Author Topic: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing  (Read 30885 times)

Online yg1968

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July 13, 2016

NASA at a Crossroads: Reasserting American Leadership in Space Exploration

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the  Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, will convene a subcommittee hearing titled “NASA at a Crossroads: Reasserting American Leadership in Space Exploration” on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, at 2:30 p.m.

The hearing will focus on the importance of ensuring consistency in policy to best leverage investments made in human space exploration. The hearing will also explore questions facing the agency related to the upcoming presidential transition.
 
Witnesses:
 
- Mr. William H. Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator of Human Exploration and Operations, NASA
- Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar, Executive Director, Coalition for Deep Space Exploration
- Mr. Mike Gold, Vice President of Washington Operations, SSL
- Mr. Mark Sirangelo, Vice President of Space Systems Group, Sierra Nevada Corporation
- Professor Dan Dumbacher, Professor of Engineering Practice, Purdue University

* Witness list subject to change

Hearing Details:
 
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
2:30 p.m. ET
Subcommittee Hearing
Senate Russell Building 253
 
Witness testimony, opening statements, and archived webcast are available at this link:

http://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/hearings?ID=52A2354F-37D5-467A-9FEA-8D44BDBD82A6
« Last Edit: 07/19/2016 01:30 am by yg1968 »

Online yg1968

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #1 on: 07/19/2016 01:21 am »
Archived video on YouTube:

« Last Edit: 07/19/2016 01:27 am by yg1968 »

Offline Lar

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #2 on: 07/19/2016 02:47 am »
An interesting list of witnesses, for those who watched the vid did it stay that way or were there changes?
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline Dante80

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #3 on: 07/19/2016 10:28 am »
The list of witnesses was indeed very interesting. This one though ended very soon, the number of questions asked were minimal. With a panel like this, I expected the hearing to take twice as much or so..

Out of the comments, one that stood for me was Gerstermayer talking about Congress/Government NOT giving specific technical design points/requirements to NASA, but broader policy decisions to implement. The Apollo program came to mind.

I might have this wrong, but it sounded like Gerst was critical to the SLS specifications decision from Congress.

Offline Lar

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #4 on: 07/19/2016 02:00 pm »
I might have this wrong, but it sounded like Gerst was critical to the SLS specifications decision from Congress.
Good for him. I think even hard core SLS fans would agree that having Congress specify so many technical implementation decisions rather than just requirements might not have been totally optimal.

Whether this hearing did any good?
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline guckyfan

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #5 on: 07/19/2016 02:31 pm »
Mike Gold of SSL made a statement that the ISS as a NASA run project would end in 2024 and then the private sector would have to be ready to take over and continue LEO presence.

Senator Nelson however later said the ISS should be operated a lot longer, until at least the end of the 20ies. I understand that NASA hopes to end ISS in 2024 and have the budget available to advance Mars plans. So would this delay Mars or could we expect a budget increase to do both?

At the very end of the session Senator Cruz mad an interesting suggestion. He said maybe the Senate should be sent to space, on a one way mission.  :)

Online RonM

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #6 on: 07/19/2016 03:00 pm »
Mike Gold of SSL made a statement that the ISS as a NASA run project would end in 2024 and then the private sector would have to be ready to take over and continue LEO presence.

Senator Nelson however later said the ISS should be operated a lot longer, until at least the end of the 20ies. I understand that NASA hopes to end ISS in 2024 and have the budget available to advance Mars plans. So would this delay Mars or could we expect a budget increase to do both?

At the very end of the session Senator Cruz mad an interesting suggestion. He said maybe the Senate should be sent to space, on a one way mission.  :)

Ah, Senator Cruz and I finally agree on something.

Senator Nelson's suggestion to keep ISS going beyond 2024, if written into law, most likely will not result in an increase in the NASA budget and delay any Mars program.

Congress has a bad habit of mandating programs and then not providing the money to fund them. When that is done to the states it is referred to as an unfunded mandate. Then the state governments have to come up with the money out of their own budgets or be in violation of federal law. Same thing happens to federal agencies, but they do not have a way to increase funding, so they must scale back operations. The Food and Drug Administration is a good example. Whenever there is a big food safety issue, Congress complains that the FDA isn't doing their job. The reality is that the FDA can't do their job because they don't have enough inspectors since Congress doesn't give them enough money.

NASA receives about 0.5% of the overall federal budget. When you subtract out non-discretionary spending and the defense budget, there's not much left. NASA receives about 3% of non-military discretionary spending. That's a large amount considering it's competing against almost every other function of the federal government. NASA is not going to get a budget increase.

If NASA is going to Mars in the 2030s - 2040s, ISS has to end operations in 2024.

Online Robotbeat

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #7 on: 07/19/2016 03:09 pm »
Not if NASA just goes along with SpaceX. Not that that is a sure thing or anything, but it's at least as realistic as NASA just doing it with SLS.
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Offline guckyfan

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #8 on: 07/19/2016 03:25 pm »
Not if NASA just goes along with SpaceX. Not that that is a sure thing or anything, but it's at least as realistic as NASA just doing it with SLS.

Of course the vast majority of the hearing was spent praising SLS and how private industry is involved in making it happen. And of course that SLS must not be cancelled like Constellation was with devastating results. Both by the committee members and the representatives of industry.

SLS will get the US back out of LEO and finally to Mars.

Offline Lar

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #9 on: 07/19/2016 03:39 pm »
If NASA is going to Mars in the 2030s - 2040s, ISS has to end operations in 2024.
Or be privatized. Which is unlikely...

Not if NASA just goes along with SpaceX. Not that that is a sure thing or anything, but it's at least as realistic as NASA just doing it with SLS.

Far better approach for everyone. Except the pork rollers. Hence, present course and speed.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Online RonM

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #10 on: 07/19/2016 05:02 pm »
If NASA is going to Mars in the 2030s - 2040s, ISS has to end operations in 2024.
Or be privatized. Which is unlikely...

Not if NASA just goes along with SpaceX. Not that that is a sure thing or anything, but it's at least as realistic as NASA just doing it with SLS.

Far better approach for everyone. Except the pork rollers. Hence, present course and speed.

Agreed, privatization or paying SpaceX would be better.

One possible approach would be to pay SpaceX to use MCT to deliver a NASA designed base. If Boeing and Lockmart got the contracts to build the base components then maybe they wouldn't feel so bad about SLS and Orion being cancelled.

Having your pork and eating too with a side of privatization.  :)

I wouldn't expect anything like that to happen until after MCT is operational or conducts the first manned landing on Mars.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #11 on: 07/19/2016 05:22 pm »
Mike Gold of SSL made a statement that the ISS as a NASA run project would end in 2024 and then the private sector would have to be ready to take over and continue LEO presence.

Senator Nelson however later said the ISS should be operated a lot longer, until at least the end of the 20ies. I understand that NASA hopes to end ISS in 2024 and have the budget available to advance Mars plans. So would this delay Mars or could we expect a budget increase to do both?

The need for the ISS is determined by a number of factors, including whether or not NASA has answered enough questions about the ability of humans to survive a future trip to Mars.

If NASA doesn't know how to keep humans healthy enough to successfully complete a trip to Mars, then there is no point in going to Mars and the ISS should continue it's research.

If the medical professionals at NASA feel that the ISS has provided enough answers to allow a government crew to successfully survive a mission to Mars, then that would certainly be one less reason for the U.S. Government to keep spending money on the ISS.

Personally I think it will be invaluable to continue having a 0G National Laboratory in LEO to continue expanding our knowledge of how humans with not only survive in space, but thrive, but the ISS is a big expense.  So handing off the ISS to the private sector, even in some subsidized way, may be the only way to keep the ISS going through the end of the 2020's.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline mfck

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #12 on: 07/19/2016 05:46 pm »
Is it technically viable to keep ISS going past 2028? Until when is it "max-rated" from the engineering pov? Possible repairs and inspections might increase the operational costs significantly towards the end, might they not?

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #13 on: 07/19/2016 06:37 pm »
An extra point of interest: the hearing includes at least one NSF member!  Do you know who?
(Their identity on this forum is not confidential.)
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Offline Rebel44

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #14 on: 07/19/2016 08:20 pm »
minor OT: did Congress spent all the money on SLS, or why the hell do we get 360p video from them in 2016?

Offline Lar

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #15 on: 07/19/2016 08:35 pm »
An extra point of interest: the hearing includes at least one NSF member!  Do you know who?
(Their identity on this forum is not confidential.)

I do and I spotted it right away but I don't know that we want 20 posts with guesses. :)
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Online Robotbeat

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #16 on: 07/19/2016 09:39 pm »
...
Not if NASA just goes along with SpaceX. Not that that is a sure thing or anything, but it's at least as realistic as NASA just doing it with SLS.

Far better approach for everyone. Except the pork rollers. Hence, present course and speed.
Or NASA goes with SpaceX but maintains SLS anyway. Of all the possibilities for people landing on Mars, that one seems just as likely as others.

But another thing:

Pork rollers have power only because the aerospace primes are large. Boeing Defense, Security, and Space is worth about $30 billion and as about 50,000 employees worldwide. SpaceX is worth $10 billion and has 5000 employees all in the US.

In 10 years from now, the picture may look very different. It's possible SpaceX may be worth much more than Boeing BDS and may have just as many US employees. That may mean SpaceX has just as much political power.

I mean, look at SpaceX vs ULA in Congress. How many people 5 years ago would've guessed that SpaceX would be able to wield political power (McCain) against ULA like that?

Don't take things for granted.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online yg1968

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #17 on: 07/19/2016 09:45 pm »
Here are a couple of articles by SN on it:

http://spacenews.com/senate-committee-seeks-stability-for-nasa-programs-in-next-administration/
http://spacenews.com/nasa-seeking-ideas-for-use-of-space-station-docking-port/

The second article provides a good opportunity for the commercial sector.
« Last Edit: 07/19/2016 09:48 pm by yg1968 »

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #18 on: 07/19/2016 10:15 pm »
An extra point of interest: the hearing includes at least one NSF member!  Do you know who?
(Their identity on this forum is not confidential.)

I do and I spotted it right away but I don't know that we want 20 posts with guesses. :)

Yes, good point.

"Well, that's the end of the lightning round.  For all of you playing along at home, the correct answer is highlighted in RED below."

Witnesses:
 
- Mr. William H. Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator of Human Exploration and Operations, NASA
- Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar, Executive Director, Coalition for Deep Space Exploration
- Mr. Mike Gold, Vice President of Washington Operations, SSL
- Mr. Mark Sirangelo, Vice President of Space Systems Group, Sierra Nevada Corporation
- Professor Dan Dumbacher, Professor of Engineering Practice, Purdue University
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #19 on: 07/20/2016 06:48 pm »
Not having all the commercial players there was unusual to me... Not saying it was deliberate... But still... ???
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Offline Proponent

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #20 on: 07/28/2016 05:52 pm »
I finally listened to the hearing and found it quite revealing.  Consider this statement from NASA's William Gerstenmeier beginning at 0:21:25 (emphasis added):

We look forward to your continued support for these activities by working together and by not overly specifying requirements.  If President Kennedy would have [sic] challenged NASA with the specific requirements commonly levied today, there would have been no lunar landing.  President Kennedy did not specify the type of rocket or the orbit maneuver plan.  He simply stated 'Send a man to the moon and return him safely to the earth by the end of the decade.'  He simply stated the requirements that mattered to the administration, and let the technical experts work out the details.  The technical experts had the authority within these requirements to change the plan as needed to accomplish the goal.  The technical experts started with a plan for a direct lunar landing without needing a risky rendezvous in lunar orbit.  But this approach required a huge rocket development.  The teams had the flexibility to change to a lunar orbit rendezvous that lowered the requirements for rocket development and allowed us to reach the moon.  Specifying the right level of requirements and allowing for technical changes are critical to successful execution of the ultimate goal.

Wow -- Is Gerstenmeier actually complaining about political interference in engineering matters?  It's like he was channeling me.  If it was meant as a criticism of Congress for having written SLS's specs into law, it didn't seem to get any reaction from the senators present, not even from Senator-"engineer" Nelson, who was one of SLS's key political "designers".  Maybe it went over their heads.

Then, at 0:38:10, Sierra Nevada's Mark Sirangelo, waxing lyrical on the inspirational aspects of the space program, suggests that it might motivate a young person to become "a member of Congress who might go to space one day."   Statistically, becoming a US representative or senator probably does give you quite a leg up on getting into space:  though there are quite few of them, three (Sen. Garn, then Rep. now Sen. Nelson, and Sen. Glenn) have managed to parlay their positions into space trips.  But is it supposed to be inspirational that the people's elected representatives would use their power and status to wangle their way past hard-working aspiring astronauts who happen to lack political connections?  Weird.  Maybe he was trying to brown-nose Sen. Nelson.

At 0:49:56 Gerstenmeier says "Every nation around the world has determined they need a heavy-lift launch vehicle."  Really?  I hadn't been aware that Guatemala was in the market for launch vehicles of any kind, much less heavy lifters.  I can forgive him for referring to nations in general when he likely means just major space powers.  But still -- has, for instance, Japan announced that it needs a heavy-lifter?  He may just playing on the fuzziness of the the term "heavy-lifter" (it's happened before).

