Author Topic: In a change of attitude, NASA appears to embrace private rockets  (Read 17686 times)

Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3409
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 2168
  • Likes Given: 2675
It makes the most sense from both a logistical and a political perspective. Logistically since SLS can only launch 1-2 times a year more capability is needed to launch cargo. FH can place a Destiny sized module in DRO as well as a Cygnus or a Dragon.

What we're missing though, that will influence the "political perspective", is cost information for using the SLS.  Until our politicians know that, no one knows if they will support using the SLS for any long-term use.

Quote
Politically both OldSpace and NewSpace have their supporters in the political arena.

OldSpace, which includes most of the largest government contractors, wields far more political clout that NewSpace.  It's not even close.

What NewSpace has going for it are those politicians that are capitalists and/or focus on price as a determinant for whether the government is needed or not to provide a service.  Ironically such politicians are usually Republicans - unless a Democrat occupies the White House...   ;)

Quote
Trying to do it all the NewSpace way or the OldSpace way will lead to damaging political fights.

Damaging?  I don't see how.  And the only debate is whether a government transportation system is needed, since the commercial launch will be there already, since their business is mainly supported by non-NASA customers.  The SLS, of course, only has NASA as a customer.

Quote
A compromise proposal like this preserves the most support for space exploration.

Call me old fashion, but I prefer that decisions are made based on a defined need, not on political whims.  Meaning that if an effort in space is only funded because there is a need for a jobs program, then I don't high hopes for that program no matter what launch system is used.

Quote
What may end up happening is SLS will handle really large cargo (say BA-330 or a lunar lander) and crew (with co-manifested payloads) while FH and other commercial rockets handle cargo resupply and the smaller modules, with BLEO commercial crew on the horizon.

The New Glenn, which is now committed to be operational about the same time as the SLS (i.e. 2021) has a body diameter of 7m, compared to a body diameter of 8m for the SLS.  And it will be able to lift 45mT to LEO.  I'm just pointing out that the private sector is increasing their capabilities at a faster rate than the U.S. Government is with the SLS.  At some point it will be hard to ignore the differences between the cost and capabilities.

Interesting times...
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 Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31278
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 9562
  • Likes Given: 299

In the space lecture I give to my students each semester I always include a slide with Nathan's (okan170) excellent render of FH on 39A and SLS on 39B with the caption of "Tag Team?" Looks like I can take the question mark out soon.  :D

Yep, because SLS is history.

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5156
  • Liked: 783
  • Likes Given: 542
An exploration program using both SLS and commercial rockets is something I have hoped would happen for a while. I am really glad to hear Gerst endorsing it (his comments about a cis-lunar outpost were also very promising).

It makes the most sense from both a logistical and a political perspective. Logistically since SLS can only launch 1-2 times a year more capability is needed to launch cargo. FH can place a Destiny sized module in DRO as well as a Cygnus or a Dragon.

Politically both OldSpace and NewSpace have their supporters in the political arena. Trying to do it all the NewSpace way or the OldSpace way will lead to damaging political fights. A compromise proposal like this preserves the most support for space exploration.

What may end up happening is SLS will handle really large cargo (say BA-330 or a lunar lander) and crew (with co-manifested payloads) while FH and other commercial rockets handle cargo resupply and the smaller modules, with BLEO commercial crew on the horizon.

With a couple of differences this a repeat of what is going on with LEO right now. NASA builds the outpost, initially crews it with a NASA owned spacecraft, contracts for commercial cargo, and finally contracts for commercial crew. What's not to like?

What's not to like is quite possibly paying $3 billion a year for a single SLS launch, or over $4 billion if Orion is included.  It's not obvious that there would be much left over for anything else.

I think the big difference between this scenario and what's going on in LEO is that the Shuttle has been retired.  If SLS were used to launch a couple of modules and then retired, the outlook might be better.  I can't imagine that would be proposed now, though I can imagine it happening.

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4793
  • Liked: 2876
  • Likes Given: 4037
An exploration program using both SLS and commercial rockets is something I have hoped would happen for a while. I am really glad to hear Gerst endorsing it (his comments about a cis-lunar outpost were also very promising).

