Author Topic: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission  (Read 10986 times)

Offline Endeavour_01

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #40 on: 07/17/2017 07:42 AM »
It makes sense to design payloads to maximize the available capabilities of a (very) expensive launcher. However we have a 450mT space station in LEO that was built using components no larger than 15mT, so I'm not sure why we can't use the same assembly techniques for a far smaller station or vehicle.

The issue is staging from LEO. It takes a lot of propellant to get a large mass out of LEO. It is far better to stage from NRO. (ITS could get around the LEO staging problem, but that isn't related to the above discussion).

Sure, you could send up a module and have some sort of tug take it to NRO. But then you have to worry about refueling the tug, having redundancies for the tug, tug maintenance and so forth. Given the wealth of BLEO payload capability coming down the pike it seems like this kind of setup isn't needed for this mission. (although I am sure something like it will eventually come to pass as more people live and work in space).

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NASA has pretty much ruled out the SLS for going to Mars, and the FY2018 NASA funding law does not contain funding for the Deep Space Gateway - and is unlikely to be added.

Again Gerst was talking about a Mars landing by 2033. Also NASA has just pitched the DSG so I wouldn't expect to see anything for it specifically in the 2018 budget (although portions of said budget can be used to lay the groundwork for DSG).


The problem with all the above approaches is that resouces can be wasted on approaches that have no chance at all of being economical. Hitler had 3 A bomb programs and produced 0 bombs.

The problem with Hitler's A bomb project was lack of resources for it, not the number of projects. The Manhattan project had a large amount of resources and commitment and if I recall correctly the first two atomic bombs were different designs and used different radioactive elements.

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However there was more experience in building Space capsules at the time Orion was decided upon(Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and various probes) it was time to give the private sector a larger role.

Well it had been 30 years since NASA and contractors had flown a capsule design. Loss of technical experience on that front was a huge issue if I recall correctly.
 
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They will get flight history faster than SLS ever will.

So? It still doesn't make them mature in the here and now.

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WOW technological development that is actually useful and applicable to Mars missions.


What I was trying to point out is that some development must be done in order to enable Orion to launch BLEO using existing or soon to be existing rockets. We can't just put Orion on a Delta IV and go to NRO. If fuel depots or similar tech get funding I will be all for it. That said, the ability to get that funding is dependent on Congress and I am not sure Congress would be in a mood to give such funding if SLS/Orion are canceled.

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The reason why Jim states 1 billion is too much for a Hab is because Cygnus and Genesis II are examples of habitable(or near habitable) space under $1 billion. Now it would take some work to turn them into longer term systems but it should be cheaper than the Skylab II Concept.

Genesis II was a demonstrator, like BEAM. The Bigelow module that could be used for Deep Space would be BA-330. I have seen the deep space Cygnus proposal as well and it has promise. One issue with using Cygnus though would be the rather small pressurized space in each module.

There are pros and cons to each hab module proposal. NASA should carefully consider each and then pick one (or two) to support.

Anyway I am bowing out of the discussion at this point. It seems no argument or political reality will sway those who have already made up their minds that SLS/Orion are the devil and must be canceled. They are entitled to their opinion, I am entitled to mine. I just wanted to keep this thread from becoming an echo chamber as well as let people know that it is okay to cheer for everybody in the space industry. There is no need to pick sides.

NASA and commercial space complement each other very well and whatever path forward or architecture is chosen I will cheer vigorously for its success.
I cheer for both NASA and commercial space. For SLS, Orion, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Dragon, Starliner, Cygnus and all the rest!
I was blessed to see the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-99. The launch was beyond amazing. My 8-year old mind was blown. I remember the noise and seeing the exhaust pour out of the shuttle as it lifted off. I remember staring and watching it soar while it was visible in the clear blue sky. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I will never forget it.

Offline spacetraveler

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #41 on: 07/17/2017 12:50 PM »
1.  Crew transport was not the prime task for the shuttle.  Cargo was the prime mission.  And SLS/Orion is going to cost more per launch than shuttle.