Mary Lynne Ditmar of the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration referred multiple times to the political support SLS or something like it, e.g., the 2005 & 2008 congressional approval for CxP and the 2010 authorization.  What strikes me about this is that, like Gerstenmeier, she's justifying SLS on non-engineering grounds.  Everyone else wants it says Gerstenmeier, Congress likes it says Ditmar.  What about actual analysis by NASA's own engineers?  Can they show us its needed and is superior to alternatives?  As far as I can tell, they've never attempted an actual engineering justification.
« Last Edit: 07/28/2016 06:28 pm by Proponent »

Offline Tea Party Space Czar

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #21 on: 07/29/2016 02:14 am »
Not having all the commercial players there was unusual to me... Not saying it was deliberate... But still... ???

Look, it is what it is.  Sometimes not being there is more than being there.  For me personally (and I am only speaking for me here) it doesn't bother me as much anymore as it did in 2011 or 2012.  Sure the same space staffers are still there but their talking points just do not fly anymore.

Now we just go from office to office and instead of talking points I just show a SpaceX rocket landing on a boat.  Sometimes there is even a little sarcasm there but its all good. 

Bluntly congress can hold all the hearings it wants and they can stack the deck (like they did in the September 22, 2011 hearing) but it isn't the same when you have billionaires spending 100s of millions of their own ca$h.

The best thing all of us can do is make sure our congress critters understand that they need to allow the FREE MARKET system of American Capitalism to continue to prosper in our Space Program.  Senator Shelby - if you want to go full FAR 32 with SLS sir that is ok - do not destroy Space Act Agreements.  Congressman Smith - you want Orion funding for Johnson sir that is ok - please do not allow the FAA to regulate commercial spaceflight to death.

We are at the point where the biggest enemy of true exploration (and dare I say settlement) of space is inside Washington DC. 

JMHO.

Respectfully,
Andrew Gasser

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #22 on: 07/29/2016 10:16 pm »
I finally listened to the hearing and found it quite revealing.  Consider this statement from NASA's William Gerstenmeier beginning at 0:21:25 (emphasis added):
...
Wow -- Is Gerstenmeier actually complaining about political interference in engineering matters?  It's like he was channeling me.  If it was meant as a criticism of Congress for having written SLS's specs into law, it didn't seem to get any reaction from the senators present, not even from Senator-"engineer" Nelson, who was one of SLS's key political "designers".  Maybe it went over their heads.

That was an excellent find, and I applaud the attempt by Gerstenmeier.

However it didn't go over the heads of the Senators, they just chose to ignore what they already knew to be true.

It's sad, but in this case the creation of the SLS by the Senate allowed for this level of interference.  In a normal program Congress would not have the time or ability to be so prescriptive, and it would be very visible during the competitive bidding phase.  But the SLS and the Orion were not "normal" procurement, they were meant to continue jobs that would otherwise have been cancelled with the end of the Constellation program, so it was about maintaining a status quo.

But it was good that he got this on the record, so that it can be pointed to in the future if needed...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #23 on: 07/30/2016 12:28 am »
I don't agree with Gerstenmeier on everything, but he's definitely a stand-up guy who really does work to advance spaceflight and will consider ideas that other people wouldn't for political or cynicistic reasons. He definitely deserves his recent accolades. Great guy.
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Offline Proponent

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #24 on: 08/02/2016 01:51 pm »
Gerstenmeier does seem to me to be doing his very best to accomplish something constructive (ARRM) within the constraints (build and use Orion and SLS without any big budget boosts), and that is admirable.

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #25 on: 08/11/2016 04:18 am »
I finally listened to the hearing and found it quite revealing.  Consider this statement from NASA's William Gerstenmeier beginning at 0:21:25 (emphasis added):
...
Wow -- Is Gerstenmeier actually complaining about political interference in engineering matters?  It's like he was channeling me.  If it was meant as a criticism of Congress for having written SLS's specs into law, it didn't seem to get any reaction from the senators present, not even from Senator-"engineer" Nelson, who was one of SLS's key political "designers".  Maybe it went over their heads.

That was an excellent find, and I applaud the attempt by Gerstenmeier.

However it didn't go over the heads of the Senators, they just chose to ignore what they already knew to be true.

It's sad, but in this case the creation of the SLS by the Senate allowed for this level of interference.  In a normal program Congress would not have the time or ability to be so prescriptive, and it would be very visible during the competitive bidding phase.  But the SLS and the Orion were not "normal" procurement, they were meant to continue jobs that would otherwise have been cancelled with the end of the Constellation program, so it was about maintaining a status quo.

But it was good that he got this on the record, so that it can be pointed to in the future if needed...

I suspect that he was referring to the second stage being mandated by Congress through appropriations.  The first stage is water under the bridge at this point.

Offline Tea Party Space Czar

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #26 on: 08/13/2016 09:12 pm »
Not sure where to put this... so I will drop it here.

Good stuff from the Chairman.

“I am an enthusiastic advocate of competition and allowing the private sector to innovate, and I will continue to work closely with the commercial space industry to ensure that companies like SpaceX have the freedom to thrive.”

http://www.kwtx.com/content/news/McGregor--Texas-Sen-Tours-SpaceX-390034281.html

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #27 on: 08/14/2016 11:46 pm »
I finally listened to the hearing and found it quite revealing.  Consider this statement from NASA's William Gerstenmeier beginning at 0:21:25 (emphasis added):
...
Wow -- Is Gerstenmeier actually complaining about political interference in engineering matters?  It's like he was channeling me.  If it was meant as a criticism of Congress for having written SLS's specs into law, it didn't seem to get any reaction from the senators present, not even from Senator-"engineer" Nelson, who was one of SLS's key political "designers".  Maybe it went over their heads.

That was an excellent find, and I applaud the attempt by Gerstenmeier.

However it didn't go over the heads of the Senators, they just chose to ignore what they already knew to be true.

It's sad, but in this case the creation of the SLS by the Senate allowed for this level of interference.  In a normal program Congress would not have the time or ability to be so prescriptive, and it would be very visible during the competitive bidding phase.  But the SLS and the Orion were not "normal" procurement, they were meant to continue jobs that would otherwise have been cancelled with the end of the Constellation program, so it was about maintaining a status quo.

But it was good that he got this on the record, so that it can be pointed to in the future if needed...

I don't understand this sentiment regarding congressional language dictating SLS.  While I believe that SLS costs way more than it is worth, SLS is tremendously better than the NASA defined Ares I and V rockets.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #28 on: 08/14/2016 11:47 pm »
Not sure where to put this... so I will drop it here.

Good stuff from the Chairman.

“I am an enthusiastic advocate of competition and allowing the private sector to innovate, and I will continue to work closely with the commercial space industry to ensure that companies like SpaceX have the freedom to thrive.”

http://www.kwtx.com/content/news/McGregor--Texas-Sen-Tours-SpaceX-390034281.html

Well, the optics look good.  Have any other major politicians visited a SpaceX facility in the past year?
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #29 on: 08/15/2016 12:55 am »
I don't understand this sentiment regarding congressional language dictating SLS.  While I believe that SLS costs way more than it is worth, SLS is tremendously better than the NASA defined Ares I and V rockets.

Different NASAs.

Ares I and Ares V were defined and pushed by the Griffin regime at NASA under Bush.  When Obama came to office, Griffin was out and the new NASA regime tried to kill Constellation.  SLS was the result of Congress fighting back against the attempt to kill Constellation, saving as much as possible of it (Ares V rebranded as SLS and Orion).

So, it's not a matter of NASA versus Congress.  It's a matter of Constellation-faction versus anti-Constellation-faction.  The former held power in NASA until 2009 and in Congress from then on.  They're to blame for Ares I, Ares V, and SLS.

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #30 on: 08/15/2016 12:57 am »
SLS is definitely better than Ares I, though. You can actually make a coherent argument for why SLS makes sense.
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Offline woods170

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #31 on: 08/15/2016 11:11 am »

Different NASAs.

Ares I and Ares V were defined and pushed by the Griffin regime at NASA under Bush.  When Obama came to office, Griffin was out and the new NASA regime tried to kill killed Constellation.  SLS was the result of Congress fighting back against the attempt to kill killing of Constellation, saving as much pork as possible of it (Ares V rebranded as SLS a BFR and Orion).

So, it's not a matter of NASA versus Congress.  It's a matter of Constellation-faction versus anti-Constellation-faction.  The former held power in NASA until 2009 and in Congress from then on.  They're to blame for Ares I, Ares V, and SLS.
Fixed a few flaws, but your general recollection of history is dead-on IMO. Constellation was fully and wholly killed. It was not a mere attempt. Program office shut down. Management and employees sent to do different things. Contractors were let go. People lost their jobs. No more talk of "Apollo on asteroids", Altair and RS-68 powered Ares V. Ares I fully disposed of as well despite ill-fated attempts from ATK to resurrect "the stick" as a commercial rocket. The new destination became Mars, with no Moon as a stepping stone in between. The only things retained from Constellation were the 5-segment SRB, Orion and a huge chunk of metal labeled ML. The latter two underwent significant changes from Constellation to the current POR. And although SLS outwardly resembles Ares V it is in fact a different beast in more ways than one.
« Last Edit: 08/15/2016 11:25 am by woods170 »

Offline woods170

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #32 on: 08/15/2016 11:20 am »
SLS is definitely better than Ares I, though. You can actually make a coherent argument for why SLS makes sense.
Well then, do enlighten me because I cannot think of a single good reason as to why SLS would make sense.

Offline The Amazing Catstronaut

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #33 on: 08/15/2016 12:44 pm »
SLS is definitely better than Ares I, though. You can actually make a coherent argument for why SLS makes sense.
Well then, do enlighten me because I cannot think of a single good reason as to why SLS would make sense.

He was comparing with Ares I. Ares I was less financially efficient in terms of capacity given, Ares I had less possible mission profiles, Ares I required the development of a whole other rocket just to do one mission, Ares I was less safe for the crew to the point where you could make a case it was a nastier rocket to ascend on than the shuttle at certain points within its ascent profile, Ares I was less innovative than even the incredibly conservative (small c) architecture that is SLS. And on a personal level, Ares I was just blinkin' fugly.
« Last Edit: 08/15/2016 12:45 pm by The Amazing Catstronaut »
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Offline Jarnis

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #34 on: 08/15/2016 01:48 pm »
SLS is definitely better than Ares I, though. You can actually make a coherent argument for why SLS makes sense.
Well then, do enlighten me because I cannot think of a single good reason as to why SLS would make sense.

It is an excellent jobs-generator project that will eventually probably launch something useful - even if the price is hilariously high, due to being a result of a jobs generation project that tries to dole out federal money to all the right districts - it does that quite well with large money bags moving around.

As a launcher, it makes fairly little sense and has a very good chance of looking seriously obsolete by the time it flies a non-testflight mission.

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #35 on: 08/15/2016 02:26 pm »
SLS is definitely better than Ares I, though. You can actually make a coherent argument for why SLS makes sense.
Well then, do enlighten me because I cannot think of a single good reason as to why SLS would make sense.

It is an excellent jobs-generator project that will eventually probably launch something useful - even if the price is hilariously high, due to being a result of a jobs generation project that tries to dole out federal money to all the right districts - it does that quite well with large money bags moving around.

As a launcher, it makes fairly little sense and has a very good chance of looking seriously obsolete by the time it flies a non-testflight mission.

Rockets, IMHO, are for launching things into space, not generate jobs with federal money. But that's just my opinion.
With regard to SLS: it is already obsolete right now IMO. Tankage and avionics are state of the art. But the business ends feature propulsion systems based on 1970's technology. Yet the bl**dy thing is still costing tens of billions of US dollars to develop. Given that the US space industry is the best on the planet I really expected them to do better than SLS.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #36 on: 08/15/2016 02:44 pm »
SLS is definitely better than Ares I, though. You can actually make a coherent argument for why SLS makes sense.
Well then, do enlighten me because I cannot think of a single good reason as to why SLS would make sense.

It is an excellent jobs-generator project that will eventually probably launch something useful - even if the price is hilariously high, due to being a result of a jobs generation project that tries to dole out federal money to all the right districts - it does that quite well with large money bags moving around.

As a launcher, it makes fairly little sense and has a very good chance of looking seriously obsolete by the time it flies a non-testflight mission.

Rockets, IMHO, are for launching things into space, not generate jobs with federal money. But that's just my opinion.
With regard to SLS: it is already obsolete right now IMO. Tankage and avionics are state of the art. But the business ends feature propulsion systems based on 1970's technology. Yet the bl**dy thing is still costing tens of billions of US dollars to develop. Given that the US space industry is the best on the planet I really expected them to do better than SLS.
I agree and they are, just with not the aforementioned program... ;)
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Online yg1968

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #37 on: 08/15/2016 02:52 pm »
I don't understand this sentiment regarding congressional language dictating SLS.  While I believe that SLS costs way more than it is worth, SLS is tremendously better than the NASA defined Ares I and V rockets.

Different NASAs.

Ares I and Ares V were defined and pushed by the Griffin regime at NASA under Bush.  When Obama came to office, Griffin was out and the new NASA regime tried to kill Constellation.  SLS was the result of Congress fighting back against the attempt to kill Constellation, saving as much as possible of it (Ares V rebranded as SLS and Orion).

So, it's not a matter of NASA versus Congress.  It's a matter of Constellation-faction versus anti-Constellation-faction.  The former held power in NASA until 2009 and in Congress from then on.  They're to blame for Ares I, Ares V, and SLS.

