Author Topic: Obama Needs To Be Bold  (Read 28160 times)

Offline Namechange User

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #120 on: 12/17/2009 06:02 PM »
Is there some confusion about terminology?  Do some here think "commercial" means "offered for sale to the general public"?  By that definition, it will be a long time until we see "commercial" orbital launch vehicles!

That's exactly what it means.  It means the company that has paid for the development, construction and operation of the vehicle has the right to sell it, or the services, to others than just NASA.  That has to include the "general public".  For these companies to do this, they need to close their business case.  Otherwise, why would a company spends many millions of dollars of their own capital in the HOPE that NASA will allow a NASA crew to ride it every once in a while?  How would these companies ever recoop their costs for development, etc?
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Offline khallow

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #121 on: 12/17/2009 06:59 PM »

And there it is....

This post and the post above is not commercial.  It's contracting, and with some of the suggestions mentioned, it's sole source contracting. 

For it to really be commercial, it is hardware or a service not funded by the government, or with very little seed money, and the financing has come from the company in both terms of development and operation in order to turn a profit. 

So what is being suggested is that we stop everything in the hopes  that commercial enterprise develops multiple launchers, spacecraft and depots, for purposes of selling them to the government and other users so that then we can get a truly competetive, commercial capability.  Once and if that happens, then it is acceptable for NASA to start planning beyond LEO systems that first take advantage of this theoretical commercial capability?   Not the best way to go folks

First, commercial here means owned and operated for a profit. Second, the US government is by itself at least half the demand for anything in space. How do you get from a situation where a single government funds most space activities to one where government funding is similar in portion to the governments' share of the general global economy? I don't think you get there by repeating the past 50 years of government owned projects. Or excluding, as you implicitly do, private industry on the insignificant ground that they are "contracting" not providing a good or service for a profit.

Second, we already have a variety of launchers owned by private companies (ULA, Orbital Sciences, and SpaceX). These are by definition commercial launch vehicles since the owners of the launch vehicles intend to make a profit. Further, there's no need to "stop everything" since the EELVs are already launching and ahead of current NASA plans.

Quote
In fact, if commercial enterprise is truly engaged, as they should be, it will be more of a hybrid approach anyway. 

Unless the hybrid approach is use commercial enterprise's goods and services when possible, then commercial enterprise is not truly engaged. Commercial enterprise, that is, goods and services owned by private industry and intended to make a profit, can be used for other purposes than just NASA's or the US government's. If NASA builds the Ares I, it'll only be used for NASA launches. Delta IV Heavy is already used for DoD launches too. And it can be used for private launches too (though no one has yet ordered a launch at current prices).

This means there's a direct way, by purchasing commercial launch services, that NASA can contribute to the further development of private launch capabilities in the US. It annoys me that the Griffin administration was more willing to make a big gamble on the Ares program than the lesser gamble of adapting an EELV to use for manned NASA missions.

Added: I see here an opportunity to "be bold". Trust private industry (when there are two or more competitors) to deliver parts of NASA's space program that NASA doesn't need to be involved in. Earth to orbit is a key technology that private industry can do right now.
« Last Edit: 12/17/2009 07:18 PM by khallow »
Karl Hallowell

Offline gospacex

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #122 on: 12/17/2009 07:07 PM »
     A robust, self sustaining space program cannot be maintained without two basic elements;

     1) Reusable spacecraft and systems.  Thowing away upwards of 100 million dollars of equipment is not only insane, but wrecks any sort of long term profitability for anyone except the rocket providers and satillite corporations.

How many times this non-truth will be repeated? There are no "100+ million dollars of equipment" in an ELV. Labor cost and standing army of launch personnel with today's anemic launch rates are responsible for at least a half of the cost.

The ELV per se is: (1) big tanks, (2) lots and lots of fuel, (3) avionics and telemetry hardware, (4) engines, and only (4) is somewhat expensive.

Offline khallow

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #123 on: 12/17/2009 07:08 PM »

There is a major difference between this, what you are suggesting and NASA buying services that a private company owns on a competetive basis.  For there to be that competetive basis, then these companies need to develop their own rockets, vehicles, etc that they OWN and CONTROL.  The cost reduction comes from the fact they are doing this to make a profit so overhead, etc is minimized and making and selling the best product and consequently high demand. 

Here's a list: United Launch Alliance, Orbital Sciences, and SpaceX. They are private companies that OWN and CONTROL orbital launch vehicles.

Is there some confusion about terminology?  Do some here think "commercial" means "offered for sale to the general public"?  By that definition, it will be a long time until we see "commercial" orbital launch vehicles!

That's exactly what it means.  It means the company that has paid for the development, construction and operation of the vehicle has the right to sell it, or the services, to others than just NASA.  That has to include the "general public".  For these companies to do this, they need to close their business case.  Otherwise, why would a company spends many millions of dollars of their own capital in the HOPE that NASA will allow a NASA crew to ride it every once in a while?  How would these companies ever recoop their costs for development, etc?

Actually the above companies do indeed sell to the "general public". Pony up the appropriate amount of money and you can put something in orbit with their launch vehicles.
« Last Edit: 12/17/2009 07:12 PM by khallow »
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Offline jongoff

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #124 on: 12/17/2009 07:08 PM »
Launch services from who?  On what?  With what depots? 

Commercial firms with whatever rockets they have that can lift the hardware, cargo, or people in a safe manner.  ULA with its Atlas V and Delta IV, hopefully at some point SpaceX with Falcon 9 and OSC with Taurus II, and down the road some of it may be taken by commercial RLVs if the demand gets high enough to close their business cases.

