Author Topic: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS  (Read 25858 times)

Offline jongoff

  • Recovering Rocket Plumber/Space Entrepreneur
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6020
  • Lafayette/Broomfield, CO
  • Liked: 1993
  • Likes Given: 683
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #40 on: 02/08/2017 02:39 AM »
Even if the market didn't have too many launch vehicles, the basic development funding for SLS (and ARES) is an ENORMOUS opportunity cost. Like $20-30 billion already, and isn't even in flight yet. Easily enough for a basic hyperbolic lander. We literally could be on the Moon already.

So what you still have to develop an actual nuts and bolts launch vehicle first to put the lander on the moon, as you don't fly anywhere with paper rockets and PowerPoint presentations.

As Robotbeat has pointed out elsewhere, Falcon 9, Atlas V, and Delta IV all currently exist and are flying. Unlike SLS. You do not need to invent a new rocket to go to the Moon. There have been tons of studies showing how you can do that with existing rockets. Even if you don't insist on orbital propellant transfer (though that would make it tons easier). CxP and SLS have delayed a human return to the Moon by at least a decade at this point. I think it's legit for some of us to be frustrated at the waste, and even more frustrated at the CSF for folding like a cheap suit on this.

~Jon

Offline envy887

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2581
  • Liked: 1160
  • Likes Given: 731
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #41 on: 02/08/2017 03:20 AM »
What is commercial about SLS?

This is disappointing.

Disappointing because it could be positioned against Space X?

In spite of protestations to the contrary it seems every time there is a hint of competition to Space X, whoever it might be, some get up in arms about it.

Why single out SpaceX? There're more than one commercial company building heavy lift and contemplating super heavy.
SpaceX is actually building super heavy lift rockets, and contemplating (more like testing hardware for) whatever you call the next larger class after that. They have the only commercial super heavy that will fly before SLS, which could be viewed as competition, I suppose.

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8013
  • UK
  • Liked: 1280
  • Likes Given: 168
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #42 on: 02/08/2017 08:26 AM »
Even if the market didn't have too many launch vehicles, the basic development funding for SLS (and ARES) is an ENORMOUS opportunity cost. Like $20-30 billion already, and isn't even in flight yet. Easily enough for a basic hyperbolic lander. We literally could be on the Moon already.

So what you still have to develop an actual nuts and bolts launch vehicle first to put the lander on the moon, as you don't fly anywhere with paper rockets and PowerPoint presentations.

As Robotbeat has pointed out elsewhere, Falcon 9, Atlas V, and Delta IV all currently exist and are flying. Unlike SLS. You do not need to invent a new rocket to go to the Moon. There have been tons of studies showing how you can do that with existing rockets. Even if you don't insist on orbital propellant transfer (though that would make it tons easier). CxP and SLS have delayed a human return to the Moon by at least a decade at this point. I think it's legit for some of us to be frustrated at the waste, and even more frustrated at the CSF for folding like a cheap suit on this.

~Jon

But that boat has sailed as an argument. If you wanted to go an alternative route using existing hardware I'd thought that was something you'd need to have opted for years back. We are where we are and we'll just have plough on. If companies see commercial possibilities in SLS then that's all good.

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5111
  • Liked: 773
  • Likes Given: 528
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #43 on: 02/08/2017 08:37 AM »
SLS costs over $2 billion per year.  Over $10 billion more will have been spent on it by the time EM-1 flies.  It's only sensible to ask whether NASA might accomplish more by spending a similar quantity of money on an exploration program based on rockets the cost of which is shared with other users.

In other words, I don't think the argument has sailed.
« Last Edit: 02/08/2017 09:05 AM by Proponent »

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4688
  • Liked: 2807
  • Likes Given: 3930
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #44 on: 02/08/2017 10:18 AM »
Even if the market didn't have too many launch vehicles, the basic development funding for SLS (and ARES) is an ENORMOUS opportunity cost. Like $20-30 billion already, and isn't even in flight yet. Easily enough for a basic hyperbolic lander. We literally could be on the Moon already.

So what you still have to develop an actual nuts and bolts launch vehicle first to put the lander on the moon, as you don't fly anywhere with paper rockets and PowerPoint presentations.

