Author Topic: U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Science and Space Hearing Jun 20 2012  (Read 23594 times)

Offline Rocket Science

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Adjourned for today, going to have to catch the archived webcast…
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Offline Rocket Science

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Archived webcast available...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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11:30 meeting announced after this one on space.


Political Hack Wannable did you catch this info at all?


I did, but I don't believe that it will be webcast anywhere.  I suspect that it'll be an event in one of the House Office buildings' atrium, and therefore it's a meet and greet, that isn't usually webcast (having been to a few of these).
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline yg1968

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« Last Edit: 06/20/2012 05:00 PM by yg1968 »

Offline zerm

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(Some of us reserve comments until AFTER watching the FULL hearing as opposed to several hours before a word is spoken into the Congressional Record.)

There was really nothing that would outwardly display "...STILL people in the caucus who don't like commercial systems.." In fact most of the comments were very positive toward "commercial."

If there was one undercurrent it appears to be that NASA's politically appointed upper management is still asking that funding levels for "commercial" be placed at that requested by the White House in their latest budget proposal. (Ref. remarks in the past two hearings) Congress, however, is still put off by the trimming from SAA levels in the area of development in order to increase the commercial budget by the exact same amount. In other words- there will be no changes in those allocations as long at the Administration attempts to do so in that manner.

None of the member "took a swipe" (my term) of any sort at Commercial, in fact, I believe that all sent good words on the SpaceX success.

BTW- I see some Griffin comments here, and I'm wondering... wasn't he the NASA Administrator when COTS was started? Not 100% sure about that, perhaps someone here can fill me in on that.

Offline Prober

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."

If there was one undercurrent it appears to be that NASA's politically appointed upper management is still asking that funding levels for "commercial" be placed at that requested by the White House in their latest budget proposal. (Ref. remarks in the past two hearings) Congress, however, is still put off by the trimming from SAA levels in the area of development in order to increase the commercial budget by the exact same amount. In other words- there will be no changes in those allocations as long at the Administration attempts to do so in that manner.


Yes, that much I got as well.  Further was disturbed by a few things i heard regarding funding.   One was that SLS funds this year were hit to go into commercial & also Commericial needs the WH funding levels for the next several years and growing.

Sadly, I need to watch this over again and see if these points were correct.
2017 - Everything Old is New Again.
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Offline yg1968

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BTW- I see some Griffin comments here, and I'm wondering... wasn't he the NASA Administrator when COTS was started? Not 100% sure about that, perhaps someone here can fill me in on that.

Yes, he was and he should be congratulated for it. But when he realized that commercial crew was a threat to Ares I, he became very much against the idea of commercial crew.

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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zerm and Prober

1)  There were all of 3 Senators at the hearing.  That, I think is worth noting

2)  I did hear a few comments about the funding levels, but for this hearing, the discussion of funding levels for Commercial Crew were largely limited. 

3)  It was not "the same amount" of money that was pulled from Exploration and put into commercial (in fact, Commercial is a part of exploration).

More to the point, it isn't "the adminstration" or "the WH" funding levels that need to grow.  Its ISS and its utilization. 

And that also presupposes that Commercial can't play a role in exploration.

4)  In fact, the hearing was in many respects a grab bag of issues.  These included
 - Inksna
 - Liability Risk Sharing Regime
 - Some ITAR and SAA vs FAR discussion
 - Bigelow's market
 - The FAA regulation Learning period got some discussion. 
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline Prober

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just finished watching and found this enjoyable with decent new info.
 
The lawyer from Bigelow was a joy telling things as they see it.
 
Storm clouds ahead for Commercial Crew. Major funding every year to make it work. Only need two launches of 4 crew per year.
 
Some major issues with ISS partners.
 
1998 was the peak launch year for the US.
 
Edit:  Also KBH will tour SpaceX Texas in July......can I tag along?
« Last Edit: 06/21/2012 01:55 PM by Prober »
2017 - Everything Old is New Again.
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. ~ by Thomas Alva Edison

Offline Jorge

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The lawyer from Bigelow was a joy telling things as they see it.
 
Storm clouds ahead for Commercial Crew. Major funding every year to make it work. Only need two launches of 4 crew per year.

Interesting to hear they brought up the elephant in the room. All the CCP companies can produce credible Soyuz-beating price projections... assuming four launches of 7 crew per year, and their company launches all of them.

Two launches of 4 crew per year, split between two providers... well...