It makes the most sense from both a logistical and a political perspective. Logistically since SLS can only launch 1-2 times a year more capability is needed to launch cargo. FH can place a Destiny sized module in DRO as well as a Cygnus or a Dragon.

...

What's not to like?

What's not to like is quite possibly paying $3 billion a year for a single SLS launch, or over $4 billion if Orion is included.  It's not obvious that there would be much left over for anything else.

...

Gerst agreed with this response to, "What's not to like?"
Quote
...due to its high cost, the SLS rocket will only be able to fly once a year.

He notably did not mention Orion, but confined the useful scope of the single SLS flight per year as:
Quote
SLS is used for that unique case where we have to launch one very large mass that can't be broken up into separate pieces

We appear to be stuck with SLS for the next few years, but as soon as that hypothetical 'one very large mass'
1. exists, and
2. can be flown by someone else,
SLS will be scrapped.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3409
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 2168
  • Likes Given: 2675
We appear to be stuck with SLS for the next few years, but as soon as that hypothetical 'one very large mass'
1. exists, and
2. can be flown by someone else,
SLS will be scrapped.

Just as a reminder, the SLS has an 8m diameter body and cargo fairing, and the Blue Origin New Glenn rocket they hope to start launching in 2020 has a 7m diameter body and cargo fairing.  The New Glenn will be capable of lifting 45mT to LEO, versus the initial SLS capacity of 70mT to LEO.

So by the early 2020's the private launch sector should be able to lift any bulky NASA items to space that otherwise would have needed the SLS.

But there are no bulky or large items that the SLS will be needed to launch in the 2020's.  Why?

Any large or bulky items that could not fit on existing or near-term commercial launchers will likely take NASA 10 years or more to build.  Unless the payload is just a giant enclosure or tank.  But otherwise it will likely be a human-certified system that will be quite sophisticated, because otherwise they would just use ISS designs.

Even assuming Congress would OK a program that requires an 8m diameter human-rated system, there is nothing for the SLS to support in the interim while it waits for such a system to be built.  And based on NASA's past history, chances are such a large and complex assembly would have budget challenges and schedule slippages, not unlike the Orion spacecraft and the JWST - both of which are taking 18 years or more from initial funding to launch.

The bottom line here is that there are no "one very large mass" payloads for the SLS in the next 10 years, so the only unique payload for the SLS will be the Orion and payloads that require the Exploration Upper Stage.  Everything else should be able to launched on commercial rockets.  And if that's true, then NASA would have a hard time justifying launching the SLS even once per year, because I'm not sure what it would launch.

SLS-specific payloads should have been funded years ago, but because they weren't NASA is caught between the need to launch the SLS to maintain a safe launch cadence, and not launching the SLS because there aren't enough SLS-specific payloads for it.

As NASA's budget continues to be in a holding pattern, and the private sector is doing a lot of innovating, the options for space transportation are becoming more clear...
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 woods170

  • IRAS fan
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7285
  • IRAS fan
  • The Netherlands
  • Liked: 2935
  • Likes Given: 870

In the space lecture I give to my students each semester I always include a slide with Nathan's (okan170) excellent render of FH on 39A and SLS on 39B with the caption of "Tag Team?" Looks like I can take the question mark out soon.  :D

Yep, because SLS is history.
Don't light the fireworks before it actually is the 4th of July. Just sayin...

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4793
  • Liked: 2876
  • Likes Given: 4037
We appear to be stuck with SLS for the next few years, but as soon as that hypothetical 'one very large mass'
1. exists, and
2. can be flown by someone else,
SLS will be scrapped.

Just as a reminder, the SLS has an 8m diameter body and cargo fairing, and the Blue Origin New Glenn rocket they hope to start launching in 2020 has a 7m diameter body and cargo fairing.  The New Glenn will be capable of lifting 45mT to LEO, versus the initial SLS capacity of 70mT to LEO.

So by the early 2020's the private launch sector should be able to lift any bulky NASA items to space that otherwise would have needed the SLS.

...

