Author Topic: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request  (Read 48318 times)

Offline RonM

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Re: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #80 on: 03/28/2017 03:14 PM »
Launch can't be a free market, ever?

Yes. You don't understand that?

Rockets are munitions. They are licensed that way and regulated that way and treated that way in policy. You think that any government anywhere in the world is not going to look at a space rocket and see the connection to ICBMs? You think that any government anywhere in the world that has space rockets is also not going to regulate them because of their importance to national security?

Space is not Walmart.

True, but there is a difference between selling rockets and selling launch services. Commercial launch services can be a free market with some regulation while launch providers can't sell the rockets directly to the customer. Unlike commercial aircraft, you'll won't see reusable rockets being sold to space freight companies, but rocket manufactures can take customer payloads to space.

Online Lar

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Re: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #81 on: 03/28/2017 03:25 PM »
Launch can't be a free market, ever?

Yes. You don't understand that?

Rockets are munitions. They are licensed that way and regulated that way and treated that way in policy. You think that any government anywhere in the world is not going to look at a space rocket and see the connection to ICBMs? You think that any government anywhere in the world that has space rockets is also not going to regulate them because of their importance to national security?

Airplanes are munitions or can be. Cars are munitions or can be. Suitcases are munitions or can be if they are carrying the right things. That all governments today treat rockets as super special? Sure. True fact.

That they always will, if we get to flight rates similar to commercial airliners ("millions of people living and working and living in space")? No, you haven't convinced me that no government anywhere ever will decide to relax and treat rockets more like airplanes. regulated, but freer than they are now.

You don't have to convince me, that's cool. We have different views. All good. But I don't buy your blanket assertion. And "You don't understand that?" isn't the tone one uses when one wants to convince me of things. You don't have to care one whit what I think... but if you do....

Space is not Walmart.

True, but there is a difference between selling rockets and selling launch services. Commercial launch services can be a free market with some regulation while launch providers can't sell the rockets directly to the customer. Unlike commercial aircraft, you'll won't see reusable rockets being sold to space freight companies, but rocket manufactures can take customer payloads to space.

That's another model that works too.

Launch is heavily-regulated around the world. Launch is heavily-subsidized around the world. Not a free market. This is space policy 101.

Today. We have different visions about how things SHOULD be in the future.

We might be veering more than we should (it was driven by that reference, to be sure) so I'll stop for now.
« Last Edit: 03/28/2017 03:27 PM by Lar »
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Offline RonM

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Re: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #82 on: 03/28/2017 03:29 PM »
True, but there is a difference between selling rockets and selling launch services. Commercial launch services can be a free market with some regulation while launch providers can't sell the rockets directly to the customer. Unlike commercial aircraft, you'll won't see reusable rockets being sold to space freight companies, but rocket manufactures can take customer payloads to space.

Launch is heavily-regulated around the world. Launch is heavily-subsidized around the world. Not a free market. This is space policy 101.

That's the current situation, but SpaceX and Blue Origins have different plans for the future. It could take a long time, but never say never.

BTW, aren't we all getting off topic? How does this apply to NASA FY 2018?

Offline Proponent

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Re: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #83 on: 03/28/2017 03:33 PM »
By the way, has anyone here actually read either paper?  Is a link to Pace's piece available anywhere?  (I've checked SpaceNews's website and have googled around, to no avail).

Online Lar

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Re: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #84 on: 03/28/2017 03:41 PM »
BTW, aren't we all getting off topic? How does this apply to NASA FY 2018?
Mostly doesn't... I think we posted at about the same time. (there are some supposed free-marketeers in the 45 administration who supposedly have some influence... which is an ultra vague tie in but that's about it)
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Offline deltaV

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Re: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #85 on: 03/28/2017 04:27 PM »
Launch can't be a free market, ever?

Yes. You don't understand that?

Rockets are munitions. They are licensed that way and regulated that way and treated that way in policy. You think that any government anywhere in the world is not going to look at a space rocket and see the connection to ICBMs? You think that any government anywhere in the world that has space rockets is also not going to regulate them because of their importance to national security?

