Author Topic: Lawmakers produce Bill to extend shuttle to 2015, utilize CxP, advance HLV  (Read 157224 times)

Offline Carl G

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Common sense approach, no question about it!

Offline Bubbinski

Thanks Chris for the article.  I hope the bill passes and gets enacted. 

Now...it is said that 2 orbiters would be flying with a 3rd as a retired parts donor.  Is there a backup plan to get that "donor" orbiter back up to flight status if needed, and is there a contingency plan for adding more flights per year than the two scheduled if they find an additional need? 
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline Halidon

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For those who do not follow Congressional legislation closely, one important metric for this proposed bill will be the number of co-sponsors who add their name to the bill.


Also, Sen. Hutchison would need a committee chair on her side before this bill could go anywhere.

Offline mlorrey

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I realize all the pro-big-government and pro-big-standing-army special interests here are all happy with this bill.

I see a benefit in extending the shuttle a few years (esp given Russian statements implying future price gouging on Soyuz seats), but am greatly concerned that this is going to lead to a perpetual "must save the standing army" welfare/jobs program attitude. As I've said before, congress' interest in space is about jobs, jobs, jobs and pork to their districts on overpriced cost-plus contracts.

Back in the 90's when the defense industry was drastically contracting post-cold-war, all those technical people went out of big D contractors and founded many many startups that created our internet industry today and boosted national productivity greatly. Obama's plan would have done the same for the space industry (and I'm not one you'll see complimenting anything that president does), moved thousands of highly skilled people out of expensive jobs in expensive, low productivity programs, and put them to more efficient employment creating many new space businesses, taking advantage of tons of NASA spinoff technologies to make the private space biz something so phenomenal that nobody today can really appreciate the potential.

I agree with some that its likely that Obama pitched his plan primarily to force congress to pitch a fit and finally pull their thumbs out and commit to a REAL NASA budget. This sort of reverse psychology is just the sort of thing to motivate politicians to stop shucking and jiving and playing it safe.

I am also glad to see the HLV focus being on an SD HLV scheme, though IMHO the side mount solution is the easiest and cheapest to implement for the most gain per dollar. There's no reentry need for such a vehicle so the risk issues wrt foam/ice are nonexistent. I hope Ares remains well dead and we don't see anymore Estes-1X (I mean Ares-1X) model rocket fakery.

That all said, I personally do not expect this plan to last beyond 2012. We'll see  a new administration come into power who will totally redesign everything once again, wasting billions of dollars AGAIN, which is the true big tragedy and main reason why NASA needs to be out of the launcher business entirely. Space is far too important today to our future economy to leave in the hands of political tugs of war. This alone IMHO argues for privatization more than anything. Make the capital available and let private business compete to reach and fulfill various challenges that do not change from administration to administration.
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Offline clb22

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A bill written by politicians for politicians, vague, without an actual plan and without considering the consequences of it.

Can this plan be executed? Sure it can. Will this mean we are going to actually do something outside of LEO by 2018? Of course not. This plan should be dubbed "the politician's plan of boldly going to LEO until re-re-re-re-re-re-re-reelection saving jobs at big contractors". Is saving jobs a bad thing? Of course not, but I doubt it justifies keeping NASA in LEO forever, which this plan clearly does.

Let's not kid ourselves, no later than 2013 for US access to orbit is not going to fly. Also, an HLV may be ready by 2018, but with Shuttle Extension AND an HLV development program everything else gets cancelled out to 0.

Below is this "compromise budget". It doesn't touch any Science line-items, because that would be bad press, it doesn't touch aeronautics, education, cross-agency support etc. either. The ISS line-item gets a boost just as planned. What happens if this plan (Shutte to 2015; Orion is kept; Ares I transitioned to HLV line-item; HLV developed) is going forward? Well, exactly, we are were we were in the last 5 years. Boldly going to LEO, all technology line-items, the commercial crew line-item, the robotic precursor line-item, all need to be zeroed out. A lunar lander? Not in there. Any lunar surface technology development? No money.

Does that inspire kids and move NASA forward? Of course not, but it's a nice budget in an election year, as it basically changes nothing at all.
Spirals not circles, Mr. President. Spirals!