1. SLS Block 1 (70t) would have a standard Delta IV 5m fairing if it ever flew cargo.  SLS Block 1B (~100t) will be built to carry an 8.4m fairing sometime in the mid-2020s.  (NG has the same size fairing as Block 1 as far as we've seen.)
2. A hypothetical 'one very large mass' is a quite effective and cost-efficient justification (than actually building something that people can evaluate against existing launchers)
« Last Edit: 03/12/2017 06:12 PM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline Endeavour_01

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 487
  • Physics Professor in SC, USA
  • Liked: 399
  • Likes Given: 405
After reading the last page of this thread I am reminded of MATTBLAK's sidebar quote, "'Space Cadets' Let us; UNITE!! (crickets chirping)."

Can we all not agree that this is at least a positive development and something to be excited about?


OldSpace, which includes most of the largest government contractors, wields far more political clout that NewSpace.  It's not even close.

I never said they had equal political clout, only that each side had some and that it would foolish to engage in a "space civil war" that would deplete support for the space program as a whole. Like Gerst said the market will sort things out in the end, trying to force it one way or another will not be helpful in the long run.

Quote
What NewSpace has going for it are those politicians that are capitalists and/or focus on price as a determinant for whether the government is needed or not to provide a service.


Lets not pretend that politicians who support NewSpace are as pure as the wind-driven snow. Most OldSpace and NewSpace supporters in Congress only care about money going to their districts. If Mike Rogers were representing a district near Hawthorne instead of one near Huntsville his views would be a complete 180.

Quote
The New Glenn, which is now committed to be operational about the same time as the SLS (i.e. 2021) has a body diameter of 7m, compared to a body diameter of 8m for the SLS.  And it will be able to lift 45mT to LEO. 

From what I understand NG has less performance BLEO than FH. We need to focus on BLEO numbers rather than LEO when comparing SLS to commercial rockets. Right now there are no serious plans to use SLS as a LEO launcher, NASA can let the private sector take care of that.

SLS Block IB can launch 40 mt to TLI, compared to around 15 mt for FH. Building a cis-lunar base and crewing it becomes much easier when SLS is used in concert with commercial rockets.


Yep, because SLS is history.

We'll see.

What's not to like is quite possibly paying $3 billion a year for a single SLS launch, or over $4 billion if Orion is included.  It's not obvious that there would be much left over for anything else.

Lets be clear here that this is less per year than we paid to launch the shuttle. Sure, there are less launches, but the slack can be picked up by the commercial rockets and the goal (a cis-lunar outpost) is far larger than LEO flights.

In a lot of posts on this forum there is an oft-repeated assumption that if SLS/Orion are canceled the money will flow to commercial space or other projects. At the very least that is not guaranteed and more than likely the money will leave the space program all together. Personally I would rather see that money remain a part of NASA's budget.

Once CCtCap winds down over $1 Billion could be available for payload development (not a guarantee but based on past Congressional action it seems quite possible). Plus, we already have cargo delivery systems that can be modified to supply a cis-lunar outpost so NASA doesn't have to create that industry from scratch.
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 Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3409
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 2168
  • Likes Given: 2675
After reading the last page of this thread I am reminded of MATTBLAK's sidebar quote, "'Space Cadets' Let us; UNITE!! (crickets chirping)."

Can we all not agree that this is at least a positive development and something to be excited about?

I think there is a lot of joy about this.

Quote
I never said they had equal political clout, only that each side had some and that it would foolish to engage in a "space civil war" that would deplete support for the space program as a whole.

Being that NASA's budget is less than 0.5% of the entire budget, I'm not sure how there can be any disagreements over NASA could be significant compared to, say, the Defense budget, Justice, Commerce, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, and all the other far larger government departments and agencies that have far higher emotional possibilities.

Other than where to go next, which has no budget anyways, the only real major disagreement with the space community centers on whether the SLS is needed or not.  And Congress will decide that by funding payloads and missions for the SLS or not.

Quote
Lets not pretend that politicians who support NewSpace are as pure as the wind-driven snow. Most OldSpace and NewSpace supporters in Congress only care about money going to their districts. If Mike Rogers were representing a district near Hawthorne instead of one near Huntsville his views would be a complete 180.