I suspect NASA is inclined to buy the other three seats on each CCP flight to ISS anyway... at the very least, it would provide short OJT flights for new astronauts before their first full ISS expedition, and it would eliminate the tourist question... but that's still just 14 seats per year, and NASA still wants multiple providers.
JRF

Offline JBF

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The lawyer from Bigelow was a joy telling things as they see it.
 
Storm clouds ahead for Commercial Crew. Major funding every year to make it work. Only need two launches of 4 crew per year.

Interesting to hear they brought up the elephant in the room. All the CCP companies can produce credible Soyuz-beating price projections... assuming four launches of 7 crew per year, and their company launches all of them.

Two launches of 4 crew per year, split between two providers... well...

I suspect NASA is inclined to buy the other three seats on each CCP flight to ISS anyway... at the very least, it would provide short OJT flights for new astronauts before their first full ISS expedition, and it would eliminate the tourist question... but that's still just 14 seats per year, and NASA still wants multiple providers.

Good point. This is one area where SpaceX has a better business case since their vehicle is a modified version of an existing product line.
"In principle, rocket engines are simple, but that’s the last place rocket engines are ever simple." Jeff Bezos

Offline yg1968

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The lawyer from Bigelow was a joy telling things as they see it.
 
Storm clouds ahead for Commercial Crew. Major funding every year to make it work. Only need two launches of 4 crew per year.

Interesting to hear they brought up the elephant in the room. All the CCP companies can produce credible Soyuz-beating price projections... assuming four launches of 7 crew per year, and their company launches all of them.

Two launches of 4 crew per year, split between two providers... well...

I suspect NASA is inclined to buy the other three seats on each CCP flight to ISS anyway... at the very least, it would provide short OJT flights for new astronauts before their first full ISS expedition, and it would eliminate the tourist question... but that's still just 14 seats per year, and NASA still wants multiple providers.

Gerst mentionned the option of filling the extra 3 seats with either cargo or flights for astronauts on short term assignements. But he didn't rule out allowing space flight participants on these flights either (if I recall correctly). On the issue of costs, Gerst said that they have budgeted for the same price per seat as Soyuz but would expect the costs for commercial crew services to actually be lower than that. But he admitted that NASA didn't know the costs for sure for the time being and probably would not know exactly what they are until they issue a RFP for commercial crew services.

His answer was at the 44th minute of the hearing.
http://commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Hearings&ContentRecord_id=c3ae3f1c-f1b9-47a1-8eef-5013d1d68f91
« Last Edit: 01/17/2013 02:00 AM by yg1968 »

Offline JohnFornaro

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From Gerst's statement:

Quote
Through CASIS, users can utilize the unique microgravity environment of space and the advanced research facilities aboard Station to enable investigations that may give them the edge in the global competition to develop valuable, high technology products and services.

This sounds good to me.  Will this result in an income stream?

Quote
Both NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) envision a state where the FAA licenses commercial human spaceflights provided by a robust industry, from which NASA and the private sector can purchase transportation services.

Which will be as it should be.

Quote
The Administration supports extending the Commercial Space Launch Act, as amended, (CSLSA) “indemnification” provision, 51 U.S.C. § 50915, for commercial launch and reentry operators for five years beyond its current statutory expiration date of December 31, 2012.

Yes.  I like these three things, FWIW.
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Offline jongoff

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The lawyer from Bigelow was a joy telling things as they see it.
 
Storm clouds ahead for Commercial Crew. Major funding every year to make it work. Only need two launches of 4 crew per year.

Interesting to hear they brought up the elephant in the room. All the CCP companies can produce credible Soyuz-beating price projections... assuming four launches of 7 crew per year, and their company launches all of them.

Two launches of 4 crew per year, split between two providers... well...

I suspect NASA is inclined to buy the other three seats on each CCP flight to ISS anyway... at the very least, it would provide short OJT flights for new astronauts before their first full ISS expedition, and it would eliminate the tourist question... but that's still just 14 seats per year, and NASA still wants multiple providers.

Gerst mentionned the option of filling the extra 3 seats with either cargo or flights for astronauts on short term assignements. But he didn't rule out allowing space flight participants on these flights either (if I recall correctly). On the issue of costs, Gerst said that they have budgeted for the same price per seat as Soyuz but would expect the costs for commercial crew services to actually be lower than that. But he admitted that NASA didn't know the costs for sure for the time being and probably would not know exactly what they are until they issue a RFP for commercial crew services.

Yeah, I think that in order to provide enough anchor tenancy to support two Commercial Crew providers while new markets come online to absorb their capacity, the best way is going to be favoring CC providers who can also deliver cargo, mixed crew/cargo, space tourists, and short-term astronauts.