Space is not Walmart.

1. IIUC until about 1930 heavier-than-air aircraft were primarily of military interest (initially for reconnaissance). There were civilian applications of course but they were mostly stunts and/or heavily subsidized by governments (e.g. air mail). It wasn't until circa 1950 that civilian aviation really took off.

2. If you define "free market" as "no government regulation" then Walmart doesn't participate in any free markets.

Online Steven Pietrobon

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Re: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #86 on: 03/29/2017 07:53 AM »
By the way, has anyone here actually read either paper?  Is a link to Pace's piece available anywhere?  (I've checked SpaceNews's website and have googled around, to no avail).

I started to read the paper. Not impressed so far. In "Reasons for why it is essential for any nation that wishes to thrive and compete on the world stage to have a successful and flourishing aerospace industry,..." he includes "The resources in space – raw materials from asteroids and the planets as well as energy from the Sun – are there for the taking." He does not include satellite applications, such communications, remote sensing and positioning, which are the biggest contributors in the space economy. He gives a reference to one of his own papers with the title "The Lie that is Orion". So not biased at all! Paper attached.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline Proponent

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Re: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #87 on: 03/29/2017 04:36 PM »
Having now read Robert Zimmerman's piece "Capitalism in Space," I shall opine at length, as is my wont.

Despite the grandiose title and rather sweeping assertions about space (with one of which Steven Pietrobon takes issue in the previous post), the author's focus is on the comparative cost efficiencies of NASA-managed space-vehicle on the one hand and of commercially-managed vehicles on the other:

Quote from: "Capitalism in Space," p. 4
The central focus of this paper is a comparison between the two approaches to maintain and expand American access to space that NASA and the federal government have followed since the mid-2000s.

He neither claims nor assumes that an efficient space-launch market exists.  He simply analyses the existing commercially-managed programs as they are in the existing controlled market.

For each program, Zimmerman gathers historical budget allocations, which are well documented and reliable, and contract amounts, which are only partially documented and are to some extent uncertain, for a variety of reasons.  He adds up the historical allocations over the life of each program--without an inflationary adjustment to a common year (e.g., FY 2017).  Amounts for FY 2017 are only estimates, such not yet having been enacted at the time of writing.  He further adds in estimated future spending to get the total over a horizon corresponding to the underlying contracts.  Finally, he subtracts the aggregate value of the contracts to determine the amount of NASA "overhead," the amount of money NASA received for each program which was not spent on the major contracts.

For Orion, the uninflated total budget through FY 2017 comes to $13.89 billion.  Optimistically assuming just $1 billion per year to a first crewed flight optimistically in 2021, the author arrives at a total of about $18 billion.  The only contract identified is the $8.15 agreement signed in 2016, under which Lockheed Martin develops Orion and supplies an unspecified number of vehicles through 2019.  Subtracting that amount from the projected total allocation of $18 billion gives an overhead of $9.8 billion, i.e., about 55% (here and below, my figures tend to differ slightly from Zimmerman's, likely because of rounding).

I have difficulty accepting this number too literally, for a number of reasons.  One is the lack of adjustment for inflation, which would tend to lower the overhead (by inflating the contract price more than the budget).  I also wonder whether there are not additional contracts or amendments to be considered, since, for example, the Orion's service module is now being supplied by ESA.  Despite that arrangement, NASA still in effect pays something for the service module, because in exchange it picks up ESA's responsibilities for resupplying ISS, effectively raising Orion's budget and lowering the overhead estimate by several hundred million dollars.  The overhead estimate would probably still come out above 30%, however.  And higher costs through the first crewed flight would tend to raise the overhead.

