Author Topic: Senate Commerce Committee Executive and Congress Version - July 15 onwards  (Read 498888 times)

Offline kkattula

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Is NASA authorization a priority for the House majority leadership?  I kind of get the feeling it isn't, but I'm about 12,000 miles away, so it's hard to read the political temperature. :)

Seems like it would be an easy win, demonstrating bi-partisanship and scoring points off the previous WH admin at the same time. ("We fixed Bush's failed NASA policy...", throw in some Direct-ish artwork, etc).

Offline aquanaut99

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According to this Washington Post article, a stalemate is now a distinct possibility: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/18/AR2010091802567_2.html?hpid=moreheadlines

If no decision is obtained by 09/30, contractors will start laying off the workforce. Clearly, this will make SLS/DIRECT (and the CxP holdouts) lose. On the other hand, it will also mean no extra money to commercial spaceflight.

So everyone loses. Am I missing something here?
« Last Edit: 09/20/2010 08:53 AM by aquanaut99 »

Offline alexw

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   Jeff, a question: it's been reported elsewhere that the Senate bill commits  $11.5 billion for SLS development by 31 Dec 2016, yet the Senate bill on the committee website only authorizes FY2011-2013 for a cumulative $6.921 billion. Could you say how you picture the Senate committee funding profile for SLS to continue for FY2014-FY2017? About the same line, $2.64 billion/yr?
That's correct. Of course, the actual vehicle design and development plan, to be put together by NASA under either bill, will refine cost and schedule estimates. The out-year numbers--in either bill, by the way--are essentially notional, since there is no actual program on the table (though to the extent the House reflects a "restructured" Constellation program, as it's been described, one might argue the PoR numbers would have more refinement--but the problem is, remember, PoR runouts in a flat top line budget REQUIRED the cessation of ISS support in 2015, which is not now on the table), those out-year numbers could be modified by subsequent action to reflect refined program requirements. The Congress is not irrevocably bound by authorizing numbers, as we saw over the last five years, when the authorizing numbers far exceeded either the requested or the appropriated amounts. And, in the end, there is the "cardinal rule" that no Congress can bind a future Congress....unless it allows itself to be so bound by inaction or reaffirmation.
    Thanks for the reply, Jeff. I understand that future authorizations are hypothetical, and that both present and future appropriations committees need not be bound by any of it, but it's helpful to hear that you project that budget line to remain similar -- that the Committee is not under the impression that it would cut back in just a few years.

    Regarding timelines, the Senate bill specifies 31 Dec 2016, but according to the HEFT presentations -- which you are no doubt well aware of -- one projection for entry into service of the core alone is around 2019. HEFT also figures total development costs of $17.4 billion for the core, and another $7 billion for ground infrastructure -- mods to LC-39, crawlers, crawlerway, etc. -- which are big costs that I haven't seen reported in other small presentations. The total is $24.4 billion ($3 billion less for the "3/4" instead of "5/5" design), which, assuming the Senate budget profile, is finally spent by 2019 or 2020. (That's about the same as HEFT, but HEFT assuming spending at a faster rate, peaking at around $4 billion/yr in 2013.)
     No doubt you're received your own NASA estimates to bring SLS on line, and they may well be more optimistic. But what happens if either of these cost or time estimates really are correct, and due to either money or technical issues, SLS misses the 2016 deadline? Would NASA technically be in violation of the authorization law, or would future authorization bills likely just push back the clock as the deadline got closer?
   -Alex

Online Chris Bergin

According to this Washington Post article, a stalemate is now a distinct possibility: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/18/AR2010091802567_2.html?hpid=moreheadlines

If no decision is obtained by 09/30, contractors will start laying off the workforce. Clearly, this will make SLS/DIRECT (and the CxP holdouts) lose. On the other hand, it will also mean no extra money to commercial spaceflight.

So everyone loses. Am I missing something here?

No need for another new thread when that article is already linked and discussed in this one. And they've been laying off the workforce for months. 400 got their marching orders last week at JSC (MOD and Jacobs).

Also, it's SLS, not SLS/Direct. No final decision has been made on the config of the SLS.

These are pointers, not discussion points, so continue with the political process conversation.