SLS/Orion will launch a lot more payload to a much further distance.

Not if no payloads are developed and funded because SLS/Orion eats up all the budget. This has been the problem all along and NASA is only now just starting to acknowledge it.

The purpose of SLS/Orion was to placate jobs centers which lamented the US government no longer having a huge rocket to work on. It was neither an efficient crew launcher nor a purpose built cargo launcher for any specific payloads (other than Orion flybys of the moon or other objects). Hardly any other payloads are even on the radar due to lack of resources to develop them.

It certainly COULD launch other payloads like more robust heavyweight science probes, EDL hardware for Mars/Moon, Mars habs, or even Skylab II, but none of that was ever in scope.
« Last Edit: 07/17/2017 12:56 PM by spacetraveler »

Offline JasonAW3

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #42 on: 07/17/2017 04:25 PM »
      On the face of it, the SLS has not really been that great of an idea, once it was detached from the concept of being a lunar vehicle launch system.

      In fact, it could be very well suited for heavy lift capabilities, should they somehow work a substantial amount of re-usability into the overall design.

      The main problem, as I see it, is that the initial concept was for it to use off the shelf components and systems to essentially, recreate a much longer term Apollo type of infrastructure.  While the SRBs are designed for re-usability, the rest of the rocket is not.  if at least the first and second stages could be configured as reusable items, while the upper stages could be configured as "Wet-Lab" systems, (Yes, the orbital transfer stage AND the Service Module for the Orion Capsule) then this could go a LONG ways to making this a viable transportation system.

      What we would have done with the SLS is the equivalent of throwing away an entire 747, with the exceptions of the tail section (SRBs) and the pilot's cabin. (The Orion Capsule).

      Expending hundreds of millions to billions of dollars for each flight is not only extremely wasteful, but simply not a viable transportation system for long term use.

      The main reason that the STS system was never as reusable as it was supposed to be was a combination of both being designed by politically motivated committees, and the design was both experimental and as a developmental program.  It was supposed to be replaced by the Shuttle 2 design, which was, of course, canceled by Congress, as the STS system was turning out so expensive to maintain.
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Online envy887

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #43 on: 07/17/2017 04:34 PM »
      On the face of it, the SLS has not really been that great of an idea, once it was detached from the concept of being a lunar vehicle launch system.

      In fact, it could be very well suited for heavy lift capabilities, should they somehow work a substantial amount of re-usability into the overall design.

      The main problem, as I see it, is that the initial concept was for it to use off the shelf components and systems to essentially, recreate a much longer term Apollo type of infrastructure.  While the SRBs are designed for re-usability, the rest of the rocket is not.  if at least the first and second stages could be configured as reusable items, while the upper stages could be configured as "Wet-Lab" systems, (Yes, the orbital transfer stage AND the Service Module for the Orion Capsule) then this could go a LONG ways to making this a viable transportation system.

      What we would have done with the SLS is the equivalent of throwing away an entire 747, with the exceptions of the tail section (SRBs) and the pilot's cabin. (The Orion Capsule).

      Expending hundreds of millions to billions of dollars for each flight is not only extremely wasteful, but simply not a viable transportation system for long term use.

      The main reason that the STS system was never as reusable as it was supposed to be was a combination of both being designed by politically motivated committees, and the design was both experimental and as a developmental program.  It was supposed to be replaced by the Shuttle 2 design, which was, of course, canceled by Congress, as the STS system was turning out so expensive to maintain.

SLS SRBs are not designed for reuse and do not have recovery hardware. SRBs are not amenable to economic reuse anyway, though perhaps Block 2 could have reusable LRBs.

SLS is penny wise but pound foolish. It's skimping on development dollars and time to get a system flying that will be horrendously expensive to operate at a slow cadence. Both the architecture and the lack of reuse contribute.

