Author Topic: NASA RFI for Efficiency & Sustainability of Exploration Systems  (Read 10154 times)

Offline Proponent

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NASA has just issued an RFI (PDF version attached) for ways to make exploration less unaffordable.  It's a bit like the previously discussed RFI for Orion production, but more general.  It seems as though just about everything is in play.  Page 5 shows a table of projected SLS missions, through EM-10 in 2030.

EDIT:  Eric Berger has a bluntly-titled article on this RFI in Ars Technica: "NASA realizes SLS and Orion are too expensive, opens door to competitors."
« Last Edit: 11/18/2016 08:02 AM by Proponent »

Offline MikeAtkinson

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What exactly is "proving ground", is it lunar DRO? What do they do there which cannot be done in LEO?

Offline TrevorMonty

What exactly is "proving ground", is it lunar DRO? What do they do there which cannot be done in LEO?
The radiation levels and temperature ranges are different from LEO.

Offline sdsds

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What exactly is "proving ground", is it lunar DRO? What do they do there which cannot be done in LEO?
The radiation levels and temperature ranges are different from LEO.

Also the time required to reach Earth (and thus e.g. emergency medical assistance) is considerably longer. It isn't a destination in-and-of itself. It's just ... a proving ground! ;-)
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Candidate complete systems are

-SpaceX DragonV2 on FH(expendable)

-ULA/Boeing Starliner/Vulcan/Aces(distributed launch)

-BO New Glen or New Armstrong[this one is a long-shot as a candidate] with New Shepard upgraded Capsule

-and possibly even SpaceX ITS [this one is a long-shot as a candidate]

The long-shots are scheduled for operational NET to be out past the need date target of 2021 to 2023

Edit added:
If the contracting process started for a full replacement of the SLS/Orion system, it would go on contract at about the the point of EM-1 launch. So funding would at that point switch to the new program halting spending on all SLS/Orion and EM-2 program elements except maybe DSH.
« Last Edit: 11/19/2016 01:12 PM by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Offline AncientU

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Reposting under this new RFI Topic:

There could be an open competition for say 400mT to orbit annually, starting 2025, with up to four launches, 8+m fairing capability, and minimum crew of 8 per year.  (Adjust the numbers as you see fit for a realistic exploration program that includes Mars by early to mid 2030s.)  Awards would be fixed fee/COTS model.

SLS/Orion would compete be baselined with all costs through FY 2017 ignored, but full cost accounting thereafter.  Existing industrial team would be required to propose fully document costs of this option, butand each member would be free to propose alternatives or team with others.

Development costs to USG, plus operating costs for ten years (2025-2035) at this threshold 400mT annual rate would be one of the criteria.  Another would be the tonnage and crew delivered to Mars surface per synod. Other technical features could score bonus points.  Distribution of funds to existing industrial partners not a weighed criterion.

At a minimum, this would force the SLS/Orion program to reveal costs, and possibly even work to reduce them. It would also fulfill US Law as we are frequently reminded by Robotbeat:
Quote
To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Edited to eliminate the SLS/Orion Team as a proposing group per Jim's comments, but having them fully reveal costs for a yardstick against which other costs are evaluated.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Offline john smith 19

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What exactly is "proving ground", is it lunar DRO? What do they do there which cannot be done in LEO?
"Proving ground" is described on page 7 of doc as "cislunar space around the Moon with the Orion crew vehicle and SLS rocket, "

Assuming of course that if this goes to an RFP that the winners continue to use an Orion and an SLS to do this.

It would seem that NASA is as happy with Boeing's costs for SLS as they are with LM's costs for Orion.  :(
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Offline Hauerg

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But nobody can be surprised by these costs.
Also this looks now like yet another umpteen billion $ program that is spared to actually deliver on it's promises.

Offline RonM

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But nobody can be surprised by these costs.
Also this looks now like yet another umpteen billion $ program that is spared to actually deliver on it's promises.

Blame Congress for wasting tax money.

If Congress had selected the Direct plan Jupiter would be operational today.

If Congress had gone along with Obama's idea of researching technology for five years before designing the next big rocket then commercial space would be competing for the SHLV contract.

Offline TrevorMonty

But nobody can be surprised by these costs.
Also this looks now like yet another umpteen billion $ program that is spared to actually deliver on it's promises.

Blame Congress for wasting tax money.

If Congress had selected the Direct plan Jupiter would be operational today.

If Congress had gone along with Obama's idea of researching technology for five years before designing the next big rocket then commercial space would be competing for the SHLV contract.
The only problem with SLS schedule was not committing to EUS at beginning. Block 1A will be ready in 2018 and could've flown regularly from there if US been crew rated.


Offline TrevorMonty

ULA alternatives would require Boeing & LM approval. The two companies with most to lose by an alternative. Not allowing ULA to compete could mean losing out totally to Blue or/and SpaceX.