Online Chris Bergin

   Jeff, a question: it's been reported elsewhere that the Senate bill commits  $11.5 billion for SLS development by 31 Dec 2016, yet the Senate bill on the committee website only authorizes FY2011-2013 for a cumulative $6.921 billion. Could you say how you picture the Senate committee funding profile for SLS to continue for FY2014-FY2017? About the same line, $2.64 billion/yr?
That's correct. Of course, the actual vehicle design and development plan, to be put together by NASA under either bill, will refine cost and schedule estimates. The out-year numbers--in either bill, by the way--are essentially notional, since there is no actual program on the table (though to the extent the House reflects a "restructured" Constellation program, as it's been described, one might argue the PoR numbers would have more refinement--but the problem is, remember, PoR runouts in a flat top line budget REQUIRED the cessation of ISS support in 2015, which is not now on the table), those out-year numbers could be modified by subsequent action to reflect refined program requirements. The Congress is not irrevocably bound by authorizing numbers, as we saw over the last five years, when the authorizing numbers far exceeded either the requested or the appropriated amounts. And, in the end, there is the "cardinal rule" that no Congress can bind a future Congress....unless it allows itself to be so bound by inaction or reaffirmation.
    Thanks for the reply, Jeff. I understand that future authorizations are hypothetical, and that both present and future appropriations committees need not be bound by any of it, but it's helpful to hear that you project that budget line to remain similar -- that the Committee is not under the impression that it would cut back in just a few years.

    Regarding timelines, the Senate bill specifies 31 Dec 2016, but according to the HEFT presentations -- which you are no doubt well aware of -- one projection for entry into service of the core alone is around 2019. HEFT also figures total development costs of $17.4 billion for the core, and another $7 billion for ground infrastructure -- mods to LC-39, crawlers, crawlerway, etc. -- which are big costs that I haven't seen reported in other small presentations. The total is $24.4 billion ($3 billion less for the "3/4" instead of "5/5" design), which, assuming the Senate budget profile, is finally spent by 2019 or 2020. (That's about the same as HEFT, but HEFT assuming spending at a faster rate, peaking at around $4 billion/yr in 2013.)
     No doubt you're received your own NASA estimates to bring SLS on line, and they may well be more optimistic. But what happens if either of these cost or time estimates really are correct, and due to either money or technical issues, SLS misses the 2016 deadline? Would NASA technically be in violation of the authorization law, or would future authorization bills likely just push back the clock as the deadline got closer?
   -Alex

HEFT is in the very early days. It only started it's full team this month. That's the reason HEFT is all "pre-decisional" now.

Offline marsavian

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http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100920/NEWS02/9200306/1006/NEWS01/NASA+advocates+pushing+Congress

Nelson said he met for two hours Wednesday with the House science committee's chairman, Democratic Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee, but they weren't able to reach a compromise. A significant dispute focuses on a Senate proposal for a heavy-lift rocket by 2015, which has support from key senators. The House rejected that option because of the projected cost -- $11.5 billion over five years.

"He doesn't think we can do a heavy-lift rocket for $11.5 billion," Nelson said of Gordon. "If we can't do a rocket for $11.5 billion, we ought to close up shop." Gordon said he hopes to bring a bill to the House floor this week.  "We're in discussions. We're making a lot of progress, and I'm very optimistic," Gordon said. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, D-New Smyrna Beach, echoed that optimism, saying she hopes "we will have a move-forward plan" by mid-week.
« Last Edit: 09/20/2010 10:07 AM by marsavian »

Offline marsavian

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So the argument could be boiling down to whether something DIRECT-like is funded or something more expensive and capable like Ares V.
« Last Edit: 09/20/2010 10:10 AM by marsavian »

Offline brihath

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http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100920/NEWS02/9200306/1006/NEWS01/NASA+advocates+pushing+Congress

Nelson said he met for two hours Wednesday with the House science committee's chairman, Democratic Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee, but they weren't able to reach a compromise. A significant dispute focuses on a Senate proposal for a heavy-lift rocket by 2015, which has support from key senators. The House rejected that option because of the projected cost -- $11.5 billion over five years.

"He doesn't think we can do a heavy-lift rocket for $11.5 billion," Nelson said of Gordon. "If we can't do a rocket for $11.5 billion, we ought to close up shop." Gordon said he hopes to bring a bill to the House floor this week.  "We're in discussions. We're making a lot of progress, and I'm very optimistic," Gordon said. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, D-New Smyrna Beach, echoed that optimism, saying she hopes "we will have a move-forward plan" by mid-week.