If you look around Congress, how many members are "NewSpace" supporters?  Very few.  And how many are in positions of power and influence?  None that I know of, other than Kevin McCarthy, and he isn't on a NASA oversight committee.

Lockheed Martin and Boeing have influence over many Representatives and Senators because of the shear size of their companies, with employees spread across many states.  The difference in "OldSpace" political influence and "NewSpace" is stark.

As to "pure as driven snow", so far I'm not aware of any "NewSpace" contracts that were not awarded in open competition, which to me is the indicator of openness.  The same cannot be said for the SLS and Orion.

Quote
From what I understand NG has less performance BLEO than FH. We need to focus on BLEO numbers rather than LEO when comparing SLS to commercial rockets. Right now there are no serious plans to use SLS as a LEO launcher, NASA can let the private sector take care of that.

Other than the Orion, there are no serious plans that require the SLS.  My point was that if there was something big that required the SLS, it won't be ready to launch until 2030 at least.  How does NASA justify keeping the SLS around till then?  And why not just redesign whatever the payload is to fit on existing launchers, and at most require in-space assembly?  The ISS weighs 450mT and we built it without the SLS, so I'm not sure why we'd want to go backwards in capabilities...

Quote
In a lot of posts on this forum there is an oft-repeated assumption that if SLS/Orion are canceled the money will flow to commercial space or other projects.

I don't believe that, and from what I can tell that is a minority opinion.  Congress will fund NASA to do whatever it requires NASA to do, which means if there is less to do there will be less funding.  I'm OK with that.
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 AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4793
  • Liked: 2876
  • Likes Given: 4037
After reading the last page of this thread I am reminded of MATTBLAK's sidebar quote, "'Space Cadets' Let us; UNITE!! (crickets chirping)."

Can we all not agree that this is at least a positive development and something to be excited about?

I think there is a lot of joy about this.
...

It is the best news out of the 9th floor for a long time IMO.

My questions and concerns involve the 'command structure' of 3P.  If it is a top-down (waterfall?) years/decade of meetings, PowerPoints, and Roadmaps approach -- waiting for SLS Block 1B to become fully operational because it is the centerpiece of the plan -- then I believe we're all going to be sadly disappointed.  Mars will remain a horizon goal -- never getting any closer.

In contrast, if we start with what can we do now or in the next few years, and then grow the effort as capabilities come on line, we might get somewhere.  New capabilities can target specific needs such as a large fairing on early NG launchers, or Bigelow modules as starting points for orbital operations away from ISS, space tugs evolved from existing second stages, refueling tests/demos, whatever.  We can start building infrastructure essentially now.

For this latter approach, the 'command structure' needs to be opened up to include all participants, and new methods/concepts such as reusability.  New approaches to tests and demos need to be given a chance to succeed or (gasp!) fail.  An example is the supersonic retro-propulsion capability (suggested 50 years ago by Goddard or Von Braun, I hear) which was wrought in the just do it mode instead of years (a half century, that is) of hand wringing and inaction.

So yes, quite promising IF we break the mold...
« Last Edit: 03/12/2017 10:22 PM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31278
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 9562
  • Likes Given: 299


Yep, because SLS is history.

We'll see.


Many of the non SLS people at KSC think it is.  Many wonder why we are wasting our time on it.  Also, some JPL'ers feel the same way.
« Last Edit: 03/13/2017 12:01 AM by Jim »

Offline TomH

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2026
  • CA
  • Liked: 738
  • Likes Given: 222
Three existing military rockets served NASA's manned space program just fine in the beginning. Though the largest of commercial launchers of the time may have been able to carry out a lunar program via an EOR architecture, rendezvous was not proven, and the massive Apollo-Nova program was proposed. It was feared Kennedy's goal would not be reached in time. Most here know the story of moving to LOR and Saturn instead. No existing rockets could accomplish a manned lunar goal and Saturn was thus justified in the minds of those who prevailed.

As for STS, I don't even want to go into all the civilian and military politics.

