, anticapitalist, command economy kind of a guy. He just wants that monster phallic symbol with a NASA logo on it, because the rest of the planet will tremble…. it won’t matter we can not actually afford to use it. That is a secondary and unimportant issue.

  • John Malkin

    Neither NASA nor the Administration wanted SLS. They wanted to develop advance technologies for an advance heavy lift vehicle if required. Meanwhile via CCDev we would get American access to space. Instead a last minute deal with the Administration and NASA forced NASA to develop SLS and keep a lot of jobs in the space subcommittees’ districts. Great for those that live in their districts.

    The bill that created SLS and replaced Constellation was introduced on Aug 5, 2010 and passed by the Senate by Unanimous Consent. It was passed by House on Sept. 29, 2010 (304 – 118) and signed by the President on Oct 11, 2010. The house could have stopped it if their priority was to keep Constellation alive. Note that there was 64 democratic Nays v. 54 republican Nays. It’s sad that our congress and the space subcommittees adopts a victims position and claim they are helpless.

    • Actually, practically all NASA astronauts wanted NASA to focus on returning to the Moon. No astronaut was in favor of any asteroid mission.

      It was the Obama administration that took the Moon off the table.

      Marcel

      • Hiram

        “practically all NASA astronauts wanted NASA to focus on returning to the Moon”

        Ah, now we’re looking to astronauts to establish responsible space policy? It’s all about that advanced degree in zero-g, I guess. With all due respect to their courage and technical expertise, they have even less space policy smarts than Congress does.

        • I trust an astronaut perspective on the future of space a lot more than I trust an Obama Holdren (Dr. Evil:-) perspective on the future of space.

          The fact that Obama doesn’t understand the long term value of the Moon pretty much tells you that he has no business making any kind of space policy.

          Marcel

          • Hiram

            “I trust an astronaut perspective on the future of space a lot more than I trust an Obama Holdren (Dr. Evil:-) perspective on the future of space.”

            Well, recommendations about people setting policy about the future of space from someone who calls national leaders “Dr. Evil” with a smiley face don’t count for much. I suppose that means that national nutrition is being overseen in this administration by “Fat Bastard”? Charlie Boldin must be “Mini-Me”, no?

            The fact that Obama doesn’t understand the long term value of the Moon pretty much tells you that, in the greater national interest, he’s got a lot more to worry about. I’d like to believe that he sees the long term value of space in more general terms, and wants to ensure that, with very limited funds that Congress sees fit to allocate, and very limited vision that they seem willing to offer, we’re at least pointed in the right direction, doing tasks that are implementable.

            I trust astronauts to tell me what the Earth looks like from up high, what it’s like to be weightless, and perhaps offer some useful judgements about aerospace engineering, but their perspectives on the future of space frankly don’t mean a lot to me. Why? Because those perspectives won’t be offered in the context of greater national priorities which, thank goodness, they’ve never been charged with defending.

          • Coastal Ron

            Marcel F. Williams said:

            I trust an astronaut perspective on the future of space a lot more than I trust an Obama Holdren (Dr. Evil:-) perspective on the future of space.

            Apparently you think the U.S. should be a workers paradise? Where the workers make all the decisions?

            Yes, what do you call that kind of society… ;-)

            • Actually,I do favor a Democratic Republic over a Plutocracy. And there is no workers paradise in America because many people have been seduced by the idea that the wealthy know what’s best for the masses. They don’t!

              Nations ruled by the wealthy usually run it into the ground.

              Marcel

              • common sense

                Name one nation not ruled by the wealthy.

                Name one such nation with some sort of a space program.

                Name one such nation with some sort of a space program with human space flight.

                Name one such nation with some sort of a space program with human space flight that went beyond LEO.

                Anyway…

                You know there are dreams and then there is, right or wrong, reality.

                And by the way. Once upon a time there was a country you know the Soviet Union, supposedly not run by the wealthy (and I mean it “supposedly”), and it is my impression it was run into the ground.

                Anyway…

              • Reality Bits

                Comrade Williams! I agree, how dare those capitalist pigs be successful in the free market. A level playing field for the marketplace of ideas never works. Only a centrally-planned five year plan, as advocated by Comrade Windy will work! All hail the glorious worker’s state of NASA!

                Regan is rolling over in his grave about your economic stupidity.

                I also have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you, cheap!

      • Vladislaw

        Congress took the moon off the table when they voted to stop funding CONstellation. congress was never about the moon. It was about saving every space shuttle job in their districts. They could have appropriated 500 billion for the moon .. the republicans controled the house .. why do not all these pro lunar, pro monster rocket republicans ever vote budgets fot it?

        • Obama took the Moon off the table. Congress has been trying to force Obama to focus on the Moon in their legislation. But the Obama administration has resorted to ridiculing anyone who wants to return to the Moon as trying to build a astronomically expensive lunar colony.

          Romney’s attack on Newt over his lunar outpost agenda for NASA originated in the Obama administration.

          Marcel

          • Reality Bits

            Romney’s attack on Newt over his lunar outpost agenda for NASA originated in the Obama administration.

            Huh? So Obama gave Romney the talking points? Wha? Hello!

            From:
            http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/newt-gingrich-promises-moon-base-flights-mars-reality/story?id=15449425

            Gingrich — like Obama — calls on private enterprise to take over parts of NASA’s role. But no private company has yet put astronauts in Earth orbit. Gingrich is among many who have accused NASA of becoming bureaucratic and overly cautious.

            “I am sick of being told we have to be timid and I’m sick of being told we have to be limited to technologies that are 50 years old,” Gingrich said.

            From:
            http://www.space.com/14411-newt-gingrich-moon-base-cost.html

            Yet Gingrich also said that, if elected, he would slim down NASA’s bureaucracy, reduce the agency’s budget and devote 10 percent of its funds to prizes aimed at spurring commercial investment in space exploration.

