Congress, NASA, White House

White House and Congress mark the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11

On Tuesday, the White House hosted a private event with the two surviving members of the Apollo 11 crew, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, along with Neil Armstrong’s widow, Carol, and NASA administrator Charles Bolden. The White House has traditionally hosted the Apollo 11 crew on five-year anniversaries like this; previously, President Obama met with the crew on the 40th anniversary in 2009.

Few details about the meeting itself were disclosed. In a blog post, the White House discussed the Apollo 11 mission as well as NASA’s future plans, ranging from commercial crew to the Space Launch System and long-term plans to send humans to Mars. In a separate statement, President Obama said he used the meeting with the Apollo 11 crew “to thank them for serving as advocates, role models, and educators who’ve inspired generations of Americans – myself included – to dream bigger and reach higher.”

The meeting was not without some controversy, though. At a press briefing later Tuesday, reporters complained that the president’s meeting with the Apollo 11 crew was private, with no media allowed to observe. CBS’s Major Garrett told press secretary Josh Earnest that he planned “to lodge a formal complaint about the Apollo 11 event” on behalf of the White House Correspondents Association because of that lack of access.

Other reporters at the press conference used the anniversary to quiz Earnest about US-Russian relations in space, including comments by former NASA administrator Mike Griffin that the US is in a “hostage situation” with the Russians since they control crew access to the International Space Station. Earnest said little about that, other than the Us continues to cooperate with Russia in space and other arenas despite the Ukraine crisis.

At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Science Committee, penned an op-ed about space exploration for The Hill earlier this week. “There are also those who ridicule space exploration. Waste of time. Little green men. Not a priority,” he writes. “We should not let them discourage us.”

Smith did get some criticism of the administration’s space policy into the piece, rueing the cancellation of the Constellation program and complaining about “costly distractions” to the space program, including what he perceived to be an overemphasis on Earth science at NASA. “The Obama administration continues to advocate increasing climate change funding at NASA at the expense of other priorities such as space exploration. There are 18 federal agencies that fund climate change research, but only one does space exploration.”

Smith’s Democratic counterpart, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), also issued a statement about the 45th anniversary with Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), ranking member of the space subcommittee. “NASA is critical to our nation and its economic strength, and there is no more fitting way to honor Apollo 11 than to resume our commitment to human exploration of deep space that we proved possible 45 years ago,” Edwards said in the statement. “Our bipartisan NASA Authorization Act of 2014 gets us started, and I look forward to continuing the mission.”

“Such an endeavor [of human space exploration] will inspire our young people, spur technological innovation, and strengthen our geopolitical standing,” said Johnson. “I urge my colleagues in Congress and in the Administration to make that program a reality.”

30 comments to White House and Congress mark the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11

  • Dark Blue Nine

    And while the White House hosts Aldrin and Collins, SLS continues to crater. From the latest GAO report at http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664969.pdf:

    “Program’s Ability to Meet Schedule for 2017 Test Flight at Risk”

    “according to the program’s risk analysis, the agency’s current funding plan for SLS may be $400 million short of what the program needs to launch by 2017″

    “NASA Has Not Matched Resources and Requirements for 2017 Initial Flight Test”

    “NASA delayed the SLS key decision point C decision from October 2013 to at least July 2014, as the agency considered future plans for the program. If the agency determines the current funding plan for SLS is insufficient to match requirements to resources for the December 2017 flight test at the 70 percent confidence level, the agency’s options for matching resources to requirements are largely limited to increasing program funding, delaying the schedule or accepting a reduced confidence level for the initial flight test.”

    “SLS Program Is Meeting Some Design Goals for 2017 Test Flight but Challenges Could Threaten Launch Date”

    “… the program has less mass margin for some EM-2 test flight mission options in 2021. If mass becomes an issue leading into EM-2, the vehicle may require design changes that could lead to cost and schedule growth.”

