Author Topic: American Leadership in Space Technology and Advanced Rocketry Act  (Read 10093 times)

Offline AncientU

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Politicians trying to get out in front and 'lead':
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The “American Leadership in Space Technology and Advanced Rocketry Act” would designate NASA MSFC as providing “rocket propulsion leadership” for the US. The “Commercial Space Support Vehicle Act” covers licensing of vehicles that support comm’l launches. http://bit.ly/2ICVLGj
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/975897395794935808

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The legislation designates Marshall Space Flight Center as NASA’s lead center for rocket propulsion and establishes it as essential to sustaining and promoting U.S. leadership in rocket propulsion and developing the next generation of rocket propulsion capabilities.

And it's not April 1st yet.

« Last Edit: 03/20/2018 09:56 am by AncientU »
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Offline woods170

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Politicians trying to get out in front and 'lead':
Quote
The “American Leadership in Space Technology and Advanced Rocketry Act” would designate NASA MSFC as providing “rocket propulsion leadership” for the US. The “Commercial Space Support Vehicle Act” covers licensing of vehicles that support comm’l launches. http://bit.ly/2ICVLGj
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/975897395794935808

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The legislation designates Marshall Space Flight Center as NASA’s lead center for rocket propulsion and establishes it as essential to sustaining and promoting U.S. leadership in rocket propulsion and developing the next generation of rocket propulsion capabilities.

And it's not April 1st yet.



Indeed. What a bad joke this is. Alabama rocket maffia at its worst.
Just another provision to keep the gravy train rolling towards Alabama. Sheez...

Offline Proponent

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I seem to recall something like this circa 2010.  Wasn't there a National Institute for Launch Vehicle Technology or something like that created at MSFC already?

Offline AncientU

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Ars weighs in:
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Alabama lawmaker seems desperate to keep rocket tech in his home state
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Now, however, US rockets and engines are much more commonly developed outside of northern Alabama, where the NASA center is located in Huntsville. SpaceX has designed and built its Merlin rocket engines in California, and it is doing the same thing with its more powerful Raptor engines. Blue Origin has designed four engines in the state of Washington. Both companies have tested their rocket engines in Texas.
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The reality is that most new rocket engine design in the United States is being done largely by private companies at their own expense.
https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/03/alabama-lawmaker-seems-desperate-to-keep-rocket-tech-in-his-home-state/

Wouldn't be so bad if MSFC actually was able to build an advanced rocket... they are scarcely able to build a 1970s technology one.
« Last Edit: 03/20/2018 01:42 pm by AncientU »
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Offline incoming

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I seem to recall something like this circa 2010.  Wasn't there a National Institute for Launch Vehicle Technology or something like that created at MSFC already?

I think what you were referring to is this:  https://nirps.msfc.nasa.gov/frontpage

The subject legislation aside, to me NIRPS doesn't actually seem like that bad of an idea. With various programs at both DoD and NASA all making different investments in rocket propulsion technology, the idea was to have some sort forum for gov't and industry stakeholders to collaborate and strategize. One specific example I recall was possible synergy between NASA looking at liquid propulsion for the SLS Advanced Boosters and the AF wanting a domestic replacement for RD-180s. You had Rocketdyne developing a kerolox engine, Blue Origin quietly working on Methalox, SpaceX with a foot in both, and ATK focusing on next generation large solids. That conversation has since evolved quite a bit but at the time it would have made a lot of sense for NASA and the AF to talk about who was doing what. More conversations and collaboration with industry may have led to a more productive investment strategy on the part of NASA and the DoD.

Offline dlapine

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Is there some reason why the real-world advanced propulsion work (NTR, advanced ion, etc) wouldn't be done at JPL? If so, why wouldn't we let them coordinate efforts...

Offline Chris Bergin

Let's try and debate items with interesting posts. Sick and tired of the snark-a-thon from AncientU.

Offline Proponent

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I seem to recall something like this circa 2010.  Wasn't there a National Institute for Launch Vehicle Technology or something like that created at MSFC already?

