Author Topic: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"  (Read 20566 times)

Online Chris Bergin

Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #20 on: 01/30/2012 06:09 PM »
One comment....

"I believe everybody at NASA, except those at the top level, thinks that's the case. The people at the division and branch level all believe there are better ways to get going."

I know enough people to know that's utterly false. ...

That's what I wondered - whether the highly respected Mr. Kraft might have either been misquoted, misunderstood, or simply incorrect in his understanding of current NASA thinking.

It does seem that many of the Apollo-era ex-NASA people are not confident about NASA's current direction, but for sometimes conflicting reasons.   

This article paints a picture of a NASA whose "line employees" are largely opposed to the project they are working on, which doesn't sound correct to me.  "Supportive but skeptical" might be more accurate.  At some point, the train is going to have to leave the station and people are going to either be on board or left behind.   

 - Ed Kyle

Yep. Problem is this is being jumped on by the vocal minority (I can say that per sample polls on here), who are using every caveat in the book to use the claim to their advantage.

It's gone from "everybody" - to "most" and there is no evidence of either.

And yes, I apologize if I'm being harsh on here, but we've seen a good example of where the negative stance originates from today and it disgusts me. There's only so much crap that can be sholved down one's throat before vomitting.

If people want me to do "thank you for your comment", you've got the wrong fella. This is the forum, I'm allowed to post my opinion just like the rest of you.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #21 on: 01/30/2012 06:10 PM »
Polling on a site that caters to NASA launch vehicles shows support for NASA launch vehicles.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline TomH

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Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #22 on: 01/30/2012 06:19 PM »
Well, for my $o.oo2 (Yes, you read the place value correctly) worth, this whole thing is not the fault or problem of the people who work at NASA. Those people are public servants who earn less than they are worth and who strive to do the job they are told to do. The problem is too many people outside the agency trying to be in charge and placing their own interests ahead of the greater good. People in Congress continue giving NASA a new direction. They tell NASA, "Build this and do it for this much." In a year or two they cut NASA's budget then say, "You're over budget," which while technically correct, is correct only because they themselves cut NASA's budget. Dissenters never agree to go along with the majority, instead calling hearings and subpoenaing NASA personel for the sole reason that person is doing the job assigned and this congressman doesn't like that. Every new president wants to call a commission to enclave so he can give NASA a new direction. The problem is not the hard working men and women at NASA who serve their country diligently. Is NASA able to compete with the public sector? NO, but this is the case only because the government doesn't give NASA a goal and a stable budget, then get out of their way and let the professionals plan how to accomplish the goal and then do their job.

When I was 15 and in Explorers (Boy Scouts), I was selected as the representative of my district to view the lanch of Apollo 13. Several hundred Explorers flew to Orlando where each of us was picked up by an employee of NASA and taken to that person's home for three days. I was hosted by a Dr. Mitchell, a NASA engineer in the LM department. I stayed at his very modest home and shared meals with his family, none of which was subsidized by the government. He transported me and one other guest to the Cape each day where we attended classes and learned more about the space program. We viewed the launch from the VIP stands. Hundreds of NASA employees did this out of the goodness of their hearts. On the day prior to my arrival, Dr. Mitchell had been on a campout with the scout troup in his church and his closest friend was bitten by a coral snake.  That friend died during my stay. Though very grieved, Dr. Mitchell and his family continued to be kind and gracious hosts. His daughter and I were pen pals for several years.

I believe that if NASA itself were a private corporation, unfettered by a plethora of politicians tossing the agency around like a football and each wanting it to be his own private toy, NASA could out perform any private company there is. The men and women of NASA are patriots who serve their country diligently, in spite of all the outsiders who get in their way. My hat is off to them each and every one. I salute you all.

(I am a citizen and a taxpayer who does not work for NASA or the space industry. This is solely my personal opinion.)

Offline FinalFrontier

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Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #23 on: 01/30/2012 06:23 PM »
Wow! Another of these "tell me what you would do instead" threads, again - for the millionth time.

It's bad enough this is a standalone thread, but for people to re-quote their posts from other threads to keep this running at the top, that's riled me - and removed as they should remain on their original threads and if no one is reacting to them, don't go reposting on the backs of other threads, or it comes across as "I once mentioned prop depots, spaceX, fluffy bunnies and myspace.com!" (Sorry, but that's how some of the "NASA's wrong, but unproven company A and unflown concept B is bound have no problems" sound, by the way.

One comment....

"I believe everybody at NASA, except those at the top level, thinks that's the case. The people at the division and branch level all believe there are better ways to get going."

I know enough people to know that's utterly false. Did they take Mr Kraft to task on such a wild claim? Nope, that wrote the headline. Still nothing sells like negative news. Who cares about facts, or updates, or information. I want drama!! And the SECOND some incorrect quote is used, people trip over themselves to be first to proclaim the gospel according to Elon.