    “… the core stage development schedule is aggressive and already threatened, and any delays could impair SLS readiness for first flight in 2017″

    “The SLS program is tracking threats to the core stage schedule that could take up as much as 70 percent of the 7 months of reserve. Many of these threats are associated with the schedule for acquiring liquid oxygen feeder lines that provide liquid oxygen from the fuel tanks within the core stage to the core stage engine. Agency officials indicated the program is encountering difficulties acquiring feeder lines from available suppliers”

    “The use of heritage hardware — legacy engine, booster, and propulsion systems — was prescribed in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, but the hardware was not originally designed for SLS… according to agency officials the engines from the Space Shuttle require additional heat shielding because of the increased temperatures they will experience in the SLS environment, and the avionics within the solid rocket boosters from the Constellation program are likely to require additional cushioning to protect them from increased vibrations.”

    “Unclear Scope and Funding Uncertainties Increased Risk by Delaying Contract Definitization”

    “…the SLS program contractors have worked for extended periods of time without contract definitization — meaning no final agreement on the terms and conditions of their contracts has been negotiated with the government — which put the government at risk of increased costs and limited the program’s ability to monitor contractor progress… The NASA supplement to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (NFS) provides that the NASA goal is to definitize UCAs within 180 days of issuance, or approximately 6 months. Officials stated that the agency’s ability to definitize the element contracts was impacted by the need to use existing contracts, as directed by the NASA Authorization Act of 2010… the booster and main engine element contractors performed development work under UCAs for more than a year and the core stage and ICPS contractor continued those elements’ development under UCAs for 2 years or more… NASA allowed high-value modifications to the SLS contracts to remain undefinitized for extended periods—in one instance a contract remained undefinitized for 30 months.”

    “Without having a contracted baseline against which to measure the earned value, the program is missing a useful indicator of true program status—in the case of SLS, the program’s performance toward its 2017 launch date.”

    “SLS Program Has Critical Gaps in Knowledge Needed to Assess Long-Term Affordability… The SLS Program’s Long-Term Mission Plans and Requirements Are Unknown”

    “the program has not established cost estimates for any of the three SLS variants, including the 70-mt vehicle, beyond 2017…

    “Because mission requirements for the 105-mt variant are not yet defined, however, NASA faces the possibility that it will spend time and money developing systems and designs that may not be needed for the specific mission that will be defined… Program officials stated that the agency does not have resources to conduct more than one development effort at a time and that it is difficult to determine which system to develop first because each improves SLS lift capability in different ways. A new upper stage would provide more capability beyond Earth orbit and better support missions that require more in-space propulsion, such as missions to a near-Earth asteroid or other distant locations. Advanced boosters would provide more capability to low-Earth orbit and better support missions that require the SLS to place a larger payload in orbit around the Earth.”

    “The Program’s Long-Term Affordability Is Unknown Because SLS Cost Estimate Does Not Capture Life Cycle Costs”

    “The long-term affordability of the SLS program is also unknown, as we found in May 2014, because NASA’s baseline cost estimate for the program will not provide any information about the longer-term, life cycle costs of developing, manufacturing, and operating the launch vehicle. NASA does not plan for that baseline estimate, which will be established when SLS moves into implementation, to cover program costs after EM-1 or costs to design, develop, build, and produce the 105- or 130-mt variants.”

    It would be nice if the Administration paid as much attention managing its current, ongoing human space flight development programs as it does hosting Apollo astronauts.

    • James

      Great post DB9.

      If you swap out SLS, and put in Constellation Program, it has a very familiar ring to it.

      So, once again, NASA is repeating itself. Soon SLS will be under the next Presidents Augustine II committee microscope, searching for an answer to ‘what should NASA be doing, since we don’t have money to complete SLS’.

      It’s important to understand your history, so you can repeat it over and over again.

    • MrEarl

      The SLS risks are very overstated in this GAO report.

      “NASA delayed the SLS key decision point C decision from October 2013 to at least July 2014″ The CDR has been finished, Boeing has been awarded the contract to build the core stage and the equipment is at Michoud ready to get started on the EM-1 core.

      “SLS Program Is Meeting Some Design Goals for 2017 Test Flight but Challenges Could Threaten Launch Date”
      That could be said about ANY development program. There is still 7 months of reserve.

      “The SLS program is tracking threats to the core stage schedule that could take up as much as 70 percent of the 7 months of reserve.”
      The operative word here is COULD and even if they do come to pass that will still leave approx, 2 months of reserve.