I think what you were referring to is this:  https://nirps.msfc.nasa.gov/frontpage

The subject legislation aside, to me NIRPS doesn't actually seem like that bad of an idea. With various programs at both DoD and NASA all making different investments in rocket propulsion technology, the idea was to have some sort forum for gov't and industry stakeholders to collaborate and strategize. One specific example I recall was possible synergy between NASA looking at liquid propulsion for the SLS Advanced Boosters and the AF wanting a domestic replacement for RD-180s. You had Rocketdyne developing a kerolox engine, Blue Origin quietly working on Methalox, SpaceX with a foot in both, and ATK focusing on next generation large solids. That conversation has since evolved quite a bit but at the time it would have made a lot of sense for NASA and the AF to talk about who was doing what. More conversations and collaboration with industry may have led to a more productive investment strategy on the part of NASA and the DoD.

I do think the idea of the government researching advanced technology is fundamentally sound.  Establishing institutions for very specific purposes can be a bad idea, though, as the institution is likely to outlive the usefulness of the concept on which it was founded.  Rocket propulsion may be sufficiently broad a topic that that's not too big a risk.  In the case of NIRPS, though, I see that it lists no publications since 2014, and its most recent annual report is for 2012.  Looks like it's not doing anything productive; I wonder whether it's still being funded.
« Last Edit: 03/21/2018 07:54 pm by Proponent »

Offline GreenShrike

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Is there anything really to debate? I think the American government is really too late to take the lead in developing liquid propulsion systems. Are there any advanced liquid techs on the horizon requiring development?

ORSC is being done commercially -- three implementations use it, though I'm guessing only two will fly.

FFSC? SpaceX is making the Raptor with a seeming ease that makes me wonder if gas-gas engines aren't as complicated as previously believed, and that the BE-4 will be the last pure ORSC engine designed from scratch.

Electro-pumped engines are new, but the entire point of electric pumps is that they're a simplifying technology that saves from having to develop and build small turbines and turbopumps. While Rutherford is the first and thus unlikely to be the last word in the tech, Rocket Labs went a step further than a base implementation by developing ejectable battery packs, going some way to mitigating the design's main disadvantage.

Perhaps MSFC could sponsor further development of the tech into a thruster as reliable as a pressure-fed hypergolic, but this, to me, isn't grand enough to qualify as "leading the way".

There's also 3D printing. While relatively new, multiple companies have jumped on the bandwagon -- is there anyone *not* using it to build an engine? Again, it's a simplifying technology, making things easier and cheaper to produce, and isn't really an area needing MSFC to jump in with both feet to make better.

What's left? TAN seems quite drool worthy, but obviously isn't worth whatever AJR wants for the patent, so I'm not expecting production designs until the patent timer runs out. SNC/Orbitec's extra-swirly vortex tech?  Laser ignition? Super alloys for higher temperature and/or pressure seems more like materials development than rocket engine development.

I suppose there's the possibility of an F1-class FFSC engine, but would it be much different than a scaled-up Raptor? And, if produced, would it do more than keep the J2X company on a shelf?

Are there any other grand, new techs -- perhaps only whispered about in research papers -- that needs the weight of government behind them to see the light of day?

Because from my lowly layman's perspective, physics is physics, money is money and talent is talent, and the government holds a monopoly on none of them -- as increasingly shown in aerospace. Goverments should only go where business fears to tread, and today space is just another business opportunity.
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Offline yg1968

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« Last Edit: 03/23/2018 07:36 pm by yg1968 »

Offline DistantTemple

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Here is an update:
http://spacenews.com/house-committee-advances-two-space-bills/
This is called the ALSTAR ACT
I hope this reply and my tags make this searchable on NSF
A recent article:
https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/03/alabama-lawmaker-seems-desperate-to-keep-rocket-tech-in-his-home-state/
Quote from: Eric Burger(Ars Technica)
Among other things, the new legislation designates Marshall Space Flight Center as "NASA’s lead center for rocket propulsion and establishes it as essential to sustaining and promoting US leadership in rocket propulsion and developing the next generation of rocket propulsion capabilities."

AIUI (I am not American and don't know how US legislation works) this piece of "law" will be of no real consequence, as if passed it only states a "desire".