FFS, seriously? We've been over this to the point of boredom.



I am in agreement. We have been over this time and time again. Yes, there is a cost issue with SLS depending on implementation and final design (ofc if NASA would use the streamlined non 5 segment versions that wouldn't be a problem but they won't so moving on). Yes SLS is going to take longer to build and implement than, Imo, it should, again because of what I see as poor or politically driven design choices. And yes it ultimately may not be worth it.

However, continuing to repeat that over and over and over and over again on this forum is not going to change it. We have had plenty of "what instead" threads over the past year and a half and its just a dead horse at this point. We know, quite clearly, what the alternatives are. Maybe we could discuss implementation/details or some of the things that "truly" cause problems with any good exploration plan instead of posting "oh but this guy said this way is better, oh but I think this way is better, oh but EELV...ect".

Like I said, that's a dead horse, and whats more is no one wants to talk about how they would implement their idea and make it work+critical details like timeline set dates, cost, design choices, ect.


So yeah, summation: I agree with Chris.
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Online Chris Bergin

Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #24 on: 01/30/2012 06:24 PM »
Polling on a site that caters to NASA launch vehicles shows support for NASA launch vehicles.

Yet we appear to be a honeypot for the small groups that usually hang around the sites more angled away from objectivity and have a set tone. Add in that we cover all launch vehicles, it certainly balances out and provides a good general snapshop.

Now if we went on postings, you'd think the poll should come out the other way, but it's absolute nature to "complain" on the internet.

Maybe we should do another poll to see where things stand today. I'll set it up after I've written an article (PS it's a positive article, about cool things - so no one will read it then....;D)

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #25 on: 01/30/2012 06:28 PM »
After reading the article the “skepticism” gist I got was that the rank and file of NASA wasn’t skeptical that SLS wouldn’t work or couldn’t technically meet the requirements but that its funding to be able to complete it would dry up before it got into the production phase of the hardware.

Offline Lobo

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Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #26 on: 01/30/2012 06:32 PM »
Chris, this is the most pro-NASA-launch-vehicle site there is out there. Heck, for a long time, practically everything on this site was organized based on what launch vehicle it used. Is it really that far fetched that perhaps you would have disproportionate contact with folks at NASA who are supportive of SLS?

What does that have to do with my comment? My comment is Mr Kraft is utterly wrong.

Your point is?
""I'm very skeptical about the heavy-lift rocket," said Chris Kraft, NASA's first manned spaceflight director and the director of flight operations during the Apollo 11 mission.

"I believe everybody at NASA, except those at the top level, thinks that's the case. The people at the division and branch level all believe there are better ways to get going.""


Except it's NOT wrong. Of the few NASA contractors I know, even though they are quite supportive of SD-HLVs in the right circumstances, they express quite a lot of skepticism about SLS as it stands and as it likely will be executed. They give the impression that a lot of the lower level folk are very skeptical that it is being done in a way that is going to work and not end up being canceled. They see it as becoming what Ares V had become. And to be quite honest, I'm sure Chris Kraft (former NASA flight director and director of JSC) knows a lot more NASA folk than either of us do. Maybe his statement is an exaggeration, but the general point that there is considerable skepticism with the specific approach being taken with SLS within the lower levels of NASA seems accurate to me.

That's my point. Also, your extreme reaction to that statement seems unbecoming of you. You're better than that. And it looks like this sort of attitude is causing this thread to devolve.

WEll, I think if SLS looks too big and expensive and slow, a good deal of fault would lay in Congress, for mandating 130mt to LEO and the use of a bunch of Shuttle heritage stuff (yea, I know it says the the extend practicable, but that seems to have meant keep all the exisitng infrastructure the way it is as much as possible to placate politicians from those areas.)
If they'd instead said something like "starting at 70mt and evolvable to at least 100mt to LEO, with the ability to send paylaods BLEO", then we could have had much more easily something like Direct.  The core would have not required a stretch, we'd only be looking at 3-4 RS25's per core, and just a single upper stage that would do both 2nd stage duty, as well as earth departure duties.  130mt to LEO, is really too big for Shuttle hardware, as it was designed for that 70-100mt range to be optimal for, as I understand.

So I think you start there, with a bit of trying to fit 6 gallons of water into a 5 gallon bucket.  Then you need biggers boosters, a stretched tank, more RS25's, and a dedicated 2nd stage, as well as another 3rd stage/CPS both to get the full 130mt+ capability. 