Offline Lars_J

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The Ares I references are worrying... And I get the impression that getting adding up all the budgeted pieces will just end up totaling too much. Too much of 'having your cake and eating it too'.

Something will have to give - But that is how politics and negotiations work.

Offline clb22

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Something will have to give - But that is how politics and negotiations work.

It's rather clear what will have to give. All technology line-items, robotic exploration, commercial crew and probably also Science. The same line-items which were zeroed out in the last 5 years.

EDIT: Looks strongly like Option 2 of the Augustine Commission (ISS extension; going nowhere thereafter) to me.
« Last Edit: 03/04/2010 07:59 AM by clb22 »
Spirals not circles, Mr. President. Spirals!

Offline neilh

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Absolutely right, but the point here is timing. At this stage you have "camps" at the extreme edges of "PoR" or bust and "Bold New Idea" with many of the influential folks and key players taking those positions--now. But when it becomes clear, as I believe it will, that neither of those are going to be sustainable, then a mddle ground will be sought. But it has to be articulated as an option, and THAT is the true purpose of this bill.

I consider myself fairly squarely within the "Bold New Idea" camp you describe, although I personally consider the new bill to be at least somewhat better than the PoR. I'm not sure a government-derived transportation system (i.e. DIRECT, most likely) is an optimal way to spend NASA's funds, but at least it isn't as bad as Ares I.

I'm skeptical that the bill will be able to get as much of a funding boost as it needs to fund all that it calls for though, and so I'm worried about what happens then. IMHO, the most important parts of NASA's plans are technology development (esp. propellant depots and ISRU) and commercial crew, but as these are also the areas without strong congressmen vested in them, I'm worried that these will take the hit when it comes to the budget crunch. That would be very bad, and in the worst case gets us back to an approximation of the ditch we're in with the PoR.
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Offline clb22

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Looking at the end of the preliminary bill, what I really want to know is how they want to fit ISS operations, Shuttle operations AND SFS into 4.29bn (Space Operations) by FY2012 from 6.18bn in FY2010 and 4.89bn in FY2011. Well, maybe they are "utilising" the ISS fully by de-orbiting it... there is no other way to squeeze a 2bn STS program and 1bn SFS as well as a 3bn+ ISS program into 4.29bn...
Spirals not circles, Mr. President. Spirals!

Offline A_M_Swallow

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There does not appear to be any authorisation of rules covering the man rating of non-NASA spacestations, orbital transfer vehicles, planetary landers, rovers, spacesuits and planetary bases/villages.

On Earth places and machines that perform propellant storage and transfer tend to be heavily regulated, so propellant depots may need a regulating or standards body - even if we do not know the rules yet.

Edit: added spacesuits
« Last Edit: 03/04/2010 08:29 AM by A_M_Swallow »

Online butters

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I don't get it.  What is lost in this bill? 

We have ISS extension, Shuttle extension, additional hardware to ISS, one or more government-developed SDLVs, Orion, and commercial cargo followed by commercial crew.

The bill seems to give the nod to nearly every launch vehicle "camp" and a very strong commitment to ISS, but what about exploration?  Are we bailing out all these launch vehicles at the expense of a BEO architecture?

What's being cut to pay for all this stuff?

PS: It's weird to read Republican Senators insisting on a government-developed solution awaiting evidence that the private sector can do the job...
« Last Edit: 03/04/2010 10:02 AM by butters »

Offline clb22

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What's being cut to pay for all this stuff?

The bill is unrealistic, it also doesn't provide any details.

It mentions commercial crew, but there is no money for that + Orion + HLV + Shuttle extension.

It mentions technology programs would continue, but doesn't allocate any money to it.

It mentions Shuttle extension and ISS full utilization but reduces the Space Operations budget by 2bn until FY2012.

This is just a politician's bill. It has nothing to do with reality. If they were sincere, they would say that they are going to cut Science, all Technology Items, cut the proposed commercial crew to LEO program and aeronautics, because no, they ain't going to pony up 5bn more per year.
Spirals not circles, Mr. President. Spirals!

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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I don't get it.  What is lost in this bill? 