Edit: Colour added
« Last Edit: 04/23/2018 01:01 am by DistantTemple »
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Offline docmordrid

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More a flag Mo Brook's campaign  can wave before the November elections.
« Last Edit: 04/23/2018 03:27 am by docmordrid »
DM

Offline Coastal Ron

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I do think the idea of the government researching advanced technology is fundamentally sound.  Establishing institutions for very specific purposes can be a bad idea, though, as the institution is likely to outlive the usefulness of the concept on which it was founded.  Rocket propulsion may be sufficiently broad a topic that that's not too big a risk.  In the case of NIRPS, though, I see that it lists no publications since 2014, and its most recent annual report is for 2012.  Looks like it's not doing anything productive; I wonder whether it's still being funded.

The U.S. Government funding research is a great use of taxpayer money.

The U.S. Government helping industry with development, especially small companies, is a great use of taxpayer money.

The U.S. Government building things they think industry should use is a BAD use of taxpayer money.

I've been advocating that NASA should, to some degree, revert to being more NACA-like, in which case having the U.S. Government retain assets like MSFC would make sense if they are focused on helping the U.S. aerospace sector.

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 AncientU

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Cross-posted:
...
Re: ALSTAR Act -
...
The best rocket engines are not built in Russia or at any NASA Center. They are built in Hawthorne, California.
Congress can abudicate, obviscate, ocilate and stamafate all it wants to and SpaceX can just go about the business of space on its own terms, ...

"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Offline john smith 19

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The U.S. Government funding research is a great use of taxpayer money.

The U.S. Government helping industry with development, especially small companies, is a great use of taxpayer money.

The U.S. Government building things they think industry should use is a BAD use of taxpayer money.

I've been advocating that NASA should, to some degree, revert to being more NACA-like, in which case having the U.S. Government retain assets like MSFC would make sense if they are focused on helping the U.S. aerospace sector.

My $0.02
Isn't that basically what this act does?
 or it could have been called the "Mo money for 'Bama" act, which is essentially what it is.  :(
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Offline spacetraveler

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If MSFC was truly the leader in rocket propulsion work in the country, then this fact should be self evident by what they have produced, it should not need to be declared as such in a law.

Offline Coastal Ron

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The U.S. Government funding research is a great use of taxpayer money.

The U.S. Government helping industry with development, especially small companies, is a great use of taxpayer money.

The U.S. Government building things they think industry should use is a BAD use of taxpayer money.

I've been advocating that NASA should, to some degree, revert to being more NACA-like, in which case having the U.S. Government retain assets like MSFC would make sense if they are focused on helping the U.S. aerospace sector.
Isn't that basically what this act does?
 or it could have been called the "Mo money for 'Bama" act, which is essentially what it is.  :(

Without restructuring NASA to be more NACA-like, which means giving up building their own hardware, then no.

In fact I would not be surprised if Congress OK's NASA to use MSFC to do some new engine development - which would be 100% disconnected from any future private sector needs.
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 PhotoEngineer

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As someone who has seen many of today's rockets which are in development up close, and also spent a lot of time at MSFC, they are definitely holding their own in the advanced tech dept.  A lot of the things they work on get percolated out to industry - and perhaps the first time you hear about them is in a SpaceX press release.  Being able to try new ideas without worrying about return on investment is incredibly freeing, and the industry needs that to keep pushing forward (in combination with a strong commercial sector).

Just my 2 cents.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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As someone who has seen many of today's rockets which are in development up close, and also spent a lot of time at MSFC, they are definitely holding their own in the advanced tech dept.  A lot of the things they work on get percolated out to industry - and perhaps the first time you hear about them is in a SpaceX press release.  Being able to try new ideas without worrying about return on investment is incredibly freeing, and the industry needs that to keep pushing forward (in combination with a strong commercial sector).

Just my 2 cents.

Can you give some examples?

Offline butters

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These are called "messaging bills." It's not about policy, it's about the midterms.