            Sounds like Rand Simberg gave Gingrich the talking points! Rand for NASA Administrator! All NASA-related congressional hearings would be interesting to watch!

      • Vladislaw

        let’s see .. you ask some astronauts if they want to goto the moon and they said yes, gosh who woulda thought!

  • Lsilard Lizardo

    Bolden has sold off launch support facilities at the Cape

    Do you ever get tired of lying? At most he scrapped a bit of unused metal stuff.

  • John Malkin

    Congress speaks for the American people as seen in this excerpt from NASA Authorization Act of 2010:

    SEC. 302. SPACE LAUNCH SYSTEM AS FOLLOW-ON LAUNCH VEHICLE
    TO THE SPACE SHUTTLE.
    (a) UNITED STATES POLICY.—It is the policy of the United
    States that NASA develop a Space Launch System as a follow-
    on to the Space Shuttle that can access cis-lunar space and the
    regions of space beyond low-Earth orbit in order to enable the
    United States to participate in global efforts to access and develop
    this increasingly strategic region.

    • Ben Russell-Gough

      Words are cheap, especially those on legislation. It’s the appropriations that tell us what they really think and the appropriations show that they’re only going to give the bare minimum to sustain the project, no more.

      • John Malkin

        Neither NASA nor the President write the bills for appropriations. The President can’t change the text at all. He can only veto. The blame for policy and funding is with the Science Committees and space subcommittees both Democratic and Republican. Only congress can transcend presidential terms.

        It just makes me feel sad.

      • Hiram

        “It’s the appropriations that tell us what they really think …”

        … for precisely one fiscal year. Appropriations bills don’t tell us what they think in the long run. They don’t express any real forward planning. The worship of appropriation bills is at the core of the space exploration fallacy that you can congressionally plan a responsible program a year at a time.

    • Vladislaw

      “that NASA develop” that right there was the nail in the coffin. The congressional porkonauts are not interested in accessing space .. not at all. IF they were actually serious they would have had NASA aquire commercial launch capabilities through a COTS type milestone based fixed price. The fact that NASA was to develop this, with their track record of developing human spaceflight systems… it was a boondoggle from day one.

  • James

    Congress critters priority is getting re elected. The extent to which satisfying their # 1 priority also moves NASA’s priorities along is something each Congress critter views through the lens of their own agenda.

    Leadership is missing big time by all involved.

  • Malmesbury

    Leasing L39A to a company building an HLV is not selling anything off

    • A Falcon Heavy with its limited fairing size and payload capacity is no comparison to the huge payload capacity and fairing size SLS.

      Leasing the L39A is just another way the Obama administration is trying to prevent the SLS being used for lunar missions by future administrations by preventing any twin launch scenarios.

      Marcel

      • Reality Bits

        Leasing the L39A is just another way the Obama administration is trying to prevent the SLS being used for lunar missions by future administrations by preventing any twin launch scenarios.

        The SLS Program Office has only requested LC-39B. So are you saying you know more than they do about their own program? I’ve never seen any launch tempo proposed that would need a pad more than once every 18 months.

        So where is your source of this information? I’d like to see the requirement.

        • When asked by Congress why the SLS wasn’t being used to return astronauts to the Moon, Bolden informed them that the SLS couldn’t be launched more than once every six months for a two launch lunar scenario.

          The SLS has only requested only one launch pad because– the Obama administration does not want the SLS to be used to go to the Moon. In fact, he doesn’t want the SLS at all!

          Marcel

          • Reality Bits

            There is more than one bay in the VAB. The point of returning to the “clean pad” approach was the ability to roll the rocket out, fuel it up and send it off without being a “Pad Queen”.

  • Coastal Ron

    During a later exchange with Brooks, Bolden said that without the ISS, he would recommend that SLS and Orion be cancelled. “I will go to the President and recommend that we terminate SLS and Orion because without the International Space Station, I have no vehicle to do the medical tests, the technology development, and we’re fooling everybody if we think we can go to deep space if the International Space Station is not there,” he said.

    I’m glad he made this statement, because it’s true. The SLS does nothing to address the roadblocks we have to doing human space exploration beyond LEO. In a study released in 2012 by the Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group (“NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities” – released March 7, 2012), which includes NASA, what has been holding us back is more related to health issues that are being addressed on the ISS, and technologies that are not yet funded because of the SLS and MPCV.

    If we can’t keep our human explorers alive beyond Earth, then it makes no sense to have a unique transportation system that can only be used for transporting humans beyond Earth.

    Let’s also remember that even with a fully funded Constellation program we weren’t getting back to the Moon until the mid-2030′s, so the need for the SLS is still more than two decades in the future – we’re building it at least a decade early. Other than the over-weight and under-capable MPCV, the SLS has nothing yet to launch, whereas NASA has many technologies and techniques that MUST be perfected before we go beyond LEO, and the ISS is the best place to do that research.

    The priorities are clear – the ISS must be preserved if we want to do human space exploration, and unless we fully fund the Commercial Crew program we will not have assured access to our only foothold in space. If we cancelled the SLS today it would not affect our efforts in space. At all. Would actually improve things in my view, so let’s hope this hearing leads to a debate on the SLS.

    • The ISS is a titanic waste of tax payer dollars that’s keeping us trapped at LEO. It doesn’t address any of the practical solutions for beyond LEO travel for mitigating cosmic radiation and the deleterious effects of a microgravity environment.

      Private industry could launch much larger and cheaper microgravity habitats than the hyper expensive ISS.

      Time for NASA to move on!