When Ares then SLS were proposed, nothing else was on the horizon (Falcon X was an idea for a portion of the time) that could do the job NASA wanted was told to do.

We don't need to recount the tortured history of SLS. What is germane is that new classes of HLV and SHLV are either at hand or about to go into development. These are quite capable of EOR assembly for a lunar architecture in the near future. Those capable of Mars architectures are not as certain, but look to be quite viable. Falcon wasn't originally intended for reuse, but its design fortuitously allowed it and proved the concept. The reusability factor alone is enough to begin thinking of closing out most existing launch systems in favor of new LVs designed for reuse from the get/go. Throwing good money after bad for an obsolete technology is silly. Even the cadre of senators who have championed SLS have to acknowledge that at some point.

Not only will new commercial launchers be partially or fully reusable, they free NASA from the burden of building launchers that fly for around 10 minutes and allow them instead to focus on what to do once astronauts are IN space. Having a super launcher but no money for a mission, as has been said here for a long time, is absurd. Dumping SLS-Orion is not going to cost any time in the long run. It was only going to fly 4 times in the next 10 years and would be in need of new engines, boosters, SM, tower mods, habs, landers, rovers, etc., et al. Letting go and embracing new technology that is far more efficient and affordable is the only prudent option. Of course politicians are not always (or even often) prudent, but from the POV of economics and technology, it really is the only viable path forward.

From one viewpoint, it means moving forward to new technology, but from another it is simply coming full circle and using launchers that NASA simply buys (or buys services) rather than builds. NASA HSF, freed of senate micromanagement, given a JPL like autonomy, with funds left over for missions could give us the same excitement as those heady early days.

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31278
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 9562
  • Likes Given: 299
NASA HSF, freed of senate micromanagement, given a JPL like autonomy, with funds left over for missions could give us the same excitement as those heady early days.

The JPL analogy is not true.  Congress still dicks with them.

Offline TomH

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2026
  • CA
  • Liked: 738
  • Likes Given: 222
The JPL analogy is not true.  Congress still dicks with them.

But not to the extent they do HSF, do they? How badly?

Offline woods170

  • IRAS fan
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7285
  • IRAS fan
  • The Netherlands
  • Liked: 2935
  • Likes Given: 870


Yep, because SLS is history.

We'll see.


Many of the non SLS people at KSC think it is.  Many wonder why we are wasting our time on it.  Also, some JPL'ers feel the same way.
The mere fact that some non-SLS folks at KSC and JPL "feel" that SLS is history does not make it history. Only US Congress will make it "history" (if ever).

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5156
  • Liked: 783
  • Likes Given: 542
What's not to like is quite possibly paying $3 billion a year for a single SLS launch, or over $4 billion if Orion is included.  It's not obvious that there would be much left over for anything else.

Lets be clear here that this is less per year than we paid to launch the shuttle. Sure, there are less launches, but the slack can be picked up by the commercial rockets and the goal (a cis-lunar outpost) is far larger than LEO flights.

Why is the Shuttle's budget relevant?  NASA's budget has gone down since then and, if anything, seems likely to go down further.  Meanwhile, the only hard numbers we've ever seen indicate that the cost of Orion/SLS will increase if and when it starts flying once a year.  I'll stop here, because otherwise I'd be repeating what Coastal Ron just said.

Quote
In a lot of posts on this forum there is an oft-repeated assumption that if SLS/Orion are canceled the money will flow to commercial space or other projects. At the very least that is not guaranteed and more than likely the money will leave the space program all together. Personally I would rather see that money remain a part of NASA's budget.

A risk, to be sure, but if SLS did die (not that I expect it anytime soon), I doubt Sen. Shelby would do anything but support the notion of ULA building more launch vehicles in Decatur and MSFC developing, for example, space power systems.  It'd still be pork to some degree, but it would be more productive pork.

Offline rayleighscatter

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 930
  • Maryland
  • Liked: 415
  • Likes Given: 190
Three existing military rockets served NASA's manned space program just fine in the beginning. Though the largest of commercial launchers of the time may have been able to carry out a lunar program via an EOR architecture, rendezvous was not proven, and the massive Apollo-Nova program was proposed. It was feared Kennedy's goal would not be reached in time. Most here know the story of moving to LOR and Saturn instead. No existing rockets could accomplish a manned lunar goal and Saturn was thus justified in the minds of those who prevailed.