Offline Rocket Science

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Remember when the Obama administration wanted NASA to become (revert back to) a renewed cutting edge R&D role in rocket propulsion and those same congressional folks pooh poohed all over it... I find it hard to suppress my laughter sometimes if it wasn't so sad...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline woods170

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Remember when the Obama administration wanted NASA to become (revert back to) a renewed cutting edge R&D role in rocket propulsion and those same congressional folks pooh poohed all over it... I find it hard to suppress my laughter sometimes if it wasn't so sad...

The Obama administration recognized that it made no sense for NASA to be in the rocket building business. Unfortunately, the folks in US Congress lacked that insight. That has led directly to the mess called SLS & Orion.
« Last Edit: 04/24/2018 06:45 am by woods170 »

Offline Rocket Science

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Remember when the Obama administration wanted NASA to become (revert back to) a renewed cutting edge R&D role in rocket propulsion and those same congressional folks pooh poohed all over it... I find it hard to suppress my laughter sometimes if it wasn't so sad...

The Obama administration recognized that it made no sense for NASA to be in the rocket building business. Unfortunately, the folks in US Congress lacked that insight. That has led directly to the mess called SLS & Orion.
Agreed, focus on commercial for the immediate needs of LEO and the servicing of ISS. For HSF into deep space the plan was for a 5 year study into new technology R&D, example: to reduce travel to Mars and exposure to radiation... Makes me wonder where the agency would be now and tech developed without congressional redirection backwards..
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Offline PhotoEngineer

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As someone who has seen many of today's rockets which are in development up close, and also spent a lot of time at MSFC, they are definitely holding their own in the advanced tech dept.  A lot of the things they work on get percolated out to industry - and perhaps the first time you hear about them is in a SpaceX press release.  Being able to try new ideas without worrying about return on investment is incredibly freeing, and the industry needs that to keep pushing forward (in combination with a strong commercial sector).

Just my 2 cents.

Can you give some examples?

The work being done to improve GRCop AM for example. A lot of the work for alloy development was done at Glenn and then the build / hot fire testing at MSFC.  This work led directly to the RL10 copper chamber, notice the press release never mentioned the foundation of NASA work that helped out. http://www.rocket.com/article/aerojet-rocketdyne-achieves-3-d-printing-milestone-successful-testing-full-scale-rl10-copper


Offline ChrisWilson68

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As someone who has seen many of today's rockets which are in development up close, and also spent a lot of time at MSFC, they are definitely holding their own in the advanced tech dept.  A lot of the things they work on get percolated out to industry - and perhaps the first time you hear about them is in a SpaceX press release.  Being able to try new ideas without worrying about return on investment is incredibly freeing, and the industry needs that to keep pushing forward (in combination with a strong commercial sector).

Just my 2 cents.

Can you give some examples?

The work being done to improve GRCop AM for example. A lot of the work for alloy development was done at Glenn and then the build / hot fire testing at MSFC.  This work led directly to the RL10 copper chamber, notice the press release never mentioned the foundation of NASA work that helped out. http://www.rocket.com/article/aerojet-rocketdyne-achieves-3-d-printing-milestone-successful-testing-full-scale-rl10-copper

Thanks.  Of course, in your original comment you said a SpaceX press release, but this is an Aerojet-Rocketdyne press release.  I wonder if the kind of work MSFC does these days is more relevant to AR than to SpaceX.

Of course, SpaceX is based on a foundation of basic research done by NASA and many other organizations.  I'm just wondering how relevant what MSFC does today is to what SpaceX does today.  My sense is that they've diverged and that they are following very different paths at this point, for the most part.

Offline PhotoEngineer

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As someone who has seen many of today's rockets which are in development up close, and also spent a lot of time at MSFC, they are definitely holding their own in the advanced tech dept.  A lot of the things they work on get percolated out to industry - and perhaps the first time you hear about them is in a SpaceX press release.  Being able to try new ideas without worrying about return on investment is incredibly freeing, and the industry needs that to keep pushing forward (in combination with a strong commercial sector).

Just my 2 cents.

Can you give some examples?