Offline bad_astra

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #44 on: 07/17/2017 04:53 PM »
If focus were shifted to long term lunar goals, a use could be found for SLS. Obviously I am not and never really have been a fan of a government manned mars program (a fly-by and Phobos missions, maybe). It's been an idea chased over and over with very little return. If we had not been so focused on the idea I do have to wonder what we could have accomplished by now. 

We have another world on our doorstep that can give us  much of what we need to know to decide whether humans have any long term business on partial-1g worlds. If it turns that out we do, then we can work out much of the best practices while exploring and settling the moon. There is this budget, it's probably not going to get much bigger, and may get smaller. Why not get the most that we can out of it.

SLS allows for the launch of the deep space gateway and subsequent infrastructure add-ons over the years for lunar visitation, asteroidal missions and at least initially, crew transfer. It could also eventually loft a very nice propellant depot for later use on an improved architecture.  Once commercial heavy lift becomes regularly available. SLS will probably have a scaled back role, but for some time into the future it could be used on a limited once or twice per year basis until no longer needed.
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Offline guckyfan

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #45 on: 07/17/2017 05:23 PM »
We have another world on our doorstep that can give us  much of what we need to know to decide whether humans have any long term business on partial-1g worlds.

I reject that. Knowing that humans can not live long term in lunar gravity and have healthy children does in no way imply the same problem would necessarily present on Mars.

Online AncientU

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #46 on: 07/17/2017 05:56 PM »
Just a point, NASA can not use Ariane.  JWST is launching on Ariane because that is part of ESAs contribution.  NASA is not buying the launch services.

Isn't giving away part of JWST 'buying' the launch?
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Offline Jim

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #47 on: 07/17/2017 07:08 PM »
Just a point, NASA can not use Ariane.  JWST is launching on Ariane because that is part of ESAs contribution.  NASA is not buying the launch services.

Isn't giving away part of JWST 'buying' the launch?

No.  NASA can not buy launch services from foreign launch providers.  The only time at NASA spacecraft can fly on a foreign launch vehicle is if the launch service is provided as part of a cooperative agreement with a foreign government.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #48 on: 07/17/2017 08:30 PM »
It makes sense to design payloads to maximize the available capabilities of a (very) expensive launcher. However we have a 450mT space station in LEO that was built using components no larger than 15mT, so I'm not sure why we can't use the same assembly techniques for a far smaller station or vehicle.

The issue is staging from LEO. It takes a lot of propellant to get a large mass out of LEO. It is far better to stage from NRO. (ITS could get around the LEO staging problem, but that isn't related to the above discussion).

Sure, you could send up a module and have some sort of tug take it to NRO. But then you have to worry about refueling the tug, having redundancies for the tug, tug maintenance and so forth. Given the wealth of BLEO payload capability coming down the pike it seems like this kind of setup isn't needed for this mission. (although I am sure something like it will eventually come to pass as more people live and work in space).

Shouldn't the energy requirement to a BLEO destination should be roughly the same regardless if you stage in LEO or not? If so this truly is a discussion of what the future of space transportation should be.

- The SLS is 100% expendable, pretty much dedicated for NASA payloads only, and it is so large and costly that NASA can only use it for high cost payloads and programs. Which are rare. The SLS is not the future of space transportation.

- The commercial launch industry is moving towards reusable launchers that can easily put payloads into LEO while recovering their 1st stages, which over time should significantly lower the cost to access LEO. And not just for payloads, but also to send propellant and other consumables into LEO. If the goal is to expand humanity out into space then we have to get good at propellant depots in LEO anyways, so best to focus on that now rather than later.

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NASA has pretty much ruled out the SLS for going to Mars, and the FY2018 NASA funding law does not contain funding for the Deep Space Gateway - and is unlikely to be added.

Again Gerst was talking about a Mars landing by 2033. Also NASA has just pitched the DSG so I wouldn't expect to see anything for it specifically in the 2018 budget (although portions of said budget can be used to lay the groundwork for DSG).