NASA, however, seemed to not do themselves any favors with how they approached it.  The EELV-derived LV's they looked at were silly, and so they didn't even really seem to consider better possibilities like A5P2-HEavy and then A5P3a.
They also decided to go for the core stretch right away, rather than down the road at some point when we might want to go to mars and really need that extra capacity.  I think tey could have started out with something Direct like or AJAX like to get going sooner and with less development costs.  ANd then had a  tentative plan somewhere down the road for a core stretch with big boosters. NAA201 only said SLS had to eventually do 130mt, it didnt' say when.  A back-burnered plan for a core stretch and bigger boosters could be sitting on the shelf to be pulled out and dusted off at some point in time when there was a political will and money for projects that might benefit from that larger capacity.  (HEck, AJAX would have met the NAA2010 mandate of 130mt without ever needing to upgrade the core.  It would just be desigend to accomodate enough LRB's to do it, and it wouldn't even need an upper stage to do it.  Just a CPS as an EDS. 

So NASA seemed to bypass some options and concepts that could have gotten them flying faster and cheaper, I believe.  In addition to Congress's NAA2012 which started things off on a less than efficient path.

Still, all that said, if we had the money in the past couple of decades budgets (which I don't think are any more much more than NASA's current budgets and projections), to launch 3-5 STS's per year, and build a space station, I think they'll get SLS built and flying and have enough money to do at least some missions with her.   Hopefully some type of lunar architecture as part of that.  :-)

Offline edkyle99

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Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #27 on: 01/30/2012 06:32 PM »
Yep. Problem is this is being jumped on by the vocal minority (I can say that per sample polls on here), who are using every caveat in the book to use the claim to their advantage.

I'll admit to being "skeptical" myself when it comes to SLS - but only for funding, not technical, reasons.

There are, of course, a world of naysayers, fueled by the Constellation cancellation, who don't remember how to say anything positive about the Agency even when there are many positives.

So here is your chance, NASA employees.  Prove us all wrong! 

Show us that you can harness the resources of the United States to create the world's most capable rocket and human spacecraft without destroying the budget or schedule.  Show us that you can afford to use them once developed.  Then, use them!

 - Ed Kyle 

Offline FinalFrontier

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Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #28 on: 01/30/2012 06:34 PM »
Yay, you're RIGHT on cue. Well done for proving my point about people with certain opinions (I say opinions, as there's nothing factual about what you wrote).

PS Well done for insulting thousands of people in one wacky paragraph.

Better to insult thousands of NASA workers in a paragraph than insult millions of taxpayers over the past 30 years.


Instead of pointing that finger at the dilligent Engineers and workers and NASA point it at Congress and the White House. In nearly every failed program NASA has had in the last 30 years, the failures have been nearly all related to political descisions made from the top down that have caused serious design changes or operational planning changes against the advice of the industry professionals.

The demon that your trying to find here is not the NASA workforce. It is, as usual, the politicians whose moronic and often nonsensical decsions have resulted in impossible to build plans or designs. And yes, for the record I consider the person in the position of NASA Administrator to be a politician..

Examples: Venture star failed because the NASA admin, under political pressure (and influenced by his own wacky ideas), insisted on composite structures which the industry knew would never work and had said as much repeatedly.

CXP: Failed because Mr. nutjob himself, Mike Griffin insisted on a design for which congress was never going to provide the money, and which would never have been feasible, again, when the industry was practically screaming that the design and operational plan choices were totally incorrect. And the Bush administration did nothing to stop him.

And finally: The Obama fiasco space policy. Obama decided not to listen to industry advice or the Augustine Commission, to a large extent, and wanted to just throw everything out with no long term solution. The result was, that Congress, who was never going to stand for something like that in the first place, ended up essentially designing the rocket and pushed NASA into opting for 5 segment 4 engine baselines that we won't have any payloads for and that we might never need. And that's just as a baseline, they have still larger vehicles planned but no one, except of course once again the industry, is asking where the funding for ACTUAL MISSION HARDWARE is going to come from.



The problem is not the workforce, the problem is the politics. And before you say "no its government" thats not true either as there are, or were before this presidency, government agencies that are streamlined that function quite well on limited budgets, namely because there aren't as much politics involved.

If NASA had been managed in such a way that the actual industry professionals and Engineers had been given free reign to design a system to work on limited budgets, we would likely be on Mars already. But they weren't because space has always been a political punching bag.

So please, place the blame where it belongs, with the people who makes uninformed moronic choices for the NASA professionals before they can make the right choices themselves.
« Last Edit: 01/30/2012 06:34 PM by FinalFrontier »
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #29 on: 01/30/2012 06:35 PM »
[Ed Kyle] +1

Offline FinalFrontier

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Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #30 on: 01/30/2012 06:37 PM »
After reading the article the “skepticism” gist I got was that the rank and file of NASA wasn’t skeptical that SLS wouldn’t work or couldn’t technically meet the requirements but that its funding to be able to complete it would dry up before it got into the production phase of the hardware.


Exactly. And I would agree that there is probably legitimate skepticism regarding the funding.