SLS is essentially Ares V. Work on Ares V had barely started. Ares I was replaced by commercial crew. Altair wasn't being worked under Griffin either. We went from Constellation to Constellation lite.  NASA essentially followed Augustine's recommendations, except for the budget increase.
« Last Edit: 08/15/2016 04:40 pm by yg1968 »

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #38 on: 08/15/2016 04:02 pm »
Rockets, IMHO, are for launching things into space, not generate jobs with federal money. But that's just my opinion.
With regard to SLS: it is already obsolete right now IMO. Tankage and avionics are state of the art. But the business ends feature propulsion systems based on 1970's technology. Yet the bl**dy thing is still costing tens of billions of US dollars to develop. Given that the US space industry is the best on the planet I really expected them to do better than SLS.
In a theoretical ideal world rockets are for launching things into space.  We don't live in a theoretical ideal world.  If you want people to pay for it you have to provide secondary benefits to the people paying for it and their representatives in Congress.  If you build the ideal rocket and it creates lots of well paying jobs for yourself, your family and your neighbors you are more likely to support it.  NASA doesn't operate in a bubble.  Jobs always will be a big consideration.

I don't consider SLS technically obsolete.  I consider it obsolete because it is too expensive and probably the wrong configuration we need.  The RS-25 may have been designed in the 1970's, but it is still a magnificent engine.  With upgraded engine controls and some upgrades in the mechanical design and manufacturing processes it will be a reliable and extremely high performance engine.  The solids will be the most advanced large solids in part because they are the only five segment rocket developed of that size.  IMO SLS will be a state of the art expendable heavy lift launcher.  Being old isn't the same as technically obsolete.  You could say as long as we use liquid fuel rocket engines that every rocket of the type is based on 1920's technology and every solid is based on centuries old technology.

The real issues are:
   1 - cost
   2 - Is there a clear need for it?
   3 - Should NASA even be in the business of designing and building rockets?
   4 - Can products from SpaceX and ULA do the job better and cheaper?

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #39 on: 08/15/2016 04:23 pm »
The laws of physics have not changed for rocketry and it is not that SLS is technically obsolete, but bureaucratically and economically obsolete... It is a rocket out of time...
« Last Edit: 08/15/2016 04:26 pm by Rocket Science »
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Offline guckyfan

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #40 on: 08/15/2016 05:34 pm »
The laws of physics have not changed for rocketry and it is not that SLS is technically obsolete, but bureaucratically and economically obsolete... It is a rocket out of time...

An engine that takes years on the assembly line to build is obsolete. It is irrelevant in that context, that once built it still is a top engine.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #41 on: 08/15/2016 06:11 pm »
The laws of physics have not changed for rocketry and it is not that SLS is technically obsolete, but bureaucratically and economically obsolete... It is a rocket out of time...

An engine that takes years on the assembly line to build is obsolete. It is irrelevant in that context, that once built it still is a top engine.
Please note I said nothing denigrating about the engine performance or capability. But the time required to construct one "is" part of the "economically obsolete" comment...
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Offline Lar

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #42 on: 08/16/2016 01:47 am »
This seems to have become an SLS bashing thread. Don't do that please. There are other threads for debating SLS and Ares and Constellation.
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Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #43 on: 08/26/2016 01:09 pm »
Rockets, IMHO, are for launching things into space, not generate jobs with federal money.

Sigh. 

Additionally, the [BFR] is not going anywhere, it is a jobs program.   Not much has changed.  It is like the 90's all over again.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline AncientU

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #44 on: 09/14/2016 08:24 pm »
NASA leadership speaks out:
Quote
Falcon Heavy? New Glenn? NASA chief says he’s not a “big fan”

Quote
On Tuesday, during a Q&A session at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' Space 2016 Conference, Bolden was asked for his opinion on the emerging market for small satellites and launchers. He chose to respond instead with his thoughts on NASA's own rocket, the Space Launch System, and private-sector development of larger launch vehicles.

"If you talk about launch vehicles, we believe our responsibility to the nation is to take care of things that normal people cannot do, or don’t want to do, like large launch vehicles," Bolden said. "I’m not a big fan of commercial investment in large launch vehicles just yet."

Peremptory comments before BFR (and New Armstrong) are rolled out to the public; FH and NG are just the preliminaries.  Seems strange that the organization may resist instead of supporting rides they can afford and taxpayers need not fund.  Is exploration really NASA's/Bolden's goal?

Time for change.

http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/09/nasa-chief-says-hes-not-a-big-fan-of-private-investment-in-large-rockets/

Edit: Added link
« Last Edit: 09/14/2016 08:47 pm by AncientU »
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Offline notsorandom

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #45 on: 09/14/2016 08:58 pm »
This is the sum total of all that is known about the New Armstrong:
"New Glenn is a very important step. It won’t be the last of course. Up next on our drawing board: New Armstrong." -Jeff Bezos

Musk has been hinting around at his MCT for years only saying a bit more than that about it.

We don't even have a power point slide of them! I don't think admonishing Bolden for his skepticism of these ephemeral rockets is warranted. Not until the decision makers know more about them can they make decisions based upon them.

Offline AncientU

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #46 on: 09/14/2016 11:42 pm »
This is the sum total of all that is known about the New Armstrong:
"New Glenn is a very important step. It won’t be the last of course. Up next on our drawing board: New Armstrong." -Jeff Bezos

Musk has been hinting around at his MCT for years only saying a bit more than that about it.

We don't even have a power point slide of them! I don't think admonishing Bolden for his skepticism of these ephemeral rockets is warranted. Not until the decision makers know more about them can they make decisions based upon them.

So, what is his basis of not being a fan of commercial (private) investment in large launch vehicles?  His words, not mine...
« Last Edit: 09/14/2016 11:43 pm by AncientU »
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Offline Lar

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #47 on: 09/14/2016 11:48 pm »
I cribbed this from my FB posting of the link to the Ars Technica article...

A very disappointing viewpoint... Bolden says he's not a fan of private big rockets.

Hmm...
Falcon Heavy payload to LEO? 53 tonnes
New Glenn payload to LEO? Probably 35-70 tonnes
SLS payload to LEO? 70 tonnes initially but rising

Falcon Heavy development cost to Government? 0, essentially
New Glenn development cost to government? 0, essentially
SLS development cost to government? 13 Billion

Falcon Heavy per launch cost? less than 200M, possibly way less
New Glenn per launch cost? unknown but likely same ballpark
SLS per launch cost? 3B (60B budget over 20 launches)

Somebody likes pork a lot better than spending government funds wisely. Bolden is wrong. Happily, Lori Garver (many think the most likely next NASA administrator if the most likely candidate wins the presidency) does not agree.

----
note carefully I did not mention MCT or NA just FH and NG.
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Offline AncientU

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #48 on: 09/15/2016 12:21 am »
From the I don't like private investment article:

Quote
Speaking about NASA's SLS rocket and private developers last year, Garver said, "What we’re working with is more of a socialist plan for space exploration, which is just anathema to what this country should be doing. Don’t try to compete with the private sector. Incentivize them by driving technologies that will be necessary for us as we explore further.”

Bolden is probably tired of Congresspeople and defense contractor CEOs walking into his office and complaining about incursions onto their turf.  The love-in provided by the OP is how their program should be rightfully be run. 

"We gave them LEO, tell them BEO is ours..."
« Last Edit: 09/15/2016 12:24 am by AncientU »
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Offline DarkenedOne

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #49 on: 09/15/2016 01:25 am »
Rockets, IMHO, are for launching things into space, not generate jobs with federal money. But that's just my opinion.
With regard to SLS: it is already obsolete right now IMO. Tankage and avionics are state of the art. But the business ends feature propulsion systems based on 1970's technology. Yet the bl**dy thing is still costing tens of billions of US dollars to develop. Given that the US space industry is the best on the planet I really expected them to do better than SLS.
In a theoretical ideal world rockets are for launching things into space.  We don't live in a theoretical ideal world.  If you want people to pay for it you have to provide secondary benefits to the people paying for it and their representatives in Congress.  If you build the ideal rocket and it creates lots of well paying jobs for yourself, your family and your neighbors you are more likely to support it.  NASA doesn't operate in a bubble.  Jobs always will be a big consideration.

The Jobs argument is erroneous argument based on a false choice.  It is not the case that if SLS was not developed  that all the people who are currently working on it would be unemployed.  Spending money on the SLS prevents that money from being spend on other things, and thus employment opportunities elsewhere. 

The real secondary benefit that manned spaceflight has been technology more than anything else.  Back during the Gemini and Apollo era NASA was making large advancements in rocket technology.  After the beginning of the Shuttle program that all came to an end.  The Shuttle was essentially the last multi-billion dollar effort by NASA to significantly advance space transportation.  Now we have the SLS which is just built from parts of the Shuttle launch system. 

« Last Edit: 09/15/2016 01:27 am by DarkenedOne »

Offline notsorandom

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #50 on: 09/15/2016 02:31 am »
This is the sum total of all that is known about the New Armstrong:
"New Glenn is a very important step. It won’t be the last of course. Up next on our drawing board: New Armstrong." -Jeff Bezos

Musk has been hinting around at his MCT for years only saying a bit more than that about it.

We don't even have a power point slide of them! I don't think admonishing Bolden for his skepticism of these ephemeral rockets is warranted. Not until the decision makers know more about them can they make decisions based upon them.

So, what is his basis of not being a fan of commercial (private) investment in large launch vehicles?  His words, not mine...
You'd have to ask him. Was he saying that only tax payers should fund rockets or was he saying that he wasn't going to make NASA's plans contingent on private funding and development of heavy lift? Bolden isn't the most precise public speaker. At any rate these two private mega rockets are so unknown that it is only the trust in the two companies and their billionaire owners that gives them any validity. Don't get me wrong. I'd love to see them flying and I'm cheering for them. However, dismantling our current programs based on that alone would be grossly irresponsible. Bolden should at least be presented with a real proposal for these rockets before he is derided for not canceling everything in their favor. Besides according to Musk and Bezos this will happen and it won't take huge government checks to make it happen.

Offline okan170

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #51 on: 09/15/2016 02:43 am »
However, dismantling our current programs based on that alone would be grossly irresponsible. Bolden should at least be presented with a real proposal for these rockets before he is derided for not canceling everything in their favor. Besides according to Musk and Bezos this will happen and it won't take huge government checks to make it happen.

This is the important bit.  While private industry is great, its folly to rely entirely upon it to the exclusion of all else.  Especially right now when we have some private rockets flying, no crew, and lots of dreams on the horizon.  I would deeply hope that the NASA administration working with my tax dollars would not push to kill important government programs.  Despite the subtext often implied here (Government BAD and can only waste- only private companies should do anything!), I'm very grateful that NASA is operating conservatively.

Some will always want to tear it all down, advocate for NASA to be a ground-only research outfit, or disband it entirely.  I can't think of a bigger disaster to happen to our space program than privatizing without putting due thought into everything, much less plunging an entire region of the country into recession so that one's favored company can have it all.  For once I actually feel grateful for congress not running headlong into something.

I know this is unpopular to say here, (at least judging by the content of the posts), but I suppose its important to remember that not everyone follows those values that we see inside this internet bubble.

Offline Lar

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #52 on: 09/15/2016 03:04 am »
My take is that he was trashing FH and NG too, not *just* MCT and NA.

MCT and NA? Fine. Maybe even NG. But trashing FH is basically saying that you don't think SpaceX is going to do FH even though they are really close (cue up QG pointing out that they've been close for a while now)
« Last Edit: 09/15/2016 03:12 am by Lar »
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Online RonM

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #53 on: 09/15/2016 03:29 am »
However, dismantling our current programs based on that alone would be grossly irresponsible. Bolden should at least be presented with a real proposal for these rockets before he is derided for not canceling everything in their favor. Besides according to Musk and Bezos this will happen and it won't take huge government checks to make it happen.

This is the important bit.  While private industry is great, its folly to rely entirely upon it to the exclusion of all else.  Especially right now when we have some private rockets flying, no crew, and lots of dreams on the horizon.  I would deeply hope that the NASA administration working with my tax dollars would not push to kill important government programs.  Despite the subtext often implied here (Government BAD and can only waste- only private companies should do anything!), I'm very grateful that NASA is operating conservatively.

Some will always want to tear it all down, advocate for NASA to be a ground-only research outfit, or disband it entirely.  I can't think of a bigger disaster to happen to our space program than privatizing without putting due thought into everything, much less plunging an entire region of the country into recession so that one's favored company can have it all.  For once I actually feel grateful for congress not running headlong into something.

I know this is unpopular to say here, (at least judging by the content of the posts), but I suppose its important to remember that not everyone follows those values that we see inside this internet bubble.

Congress should keep funding SLS and Orion until Musk or Bezos have their rockets operational. There is no guarantee they will succeed. Once NASA has the option to purchase SHLV flights from private industry, then Congress can rethink their plans.

Offline DarkenedOne

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #54 on: 09/15/2016 05:10 am »
However, dismantling our current programs based on that alone would be grossly irresponsible. Bolden should at least be presented with a real proposal for these rockets before he is derided for not canceling everything in their favor. Besides according to Musk and Bezos this will happen and it won't take huge government checks to make it happen.

This is the important bit.  While private industry is great, its folly to rely entirely upon it to the exclusion of all else.  Especially right now when we have some private rockets flying, no crew, and lots of dreams on the horizon.  I would deeply hope that the NASA administration working with my tax dollars would not push to kill important government programs.  Despite the subtext often implied here (Government BAD and can only waste- only private companies should do anything!), I'm very grateful that NASA is operating conservatively.

Some will always want to tear it all down, advocate for NASA to be a ground-only research outfit, or disband it entirely.  I can't think of a bigger disaster to happen to our space program than privatizing without putting due thought into everything, much less plunging an entire region of the country into recession so that one's favored company can have it all.  For once I actually feel grateful for congress not running headlong into something.