If cost is the issue, it seems DIRECT would make more sense than an Ares V sized vehicle.

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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So the argument could be boiling down to whether something DIRECT-like is funded or something more expensive and capable like Ares V.

I think that the argument remains Ares-I.  Ares-I is perceived by some (especially in the House) as the only possible successor to the Shuttle.  This delusion has not died and its partisans remain determined to protect it.

What has happened is that both the House and Senate are now playing a deadly game of Chicken, with the future of NASA HSF likely to be the first casualty.
"Oops! I left the silly thing in reverse!" - Duck Dodgers

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DON'T PROPAGANDISE, FLY!!!

Online Chris Bergin

http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100920/NEWS02/9200306/1006/NEWS01/NASA+advocates+pushing+Congress

Nelson said he met for two hours Wednesday with the House science committee's chairman, Democratic Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee, but they weren't able to reach a compromise. A significant dispute focuses on a Senate proposal for a heavy-lift rocket by 2015, which has support from key senators. The House rejected that option because of the projected cost -- $11.5 billion over five years.

"He doesn't think we can do a heavy-lift rocket for $11.5 billion," Nelson said of Gordon. "If we can't do a rocket for $11.5 billion, we ought to close up shop." Gordon said he hopes to bring a bill to the House floor this week.  "We're in discussions. We're making a lot of progress, and I'm very optimistic," Gordon said. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, D-New Smyrna Beach, echoed that optimism, saying she hopes "we will have a move-forward plan" by mid-week.


If cost is the issue, it seems DIRECT would make more sense than an Ares V sized vehicle.

Yep, or even a stage further, Sidemount (noted as cheaper than inline)? (Yes, I know HLV needs missions).

I'll be glad when a decision on a forward plan is made, as this is starting to look like a "game" (as Ben said) and people are losing their frakking jobs in the meantime - while the rest worry about their jobs.

Offline Jason Davies

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Yep, or even a stage further, Sidemount (noted as cheaper than inline)? (Yes, I know HLV needs missions).

I'll be glad when a decision on a forward plan is made, as this is starting to look like a "game" (as Ben said) and people are losing their frakking jobs in the meantime - while the rest worry about their jobs.

What would you go with if it came down to Ares vs EELV?

Online Chris Bergin



Yep, or even a stage further, Sidemount (noted as cheaper than inline)? (Yes, I know HLV needs missions).

I'll be glad when a decision on a forward plan is made, as this is starting to look like a "game" (as Ben said) and people are losing their frakking jobs in the meantime - while the rest worry about their jobs.

What would you go with if it came down to Ares vs EELV?

My opinion counts for nothing, but EELV with Orion and prop depots etc? I do like those plans, and will be writing some more on that, but everything looks great on a company presentation that removes most of the key information under the proprietary tag. I know they have to do that, of course. On paper it's a good plan.

Ares has had a very bad childhood, via the costs and schedule....and there's a massive problem - Augustine. They confirmed what we all knew, and for some time, that Ares I with Orion won't be ready until late this decade, needed a ton of extra money just to make around 2015 (LEO crew to ISS - which we know we can get from other vehicles), and the fallout from that was the moon return being set back five or more years. Ares should only continue with a major revamp (more than a Hanley-style revamp). Got to admit, I'd be shocked if Ares continues.

Still think a commercial/NASA mix is best. LEO to commercial. HLV (SD <---and I really do feel strongly about SD) for BEO and providing a backup in case of commercial issues with LEO. Again, it's going to come down to money.

Just my opinion.

Offline JohnFornaro

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The House bill awaiting action would give twice as much money to Russia...

I saw that too.  I quite appreciate the Russians and their work.  Nevertheless, we should not be abandoning our nation's capabilities, until well after our commercial companies can comfortably step to the plate.  The Springfield armory comes to mind as a partial analogy.

And while the phrase "Socialist conspiracy to destroy American manufacturing" would never come from my lips, apparently my fingers can type the phrase with alacrity.  Then I recall that the American people, when polled, did not approve of the recent health care legislation, and that the disapproval was pretty strong, yet the House enacted this legislation.  So what's going on here?

Whatever it is, it's wrong.