The work being done to improve GRCop AM for example. A lot of the work for alloy development was done at Glenn and then the build / hot fire testing at MSFC.  This work led directly to the RL10 copper chamber, notice the press release never mentioned the foundation of NASA work that helped out. http://www.rocket.com/article/aerojet-rocketdyne-achieves-3-d-printing-milestone-successful-testing-full-scale-rl10-copper

Thanks.  Of course, in your original comment you said a SpaceX press release, but this is an Aerojet-Rocketdyne press release.  I wonder if the kind of work MSFC does these days is more relevant to AR than to SpaceX.

Of course, SpaceX is based on a foundation of basic research done by NASA and many other organizations.  I'm just wondering how relevant what MSFC does today is to what SpaceX does today.  My sense is that they've diverged and that they are following very different paths at this point, for the most part.

I was talking this past week with an industry professional who was railing against SpaceX for not giving credit to those people who helped it out. So it's still very applicable.

An example for SpaceX is the Merlin engines, the first generation of them was basically the NASA Fastrac engine developed by MSFC. It definitely helps your R&D if your baseline is an engine that has already been successfully tested.
« Last Edit: 04/28/2018 10:11 pm by PhotoEngineer »

Offline Coastal Ron

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I was talking this past week with an industry professional who was railing against SpaceX for not giving credit to those people who helped it out. So it's still very applicable.

Elon Musk and Gwynne Shotwell thank NASA all the time, and have for years. Most times you hear them praising NASA when they are at a pre/post-launch event. I'd say they are very honest about what they have received.

Quote
An example for SpaceX is the Merlin engines, the first generation of them was basically the NASA Fastrac engine developed by MSFC. It definitely helps your R&D if your baseline is an engine that has already been successfully tested.

I think everyone knows this in the space community, and since SpaceX has been using the Merlin engine for launches since 2010, how often does SpaceX have to remind everyone about this? SpaceX has matured Merlin quite a bit since the -1A that was based on FASTRAC, and FASTRAC itself was an outgrowth of the Apollo LEM Descent Propulsion System. What is the acknowledgement requirement here? What makes sense?

Just like everyone knows about PICA-X being developed based on what NASA Ames Research Center developed in the 1990's. But NASA has also talked about how innovative SpaceX has been in improving PICA.

So SpaceX does talk about where they have received great technologies to use as starting points, but would you say that NASA does an equal job of talking about how much SpaceX has improved upon those technologies? And created new ones like 1st stage reusability? I think NASA does acknowledge the progress of SpaceX, but I wonder if that industry professional would feel the same way?
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 woods170

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An example for SpaceX is the Merlin engines, the first generation of them was basically the NASA Fastrac engine developed by MSFC. It definitely helps your R&D if your baseline is an engine that has already been successfully tested.

That is cutting corners big time.

SpaceX took the FASTRAC design as a starting point for Merlin 1A. However, FASTRAC had a few shortcomings. Tom Mueller and his team got rid of those and applied several dozen other improvements. The result was Merlin 1A, which was FASTRAC in cycle only. Just about everything else had been changed, modified and improved.

Indeed, it helps when your R&D baseline is an existing engine. But stating that Merlin 1A was basically a FASTRAC copy is anything but correct.

Offline AncientU

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Is there any Marshall Advanced Rocketry legacy to the FFSC Raptor methalox engine, or the additive manufacturing technology that is being used to make them (and Merlins, SuperDracos) so efficiently?  How about thrust-to-weight ratios over 200?  (Fastrac was 30... 2klbs, 60klb thrust.)  Repeated starts/flights without refurbishment, repeated air starts of kerlox and methalox engines, supersonic retro-propulsion, etc. ...?

Maybe it would be easier for someone in the know to just list all of the MSFC Advanced Rocketry achievements -- say in the last ten years -- so we'll all know why this 'honor.'  A link to a current summary? MSFC web pages only talk about SLS as ongoing, Saturn V in the beginning.
« Last Edit: 04/29/2018 08:36 pm by AncientU »
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Offline PhotoEngineer

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Now we have a discussion!  ;)

SpaceX is doing amazing work, I love it and love seeing where they are pushing the limits of technology.