I know this is unpopular to say here, (at least judging by the content of the posts), but I suppose its important to remember that not everyone follows those values that we see inside this internet bubble.

Operating conservatively is not how NASA got to the moon.  No one would describe the Gemini or Apollo missions as a conservative operation.  Exploration has always required innovative and daring minds that are willing to accept the risks of forging ahead into the unknown.  When it comes to space exploration cutting edge technology has always been an important aspect. 

NASA current plans with the SLS are very conservative.  We are talking about 1970s technology.  I'm sorry we are not going to explore the solar system with systems like the SLS without breaking the bank.

Offline Proponent

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #55 on: 09/15/2016 08:12 am »
Falcon Heavy per launch cost? less than 200M, possibly way less
New Glenn per launch cost? unknown but likely same ballpark

I agree with the major point that you make, but I suspect Falcon Heavy (and New Glenn) would cost quite a bit more than $200M for a NASA launch.  In a Space Show interview on 22 August, JPL's Chrisma Derewa mentioned that should NASA choose FH for Europa Clipper, the cost will be about $400M, because of all of the extras demanded under a government contract.

Europa Clipper was the prime topic of the interview, but Derewa had quite a few interesting things to say about the space-launch business in general.


Offline Proponent

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Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
« Reply #56 on: 09/15/2016 08:45 am »
Congress should keep funding SLS and Orion until Musk or Bezos have their rockets operational. There is no guarantee they will succeed. Once NASA has the option to purchase SHLV flights from private industry, then Congress can rethink their plans.

I might conceivably agree if:

  • 1. NASA had truly established the need or at least the desirability of an SLS-class launch vehicle (if anyone believes such has already been established, please show me where); and
  • 2. ULA had been asked to bid on a such a launch vehicle but SLS was found superior for sound engineering reasons.  In the past, ULA has suggested it could build an EELV-based heavy lifter for single-digit billions of dollars, and such a thing would likely be cheaper to operate than SLS because of it commonality with other launch vehicles.

  • Otherwise, with a burn rate of $2+ billion a year, SLS is a ridiculously expensive insurance policy to cover a risk that may not exist.

    Online RonM

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #57 on: 09/15/2016 01:53 pm »
    Congress should keep funding SLS and Orion until Musk or Bezos have their rockets operational. There is no guarantee they will succeed. Once NASA has the option to purchase SHLV flights from private industry, then Congress can rethink their plans.

    I might conceivably agree if:

  • 1. NASA had truly established the need or at least the desirability of an SLS-class launch vehicle (if anyone believes such has already been established, please show me where); and
  • 2. ULA had been asked to bid on a such a launch vehicle but SLS was found superior for sound engineering reasons.  In the past, ULA has suggested it could build an EELV-based heavy lifter for single-digit billions of dollars, and such a thing would likely be cheaper to operate than SLS because of it commonality with other launch vehicles.

  • Otherwise, with a burn rate of $2+ billion a year, SLS is a ridiculously expensive insurance policy to cover a risk that may not exist.

    Agreed, but the problem is how Congress funds NASA. If Congress told NASA to build a big rocket that fit NASA's needs, then your points would have been addressed. Instead, Congress told NASA to build SLS base on what was good for the lobbyists, not NASA. So we are stuck with SLS as the government program of record.

    If SLS is cancelled early in the next administration and the private sector fails to build their large rockets, then we got nothing for large payloads.

    Since both Musk and Bezos are trying to build large rockets, one can assume they both believe missions built up from smaller modules are not practical.


    Offline Proponent

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #58 on: 09/15/2016 02:02 pm »
    Since both Musk and Bezos are trying to build large rockets, one can assume they both believe missions built up from smaller modules are not practical.

    SpaceX has said explicitly that Falcon Heavy is adequate for NASA-style Mars missions, i.e., sending a few people per decade to Mars.

    MCT is for colonizing Mars, something which NASA has no plans to do.

    Just as Blue Origin's New Shepard is for sending large numbers of tourists on suborbital flights, I would guess that its larger vehicles are intended to handle much larger volumes of traffic than anything NASA dreams of.

    EDIT:  "Just a" -> "Just as" in final sentence.
    « Last Edit: 09/19/2016 05:11 am by Proponent »

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #59 on: 09/15/2016 02:30 pm »
    Since both Musk and Bezos are trying to build large rockets, one can assume they both believe missions built up from smaller modules are not practical.

    SpaceX has said explicitly that Falcon Heavy is adequate for NASA-style Mars missions, i.e., sending a few people per decade to Mars.

    MCT is for colonizing Mars, something which NASA has no plans to do.

    Just a Blue Origin's New Shepard is for sending large numbers of tourists on suborbital flights, I would guess that its larger vehicles are intended to handle much larger volumes of traffic than anything NASA dreams of.

    Your old post doesn't support "SpaceX has said explicitly that Falcon Heavy is adequate for NASA-style Mars missions."

    The consensus is that an HLV of some sort is needed for Mars. Even SpaceX agrees with that.

    What SpaceX has said, in a press release [just after the first Falcon 9 launch issued at the unveiling of Falcon Heavy, is Falcon Heavy is adequate for anything short of frequent human missions to Mars:

    Please note that Falcon Heavy should not be confused with the super heavy lift rocket program being debated by the U.S. Congress. That vehicle is authorized to carry between 70-130 metric tons to orbit. SpaceX agrees with the need to develop a vehicle of that class as the best way to conduct a large number of human missions to Mars.

    I don't think a mission every few years, which seems to be the very best one could possibly hope for in the universe of NASA's SLS-based DRMs, qualifies as "frequent." "a large number."

    Even more to the point, SpaceX says:

    Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars.

    By the way, I'd be grateful if anybody can find that press release -- I've looked, but I can't find it.  I thank forum member libs0n for pointing me toward these quotes.

    Offline AncientU

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #60 on: 09/15/2016 05:03 pm »
    My take is that he was trashing FH and NG too, not *just* MCT and NA.

    MCT and NA? Fine. Maybe even NG. But trashing FH is basically saying that you don't think SpaceX is going to do FH even though they are really close (cue up QG pointing out that they've been close for a while now)

    Maybe it because Falcon uses 'old technology'
    Quote
    NASA Administrator Charles Bolden raised some eyebrows recently when a question was put to him at a public meeting, why is NASA spending a lot of money developing the heavy lift #Space Launch System when SpaceX is also developing heavy lift at far less cost? A great answer involving the capabilities of the Falcon Heavy vs. the SLS exists. Bolden declined to issue this reply, offering instead that the SpaceX Falcon 9 uses “old technology.” The assertion is false on a number of levels.

    http://us.blastingnews.com/news/2016/04/nasa-s-charles-bolden-shows-confusion-concerning-rockets-and-old-technology-00895293.html

    Seriously, though, even without the BFR/NA, the BEO throw weight issue can be solved by upgrading methlox FH/NG second stages and using  on-orbit refueling... much sooner and more cheaply than the un-refuelable EUS and fully expendable Block 2 will be available.  Throw weight to Cis-Lunar space of a refueled methlox second stage would blow away anything even Block 2 will handle (in the 2030s).  Reusable boosters and core stages make repeated launches affordable.

    SLS (apparently not 'old technology') will maintain the strategic advantage of lofting large volume payloads... so it does have a unique and critical role and should remain part of the  mix -- until BFR/NA arrive on the scene.
    "If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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    Offline Proponent

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #61 on: 09/16/2016 02:14 pm »
    Since both Musk and Bezos are trying to build large rockets, one can assume they both believe missions built up from smaller modules are not practical.

    SpaceX has said explicitly that Falcon Heavy is adequate for NASA-style Mars missions, i.e., sending a few people per decade to Mars.

    MCT is for colonizing Mars, something which NASA has no plans to do.

    Your old post doesn't support "SpaceX has said explicitly that Falcon Heavy is adequate for NASA-style Mars missions."

    SpaceX says "Falcon Heavy ... restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars."  How is that not consistent with NASA's ideas of sending a few people to Mars per decade?
    « Last Edit: 09/16/2016 02:15 pm by Proponent »

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #62 on: 09/16/2016 03:06 pm »
    Since both Musk and Bezos are trying to build large rockets, one can assume they both believe missions built up from smaller modules are not practical.

    SpaceX has said explicitly that Falcon Heavy is adequate for NASA-style Mars missions, i.e., sending a few people per decade to Mars.

    MCT is for colonizing Mars, something which NASA has no plans to do.

    Your old post doesn't support "SpaceX has said explicitly that Falcon Heavy is adequate for NASA-style Mars missions."

    SpaceX says "Falcon Heavy ... restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars."  How is that not consistent with NASA's ideas of sending a few people to Mars per decade?

    Because writing "restores the possibility" is not the same thing as writing "NASA-style Mars missions." You're reading too much into a single sentence.

    NASA, SpaceX, and Blue Origin are all trying to build very big rockets. None of them are working on manned BEO missions using smaller rockets.

    Congress mandated NASA build SLS and Orion. Before that NASA was designing the Ares V and Orion. NASA-style Mars missions are not just "sending a few people to Mars per decade," their missions require large payloads and very large rockets to fly those payloads.

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #63 on: 09/17/2016 01:47 am »
    This is the sum total of all that is known about the New Armstrong:
    "New Glenn is a very important step. It won’t be the last of course. Up next on our drawing board: New Armstrong." -Jeff Bezos

    Musk has been hinting around at his MCT for years only saying a bit more than that about it....
    A LOT more has been said about MCT. More than you'd fit in a (properly formatted) Powerpoint slide. Here's a thread that collects just updates on MCT:
    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37839.msg1392252

    Also, pieces of the engine for MCT (ICT now?) has been undergoing testing the last few years at Stennis, a NASA facility. Strange for the administrator to come off a little hostile.
    « Last Edit: 09/17/2016 01:48 am by Robotbeat »
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    Offline Proponent

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #64 on: 09/17/2016 02:35 am »
    Since both Musk and Bezos are trying to build large rockets, one can assume they both believe missions built up from smaller modules are not practical.

    SpaceX has said explicitly that Falcon Heavy is adequate for NASA-style Mars missions, i.e., sending a few people per decade to Mars.

    MCT is for colonizing Mars, something which NASA has no plans to do.

    Your old post doesn't support "SpaceX has said explicitly that Falcon Heavy is adequate for NASA-style Mars missions."

    SpaceX says "Falcon Heavy ... restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars."  How is that not consistent with NASA's ideas of sending a few people to Mars per decade?

    Because writing "restores the possibility" is not the same thing as writing "NASA-style Mars missions." You're reading too much into a single sentence.

    NASA, SpaceX, and Blue Origin are all trying to build very big rockets. None of them are working on manned BEO missions using smaller rockets.

    Congress mandated NASA build SLS and Orion. Before that NASA was designing the Ares V and Orion. NASA-style Mars missions are not just "sending a few people to Mars per decade," their missions require large payloads and very large rockets to fly those payloads.

    JPL's minimal Mars architecture would use 6 SLS launches to send a crew of 4 to Mars orbit, where two would descend to the surface for 24 days.  That's about the most minimal mission imaginable.  SpaceX must have had at least that in mind when it suggested that Falcon Heavy was adequate for Mars missions.

    NASA's Evolvable Mars Campaign is more aggressive, a crew of four being sent to the surface for hundreds of days using about 10 SLS launches, depending on the version of the architecture selected (with one mission every four years, thought, that's still just a few people per decade).  If, according to SpaceX, Falcon Heavy is adequate for a mission similar to JPL's 6-SLS proposal, surely it could stretch to a 10-SLS EMC mission.

    SpaceX seems to have no interest in small-scale Mars missions of the type that NASA discusses, just as it has no interest in lunar missions.  That hardly means that Falcon Heavy can't perform them.

    Offline AncientU

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #65 on: 09/17/2016 01:02 pm »
    Let's get real...  It is time for JPL and NASA to write a Truly Evolvable Exploration Campaign that acknowledges the existence of more than a single USG launch asset.  The Nation's capability is vastly more than its government-only sacred cows.

    A campaign starting with Block 1B SLS heavy/large volume cargo lift, adding Falcon Heavy, New Glenn, and Vulcan-ACES capabilities, delivering crew with any one of several assets, and -- dare I say it -- employing on-orbit refueling/depots can get us to the Moon and Mars in 10-15 years at whatever scale we choose.  The redundancy of vehicles would provide two-deep coverage of any needed capability.  The economies of this joint public-private venture would eliminate the bottleneck (read: fantasy) of single path, expendable-only launch vehicles.  Infrastructure put in place would be the beginning of a space architecture that actually could substantiate the 'Evolvable' part of the title.

    As additional National assets come on line such as the Block 2 SLS, BFR, New Armstrong, and/or Vulcan Heavy, the campaign can expand and evolve.  Assets that become redundant can fall away without damaging the overall effort.  International cooperation would be a natural out-growth of a program that is actually going somewhere and not just seeking alternate sources of revenue.

    We should have as a goal, returning to the Moon and going to Mars to establish a permanent presence on both bodies.  More than sufficient time exists between now and mid-2020s to prove the technology and build the foundation for the crewed phase of the venture.