As Robotbeat has pointed out elsewhere, Falcon 9, Atlas V, and Delta IV all currently exist and are flying. Unlike SLS. You do not need to invent a new rocket to go to the Moon. There have been tons of studies showing how you can do that with existing rockets. Even if you don't insist on orbital propellant transfer (though that would make it tons easier). CxP and SLS have delayed a human return to the Moon by at least a decade at this point. I think it's legit for some of us to be frustrated at the waste, and even more frustrated at the CSF for folding like a cheap suit on this.

~Jon

But that boat has sailed as an argument. If you wanted to go an alternative route using existing hardware I'd thought that was something you'd need to have opted for years back. We are where we are and we'll just have plough on. If companies see commercial possibilities in SLS then that's all good.

Even after we've spent two decades and $20B plus on the system, we still have no rockets, no payloads, and a system that is too expensive to operate (same issue as Augustine found) -- too limited at 1-2 expendable flights per year to do anything interesting.  To expand capability to something interesting will require another decade or two and more tens of $B.  This boat has hardly sailed... still a paper rocket in fact, protestations aside.  It is still Billions and years away from initial flight and several more away from carrying crew.

Only vested interested interests have suppressed the options of doing with what we have (a rapidly expanding fleet of capable, existing launchers).  The Kleptocracy stole Russia's future in space and the same is happening here by a different caste of thieves.

Some of us will not settle for the status quo and not going anywhere fast.
« Last Edit: 02/08/2017 11:14 AM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline Lar

  • Fan boy at large
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8333
  • Saw Gemini live on TV
  • A large LEGO storage facility ... in Michigan
  • Liked: 5118
  • Likes Given: 3417
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #45 on: 02/08/2017 10:24 AM »
SLS costs over $2 billion per year.  Over $10 billion more will have been spent on it by the time EM-1 flies.  It's only sensible to ask whether NASA might accomplish more by spending a similar quantity of money on an exploration program based on rockets the cost of which is shared with other users.

In other words, I don't think the argument has sailed.

Exactly. Saying "well we spent this much, we should finish" is sunk cost fallacy.  (as I said before) Even cancelling SLS the day before the first flight saves money that could be better spent elsewhere.

Star One, you should be making the argument that SLS is politically unkillable and therefore some use should be made of it... That's actually a valid argument. Not that SLS has any technical or economic merit whatever, which is a hill of malarky. 

(not a mod post)
« Last Edit: 02/08/2017 10:39 AM by Lar »
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8013
  • UK
  • Liked: 1280
  • Likes Given: 168
Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #46 on: 02/08/2017 11:29 AM »
SLS costs over $2 billion per year.  Over $10 billion more will have been spent on it by the time EM-1 flies.  It's only sensible to ask whether NASA might accomplish more by spending a similar quantity of money on an exploration program based on rockets the cost of which is shared with other users.

In other words, I don't think the argument has sailed.

Exactly. Saying "well we spent this much, we should finish" is sunk cost fallacy.  (as I said before) Even cancelling SLS the day before the first flight saves money that could be better spent elsewhere.

Star One, you should be making the argument that SLS is politically unkillable and therefore some use should be made of it... That's actually a valid argument. Not that SLS has any technical or economic merit whatever, which is a hill of malarky. 

(not a mod post)

Well I was steering away from just saying the thing is pretty politically fireproof so you might as well make the best use of it you can, as it might be true but it's not a very constructive argument in my view to just say it's a public sector utility so to speak.

As an aside I appreciate Blue Origin's approach to making space commercial with little or no government money or input. To me that's a strong commercial approach not expecting the government to get you there on the taxpayers dollar which others have done. Though I believe ULA get something of a pass here as they are being funded by the DOD to provide assured and continuing access to space for national security payloads.
« Last Edit: 02/08/2017 11:33 AM by Star One »

Offline Darkseraph

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 451
  • Liked: 168
  • Likes Given: 86
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #47 on: 02/08/2017 12:37 PM »
Considering that SLS is the incumbent program with a fair degree of political support, there's still use for it in a way that would be beneficial for commercial human spaceflight. The Shuttle constructed the ISS and the ISS has served as a destination for commercial crew and cargo. SLS could serve a similar role in doing some of the initial heavy lifting of large payloads, which can be later served by a BLEO COTS program.



