Author Topic: Alternate Access to Station (2004)  (Read 3180 times)

Offline neilh

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Alternate Access to Station (2004)
« on: 05/20/2010 03:35 PM »
This has become timely again in the context of the previously-dormant question of supplying ISS post-Shuttle, but I've been trying to find what information exists regarding NASA/MSFC's 2002-2004 Alternate Access to Station program (later renamed to Assured Access to Station, before its eventual cancellation in 2005). The biggest resource I can find is this performance requirements document from February 15, 2002:

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=12848
http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.131.6878&rep=rep1&type=pdf (this link has a functional PDF)

The following section from a GAO report mentions briefings from four contractors regarding their capabilities, but I can't find any trace of them whatsoever on the internet or NTRS:

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05488.pdf
Quote
NASA’s 2004 assessment identified significant challenges associated with using alternative launch vehicles for space station assembly and operation. According to previous studies and our discussions with industry representatives, these challenges would likely preclude using alternative vehicles for assembly missions. However, NASA’s assessment was insufficient to conclude that the shuttle was the best option for logistics support missions prior to the proposed retirement of the space shuttle in 2010. ...

From 2000 to early 2004, NASA performed two studies that focused on the potential use of commercial launch vehicles to provide logistics services to the space station. In a 90-day study conducted in 2000, NASA determined that no commercial logistics service for the space station was possible at that time, as no launch vehicles possessed the critical capabilities necessary to provide logistics services, including automated rendezvous capabilities. As a result of this study, NASA decided to solicit and fund a more detailed review of concepts designed to provide logistics services to the space station. The Alternate Access to Station (AAS) study contracts were awarded in July 2002, with 1-year contracts given to four contractors. In summer 2003, these contractors presented architectures that relied on existing domestic or international expendable launch vehicles. In the fall of 2003, the contracts were extended, and the contractors were asked to address larger cargo delivery capabilities and “downmass” (e.g. returning research materials to earth) requirements were added for the return of cargo. This study ended in January 2004 with the contractors briefing on their study results, at which time NASA concluded that developing a domestic capability to meet most of the space station cargo service needs was possible within 3 to 5 years.

This blurb from October 2003 indicates the 4 AAS contractors:
http://defense-archive.teldan.com/Article/NASAs-Plans-for-Alternate-Access-to-Station-Remain-a-Mystery.aspx?sID=367394
Quote
In 9/03, NASA received $4 mil for the Alternate Access to Station (AAS) program in a last minute addition to its FY03 allocation. The agency's FY04 budget request does not contain a line item dedicated to AAS. NASA has directed its 4 AAS contractor teams - Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Andrews Space & Technology and Constellation Services - to spend the rest of 2003 developing concepts for a system that can deliver the equivalent of 5 shuttle missions worth of cargo to the Int'l Space Station each yr and bring back almost as much payload.
« Last Edit: 05/20/2010 04:43 PM by neilh »
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Offline neilh

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Re: Alternate Access to Station (2004)
« Reply #1 on: 05/20/2010 04:59 PM »
A couple more finds:

* SpaceRef has a link to a PDF on a February 8, 2002 "Final Report on the 3-month Alternate Access to Station (AAS) Performance Requirements Study", but the PDF link is dead: http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=12849

* A November 2002 briefing on Alternate Access to Space by HMX:
http://www.hmx.com/AAS_Briefing_Edited.pdf
http://www.hmx.com.nyud.net/AAS_Briefing_Edited.pdf (coral cache)

HMX's presentation has this interesting preface (dated March 1, 2003), so I'd be curious if HMXHMX has any other resources:
Quote
This PowerPoint file represents a distillation of the Alternate Access to Space (AAS) final report presented November 6, 2000 under contract to the NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center. Out of a field of 17 small business bidders, HMX, Microcosm, Andrews Space & Tech, and Kistler Aerospace were selected to perform concept studies of alternate methods for "contingency" resupply of the International Space Station. (Other contracts, to Boeing, Lockheed, Orbital and Coleman were awarded non-competitively.) Per the NASA Act of 1958, this information should have been made publicly available but the results were largely suppressed in order to kill the AAS program, which had been imposed on NASA by OMB and the Congress against NASA's will. Especially opposed to AAS was theJohnson Space Flight Center, on the grounds that any alternate to the Space Shuttlewould reduce the need for expensive and dangerous Shuttlemissions, and reduce the available flights for the large pool of unflown NASA astronauts.Also strongly obstructionist was Marshall's Dennis Smith, then SLI program manager and now in charge of the Orbital Space Plane (OSP) who simply wanted the money to be used for his massive Space Launch Initiative (SLI) boondoggle.

HMX determined that use of a fully proven launcher, the Titan II, would have allowed AAS missions to the station to begin in 2003 for half the money approved by OMB for this program. Instead of acting, NASA/ MSFC delayed the AAS program, and watered it down until for all practical purposes it became a technology research effort on the methods of docking unmanned vehicles to the ISS. While small follow-on contracts have been awarded, the program is set to terminate in early summer, and the OSP project will absorb the remaining funds.

While the AAS program never intended the resupply vehicle to be crewed, HMX found that the only way to perform the mission was to build a reusable AAS transfer vehicle (designatedthe XV). This approach was also adopted by other AAS contractors. Reuse of the XV reduced per flight costs and enhanced reliability, but it also meant that the vehicle could serve as both a lifeboat for the ISS and also carry crews to orbit. Of course, given the vicious opposition to AAS on the part of JSC, HMX never briefed the manned option, but the last slide in this presentation illustrates one version of a crewed XV.

It is ironic, in light of the Columbia disaster, that this capability would just now be coming on line if NASA had not badly bungled the entire program. Given NASA's track record of not being able to successfully complete a single space transportation project (e.g., X-33, X-34, X-37, X-43, X-38 and the SLI program) in the past twenty years, plus their mismanagement of the Shuttle program, one wonders why they should be entrusted with the development of the OSP. Only Congress can answer that question.

Gary C. Hudson, CEO, HMX March 1, 2003
« Last Edit: 05/20/2010 05:00 PM by neilh »
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Offline Danderman

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Re: Alternate Access to Station (2004)
« Reply #2 on: 05/23/2010 02:29 PM »
Let me see what I can find on this, I probably do have all the documents that were publicly released. As for the contractor reports, you should remember that all of the contractors were prepping for COTS, so their work product may have been competition sensitive.

Also, there was an extension to AAS beyond the original one year program, maybe another 3 months, which required a "final, final" report to be generated.

Online HMXHMX

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Re: Alternate Access to Station (2004)
« Reply #3 on: 05/23/2010 03:25 PM »
A couple more finds:

* SpaceRef has a link to a PDF on a February 8, 2002 "Final Report on the 3-month Alternate Access to Station (AAS) Performance Requirements Study", but the PDF link is dead: http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=12849

* A November 2002 briefing on Alternate Access to Space by HMX:
http://www.hmx.com/AAS_Briefing_Edited.pdf
http://www.hmx.com.nyud.net/AAS_Briefing_Edited.pdf (coral cache)

HMX's presentation has this interesting preface (dated March 1, 2003), so I'd be curious if HMXHMX has any other resources:
Quote
This PowerPoint file represents a distillation of the Alternate Access to Space (AAS) final report presented November 6, 2000 under contract to the NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center. Out of a field of 17 small business bidders, HMX, Microcosm, Andrews Space & Tech, and Kistler Aerospace were selected to perform concept studies of alternate methods for "contingency" resupply of the International Space Station. (Other contracts, to Boeing, Lockheed, Orbital and Coleman were awarded non-competitively.) Per the NASA Act of 1958, this information should have been made publicly available but the results were largely suppressed in order to kill the AAS program, which had been imposed on NASA by OMB and the Congress against NASA's will. Especially opposed to AAS was theJohnson Space Flight Center, on the grounds that any alternate to the Space Shuttlewould reduce the need for expensive and dangerous Shuttlemissions, and reduce the available flights for the large pool of unflown NASA astronauts.Also strongly obstructionist was Marshall's Dennis Smith, then SLI program manager and now in charge of the Orbital Space Plane (OSP) who simply wanted the money to be used for his massive Space Launch Initiative (SLI) boondoggle.

HMX determined that use of a fully proven launcher, the Titan II, would have allowed AAS missions to the station to begin in 2003 for half the money approved by OMB for this program. Instead of acting, NASA/ MSFC delayed the AAS program, and watered it down until for all practical purposes it became a technology research effort on the methods of docking unmanned vehicles to the ISS. While small follow-on contracts have been awarded, the program is set to terminate in early summer, and the OSP project will absorb the remaining funds.

While the AAS program never intended the resupply vehicle to be crewed, HMX found that the only way to perform the mission was to build a reusable AAS transfer vehicle (designatedthe XV). This approach was also adopted by other AAS contractors. Reuse of the XV reduced per flight costs and enhanced reliability, but it also meant that the vehicle could serve as both a lifeboat for the ISS and also carry crews to orbit. Of course, given the vicious opposition to AAS on the part of JSC, HMX never briefed the manned option, but the last slide in this presentation illustrates one version of a crewed XV.

It is ironic, in light of the Columbia disaster, that this capability would just now be coming on line if NASA had not badly bungled the entire program. Given NASA's track record of not being able to successfully complete a single space transportation project (e.g., X-33, X-34, X-37, X-43, X-38 and the SLI program) in the past twenty years, plus their mismanagement of the Shuttle program, one wonders why they should be entrusted with the development of the OSP. Only Congress can answer that question.

Gary C. Hudson, CEO, HMX March 1, 2003

Gosh, that Hudson fellow is a real hothead.

;)

Offline neilh

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Re: Alternate Access to Station (2004)
« Reply #4 on: 05/23/2010 06:53 PM »
Let me see what I can find on this, I probably do have all the documents that were publicly released. As for the contractor reports, you should remember that all of the contractors were prepping for COTS, so their work product may have been competition sensitive.

Also, there was an extension to AAS beyond the original one year program, maybe another 3 months, which required a "final, final" report to be generated.


Thanks! My hope is that info about the requirements and possible solutions from back in 2004 should give insight into how to deal with the issue of post-Shuttle ISS maintenance faced today.
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