      Marcel

      • Vladislaw

        You are so absolutely full of it Marcel. The ISS is not “keeping us trapped at LEO”. The NASA Administrator is not “keeping us trapped at LEO”. The President is not “keeping us trapped at LEO”. Congress as a whole is not “keeping us trapped at LEO”. A very select group of powerful congressional members in space states are “keeping us trapped at LEO”.

        If Congress was actually serious about not being trapped in LEO they would have ordered NASA to accept SpaceX’s bid for a heavy lift for 2.5 billion. That would have left about 40 – 50 billion to spend on actual space hardware.

        Your endless tirades about being trapped in LEO is just laughable.. we are EXACTLY were congressional porkonauts want us… funding endless spaceflight systems with unsustainable operational costs…. sheesh brighten up.

        • Then why did the President say we shouldn’t go back to the Moon? What is the logic behind that?

          How many Falcons have sent robots to the other celestial objects in the solar system? None! So there’s no logical reason why Congress should trust an amateur rocket company over Boeing and Lockheed-Martin? Space X needs to prove itself over several years before it can gain that kind of trust by Congress and the tax payers.

          You may think I’m giving you hell on this issue. But I’m just telling the truth, and you think its Hell:-)

          Marcel

          • Hiram

            “How many Falcons have sent robots to the other celestial objects in the solar system? None! So there’s no logical reason why Congress should trust an amateur rocket company over Boeing and Lockheed-Martin?”

            How many EELVs have delivered cargo to the ISS? Rendezvous, docking, etc. None! So there is no logical reason why Congress should trust a legacy rocket company for space resupply and construction, which will be hugely important for any kind of human space accomplishment. I’m just telling the truth.

          • bright lights

            “Amateur rocket company”? Just saying that about a company that has orbited payloads into GTO and to the ISS says a lot.

            Should we trust Boeing? I mean their Delta IV hasn’t launched any payloads to celestial objects in the solar system. You can’t count Atlas as that’s a Lockmart system and ULA doesn’t count.

            Oh and talking about Lockmart… They were suppose to get a domestic supplier for the engine a long time ago I thought. Why has no one ever slapped their hands for that little fact.

          • Vladislaw

            Just what part is not registering Marcel? Congress has priced NASA out of human spaceflight. It is about keeping the 200 million a month shuttle workforce employed in their districts.. hardware is not the issue.

            Just how many rockets to nowhere does congress have to fund before wake up from your dream world.

          • Fred Willett

            Then why did the President say we shouldn’t go back to the Moon? What is the logic behind that?
            Sally Ride working with the Aerospace Corp did dozens of trades for the Augustine committee looking at different HLV configurations. It’s worth going back and looking at her presentation to the Augustine Committee. It’s on YouTube here
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RwqYIw_C-4
            The conclusion of her team is that ANY HLV in the given budget eats up all possibilities for developing Landers, CEV’s, Lunar Habs, rovers or anything else you’re going to need for exploration. Even with a budget extended by $3 Billion a year there wasn’t enough money to support a HLV AND exploration.
            At the end of the presentation Jeff Greason came out with a great quote which I’ve forgotten but can paraphrase roughly as
            “If we got a HLV for Christmas we would have to cancel it the next day because we just can’t afford it.” Which will be the exact fate of SLS if it ever actually gets built.
            If you want the exact quote watch the video.
            This is why in the final report of the Augustine Committee the only really practical recommendation was the Flexible Path.
            The President chose it.
            Put off building HLV while concentrating on risk reduction and cost lowering programs. Avoid landing on planets and get ready for real exploration by developing lots of the necessary hardware like SEP, Fuel Depots, radiation mitigation and a host of other stuff.
            Congress preferred pork.
            Congress controls the purse strings.
            Congress created SLS.

          • Mader Levap

            “amateur rocket company”
            You are about ten years too late to call them that. You just make a fool of yourself.

      • Reality Bits

        Private industry could launch much larger and cheaper microgravity habitats than the hyper expensive ISS.

        I believe it was the NASA HEOMD that stated that ISS is the last NASA-managed LEO station Any future capacity would be purchased from commercial stations.

        But to get viable and affordable LEO transport you need to encourage and create the initial market. Plus the entire Cargo/Crew development budget was the cost of how many years of ISS support? It’s called ROI; if I spend 1B on building Crew/Cargo transport BUT I save 3B on 2024-2030 LEO costs by leasing space that is a rather good ROI. Its called LONG TERM THINKING.

      • amightywind

        Here, here!!

        • The correct expression is “Hear, hear!” Homophones with entirely different meaning. But understanding the meaning of things was never your strong point.

        • Vladislaw

          actually it is hear, hear him … it means a listener’s agreement with a point being made by another speaker. Originally it was used to call attention to someone who was going to or was speaking.

          • Reality Bits

            Yes, Windy is agreeing that the investment in Commercial Crew/Cargo is good since it will lead to Commercial Space Stations that NASA can lease space (no pun intended) on after EOL of ISS. The cost savings from 2024-2030 from not keeping ISS during that timeframe will provide a very positive ROI.

        • Reality Bits

          So you agree that the investment in the Commercial Crew/Cargo capability is a great investment. Excellent, because it was/is a great investment with a good ROI.

          I can’t say the same for SLS ……

      • Coastal Ron

        Marcel F. Williams said:

        Private industry could launch much larger and cheaper microgravity habitats than the hyper expensive ISS.

        Sure private industry could, but why would they? What is the profit motive for them?

        Our government invests in space for similar reasons that we invest in science – not because it provides immediate payoffs, but long term ones. Private industry doesn’t work that way though, and you tend to ignore that with your “suggestions”.

        Let’s also keep in mind that part of the reason why the ISS was “hyper expensive” was that we used the “hyper expensive” Shuttle to assemble it. We probably could have shaved $30B off the construction cost by using existing commercial launchers like the Delta IV Heavy.