      “Unclear Scope and Funding Uncertainties Increased Risk by Delaying Contract Definitization”. “SLS Program Has Critical Gaps in Knowledge Needed to Assess Long-Term Affordability… The SLS Program’s Long-Term Mission Plans and Requirements Are Unknown”. Once congress and the president get on the same page with a mission plan, i.e. the president stops this silly asteroid mission and sets a clear course of going to Mars using the moon as a base for testing and a launching point, then costs and affordability can be accurately estimated.

      “The long-term affordability of the SLS program is also unknown, as we found in May 2014, because NASA’s baseline cost estimate for the program will not provide any information about the longer-term, life cycle costs of developing, manufacturing, and operating the launch vehicle. NASA does not plan for that baseline estimate, which will be established when SLS moves into implementation, to cover program costs after EM-1 or costs to design, develop, build, and produce the 105- or 130-mt variants.”
      NASA has been smacked many times before, and sometimes rightfully so, for wildly incorrect estimates. At this point it would be prudent for NASA to hold off on making estimates until the prototype (EM-1) has been launched and data collected about costs and performance.

      With all that said, EM-1 will slip to NET Sept. 2018. This will be as a result of the Orion service module not being ready by Dec. 2017. The SLS team will take advantage of time by beginning work on a new upper stage. It’s already been specked out with 4 RL-10’s. It’s being targeted for the the second SLS flight, AA-2 Dec 2019.

      • Coastal Ron

        MrEarl said:

        The CDR has been finished, Boeing has been awarded the contract to build the core stage and the equipment is at Michoud ready to get started on the EM-1 core.

        I don’t know about you, but I’ve never doubted that our American aerospace industry could build an HLV. Have you doubted American ingenuity?

        So the relevant question about KDP-C is not that we can design an HLV that is safe enough to fly, but how much NASA thinks it will cost to operate the SLS system? And that is where the real doubts are – can NASA afford to operate the SLS?

        Once congress and the president get on the same page with a mission plan…

        Congress told NASA to build the SLS, which has refused to suggest any uses for it. I’d say that Congress is the one abdicating their responsibilities here. If there wasn’t a clear plan to use the SLS, they never should have funded it.

        NASA has been smacked many times before, and sometimes rightfully so, for wildly incorrect estimates. At this point it would be prudent for NASA to hold off on making estimates until the prototype (EM-1) has been launched and data collected about costs and performance.

        Oh sure, ignore the financial aspects of operating the most expensive launch system in the world… how responsible.

        NASA isn’t holding back KDP-C because it’s wrong, they are holding it back because of how bad it makes the SLS look.

        With all that said, EM-1 will slip to NET Sept. 2018.

        Actually it’s slipping well into 2019. And every time it slips the cost goes up.

        Just out of curiosity, when do yo see the day when a plan for using the SLS – AND the funding – is agreed to by all the relevant politicians?

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “The SLS risks are very overstated in this GAO report.”

        As with all GAO reports, NASA reviewed the report and concurred in its recommendations. Any “overstatements” would have been removed/altered during the NASA review.

        “The CDR has been finished”

        Bullcrap.

        Only the core stage (barely) passed its CDR. Boosters has yet to pass its CDR. Neither the SPIO (iCPS and adapters) CDR or the system-level CDR for SLS overall are scheduled until next year.

        (Not to mention GSDO and MPCV CDRs, which are also not scheduled until next year.)

        “Boeing has been awarded the contract to build the core stage”

        Only after taking ~$1.6B from the taxpayer over a period of a couple years for undefinitized “work”, which is GAO’s point.

        “There is still 7 months of reserve.”

        Bullcrap. Most (70%) of that schedule margin has liens against it.

        “The operative word here is COULD”

        Make that “will”. Most of those liens are driven by the lack of an oxygen feed-line supplier. NASA and Boeing can’t create a subcontractor where one doesn’t exist.

        “Once congress and the president get on the same page with a mission plan, i.e. the president stops this silly asteroid mission”

        And what on Earth makes you think that’s going to happen before the end of the Obama Administration in 2017?