Remember the original question was how do places like NASA MSFC add value to companies like SpaceX, so very glad to see a lot of people aware of some of the contributions. 

Regarding NASA talking about SpaceX iterating and improving on the base technology, aside from their spinoff reports I have never seen NASA talk about improvements another company made - doing so seems like a good way to get into legal trouble.

Regarding MSFC work into rockets without refurb, yes definitely.  Air starts and supersonic retro propulsion definitely benefited from NASA groundwork - involving a number of the centers (Glenn, Ames, Armstrong, etc).  Lot's of papers around on this subject.

If you want to see all the nitty gritty details of the exciting work being done, come to the JANNAF/AIAA conferences if you can!
« Last Edit: 04/29/2018 10:03 pm by PhotoEngineer »

Offline Coastal Ron

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Remember the original question was how do places like NASA MSFC add value to companies like SpaceX, so very glad to see a lot of people aware of some of the contributions.

Two ways:

1. Doing what they are already doing, which is also part of their original charter - making NASA personnel and facilities available when required.

2. Having a detailed and constantly updated understanding of what the private sector needs are.

NASA has been doing #1, but I would be surprised if they are doing #2. And unless they are getting out and understanding what the industry would want from NASA, NASA will have no idea how to be of help in the future. They can only be reactive, not proactive.

Quote
Regarding NASA talking about SpaceX iterating and improving on the base technology, aside from their spinoff reports I have never seen NASA talk about improvements another company made - doing so seems like a good way to get into legal trouble.

From my viewpoint in the public, everyone is thanking everyone quite publicly. SpaceX talks often about the help NASA has provided, and NASA talks often about what they are learning from industry partners like SpaceX - with NASA specifically talking about what SpaceX has done with PICA-X and retro-propulsion.

Which is why I don't understand when someone thinks not enough credit is being acknowledged.

Quote
Regarding MSFC work into rockets without refurb, yes definitely.  Air starts and supersonic retro propulsion definitely benefited from NASA groundwork - involving a number of the centers (Glenn, Ames, Armstrong, etc).  Lot's of papers around on this subject.

The challenge any R&D has is making sure it looks like it can be relevant in the future. And some of the R&D has to be focused on potential near-term uses, otherwise it's difficult to understand the ROI of the taxpayer spending.

Which is why #2 above is so important, because in order to understand what NASA SHOULD be working on, it needs to understand what is important for the future. And certainly part of that needs to come from industry, and hopefully some from academia too.

There is a tremendous shift going on in the aerospace sector, and I'm not sure the politicians that control NASA understand how to maximize on that for the benefit of America.

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 AncientU

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Problem with #2 above is that NASA Marshall is no longer in front of the industry... it is years behind and falling further back.  Cannot develop[ technology for the twentieth century that anyone will need in the twenty-first.

NASA not only needs to study and understand what the industry will need in the future, it has to have the chops to develop it.  Spending its time and money on the likes of SLS/Orion is a waste as far as furthering advanced rocketry.  Marshall should go look at BFR/BFS and decide what technology they can develop to get out ahead of that beast.


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Offline spacetraveler

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Marshall should go look at BFR/BFS and decide what technology they can develop to get out ahead of that beast.

Well, that's not really up to them. Like any NASA center, they simply carry out policy, they don't make it. SLS is the current work they've been directed to do.
« Last Edit: 05/01/2018 05:29 am by spacetraveler »

Offline john smith 19

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Now we have a discussion!  ;)

SpaceX is doing amazing work, I love it and love seeing where they are pushing the limits of technology.

Remember the original question was how do places like NASA MSFC add value to companies like SpaceX, so very glad to see a lot of people aware of some of the contributions. 
No. It was actually an observation of how parts of Congress want to mandate things and the OP's view that Marshall is not that relevant to modern US LV development, which is why this is in the "space policy"

Politicians trying to get out in front and 'lead':
Quote
The “American Leadership in Space Technology and Advanced Rocketry Act” would designate NASA MSFC as providing “rocket propulsion leadership” for the US. The “Commercial Space Support Vehicle Act” covers licensing of vehicles that support comm’l launches. http://bit.ly/2ICVLGj
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/975897395794935808

Quote
The legislation designates Marshall Space Flight Center as NASA’s lead center for rocket propulsion and establishes it as essential to sustaining and promoting U.S. leadership in rocket propulsion and developing the next generation of rocket propulsion capabilities.

