Author Topic: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing  (Read 30883 times)

Online 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

Online 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

Online 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.

Offline incoming

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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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