        “At this point it would be prudent for NASA to hold off on making estimates until the prototype (EM-1) has been launched and data collected about costs”

        This is dumb. You don’t collect data about the cost of a launch vehicle in flight.

        “With all that said, EM-1 will slip to NET Sept. 2018. This will be as a result of the Orion service module not being ready by Dec. 2017″

        It’s the result of MPCV’s CM being ~25% overweight for its parachutes and having no real options for achieving positive mass margin, despite almost a decade and billions of dollars down the tube.

        “It’s being targeted for the the second SLS flight, AA-2 Dec 2019.”

        AA-2 is and ascent abort test for MPCV (and was delayed about four years). SLS isn’t involved. AA-2 launches on a Peacekeeper upper stage. There is no SLS “flight” in 2019.

        • Dick Eagleson

          DB9,

          This article a week ago on Nasaspaceflight.com mentions a “possible” intermediate unmanned SLS mission between the unmanned EM-1 mission and the manned EM-2. It would supposedly occur in 2019 for the purpose of testing the Exploration Upper Stage with four RL-10’s as powerplants. This test would be needed if the Exploration Upper Stage was to be used on the EM-2 manned mission as NASA has lately been suggesting it would. NASA rules prohibit using an untested stage for a manned mission. This in-between mission doesn’t seem to have a designation yet. Mr. Earl goofed in calling it AA-2. You are correct, it’s not AA-2.

          Personally, I think it ought to be designated UG-1, the UG standing for Underpants Gnome. I have no idea where anyone at NASA thinks the parts for this thing are going to come from.

          Orbital-ATK’s contract for 5-segment boosters and Boeing’s recent contract for SLS core stages only provide for two sets of flight hardware each. Oh yeah, ESA is only on the hook for two Orion service modules too.

          So, if EM-1 launches with the Interim Upper Stage (single-engine Centaur) a service module and an Orion capsule – as planned – then the putative UG-1 had better not fly with either a service module or an Orion or NASA will have insufficient parts to put together EM-2, the first manned Orion mission. Even so, it would mean burning up four more currently irreplaceable RS-25’s just to test fly a “Centaur on steroids” upper stage and boost a big boilerplate chunk of inert mass to – where? Then all NASA has to do is come up with two or three billion extra dollars they don’t – and won’t – have to buy a third SLS core stage and an extra flight set of 5-segment boosters for EM-2.

          I think DEA is missing a good bet if they don’t raid MSFC right away. They’re smoking some damn fine crack down in Huntsville.

      • Jim Nobles

        With all that said, EM-1 will slip to NET Sept. 2018. This will be as a result of the Orion service module not being ready by Dec. 2017.

        By that time Falcon Heavy might have been operational for a year or more. Maybe even returning cores for re-use.

        What are SLS supporters going to say to justify the costs? “We need the SLS because the payloads we want to design are too large.” “The payloads we want to design are too large because they are needed to justify a large SLS type rocket.”

        To everyone who is involved in designing future large payloads: Be smart. If you actually really care if your payload flies then design for a launch system that looks like it will actually be operational and available long-term. If something wonderful happens and a SLS sized lifter is suddenly available and affordable then your payloads will still fit and may even be bundled. But if a SLS type rocket never really works out as the affordable and available launcher your payload won’t automatically be disenfranchised simply because of its size.

        Be smart.

      • Dick Eagleson

        NASA does not plan for that baseline estimate, which will be established when SLS moves into implementation, to cover program costs after EM-1 or costs to design, develop, build, and produce the 105- or 130-mt variants.”

        It looks as though someone at NASA neglected to inform GAO that the answer to that question is zero. NASA plans to spend zero on 105- and 130-tonne SLS variants because they’ve cancelled development of all the parts needed to build them. No more advanced liquid-fueled boosters. No more high-energy upper stage with J-2X engines. Hell, no RS-25E’s for the core stage for that matter.

    • Egad

      I notice that this GAO report, like the one last May, is addressed to the Ranking Member, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate, that being Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Presumably he’s gathering material for his Wastebook 2014.

  • Dark Blue Nine: It would be nice if the Administration paid as much attention managing its current, ongoing human space flight development programs as it does hosting Apollo astronauts.

