Author Topic: American Leadership in Space Technology and Advanced Rocketry Act  (Read 10204 times)

Online woods170

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As someone who has seen many of today's rockets which are in development up close, and also spent a lot of time at MSFC, they are definitely holding their own in the advanced tech dept.  A lot of the things they work on get percolated out to industry - and perhaps the first time you hear about them is in a SpaceX press release.  Being able to try new ideas without worrying about return on investment is incredibly freeing, and the industry needs that to keep pushing forward (in combination with a strong commercial sector).

Just my 2 cents.


Not really.   Most of MSFC is not research but bodies supporting SLS.
Which does beg the question "If SLS went away what would there be left for those people to do?"

Not a whole lot. And that is exactly the reason why the "Alabama space (sorry, need to stop here for a second and just say that I have to use stupid words to get my point across. I know that means I must have a weak argument, but that's why I use bad words)." (aka senator Shelby et al.) will make sure that NASA is always having a major program under development that requires the services of MSFC.
« Last Edit: 05/02/2018 10:06 am by woods170 »

Offline Proponent

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Which does beg the question "If SLS went away what would there be left for those people to do?"

Not a whole lot. And that is exactly the reason why the "Alabama space (sorry, need to stop here for a second and just say that I have to use stupid words to get my point across. I know that means I must have a weak argument, but that's why I use bad words)." (aka senator Shelby et al.) will make sure that NASA is always having a major program under development that requires the services of MSFC.

And that might not be such a bad thing if MSFC could do something other than develop launch vehicles.  Space power?  Propellant-depot technology?

Online woods170

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Which does beg the question "If SLS went away what would there be left for those people to do?"

Not a whole lot. And that is exactly the reason why the "Alabama space (sorry, need to stop here for a second and just say that I have to use stupid words to get my point across. I know that means I must have a weak argument, but that's why I use bad words)." (aka senator Shelby et al.) will make sure that NASA is always having a major program under development that requires the services of MSFC.

And that might not be such a bad thing if MSFC could do something other than develop launch vehicles.  Space power?  Propellant-depot technology?

The leading US entity on space power is a NASA center, but it is not MSFC. MSFC plays second fiddle to NASA Glenn in this development.
The leading US entity on propellant-depot technology is not actually a NASA center but a company from Centennial, Colorado.
Much like the leading US entities on chemical rocket engines is not actually a NASA center but two private companies.

NASA in general, and MSFC in particular, have lost their leading role on several aspects of (manned) spaceflight.

The recent attempt by some politician to assign MSFC the official role of "leader in propulsion technology" (the very subject of this thread) didn't just drop out of thin air. Even at the Hill people recognize that MSFC can't stay alive on SLS-work only. Something will have to change, or MSFC becomes insignificant. The usual way to solve this, Washington-style, is to give it another big pork-barrel program.
« Last Edit: 05/03/2018 09:44 am by woods170 »

Which does beg the question "If SLS went away what would there be left for those people to do?"

Not a whole lot. And that is exactly the reason why the "Alabama space (sorry, need to stop here for a second and just say that I have to use stupid words to get my point across. I know that means I must have a weak argument, but that's why I use bad words)." (aka senator Shelby et al.) will make sure that NASA is always having a major program under development that requires the services of MSFC.

And that might not be such a bad thing if MSFC could do something other than develop launch vehicles.  Space power?  Propellant-depot technology?

I've asked this to some NASA engineers on r/NASA working on the SLS, including an avionics engineer, and the answer I got is that canceling NASA's LV development wouldn't pose a threat to the agency's workforce, and that they could be easily moved to other projects.
One of them also said that even the expertise at the cape could easily find its place in a future of complete commercial utilization of KSC and help support hypothetical new private/public partnerships.
 
The problem apparently lies in the contractors.
« Last Edit: 05/03/2018 10:22 am by AbuSimbel »
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Online woods170

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Which does beg the question "If SLS went away what would there be left for those people to do?"

Not a whole lot. And that is exactly the reason why the "Alabama space (sorry, need to stop here for a second and just say that I have to use stupid words to get my point across. I know that means I must have a weak argument, but that's why I use bad words)." (aka senator Shelby et al.) will make sure that NASA is always having a major program under development that requires the services of MSFC.

And that might not be such a bad thing if MSFC could do something other than develop launch vehicles.  Space power?  Propellant-depot technology?

I've asked this to some NASA engineers on r/NASA working on the SLS, including an avionics engineer, and the answer I got is that canceling NASA's LV development wouldn't pose a threat to the agency's workforce, and that they could be easily moved to other projects.
Yes, because certain politician will make sure that those "other projects" come into existence if and when SLS gets cancelled. We all witnessed it happen when CxP got canned. SLS is a prime example of such "other projects".


