Author Topic: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview  (Read 446564 times)

Offline Proponent

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #680 on: 03/09/2011 01:35 am »
We would have done far more exploration by now if we had stuck with a heavy lifter even if it was "old" technology instead of a space plane. Instead we got an entropic bunch of feel good programs based on the vague idea that everything would be better with new futuristic technology.

There were certainly all kinds of interesting things that could have been done with Apollo's "heavy lifter", and doing those things would have been a great idea.  Unfortunately, the government was unwilling to fund those heavy-lift missions and their payloads.  The Saturn V just didn't fit the post-Apollo budget, and keeping it on would have prevented NASA from doing many of the things that it did actually do. 

I fear today's situation is much the same:  if a heavy lifter is built, there is a large risk that the funding to build payloads for it and fly it will not materialize.  If the heavy lifter doesn't fit the budget, then it will reduce NASA's future accomplishments, not enhance them.

Offline Proponent

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #681 on: 03/09/2011 01:52 am »
A J-130 vehicle could certainly be developed by 2016, but that schedule becomes much less likely, if the budget has to be divided up further, in order to continue to fund 5-seg, J-2X, a new Upper Stage and a Core Stretch all at the same time -- as the language actually states.

But what is the point of flying a J-130 into LEO by 2016?  There's no payload for it except Orion/MPCV.  If more ambitious Orion missions were to fly a few months later, such a mission would be justified as a preparatory Apollo 7-style shakedown cruise.  Unfortunately, such missions just aren't on the cards for years afterwards.

It will no doubt be pointed out to me that the law designates Orion/MPCV as back-up transport to ISS.  The trouble is that this back-up capability won't be available when it's most needed, namely in commercial's earliest years.  If the government is worried about the reliability of commercial transport to ISS, SLS+Orion/MPCV is not the answer.

EDIT:  Inserted missing "doubt".
« Last Edit: 03/09/2011 02:28 am by Proponent »

Offline Namechange User

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #682 on: 03/09/2011 01:54 am »
We would have done far more exploration by now if we had stuck with a heavy lifter even if it was "old" technology instead of a space plane. Instead we got an entropic bunch of feel good programs based on the vague idea that everything would be better with new futuristic technology.

There were certainly all kinds of interesting things that could have been done with Apollo's "heavy lifter", and doing those things would have been a great idea.  Unfortunately, the government was unwilling to fund those heavy-lift missions and their payloads.  The Saturn V just didn't fit the post-Apollo budget, and keeping it on would have prevented NASA from doing many of the things that it did actually do. 

I fear today's situation is much the same:  if a heavy lifter is built, there is a large risk that the funding to build payloads for it and fly it will not materialize.  If the heavy lifter doesn't fit the budget, then it will reduce NASA's future accomplishments, not enhance them.

So give up?  That's what you are saying.  Just before you try to counter, the scenario you describe is not limited to just a rocket. 

I guess we'll never be more than we are today.
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Offline Namechange User

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #683 on: 03/09/2011 02:06 am »
No use having a payload if you don't have anything capable of launching it.
Almost all of the proposed payloads I've seen (Orion, Altair, hab module, etc) can be put into orbit dry with an EELV-class launch vehicle.

Kinda puts everything on the hope that we will have propellant depots that will be cheaper, arrive on time, will work, won't be burdensome. Its betting everything on one horse. Wishful thinking shouldn't be the basis of Space policy. It also restricts the volume of payload we can send, which is important for Mars missions and Lunar bases.

We already have been down this road with the Shuttle. It was to promise affordable, regular space transport. Look how that turned out!!

We have an idea of how to operate a heavy lift vehicle, how much it will cost, how often it can fly....etc. We've never tried using propellant depots or flown dozens of EELV's per year.

A more balanced approach would be to develop a HLV first, then try out propellant depot later.


Prop depots are not Shuttle. Prop depots would be far less expensive, and you don't really need a depot at all if you're just doing on-orbit refueling. We have a ceiling for on-orbit costs: Progress.

And actually, there were about 62 R-7 rocket launches in 1981 alone. Far more than the number of EELV launches needed for on-orbit refueling.

Come on, you have to know this is reaching. Not only is this totally subjective, you can't verify any of it and not even sure what you are suggesting with Progress honestly.