    Time to get some leadership ...
    « Last Edit: 09/17/2016 01:13 pm by AncientU »
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    Offline notsorandom

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #66 on: 09/17/2016 04:33 pm »
    This is the sum total of all that is known about the New Armstrong:
    "New Glenn is a very important step. It won’t be the last of course. Up next on our drawing board: New Armstrong." -Jeff Bezos

    Musk has been hinting around at his MCT for years only saying a bit more than that about it....
    A LOT more has been said about MCT. More than you'd fit in a (properly formatted) Powerpoint slide. Here's a thread that collects just updates on MCT:
    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37839.msg1392252

    Also, pieces of the engine for MCT (ICT now?) has been undergoing testing the last few years at Stennis, a NASA facility. Strange for the administrator to come off a little hostile.
    What does the MCT look like? What about a picture of the raptor? There have been some details of the MCT shared. Some of them are contradictory. However the basics, what it looks like, what its performance is, have not. That is the very first slide on any PowerPoint rocket's presentation. At the very least if we are to entertain that Bolden is acting irresponsibly in not supporting these super heavy lift rockets then need to wait for him to have a reasonable idea of what they are.

    SpaceX and Blue will need to show their systems as a credible alternative to the POR before any change in policy happens. Elon's talk next week will be interesting. At the very least lets wait till then to ask Bolden what he thinks. At leats then we can all know what we are debating about.

    Offline Rocket Science

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #67 on: 09/17/2016 04:50 pm »
    Let's get real...  It is time for JPL and NASA to write a Truly Evolvable Exploration Campaign that acknowledges the existence of more than a single USG launch asset.  The Nation's capability is vastly more than its government-only sacred cows.

    A campaign starting with Block 1B SLS heavy/large volume cargo lift, adding Falcon Heavy, New Glenn, and Vulcan-ACES capabilities, delivering crew with any one of several assets, and -- dare I say it -- employing on-orbit refueling/depots can get us to the Moon and Mars in 10-15 years at whatever scale we choose.  The redundancy of vehicles would provide two-deep coverage of any needed capability.  The economies of this joint public-private venture would eliminate the bottleneck (read: fantasy) of single path, expendable-only launch vehicles.  Infrastructure put in place would be the beginning of a space architecture that actually could substantiate the 'Evolvable' part of the title.

    As additional National assets come on line such as the Block 2 SLS, BFR, New Armstrong, and/or Vulcan Heavy, the campaign can expand and evolve.  Assets that become redundant can fall away without damaging the overall effort.  International cooperation would be a natural out-growth of a program that is actually going somewhere and not just seeking alternate sources of revenue.

    We should have as a goal, returning to the Moon and going to Mars to establish a permanent presence on both bodies.  More than sufficient time exists between now and mid-2020s to prove the technology and build the foundation for the crewed phase of the venture.

    Time to get some leadership ...
    I just see it simply as a lack of public interest...
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    Offline Lar

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #68 on: 09/17/2016 05:40 pm »
    Let's get real...  It is time for JPL and NASA to write a Truly Evolvable Exploration Campaign that acknowledges the existence of more than a single USG launch asset.  The Nation's capability is vastly more than its government-only sacred cows.

    A campaign starting with Block 1B SLS heavy/large volume cargo lift, adding Falcon Heavy, New Glenn, and Vulcan-ACES capabilities, delivering crew with any one of several assets, and -- dare I say it -- employing on-orbit refueling/depots can get us to the Moon and Mars in 10-15 years at whatever scale we choose.  The redundancy of vehicles would provide two-deep coverage of any needed capability.  The economies of this joint public-private venture would eliminate the bottleneck (read: fantasy) of single path, expendable-only launch vehicles.  Infrastructure put in place would be the beginning of a space architecture that actually could substantiate the 'Evolvable' part of the title.

    As additional National assets come on line such as the Block 2 SLS, BFR, New Armstrong, and/or Vulcan Heavy, the campaign can expand and evolve.  Assets that become redundant can fall away without damaging the overall effort.  International cooperation would be a natural out-growth of a program that is actually going somewhere and not just seeking alternate sources of revenue.

    We should have as a goal, returning to the Moon and going to Mars to establish a permanent presence on both bodies.  More than sufficient time exists between now and mid-2020s to prove the technology and build the foundation for the crewed phase of the venture.

    Time to get some leadership ...
    I just see it simply as a lack of public interest...

    AncientU has it right, that's an evolvable campaign. As for public interest, I think the public are less interested in government flags and footprints spectacles than they were in Apollo days, but are becoming more interested in actual campaigns, with permanency, that can end up making their lives better. Slowly, but I am hopeful they are. Recent PR from Blue and SpaceX helps.
    « Last Edit: 09/17/2016 05:41 pm by Lar »
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    Offline Khadgars

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #69 on: 09/17/2016 05:54 pm »
    Since both Musk and Bezos are trying to build large rockets, one can assume they both believe missions built up from smaller modules are not practical.

    SpaceX has said explicitly that Falcon Heavy is adequate for NASA-style Mars missions, i.e., sending a few people per decade to Mars.

    MCT is for colonizing Mars, something which NASA has no plans to do.

    Your old post doesn't support "SpaceX has said explicitly that Falcon Heavy is adequate for NASA-style Mars missions."

    SpaceX says "Falcon Heavy ... restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars."  How is that not consistent with NASA's ideas of sending a few people to Mars per decade?

    Because writing "restores the possibility" is not the same thing as writing "NASA-style Mars missions." You're reading too much into a single sentence.

    NASA, SpaceX, and Blue Origin are all trying to build very big rockets. None of them are working on manned BEO missions using smaller rockets.

    Congress mandated NASA build SLS and Orion. Before that NASA was designing the Ares V and Orion. NASA-style Mars missions are not just "sending a few people to Mars per decade," their missions require large payloads and very large rockets to fly those payloads.

    I agree.  I think everyone has forgotten where the conversation has shifted.  For the last 5 years one of the primary arguments against SLS was that you didn't need a SHLV.  Yet, here we are, with 3 SHLV in development and not a single plan uses smaller rockets.  That's a big shift that no one is willing to concede  ;)

    Offline Khadgars

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #70 on: 09/17/2016 06:00 pm »
    Congress should keep funding SLS and Orion until Musk or Bezos have their rockets operational. There is no guarantee they will succeed. Once NASA has the option to purchase SHLV flights from private industry, then Congress can rethink their plans.

    I might conceivably agree if:

  • 1. NASA had truly established the need or at least the desirability of an SLS-class launch vehicle (if anyone believes such has already been established, please show me where); and
  • 2. ULA had been asked to bid on a such a launch vehicle but SLS was found superior for sound engineering reasons.  In the past, ULA has suggested it could build an EELV-based heavy lifter for single-digit billions of dollars, and such a thing would likely be cheaper to operate than SLS because of it commonality with other launch vehicles.

  • Otherwise, with a burn rate of $2+ billion a year, SLS is a ridiculously expensive insurance policy to cover a risk that may not exist.

    My understanding is SLS target is $500 Million per launch + Ground Systems for total of $1.5 Billion.  What you are advocating is completely mothballing all of NASA's ground support systems and testing.  By doing so, you completely remove NASA's ability to launch its own vehicles.  Not a single major space agency in the world would do this.

    Offline Rocket Science

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #71 on: 09/17/2016 06:30 pm »
    Let's get real...  It is time for JPL and NASA to write a Truly Evolvable Exploration Campaign that acknowledges the existence of more than a single USG launch asset.  The Nation's capability is vastly more than its government-only sacred cows.

    A campaign starting with Block 1B SLS heavy/large volume cargo lift, adding Falcon Heavy, New Glenn, and Vulcan-ACES capabilities, delivering crew with any one of several assets, and -- dare I say it -- employing on-orbit refueling/depots can get us to the Moon and Mars in 10-15 years at whatever scale we choose.  The redundancy of vehicles would provide two-deep coverage of any needed capability.  The economies of this joint public-private venture would eliminate the bottleneck (read: fantasy) of single path, expendable-only launch vehicles.  Infrastructure put in place would be the beginning of a space architecture that actually could substantiate the 'Evolvable' part of the title.

    As additional National assets come on line such as the Block 2 SLS, BFR, New Armstrong, and/or Vulcan Heavy, the campaign can expand and evolve.  Assets that become redundant can fall away without damaging the overall effort.  International cooperation would be a natural out-growth of a program that is actually going somewhere and not just seeking alternate sources of revenue.

    We should have as a goal, returning to the Moon and going to Mars to establish a permanent presence on both bodies.  More than sufficient time exists between now and mid-2020s to prove the technology and build the foundation for the crewed phase of the venture.

    Time to get some leadership ...
    I just see it simply as a lack of public interest...

    AncientU has it right, that's an evolvable campaign. As for public interest, I think the public are less interested in government flags and footprints spectacles than they were in Apollo days, but are becoming more interested in actual campaigns, with permanency, that can end up making their lives better. Slowly, but I am hopeful they are. Recent PR from Blue and SpaceX helps.
    Lar, I would really appreciate if you would articulate how any campaign would make the average citizen's life better as I have never been able to convincingly...
    "The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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    Offline Jim

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #72 on: 09/17/2016 06:35 pm »
    Since both Musk and Bezos are trying to build large rockets, one can assume they both believe missions built up from smaller modules are not practical.

    SpaceX has said explicitly that Falcon Heavy is adequate for NASA-style Mars missions, i.e., sending a few people per decade to Mars.

    MCT is for colonizing Mars, something which NASA has no plans to do.

    Your old post doesn't support "SpaceX has said explicitly that Falcon Heavy is adequate for NASA-style Mars missions."

    SpaceX says "Falcon Heavy ... restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars."  How is that not consistent with NASA's ideas of sending a few people to Mars per decade?

    Because writing "restores the possibility" is not the same thing as writing "NASA-style Mars missions." You're reading too much into a single sentence.

    NASA, SpaceX, and Blue Origin are all trying to build very big rockets. None of them are working on manned BEO missions using smaller rockets.

    Congress mandated NASA build SLS and Orion. Before that NASA was designing the Ares V and Orion. NASA-style Mars missions are not just "sending a few people to Mars per decade," their missions require large payloads and very large rockets to fly those payloads.

    I agree.  I think everyone has forgotten where the conversation has shifted.  For the last 5 years one of the primary arguments against SLS was that you didn't need a SHLV.  Yet, here we are, with 3 SHLV in development and not a single plan uses smaller rockets.  That's a big shift that no one is willing to concede  ;)

    There is no need for the US gov't to have such a vehicle.
    Blue Origin and Spacex reasons for SHLV are not aligned with the US gov'ts'

    Offline Jim

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #73 on: 09/17/2016 06:39 pm »
    Let's get real...  It is time for JPL and NASA to write a Truly Evolvable Exploration Campaign that acknowledges the existence of more than a single USG launch asset.  The Nation's capability is vastly more than its government-only sacred cows.

    A campaign starting with Block 1B SLS heavy/large volume cargo lift, adding Falcon Heavy, New Glenn, and Vulcan-ACES capabilities, delivering crew with any one of several assets, and -- dare I say it -- employing on-orbit refueling/depots can get us to the Moon and Mars in 10-15 years at whatever scale we choose.  The redundancy of vehicles would provide two-deep coverage of any needed capability.  The economies of this joint public-private venture would eliminate the bottleneck (read: fantasy) of single path, expendable-only launch vehicles.  Infrastructure put in place would be the beginning of a space architecture that actually could substantiate the 'Evolvable' part of the title.

    As additional National assets come on line such as the Block 2 SLS, BFR, New Armstrong, and/or Vulcan Heavy, the campaign can expand and evolve.  Assets that become redundant can fall away without damaging the overall effort.  International cooperation would be a natural out-growth of a program that is actually going somewhere and not just seeking alternate sources of revenue.

    We should have as a goal, returning to the Moon and going to Mars to establish a permanent presence on both bodies.  More than sufficient time exists between now and mid-2020s to prove the technology and build the foundation for the crewed phase of the venture.

    Time to get some leadership ...

    No, there is no reason for the US gov't to have such goals.  It would provide no real benefits to most of its citizens.

    Furthermore, it is not JPL's job to do such a thing. They are just lab that does tasks assigned to it by NASA.
    « Last Edit: 09/17/2016 06:39 pm by Jim »

    Online RonM

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #74 on: 09/17/2016 07:08 pm »
    There is no need for the US gov't to have such a vehicle.
    Blue Origin and Spacex reasons for SHLV are not aligned with the US gov'ts'

    No, there is no reason for the US gov't to have such goals.  It would provide no real benefits to most of its citizens.

    Furthermore, it is not JPL's job to do such a thing. They are just lab that does tasks assigned to it by NASA.

    Once again good points from Jim. Good thing Blue Origins and SpaceX have their own plans.

    Still, Congress went with SLS and Orion. I personally think they should stick with them until a commercial SHLV is available. Maybe the tooling for SLS can be put to good use for NASA DSH launched on commercial SHLV. Possibly launch Orion from a commercial rocket. I'd like to get something for my tax dollars other than scrap metal.

    Offline AncientU

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #75 on: 09/17/2016 07:09 pm »
    Let's get real...  It is time for JPL and NASA to write a Truly Evolvable Exploration Campaign that acknowledges the existence of more than a single USG launch asset.  The Nation's capability is vastly more than its government-only sacred cows.

    A campaign starting with Block 1B SLS heavy/large volume cargo lift, adding Falcon Heavy, New Glenn, and Vulcan-ACES capabilities, delivering crew with any one of several assets, and -- dare I say it -- employing on-orbit refueling/depots can get us to the Moon and Mars in 10-15 years at whatever scale we choose.  The redundancy of vehicles would provide two-deep coverage of any needed capability.  The economies of this joint public-private venture would eliminate the bottleneck (read: fantasy) of single path, expendable-only launch vehicles.  Infrastructure put in place would be the beginning of a space architecture that actually could substantiate the 'Evolvable' part of the title.