    Possibly, but the Administration neither wanted nor advocated for SLS. Why would you expect them to give it as much attention as the programs it did want and advocate?

    For what it’s worth, and whilst I am no supporter of SLS, I think a lot of this is overstated. I agree with a recent AvWeek analysis arguing that Gerstenmaier has done a masterful job of navigating the sholes of conflicting requirements from Congress and the Administration, and attempting to move forward within the impossible and conflicting constraints he’s been put under. The ISS, COTS, CCiCap, and even SLS / Orion are progressing, albeit not fast and not well.

    — Donald

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “Why would you expect them to give it as much attention as the programs it did want and advocate?”

      “Attention” includes termination, a severe reduction in funding, a change in SES management, a mandated analysis of alternatives, etc. SLS/MPCV needs some mix of these at this point.

      “I agree with a recent AvWeek analysis arguing that Gerstenmaier has done a masterful job”

      Gerst and his managers are out-of-touch and in self-denial (or incredibly cynical).

      Todd May and others have thumped their chests about SLS having 5+ months of schedule margin. But most of that margin has liens against it, and most of those liens are driven by an unresolved lack of heritage hardware suppliers, something that can only be resolved with lots of time. Moreover, the only reason SLS has any schedule slack is because much critical work — from concurrent Block 1A and II design work to MPCV life support systems development to MPCV altitude abort tests — has been delayed. And above it all, MPCV is slipping the schedule for EM-1 by a calendar year, anyway. Managers are in denial, grasping at the one positive schedule straw, while ignoring all the major, negative schedule issues.

      Jodi Singer claimed a $500M per launch goal for SLS. The just-signed Boeing core production contract alone is $570M per unit. It’s out-of-touch to bandy about overall cost goals when the cost of one subsystem contract already exceeds that goal. Add in the main engines, upper stage, two SRBs, and ground ops we’re probably approaching or exceeding $1B per SLS launch or a factor of 2x in cost per launch for what was already a barely affordable launch vehicle.

      Gerst told the NAC that SLS must achieve a launch rate of 1/year to maintain flight safety. But the two actual missions on the books are four years apart, and NASA’s projections beyond that max out at one launch every two years. It’s a blatantly cynical treatment of lives by a manager to continue developing a system that has no hope of meeting the minimum safety standard (by a factor of 2-4x) that the manager himself set.

      SLS is tough, sure, but so are most engineering development projects. Staying out-of-touch with or maintaining denial of a project’s major issues doesn’t make things any easier.

      “I think a lot of this is overstated.”

      SLS is not in as bad technical trouble as Ares I was. (At least not yet, although there are warning signs like the EM-2 mass issue and various heritage hardware issues noted in this latest GAO report.) But it does have serious schedule, cost, and safety issues, as described above.

      MPCV, however, is in serious technical trouble. Between its parachute mass limits, large negative mass margins, and heat shield limitations, it’s hard to see how MPCV closes. If it doesn’t, as appears to be the case, SLS’s limited justification evaporates.

  • Coastal Ron

    The meeting was not without some controversy, though. At a press briefing later Tuesday, reporters complained that the president’s meeting with the Apollo 11 crew was private, with no media allowed to observe.

    45 years after the event, what more is there to do in public? The honors have already been given, the buildings named, people feted…

    What does the press expect happened that they missed? Bunch a piffle.

    At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Science Committee, penned an op-ed about space exploration for The Hill earlier this week. “There are also those who ridicule space exploration. Waste of time. Little green men. Not a priority,” he writes. “We should not let them discourage us.”

    It’s not the idea about space exploration per se that gets ridiculed, but more a combination of the inane way Congress gets in the way of NASA – which retards the progress we could be making in space exploration – and the lack of a politically supported goal in space.

    The goal is the most important, and for politicians who whine about President Obama not providing clarity or whoever, I say “SUCK IT UP”. The job of a politician is to find political consensus in order to get the peoples work done, so if Smith won’t reach out to work with the President (or whoever), then he doesn’t get to complain. Period.