One of them also said that even the expertise at the cape could easily find its place in a future of complete commercial utilization of KSC and help support hypothetical new private/public partnerships.
 
The problem apparently lies in the contractors.
IMO its a little more subtle than that.
Tell me: how much NASA personnel is involved in launching F9s and FHs? Or how much NASA personnel is involved in what Blue is doing at KSC and the Cape? How much NASA personnel is involved in getting Atlas V and Delta IV off the ground?

The answer is: not a whole lot. Very few actually.
Full commercial utilization of KSC means: no NASA around. The only way the NASA expertise would find its place in such a situation is when NASA personnel leaves NASA and takes a job at ULA, SpaceX, Blue Origin etc.
Which is exactly what is happening right now btw.

One of them also said that even the expertise at the cape could easily find its place in a future of complete commercial utilization of KSC and help support hypothetical new private/public partnerships.
 
The problem apparently lies in the contractors.
IMO its a little more subtle than that.
Tell me: how much NASA personnel is involved in launching F9s and FHs? Or how much NASA personnel is involved in what Blue is doing at KSC and the Cape? How much NASA personnel is involved in getting Atlas V and Delta IV off the ground?

The answer is: not a whole lot. Very few actually.
Full commercial utilization of KSC means: no NASA around. The only way the NASA expertise would find its place in such a situation is when NASA personnel leaves NASA and takes a job at ULA, SpaceX, Blue Origin etc.
Which is exactly what is happening right now btw.

I too would expect a lot of shifting towards commercial companies in a future without NASA LV.
I'm not an expert however on how the SLS workforce at the cape is divided between NASA employees and contractors.
I was just reporting what I've been told: he believed that the GSDO (EGS) team could play a role in supporting commercial operations. Is this out of question to you?
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Offline AncientU

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As someone who has seen many of today's rockets which are in development up close, and also spent a lot of time at MSFC, they are definitely holding their own in the advanced tech dept.  A lot of the things they work on get percolated out to industry - and perhaps the first time you hear about them is in a SpaceX press release.  Being able to try new ideas without worrying about return on investment is incredibly freeing, and the industry needs that to keep pushing forward (in combination with a strong commercial sector).

Just my 2 cents.


Not really.   Most of MSFC is not research but bodies supporting SLS.
Which does beg the question "If SLS went away what would there be left for those people to do?"

Not a whole lot. And that is exactly the reason why the "Alabama space (sorry, need to stop here for a second and just say that I have to use stupid words to get my point across. I know that means I must have a weak argument, but that's why I use bad words)." (aka senator Shelby et al.) will make sure that NASA is always having a major program under development that requires the services of MSFC.

The launch industry is a growth spurt not seen for decades.  These experts at MSFC should be easily able to sell their individual Advanced Rocketry expertise, or start their own launch companies and show everyone how to do it right.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Online woods170

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One of them also said that even the expertise at the cape could easily find its place in a future of complete commercial utilization of KSC and help support hypothetical new private/public partnerships.
 
The problem apparently lies in the contractors.
IMO its a little more subtle than that.
Tell me: how much NASA personnel is involved in launching F9s and FHs? Or how much NASA personnel is involved in what Blue is doing at KSC and the Cape? How much NASA personnel is involved in getting Atlas V and Delta IV off the ground?

The answer is: not a whole lot. Very few actually.
Full commercial utilization of KSC means: no NASA around. The only way the NASA expertise would find its place in such a situation is when NASA personnel leaves NASA and takes a job at ULA, SpaceX, Blue Origin etc.
Which is exactly what is happening right now btw.

I too would expect a lot of shifting towards commercial companies in a future without NASA LV.
I'm not an expert however on how the SLS workforce at the cape is divided between NASA employees and contractors.
I was just reporting what I've been told: he believed that the GSDO (EGS) team could play a role in supporting commercial operations. Is this out of question to you?

Absolutely out of the question IMO. What you've been told sounds a lot like wishful thinking.
There are multiple commercial entities operating out of KSC and the Cape right now: ULA, SpaceX, Blue Origin. How many of them make use of the services of NASA's EGS?

The answer is: none.

Orbital ATK's OmegA might possibly become the first. But that's not enough to keep EGS going in-between SLS launches.

Another indicator: how much interest is there in using the (NASA-supported) LC-39C?
Answer: not a whole lot. This new pad, aimed at small-sat launchers, was completed in 2015. The first assignment of flights to this pad has yet to occur.

There isn't exactly a line-up of commercial companies wanting NASA EGS to support their launches. If anything the trend is for new commercial launch service providers to develop their own vehicles as well as their own launchpads:

- SpaceX took over CCAFS LC-40 and KSC LC-39A, and operates both pads by itself.
- Blue Origin took over CCAFS LC-36 and LC-11 and is modifying and operating the new pad by itself.
- Blue Origin is looking into building a new launchpad, at KSC, for its New Armstrong vehicle. Blue will operate that new pad by itself.
- Firefly has set its eye on VABF SLC-2W and will modify and operate that pad by itself.