        As to the $3B/year sustaining cost for the ISS, shifting over to a private laboratory in LEO wouldn’t change that much, since the costs are really more relative to the ISS being in space than anything else. And if you had a laboratory further away, such as an EML station, the sustaining costs go way up since that would be 1,000X further away and in a much harsher environment. Which is part of the reason why the existing ISS is such a valuable platform.

        You really need to understand the issues better…

        • So now you’re saying that there’s no profit in deploying private space stations????

          And an EML space station is for testing systems needed for interplanetary travel which was supposed to be NASA’s primary focus.

          I think you seriously need to understand the issues and where NASA’s priorities should be!

          Marcel

          • common sense

            “And an EML space station is for testing systems needed for interplanetary travel which was supposed to be NASA’s primary focus.”

            I think you need to understand the issues better yourself.

            Interplanetary travel is NASA’s primary focus??? Since when?

            What does an EML station provide for interplanetary travel that ISS does not? Except it is farther away and more difficult to access to actually run any sort of you know experiments necessary for interplanetary travel? What?

            • Andrew Swallow

              The advantages of an EML station over the ISS are a high level of radiation because it would not protected by the Earth’s magnetosphere and ionosphere. The ISS is a microgravity research station whose experiments are messed up by spacecraft docking and unberthing. A gateway would not have this worry.

              The EML-1/2 spacestation could also be used as a hanger for lunar landers and Mars Transfer Vehicles. It could also be used as a shipyard to build, repair and refuel such spacecraft.

              • common sense

                And we absolutely need to invest in an EML station to understand radiation exposure for BEO travel? We cannot do that with simple spacecraft and flying experiment we can retrieve? We have to send a whole crew in harm’s way for months at a time. Without access to any form of medical assistance? Or we also set up a space emergency room? Does cost ever, ever enter your mind? Ever?

                Now the most ridiculous. Hangar (not hanger) for lunar landers? Mars Transfer Vehicles? Shipyard?

                And do you draw all your nice concepts on a napkin at lunch? And you crowd source the funding for your delusion?

                I mean. Seriously. SERIOUSLY.

              • Hiram

                “The advantages of an EML station over the ISS are a high level of radiation because it would not protected by the Earth’s magnetosphere and ionosphere.”

                A high level of radiation at an EM L station is NOT any kind of “advantage”. As noted above, if you want to validate radiation absorptivity, you needn’t do it in space at all. It can be done in the lab. Once validated, and you want to understand how well you can build space structures with that shielding, that exercise can be carried out at ISS. Proving out space shielding beyond LEO, because you say that’s the only place you can find high energy radiation is nonsense.

                I mean, geez, it’s like the ISS is “advantageous” because there is no air there? So if we want to validate that astronauts can breathe in a vacuum, we have to send them to ISS to do prove it? Geez.

                I agree that an EM L habitat would be useful for many purposes, but doing it to prove out radiation shielding makes no sense.

              • Andrew Swallow

                I forgot the old rule anyone who calls himself ‘Common Sense’ is guaranteed to have none. A sensible person would use a sensible name.

              • common sense

                How profound.

                And original too.

                Oh well.

                And it’s “common sense”, lower case if you don’t mind.

              • Andrew Swallow

                A laboratory can test the protection from radiation given by the walls of a spacestation to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5. The whole spacestation can in theory be tested in a laboratory to TRL 6. If you want higher than that the equipment has to go into space.

                Anything carrying people to Mars and back will be at TRL 8 or 9 and able to work in space for several years before NASA will risk sending it.

              • Hiram

                “If you want higher than that the equipment has to go into space.”

                Cripes. Have you ever done a technology qualification exercise? You can check out wall material for radiation absorption on the ground in the lab. You can establish construction potential and space qualify the material at ISS and, if you really want, send a shielded box BEO and put a charged particle detector inside. Presto, whammo, TRL8 at least.

                I swear, what you guys want is to use an astronaut as a charged particle detector. You think that’s how you establish high TRL? Ha!

                Speaking of names, Andrew Swallow (“Spitter”) better get back on the Aussie rules football field and kick some balls.

              • common sense

                I’ll try to explain and hope it makes it through. You want to do number 2365236 on the list of things to do and you want to do it now. Developing and establishing a working and safe enough EML station of some sort, using the current NASA model, will be marginally cheaper than going to Mars or Pluto for that matter.

                What is needed and somehow in progress is the establishment of a structure that will allow all those things.

                And it starts by lowering cost of access to space. The focus should be on that and on the development of necessary technologies to enable affordable BEO travel.

                It can be done in a form of government-private partnerships. Note I said government, not NASA.

                First and foremost it requires a vision and I dare say VSE was good enough, not perfect, good enough. So now we have a framework to achieving space travel but going for Constellation or SLS/MPCV or lunar return or EML station or any of that as an immediate goal is not going to work beyond a one off.

                You’ll have to learn with that because NASA’s budget is not going anywhere but down at least for the foreseeable future.

                So again. Think how to reduce cost of access to space (we are not done). Think how to reduce cost of space travel but this will come first with requirements. Maybe an EML station is a nice to have eventually but you have to show how and why, not throw “hangar” ideas or anything else. It must be part of a space infrastructure which we don’t have. Not even plans for it since unfortunately most of us don’t really know what to do in space. Nothing that result in a economically viable plan.

      • Hiram

        “The ISS is a titanic waste of tax payer dollars that’s keeping us trapped at LEO. It doesn’t address any of the practical solutions for beyond LEO travel for mitigating cosmic radiation and the deleterious effects of a microgravity environment.”