For SLS, Zimmerman identifies spending of $18.983 billion through FY 2017 and projects, again optimistically, $25 billion through first crewed flight in 2021.  Zimmerman includes Ares spending in the total for SLS.  This may or may not be justified, depending on whether one is interested in assessing the NASA-Congress-Executive Branch system of developing launch vehicles, with it's inherent risk of politically-motivated design changes, or focusing more narrowly on SLS itself.  Spending after FY 2011 comes to about $20 billion. Some of the spending before then, however, is surely relevant to SLS itself (e.g., work on 5-seg SRBs).

Zimmerman does not entirely nail down the several contracts for SLS.  Values are given for each, but for only one is a reference cited.  And, again, there is the question of how much to allocate to SLS as opposed to Ares.  The total cited, $7 billion, seems plausible but cannot be taken as definitive without more information.  Hence I have little confidence in the overhead rate that's derived for SLS: ($25G - $7G)/$25G = 72%.

For commercial crew and cargo, the budget through FY 2017 comes to $5.647 billion and is projected to $12 billion through 2024, currently the horizon for ISS.  Contract costs are on fairly firm ground for commercial crew and cargo at $10.6 billion.  Hence, the overhead estimate is ($12G - $10.6G)/$12G = 12%.  Since we are subtracting two approximately equal numbers, however, the relative uncertainty is magnified.  And there is some optionality here: we don't know how many flights from each provider NASA will ultimately pay for.

All things considered, I have no great confidence in the precision of any of the figures, and Zimmerman does not claim it.  I do find his general conclusion that the numbers "suggest that NASA’s overhead for commercial space is relatively small" (p. 16) is valid.

Though I am usually very favorably impressed by Ars Technica's space coverage, I would say it erred in running "New report: NASA spends 72 cents of every SLS dollar on overhead costs" as a headline.  While the 72% figure does appear in the paper, it is qualified as being quite uncertain and is not itself taken as a conclusion.

Zimmerman's implication is that NASA overhead is wasteful.  Having watched Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks pound the table during a NASA hearing because of how little of the money in a particular contract was being spent at MSFC itself, I do tend to share Zimmerman's skepticism to a degree.  But we would really need to know more about what NASA does with the overhead money to draw a conclusion.

Though they receive relatively little space in the paper, Tables 4 and 5 (p. 23), which show overall numbers of vehicles delivered and total costs for the NASA- and commercially-managed programs, seem more interesting and relevant than the overhead story.  Even taking into account the greater capabilities of Orion and SLS, it's hard not to wonder whether the commercial approach doesn't make more sense.  Would you rather have 42 flights to LEO on the commercial vehicles for $12 billion or 2 flights on SLS for $43 billion?  I think this, more than the overhead story, is the take-home message.  A similar point was made by the Space Access Society in 2015 (see attachment to this post), perhaps more forcefully and certainly more concisely.

If anyone can give me a pointer to Scott Pace's critique of "Capitalism in Space," which was mentioned yesterday, I'd be grateful.

EDIT:  "now opine" -> "opine" in opening sentence.
« Last Edit: 04/13/2017 02:56 PM by Proponent »

Offline incoming

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Re: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #88 on: 03/29/2017 05:08 PM »
By the way, has anyone here actually read either paper?  Is a link to Pace's piece available anywhere?  (I've checked SpaceNews's website and have googled around, to no avail).

I have. I don't have time to post a really thorough critique.  While I do fundamentally agree with many of the points in the paper - particularly about the importance of competition and the use of fixed price contracts, there are a couple of pretty significant faults (in addition to the ones pointed out by proponent in his last post) that detract from what otherwise might be a good analysis. 

The paper has a gross oversimplification of the design and capability differences between CST-100, Dragon, and Orion. It misleadingly compares Dragon's 7 person, 2.5 days free fly in orbit LEO capability to Orion's 21 day, 4 person cislunar capability.  A more accurate comparison would be Dragon's ability to take two people on a ~week long free return trip around the moon, a far less challenging mission that performing a lunar orbit insertion, week long plus cislunar orbital mission, and Earth return, with twice the crew size.  There are several second order implications of the comparison that are significant.  Just one of many examples - recovery of the capsule and crew.  Water recovery of a capsule and crew in anything but the calmest sea conditions is exceedingly difficult. Probably deadly in something on the order or 4-8' seas depending on a bunch of other factors, especially with deconditioned crew. This is less of a problem with ISS as they know exactly what they weather conditions will be when they make their deorbit burn.  There is no reliable way to predict sea state conditions for a lunar free return mission prior to departure.  Your only choice is to hope that either you get lucky in your designated landing area or you have a number of backup sites spread over thousands of miles of ocean, which can get expensive very quickly.  In apollo they had all the resources of the U.S. Navy to help.  Orion has the ability to choose when to return to Earth from the moon (still a challenging multi-day forecast), a couple of different recovery area targets, and NASA has agreements with the Navy and coast guard to rescue the crew (but probably not the capsule) in emergency returns to unplanned locations. It's unclear how SpaceX will handle this for commercial space "tourists."

Another outright falsehood in the article is the fact that it identifies funds that NASA spent on the programs but did not allocate to the prime contractors as "probably cover[ing] NASA’s administrative and overhead costs (some caused by the change from Ares to SLS imposed by changing administrations and Congress) as well as other infrastructure expenses not directly tied to the construction of the rockets."

That's just total conjecture, even though the author eventually makes this one of his key findings.  He appears to have done nothing to interrogate what that funding actually went to.  While there certainly some civil servant administrative costs in those non-prime dollar amounts, a significant amount of the money actually goes to things like:

-Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) - in other words, hardware that it was more advantageous for the gov't to buy directly and provide to the primes instead of having the primes subcontract for it (and add on their fee accordingly). Nearly all of this equipment is still produced by the private sector.

-Infrastructure - NASA owns much of the infrastructure that SLS is built with and has to maintain it.  You couldn't build SLS without it, and any other company that wants to build a rocket as big as SLS would need something similar.  When Elon was asked where he'd build SpaceX's huge new Mars rocket, he responded that they'd probably look at MAF (where SLS is built).  All of this infrastructure is maintained via contracts with the private sector.

-Integration - (As the the paper correctly states) NASA does not use a single prime for SLS, it uses primes for the major elements and performs the systems engineering and integration work (both analytical and physical) with a combination of civil service labor and engineering and operations support contracts.  The support contracts are generally all competitively awarded and are re-competed fairly regularly.  Arguably, having civil servants actually having to produce things and be directly responsible for engineering products, vs. simply looking over a contractors shoulder - is actually a good thing. This integration work - which on a large, complex program like SLS, is a very significant amount of work - is not overhead.  It's absolutely necessary.   

There are several other items I think the author misses the mark on, and if I have more time I'll come back to them, but these were a couple I noticed right away. 





« Last Edit: 03/29/2017 05:09 PM by incoming »

Offline Proponent

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Re: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #89 on: 03/30/2017 11:26 PM »
Loren Thompson has a critique of Bob Zimmerman's "Capitalism in Space" up at forbes.com.  As we've discussed upthread, Zimmerman's piece certainly has some flaws.  But rather than addressing them, Thompson chooses to attack a collection of strawmen of his own creation.  Zimmerman's piece compares commercially-managed space vehicles developed by Boeing, ULA, Orbital ATK and SpaceX with NASA's Orion and SLS.  Rather than addressing that comparison, Thompson chooses to compare SpaceX with ULA, which is simply not relevant, and it's badly done to boot.  My paragraph-by-paragraph take on Thompson's piece starts from the sixth paragraph (beginning "Zimmerman offers ..."), where the meat begins.

Quote from: 'Loren Thompson in "Capitalism In Space: The Beguiling Myth Market Forces Can Fix Everything", Forbes.com, 16 March'
Zimmerman offers a series of complex comparisons purporting to do just that, but he doesn't cite hardly any numbers to support his case....
Bad grammar aside, Thompson's claim that Zimmerman offers hardly any numbers to support his claims is flat-out wrong.  I wonder whether Thompson actually read "Capitalism in Space."  Later in the same paragraph, Thompson pivots to ULA:
Quote
United Launch Alliance, the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture that is SpaceX's main competitor for government launches, has never lost a payload in 117 launches.  SpaceX has lost two missions in just the last two years, in both cases due to design features in its launch vehicle.
That's fine, but "Capitalism in Space" is not a comparison of SpaceX against ULA, it is a comparison of commercial providers, including both SpaceX and ULA, against NASA's Orion and SLS.  That ULA has a good track record, better than that of any NASA-managed launch vehicle, actually strengthens the argument made in "Capitalism."

In paragraph 7, Thompson points out that Falcon 9 is running well behind schedule:
Quote
No doubt about it, SpaceX prices are low -- but it isn't the model of market-driven responsiveness that Zimmerman would have you believe.  On average, its launches are over two years late, and the unlaunched missions it is carrying in its backlog on average are nearly three years late.
This is may be true, but, again, it is not relevant to "Capitalism," and, again, ULA's good record actually supports the thesis of "Capitalism."  Since Orion/SLS was supposed to achieve initial operational capability by 2016, implying a test flight(s) in 2015, but is now scheduled to carry a crew for the first time in 2021 (and few have confidence in that deadline), SpaceX is doing better than NASA.

Thompson next turns to safety, beginning with
Quote
Companies typically achieve low prices by taking out cost, but much of the overhead associated with space efforts goes into assuring the safety of missions.
Presumably, then, Thompson refuses to fly on commercial airlines, since, by historical standards, air travel has become extremely cheap.  And note the shady technique of implying that SpaceX has low safety standards without actually saying so or, of course, offering any evidence.  Thompson next turns to last September's Falcon 9 explosion, stating that
Quote
One problem with buying launch services under commercial contracts rather than using the traditional approach is that the government has less latitude to investigate what happened when things go wrong.  The company leads investigations of mishaps rather than the government.  The company may be forthcoming about what it finds, but it doesn't have to be.
Perhaps the company need not be fully forthcoming, but then NASA need not allow its astronauts to fly on the company's vehicle.  Here Thompson again uses inuendo to suggest that SpaceX has not been forthcoming without evidence.  More generally, the government has been "buying launch services under commercial contracts" for years, from, for example, ULA.  Contracts for launch services are the rule; SLS is the exception.  To imply that SpaceX differs from ULA or Orbital ATK in this regard is dishonest.

More pointedly, if NASA agrees to put a crew on EM-1, which, as of today, seems a distinct possibility, the accusation that commercial vehicles flown multiple times might not be safe enough for NASA astronauts becomes abject hypocrisy.  I personally fail to understand how NASA can even seriously consider the possibility, absent some urgent national need.

Thompson's final criticism of SpaceX is that it is not "exactly a 'commercial' launch provider," because of the large fraction of its revenues that come from the government.  While NASA's use of the terms "commercial crew" and "commercial cargo" is not entirely accurate, the precision of the description of either program has no bearing whatsoever on its merit.  ULA is much less commercial than SpaceX, and NASA--which, let is remember, is actually the relevant comparison--is not commercial at all.  The issue of degree of commerciality, is irrelevant.

Thompson closes with a delicious absurdity:
Quote
Imagine where Donald Trump's business empire would stand today if he typically delivered project two years late, and every once in a while one of the blew up due to design features.
Well, where would NASA be if it did those things?  Just where it is, except that Orion/SLS is much more than two years late.  As for Trump, he's done his industry's equivalent of blow up--namely, go bankrupt--several times!  What the hell is the point of bringing this up?  Is Thompson trying to ingratiate himself with Trump?

Rather than actually addressing the issue raised in "Capitalism in Space," namely the merits of NASA using commercially-developed space vehicles rather than developing its own, Thompson uses misdirection, inuendo and outright falsehood to attack SpaceX.  Thompson does have the decency to acknowledge (in the third paragraph) that Boeing is a sponsor of his institution and Lockheed Martin is both a sponsor and consulting client.  That he barely even acknowledges the thesis of "Capitalism in Space" suggests that his sponsors may be terrified of it.  That he changes the subject to SpaceX and then attacks it below the belt suggests they feel threatened by that company.
« Last Edit: 03/31/2017 10:12 AM by Proponent »

Offline Star One

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NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #90 on: 03/31/2017 11:10 AM »
I do wonder why you're still wasting your time on defending Zimmerman's highly biased & flawed piece?
« Last Edit: 03/31/2017 11:14 AM by Star One »

Online AncientU

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Re: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #91 on: 03/31/2017 01:34 PM »
I do wonder why you're still wasting your time on defending Zimmerman's highly biased & flawed piece?

You are blatantly begging* the question.

*For those who only know today's misuse of the term, it classically means assuming your premise is true -- a rhetorical fallacy.
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Offline Proponent

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Re: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #92 on: 03/31/2017 02:16 PM »
I do wonder why you're still wasting your time on defending Zimmerman's highly biased & flawed piece?

To AncientU's post I might add that if you read my previous post in this thread, you'll see that I am not defending Zimmerman at all:  I'm attacking Thompson quite heavily, but I do not defend Zimmerman.

Offline Star One

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NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #93 on: 03/31/2017 02:30 PM »
I do wonder why you're still wasting your time on defending Zimmerman's highly biased & flawed piece?

You are blatantly begging* the question.

*For those who only know today's misuse of the term, it classically means assuming your premise is true -- a rhetorical fallacy.

Well you're hardly an unbiased observer in these things considering your track record.

I do wonder why you're still wasting your time on defending Zimmerman's highly biased & flawed piece?

To AncientU's post I might add that if you read my previous post in this thread, you'll see that I am not defending Zimmerman at all:  I'm attacking Thompson quite heavily, but I do not defend Zimmerman.

But both pieces are horribly biased and it just seemed a waste of your time attacking or defending either. What I mean is neither piece from looking at them adds anything useful to the debate.
« Last Edit: 03/31/2017 02:35 PM by Star One »

Online AncientU

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Re: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #94 on: 04/01/2017 10:13 AM »
So, to cut to the chase:
What is the full accounting of what gets spent where on SLS/Orion?
What fraction goes to Boeing, LM, Centers?
What has the program cost to date and what are the spend plans going forward?
Is this information available, anywhere?

Seems to me that a hell of a lot of money has been and will be spent on a program that is showing few results... but maybe that is just me, I'm biased.

Note: Star One, please share these data with those of us that are so mis-informed.  You surely have a factual basis for your protestations of bias.
« Last Edit: 04/01/2017 10:43 AM by AncientU »
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Offline jgoldader

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Re: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #95 on: 04/01/2017 11:32 AM »
Is there any sign in the budget for the gateway station for which NASA will apparently end up paying much/most of the cost?  I see slides from the NAC that show a 4-piece station up and working by 2026...

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/nss_chart_v23.pdf

...but with those slides should go a budget and cost and such.  How is the station supposed to be paid for?  Sounds like ESA might be contributing an ECLSS, and Canada an arm, but there's a lot more than that that needs to get paid for.
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Offline yg1968

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Re: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #96 on: 04/01/2017 04:43 PM »
We don't have the details yet but the President's FY18 budget does mention a private-public partnership for a deep space habitat (this likely means NextStep-3). The details of the FY18 budget should come out in mid-May.
« Last Edit: 04/01/2017 04:59 PM by yg1968 »

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #97 on: 04/02/2017 12:27 PM »
Is there any sign in the budget for the gateway station for which NASA will apparently end up paying much/most of the cost?  I see slides from the NAC that show a 4-piece station up and working by 2026...

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/nss_chart_v23.pdf

...but with those slides should go a budget and cost and such.  How is the station supposed to be paid for?  Sounds like ESA might be contributing an ECLSS, and Canada an arm, but there's a lot more than that that needs to get paid for.