    As additional National assets come on line such as the Block 2 SLS, BFR, New Armstrong, and/or Vulcan Heavy, the campaign can expand and evolve.  Assets that become redundant can fall away without damaging the overall effort.  International cooperation would be a natural out-growth of a program that is actually going somewhere and not just seeking alternate sources of revenue.

    We should have as a goal, returning to the Moon and going to Mars to establish a permanent presence on both bodies.  More than sufficient time exists between now and mid-2020s to prove the technology and build the foundation for the crewed phase of the venture.

    Time to get some leadership ...

    No, there is no reason for the US gov't to have such goals.  It would provide no real benefits to most of its citizens.

    Furthermore, it is not JPL's job to do such a thing. They are just lab that does tasks assigned to it by NASA.

    Why is NASA spending $billions on SLS/Orion and making 'exploration' plans?
    (This is not about your personal disdain for human exploration.)
    "If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
    -- SpaceX friend of mlindner

    Offline Jim

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #76 on: 09/17/2016 07:14 pm »

    1.  Why is NASA spending $billions on SLS/Orion and making 'exploration' plans?

    2.  (This is not about your personal disdain for human exploration.)


    1.  Jobs and votes

    2.  I have no such disdain.  I just don't think it should be gov't funded.  I applaud what Blue O and Spacex are doing.

    Offline Khadgars

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #77 on: 09/17/2016 07:34 pm »

    1.  Why is NASA spending $billions on SLS/Orion and making 'exploration' plans?

    2.  (This is not about your personal disdain for human exploration.)


    1.  Jobs and votes

    2.  I have no such disdain.  I just don't think it should be gov't funded.  I applaud what Blue O and Spacex are doing.

    Who doesn't applaud what the private sector is doing?  And why shouldn't the government fund its own goals?  This argument can literally be applied to every government run program and is beyond the scope of NASA.


    Offline Jim

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #78 on: 09/17/2016 07:47 pm »
    The need for NASA managed HSF has long passed.  The cold war is over.   It's  paradigm is no longer applicable. There is no other govt agency that is run like NASA.  Space is no longer special and doesn't need the govt's focus as before.
    « Last Edit: 09/17/2016 07:52 pm by Jim »

    Offline Lar

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #79 on: 09/17/2016 08:09 pm »
    Lar, I would really appreciate if you would articulate how any campaign would make the average citizen's life better as I have never been able to convincingly...
    I can't point to concrete examples of future products and services, since I don't know what future products and services will be on offer. I will say that technical advances always benefit the general population, with extremely rare exceptions. In this case I think moving dirty manufacturing off-earth (the end goal here is to have most people living and working in space, after all, which implies a steady flow of stuff back and forth) is hugely beneficial.

    Earth built and launched satellites have already changed our life for the better, a lot[1]. Imagine how much better things will be with much larger capability, not constrained to being earth built or earth launched.

    The need for NASA managed HSF has long passed.  The cold war is over.   It's  paradigm is no longer applicable. There is no other govt agency that is run like NASA.  Space is no longer special and doesn't need the govt's focus as before.

    Exactly. When space is just another job (not just working at launchsites but working IN space), the revolution will have succeeded. NASA should do science and TRL advancement, not build launchers. 

    1 - I can't imagine getting along without GPS and weather sats, even though I don't watch a lot of TV.
    « Last Edit: 09/17/2016 08:10 pm by Lar »
    "I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
    "We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

    Offline Khadgars

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #80 on: 09/17/2016 08:30 pm »
    The need for NASA managed HSF has long passed.  The cold war is over.   It's  paradigm is no longer applicable. There is no other govt agency that is run like NASA.  Space is no longer special and doesn't need the govt's focus as before.

    No major space agency in the world would do this. 

    Offline Lar

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #81 on: 09/17/2016 09:15 pm »
    The need for NASA managed HSF has long passed.  The cold war is over.   It's  paradigm is no longer applicable. There is no other govt agency that is run like NASA.  Space is no longer special and doesn't need the govt's focus as before.

    No major space agency in the world would do this. 

    Would do what?
    "I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
    "We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

    Offline eric z

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #82 on: 09/17/2016 09:28 pm »
     Time to take a break from NASA/SLS-bashing--"Barbarella" is on TV!

    Online Robotbeat

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #83 on: 09/18/2016 04:09 am »
    This is the sum total of all that is known about the New Armstrong:
    "New Glenn is a very important step. It won’t be the last of course. Up next on our drawing board: New Armstrong." -Jeff Bezos

    Musk has been hinting around at his MCT for years only saying a bit more than that about it....
    A LOT more has been said about MCT. More than you'd fit in a (properly formatted) Powerpoint slide. Here's a thread that collects just updates on MCT:
    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37839.msg1392252

    Also, pieces of the engine for MCT (ICT now?) has been undergoing testing the last few years at Stennis, a NASA facility. Strange for the administrator to come off a little hostile.
    What does the MCT look like? What about a picture of the raptor? There have been some details of the MCT shared. Some of them are contradictory. However the basics, what it looks like, what its performance is, have not. That is the very first slide on any PowerPoint rocket's presentation. ...
    Now you're talking about /specific/ slides, instead of "a powerpoint slide" as you originally said. :) If you meant "picture," you should've said "picture." :)

    Goalposts, goalposts...

    But instead of going at this pointless exercise further:

    I understand the point you're making, and it's not totally without merit. I was just pointing out that we do know a significant amount about MCT, even if you don't count what's in L2 or what Bolden probably could have access to.

    I personally prefer the approach taken by Gerstenmeier to that of Bolden. Bolden is super wary of anything not kowtowing to NASA's program of record. Gerstenmeier seems to be willing to consider other things with an open mind and with an eye to the future of humanity, not just the future of the agency.
    Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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    Offline Proponent

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #84 on: 09/18/2016 10:04 am »
    For the last 5 years one of the primary arguments against SLS was that you didn't need a SHLV.  Yet, here we are, with 3 SHLV in development and not a single plan uses smaller rockets.

    But what NASA proposes to do with SLS is completely different from what SpaceX proposes to do with MCT:

    * NASA wants to send a few civil servants to Mars every decade; whereas
    * SpaceX wants to send to send of thousands of colonists per year.

    For what SpaceX wants to do, it's not at all surprising that economies of scale would lead one to consider very large rockets.  For what NASA wants to do, it's far from obvious that an SLS-sized rocket is either needed or desirable.

    If you believe otherwise, please show me where NASA has established the need for or desirability of SLS.

    Offline Proponent

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #85 on: 09/18/2016 12:06 pm »
    Congress should keep funding SLS and Orion until Musk or Bezos have their rockets operational. There is no guarantee they will succeed. Once NASA has the option to purchase SHLV flights from private industry, then Congress can rethink their plans.

    I might conceivably agree if:

  • 1. NASA had truly established the need or at least the desirability of an SLS-class launch vehicle (if anyone believes such has already been established, please show me where); and
  • 2. ULA had been asked to bid on a such a launch vehicle but SLS was found superior for sound engineering reasons.  In the past, ULA has suggested it could build an EELV-based heavy lifter for single-digit billions of dollars, and such a thing would likely be cheaper to operate than SLS because of it commonality with other launch vehicles.

  • Otherwise, with a burn rate of $2+ billion a year, SLS is a ridiculously expensive insurance policy to cover a risk that may not exist.

    My understanding is SLS target is $500 Million per launch + Ground Systems for total of $1.5 Billion.

    SLS is still a very expensive "insurance policy" if annual costs drop to $1.5 billion flat, and there is no prospect of that happening for many years (I was referring to SLS's development budget, which is running over $2 billion per year).  The only concrete numbers we've ever seen show the SLS budget increasing as it moves from development to operations.  Getting down to $2 billion annually for one launch per year is only a hope, and NASA has never demonstrated much of a knack for controlling costs, even when economics was a major justification for a program (the Shuttle).

    Quote
    What you are advocating is completely mothballing all of NASA's ground support systems and testing.  By doing so, you completely remove NASA's ability to launch its own vehicles.  Not a single major space agency in the world would do this.

    The US military space program is quite a bit larger than NASA, and it stopped managing its own launch vehicles years ago.

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #86 on: 09/18/2016 03:39 pm »
    I agree.  I think everyone has forgotten where the conversation has shifted.  For the last 5 years one of the primary arguments against SLS was that you didn't need a SHLV.  Yet, here we are, with 3 SHLV in development and not a single plan uses smaller rockets.  That's a big shift that no one is willing to concede  ;)

    Part of that shift in the size of LV's has to do with re-usability.  When you add in re-usability to a LV, a launch system that could put 3-4% of it's launch mass into space goes down to 2% or less.  This get's even worse if you want full re-usability of all stages, you might put less than 1% of total vehicle launch mass.  You either have to accept a lower payload or accept a increase in vehicle launch mass.  Technically a FH is a SHLV, but is a FH every going to put 50+tons in space, probably not.  Because once you start adding in penalties for 1st stage booster recovery the payload drops and SpaceX would probably not ever launch a FH and expend all 3 1st stage boosters. 
    "Look at that! If anybody ever said, "you'll be sitting in a spacecraft naked with a 134-pound backpack on your knees charging it", I'd have said "Aw, get serious". - John Young - Apollo-16

    Online RonM

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #87 on: 09/18/2016 03:47 pm »
    Congress should keep funding SLS and Orion until Musk or Bezos have their rockets operational. There is no guarantee they will succeed. Once NASA has the option to purchase SHLV flights from private industry, then Congress can rethink their plans.

    I might conceivably agree if:

  • 1. NASA had truly established the need or at least the desirability of an SLS-class launch vehicle (if anyone believes such has already been established, please show me where); and
  • 2. ULA had been asked to bid on a such a launch vehicle but SLS was found superior for sound engineering reasons.  In the past, ULA has suggested it could build an EELV-based heavy lifter for single-digit billions of dollars, and such a thing would likely be cheaper to operate than SLS because of it commonality with other launch vehicles.

  • Otherwise, with a burn rate of $2+ billion a year, SLS is a ridiculously expensive insurance policy to cover a risk that may not exist.

    My understanding is SLS target is $500 Million per launch + Ground Systems for total of $1.5 Billion.

    SLS is still a very expensive "insurance policy" if annual costs drop to $1.5 billion flat, and there is no prospect of that happening for many years (I was referring to SLS's development budget, which is running over $2 billion per year).  The only concrete numbers we've ever seen show the SLS budget increasing as it moves from development to operations.  Getting down to $2 billion annually for one launch per year is only a hope, and NASA has never demonstrated much of a knack for controlling costs, even when economics was a major justification for a program (the Shuttle).

    Quote
    What you are advocating is completely mothballing all of NASA's ground support systems and testing.  By doing so, you completely remove NASA's ability to launch its own vehicles.  Not a single major space agency in the world would do this.

    The US military space program is quite a bit larger than NASA, and it stopped managing its own launch vehicles years ago.

    I think you are missing the point. SLS/Orion is what is being funded by Congress. That's what NASA has been told to do. Congress isn't going to change their minds unless lobbyists from SpaceX and Blue Origin can convince Congress to fund commercial plans.

    We would be better off if Congress gave NASA a goal and then let NASA figure out how to do it, but that's not how it works.

    Offline AncientU

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #88 on: 09/20/2016 12:02 pm »
    I agree.  I think everyone has forgotten where the conversation has shifted.  For the last 5 years one of the primary arguments against SLS was that you didn't need a SHLV.  Yet, here we are, with 3 SHLV in development and not a single plan uses smaller rockets.  That's a big shift that no one is willing to concede  ;)

    Part of that shift in the size of LV's has to do with re-usability.  When you add in re-usability to a LV, a launch system that could put 3-4% of it's launch mass into space goes down to 2% or less.  This get's even worse if you want full re-usability of all stages, you might put less than 1% of total vehicle launch mass.  You either have to accept a lower payload or accept a increase in vehicle launch mass.  Technically a FH is a SHLV, but is a FH every going to put 50+tons in space, probably not.  Because once you start adding in penalties for 1st stage booster recovery the payload drops and SpaceX would probably not ever launch a FH and expend all 3 1st stage boosters.

    Part of the shift is a significant up-scaling of plans by two of the builders -- at least one of the plans includes on-orbit refueling in addition to a 2x Saturn V reusable SHLV leading to landing 100t payloads on Mars.  Lots of them.  The other plans on millions of people in space, not less than ten.

    I think a distinction can be made on the viability of smaller rockets (plus or minus refueling) based upon the scale of your plan.
    « Last Edit: 09/20/2016 12:05 pm by AncientU »
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    Offline Coastal Ron

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #89 on: 09/21/2016 02:48 am »
    Congress isn't going to change their minds unless lobbyists from SpaceX and Blue Origin can convince Congress to fund commercial plans.

    The SLS is a government transportation system meant to take care of NASA-specific needs.  So the first question that Congress should discuss & debate is what the U.S. Government's needs are in space over the near term that NASA would be responsible for (i.e. non-defense) - and of course the Executive branch will be part of that discussion too.  Only after you understand your requirements can you evaluate the resources you need.

    To me the goals of SpaceX and Blue Origin don't overlap with what I think the U.S. Government goals are, so other than the USG taking advantage of some potential opportunities to ride along (but not be the lead funding partner), I don't foresee our Congress caring what SpaceX and Blue Origin do.  And rightly so.

    Quote
    We would be better off if Congress gave NASA a goal and then let NASA figure out how to do it, but that's not how it works.