With respect to the 1981 manifest, they were not all in support of one "thing", that some project/program/business model would have to fund.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #684 on: 03/09/2011 02:18 am »
It's NOT reaching. The very reason we are having a problem with EELV (and Shuttle, for that matter) per-launch costs is the very low flight rate. Yet, propose a flight rate that fits with the original assumptions made when the EELVs were being designed, and NASA considers it an "excessive" flight rate. The point is that a couple hundred tons of propellant in LEO does not necessitate a historically excessive launch rate.

This basic assumption, that any reasonable launch rate is excessive, is not valid and has never been properly defended, although it lead to the rejection of a depot-centric architecture in HEFT. It's assumptions like this that need to be challenged if we want to actually do affordable exploration in anyone's lifetime.
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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #685 on: 03/09/2011 02:45 am »
It's NOT reaching. The very reason we are having a problem with EELV (and Shuttle, for that matter) per-launch costs is the very low flight rate. Yet, propose a flight rate that fits with the original assumptions made when the EELVs were being designed, and NASA considers it an "excessive" flight rate. The point is that a couple hundred tons of propellant in LEO does not necessitate a historically excessive launch rate.

This basic assumption, that any reasonable launch rate is excessive, is not valid and has never been properly defended, although it lead to the rejection of a depot-centric architecture in HEFT. It's assumptions like this that need to be challenged if we want to actually do affordable exploration in anyone's lifetime.

You're ignoring other pieces of the puzzle.  We can launch things more often, somehow and someday that has to be paid for.  Not sure what you mean by NASA. 

Either way, the point is there are many other questions that need to be answered and foundations laid before these type claims can really be made with any weight.
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Offline sdsds

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #686 on: 03/09/2011 02:53 am »
[The] assumption [that] any reasonable launch rate is excessive [lead] to the rejection of a depot-centric architecture in HEFT.

(I've edited out some aspects of what you wrote for clarity.)  Can you indicate where in the HEFT paper trail the connection between this assumption and that rejection was documented?
« Last Edit: 03/09/2011 02:54 am by sdsds »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #687 on: 03/09/2011 03:16 am »
[The] assumption [that] any reasonable launch rate is excessive [lead] to the rejection of a depot-centric architecture in HEFT.

(I've edited out some aspects of what you wrote for clarity.)  Can you indicate where in the HEFT paper trail the connection between this assumption and that rejection was documented?
I have a thread on this topic:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=23825.0
(and there didn't seem to be any good answer to the title of the thread, "What in the world is wrong with "an excessive number of commercial launches"?!")

And, for background, is this:
http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2010/12/heft-sls-hlv-design-decision-april-2011/

What I get from it is that NASA would much rather pay the ENORMOUS (and unshared) fixed costs of an HLV than share in the relatively small fixed costs (through a contract for a group of launches at a fixed price, not through direct subsidies) of EELV-class launch vehicles. It doesn't make sense to me, either. But this is probably off-topic for this thread.
« Last Edit: 03/09/2011 03:17 am by Robotbeat »
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Offline Proponent

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #688 on: 03/09/2011 03:42 am »
My dream house is a 50-room mansion on a large plot of land.  There's a place outside of town where I might just be able to afford to buy the land now.  I could borrow some money and start construction.  If things really go just my way of over the next decade, I may be able to finish my house and move in.  The trouble is that things probably won't go just as I need them to go.  Then in a decade's time I'll be left owing a lot of money with nothing to show for it but a hole in the ground.  And in the mean time I will have sacrificed vacations and lots of other things that help to make life more fun.  Even though land's pretty cheap right now, on balance I think I'm better off moving to a house I'm pretty sure I can afford and is a little nicer than the one I have now.  That doesn't mean I don't want the mansion or that I won't keep dreaming about it.
« Last Edit: 03/09/2011 03:52 am by Proponent »

Offline kraisee

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #689 on: 03/09/2011 04:06 am »
But what is the point of flying a J-130 into LEO by 2016?

Because it secures the program at a comfortable budget level.   It secures the political support for the whole agency at all levels.   And it ensures that there is an active program that can evolve, in either a cheap (J-246), or expensive (J-251 Stretched Heavy) direction -- as the future budgets allow -- without draining the entire budget every year, and thus allowing some money to be spent in other areas, such as more R&D, more payloads, more spacecraft and more missions.