As for STS, I don't even want to go into all the civilian and military politics.

When Ares then SLS were proposed, nothing else was on the horizon (Falcon X was an idea for a portion of the time) that could do the job NASA wanted was told to do.

We don't need to recount the tortured history of SLS. What is germane is that new classes of HLV and SHLV are either at hand or about to go into development. These are quite capable of EOR assembly for a lunar architecture in the near future. Those capable of Mars architectures are not as certain, but look to be quite viable. Falcon wasn't originally intended for reuse, but its design fortuitously allowed it and proved the concept. The reusability factor alone is enough to begin thinking of closing out most existing launch systems in favor of new LVs designed for reuse from the get/go. Throwing good money after bad for an obsolete technology is silly. Even the cadre of senators who have championed SLS have to acknowledge that at some point.

Not only will new commercial launchers be partially or fully reusable, they free NASA from the burden of building launchers that fly for around 10 minutes and allow them instead to focus on what to do once astronauts are IN space. Having a super launcher but no money for a mission, as has been said here for a long time, is absurd. Dumping SLS-Orion is not going to cost any time in the long run. It was only going to fly 4 times in the next 10 years and would be in need of new engines, boosters, SM, tower mods, habs, landers, rovers, etc., et al. Letting go and embracing new technology that is far more efficient and affordable is the only prudent option. Of course politicians are not always (or even often) prudent, but from the POV of economics and technology, it really is the only viable path forward.

From one viewpoint, it means moving forward to new technology, but from another it is simply coming full circle and using launchers that NASA simply buys (or buys services) rather than builds. NASA HSF, freed of senate micromanagement, given a JPL like autonomy, with funds left over for missions could give us the same excitement as those heady early days.

But being this is the policy section we can't just pretend the politics don't exist.

For instance, if SLS is cancelled what happens to MSFC? I can tell you that it will continue to exist so it will do the obvious alternative, providing its full oversight and influence on whoever NASA contracts with. The paper trails, x-ray'd welds, and supplier certification will be required for all launches with said launcher for the sake of oversight, without regard to what that will do to the contractor's commercial business.

Offline deltaV

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1538
  • Change in velocity
  • Liked: 165
  • Likes Given: 480
For instance, if SLS is cancelled what happens to MSFC? I can tell you that it will continue to exist so it will do the obvious alternative, providing its full oversight and influence on whoever NASA contracts with. The paper trails, x-ray'd welds, and supplier certification will be required for all launches with said launcher for the sake of oversight, without regard to what that will do to the contractor's commercial business.

If SLS is cancelled MSFC should be tasked with engineering in-space exploration hardware such as a deep space hab, moon lander, or Mars lander.

Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3409
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 2168
  • Likes Given: 2675
For instance, if SLS is cancelled what happens to MSFC? I can tell you that it will continue to exist so it will do the obvious alternative, providing its full oversight and influence on whoever NASA contracts with. The paper trails, x-ray'd welds, and supplier certification will be required for all launches with said launcher for the sake of oversight, without regard to what that will do to the contractor's commercial business.

If SLS is cancelled MSFC should be tasked with engineering in-space exploration hardware such as a deep space hab, moon lander, or Mars lander.

Specifically, since the space transportation segment from Earth to LEO will have been handed over to commercial carriers, they should focus on what the next barriers to expanding humanity into space are, and how NASA can help the private sector to solve those.

Unless there is a specific and long-term need, the U.S. Government should not have a need to own space transportation systems, and should instead focus on the activities at the end points of transportation systems.
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 Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5156
  • Liked: 783
  • Likes Given: 542
Unless there is a specific and long-term need, the U.S. Government should not have a need to own space transportation systems, and should instead focus on the activities at the end points of transportation systems.

Would you rule out a role for government in developing transportation technology?

EDIT:  "develop" -> "developing"
« Last Edit: 03/15/2017 08:50 AM by Proponent »

Tags: