Author Topic: Frustration grows as lawmakers continue to penny pinch commercial crew  (Read 58271 times)

Offline Rocket Science

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I'm saying that to first order the model that the per Orion cost stays the same is more accurate than the model that the per orion cost decreases as 1/N.  Of the $800 million estimate of a single Orion per year, I'm sure that a sizable fraction is fixed overhead and its contribution to per Orion costs does decrease as 1/N.  How much is fixed overhead is really in the details.  Some large human spaceflight programs in the past have had huge fixed overhead because their budgets also had the responsibility to keep entire clusters of NASA centers open year around.  But I'm willing to bet that if the $800 million quote was generated by a specific auditing/ cost estimation process, then the assumption of parking center operating budgets in the small print or other such shenanigans is not being taken when coming up with the $800M number. Consequently, I believe that the fraction of the $800 million budget for an Orion that is fixed overhead is going to be in the minority compared to the actual man hours/ wages and materials and parts cost of a new Orion.

If accurate, that's certainly depressing.  I didn't realize Orion was made out of solid Platinum?
;-)

What was the annual and/or per unit cost of the Apollo CSM in today's dollars compared to Orion?  If significantly cheaper, why?


Platinum? Perhaps the much more rarer “unobtanium”...  ;D

Gold pressed Latinum?
Then I guess we wouldn’t be able to build it for another 250 years or so even if we could afford it...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline Star One

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Larger point:  I think CNYMike is more or less correct when he suggests that most "govmercial" (TM) crew rockets would probably stop development should NASA not have a human spaceflight component that is not served by the Russians.
That's a fair point. However NASA does have such a requirement and Chris has dropped hints that it will continue past 2020.

That being the case it seems that either NASA has not pressed it's case well enough to the Legislature that this is a good investment in the US space economy, not the Russian (which it is) or that indeed the Legislature has some other reason for a) Paying the Russians b) Not encouraging US based providers.

I prefer not to speculate what reasons these might be.  :(  :(

But as a non American, most of whose knowledge of your political system has been gained to figure out how and why NASA gets funded in the way it is,  I find this "strategy" just bonkers.  :'(

One reason I could think of to keep giving Russians money is the general principle that most politicians are risk averse. Better to keep paying the Russians for a tried & tested system they figure than even the slight possibility of losing American lives on new built US programs, that maybe unfair to such projects but that in my view is just how cautious (timid) politicians are these days. Also they might figure it's politically less contentious if something happens on somebody else's manned system than a domestic one.

Offline Rocket Science

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Larger point:  I think CNYMike is more or less correct when he suggests that most "govmercial" (TM) crew rockets would probably stop development should NASA not have a human spaceflight component that is not served by the Russians.
That's a fair point. However NASA does have such a requirement and Chris has dropped hints that it will continue past 2020.

That being the case it seems that either NASA has not pressed it's case well enough to the Legislature that this is a good investment in the US space economy, not the Russian (which it is) or that indeed the Legislature has some other reason for a) Paying the Russians b) Not encouraging US based providers.

I prefer not to speculate what reasons these might be.  :(  :(

But as a non American, most of whose knowledge of your political system has been gained to figure out how and why NASA gets funded in the way it is,  I find this "strategy" just bonkers.  :'(

One reason I could think of to keep giving Russians money is the general principle that most politicians are risk averse. Better to keep paying the Russians for a tried & tested system they figure than even the slight possibility of losing American lives on new built US programs, that maybe unfair to such projects but that in my view is just how cautious (timid) politicians are these days. Also they might figure it's politically less contentious if something happens on somebody else's manned system than a domestic one.
Then they may be playing a game of “Russian Roulette” which seems appropriate in keeping with the situation. Sending millions offshore as well as jobs is one thing, they might have to answer to a lot more in the event of a LOV or heaven forbid, LOC due to QC issues....
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline john smith 19

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Then they may be playing a game of “Russian Roulette” which seems appropriate in keeping with the situation. Sending millions offshore as well as jobs is one thing, they might have to answer to a lot more in the event of a LOV or heaven forbid, LOC due to QC issues....
Fair point but Soyuz has racked up a lot of flights without killing anyone and has a known workable crew escape system (which is part of why it hasn't killed anyone in a long time). For ELV's that kind of pedigree does count.