    We should not accept non-optimal conditions as the default.

    Congress has a fiduciary duty that is in our constitution, but it is not in our constitution that Congress should pick the solutions they are funding - that is pork politics.

    The Executive and Legislative branches should agree on what the goals are for NASA, and then hand it over to a non-partisan panel of experts to lead the way on determining the best solution.  The Executive and Legislative branches would of course have their roles to play in approving or disapproving the ultimate plans, but we want to get as close as possible to decisions that are made based on merit, not favoritism.

    We owe that to the American taxpayer.

    My $0.02
    If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

    Offline DarkenedOne

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #90 on: 09/21/2016 03:37 pm »
    Congress isn't going to change their minds unless lobbyists from SpaceX and Blue Origin can convince Congress to fund commercial plans.

    The SLS is a government transportation system meant to take care of NASA-specific needs.  So the first question that Congress should discuss & debate is what the U.S. Government's needs are in space over the near term that NASA would be responsible for (i.e. non-defense) - and of course the Executive branch will be part of that discussion too.  Only after you understand your requirements can you evaluate the resources you need.

    To me the goals of SpaceX and Blue Origin don't overlap with what I think the U.S. Government goals are, so other than the USG taking advantage of some potential opportunities to ride along (but not be the lead funding partner), I don't foresee our Congress caring what SpaceX and Blue Origin do.  And rightly so.

    Regardless of what the destination is NASA has an established need to for launching large amounts of material into space.  SpaceX and Blue Origin have developed technologies for launching stuff into space significantly cheaper than conventional systems.  Everyone who has a need to launching things into space "cares" what they are doing.   
    NASA should care more than most since their launch needs are greater than most. 

    Ignoring new developments in launch systems, and stubbornly sticking to old launch technology will waste large amounts of taxpayer money. 

    Offline incoming

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #91 on: 09/21/2016 05:11 pm »
    The original post goes back the topic of the hearing and the broader policy context (including but not limited to SLS).  After reading through this thread and many like it, I'm struggling with what the argument is here, so I wanted to take a cut at where things seem to be at this point:

    There seems to pretty broad consensus that NASA should focus it's human exploration program on expanding beyond the orbit of Earth, and good consensus that Mars is an appropriate goal, and that we'll need to do some work in lunar space to be ready to make the Mars trip in a sustainable way.

    NASA generally feels pretty strongly that in order to do the above, they need a SHLV.  The augustine commission came to a similar conclusion and the path NASA is on is very close to what they recommended, although they are making due with less money than the committee thought needed.  There are reasonable arguments that can be made about whether the acquisition process for SLS was optimal, but, nevertheless, it is being built, development is proceeding reasonably well, and should fly reasonably soon.  It is also noteworthy that SLS, orion, and all the ground systems stuff is being developed for a budget that is more or less what it cost to operate shuttle.  I don't know where the contention is coming from that SLS is going to get MORE expensive to operate than it was/is to develop, but i have some insight into the numbers and I expect the annual cost to come down pretty substantially for all three programs post development.  There should certainly be some emphasis by NASA execs and policy makers to ensure that this is the case.  And if they don't, NASA owns the designs and should re-compete contracts accordingly.

    Meanwhile, SpaceX and Blue Origin are working on SHLV's as well.  They seem to agree with NASA that such a capability is either required or so highly desirable for deep space exploration that they are investing their own resources in it.  Perhaps one of the reasons they are doing this is that they know NASA is investing a bunch in SLS and therefore has a clear need for the capability, and perhaps if they can offer similar services for much less than SLS costs to operate there will be plenty of business for them.

    So it seems like we're in really good shape.  NASA is plugging along with SLS on a relatively low risk path.  They can count on having a SHLV capability and can plan their exploration program accordingly.  If SpaceX and/or Blue Origin bring a similar capability to market, current law states NASA has to use the commercially available systems.

    The worst case scenario is that the "commercial" SHLV's never materialize but the possibility of them keeps pressure on NASA and the SLS contractors to focus on cost.  The best case scenario is they do materialize and are cheap enough that NASA can accelerate their plans or make them more robust. Either way, NASA can count on having a SHLV capability for exploring deep space.  That seems far better than the outcome of pausing work on BLEO exploration until we "see what happens" with commercial launch capabilities. 

       

    Offline Proponent

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #92 on: 09/21/2016 06:10 pm »
    NASA generally feels pretty strongly that in order to do the above, they need a SHLV.  The augustine commission came to a similar conclusion and the path NASA is on is very close to what they recommended, although they are making due with less money than the committee thought needed.

    Augustine did indeed argue that an SHLV is needed, but it defined "super-heavy" as anything over about 25 tonnes, i.e., anything more capable than a "heavy" EELV such as the Delta IV Heavy.  More specifically, Augustine argues that a lifter of about 50 tonnes' or more LEO capability is needed.  This post gives chapter and verse.  Augustine definitely did not say that a rocket as large as SLS is needed.

    Quote
    There are reasonable arguments that can be made about whether the acquisition process for SLS was optimal, but, nevertheless, it is being built, development is proceeding reasonably well, and should fly reasonably soon.  It is also noteworthy that SLS, orion, and all the ground systems stuff is being developed for a budget that is more or less what it cost to operate shuttle.  I don't know where the contention is coming from that SLS is going to get MORE expensive to operate than it was/is to develop....

    The only concrete information we've seen on the long-term costs of Orion/SLS are the ESD Budget Scenarios from 2011.  They show costs rising, not falling, as SLS moves from development to operations.  And NASA does not have a history of underestimating costs.

    Quote
    ... but i have some insight into the numbers and I expect the annual cost to come down pretty substantially for all three programs post development.  There should certainly be some emphasis by NASA execs and policy makers to ensure that this is the case.  And if they don't, NASA owns the designs and should re-compete contracts accordingly.

    To be re-competed, the contracts would had to have been competed in the first place.  I'm not saying this just to be snarky, but it seems to me that if cost control was a priority, the contracts should have been competitive.  Maybe it would be possible down the road to compete them, but it doesn't seem likely, and would entail lots of transition costs anyway.

    Quote
    Meanwhile, SpaceX and Blue Origin are working on SHLV's as well.  They seem to agree with NASA that such a capability is either required or so highly desirable for deep space exploration that they are investing their own resources in it.

    With regard to SpaceX, I presume you're referring to MCT/ITS.  SpaceX is not planning to use MCT/ITS for exploration; it's planning to use it for colonization.  In fact, SpaceX has suggested in the past that for the much less ambitious goal of sending a few people to Mars once in a while (as NASA speaks of doing someday), Falcon Heavy is adequate.

    As for Blue Origin, do we know what it's plans are for New Glenn and New Armstrong?  I would guess that Blue Origin's model involves frequent flights, otherwise it's hard to see how it could hope to turn a profit.  If so, Blue Origin's needs, like SpaceX's, are completely different from NASA's.
    « Last Edit: 09/21/2016 06:33 pm by Proponent »

    Offline Khadgars

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #93 on: 09/21/2016 06:47 pm »
    The original post goes back the topic of the hearing and the broader policy context (including but not limited to SLS).  After reading through this thread and many like it, I'm struggling with what the argument is here, so I wanted to take a cut at where things seem to be at this point:

    There seems to pretty broad consensus that NASA should focus it's human exploration program on expanding beyond the orbit of Earth, and good consensus that Mars is an appropriate goal, and that we'll need to do some work in lunar space to be ready to make the Mars trip in a sustainable way.

    NASA generally feels pretty strongly that in order to do the above, they need a SHLV.  The augustine commission came to a similar conclusion and the path NASA is on is very close to what they recommended, although they are making due with less money than the committee thought needed.  There are reasonable arguments that can be made about whether the acquisition process for SLS was optimal, but, nevertheless, it is being built, development is proceeding reasonably well, and should fly reasonably soon.  It is also noteworthy that SLS, orion, and all the ground systems stuff is being developed for a budget that is more or less what it cost to operate shuttle.  I don't know where the contention is coming from that SLS is going to get MORE expensive to operate than it was/is to develop, but i have some insight into the numbers and I expect the annual cost to come down pretty substantially for all three programs post development.  There should certainly be some emphasis by NASA execs and policy makers to ensure that this is the case.  And if they don't, NASA owns the designs and should re-compete contracts accordingly.

    Meanwhile, SpaceX and Blue Origin are working on SHLV's as well.  They seem to agree with NASA that such a capability is either required or so highly desirable for deep space exploration that they are investing their own resources in it.  Perhaps one of the reasons they are doing this is that they know NASA is investing a bunch in SLS and therefore has a clear need for the capability, and perhaps if they can offer similar services for much less than SLS costs to operate there will be plenty of business for them.

    So it seems like we're in really good shape.  NASA is plugging along with SLS on a relatively low risk path.  They can count on having a SHLV capability and can plan their exploration program accordingly.  If SpaceX and/or Blue Origin bring a similar capability to market, current law states NASA has to use the commercially available systems.

    The worst case scenario is that the "commercial" SHLV's never materialize but the possibility of them keeps pressure on NASA and the SLS contractors to focus on cost.  The best case scenario is they do materialize and are cheap enough that NASA can accelerate their plans or make them more robust. Either way, NASA can count on having a SHLV capability for exploring deep space.  That seems far better than the outcome of pausing work on BLEO exploration until we "see what happens" with commercial launch capabilities. 

       

    Well said, and I agree.  SLS is being driven to operate at STS level.  At that level, NASA will have funds to develop some of the hardware needed (Co-manifested Hab, DSH,etc)  as well as advanced ECLSS under the current budget.

    Offline Coastal Ron

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #94 on: 09/21/2016 07:29 pm »
    There seems to pretty broad consensus that NASA should focus it's human exploration program on expanding beyond the orbit of Earth, and good consensus that Mars is an appropriate goal, and that we'll need to do some work in lunar space to be ready to make the Mars trip in a sustainable way.

    That's like saying the kids in the back of the car have reached a broad consensus to go to Disney World, but unfortunately the adults in control of the money and transportation are only planning to go play mini golf.

    There is no political consensus for sending government employees beyond LEO, including Mars, anytime in the foreseeable future.

    Quote
    It is also noteworthy that SLS, orion, and all the ground systems stuff is being developed for a budget that is more or less what it cost to operate shuttle.

    There was no stated cost goal that Congress identified for the SLS and Orion, so even if it turned out to be in the same range (which we don't know since NASA refuses to share any cost info with Congress) it would be a coincidence, not a planned outcome.

    Quote
    I don't know where the contention is coming from that SLS is going to get MORE expensive to operate than it was/is to develop, but i have some insight into the numbers and I expect the annual cost to come down pretty substantially for all three programs post development.

    The only known numbers today are development, which are not in any way related to operational costs.  What we do know is that the SLS is larger than the STS rocket components, and it's flight rate will be far less.

    But cost is really just a secondary issue.  The main question is need.  Does NASA have a known need to move SLS-sized masses to space at a rate exceeding once per year for decades to come?  Today the answer to that is more than unclear, it points to "No".  But Congress could change that.  Or not.

    Quote
    Meanwhile, SpaceX and Blue Origin are working on SHLV's as well.

    SpaceX and Blue Origin have different goals than NASA, so having different solutions would not be unusual.  For instance, is it the goal of the United States to colonize Mars?  No.  Or is it the goal of the United States to support millions of people living and working in space?  No again.  So you can't compare what they are doing to what NASA's needs are.

    Quote
    So it seems like we're in really good shape.  NASA is plugging along with SLS on a relatively low risk path.

    Not sure you realize this but NASA will do whatever NASA is funded to do.  And just because something is funded for development doesn't mean it's actually needed to be operational.

    Quote
    The worst case scenario is that the "commercial" SHLV's never materialize but the possibility of them keeps pressure on NASA and the SLS contractors to focus on cost.

    I don't understand this thinking at all, since Boeing is not competing with SpaceX and Blue Origin on the SLS contract.  And since Boeing is just a contractor, and not the owner of the SLS, they really don't care what it costs, since it's the U.S. Government that is paying Boeing to build it.
    If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

    Offline Khadgars

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #95 on: 09/24/2016 08:48 pm »
    Quote
    There is no political consensus for sending government employees beyond LEO, including Mars, anytime in the foreseeable future.

    This tiresome argument can finally be put to bed with Congress officially placing manned Mars landings into law.

    Offline AncientU

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #96 on: 09/25/2016 05:40 am »
    Quote
    There is no political consensus for sending government employees beyond LEO, including Mars, anytime in the foreseeable future.

    This tiresome argument can finally be put to bed with Congress officially placing manned Mars landings into law.

    Better yet, if they fund it. 
    Another unfunded mandate is as useless as the parchment upon which it is written.
    "If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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    Offline Proponent

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #97 on: 09/25/2016 10:40 am »
    This tiresome argument can finally be put to bed with Congress officially placing manned Mars landings into law.

    It does seem to me that if BEO exploration really were Congress's priority, it would do just as you suggest.  That it has instead mandated particular hardware elements made by particular manufacturers strongly suggests to me that it's not really interested in exploration.

    Offline Jim

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #98 on: 09/25/2016 01:07 pm »
    Quote
    There is no political consensus for sending government employees beyond LEO, including Mars, anytime in the foreseeable future.

    This tiresome argument can finally be put to bed with Congress officially placing manned Mars landings into law.

    There is no need or driving force for such a law.  That is the problem.  It does not benefit the US

    Offline JohnFornaro

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #99 on: 09/25/2016 01:55 pm »
    There seems to pretty broad consensus that NASA should focus it's human exploration program on expanding beyond the orbit of Earth, and good consensus that Mars is an appropriate goal, and that we'll need to do some work in lunar space to be ready to make the Mars trip in a sustainable way.

