Author Topic: A Reasonable, Post Election Devolution Plan for Exploration  (Read 10834 times)

Offline Bubbinski

If the VSE is cancelled, that raises the question of what "vision" or "purpose" would replace it. 

The American people have a lot of concerns right now - gas prices/energy, economy, war, etc.  I'd say IF the VSE were axed, NASA needs to come up with an alternative that can be seen as helping with some of these problems, if they want good public support.  I know solving the "energy crisis" isn't in NASA's job description, but if they started a program to develop space solar power demonstration craft, I think that would be a good thing to do. 

Start with a solar power delivery from space demonstration using something mounted on ISS, then a larger demonstration craft launched by, say a Delta 4 Heavy or something like that, move on to a full SPS system for military use initially if everything goes right and it's feasible.   Hopefully more efficient and lighter, cheaper solar panels/cells would come out of this, I would think that would help future exploration.
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline psloss

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Re: A Reasonable, Post Election Devolution Plan for Exploration
« Reply #21 on: 07/22/2008 09:14 PM »
If the VSE is cancelled, that raises the question of what "vision" or "purpose" would replace it. 

The American people have a lot of concerns right now - gas prices/energy, economy, war, etc.  I'd say IF the VSE were axed, NASA needs to come up with an alternative that can be seen as helping with some of these problems, if they want good public support.
The people often choose to make their voices heard in some policy debates, but rarely when it comes to space policy.  In most or all cases, our elected representatives have proposed or made space policy changes.  The audience for selling space policy change is still inside the Beltway.

Online edkyle99

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Re: A Reasonable, Post Election Devolution Plan for Exploration
« Reply #22 on: 07/22/2008 09:53 PM »

I've heard that U.S. production of RD-180 is dead and in the process of being buried.

Could you please explain further.

I've heard that ULA has recently terminated (decided not to renew) its RD-180 "co-production" R&D contracts with PWR/RD-AMROSS.  This work had included developmental fabrication (and testing) of a few engine components, etc..

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 07/22/2008 09:55 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline arachnitect

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Re: A Reasonable, Post Election Devolution Plan for Exploration
« Reply #23 on: 07/22/2008 10:48 PM »
Start with a solar power delivery from space demonstration using something mounted on ISS

Solar panels already take years to "generate back" the energy used in their production. Adding a flight to orbit, and (presumably micromave?) transmission back to earth only makes your ROI more problematic, whether you're above the atmosphere or not.

   Hopefully more efficient and lighter, cheaper solar panels/cells would come out of this

NASA's priorities in solar power design are not the same as for ground based applications. NASA needs arrays that are light and compact. Earth based applications need lower initial cost per watt and better energy storage (to deal with that annoying "weather" and 12 hours of darkness). I don't think that anything NASA would do at this point will drive down the cost of solar.

I think that the best lower capital intensity projects would be LEO fuel transfer and ISRU demonstrations.

Offline luke strawwalker

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Re: A Reasonable, Post Election Devolution Plan for Exploration
« Reply #24 on: 08/19/2008 07:32 PM »
Let me posit a hypothetical, albeit likely, scenario for 2009:

The new President, citing the need to make "tough decisions" effectively cancels the entire VSE. In the past, such cancellations have led to losses of years, if not decades, in achieving goals such as return to the Moon, or landing on Mars.

So, what levels of activity, or what kinds of activity, could be pursued at a low level so that decades are not lost after 2009? ...


Propulsion.  That is the key. 

 - Ed Kyle

EXACTLY!!!  That's why NASA is finding itself in this quandary now... and why I consider it criminally stupid that the development projects for advanced or evolved engines like RL-60, J2-X, RS-84, F1-A, etc...  even completion of ASRM's would have really helped the current situation.  An incremental, determined, low key, long term experimental and development program would have given NASA a whole stable of suitable rocket engines ready for final development completion and production, without taking years and years to finish work that could have been done years ago.  But the short-term thinking prevailed that STS would go on forever and nothing would be needed to replace it in our lifetimes, or so it seemed...

Now they find their back to the wall with the cupboard essentially bare, and facing long expensive development programs with no results to show for it for a LONG time...  and having to settle for a suboptimal problematic 'solution' simply because the available options just aren't there because the research and development was shrifted for... what??

EXTREMELY short sighted, and now we're paying the piper...

With talk in other posts of the merits/demerits of a "shuttle II" the question I want to know is, why hasn't it been done YEARS AGO??  The closest we came was X-33 and the plug was pulled on it when there were some interesting avenues yet to be explored.  Oh, yeah, I remember the talk now... it was turned over the 'the private sector' and died pretty soon after that.  SO much for 'yall build it and we'll buy rides from you'...  Same thing with NLS or even Shuttle C... had we done the hard work and spent the money to develop and field such a system, we wouldn't be in this stink now...  We might not have the optimal system or the most affordable system, but we wouldn't have our backs to the wall either thumbing a ride off other countries either... 

In the future, we need to avoid this hard spot by learning from it, and if we EVER intend to do ISRU or advanced (nuclear/ion/etc) propulsion we need to be doing the incremental research and demonstration missions NOW (or soon anyway). 

(Sigh)  Oh well, expecting leadership from managers and politicians is asking too much anyway....  If wishes were horses everybody would ride...  JMHO! OL JR :)
NO plan IS the plan...

"His plan had no goals, no timeline, and no budgetary guidelines. Just maybe's, pretty speeches, and smokescreens."

Offline Steve G

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Re: A Reasonable, Post Election Devolution Plan for Exploration
« Reply #25 on: 08/19/2008 08:05 PM »
I don't see a major shift by either candidate.  Obama hinted he was looking to preserve Florida jobs, and since that is the swing vote state, there may be a policy shift which would reap the state's electoral collage.  The best way to get votes is to lean towards Direct since it promises to save jobs.

However, with just two years to go until the shuttle is retired, the options are less than unlimited despite the problems.  There is the growing gap, the incredibly shirking spacecraft (Orion), the Ares 1 problems, the humongous federal deficit and deteriorating relations with the Russians which represents America's ride into space for five years following 2010.

No matter who wins, I believe both will try to close the gap.  This will either by dumping more $$$ onto the Ares 1, or choose an alternative.  I don't see the shuttle being extended more than by a year, there are simply no more parts available right now to sustain the fleet past 2010.

The space priority of the next administration, Democrat or Republican, will be closing the gap and reducing US independence on the Soyuz and saving the investment on the ISS.  It will be NASA led, not by COTS.

I see the Ares 1 being canceled for a quicker route, but whether it is Direct remains to be seen.

Sadly, the moon will be put on the back burner.


Offline Antares

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Re: A Reasonable, Post Election Devolution Plan for Exploration
« Reply #26 on: 08/19/2008 08:08 PM »
Well, look at what the DoD has learned to do in some areas of its purview (rockets) and is learning to do in others (satellites).

Fund low level technology development where the programs fielded by the warfighter (~ astronaut) are not dependent on technologies that are not yet ready to be integrated for prime time.  This is what DARPA, AFRL, NRL, etc. do, sometimes in cooperation with things like Phantomworks and Skunk Works.  Look at the satellite debacles (FIA, SBIRS, others) that have happened in recent years - they put new technologies in the critical path for integration into a system and field use of that system, and failed miserably.

And then when the DoD decides to field a system for operation, it has a clear, defined mission without requirements creep (at least the successful ones).  NASA's only agreed-upon mission is to keep 70-some-000 people employed.
If I like something on NSF, it's probably because I know it to be accurate.  Every once in a while, it's just something I agree with.  Facts generally receive the former.

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