Note that does not mean some of those flights weren't  at high g and came down off target. It means everyone lived. I'd say "walked away" but it seems cosmonauts often have trouble with Earth gravity (although Ms Ansari managed to and said it's rather more to do that they don't keep up the exercise regime needed to stop muscle wastage). 

You're right that that QC is the Achilles heel of expendables. But they managed to keep flying without incident through the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 so I guess things would have to get a lot worse there.

But it's still $60m/seat (and rising) going out of the USG's Treasury account abroad, when it could be going into the hands of US corporations and US workers.

Wheather that matters to US voters is another matter.
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Offline Rocket Science

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Then they may be playing a game of “Russian Roulette” which seems appropriate in keeping with the situation. Sending millions offshore as well as jobs is one thing, they might have to answer to a lot more in the event of a LOV or heaven forbid, LOC due to QC issues....
Fair point but Soyuz has racked up a lot of flights without killing anyone and has a known workable crew escape system (which is part of why it hasn't killed anyone in a long time). For ELV's that kind of pedigree does count.

Note that does not mean some of those flights weren't  at high g and came down off target. It means everyone lived. I'd say "walked away" but it seems cosmonauts often have trouble with Earth gravity (although Ms Ansari managed to and said it's rather more to do that they don't keep up the exercise regime needed to stop muscle wastage). 

You're right that that QC is the Achilles heel of expendables. But they managed to keep flying without incident through the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 so I guess things would have to get a lot worse there.

But it's still $60m/seat (and rising) going out of the USG's Treasury account abroad, when it could be going into the hands of US corporations and US workers.

Wheather that matters to US voters is another matter.
Yes Soyuz has flown a lot without an incident which means that the laws of probability may catch up with them. One can only mitigate risk unfortunately and not eliminate it...

If Soyuz were in the Commercial Crew competition today, it would not meet NASA’s human rating criteria

There is a saying that all politics is local. Though it may not matter to the voters overall, it does matter to the workers on the shop floor, their families and the local business communities impacted.
« Last Edit: 07/26/2013 11:54 pm by Rocket Science »
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline wronkiew

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Yes Soyuz has flown a lot without an incident which means that the laws of probability may catch up with them. One can only mitigate risk unfortunately and not eliminate it...

That's not one of the laws of probability, it's the Gambler's fallacy. Soyuz is either built by an extremely disciplined team or it is highly robust.

Offline Rocket Science

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Yes Soyuz has flown a lot without an incident which means that the laws of probability may catch up with them. One can only mitigate risk unfortunately and not eliminate it...

That's not one of the laws of probability, it's the Gambler's fallacy. Soyuz is either built by an extremely disciplined team or it is highly robust.
Please make note that I used the word “may” and not “will. BTW I don’t gamble...
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Offline john smith 19

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Yes Soyuz has flown a lot without an incident
No. Soyuz has had incidents with landings off course and high g landings and an LV explosion. The point was the crews survived that's what people mean by a "robust" design and it's what any of the CCiCAP vehicles would need to demonstrate.  That's why Spacex is ahead because they are racking up launches with a capsule fairly similar (but not identical) to their crewed offering.
Quote
which means that the laws of probability may catch up with them. One can only mitigate risk unfortunately and not eliminate it...
But historically the Russian designs have simply been more robust. They have traded absolute Kg to orbit performance with (for example) being able to launch in a 60 Kn cross wind.
Quote
If Soyuz were in the Commercial Crew competition today, it would not meet NASA’s human rating criteria
Which suggests a good reason for better funding CCiCAP, not less funding. But I think that's going to need a citation.
Quote
There is a saying that all politics is local. Though it may not matter to the voters overall, it does matter to the workers on the shop floor, their families and the local business communities impacted.
Unfortunately the most effective representatives of workers in the aerospace industry seem to be those in the SLS states.

Personally I think a fully funded CCiCAP puts money into US workers and US corporations and widens the industrial base, which gives more chance that US companies will win not just NASA business (one of them will at least anyway, by default) but business from other countries.

In principal the other ISS partners could buy a launch direct from any of the certified design suppliers and make their own way to the ISS, providing a suitable docking slot was available. This could be a significant sum of money to the US economy over time. What they brought would not be on NASA's dime, but their own.