        That’s a joke that just won’t stop getting laughs. It’s a flag that you keep running up your broken flagpole. As to mitigating the deleterious effects of microgravity, ISS is a terrific resource for understanding what we’re trying to mitigate. I’ve got news for you. Even if we put a habitat outside of LEO in cis-lunar space, it’s not going to have artificial gravity. Why? Because we don’t have a clue how much we need. We don’t know how to build artificial gravity structures. Where are we going to learn about all that? Oh yeah …

        As to mitigating cosmic radiation, it sure doesn’t take a space habitat outside of LEO to learn how to do it. The radiation absorptivity of potential construction materials is easily tested right here on Earth, and it makes no sense to experiment with shielding architectures that are far away and pretty much inaccessible. Those materials, once proven for shielding potential, can easily be proven for space construction on ISS. So let’s see. You want to test out habitat shielding by seeing how many people BEO get cancer? Why, OSHA should do that for their MSDS’s. Feed people increasing amounts of poisons, and see what we can get away with.

  • Malmesbury

    “A Falcon Heavy with its limited fairing size and payload capacity is no comparison to the huge payload capacity and fairing size SLS.”

    Get an L2 subscription at nasaspaceflight.com – mind you what is happening is now openly available.

    Checkout what is going on the test stands at Stennis soon. Components for a full flow 1Mlb LOX/CH4 engine…

    Nine of those on the first stage – *of the single core version*…. The triple will be fun indeed…

    Does that count as an HLV?

  • Reality Bits

    So Windy, would agree with the following statement about SpaceX?

    … why doesn’t SpaceX focus on getting wider public support or convincing lawmakers their cause is just? Instead, they seem to show up expecting the world to be wowed by their shiny new rockets and losing it when people don’t get out of the way.

  • Malmesbury

    SpaceX seem to be into developing new rockets and actually flying them.

    They are spending (like SNC and OSC) very little money on lobbying. Unlike LockMart or Boeing or ATK…

    I can’t wait for the anger/panic about Raptor to start. I wonder what the complaint will be…..

    • Neil Shipley

      It’s already started if the reaction by ESA is anything to go by. ULA can’t compete so they’re using their old tactics of buying support.

  • John Strickland

    Hurray for Charles Bolden, telling it like it is. Just because Bolden was appointed by Obama does not mean that he is automatically wrong. Virtually no President has had a set of policies that everyone can agree with. Those who continue to claim that Obama killed the Shuttle program are being dishonest. The Shuttle was a crew killer and cost 1.5 Billion dollars a launch including development. The SLS will cost even more. Several widely respected Republicans have supported the space policy attributed to Obama, even though they disagree with him on almost every other issue.

    Even though the Space Station is not being used very well as a test bed for Beyond LEO operations, this is no reason to kill it off in favor of a sterile program like the SLS. The latest theft by the SLS program was a very critical one, testing tanks that could be used as part of a propellant depot, which would enable BLEO spacecraft to be twice as heavy, by letting them refuel at the space station or a separate depot base in LEO. The lack of even a small propellant depot prevents the use of a small space tug which could retrieve payloads and modules intended for use at the station. If we were to lose the station, either to the dispute with Russia, or due to budget cuts, it would slow down BLEO exploration by 15 years or more.

    With the Falcon Heavy, we could easily launch a really large centrifuge facility to the station. The original one was deleted by the same type of budget cutters that favor the SLS pork. Without the large centrifuge, we will not know if mammals can reproduce and compete a life cycle in low gravity environments. The Station is subjected to almost as much “cosmic ray” (energetic nuclei) as they would be in interplanetary space. I am also seeing traces of the Moon-Mars debate in some of the posts. If we do not get an efficient transport system, we will not reach either the Moon or Mars.

  • Robert G Oler

    The most absurd statement (and that says a lot) in this thread is the notion that space policy should conform to what the astronauts want. This is goofy on so many levels but I’ll just mention two

    First off with some very rare exceptions the astronaut corps in the US at least is composed of people who have at best a Sarah Palin like ability to explain technical things to non technically minded people much less explain “policy” in a coherent manner to anyone. It is not bad, its “horrible”

    For instance read this http://www.universetoday.com/61256/astronaut-explains-why-we-should-return-to-the-moon/

    It boils down to “great nations do great things and this would be a great thing to do” without really every explaining specifically how things in our national path would be changed by doing this great thing

    Second the astronaut corps and the space industrial complex think of themselves as “special” in terms of what they do…hence you hear phrases like “space is hard” and “amateur rocket companies” when describing their efforts and the people who are trying to do things outside of the “complex”…so of course they think that the US must spend money on them. The twit from I think ATK who was explaining how low rate production on SLS would cost 3-4 billion a year for one shot a year saying (would have to go hunting for the exact words but this is close) “and I think that this nation can afford this”

    Of course he does because without it, he and the rest of the industrial complex might actually have to compete in the real world for dollars…to these people space is an entitlement. it is their check

    Space groupies latch on to this because in large measure they cannot explain what American would do in space with humans anymore then Obama can explain what we are doing in Afland…(so offended both sides) but it is something that they are interested in so wow it just has to sound good.

    We go to the South Pole and do the other things there, not because they are hard but because they are easy and cheap. If going to the South Pole (or the entire continent it is on) cost what spaceflight for humans did, we might have a single digit number of people there.

    We have that in space because space is “expensive” and what we do there simply doesnt pay the cost. And no one in the astronaut corps has a clue how to change that. Really they dont. RGO

  • Marek

    I generally agree with you Robert; astronauts and lots of the flight ops people too. Yet over the last 20 years they were always the first ones promoted into leadership in NASA and we still see many of these sorts at the top-including Administrators and AAs. These guys (and gals) are usually good at following directions and procedures. But the leadership jobs require knowledge of strategy and how to develop and then implement it. The NASA human space flight program sorely lacks in strategic capability. Which explains in large measure why the HSF program is in the situation it is in. Now we know why.