CxP made the fatal mistake of leaping too far and missing all of its targets because of it.   The lesson we need to take away from that debacle, is not to try to do everything in one ambitious leap when there isn't enough money.   Instead we need to make this a process of smaller, more manageable steps that reach the final goal.

Jupiter-130 is the equivalent of a Saturn-I on the path to the Saturn-V.   It isn't the full capability, but it is the logical, affordable and realistic stepping stone that we actually need right now -- and it doesn't rule any of the other options out.

Ross.
« Last Edit: 03/09/2011 04:12 am by kraisee »
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Online vt_hokie

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #690 on: 03/09/2011 04:13 am »

But what is the point of flying a J-130 into LEO by 2016? 

Well, my hope is that if we ever get a president and Congress that care about space exploration, maybe we'll at least have some pieces left in place to start rebuilding our capability.  Bush was no Kennedy, Obama even less so, but I have to believe that at some point we'll get leadership willing to set an ambitious goal for our space program and stand behind it.
« Last Edit: 03/09/2011 05:04 am by vt_hokie »

Offline Proponent

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #691 on: 03/09/2011 05:46 am »
With the US economy recovering from a very deep recession only slowly (as is typical of recoveries from recessions caused by financial panics rather than by garden-variety demand-supply imbalances) and with the baby boomers just beginning to retire, the federal budget is not going to be looking pretty anytime soon.  With that backdrop, the strategy of building an LEO-only interim version of a heavy lifter and then hoping that the funding climate will improve so that an upper stage, payloads and missions will become affordable seems to me to be such a long shot that it's just not worth it.

Even if losing the heavy lifter costs NASA political support and dollars, at least some of the heavy-lifter money would go to more productive ends, like the fascinating planetary missions in the just-released National Academy road map.

Offline Proponent

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #692 on: 03/09/2011 05:54 am »
Well, my hope is that if we ever get a president and Congress that care about space exploration, maybe we'll at least have some pieces left in place to start rebuilding our capability.  Bush was no Kennedy, Obama even less so, but I have to believe that at some point we'll get leadership willing to set an ambitious goal for our space program and stand behind it.

No president has ever gone to bat for space because he was interested in it.  The only president who ever seriously pushed for space spending was JFK, but he only did it because space was a useful means of achieving a political end, namely besting the Soviet Union.  For this to happen again, we would need three things: 1) space becoming politically important again, 2) a president and supporting congress willing to use space to achieve a political objects, and 3) a fiscally much healthier federal government.  None of these three things is likely.  In place of precedents 1) and 2), one might alternatively hope that a president and congress will be willing to support a vigorous space program on its own merits, but that's never happened before.

Backing a heavy-lift-based program in the hopes that the US government is going to give NASA much more money sometime in the next decade is a lost cause.

Edit:  The above conclusion is, of course, just my opinion.
« Last Edit: 03/09/2011 06:48 am by Proponent »

Offline alexw

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #693 on: 03/09/2011 06:14 am »
On page 198 of the Senate Appropriation bill:
Quote
... not less than
13 $1,800,000,000 shall be for the heavy lift launch vehicle
14 system which shall have a lift capability not less than 130
15 tons and which shall have an upper stage and other core
16 elements developed simultaneously.


$1.8 billion/yr. Some simple numbers:

The total sustaining cost to ATK for the SRM and (much smaller) PWR for SSME is about $500 million/yr. (*) $1.8 - $0.5 leaves about $1.3 billion/yr for development.

The most optimistic figure is DIRECT's 2008 estimate for J-130 of about $8.5 billion, not including the SRB/SSME sustaining costs (**). $8.5/$1.3 = 6.5 years. DIRECT assumed $3 billion for JUS (***), or about 2.3 years more, total 9 years.

That is, in the most optimistic development cost scenario proposed, at this funding level SLS would be ready in 2020.
(This assumes no aerospace inflation.)

At the other end, taking HEFT's $17 billion estimate for the 5/5 vehicle, and removing their cumulative sustaining costs of very roughly $4.5 billion, ($17-$4.5)/1.3 = 9.6 years. For the CPS upper stage, $5.2 billion / $1.3 = 4 years, total 14 years. (****,*****).