So NASA doesn't have enough money to land a human on Mars in 15 years, but you think that would change if they had 20 or 30 years? If we don't need an HLV for a couple of decades, why do we need to finish building the SLS? What is it supposed to do for the next few decades?

As to the DSG, NASA obviously pitches lots of concepts, but so far none of them have included any cost estimates, and THAT is where Congress usually has a conflict. So just as the SLS does not make the effort for Mars cost effective, I don't think the SLS will make the DSG concept very cost effective either - especially if a side-by-side comparison is made of the same concept but using commercial launchers.

And this seems to be the philosophical divide between those that support the SLS and those that don't, because those that don't support the SLS do so on the basis of cost, not that they want money thrown to their favorite launch company. For instance, the whole point of payload standardization is so multiple launch providers can be used, and I would expect NASA to contract with multiple U.S. launch providers - maybe evenly divide the launches, or whatever makes sense.

The point is, I see the focus on creating a government-owned transportation system as a distraction for NASA, caused by Congress, and that it is delaying NASA's ability to send humans beyond LEO - not making it happen sooner.
« Last Edit: 07/17/2017 09:10 PM by Coastal Ron »
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline eric z

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #49 on: 07/17/2017 08:42 PM »
 Based on the title of this thread, what I think would be warranted [but it ain't gonna happen!] would be for NASA -TV and the PR  Dept. to immediately start phasing out all the cool pictures of astronauts walking around Mars, chipping at rocks, huge rockets blasting-off, etc. etc. Stop the hype. Answer questions truthfully w/o spin.
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Online AncientU

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #50 on: 07/17/2017 11:46 PM »
Just a point, NASA can not use Ariane.  JWST is launching on Ariane because that is part of ESAs contribution.  NASA is not buying the launch services.

Isn't giving away part of JWST 'buying' the launch?

No.  NASA can not buy launch services from foreign launch providers.  The only time at NASA spacecraft can fly on a foreign launch vehicle is if the launch service is provided as part of a cooperative agreement with a foreign government.

What did NASA give the foreign government for these launch services?
Nothing of value you are saying...  I don't believe that.

What did NASA give the Europeans for the SLS service module?  Nothing again?

NASA is giving away chunks of what the taxpayers paid for in these so-called cooperative agreements... just augmenting their budgets by giving away the goods we bought.
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #51 on: 07/18/2017 12:03 AM »
Just a point, NASA can not use Ariane.  JWST is launching on Ariane because that is part of ESAs contribution.  NASA is not buying the launch services.

Isn't giving away part of JWST 'buying' the launch?

No.  NASA can not buy launch services from foreign launch providers.  The only time at NASA spacecraft can fly on a foreign launch vehicle is if the launch service is provided as part of a cooperative agreement with a foreign government.

What did NASA give the foreign government for these launch services?
Nothing of value you are saying...  I don't believe that.

What did NASA give the Europeans for the SLS service module?  Nothing again?

NASA is giving away chunks of what the taxpayers paid for in these so-called cooperative agreements... just augmenting their budgets by giving away the goods we bought.
IIRC the SM is being provided as a form of barter payment towards ISS contribution. It's been a while, so if anyone can confirm that would be great...

Edit:typo
« Last Edit: 07/18/2017 12:19 PM by Rocket Science »
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Offline Jim

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #52 on: 07/18/2017 02:05 AM »

1.  What did NASA give the foreign government for these launch services?
Nothing of value you are saying...  I don't believe that.

What did NASA give the Europeans for the SLS service module?  Nothing again?

NASA is giving away chunks of what the taxpayers paid for in these so-called cooperative agreements... just augmenting their budgets by giving away the goods we bought.

Wrong again.  Please do some background research..

NASA is not giving away US taxpayer money

NASA has a history of cooperative projects.