    • Hiram

      I also heartily agree that the perspective of astronauts is wonderful, but that wonderful perspective doesn’t include responsible space policy. Yes, it is somewhat of a travesty that NASA leadership is largely constituted with former astronauts, and it’s an interesting possibility that this selectivity largely accounts for NASA’s problems in helping the administration develop sound space policy. These folks are excellent at following directions, are necessarily must have a lot of courage, but creativity that goes beyond HSF operations is something that they really aren’t conditioned to offer. Safety is job 1 for them, but being attuned to national needs and priorities is something that they show little patience with.

      • guest

        One has to wonder, if the top ranks are filled with shills who can’t and haven’t done the job, then where are the creative, strategic thinking people who ought to be the brain trust that wew ought to be relying on to take NASA and the Human Space Flight program forward?

        • vulture4

          “where are the creative, strategic thinking people who ought to be the brain trust that wew ought to be relying on to take NASA and the Human Space Flight program forward?”

          Well, I thought former National Space Society executive director Lori Garver was a good choice. Unfortunately she was pummelled by the Old Boy network. If Hillary wins, she may be back.

        • Fred Willett

          then where are the creative, strategic thinking people
          SpaceX.

          • Reality Bits

            There are are creative thinkers in ULA, Boeing, LM and NG, but the ideas don’t make it far because of lack of management backing.

            I will give Boeing credit, they are building the CST-100 and putting some of their own money in the game, but a lesser percentage than SNC and SpaceX.

            OSC is being creative along with a lot of smaller companies.

            • Hiram

              I think the creative industry thinkers are being creative about engineering strategies, but not necessarily creative about how to market space to the nation. Those creative thinkers are coming up with impressive ideas about how to send us into the cosmos, but not so much why, and how sending us into the cosmos fulfills national needs and priorities.

              What is needed here is an articulate leader (read “politician”?) Articulate, in that he/she speaks to the taxpayer, and a leader in that it’s a person that the nation really wants to follow. Ideally a leader that is not a recognized space nerd (sorry, Newt), but someone who puts reaching into space in the context of a bigger national agenda. Of course, JFK was precisely that. He was hardly a “space enthusiast”, but saw at least human space flight as a tool for bigger national priorities, and bore responsibility for those bigger national priorities.

              That’s where the premise that NASA is supposed to come up with a national rationale for human space flight for the Administration is just plain silly. We need an NASA administration that is committed to playing that game, and not one that accepts responsibility for developing a greater national rationale.

        • Hiram

          “One has to wonder, if the top ranks are filled with shills who can’t and haven’t done the job …”

          But no, the top ranks of NASA are filled with shills who HAVE done the job they were hired to do. Setting national space policy, exercising political leadership, and coming up with rationale that meets national priorities and excites the nation, is NOT what NASA managers and administrators were hired to do. Their advice on this was welcome, but it wasn’t their job.

          Their job was to implement the engineering, technology, and skill development that was required to satisfy congressional investment.

          • common sense

            Totally agree. Mostly. ;)

          • Hiram

            Let me add to this, before it goes too far over the horizon, an example of how NASA is called upon to do things it isn’t constituted to do. Recently, House Science Chair Lamar Smith sent a letter to Charlie Bolden asking his agency to “develop a clear, well-planned technical implementation plan for the future of human spaceflight over the next few months.” But that’s not what Lamar Smith really wants. What he really wants, as much as clarity and good planning, is a program that is exciting, that meets national needs and national priorities. It has to pass the smell test for “exploration”, and it has to provide “value”. That’s not what he said. But that’s what he’s looking for, and that’s what he really wants NASA to give him.

            OK, Mr. Smith. Charlie has come up with a mission plan that can be clear and well planned for flying humans in space. Hey, we can fly humans like crazy! There it is. It’s called ARM. What? That’s not good enough? Why?? Oh, it has to meet national needs and national priorities? What are those, do you think? It has to pass the smell test for “exploration”? Gee, it’s about touching a rock. Isn’t that good enough? How is “value” assessed?

            If Congress expects NASA to satisfy requests like this, it’s going to take a lot more than engineers, technologists, scientists, and space systems managers to do it. When is Congress (and the White House, for that matter) going to understand that?

            • common sense

              “When is Congress (and the White House, for that matter) going to understand that?”

              I think they perfectly know what they are doing.

              On the other hand I cannot blame Congress or anyone for that matter to demand a plan that “has to meet national needs and national priorities”. And these are not all that mysterious, especially if you work at/for the WH or Congress. Come on. Right?

              http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2012/m-12-08.pdf

              • Hiram

                “I cannot blame Congress or anyone for that matter to demand a plan that ‘has to meet national needs and national priorities’.

                That’s fine. So let’s blame Congress for not even trying to provide those national needs and priorities themselves. Congress SETS national needs and priorities. NASA does not.

                That White House memorandum you point to just supports my point. Agencies are asked to “Clearly identify the standards-based challenges it is encountering in addressing a national priority”. So when Congress asks NASA to come up with a plan, what precisely is the “national priority” that they want NASA to serve? Flying humans in space? Give me a break. Hey, but ARM does that, in spades. Bolden should hand Congress a plan to send astronauts out in a straight line past the Moon, where they can tip their hat, and return. There ya go. Flying humans in space. Check that box. Yep, you can even say it’s proving what you need to prove to go to Mars.

                Oh, the astronauts are supposed to do something useful while flying in space? Fondling an asteroid sounds pretty useful, unless you can explain to me why it isn’t.

                Also yes, Congress and the WH know perfectly well what they’re doing. They’re asking an agency to comply with national needs and priorities which they haven’t really established themselves. They know very well that, as a result, whatever they fund will turn into a jobs program, because THAT is a national need and priority everyone understands. No mystery there.

                No, the relationship between NASA and at least Congress is highly dysfunctional. Congressional expectations from NASA left the Space Act behind long ago.