    NASA is critical to our nation and its economic strength, and there is no more fitting way to honor Apollo 11 than to resume our commitment to human exploration of deep space that we proved possible 45 years ago,” Edwards said in the statement. “Our bipartisan NASA Authorization Act of 2014 gets us started, and I look forward to continuing the mission.

    NASA’s portion of the U.S. federal budget is $17B and falling, and so much of it is for things that don’t affect the national economy. This type of thinking is based on assumptions from the 60’s that may not have really been true, but nonetheless are certainly not true today. Spend $17B anywhere in the U.S. economy and you’d probably get the same “economic strength” in return, with or without NASA.

    NASA’s real value is based on a need to do things in space that are not military related, and for now that’s pretty much just science oriented. However, absent a unifying goal for what we want humans to do in space beyond the ISS, NASA is just treading water…

  • Von Del

    Gerstenmaier has done a masterful job of navigating the sholes of conflicting requirements…and conflicting constraints…attempting to move forward… The ISS, COTS, CCiCap, and even SLS / Orion are progressing…

    Progressing towards what, exactly?

    Maybe instead of trying to thread his way amongst all of the conflicting and impossible constraints, Gerstenmaier and NASA need to define what it is they are trying to do and the necessary steps to get there, and then they need to take that to the Administration and Congress with a sales job.

    I’ve heard since Constellation’s demise (remember Constellation was a NASA [Administrator] designed program that had no hope of succeeding because it had too many unreasonable and undefined requirements and constraints) that NASA is doing whatever anyone tells them. By now everyone realizes that is getting NASA no place, wasting billions of dollars and decades in the process.

    • Von Del: I think you have this rather backwards. As an Executive agency, NASA serves at the pleasure of the President and is funded at the pleasure of Congress. We elect these folks to make decisions. The last thing we need is for NASA to “sell” another Apollo that might get started, but there is no way the nation will fund to completion.

      Progressing towards what, exactly?

      Few but me seem to agree with it, but Gerstenmaier has a strategy that I think makes a lot of sense. He’s trying to develop technology that has a reason for existence beyond human spaceflight but is useful to human spaceflight. (E.g., high powered solar arrays and power conditioning to propel an asteroid retrieval that also would useful to the high-throughput satellite community and space solar power; next generation solar electric propulsion that could be used to get heavy comsats to geostationary orbit and incidentally send cargo to Mars; better life support that would make the ISS cheaper to operate and incidentally let humans live long enough in space to get to Mars; and so on.) Personally, I think — since we are not going to decide to re-do Apollo (or even an inexpensive project like “fondle” an asteroid) — this is the only way forward. Since these technologies have a purpose other than getting to Mars, they have a chance of surviving the change in Administrations, while history has taught us that any particular strategy to get to Mars that costs a lot of money will not survive.

      Once we have commercialized technology that can get us into the Solar System, there will be time to worry about “progressing toward what, exactly.” Gerstenmaier has been delt a terrible set of cards, but he’s doing his best to win something; to nickle and dime our way into space.

      Go Gerstenmaier!

      — Donald

      • Hiram

        “The last thing we need is for NASA to “sell” another Apollo that might get started, but there is no way the nation will fund to completion.”

        Actually, it is very much up to NASA to do a “sales job”. But the sales job is for an implementation strategy. NOT for a rationale to do it. If the Administration and Congress decide that a trip to Mars is in the interest of the nation (basically selling that to the taxpayer), it’s up to NASA to come forth and say, OK, here’s how we think we need to do it, and here’s what the cost will be.

        But yes, it is delusionary to think that NASA’s job is selling national-interest rationale. In fact, NASA has tried to do that, and has done a thorough muck-up of it. Yep, we’ve got to go to Mars because, well, because we’ve got to go! NASA is an organization of engineers and scientists, and it largely doesn’t have a clue about setting foundational space policy in the national interest.

    • nom de plume

      I think NASA has done a pretty good job laying out and working the 14 technical area space technology roadmaps. Apparently not many people outside NASA are reading it:
      http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/home/roadmaps/index.html#.U9BgfLGGdws

      • Vladislaw

        I found it actually kind of funny that in TA01 Launch Propulsion Systems you do not find the word reusable in the entire document…

  • Hiram

    “… there is no more fitting way to honor Apollo 11 than to resume our commitment to human exploration of deep space …”

    Of course, any resumption of a commitment to human exploration of deep space better be more than about honoring Apollo 11. We shouldn’t be honoring footprints on the Moon, but about national needs bravely served. What national need are we talking about for sending humans into deep space these days?