"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." R.P.Feynman

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5111
  • Liked: 773
  • Likes Given: 528
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #48 on: 02/08/2017 01:10 PM »
Even cancelling SLS the day before the first flight saves money that could be better spent elsewhere.

The only actual numbers we've seen suggest that even if SLS flies annually, it's all-in cost will still exceed $3 billion per year.  So I'd go further:  even the day after the first flight, it's worth asking if the $3 billion you'll spend before the next one could be better spent elsewhere.

NASA speaks optimistically of cutting costs, but its track record on economics is as almost as bad as its track record on awesome exploration is amazing.

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5111
  • Liked: 773
  • Likes Given: 528
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #49 on: 02/08/2017 01:17 PM »
Considering that SLS is the incumbent program with a fair degree of political support, there's still use for it in a way that would be beneficial for commercial human spaceflight. The Shuttle constructed the ISS and the ISS has served as a destination for commercial crew and cargo. SLS could serve a similar role in doing some of the initial heavy lifting of large payloads, which can be later served by a BLEO COTS program.

I think that's probably the best outcome one can reasonably for, given the strong support for SLS, largely from supposedly free-market-loving members of Congress.

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5111
  • Liked: 773
  • Likes Given: 528
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #50 on: 02/08/2017 01:28 PM »
Well I was steering away from just saying the thing is pretty politically fireproof so you might as well make the best use of it you can, as it might be true but it's not a very constructive argument in my view to just say it's a public sector utility so to speak.

As an aside I appreciate Blue Origin's approach to making space commercial with little or no government money or input. To me that's a strong commercial approach not expecting the government to get you there on the taxpayers dollar which others have done.

With Orion/SLS, we have a government-funded, government-operated system.  Blue Origin proposes a commercially funded, commercially operated system.

But what about the middle ground, namely a government-funded system making use of commercially managed hardware where advantageous (mostly meaning cheaper)?  I think that's what most of the argument against SLS is about.  It's not "Let's just wait for Bezos and Musk to go to the stars," it's "Let's get to the stars as fast as we can by letting NASA focus on the really hard stuff that nobody else can or will do."

Besides, since the Commercial Space Act of 1998, it's supposed to be government policy to use commercial capabilities where practicable.
« Last Edit: 02/08/2017 01:30 PM by Proponent »

Offline Rocket Science

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7837
  • NASA Educator Astronaut Candidate Applicant 2002
  • Liked: 2108
  • Likes Given: 4962
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #51 on: 02/08/2017 01:31 PM »
I'm a little confused... I thought that a NASA vehicle with not allowed to compete against a commercial vehicle... ???
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob, Physics instructor, aviator, vintage auto racer

Offline Rocket Science

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7837
  • NASA Educator Astronaut Candidate Applicant 2002
  • Liked: 2108
  • Likes Given: 4962
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #52 on: 02/08/2017 01:38 PM »
Well I was steering away from just saying the thing is pretty politically fireproof so you might as well make the best use of it you can, as it might be true but it's not a very constructive argument in my view to just say it's a public sector utility so to speak.

As an aside I appreciate Blue Origin's approach to making space commercial with little or no government money or input. To me that's a strong commercial approach not expecting the government to get you there on the taxpayers dollar which others have done.

With Orion/SLS, we have a government-funded, government-operated system.  Blue Origin proposes a commercially funded, commercially operated system.

But what about the middle ground, namely a government-funded system making use of commercially managed hardware where advantageous (mostly meaning cheaper)?  I think that's what most of the argument against SLS is about.  It's not "Let's just wait for Bezos and Musk to go to the stars," it's "Let's get to the stars as fast as we can by letting NASA focus on the really hard stuff that nobody else can or will do."

Besides, since the Commercial Space Act of 1998, it's supposed to be government policy to use commercial capabilities where practicable.
I guess we had similar thoughts at the same time! :)
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob, Physics instructor, aviator, vintage auto racer

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5111
  • Liked: 773
  • Likes Given: 528
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #53 on: 02/08/2017 01:38 PM »
Are you referring specifically to SLS?  In that case, the argument is probably just that there is not commercial launch vehicle of its capability.  This is disingenuous, since it fails to answer the question of whether a launch vehicle the size of SLS is needed, but that question does not occur to many.

It's also the case that, whatever the government's policy is in general, Congress has specifically passed a law allowing the US of SLS in various broad circumstances.