    That's like saying the kids in the back of the car have reached a broad consensus to go to Disney World, but unfortunately the adults in control of the money and transportation are only planning to go play mini golf.

    There is no political consensus for sending government employees beyond LEO, including Mars, anytime in the foreseeable future.

    Excellent analogy regarding the optics of the politics regarding government employees, in general.

    Specifically, however, it is us "kids in the back seat" who, in theory, direct the "adults" who lead the country, since it is only our money being used.  In addition, it is our theoretical right to so direct our leaders.

    It is probably the case that most American citizens, all else being equal, want there to be a government program to determine medically if mankind and Earth life can colonize the Inner Solar System.

    "All else being equal" is a broad category that includes many non-space related issues which have not yet been solved by our leadership.  One example alone can stand as proof of my contention: Children and adults in inner city neighborhoods will not support NASA while they are unsafe and undereducated and under employed.  The reader can supply other examples.
    « Last Edit: 09/25/2016 01:57 pm by JohnFornaro »
    Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

    Offline Coastal Ron

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #100 on: 09/25/2016 02:58 pm »
    Specifically, however, it is us "kids in the back seat" who, in theory, direct the "adults" who lead the country, since it is only our money being used.  In addition, it is our theoretical right to so direct our leaders.

    However in reality, elections are never about space policy.  And in reality, there is no mechanism for "directing our leaders" other than what's used by every other interest group - most of whom have more resources and better consensus than our space community has (where to go? - Mars, Moon, asteroids, etc.).

    Quote
    It is probably the case that most American citizens, all else being equal, want there to be a government program to determine medically if mankind and Earth life can colonize the Inner Solar System.

    I doubt that.  Do we care that people die doing anything here on Earth?  In fact, we actually encourage risky behavior for monetary reward and entertainment value.

    Quote
    "All else being equal" is a broad category that includes many non-space related issues which have not yet been solved by our leadership.  One example alone can stand as proof of my contention: Children and adults in inner city neighborhoods will not support NASA while they are unsafe and undereducated and under employed.

    I don't agree.  Life has never been serially managed like that.  People in the "inner city neighborhoods" can support NASA at the same percentages as the rest of the country without having all their problems solved.  I'm not even sure why you pick on NASA specifically, since NASA has nothing to do with the causes of problems in inner city neighborhoods, and if anything being inspired by NASA has probably lead people from inner city neighborhoods to improve their lives.

    The core issue for our politicians is not a lack of "inspiration" or a lack of "the people" telling our leaders what to do, but a lack of a problem that can be directly solved by using taxpayer money to send government employees out into space.  Find that problem and the money will flow.  Until then however, "space" will continue to be categorized as "science", and will be funded accordingly (i.e. not much, and not always consistently).

    My $0.02
    If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

    Offline Lar

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #101 on: 09/25/2016 03:34 pm »
    I think having two visions out there from private enterprise (Mars! and Millions!) is more than twice as powerful of a message. It is possible that enough of the public take it up that the politicians notice. Not probable, but possible.
    "I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
    "We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

    Offline Jim

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #102 on: 09/25/2016 03:43 pm »

    It is probably the case that most American citizens, all else being equal, want there to be a government program to determine medically if mankind and Earth life can colonize the Inner Solar System.


    No, that doesn't meet the top ten.  The average American has no such desires.
    « Last Edit: 09/25/2016 03:43 pm by Jim »

    Online Robotbeat

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #103 on: 09/25/2016 07:01 pm »
    It is a beautiful accident of history that there's even a civil human spaceflight initiative at all. Because Jim is basically right, most people probably think there's no good reason to go into space, and this is a pretty sensible perspective (see alt-text: https://m.xkcd.com/893/). We should count our blessings and make the most of it.
    « Last Edit: 09/25/2016 07:05 pm by Robotbeat »
    Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

    To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

    Offline Coastal Ron

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #104 on: 09/25/2016 07:16 pm »
    It is possible that enough of the public take it up that the politicians notice.

    What are the politicians supposed to do when they finally do take notice?

    Commit government money and assets to supporting Musk and Bezos?  For what public benefit?

    I can see our government partnering with the private sector to pursue "science & technology" in space, but I don't see our government deciding to be a full partner in expanding humanity out into space - not without some sort of "National Imperative" providing a clear goal.
    If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

    Offline Khadgars

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #105 on: 09/25/2016 08:24 pm »
    It is possible that enough of the public take it up that the politicians notice.

    What are the politicians supposed to do when they finally do take notice?

    Commit government money and assets to supporting Musk and Bezos?  For what public benefit?

    I can see our government partnering with the private sector to pursue "science & technology" in space, but I don't see our government deciding to be a full partner in expanding humanity out into space - not without some sort of "National Imperative" providing a clear goal.

    Except that is exactly whats being put into law.  It's not the 1960's all over again, but there is much more than what you're giving credit for. 

    Offline guckyfan

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #106 on: 09/25/2016 10:01 pm »
    It is possible that enough of the public take it up that the politicians notice.

    What are the politicians supposed to do when they finally do take notice?

    The best I hope for is they don't build legal roadblocks. They are less likely to do that when the general public is in favor of private enterprise doing things in space without a lot of government money.

    Offline Lar

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #107 on: 09/25/2016 10:05 pm »
    It is possible that enough of the public take it up that the politicians notice.

    What are the politicians supposed to do when they finally do take notice?

    Stay out of the way, that would be a good start. That's it.  Ideally shift NASA investment to increasing TRL and science missions, no more launcher dev or ops, but that would be a bonus.  No need to actually fund Musk or Bezos, just stay out of the way.
    « Last Edit: 09/26/2016 12:45 am by Lar »
    "I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
    "We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

    Offline Coastal Ron

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #108 on: 09/25/2016 11:11 pm »
    Except that is exactly whats being put into law.  It's not the 1960's all over again, but there is much more than what you're giving credit for.

    This is no doubt the most specific that our Congress has been about going to Mars.

    However, since this "effort" is not required to solve any specific national problem, it could end up not achieving anything significant.  Or maybe it could.  Too early to tell.  But just because Congress puts something in a law today doesn't mean it will happen 20 years down the road - priorities can change.

    In S.3346 I found this interesting:

    "TITLE II—SUSTAINING NATIONAL SPACE COMMITMENTS

    SEC. 201. SENSE OF CONGRESS ON SUSTAINING NATIONAL SPACE COMMITMENTS.
    (a) Sense Of Congress.—It is the sense of Congress that—

    (1) the United States, in collaboration with its international, academic, and industry partners, should sustain and build upon our national space commitments and investments across Administrations with a continuity of purpose to advance recent achievements of space exploration and space science to extend humanity’s reach into deep space, including cis-lunar space, the Moon, the surface and moons of Mars, and beyond;

    (2) NASA leaders can best leverage investments in the United States space program by continuing to develop a balanced portfolio for space exploration and space science, including continued development of the Space Launch System, Orion, Commercial Crew and Commercial Resupply Services, the James Webb Space Telescope, and the ongoing operations of the International Space Station;

    (3) a national, government-led space program that builds on current science and exploration programs and advances human knowledge and capabilities and opens the frontier beyond Earth for ourselves, our international partners, commercial enterprise, and science is of critical importance to our national destiny and to a future guided by United States values and freedoms;
    "

    Some thoughts:

    1.  Congress is OK with the possibility of the ISS mission being extended beyond 2024 (more specifically in another part of the bill).  To me the ISS, and it's supporting programs, is the most important investment we can make on getting to Mars.

    2.  Congress does not want any major programs changed.

    3.  It's important to Congress that we "advance human knowledge".

    So the reason for going to Mars, according to Congress is "human knowledge", which to me is what's known as a "soft goal".  Soft goals are challenging, since there is no real way to measure progress, and there is a general lack of accountability overall.

    Other than being over-prescriptive on how NASA should solve it's challenges (i.e. politicians specifying hardware is never a good idea), I don't really see how this will change the course NASA is on - and the course NASA is on doesn't get it Mars for many decades.
    If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

    Offline incoming

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #109 on: 09/26/2016 04:31 pm »
    There seems to pretty broad consensus that NASA should focus it's human exploration program on expanding beyond the orbit of Earth, and good consensus that Mars is an appropriate goal, and that we'll need to do some work in lunar space to be ready to make the Mars trip in a sustainable way.

    That's like saying the kids in the back of the car have reached a broad consensus to go to Disney World, but unfortunately the adults in control of the money and transportation are only planning to go play mini golf.

    There is no political consensus for sending government employees beyond LEO, including Mars, anytime in the foreseeable future.

    I don't know how you can say this.  The NASA Authorization of 2010 passed the senate with unanimous support and a huge majority in the house.  It states as a finding:

    " A long term objective for human exploration of space
    should be the eventual international exploration of Mars. "

    and establishes in law the following policy:

    "(a) LONG TERM GOAL.—The long term goal of the human space
    flight and exploration efforts of NASA shall be to expand permanent
    human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and to do so, where practical,
    in a manner involving international partners. "

    Again - that passed by unanimous consent in the senate. That's 100 senators.  You don't get much better than that in terms of consensus. 




    Offline incoming

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #110 on: 09/26/2016 04:47 pm »

    ... but i have some insight into the numbers and I expect the annual cost to come down pretty substantially for all three programs post development.  There should certainly be some emphasis by NASA execs and policy makers to ensure that this is the case.  And if they don't, NASA owns the designs and should re-compete contracts accordingly.
    To be re-competed, the contracts would had to have been competed in the first place. 


    This is not true. The contracts have fixed end points.  If NASA wanted to sole-source follow on contracts, they would have to re-do their "Justification for Other than Full and Open Competition" commonly referred to as a "JOFOC" for each contract.  At that point they'll have a decision to make - they can continue with the current approach and work each element as a separate contract and perhaps attempt to JOFOC certain elements (for example, core stage engines) but  not others (there is some expectation that advanced boosters will be competitively awarded).  They could also try a different approach where they try to compete or JOFOC the entire capability.  But in any case a JOFOC would be subject to heavy scrutiny, especially if there are companies who want to compete and protest. It's also worth noting that under existing law if there are "commercially available" launch services that are just as capable of meeting NASA's mission requirements as SLS, NASA must go the launch services route. 
    « Last Edit: 09/26/2016 04:50 pm by incoming »

    Offline Proponent

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #111 on: 09/28/2016 05:12 pm »
    This tiresome argument can finally be put to bed with Congress officially placing manned Mars landings into law.

    Khadgers, I'd be curious to know your opinion as to why Congress has not done exactly that.

    Offline Jim

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #112 on: 09/28/2016 05:31 pm »
    There seems to pretty broad consensus that NASA should focus it's human exploration program on expanding beyond the orbit of Earth, and good consensus that Mars is an appropriate goal, and that we'll need to do some work in lunar space to be ready to make the Mars trip in a sustainable way.

    That's like saying the kids in the back of the car have reached a broad consensus to go to Disney World, but unfortunately the adults in control of the money and transportation are only planning to go play mini golf.

    There is no political consensus for sending government employees beyond LEO, including Mars, anytime in the foreseeable future.

    I don't know how you can say this.  The NASA Authorization of 2010 passed the senate with unanimous support and a huge majority in the house.  It states as a finding:

    " A long term objective for human exploration of space
    should be the eventual international exploration of Mars. "

    and establishes in law the following policy:

    "(a) LONG TERM GOAL.—The long term goal of the human space
    flight and exploration efforts of NASA shall be to expand permanent
    human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and to do so, where practical,
    in a manner involving international partners. "

    Again - that passed by unanimous consent in the senate. That's 100 senators.  You don't get much better than that in terms of consensus. 

    Just words with no money.  And " expand" can mean that NASA supports others.  It doesn't mean NASA go build.....

    Offline Proponent

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #113 on: 11/27/2016 05:46 am »

    ... but i have some insight into the numbers and I expect the annual cost to come down pretty substantially for all three programs post development.  There should certainly be some emphasis by NASA execs and policy makers to ensure that this is the case.  And if they don't, NASA owns the designs and should re-compete contracts accordingly.
    To be re-competed, the contracts would had to have been competed in the first place. 


    This is not true. The contracts have fixed end points.  If NASA wanted to sole-source follow on contracts, they would have to re-do their "Justification for Other than Full and Open Competition" commonly referred to as a "JOFOC" for each contract.  At that point they'll have a decision to make - they can continue with the current approach and work each element as a separate contract and perhaps attempt to JOFOC certain elements (for example, core stage engines) but  not others (there is some expectation that advanced boosters will be competitively awarded).  They could also try a different approach where they try to compete or JOFOC the entire capability.  But in any case a JOFOC would be subject to heavy scrutiny, especially if there are companies who want to compete and protest. It's also worth noting that under existing law if there are "commercially available" launch services that are just as capable of meeting NASA's mission requirements as SLS, NASA must go the launch services route. 

    I must admit that NASA's recent RFI's for Orion production (discussed here) and for exploration systems in general  (here) show how right and timely you are.

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    Re: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing
    « Reply #114 on: 12/05/2016 08:45 pm »

    I must admit that NASA's recent RFI's for Orion production (discussed here) and for exploration systems in general  (here) show how right and timely you are.

    i'll admit I didn't anticipate the timing. but those RFI's would be a typical step toward making an acquisition decision for the follow-on activities.  What they get back will be key in determining how they proceed, and how they justify their decision.

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