Author Topic: Senate Commerce Committee Executive and Congress Version - July 15 onwards  (Read 664530 times)

Offline clongton

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It's quite interesting to read that some spaceflight supporters in Washington D.C. are still keeping alive the dream of a substantial extension to the Shuttle program!  It seems this is now principally motivated by a desire to fully support ISS.

While that kind of thinking may be politically viable, from a dispassionate technical perspective those dreams look unrealistic.  Instead the reality seems to be that decisions made long ago have left ISS in a posture where its continuation is exposed to some risks, and no amount of funding now can mitigate those risks in a timely fashion.
This is due to the historical (or should I say hysterical) way HSF is funded ... we play a collective game of "chicken" at the end of a program, forcing a clumsy transition. Political theatre to force a budgetary endgame ... which gets mangled by legislators doing rocket design for favoring special interests.

As long as HSF is still too much of a "circus act", this will happen.

I would not be opposed to a funding model that mirrored to some extent the US Postal Service or the Tennessee Valley Authority. Give NASA a multi-decadal mission and let it supplement it's federal funding from private sources. It's HSF future will then be tied more to the interest of the nations' people and less to the special interests of the Legislators.
Chuck - DIRECT co-founder
I started my career on the Saturn-V F-1A engine

Offline nooneofconsequence

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As long as HSF is still too much of a "circus act", this will happen.

I would not be opposed to a funding model that mirrored to some extent the US Postal Service or the Tennessee Valley Authority. Give NASA a multi-decadal mission and let it supplement it's federal funding from private sources. It's HSF future will then be tied more to the interest of the nations' people and less to the special interests of the Legislators.
With all my heart.

It comes with the unwinding of the prior pseudo "national security" basis. Both US and Russia ICBMs underwrote large amounts of LV development - where the strategic link was formed. And where the arsenal system had its glory days.

Unfortunately you have to "undo" the ABAMA transition. Strategic weapons have less to do with HSF. National security needs of strategic weapons and lift needs to develop uncoupled from HSF for the clearest focus on end objectives of national security to remain paramount. HSF is no longer a subsidiary arms program boondoggle but an alternative "soft power" capability that is capital effective, competes with rivals with developing advanced industry base no other nation possesses, and risk shares with IP's on a logistical supply reimbursement model.

Unfortunately this means having a US industrial policy model that differentiates rushing everything off to China to "race to the bottom" on pricing to support Walmart "cheap chinese goods" vending, and the development of a native industry base that can't/shouldn't leave the country yet still must be exported for sale (problems akin to ITAR).

No political party has yet to wrestle with this conundrum - it screws both of them up pretty badly. But it is why we continue our screwed up economy and don't incent the proper changes to address an aggressively better future.
"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something" - Plato

Offline JohnFornaro

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Here's a wild idea: Has anyone ever looked into adding some kind of additional "workshop" module to ISS to support full utilization? It could be used for maintenance and tinkering with various experiments on-board (people have been asking about VaSIMR). Or, if it's got enough room, failed components could be investigated there in lieu of downmass opportunities.  Of course, if those things couldn't squeeze into Dragon for a ride home that means it would have to be quite spacious itself, perhaps an inflatable with an oversized airlock?

Long ago our space station was envisioned as an orbital assembly station. This could be a cool way to take one step in that direction. Maybe even have some on-orbit manufacturing and assembly experiments.

No viable. 
a.  Astronauts are not real technicians
b.  Spacecraft are full of bad propellants and pyros.
c.  Not enough air to waste in airlocks that large
d.  No spacecraft in the vicinity of the ISS

Yes viable.
1.  They are quite amenable and able to be trained for assembling large items in space, with the assitance of Canadarms and Robonauts built for the purpose.
ii. This has not stopped the current work at all.
c.  If we're gonna work in space, we'll have to bring up sufficient O2, no matter what the future holds.
IV. To quote Jed Clampett: "Every time we hear that bell, someone's at the door!"  Every time the shuttle, a type of spacecraft, gets in the vicinity of the ISS, crew members ring the doorbell!

1.  big difference than fixing black boxes
ii.  None of the work has a spacecraft inside a pressurized space
III. we are talking current ISS
iv.  shuttle will be gone and this is about other spacecraft.

All right, I'll tighten up on numbering.  The original question was adding a "workshop" to ISS.  Sounds viable and desirable to me.

1. You say not viable because astros are not technicians.  I believe that they can certainly be trained to fix more than "black boxes".  Future work in space will certainly involve a great deal more than R&R black boxes.  There would be two aspects of a workshop.  The interior space, shirtsleeve environment; zero gee initially; where, for example, they might be able to fix the ammonia pump, if they had a big enough airlock.