    As to complaints of the press that the meeting wasn’t public, of course that’s how the press uses astronauts. It’s all about their heroic presence gracing the unwashed masses. Yes, we deserve to see Obama shake hands with Buzz, because then we could watch the heroic sparkles (or was that Moon dust?) get scattered over the president. We could watch their body language and glean remarkable insights about space policy. We could analyze their knowing smiles, and fantasize about technological secrets. Yes, it was a dastardly event to have the President just want to privately offer his thanks and respect.

  • Von Del

    Donald F. Robertson

    Sorry but I have seen absolutely no signs of what you are speaking about.

    I am pretty familiar with ISS and its technology but I have not seen any new development ongoing such as high powered solar arrays, power conditioning, next generation solar electric propulsion or better life support. I see the existing technologies that were developed years ago and that have been in use. Are there really new projects in work? Where?

    The guy in that position is the leader of human space flight and exploration. He does need to figure out how to proceed, more than just working a series of ‘hobby-shops’. Orion seems to be a good example. Decades and billions of dollars going to the supersized Apollo that we are told isn’t going to the moon and doesn’t have the capability to do an asteroid mission or go to Mars, and btw is too expensive to fly frequently enough for it o be safe.

    No, I don’t think I have it backwards at all. The President (I’ll admit that with the current one who appears naive and foolish enough to require a lot of convincing) should be looking to NASA and to this AA to define the plan and its incumbent on the AA to sell the plan to the President, his staff, and to Congress. When I look back to past programs, Kennedy turned to Johnson who turned to NASA to define what we could and should do. NASA and Fletcher pushed and sold Shuttle and got the President, OMB and Congress to agree to it assuming that NASA could keep the costs within a limit (which they did successfully during development), and Beggs pushed the Station and sold it to Reagan and the OMB (against the wishes of some like Mr. Stockman), and even when it was in trouble in the early 1990s NASA was the one that kept pushing a station; in fact if you recall the President said go to Mars, and Mr. Truly told him “NO, I am too busy with the Space Station”.

    I look to NASA to lead human space flight (and other civil space programs). I don’t see NASA leading anything.

    • Von Del: I am pretty familiar with ISS and its technology but I have not seen any new development ongoing such as high powered solar arrays, power conditioning, next generation solar electric propulsion or better life support. I see the existing technologies that were developed years ago and that have been in use. Are there really new projects in work? Where?

      I believe nom de plume answered this question earlier in this thread.

  • Von Del

    Also, regarding “The last thing we need is for NASA to “sell” another Apollo that might get started, but there is no way the nation will fund to completion.”

    for 40+ years NASA has had a pretty stable budget and could probably expect to maintain about the same. In fact if NASA would actually deliver on the plan and budget I suspect that Congress and the President would both be fighting to give more. The key is to identify a program that can be done for that kind of a budget-not a budget like Dr. Griffin required for Constellation that was two or three time the existing budget.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “NASA’s launch system officials told the GAO that there was a 90 percent chance of [SLS] not hitting the launch date [for EM-1] at this time.”

    http://www.krem.com/news/national/268346812.html

    But we have a half-year of schedule margin, really!

    Sigh…

  • Von Del

    Donald F. Robertson said
    I am pretty familiar with ISS and its technology…Are there really new projects in work? Where?

    “I believe nom de plume answered this question earlier in this thread.”

    No, all he did was reference a couple year old listing of technologies, systems, vehicles (it is really a hodge podge of different kinds of things) that might be priorities.

    I am asking is anyone really working on these things?

  • amightywind

    I hope we are finally flying ‘Apollo on Steroids’ by the 50th anniversary!

    • Vladislaw

      Five years? 2019? The GAO just said the first unmanned flight will not be until 2018 which pushes the first manned test flight to 2022… gosh and to think President Bush announced the Vision for Space Exploration in 2004. only 18 years… LOL

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