Likewise the possibility of someone like Virgin Galactic buying orbital flights and of course the possibility that Bigelow gets his habitats launched would open up even more opportunities.

But that needs them to get to TRL9 IE a flight test to orbit.

That needs the Legislature to know people in their area care about this issue (IE they might not vote for them come election time if they don't do something positive about it).
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline JohnFornaro

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.... However, all the talk about govmercial crew flights having broad "markets" depends on insanely nuanced parsing.  The only market for the short term is NASA.  I don't have a problem with that principle.....

And neither do I.  But I have the impression some backers of "govmerncial" crew are exaggerating the powers and reach of the private sector.  It comes back to the amount of risk; that's why raising private capital for HSF has been so difficult.  If it was that easy, we would have done it already.

Absolutely.  The new appropriations bill should set the budget at nice round $18B; divvy it up along the lines of the Senate language, and get the damn thing passed.  The Republicans are the problem now.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Rocket Science

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Yes Soyuz has flown a lot without an incident
No. Soyuz has had incidents with landings off course and high g landings and an LV explosion. The point was the crews survived that's what people mean by a "robust" design and it's what any of the CCiCAP vehicles would need to demonstrate.  That's why Spacex is ahead because they are racking up launches with a capsule fairly similar (but not identical) to their crewed offering.
Quote
which means that the laws of probability may catch up with them. One can only mitigate risk unfortunately and not eliminate it...
But historically the Russian designs have simply been more robust. They have traded absolute Kg to orbit performance with (for example) being able to launch in a 60 Kn cross wind.
Quote
If Soyuz were in the Commercial Crew competition today, it would not meet NASA’s human rating criteria
Which suggests a good reason for better funding CCiCAP, not less funding. But I think that's going to need a citation.
Quote
There is a saying that all politics is local. Though it may not matter to the voters overall, it does matter to the workers on the shop floor, their families and the local business communities impacted.
Unfortunately the most effective representatives of workers in the aerospace industry seem to be those in the SLS states.

Personally I think a fully funded CCiCAP puts money into US workers and US corporations and widens the industrial base, which gives more chance that US companies will win not just NASA business (one of them will at least anyway, by default) but business from other countries.

In principal the other ISS partners could buy a launch direct from any of the certified design suppliers and make their own way to the ISS, providing a suitable docking slot was available. This could be a significant sum of money to the US economy over time. What they brought would not be on NASA's dime, but their own.

Likewise the possibility of someone like Virgin Galactic buying orbital flights and of course the possibility that Bigelow gets his habitats launched would open up even more opportunities.

But that needs them to get to TRL9 IE a flight test to orbit.

That needs the Legislature to know people in their area care about this issue (IE they might not vote for them come election time if they don't do something positive about it).
I was trying to be generous with the word “incident” as meaning LOC. As far as the other ISS partners attempting to visit the station with some other vehicle, they would need to clear a few hurdles...

Mid-term elections will be upon us soon and the people will have they say again, let’s see if anyone gets punished this time...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Offline Star One

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Yes Soyuz has flown a lot without an incident
No. Soyuz has had incidents with landings off course and high g landings and an LV explosion. The point was the crews survived that's what people mean by a "robust" design and it's what any of the CCiCAP vehicles would need to demonstrate.  That's why Spacex is ahead because they are racking up launches with a capsule fairly similar (but not identical) to their crewed offering.
Quote
which means that the laws of probability may catch up with them. One can only mitigate risk unfortunately and not eliminate it...
But historically the Russian designs have simply been more robust. They have traded absolute Kg to orbit performance with (for example) being able to launch in a 60 Kn cross wind.
Quote
If Soyuz were in the Commercial Crew competition today, it would not meet NASA’s human rating criteria
Which suggests a good reason for better funding CCiCAP, not less funding. But I think that's going to need a citation.
Quote
There is a saying that all politics is local. Though it may not matter to the voters overall, it does matter to the workers on the shop floor, their families and the local business communities impacted.
Unfortunately the most effective representatives of workers in the aerospace industry seem to be those in the SLS states.