ESA provided solar panels and instruments for HST viewing time.
NASA built the Topex spacecraft and ESA launched it for data sharing. 
NASA has launched all the French Jason spacecraft for instrument accommodations and data sharing
NASA is launching Solar Orbiter for ESA for instrument accommodations and data sharing

ESA is launching JWST for an instrument accommodation and viewing time
ESA is providing the ESM for Orion in place of providing ISS logistics.

JWST would be on the ground and short an instrument if not for barter agreements.
« Last Edit: 07/18/2017 02:25 AM by Lar »

Offline woods170

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #53 on: 07/18/2017 06:44 AM »

1.  What did NASA give the foreign government for these launch services?
Nothing of value you are saying...  I don't believe that.

What did NASA give the Europeans for the SLS service module?  Nothing again?

NASA is giving away chunks of what the taxpayers paid for in these so-called cooperative agreements... just augmenting their budgets by giving away the goods we bought.

Wrong again.  Please do some background research..

NASA is not giving away US taxpayer money

NASA has a history of cooperative projects.

ESA provided solar panels and instruments for HST viewing time.
NASA built the Topex spacecraft and ESA launched it for data sharing. 
NASA has launched all the French Jason spacecraft for instrument accommodations and data sharing
NASA is launching Solar Orbiter for ESA for instrument accommodations and data sharing

ESA is launching JWST for an instrument accommodation and viewing time
ESA is providing the ESM for Orion in place of providing ISS logistics.

JWST would be on the ground and short an instrument if not for barter agreements.

Jim is correct on this one.
The total (all-in) price-tag of JWST is $10.5 billion. Domestic funding from the United States makes up the majority of this: roughly $8.8 billion. The tab for the remaining $1.7 billion is picked up by the international partners, most notably ESA. In return for investing $1.7 billion into the JWST project the international partners (ESA included):
- get to provide instruments for JWST.
- get to launch JWST.
- get full access to every bit of data ever coming out of JWST.

So, contrary to what AncientU seems to be implying NASA did not give money to ESA to launch JWST. The launch of JWST is fully and completely funded by European taxpayers, not US taxpayers. The same applies to several of the instruments on JWST.

Another example of international cooperation on space-based astronomy missions is the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS). This project was initiated in the Netherlands and later NASA and the British Science & Engineering Research Council were invited to join the project. Both of them accepted the invitation.
The work was then split-up between the partners:
- 10% of the total project cost was picked up by the British. For that money the UK provided the ground control station near Rutherford and also were responsible for the preparation and execution of day-to-day on-orbit operations as well as the science-result quick-looks.
- 40% of the total project cost was picked up by the Netherlands. For that money the Netherlands provided the spacecraft (minus the main instrument) as well as providing a secondary instrument. Additionally the Netherlands performed all pre-launch preparations, provided the software for on-orbit operations and ground-operations, and was responsible for all testing on both component level (spacecraft) and of the fully integrated satellite.
- 50% of the total project cost was picked up by the United States. For that money the United States provided the entire main instrument package, including the component-tested helium-cooled dewar and main telescope, the component-tested focal plain array and all instrument electronics. They also provided the launch vehicle as well as delivery of the satellite to it's intended orbit. The USA also provided the testing facilities at JPL for an extended thermal equilibrium test of the integrated satellite prior to launch. Finally the US was responsible for analysing the science data and producing the resulting all-sky map of the infrared universe.

Offline woods170

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #54 on: 07/18/2017 07:04 AM »
Just a point, NASA can not use Ariane.  JWST is launching on Ariane because that is part of ESAs contribution.  NASA is not buying the launch services.

Isn't giving away part of JWST 'buying' the launch?

No.  NASA can not buy launch services from foreign launch providers.  The only time at NASA spacecraft can fly on a foreign launch vehicle is if the launch service is provided as part of a cooperative agreement with a foreign government.

What did NASA give the foreign government for these launch services?
Nothing of value you are saying...  I don't believe that.

What did NASA give the Europeans for the SLS service module?  Nothing again?