Offline muomega0

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Which does beg the question "If SLS went away what would there be left for those people to do?"

Not a whole lot. And that is exactly the reason why the "Alabama space (sorry, need to stop here for a second and just say that I have to use stupid words to get my point across. I know that means I must have a weak argument, but that's why I use bad words)." (aka senator Shelby et al.) will make sure that NASA is always having a major program under development that requires the services of MSFC.

And that might not be such a bad thing if MSFC could do something other than develop launch vehicles.  Space power?  Propellant-depot technology?

The leading US entity on space power is a NASA center, but it is not MSFC. MSFC plays second fiddle to NASA Glenn in this development.
The leading US entity on propellant-depot technology is not actually a NASA center but a company from Centennial, Colorado.
Much like the leading US entities on chemical rocket engines is not actually a NASA center but two private companies.

NASA in general, and MSFC in particular, have lost their leading role on several aspects of (manned) spaceflight.

The recent attempt by some politician to assign MSFC the official role of "leader in propulsion technology" (the very subject of this thread) didn't just drop out of thin air. Even at the Hill people recognize that MSFC can't stay alive on SLS-work only. Something will have to change, or MSFC becomes insignificant. The usual way to solve this, Washington-style, is to give it another big pork-barrel program.
You would be incorrect in stating that the center of depot technology is in one location.

There are ~15 in space elements that require development beyond rockets, and their costs depends on reuse or common technology, and 'depots'.  Flight rate again is key.  Regardless, there is significant new work and challenges ahead for NASA to meets is objective of addressing the Space Grand Challenges.  Unfortunately, the moon distraction is designed to retain SLS/Orion under the *guise* of including 'commercial'.  Its the same strategy used to convert SLS from a crew to cargo only carrier.  The lunar path maximizes support to the base as well.

What many do not recognize is that Congress, about two decades ago until today, prevented NASA from developing many concepts directed toward the goal of VSE (common hardware and reuse), including a reuseable first stage. :o

Any rocket designs or incremental improvements should be directed toward 'economic access to space' or more broadly the Space Grand Challenges.   This is where depots shine--delivering dirt cheap propellant allows incremental improvements to certify changes while delivering something a value with little economic risk.  Unfortunately, lunar focus leaves out a substantial number of programs to employ the space community.

Its dismaying to think a robotic program to the moon addresses the Space Grand Challenges when it includes a huge number or different launchers.  IHMO, its a total 'flailing' and reflects a poorly thought national space strategy.  IOW:  with this approach, there is little left if one includes common elements.  its pathetic and still consumes the entire budget somehow.  If lunar could return $10Bs, then industry would just do it.

Huge reserves of water ice discovered on Mars could speed manned missions -- Its easy to envision numerous programs regardless of workforce elements.

Find asteroids to get to Mars   8)   

Online woods170

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Which does beg the question "If SLS went away what would there be left for those people to do?"

Not a whole lot. And that is exactly the reason why the "Alabama space (sorry, need to stop here for a second and just say that I have to use stupid words to get my point across. I know that means I must have a weak argument, but that's why I use bad words)." (aka senator Shelby et al.) will make sure that NASA is always having a major program under development that requires the services of MSFC.

And that might not be such a bad thing if MSFC could do something other than develop launch vehicles.  Space power?  Propellant-depot technology?

The leading US entity on space power is a NASA center, but it is not MSFC. MSFC plays second fiddle to NASA Glenn in this development.
The leading US entity on propellant-depot technology is not actually a NASA center but a company from Centennial, Colorado.
Much like the leading US entities on chemical rocket engines is not actually a NASA center but two private companies.

NASA in general, and MSFC in particular, have lost their leading role on several aspects of (manned) spaceflight.

The recent attempt by some politician to assign MSFC the official role of "leader in propulsion technology" (the very subject of this thread) didn't just drop out of thin air. Even at the Hill people recognize that MSFC can't stay alive on SLS-work only. Something will have to change, or MSFC becomes insignificant. The usual way to solve this, Washington-style, is to give it another big pork-barrel program.
You would be incorrect in stating that the center of depot technology is in one location.

Kindly expand on your statement please.

Offline Jim

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I was just reporting what I've been told: he believed that the GSDO (EGS) team could play a role in supporting commercial operations. Is this out of question to you?

Not really. Commercial operations are already doing fine without EGS help.   Commercial operations get their help from Center Operations, LSP, and ISS payloads/Technology.
« Last Edit: 05/04/2018 02:17 pm by Jim »

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