EDIT:  "broadly" -> "broad"
« Last Edit: 02/08/2017 01:56 PM by Proponent »

Offline Rocket Science

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7837
  • NASA Educator Astronaut Candidate Applicant 2002
  • Liked: 2108
  • Likes Given: 4962
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #54 on: 02/08/2017 01:41 PM »
Are you referring specifically to SLS?  In that case, the argument is probably just that there is not commercial launch vehicle of its capability.  This is disingenuous, since it fails to answer the question of whether a launch vehicle the size of SLS is needed, but that question does not occur to many.

It's also the case that, whatever the government's policy is in general, Congress has specifically passed a law allowing the US of SLS in various broadly circumstances.
Yes SLS, however we know what other entities have in the works and it sounds like it's going to be a job creation program for lawyers...
« Last Edit: 02/08/2017 01:42 PM by Rocket Science »
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob, Physics instructor, aviator, vintage auto racer

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4688
  • Liked: 2807
  • Likes Given: 3930
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #55 on: 02/08/2017 01:42 PM »
I'm a little confused... I thought that a NASA vehicle with not allowed to compete against a commercial vehicle... ???

Congress is only interested in others following the laws it writes; they are (obviously) above the law.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline woods170

  • IRAS fan
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7185
  • IRAS fan
  • The Netherlands
  • Liked: 2802
  • Likes Given: 837
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #56 on: 02/08/2017 01:51 PM »
Abandoning the gators and getting back to the topic of this thread...
Here's the write-up by Jeff Foust: http://spacenews.com/commercial-group-endorses-use-of-space-launch-system/

Quote from: Jeff Foust
In a speech opening the 20th Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference here Feb. 7, Alan Stern, chairman of the board of the industry group, said the organization believes that the SLS could potentially be useful for its members.
<snip>
Stern said he was not worried about endorsing a vehicle that could compete with those commercial alternatives. “The market will sort that out,” he said.

Emphasis mine. There is the disclaimers. Once it gets down to talking value-for-money SLS won't stand a chance. After all: "endorsement" doet not translate into "we will use it".

Offline RonM

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2104
  • Atlanta, Georgia USA
  • Liked: 988
  • Likes Given: 761
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #57 on: 02/08/2017 01:56 PM »
I'm a little confused... I thought that a NASA vehicle with not allowed to compete against a commercial vehicle... ???

Congress is only interested in others following the laws it writes; they are (obviously) above the law.

No, Congress is not above the law, but they do write the laws.

When NASA was flying the Space Shuttle, they had a choice between putting payloads on Shuttle or a commercial rocket if one was available to do the job. Congress told NASA to use commercial rockets when possible.

Congress mandated that NASA would build SLS and was even told the basics on how to build it to make sure the right companies got the contracts. That supersedes the previous law in this case. Now NASA has to use SLS for BLEO exploration, at least for large payloads. There could be a BLEO COTS program for smaller payloads to resupply whatever NASA builds with the bigger payloads.

Unless Congress changes its mind, something I seriously doubt because SLS and Orion are the continuation of Constellation, it's pointless to discuss about what could have been. It's time to figure out what to do with SLS and commercial space to create a BELO program.

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5111
  • Liked: 773
  • Likes Given: 528
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #58 on: 02/08/2017 01:58 PM »
Once it gets down to talking value-for-money SLS won't stand a chance. After all: "endorsement" doet not translate into "we will use it".

If it does ever get down to talking value for money. :(

Thanks for highlighting that part of Stern's statement -- puts a very different spin on it than one would gather from the headline.
« Last Edit: 02/08/2017 02:00 PM by Proponent »

Offline woods170

  • IRAS fan
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7185
  • IRAS fan
  • The Netherlands
  • Liked: 2802
  • Likes Given: 837
Re: Leading Commercial Space Group Embraces SLS
« Reply #59 on: 02/08/2017 02:03 PM »
Once it gets down to talking value-for-money SLS won't stand a chance. After all: "endorsement" doet not translate into "we will use it".

If it does ever get down to talking value for money. :(

Thanks for highlighting that part of Stern's statement -- puts a very different spin on it than one would gather from the headline.
Exactly the reason why several members of the CSF are developing their own (super)heavy launchers and setting their own exploration goals.

Tags: