Author Topic: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing  (Read 30900 times)

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

Online 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?

Offline Robotbeat

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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.
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 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.

Offline yg1968

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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

Offline CommercialSpaceFan

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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.

Online 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.

Offline Robotbeat

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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.
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 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.

Offline woods170

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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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Offline 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 »

Online 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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