And there is another question that goes with this - How does NASA structure it's method for obtaining the gateway?  Does it follow an ISS model?  Or does it follow a Commercial Crew model? 

Both of those questions impact the question of how is the station supposed to be paid for.

As to whether we'll see that in this year's full budget request - I am not prepared to bet any money.
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Offline DarkenedOne

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Re: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #98 on: 04/04/2017 05:38 PM »
Launch can't be a free market, ever?

Yes. You don't understand that?

Rockets are munitions. They are licensed that way and regulated that way and treated that way in policy. You think that any government anywhere in the world is not going to look at a space rocket and see the connection to ICBMs? You think that any government anywhere in the world that has space rockets is also not going to regulate them because of their importance to national security?

Airplanes are munitions or can be. Cars are munitions or can be. Suitcases are munitions or can be if they are carrying the right things. That all governments today treat rockets as super special? Sure. True fact.

That they always will, if we get to flight rates similar to commercial airliners ("millions of people living and working and living in space")? No, you haven't convinced me that no government anywhere ever will decide to relax and treat rockets more like airplanes. regulated, but freer than they are now.

You don't have to convince me, that's cool. We have different views. All good. But I don't buy your blanket assertion. And "You don't understand that?" isn't the tone one uses when one wants to convince me of things. You don't have to care one whit what I think... but if you do....

Space is not Walmart.

True, but there is a difference between selling rockets and selling launch services. Commercial launch services can be a free market with some regulation while launch providers can't sell the rockets directly to the customer. Unlike commercial aircraft, you'll won't see reusable rockets being sold to space freight companies, but rocket manufactures can take customer payloads to space.

That's another model that works too.

Launch is heavily-regulated around the world. Launch is heavily-subsidized around the world. Not a free market. This is space policy 101.

Today. We have different visions about how things SHOULD be in the future.

We might be veering more than we should (it was driven by that reference, to be sure) so I'll stop for now.

Can we stop acting like Russia does not exist?  Russia sells Arianespace the Soyuz rocket to be launched from Arianespace launch sites.   Russia also sells rocket engines to ULA.  They have assisted South Korea with their rocket technology.  Everything you guys are arguing about has been done. 

Yes of course rocket technology is a technology that can be weaponized, but that only means that the market is restricted to our allies and friendly nations.  Our private companies sell weapons to other nations all of the time.    There is no reason to believe that companies like SpaceX will not be able to sell reusable rockets to allies especially ones that already have ballistic missile technology. 

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: NASA FY 2018 Budget Request
« Reply #99 on: 04/04/2017 06:21 PM »

Can we stop acting like Russia does not exist?  Russia sells Arianespace the Soyuz rocket to be launched from Arianespace launch sites.   Russia also sells rocket engines to ULA.  They have assisted South Korea with their rocket technology.  Everything you guys are arguing about has been done. 

Yes of course rocket technology is a technology that can be weaponized, but that only means that the market is restricted to our allies and friendly nations.  Our private companies sell weapons to other nations all of the time.    There is no reason to believe that companies like SpaceX will not be able to sell reusable rockets to allies especially ones that already have ballistic missile technology. 

I don't think that's the fundamental issue here.  Sure we can export vehicles.  The real issue can be broken down into effectively 2 questions

1)  Is it technically feasible to have drastic reductions in the price to space and various destinations, but dramatically increase the tempo?  For example - can we develop a system to put a human into earth orbit, whose ticket price per customer is roughly $1 million, and can fly it every day?  Obviously you can change the destination, or the price points, or the number of people, but it does boil down to the first question

2)  Is there a justification for developing such a system?  It can be economic justification (some sort of new market, or better market), or a political justification (allows us to explore space, provides much more robust military space activity), but just because you can do something, doesn't mean you will.  You must have a good reason to do so. 

this is somewhat off topic, so I'll leave it here.  But this goes back to fundamental justifications. 
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

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