Perhaps you mean not viable today, but the questioner seemed to me to be talking about the future.

2. What? I certainly don't think the idea was subggested to put a spacecraft in a prssurised space.

3. We are not talking current ISS; it is tentatively suggested to expand its functionality and utility with a "workshop".  We may very well have to bring up more O2 and other consumables.

4. What?  Ok, the shuttle will be gone, but the next spacecraft in the vicinity of the ISS would be a, well, spacecraft.

I don't quite get what you're saying.  I think the original suggestion was excellent.

would not be opposed to a funding model that mirrored to some extent the US Postal Service or the Tennessee Valley Authority. Give NASA a multi-decadal mission and let it supplement it's federal funding from private sources. It's HSF future will then be tied more to the interest of the nations' people and less to the special interests of the Legislators.
That's not a bad idea at all.  How do you think that model might be gradually implemented?
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline orbitjunkie

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John has read my mind, or at least my statement more carefully. I never said anything about an entire spacecraft assembly and construction workshop. I was definitely thinking of a ISS module or Bigelow inflatable style workshop, with the possible exception of the airlock. It will be quite a while before we get a Star Trek-like dry spacedock but this was just meant to
Quote
be a cool way to take one step in that direction

The context of this was how to deal with things that fail on the ISS but are too big to get down in Dragon. Not assembling new spacecraft and filling them with hypergolics and pyros. A more relevant question would be what kind of hazardous materials are contained in parts that might fail?

**edited for clarity**
« Last Edit: 08/26/2010 02:32 am by orbitjunkie »

Offline Bill White

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I would not be opposed to a funding model that mirrored to some extent the US Postal Service or the Tennessee Valley Authority. Give NASA a multi-decadal mission and let it supplement it's federal funding from private sources.

What categories of private funding sources do you foresee?
EML architectures should be seen as ratchet opportunities

Offline JohnFornaro

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Quote
1.  I never said anything about an entire spacecraft assembly and construction workshop.

2.  I was definitely thinking of a ISS module or Bigelow inflatable style workshop...

1. Good.  I never said you said.  And the biggest thing needing technical examination that I mentioned by name was the ammonia pump.

2. I said: "The original question was adding a "workshop" to ISS."  Seems like your and my statement are roughly equivalent.

Not sure what yer drivin' at.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline orbitjunkie

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1. Good.  I never said you said.  And the biggest thing needing technical examination that I mentioned by name was the ammonia pump.
2. I said: "The original question was adding a "workshop" to ISS."  Seems like your and my statement are roughly equivalent.
Not sure what yer drivin' at.
Oh, I see the confusion now, blasted homographs and heteronyms! I should have written "John has read". You and I are thinking along the same lines. I was attempting to clarify my comments for Jim, who seemed to take them in a way I didn't intend.

Original post edited.

Offline Jim

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There is a "workshop" on the ISS.  They have tools and work areas.

Offline JohnFornaro

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We're talking about the size of the workshop, and its hopeful ability to receive and analyze and repair the damage to the ammonia pump, as one example.
« Last Edit: 08/26/2010 03:02 pm by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

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Keep it on topic please.
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Offline nooneofconsequence

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1) Why you don't novate the contracts now(51D's point):

Because too much of the existing contracts drag along cost centers that make it impossible to fit in the budget footprint Congress will end up with.

Can't until you get to appropriations.

2) What has to happen to get to a more rational (e.g. less earmark driven) NASA exploration funding model (clongton's point):

Because too much depends on a cold war industrial policy model you can't have ANY modern one that replaces it. I gave you an example of how to replace it and why - go find a way to map it into your politics somehow, that's not my problem.

Until then, we'll keep on biting our own a$$ with "projects to nowhere".

Tell me when you get tired of failures.
"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something" - Plato

Offline yg1968

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1) Why you don't novate the contracts now(51D's point):

Because too much of the existing contracts drag along cost centers that make it impossible to fit in the budget footprint Congress will end up with.

Can't until you get to appropriations.

2) What has to happen to get to a more rational (e.g. less earmark driven) NASA exploration funding model (clongton's point):

Because too much depends on a cold war industrial policy model you can't have ANY modern one that replaces it. I gave you an example of how to replace it and why - go find a way to map it into your politics somehow, that's not my problem.

Until then, we'll keep on biting our own a$$ with "projects to nowhere".

Tell me when you get tired of failures.