              • common sense

                “Congress SETS national needs and priorities. NASA does not.”

                Congress and the WH. But I agree NASA does not. NASA MUST follow those priorities though.

                “So when Congress asks NASA to come up with a plan, what precisely is the “national priority” that they want NASA to serve?”

                Is this not the NASA Admin’s job to figure out and then delegate to his subordinates?

                “Flying humans in space?”

                Nope. Did I ever say that?

                “Give me a break. Hey, but ARM does that, in spades. Bolden should hand Congress a plan to send astronauts out in a straight line past the Moon, where they can tip their hat, and return. There ya go. Flying humans in space. Check that box. Yep, you can even say it’s proving what you need to prove to go to Mars.”

                Again I never said that. At all. Not that it matters all that much.

                “Oh, the astronauts are supposed to do something useful while flying in space? Fondling an asteroid sounds pretty useful, unless you can explain to me why it isn’t.”

                Hmm. Fondling an asteroid? Tss tss tss.

                “Also yes, Congress and the WH know perfectly well what they’re doing. They’re asking an agency to comply with national needs and priorities which they haven’t really established themselves. They know very well that, as a result, whatever they fund will turn into a jobs program, because THAT is a national need and priority everyone understands. No mystery there.”

                Ah so now you agree with me? I never said the priorities included flying to an asteroid or to Alpha Centauri. But yes. Employment is a priority. ARM, SLS/MPCV is precisely addressing that one priority. So now what?

                “No, the relationship between NASA and at least Congress is highly dysfunctional. Congressional expectations from NASA left the Space Act behind long ago.”

                Agreed.

                But don’t tell me Charles Bolden does not know the National Priorities. Hm? Please.

              • Hiram

                “Is this not the NASA Admin’s job to figure out and then delegate to his subordinates?”

                Figure out and then delegate consensus national needs and priorities? Uh, no. The NASA Admin isn’t even an elected official, and his astronaut and engineering training suit those tasks poorly. I don’t want Charlie to figure out what’s important to me, and he doesn’t want to have that responsibility.

                “Did I ever say that?”

                Lamar Smith said “human spaceflight”, e.g. humans flying in space. That’s who I was talking about. C’mon. This isn’t that hard. I never accused you of saying *anything*, so complaining that I said you did is nonsense.

                “Employment is a priority. ARM, SLS/MPCV is precisely addressing that one priority. So now what?”

                So now let’s just cut the crap about space exploration and send NASA dollars straight to make-work projects. Let’s build a billion dollar statue of a launch vehicle, and maybe an asteroid amusement park.

                “But don’t tell me Charles Bolden does not know the National Priorities.”

                Charlie Bolden does not know national priorities. There. I said it. There are think tanks and political machines that argue about national priorities. Charlie knows the basic ones, like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but if he has a deep concept of what the American public really wants, he should run for office. He’s not going to do that. Charlie thinks that fondling an asteroid is a national priority. Need I say more?

    • Robert G Oler

      Thankyou. Look it doesnt surprise me that there are few “policy” thinkers anywhere in the industry particularly at NASA…I just find it surprising that anyone thinks that there is.

      NASA doesnt even have “innovators” anymore much less policy and while there might be some innovators at ULA as someone pointed out they are crushed by the space industrial complex.

      What I am talking about is policy. We need someone who can think past the Cold War mentality and move into the new era we are in. Sadly well Garver might be one…lets see.

      She has impressed me some as of late but I am quite sure HRC is not an innovator. RGO

  • Andrew Swallow

    A spacecraft able to take people to Mars and a small EML-1/2 spacestation can have a lot of systems in common. They both need radiation protection, long term ECLSS, toilet, shower, galley, living quarters, storage space, repair tools, work area, power, cooling and docking ports. The spacestation may not need deep space navigation avionics and long range radios but we can choose to fit them. Consequently the same design of living module can be used.

    The spacestation’s station keeping module is likely to be smaller than the Mars spacecraft’s propulsion and RCS module. A well defined common interface will simplify the replacement. The size of solar arrays will have to be handled with care.

  • guest

    “where are the creative, strategic thinking people who ought to be the brain trust that wew ought to be relying on to take NASA and the Human Space Flight program forward?”

    Within NASA HSF, the creative and innovative were largely forced out 15-20 years ago. A few had been around long enough to retire but most quit to find work elsewhere. Any that remain are down in the bowels of the organization, probably never made SES, and have no authority or visibility.

    Innovation, creativity; these have not been desirable characteristics. If you were bold enough to stick your neck out, most likely your head was lopped off and you have no role any longer.

  • Grandpa Dave

    Why are there no plans to go back to the moon? Years ago 12 Americans walked on the moon. Why not go back with a mission to colonize the moon? IMHO, the late Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan had the ideas that made since. But when Buzz Aldrin (aka Buzz Light-year) makes a state that “he’s been there and done that” is being self-centered and arrogant. Buzz has the President’s ear so will it require a new administration or is running out and capturing a rock the future? I was happy with the Constellation program but that had the wrong finger prints on it I guess…
    G-pa Dave, Spreading sour grapes

    • common sense

      G-pa Dave, Spreading *ignorant* sour grapes

      • Grandpa Dave

        Then by your pleasant reply, your opinions are indeed facts and the only one that count… Right?

        Well, it takes all kinds to make a village!

        • common sense

          So if your comment is not ignorant why do you ask a question? But worse, you ask a question and then suggest it is because of the current administration there is no plan to go back to the Moon.

          Then you quote Buzz Aldrin and you call him “self-centered and arrogant”.

          So the one throwing insults here is you. YOU.

          Never mind me but how do you compare to Buzz Aldrin to call him names like this.

          Who do *you* think *you* are?

          Ignorant and insulting. Yes.