That is, in the HEFT 5/5 development cost scenario, at this funding rate SLS would be ready about 2025.

It's just numbers.

    -Alex

(*) Sustaining cost estimates separately from Ross/DIRECT and HEFT roughly agree. 4-seg vs. 5-seg, RS-25D/RS-25E make little difference to sustaining costs on these timescales.
(**) DIRECT's timelines proposed concurrent development with a Shuttle extension, and assumed these costs would have been borne by the ongoing STS budget, not Jupiter development.
(***) Not credible. ULA estimates ACES-41/-71 as $3.5 billion, JUS would be ACES-171.
(****) Ignoring, for the moment, the complexity of removing and putting back in the effects of inflation + aerospace inflation.
(*****) Longer if HEFT was actually assuming that the additional costs to upgrade LC-39 for a stretch-heavy were borne by the mysterious additional $7 billion in "ground infrastructure".

Offline 93143

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #694 on: 03/09/2011 07:45 am »
DIRECT assumed $3 billion for JUS (***)
(***) Not credible. ULA estimates ACES-41/-71 as $3.5 billion, JUS would be ACES-171.

Not correct, IIRC.  DIRECT assumed $4B for JUS.  This is entirely reasonable; I don't see why the cost of developing a stage should be any stronger a function of the size of the stage than the cost of building it (ie: not very strong).  The engines already exist (RL-10), and are the same for all ACES variants; all that's left is tankage and structure design, the difficulty of which isn't anywhere near linear with stage size by any stretch of the imagination.  And tooling, but the 8.4 m tooling already exists at Michoud.

Also, I may be wrong, but I don't think DIRECT assumed STS would continue for the entire time Jupiter was being developed.  I think it was only a couple of years.  At any rate, development of a new rocket isn't a constant-cost operation; the first year should be expected to cost substantially less than subsequent years.  Whether or not NASA cooperates or Congress appropriates are separate questions...

Offline alexw

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #695 on: 03/09/2011 08:38 am »
DIRECT assumed $3 billion for JUS (***)
(***) Not credible. ULA estimates ACES-41/-71 as $3.5 billion, JUS would be ACES-171.
Not correct, IIRC.  DIRECT assumed $4B for JUS.
    You're probably right, and thank you for the correction; the figures of $8 vs. $8.5 for Jupiter and $3 vs. $3.5 vs. $4 billion for JUS have moved around a little in my memory over the years here (and, I think, in various postings). That adds a half-year longer, which obviously makes no real difference.

Quote
  This is entirely reasonable; I don't see why the cost of developing a stage should be any stronger a function of the size of the stage than the cost of building it (ie: not very strong).  The engines already exist (RL-10), and are the same for all ACES variants; all that's left is tankage and structure design, the difficulty of which isn't anywhere near linear with stage size by any stretch of the imagination.  And tooling, but the 8.4 m tooling already exists at Michoud.
      ULA figures ACES-71 at $3.5 billion using their own, existing, operational upper-stage production line that currently builds stages from which ACES would be derived. JUS would be two-and-a-half times larger, at a "foreign" factory. Only $500 million to convert Michoud would seem magical.

     For comparison, note that HEFT figured the CPS Heavy at $2.5 billion more than CPS Medium's $3.2 billion. That's increased tankage and structure, and additional RL-10s. Hey, I don't like it either.

   -Alex

Offline 93143

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #696 on: 03/09/2011 10:42 am »
Only $500 million to convert Michoud would seem magical.

Why?  It's that amount over and above what would need to be spent to retask the DHCUS tooling for ACES-41 (less any extra development headaches for the larger size, of course).  Michoud already makes ETs (at least, it did until recently, and the tooling is still there), which have the same diameter as JUS, use the same propellants and are made of the same stuff.  I don't see why the difference should be huge.

Also, Lockheed Martin is the prime for ET manufacture, and would probably be the prime for JCS manufacture.  So it isn't really a "foreign" factory at all...
« Last Edit: 03/09/2011 10:55 am by 93143 »

Offline kkattula

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #697 on: 03/09/2011 11:11 am »
On page 198 of the Senate Appropriation bill:
Quote
... not less than
13 $1,800,000,000 shall be for the heavy lift launch vehicle
14 system which shall have a lift capability not less than 130
15 tons and which shall have an upper stage and other core
16 elements developed simultaneously.