But something like "Oh all but the Admin think its totally unfeasible or un-fund-able" is pure fud.
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Offline MikeMelga

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Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #31 on: 01/30/2012 06:51 PM »
Instead of pointing that finger at the dilligent Engineers and workers and NASA point it at Congress and the White House. In nearly every failed program NASA has had in the last 30 years, the failures have been nearly all related to political descisions made from the top down that have caused serious design changes or operational planning changes against the advice of the industry professionals.
...
So please, place the blame where it belongs, with the people who makes uninformed moronic choices for the NASA professionals before they can make the right choices themselves.
I couldn't agree more. The guy that used to change the tiles of the shuttle has no blame. And I did not insult any NASA worker, Mr Bergin just insinuated that. I just said that NASA was more of a job center than a space agency.

Offline Harold KSC

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Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #32 on: 01/30/2012 06:54 PM »
Nice backtracking. It's very clear who you're attacking Melga. It is NOT ok to call NASA a jobs program. I'd like to see you try and get a job here.

Offline Harold KSC

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Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #33 on: 01/30/2012 06:57 PM »


So please, place the blame where it belongs, with the people who makes uninformed moronic choices for the NASA professionals before they can make the right choices themselves.

Still wrong. We choose the vehicle. Heard of the RACs? Heard of the studies before that? WE CHOSE THIS Vehicle. And before another armchair commentator says it was under definition, there is no other vehicle we'd of chosen otherwise.

Offline Lobo

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Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #34 on: 01/30/2012 07:07 PM »


So please, place the blame where it belongs, with the people who makes uninformed moronic choices for the NASA professionals before they can make the right choices themselves.

Still wrong. We choose the vehicle. Heard of the RACs? Heard of the studies before that? WE CHOSE THIS Vehicle. And before another armchair commentator says it was under definition, there is no other vehicle we'd of chosen otherwise.

Ok, I'll bite.

Then WHy did you choose it, if you werent' forced into it?  I'm no anti-SLS guy by an means, but RAC-3 was just silly in the crazy EELV configurations they looked at.  Why not look at some evolved options like A5P2-Heavy and A5P3a?  OR FX-Heavy?  Those would have been far better RAC-3 optiosn to look at in my humble opinion.

Why didn't you look at something like AJAX for your shuttle derived?  It would have used a non-stretched core, and existing EELV CCB boosters.  The thrust beam swould have needed to be changed from STS ET, but it'd need changed with SLS anyway with the core stretch.

Seems EELV' werent' given a fair consideration, and better SDHLV configurations where even looked at, IMHO anywa.  SO I'm very curious.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #35 on: 01/30/2012 07:14 PM »
You are correct that given the assumptions that the vehicle as defined “SLS” is what would be chosen. But were the assumptions the right ones?

One assumption is that NASA would be the owner operator of the design and vehicle. What if the assumption was that NASA would purchase a commercial ride on a commercial/government shared development vehicle where the design and operation of the vehicle was a commercial entity and not NASA? What configurations would fit that one different assumption?

Offline Harold KSC

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Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #36 on: 01/30/2012 07:21 PM »
Lobo, it's been discussed so many times, I really can't imagine it needs to be gone over again.

I also don't want to give this thread more excuses to grow as it contain an article which is being used as the poster child for the usual suspects.

Offline MikeMelga

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Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #37 on: 01/30/2012 07:25 PM »
Nice backtracking. It's very clear who you're attacking Melga. It is NOT ok to call NASA a jobs program. I'd like to see you try and get a job here.
I'm not getting into a chauvinist discussion. Going back to the topic, SLS is goal-less, too expensive, not innovative, takes 13 years to do the first manned launch, so either someone in charge is dumb or worst, pretends to be dumb. Assuming the last, one needs to start figuring out why so much money will be spent.

Offline Gary NASA

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Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #38 on: 01/30/2012 07:31 PM »

takes 13 years to do the first manned launch,

Just one example. If you can't even get basic facts right, don't post. You're incredibly misinformed, and I suggest you are trolling.
« Last Edit: 01/30/2012 07:32 PM by Gary NASA »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: "Expensive NASA rocket draws skepticism"
« Reply #39 on: 01/30/2012 07:35 PM »
Everybody everywhere gets to start a sentence once in a while with, "If only...."  It's totally understandable if people within NASA sometimes say something like, "If only Congress were more rational!"

It's a fantasy, and at some level they know it.  Congress isn't going to become more rational (from an science and engineering perspective) any time soon.  Congress works the way it does for reasons that only make sense to politicians.

Congress -- with the concurrence of the President -- imposed the requirements, and SLS is the result.  Kraft and others have every right to be skeptical about whether Congress will provide the support necessary for SLS to succeed.  It may seem to them unlikely Congress will do so. 

But then again, they're not politicians.
I sure HOPE Congress can get better, because it can hardly get any worse:
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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