This is a better question for 51D Mascot. But I don't think that you can novate the existing contracts until the 2010 NASA Authorization bill (and/or a FY 2011 continuing resolution that would refer to the NASA Authorization bill) has passed. There is language in the FY2010 appropriation bill stating that Constellation cannot be cancelled. This likely prevents you from changing the existing contracts significantly and it continues to apply until new legislation (such as the NASA Authorization or a continuing resolution bill) overturns it.

I think that 51D Mascot's point was only about the termination liability issue (and not the novation of the contracts). I get the feeling that this termination laibaility issue will only be resolved once the NASA Authorization bill is law and once the contracts are novated. I imagine that if a company refuses to novate its contract for whatever reason, the termination liability issue would still be relevant. But like I said this is a better question for 51D Mascot.
« Last Edit: 08/26/2010 07:38 pm by yg1968 »

Offline nooneofconsequence

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1) Why you don't novate the contracts now(51D's point):

Because too much of the existing contracts drag along cost centers that make it impossible to fit in the budget footprint Congress will end up with.

Can't until you get to appropriations.
I think that 51D Mascot's point was only about the termination liability issue (and not the novation of the contracts). I get the feeling that this termination laibaility issue will only be resolved once the NASA Authorization bill is law and once the contracts are novated. I imagine that if a company refuses to novate its contract for whatever reason, the termination liability issue would still be relevant.
Actually further down the path than that. It may be the case that they must continue(even accelerate) termination liability issues due to effects of the legislation (and House issues). Only changes after appropriations, and we don't even have authorization yet. It also makes for an even greater "train wreck" if at the last moment we get stuck into a CR which most feel unlikely.

Has to do with the conflicting interpretations of poorly worded legislation done for selective advantage of certain communities of interest that create contradictions in the field of "tort law liability".

Kinda stupid given first year law school students could see it, and legislators are lawyers, but ...
"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something" - Plato

Offline spacetraveler

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On the continuing resolution, if no agreement on the new authorization bill can be hammered out in time, would the continuing resolution just continue the POR for another year? If so that seems a waste.

Or would it be some kind of a middle ground study phase where just no real work was done on the new system.
« Last Edit: 08/26/2010 09:02 pm by spacetraveler »

Offline Pheogh

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Being optimistic I would certainly hope that the same cooperation that formed this compromise could also muster the courage and sense of urgency to avoid the CR and  let NASA and Contractors get to work.

Look around, this is 1968 all over again, the nation IMHO desperately needs (this) something to be proud of.

I fully understand that might be a pipe dream with so much money to be shifted around and promised. However if they were able to accomplish it, this tax-payer would certainly be impressed by the legislative branch in a way I haven't been for quite some time.


Offline jml

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On the continuing resolution, if no agreement on the new authorization bill can be hammered out in time, would the continuing resolution just continue the POR for another year? If so that seems a waste.

Or would it be some kind of a middle ground study phase where just no real work was done on the new system.

Original FY 2010 language:
Quote
...none of the funds provided herein and from prior years that remain available for obligation during fiscal year 2010 shall be available for the termination or elimination of any program, project or activity of the architecture for the Constellation program nor shall such funds be available to create or initiate a new program, project or activity, unless such program termination, elimination, creation, or initiation is provided in subsequent appropriations Acts.
Amended language passed into law this spring in a Supplemental:
Quote
Provided further, That notwithstanding any other provision of law or regulation, funds made available for Constellation in fiscal year 2010 for ‘National Aeronautics and Space Administration Exploration’ and from previous appropriations for ‘National Aeronautics and Space Administration Exploration’ shall be available to fund continued performance of Constellation  contracts, and performance of such Constellation contracts may not be terminated for convenience by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in fiscal year 2010’’.

Despite this being the written law of the land, the administration was able to find a loophole big enough to essentially bring much of CxP work to a standstill by strictly enforcing boilerplate gov't termination liability clauses that had not been enforced in prior years, and that apparently are not being enforced for any NASA projects other than CxP.

It seems like a CR under this language would require not terminating CxP contracts for Ares I, and Orion, but doesn't strictly prohibit work on an existing project called Ares V...even if the Ares V NASA works on has SSMEs and an 8.4m core. Whether novating Ares I SRB, avionics, upper stage, LAS, and MLP contracts into contracts for such an Ares V would be allowable under a CR is a good question. 

It almost seems like the worst that would come out of this would be more work on the 5-seg SRBs, J2-X, and a 5m upper stage....which could all eventually be applied to SLS if they happen to be available.