$1.8 billion/yr. Some simple numbers:

...

Umm, that's for FY2011 while Shuttle is still flying out and there are substantial CxP termination costs.

And it's actually an increase on the $1.63 billion for SLS in FY2011 in the 2010 Authorization.

FY2012 & FY2013 numbers are $2.65 billion and $2.64 billion.

I respectfully suggest you put those numbers into your estimate.

Offline kkattula

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #698 on: 03/09/2011 11:18 am »
Actually I did it for you:

4.4 years for J-130  = early 2015 (since the first $1.3B gets spent by October)

1.4 more for JUS  = mid 2016


Edit:  HEFT's 5/5 vehicle I ignore because it's stupid.  (IMO)
« Last Edit: 03/09/2011 11:25 am by kkattula »

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #699 on: 03/09/2011 01:57 pm »
Quote from: Ross
So the best question now, is just how responsive are Bolden and Garver going to be to this?

And if the recent past should be prologue, theanswer might shake out to be: "Not very responsive."

Quote from: MorningHirundinidae
It is worse than that.  We will still be circling in LEO but with a bigger rocket acting as a lawn decoration.

Why?  Like that cartoon character in that video said: "Because the Congress told them teww."  Maybe a possible solution would be the classic American legal strategy:  In this case, sue the guy who invented Kool-aid.

Kinda puts everything on the hope that we will have propellant depots that will be cheaper, arrive on time, will work, won't be burdensome. Its betting everything on one horse. Wishful thinking shouldn't be the basis of Space policy. It also restricts the volume of payload we can send, which is important for Mars missions and Lunar bases.

I'd have to say, this is an assortment of obvious blandishments, and thus a shallow analysis.  Most of the official suggestions have depended on hope as well, so in that they do not differ from the depot model.  Basically, after the demonstrated accomplishments of Ares, hope that the new HLV will be cheaper, timely, and less burdensome.  Odds are, this will not be the case.

Although wishful thinking shouldn't be the basis of policy, it is also a common feature between the depot model, and the HLV model.  As to the restriction of payload, I'd say that the value of the payload data presented in the several proposals that I've read is close to the Shannon value of the bits used in the presentation.  It seems clear to me that we could get to the Moon at least using existing vehicles, operated in a coherent, multi-term fashion.  The idea of Mars at this time is only, I'd say, a braggart's idea.

Quote
We already have been down this road with the Shuttle. It was to promise affordable, regular space transport. Look how that turned out!!

The sad truth of this obvious note pertains to every "official" launch scheme on the table.  Note that the "unofficial" launch schemes have not been included in the "official" proposals.

Quote
We have an idea of how to operate a heavy lift vehicle, how much it will cost, how often it can fly....etc. We've never tried using propellant depots or flown dozens of EELV's per year.

Although depots have not been tried, we do have an "idea" of how they should work.  Further, flying dozens of EELV's per year is not at all out of the technical realm of possibility.

Quote
A more balanced approach would be to develop a HLV first, then try out propellant depot later.

No it would not, as I've tried to explain above.

But what is the point of flying a J-130 into LEO by 2016?  There's no payload for it except Orion/MPCV.

Well, I would say that the MPCV is a possible payload.  Furthermore, the J-130 could supply ISS, and launch sats.  So there's plenty of potential things it could do, even tho today, there are no "official" things for it to do.

It's NOT reaching. The very reason we are having a problem with EELV (and Shuttle, for that matter) per-launch costs is the very low flight rate. ...

Pretty much bingo, I'd say, with the lo flight rate is only one of the reasons for the hi per launch costs.  I assume, tho, that you also agree with the general statement: "There are many other questions that need to be answered and foundations laid before these type claims can really be made with any weight."  If the powers that be would only analyze all the facts, pro and con, instead of only the subset of pro facts that they already prefer.

I have to believe that at some point we'll get leadership willing to set an ambitious goal for our space program and stand behind it.

Vote for me, then.  I mean, I'm UVA and all that, but hey, get over it.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

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