          • Grandpa Dave

            The late Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan had ideas that made more sense for future manned space exploration over what Aldrin was saying. Only 12 humans have been to the moon (check your history). When Aldrin made a statement, to the effect, which “he had been there and done that” it implied to some of us “ignorant-folks” that he had taken care of the moon visits. Well there were 11 other humans that had the distinction to travel there. Was he speaking for the current group of astronauts? How about future astronauts and those yet born? What he said off-the-cuff has left a lasting negative memory with this “ignorant-soul”. I do not agree with this remark and I interpreted his remark as self-centered and arrogant.

            Everyone has a right to their own opinions. I don’t think I’ve blasted your replies, but if I did then forgive this poor “ignorant-soul”. I still believe, after working on the Constellation program for a number of years, that it was the correct course for the future of manned space exploration. At least we would be delivering American astronauts to the ISS today and not paying the Russians.

            • Dark Blue Nine

              “I still believe, after working on the Constellation program for a number of years, that it was the correct course for the future of manned space exploration. At least we would be delivering American astronauts to the ISS today and not paying the Russians.”

              Wrong. At the time of its termination, Ares I/Orion had slipped to 2017, three years from now. Augustine put it as late as 2019, five years from now, and that was only with a budget infusion of an additional $3 billion per year.

            • Hiram

              “When Aldrin made a statement, to the effect, which “he had been there and done that” it implied to some of us “ignorant-folks” that he had taken care of the moon visits.”

              You can really look at it in two ways. This is one way. Another way is that Aldrin wanted to challenge us to do things we had never done before. I don’t think any realistic expectation for astronauts is that they all should be able to do what Aldrin did. The purpose of our space program isn’t to make future astronauts do what he did. So while Aldrin’s comment might have come across as self-centered and arrogant to some, I think it comes across to others as a push for us to move ahead. Don’t you think it might be somewhat self-centered and arrogant for Armstrong and Cernan to be perceived as demanding that everyone ought to do what THEY did? Because what THEY did was so important?

              Constellation did indeed have noble and exciting goals, but fiscally it was unimplementable. That being the case, it can hardly be seen as the “correct course” for American human space exploration. Carrying a flag on a program that is not destined to have the fiscal support it needs is somewhat farcical. It’s a nice dream, but it’s a farce. National pride and geopolitical exceptionalism is not advanced by following a farce.

            • common sense

              “The late Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan had ideas that made more sense for future manned space exploration over what Aldrin was saying.”

              Based on whose expertise? Yours? Someone who supports a program that is bankrupting NASA. Really? And when you make such statements I would like you provide a link as to what their ideas actually were.

              “Only 12 humans have been to the moon (check your history). When Aldrin made a statement, to the effect, which “he had been there and done that” it implied to some of us “ignorant-folks” that he had taken care of the moon visits.”

              How obtuse can you be? He meant the US have gone there and there is no reason to do it again especially as a one off which is what Constellation was. But then it requires thinking to understand his statements.

              “Well there were 11 other humans that had the distinction to travel there. Was he speaking for the current group of astronauts? How about future astronauts and those yet born? What he said off-the-cuff has left a lasting negative memory with this “ignorant-soul”. I do not agree with this remark and I interpreted his remark as self-centered and arrogant.”

              You are entitled to your opinion not to the facts. Aldrin was right and as a taxpayer I am not here to pay joyrides for astronauts. Virgin Galactic is getting ready to do that for a lot more people than NASA ever did. You want to go to space? Get some cash and do it.

              “Everyone has a right to their own opinions. I don’t think I’ve blasted your replies, but if I did then forgive this poor “ignorant-soul”. I still believe, after working on the Constellation program for a number of years, that it was the correct course for the future of manned space exploration. At least we would be delivering American astronauts to the ISS today and not paying the Russians.”

              I did not “blast” you before. I said your “sourgrapes” were “ignorant” and they are.

              So what you worked on Constellation? I worked on the CEV way before Constellation. I also see vehicles I worked on go up and down and no thy are not Constellation vehicles. Why? Because Constellation or SLS/MPCV does not work. It creates ignorant sourgrapes for people to spread around and I spare you that you are just spreading lies because you everyone from Congress to expert panels has said Constellation is not workable. But so what? They were in bed with the WH right? Especially Congress. No you would not have US astronauts going to ISS on a Constellation vehicle.

              Since you are so fond of history you should know that initially the requirements for CEV were that it would not – NOT – go to ISS. As budgetary realities started to sink in then NASA decided CEV would have an extra option to visit ISS. Oh yes and we would have a cargo version. Oh and we will use the thing to go to Mars. I don’t know what part you played on Constellation but the ever changing requirements are largely responsible for the failure. Now surprisingly, or not, Dragon fits all the original CEV requirements.

              And so on and so forth.

              You want a civil debate? Then don’t throw insults at those who know more and better than you. Yes you worked on Constellation so maybe you should see yourself as part of the problem. Not the solution.

              Blasted enough?

  • Aberwys

    “One has to wonder, if the top ranks are filled with shills who can’t and haven’t done the job, then where are the creative, strategic thinking people who ought to be the brain trust that wew ought to be relying on to take NASA and the Human Space Flight program forward?”

    We are waiting fir the old boys to retire. It’s impossible to get anything through the shills until then. It’s a slow process, so we patiently wait and do good work in the interim, though at a bit of a professional standing price.

  • Malmesbury

    “We are waiting fir the old boys to retire. It’s impossible to get anything through the shills until then. It’s a slow process, so we patiently wait and do good work in the interim, though at a bit of a professional standing price.”

    Given an engineer has his career threaten recently for suggesting a fix for Orion that would embarass the “good ole boy” crowd, one can only hope.

  • Malmesbury

    “What was the fix?”

    Use PICA-X

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