Author Topic: NASA at Crossroads: July 13 2016 Senate Hearing  (Read 30895 times)

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An engine that takes years on the assembly line to build is obsolete.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An engine that takes years on the assembly line to build is obsolete.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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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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Online 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.

Online 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 »
"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 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.

    Offline 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 »

    Offline RonM

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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.

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