Congress does seem to lack confidence in the commercial providers, especially NewSpace, to provide any capability right now.  This bill is a reaction to this lack of confidence and an attempt to address the issue of the US-indigenous crew launch gap.  In terms of what it is getting NASA doing now, it is indeed pretty much exclusively an ISS maintenance and upkeep direction with only the first foundation layers being laid for post-ISS.

What is lost appears mostly the technology R&D in favour of using derivations of existing technology.  That is, IMHO, one of the few things that CxP originally got right.

PS: It's weird to read Republican Senators insisting on a government-developed solution awaiting evidence that the private sector can do the job...

FWIW, that is a philosophically conservative position.  Don't throw away something that you know basically works until you have reason to be confident that the alleged replacement works and works well enough to be worth the trouble and expense of the switch-over.  The events of last year may have taught even right-wingers the dangers of trusting the power of the Market too much.
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Offline Zachstar

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Zero Chance of passing unless suddenly the pubs do a 180 and try to please dems somehow. Which I doubt....

Offline Robson68

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"practicable NASA shall operate the Space Shuttle pro- 1
gram at a flight rate of no more than 2 missions in any 2
consecutive 12-month period beginning during the fiscal 3
years for which appropriations are authorized under sec- 4
tion 9 of this Act. 5" (Staff Working Draft)

So...

Shuttle to 2015, but only allowed 2 flights per year?

Offline psloss

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Looking at the end of the preliminary bill, what I really want to know is how they want to fit ISS operations, Shuttle operations AND SFS into 4.29bn (Space Operations) by FY2012 from 6.18bn in FY2010 and 4.89bn in FY2011. Well, maybe they are "utilising" the ISS fully by de-orbiting it... there is no other way to squeeze a 2bn STS program and 1bn SFS as well as a 3bn+ ISS program into 4.29bn...
The bill authorizes money above and beyond the SOMD top line, mostly for Shuttle operations, but also for ISS ops -- Section 9(d) and 9(e) (and also 9(f)).  If you look at the SOMD top line number in 9(b)3, it's the same as the Administration's proposal.

Offline mlorrey

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PS: It's weird to read Republican Senators insisting on a government-developed solution awaiting evidence that the private sector can do the job...

Quite so. This should properly be read to mean that they're not sure whether private space venture investors/executives/employees will become useful campaign contributors and are ensuring that their existing contributors in oldspace still have their jobs and remember them at election time...
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Offline William Barton

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Right now, this bill is all things to all people, and as such meaningless.* It could come to anything from $3bln added budget + Shuttle extension + CCDEV + HLLV to Shuttle extension + Ares I and no extra money. In other words, anything from "Halleluiah!" to "It's the end of the world as we know it!" I'll still eat my metaphorical hat if anything comes of this, but it could wind up being a very small hat indeed.

* Just as a footnote, I believe Hutchinson was running for governor of Texas so as to position herself for a 2012 GOP Presidential bid (and thereby claim 1. more governance experience than Obama [zero], 2. not run as a "Washington insider"). Plan A no longer viable, of course. But I think this bill was supposed to be part of that plan, as it was already in the pipeline before she lost the primary.

Offline Jim

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There does not appear to be any authorisation of rules covering the man rating of non-NASA spacestations, orbital transfer vehicles, planetary landers, rovers, spacesuits and planetary bases/villages.


Why should there be?

Because again, this is the real world and not Swallow's fantasy world. 
A. most of those items are not within the visible horizon. 
B.  Also why do they need regulation?
C.  If they do need regulation, not enough is known to develop the rules.
« Last Edit: 03/04/2010 11:32 AM by Jim »

Offline William Barton

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There does not appear to be any authorisation of rules covering the man rating of non-NASA spacestations, orbital transfer vehicles, planetary landers, rovers, spacesuits and planetary bases/villages.


Why should there be?

Because again, this is the real world and not Swallow's fantasy world. 
A. most of those items are not within the visible horizon. 
B.  Also why do they need regulation?
C.  If they do need regulation, not enough is known to develop the rules.

One comment about the thing that is on the horizon (non-NASA space stations), I think regulation will probably depend on something like "flagging." And ITAR.

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