Personally I think a fully funded CCiCAP puts money into US workers and US corporations and widens the industrial base, which gives more chance that US companies will win not just NASA business (one of them will at least anyway, by default) but business from other countries.

In principal the other ISS partners could buy a launch direct from any of the certified design suppliers and make their own way to the ISS, providing a suitable docking slot was available. This could be a significant sum of money to the US economy over time. What they brought would not be on NASA's dime, but their own.

Likewise the possibility of someone like Virgin Galactic buying orbital flights and of course the possibility that Bigelow gets his habitats launched would open up even more opportunities.

But that needs them to get to TRL9 IE a flight test to orbit.

That needs the Legislature to know people in their area care about this issue (IE they might not vote for them come election time if they don't do something positive about it).
I was trying to be generous with the word “incident” as meaning LOC. As far as the other ISS partners attempting to visit the station with some other vehicle, they would need to clear a few hurdles...

Mid-term elections will be upon us soon and the people will have they say again, let’s see if anyone gets punished this time...


Giving the appearance that you might be trying to run down Soyuz as a manned vehicle is not the way to go in this discussion, it's too proven a vehicle for that argument too hold any water.
« Last Edit: 07/27/2013 10:27 pm by Star One »

Offline newpylong

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Is it's track record even questionable at this point? I think the reliability speaks for itself.

Offline Rocket Science

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Yes Soyuz has flown a lot without an incident
No. Soyuz has had incidents with landings off course and high g landings and an LV explosion. The point was the crews survived that's what people mean by a "robust" design and it's what any of the CCiCAP vehicles would need to demonstrate.  That's why Spacex is ahead because they are racking up launches with a capsule fairly similar (but not identical) to their crewed offering.
Quote
which means that the laws of probability may catch up with them. One can only mitigate risk unfortunately and not eliminate it...
But historically the Russian designs have simply been more robust. They have traded absolute Kg to orbit performance with (for example) being able to launch in a 60 Kn cross wind.
Quote
If Soyuz were in the Commercial Crew competition today, it would not meet NASA’s human rating criteria
Which suggests a good reason for better funding CCiCAP, not less funding. But I think that's going to need a citation.
Quote
There is a saying that all politics is local. Though it may not matter to the voters overall, it does matter to the workers on the shop floor, their families and the local business communities impacted.
Unfortunately the most effective representatives of workers in the aerospace industry seem to be those in the SLS states.

Personally I think a fully funded CCiCAP puts money into US workers and US corporations and widens the industrial base, which gives more chance that US companies will win not just NASA business (one of them will at least anyway, by default) but business from other countries.

In principal the other ISS partners could buy a launch direct from any of the certified design suppliers and make their own way to the ISS, providing a suitable docking slot was available. This could be a significant sum of money to the US economy over time. What they brought would not be on NASA's dime, but their own.

Likewise the possibility of someone like Virgin Galactic buying orbital flights and of course the possibility that Bigelow gets his habitats launched would open up even more opportunities.

But that needs them to get to TRL9 IE a flight test to orbit.

That needs the Legislature to know people in their area care about this issue (IE they might not vote for them come election time if they don't do something positive about it).
I was trying to be generous with the word “incident” as meaning LOC. As far as the other ISS partners attempting to visit the station with some other vehicle, they would need to clear a few hurdles...

Mid-term elections will be upon us soon and the people will have they say again, let’s see if anyone gets punished this time...


Giving the appearance that you might be trying to run down Soyuz as a manned vehicle is not the way to go in this discussion, it's too proven a vehicle for that argument too hold any water.
I am not running down Soyuz. Any launch system has a statistical number for a LOM, LOV and LOC and there are cultural differences on what is acceptable or not.
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Offline erioladastra

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I can not help but think once the CCDEV vehicles are operational SA will be offering packages for free flight packages on said vehicles, at some price.
Governments that's where the big buck's are! Just look at what ESA contributes to the Iss program in exchange for their one crew member a year. Basically an ATV and Ariane 5 that's over 500 million for a crew member. They could rent there own space station off of Bigelow for that kind of money. But yeah a free flight for tom cruise or something would be great advertisement for Bigelow  :)

You equate benefit with crew - ESA gets scientific return for a number of payloads even when there is no ESA crew member.

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