It seems to me that one enormous sticking point is that the business case of converting a solid rocket industry to a liquid rocket industry is not at all easy.  To make matters worse, the intellectually lazy proprietors of the former don't wish to even talk about it.  Change for the good is seen as weakness.  I believe that there's a technical solution somewhere, but it will be difficult to achieve.

...HEFT is all "pre-decisional:...

I quite realize that you are reporting, not advocating. 

Yet I struggle with the very premise of validity in that report, and continue to whine about it.  Its key recommendation, visiting a NEO in the 'near term' of 2025, is ludicrous, as is the requirement for 6 1/2 or 7 new spacecraft which are nothing but pixels on a screen at the moment.

It is the thought process of the report which is problematical, and it is this thought process which is being used to confuse 'innocent' members of Congress.  And when I say, facetiously, 'innocent', I mean to imply that, granting the fiction that the members act in good faith for the nation's welfare, the issues of mission determination and budgetary analysis in this field are incredibly difficult as it stands.  It is a small thing for a report to misstate the parameters which Congress needs in order to created good legislation.  Alas.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline robertross

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Yet I struggle with the very premise of validity in that report, and continue to whine about it.  Its key recommendation, visiting a NEO in the 'near term' of 2025, is ludicrous, as is the requirement for 6 1/2 or 7 new spacecraft which are nothing but pixels on a screen at the moment.

Yes, and just consider the complexity & challenges of a Mars landing, and what this would translate into (based on such a HEFT report).

Something that is 'slightly' overlooked is that Obama had requested a  Mars landing in mid-late 2030s. We would have to start building hardware for that before we even sent our crew module up to begin a NEO mission.
Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our rights & freedoms, and for those injured, visible or otherwise, in that fight.

Offline clongton

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Still think a commercial/NASA mix is best. Just my opinion.

Would you consider something like AJAX to fit that description?
Not looking for endorsement, just looking to understand your viewpoint.
Chuck - DIRECT co-founder
I started my career on the Saturn-V F-1A engine

Online Chris Bergin

Still think a commercial/NASA mix is best. Just my opinion.

Would you consider something like AJAX to fit that description?
Not looking for endorsement, just looking to understand your viewpoint.

Not read up on notional LV idea #623 yet. Also struggling to get past Ajax being a Dutch football (soccer) team and a name for an oven cleaner.

I think the most important question right now is how much power does Bart Gordon have, and if he's claiming something (on cost), where's the documentation?

Offline aquanaut99

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I'm so disgusted right now I'm beginning to hope that the result in Congress will be a complete deadlock that will get nothing done at all. This seems like the least bad of all possible bad outcomes. Because while NASA gets nothing done, SpaceX will be flying astronauts to ISS by 2015.
« Last Edit: 09/20/2010 03:50 PM by aquanaut99 »

Offline Will

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Yet I struggle with the very premise of validity in that report, and continue to whine about it.  Its key recommendation, visiting a NEO in the 'near term' of 2025, is ludicrous, as is the requirement for 6 1/2 or 7 new spacecraft which are nothing but pixels on a screen at the moment.

Yes, and just consider the complexity & challenges of a Mars landing, and what this would translate into (based on such a HEFT report).

Something that is 'slightly' overlooked is that Obama had requested a  Mars landing in mid-late 2030s. We would have to start building hardware for that before we even sent our crew module up to begin a NEO mission.

Obama had requested Mars *orbit* by the 2030s. Once the life support is qualified for longer missions, the HEFT asteroid spacecraft design is capable of a Phobos mission.

Offline marsavian

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I'm so disgusted right now I'm beginning to hope that the result in Congress will be a complete deadlock that will get nothing done at all. This seems like the least bad of all possible bad outcomes. Because while NASA gets nothing done, SpaceX will be flying astronauts to ISS by 2015.

Who's going to fund the development ? A CR will have no funds for commercial crew. Soyuz is what will be relied on.
« Last Edit: 09/20/2010 03:58 PM by marsavian »

Online Chris Bergin

I'm so disgusted right now I'm beginning to hope that the result in Congress will be a complete deadlock that will get nothing done at all. This seems like the least bad of all possible bad outcomes. Because while NASA gets nothing done, SpaceX will be flying astronauts to ISS by 2015.

Where's SpaceX going to get the money from in that scenario. They are a business and won't do things that aren't good business (rightly so).

Edit: Beaten to it by Marsavian :)
« Last Edit: 09/20/2010 04:00 PM by Chris Bergin »

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