As for what depots, depots are only a little less real than HLVs.  Neither of them exist right now, both will require money to bring them into existence.  HLVs have been done before, so the technical risk is lower, but the cost associated with many of them is high enough that I think the risk of them not getting built (Ares-V) are just as severe as the odds of a depot not working.  It's not like we haven't had 90-95% of the technologies needed for a depot demonstrated for most of my lifetime.  They haven't been integrated, and integration often runs into unknown unknowns, but at least as of right now, there aren't any known technical showstoppers for depots.

If NASA decided to fund depot demonstration, I think they'd have better probability of getting a working depot out of the mix as they did of being able to figure out orbital rendezvous during the Apollo program.

~Jon

Offline mmeijeri

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #125 on: 12/17/2009 07:24 PM »
As for what depots, depots are only a little less real than HLVs.  Neither of them exist right now, both will require money to bring them into existence.  HLVs have been done before, so the technical risk is lower, but the cost associated with many of them is high enough that I think the risk of them not getting built (Ares-V) are just as severe as the odds of a depot not working.

Zooming in on one detail of your excellent post and I guess you can predict what I'm about to say: the above is only true for cryogenic depots. For noncryogenic propellants of whatever kind propellant transfer on orbit is a very mature technology. And good enough for exploration. Cryogenic propellant transfer remains a strategic technology, both for exploration and for commercial development of space. For exploration beyond the Earth moon system it is slightly less important than SEP and perhaps NTR. For commercial development of space it is probably the most important technology after noncryogenic depots.

It's possible to skip noncryogenic depots, but not necessary. And in my opinion unwise.
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Offline Namechange User

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #126 on: 12/17/2009 07:29 PM »
My mistake.  Clearly you all understand this business much better than I do.  I will defer to your excellent rationale and hope my bestest that your plans come to fruition.  Clearly they will do everything we hope and may also solve hunger, climate change and end all wars too. 
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Offline jongoff

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #127 on: 12/17/2009 07:58 PM »
OV,
You know that we do value your input.  I jumped in on only part of the argument, but do generally agree that pegging ones expectations very high right now is unwarranted.  I'd love to see a program that focused more on developing and fielding the technology, techniques, and infrastructures that would actually make BEO exploration affordable.  I'd love to see new, commercial RLVs encouraged by the government opening up more of its needs to commercial supply (it's done so for ISS cargo, but I'd also like to see it for earth-to-orbit delivery of crew, and eventually propellants as well).  I'd love to see the government fund in some means (possibly a COTS-like skin-in-the-game, pay-on-technical-milestone style contract) the development of propellant depots...

...but I really will be tickled pink if any of that happens.  I'm not holding my breath.  I'm more impressed with Charlie Bolden than many previous NASA Admins, and I think he has a good team, and that Obama's science advisors are better-aligned with commercial space interests than most...but all that doesn't mean what we get will be anywhere close to what I'd like to see happen.

~Jon

Offline AlexInOklahoma

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #128 on: 12/18/2009 01:03 AM »
Any bets against NASA being mentioned in the Copenhagen speech tomorrow?  I can easily see how technology, NASA, and monitoring (on several fronts) all are mentioned in the same breath.  Could possibly be a step towards US going the other direction (less of manned, per se) without having to make one single drastic announcement - like slowing/killing major manned efforts and begin more Earth-oriented things all in the same speech.  A redo of Carbon Observatory sooner rather than later?

What do I know, though...

Alex

Offline robertross

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #129 on: 12/18/2009 01:16 AM »
Any bets against NASA being mentioned in the Copenhagen speech tomorrow?  I can easily see how technology, NASA, and monitoring (on several fronts) all are mentioned in the same breath.  Could possibly be a step towards US going the other direction (less of manned, per se) without having to make one single drastic announcement - like slowing/killing major manned efforts and begin more Earth-oriented things all in the same speech.  A redo of Carbon Observatory sooner rather than later?

What do I know, though...

Alex

I thought about it, but only in the context of drumming up international support for something like a mission to Mars behind closed doors. Space-based or space-oriented activities may have some merit, and I could see a global action on that front, but I certainly hope they won't consider the space-based solar idea (too costly with minimal gains).
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Offline AlexInOklahoma

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #130 on: 12/18/2009 01:52 AM »
Cool (!!!).  I figured that something would be mentioned about 'Earth monitoring' with seeing a few stories of Google arranging a service for 'open access' of satellite data for everyone to be able to monitor compliance and whatever. Think its called Earth Engine (??) but was spoken of in a way that made Carbon Observatory sound like a given.  The Copenhagen speech, I bet, will have some more info for us on general direction (if my gut is feeling this properly).  Its like Hilary prepped things a bit for such an announcement...talking big money commitment with partners anyways, and there usually has to be compliance-monitoring type stuff factored into such 'plans'.  It would fit, I guess...but still just a PURE guess from a medical professional, LOL!

Ares I is dead now, right? (as good as?)

Alex

Offline robertross

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #131 on: 12/18/2009 02:01 AM »

Ares I is dead now, right? (as good as?)

Alex

It always was as good as dead (based on AC)...it's just people (politicians) like Shelby hanging on tooth and nail.

The sooner he gets on board, the sooner we can get out of LEO, with a capable Orion launch vehicle.
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Offline Andy USA

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #132 on: 12/18/2009 02:05 AM »
Several threads, several on the same links. Locking to centralize.

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