Offline Proponent

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The only problem with SLS schedule was not committing to EUS at beginning.

Where would the extra money for starting on EUS at the beginning have come from?

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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ULA alternatives would require Boeing & LM approval. The two companies with most to lose by an alternative. Not allowing ULA to compete could mean losing out totally to Blue or/and SpaceX.
With the prospect of nothing or something, I do not think LM would object to ULA/Boeing team doing a proposal/information submittal.

If they do not support a alternate team then a SpaceX solution or a BO solution could end up with the contract. Shutting LM out completely.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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The only problem with SLS schedule was not committing to EUS at beginning.

Where would the extra money for starting on EUS at the beginning have come from?
The basic problem was SLS cost too much for just the core and boosters. Congress gave NASA a max value and told them to propose a program that fit the budget.

Offline TrevorMonty

The only problem with SLS schedule was not committing to EUS at beginning.

Where would the extra money for starting on EUS at the beginning have come from?
I stated schedule not budget. We all know it comes down to money. In away approving money for EUS a couple of years ago set their HSF program back. If decision to proceed with EUS had been put off to now or later,  block 1A US would be crew rated, at extra cost of cause.

Without block 1B NASA would need to use commercial LVs or cargo SLS launches to deliver DSH modules.
« Last Edit: 11/19/2016 05:43 PM by TrevorMonty »

Offline MikeAtkinson

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What exactly is "proving ground", is it lunar DRO? What do they do there which cannot be done in LEO?
"Proving ground" is described on page 7 of doc as "cislunar space around the Moon with the Orion crew vehicle and SLS rocket, "
So just an area of space? No asset build up, crew tended space station?

The radiation levels and temperature ranges are different from LEO.

Also the time required to reach Earth (and thus e.g. emergency medical assistance) is considerably longer. It isn't a destination in-and-of itself. It's just ... a proving ground! ;-)

True, but those are not benfits of a proving ground.

Worse radiation means more crew danger, but no advantages in terms of hardware testing.

Temperature ranges are an issue, but cis-lunar space does not provide the full temperature/heat load variation of a journey to Mars.

Time to reach earth in the event of an emergency is a major problem. If it is meant to be proving equipment and procedures then failures are to be expected. While it is possible to mitigate against failures by redundant/dissimilar hardware, this costs.

So I ask again, what is the proving ground?

What is it meant to be proving? How is it meant to be doing the proving? Why cis-lunar space? Is it just one orbit destination in cis-lunar space (DRO?), or do different proving ground missions go to different orbits, and if so why?

I have some ideas about why they might possibly want flights to a proving ground (BEO space station and ARM related), but the RFI itself gives no indication about why they might want to spend many billions on doing stuff (whatever that stuff might be) in the proving ground rather than LEO.

Offline okan170

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In their IAC presentations, NASA talked about primarily proving life support systems for over a year without major replacements, leading to a year-long stay in cis-lunar space.  I'd guess that's what they'd be focusing on out there.

Offline Khadgars

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To me imho, this RFI is really to just put Boeing/LM on notice that their costs estimates going forward are too high.  We've already seen the tone from LM change recently.  Will be interesting to see where this ends up.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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To me imho, this RFI is really to just put Boeing/LM on notice that their costs estimates going forward are too high.  We've already seen the tone from LM change recently.  Will be interesting to see where this ends up.
There is a portion of truth about this but it is driven by a feeling from outside that operational costs of SLS/Orion are too high to make the system usable. The basic sentiment I believe is that SLS/Orion soaks up so much budget that there is nothing left for payloads. This is a significant problem in that no payloads no missions. This is a self fulfilling prophecy for low flight rates for SLS and Orion.

Lowering the operational costs would free up NASA budget margins for payloads' development that increase total accomplishments over a set time-frame. I think this last is the main reason NASA is trying to gain additional insights. They see a max value for the budget of HSF LV and payloads /year as flat into the future and SLS/Orion budget projections currently will strangle new payload developments.

Offline sdsds

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So I ask again, what is the proving ground?

What is it meant to be proving? How is it meant to be doing the proving? Why cis-lunar space? Is it just one orbit destination in cis-lunar space (DRO?), or do different proving ground missions go to different orbits, and if so why?

I have some ideas about why they might possibly want flights to a proving ground (BEO space station and ARM related), but the RFI itself gives no indication about why they might want to spend many billions on doing stuff (whatever that stuff might be) in the proving ground rather than LEO.

Well you have me convinced! Those three words, "the proving ground," were a poor choice to express what they really meant. Why didn't they choose a phrase that more accurately reflected what they meant? I honestly don't know, but I suspect it has something to do with the mission of the NASA public affairs office.
-- sdsds --

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