NASA is giving away chunks of what the taxpayers paid for in these so-called cooperative agreements... just augmenting their budgets by giving away the goods we bought.
IIRC the SM is being provided as a form or barter payment towards ISS. It's been a while, so if anyone can confirm that would be great...
That is correct. In stead of providing additional ATV's for ISS cargo supply runs ESA has accepted a NASA invitation to pick up the tab for developing, testing and supplying the service module for Orion, minus the main engine. Because there is no exchange of funds this is a barter agreement. ESA pays for developing, testing and supplying the service module (again: minus the main engine) out of it's own pockets. Despite what some ill-informed folks are claiming NASA (and by extension the US taxpayer) is not paying anything for the service module for Orion (minus the main engine).
« Last Edit: 07/18/2017 07:08 AM by woods170 »

Online AncientU

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #55 on: 07/18/2017 10:40 AM »
Who is picking up the tab for replacing those cargo supply runs?
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Offline jgoldader

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #56 on: 07/18/2017 10:41 AM »
As Woods170 wrote, these kinds of barter arrangements are common.  As an example, for HST, I believe the Europeans provided one of the original instruments (Faint Object Camera) and maybe even the original solar arrays.  In exchange, they were guaranteed a certain percentage of the observing time.  Government rules (under which NASA/ESA/etc. have to work) often prohibit just sending money, so participation then comes in the form of providing materiel, not cash.  This kind of thing is not new at all; IRAS was more than 30 years ago now, and the agreements for HST probably were signed in the mid-1970s.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were earlier examples.
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Online AncientU

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #57 on: 07/18/2017 11:40 AM »
As Woods170 wrote, these kinds of barter arrangements are common.  As an example, for HST, I believe the Europeans provided one of the original instruments (Faint Object Camera) and maybe even the original solar arrays.  In exchange, they were guaranteed a certain percentage of the observing time.  Government rules (under which NASA/ESA/etc. have to work) often prohibit just sending money, so participation then comes in the form of providing materiel, not cash.  This kind of thing is not new at all; IRAS was more than 30 years ago now, and the agreements for HST probably were signed in the mid-1970s.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were earlier examples.

Right.  Giving away observing time (GTO programs) is giving something of great value... not cash.  This is exactly how NASA augments its budget (JWST launch on Ariane is an example).  Quite different than the original agreements for building an instrument where the builder assumes all risk for cost over-runs, etc.; those are legitimate collaborative agreements.  Booking the Ariane launch instead of coming up with the extra cash over and above the $8B cost cap is augmenting the budget.
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #58 on: 07/18/2017 12:29 PM »
As Woods170 wrote, these kinds of barter arrangements are common.  As an example, for HST, I believe the Europeans provided one of the original instruments (Faint Object Camera) and maybe even the original solar arrays.  In exchange, they were guaranteed a certain percentage of the observing time.  Government rules (under which NASA/ESA/etc. have to work) often prohibit just sending money, so participation then comes in the form of providing materiel, not cash.  This kind of thing is not new at all; IRAS was more than 30 years ago now, and the agreements for HST probably were signed in the mid-1970s.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were earlier examples.

Right.  Giving away observing time (GTO programs) is giving something of great value... not cash.  This is exactly how NASA augments its budget (JWST launch on Ariane is an example).  Quite different than the original agreements for building an instrument where the builder assumes all risk for cost over-runs, etc.; those are legitimate collaborative agreements.  Booking the Ariane launch instead of coming up with the extra cash over and above the $8B cost cap is augmenting the budget.
Let's think about this for a second... If one takes the program cost and divide it by the operational lifetime in hours, then one could equate observation time to dollars... YMMV
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Re: NASA does not have the funds for a crewed Mars mission
« Reply #59 on: 07/18/2017 01:14 PM »
$10.5B over five operational years --> $1.2M/hour (365x24 hour operations)
At 70% open shutter time --> $1.7M/hour

If observatory operates for ten years (amount of propellant onboard -- plus nothing else goes wrong), costs will drop by of order half.
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