But this kind of fits in with what Jeff Greason was saying at ISDC. So long as a company is at subsistence level with a product/service, and has excess capacity, people will find creative uses for it that probably can't be clearly predicted in advance. I had thought of a few of the items Gerst brought up, but several of them were ones I hadn't thought up. Basically, I'm not concerned that we can't central plan out markets several years in advance with much precision.

That said, I don't want this to sound like a rip on Jorge's concern. I've been worried about this too, but it's starting to appear like there are clear ways to start solving this problem even if Bigelow doesn't get his stuff up and running before CC providers start flying.

~Jon
« Last Edit: 06/21/2012 04:51 PM by jongoff »

Online QuantumG

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When asked, by Bill Nelson, when crews will fly on commercial providers at the given funding level of $550M/yr, Gerstenmaier decided to answer 2017 - with increased funding. Later KBH had her turn and said she saw any increase in funding as taking away from SLS, or in her words, "the future".

That's where we are. NASA's position is that they need $850M/yr now and more later to fly crews before 2020, and the most favorable house of Congress sees that as an unacceptable funding level.
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Offline yg1968

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My understanding from previous hearings is that Hutchison is OK with increasing commercial crew funding as long as it doesn't come from SLS/MPCV.

In any event, there should be a new NASA Authorization bill after FY 2013 which will hopefully resolve some of these issues. 
« Last Edit: 06/22/2012 02:47 PM by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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Yeah, I think that in order to provide enough anchor tenancy to support two Commercial Crew providers while new markets come online to absorb their capacity, the best way is going to be favoring CC providers who can also deliver cargo, mixed crew/cargo, space tourists, and short-term astronauts.

But this kind of fits in with what Jeff Greason was saying at ISDC. So long as a company is at subsistence level with a product/service, and has excess capacity, people will find creative uses for it that probably can't be clearly predicted in advance. I had thought of a few of the items Gerst brought up, but several of them were ones I hadn't thought up. Basically, I'm not concerned that we can't central plan out markets several years in advance with much precision.

That said, I don't want this to sound like a rip on Jorge's concern. I've been worried about this too, but it's starting to appear like there are clear ways to start solving this problem even if Bigelow doesn't get his stuff up and running before CC providers start flying.

~Jon

At some point, NASA will have to commit to combining crew and cargo (CRS2) into one package deal. Obviously a company that is not interested in offering both (e.g. Orbital) could offer its services for only one of these items.  But it was obvious from the wording of previous selection statements that all of the commercial crew companies (except Blue Origin) intend to bid on cargo in the future and that cargo impacts their business case. NASA is supposed to come up with a procurement strategy for commercial crew services shortly before awarding CCiCap that will hopefully address such issues.

Offline zerm

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Also- a downselect is coming- one way or another, sooner or later, and the fact is that some folks are going to find their personal favorite company and system has not been selected. (It will be interesting to see the reactions then). What's important to keep in mind, however, is that this process is not some internet fantisy football game where cheerleading is key. Rather this is serious business involving the future of the United States. It is a matter of making up for the lack of national leadership, across two presidential administrations, that led to this gap and widened it to near infinity. It is about a Congress that looked the other way as the gap came upon us and it is about the rapidly changing arena of international power and politics.

The sooner we get crews on US spacecraft- no matter whose it is, the better.

Offline aga

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I suspect NASA is inclined to buy the other three seats on each CCP flight to ISS anyway... at the very least, it would provide short OJT flights for new astronauts before their first full ISS expedition, and it would eliminate the tourist question... but that's still just 14 seats per year, and NASA still wants multiple providers.

perhaps a dumb question from a layman, but:
how would this (short flights for new astronauts) work? iirc, there is (will be) 1 docking port for crew spacecraft - how would the 3 new astronauts get down, if the spacecraft has to stay up, docked to the iss, for an emergency case... will there be more docking ports?
42

Offline Jorge

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I suspect NASA is inclined to buy the other three seats on each CCP flight to ISS anyway... at the very least, it would provide short OJT flights for new astronauts before their first full ISS expedition, and it would eliminate the tourist question... but that's still just 14 seats per year, and NASA still wants multiple providers.

perhaps a dumb question from a layman, but:
how would this (short flights for new astronauts) work? iirc, there is (will be) 1 docking port for crew spacecraft - how would the 3 new astronauts get down, if the spacecraft has to stay up, docked to the iss, for an emergency case... will there be more docking ports?


Don't know where you got the IIRC from, but there will be 2 USOS docking ports. That is, and has always been, the plan.
JRF

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