But it also seems to me that the if appropriators could insert language amending the CxP termination clause into the Spring 2010 supplemental appropriations bill, they could just as easily insert a new amendment into the CR that allows NASA to negotiate the novation of Ares I contracts into contracts more suitable for the Senate's preferred HLV.

Offline yg1968

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On the continuing resolution, if no agreement on the new authorization bill can be hammered out in time, would the continuing resolution just continue the POR for another year? If so that seems a waste.

Or would it be some kind of a middle ground study phase where just no real work was done on the new system.

Original FY 2010 language:
Quote
...none of the funds provided herein and from prior years that remain available for obligation during fiscal year 2010 shall be available for the termination or elimination of any program, project or activity of the architecture for the Constellation program nor shall such funds be available to create or initiate a new program, project or activity, unless such program termination, elimination, creation, or initiation is provided in subsequent appropriations Acts.
Amended language passed into law this spring in a Supplemental:
Quote
Provided further, That notwithstanding any other provision of law or regulation, funds made available for Constellation in fiscal year 2010 for ‘National Aeronautics and Space Administration Exploration’ and from previous appropriations for ‘National Aeronautics and Space Administration Exploration’ shall be available to fund continued performance of Constellation  contracts, and performance of such Constellation contracts may not be terminated for convenience by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in fiscal year 2010’’.

Despite this being the written law of the land, the administration was able to find a loophole big enough to essentially bring much of CxP work to a standstill by strictly enforcing boilerplate gov't termination liability clauses that had not been enforced in prior years, and that apparently are not being enforced for any NASA projects other than CxP.

It seems like a CR under this language would require not terminating CxP contracts for Ares I, and Orion, but doesn't strictly prohibit work on an existing project called Ares V...even if the Ares V NASA works on has SSMEs and an 8.4m core. Whether novating Ares I SRB, avionics, upper stage, LAS, and MLP contracts into contracts for such an Ares V would be allowable under a CR is a good question. 

It almost seems like the worst that would come out of this would be more work on the 5-seg SRBs, J2-X, and a 5m upper stage....which could all eventually be applied to SLS if they happen to be available.

But it also seems to me that the if appropriators could insert language amending the CxP termination clause into the Spring 2010 supplemental appropriations bill, they could just as easily insert a new amendment into the CR that allows NASA to negotiate the novation of Ares I contracts into contracts more suitable for the Senate's preferred HLV.

I don't think that the continuing resolution is much of an issue. The continuing resolution could easily say that NASA funds must be appropriated according to the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. In 2008, the continuing resolution did just that that. It referred to a Senate bill that was not yet law. See this link:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=21124.msg607683#msg607683

I believe that the bigger issue is whether the NASA Authorization bill is passed before the end of September. If not, I believe that the continuing resolution could simply refer to the Senate Bill for how to appropriate NASA funds (albeit at the reduced FY2010 level). However, I don't know if the House would be willing to go along with such a plan. I think most people in Congress want the NASA Authorization bill passed prior to the election and ideally prior to the end of September.     
« Last Edit: 08/26/2010 10:34 pm by yg1968 »

Offline Lars_J

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There's been some talk about downmass capability after Shuttle retirement (or lack thereof) in this thread, so I found this article on spaceflightnow.com interesting:

Europe, Japan weigh cargo return from space station (http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n1008/27cargoreturn/)

In it is some information about how both ESA and JAXA are studying/planning to add the cabaility to their ATV and HTV to return cargo through a capsule. Both are designs that could evolve into crew launchers eventually.
« Last Edit: 08/27/2010 08:04 pm by Lars_J »

Online robertross

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There's been some talk about downmass capability after Shuttle retirement (or lack thereof) in this thread, so I found this article on spaceflightnow.com interesting:

Europe, Japan weigh cargo return from space station (http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n1008/27cargoreturn/)

In it is some information about how both ESA and JAXA are studying/planning to add the cabaility to their ATV and HTV to return cargo through a capsule. Both are designs that could evolve into crew launchers eventually.

And that just goes to reinforce how valuable the shutte is for the ISS, and how critical downmass is. You don't embark on such an expensive venture unless there is a need.

Thanks for the link btw.

Offline Lars_J

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That's certainly a possibility, but then they are poor planners. They should have started work on their own downmass capability years ago when the shuttle retirement was announced, if the entry of service date for these are 5-10 years (probably the latter) away.

It is also possible that they want to be more independent, through developing capabilities that can later become manned systems. Perhaps they see the U.S. interest in HSF as fickle and/or not certain of success, so they would like to put their own backups in place.
« Last Edit: 08/28/2010 02:22 am by Lars_J »

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