And it's not April 1st yet.


Quote from: PhotoEngineer
Regarding NASA talking about SpaceX iterating and improving on the base technology, aside from their spinoff reports I have never seen NASA talk about improvements another company made - doing so seems like a good way to get into legal trouble.

Regarding MSFC work into rockets without refurb, yes definitely.  Air starts and supersonic retro propulsion definitely benefited from NASA groundwork - involving a number of the centers (Glenn, Ames, Armstrong, etc).  Lot's of papers around on this subject.

If you want to see all the nitty gritty details of the exciting work being done, come to the JANNAF/AIAA conferences if you can!
IIRC NASA was able to eliminate about $50m  from its retro propulsion study when SX just fired its engines in the upper atmosphere as part of its attempts at booster fly back.

NASA is 11 centers many of which do great work.  Glenn especially for alloys, Ames for TPS etc. They offer unique very large facilities that would be difficult to duplicate anywhere else. These are valuable resources available to the whole US aerospace (we sometimes forget NASA does aircraft as well).

But NASA is not allowed to control what centers it can shut down (by Act of Congress) something which AFAIK other Federal agencies (the other 21) are empowered to do.

So the question is what does Marshall do  that's so important to NASA and HSF?

Because if we're talking "competence" let's remember they accepted both Boeing and LM's proposals for SSME US without checking if that was in fact possible. let's also remember that due to the structural changes in the US rocket industry that most of both companies is now housed in ULA, which would have been the  logical place to go to get SLS built in the first place.

But you might say ."But these were thy guys who built Apollo."
Well, no their grandfathers were those guys.  North American Rockwell built Shuttle in California. These guys built the Ares 1-x. A dummy 2nd stage on a Shuttle SRB with a dummy 5th segment. It took them half a decade to do so and it was still unimpressive in terms of its ability to carry astronauts.

Or maybe we should consider the J-2X?  It was remarkably difficult to find much on the original J-2X (almost like someone had weeded the archive). A LH2/LO2 engine that didn't need cool down or a gas generator and was "full flow" at reasonable chamber pressures? That accepted 2 phase flow? That (right at the end of the programme) cracked how to eliminate the cartridge starts, opening the way for unlimited on orbit restarts. That was ground breaking. 

And what  of the modern J-2X. Basically a Delta engine (allegedly impossible to human rate)  with RL10 nozzle extensions "magically" human rated by the addition of the LH2 turbo pump from a J2?

Engineering competence starts by choosing a good simple design. Segmented SRB's sort of promise this, but segmented SRB's had already killed 6 US astronauts. That should have given competent engineers very serious pause for thought about such an architecture. Perhaps seeing if there was a way to shut down the engine now it's a single stick? apparently not.  :(

So what does Marshall do that's so unique and how competent is it?
« Last Edit: 05/02/2018 07:20 am by john smith 19 »
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline john smith 19

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SpaceX took the FASTRAC design as a starting point for Merlin 1A. However, FASTRAC had a few shortcomings. Tom Mueller and his team got rid of those and applied several dozen other improvements. The result was Merlin 1A, which was FASTRAC in cycle only. Just about everything else had been changed, modified and improved.
On that basis the Merlin is a "development" of the F1 on the Saturn.  :(

It is actually very hard to find (or do) a truly new development in the rocket engineering field that hasn't been tried at some time or other.
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline woods170

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SpaceX took the FASTRAC design as a starting point for Merlin 1A. However, FASTRAC had a few shortcomings. Tom Mueller and his team got rid of those and applied several dozen other improvements. The result was Merlin 1A, which was FASTRAC in cycle only. Just about everything else had been changed, modified and improved.

On that basis the Merlin is a "development" of the F1 on the Saturn.  :(

Yes, in that Merlin 1A uses a gas-generator cycle, like F1.
No, in that Merlin 1A has several design features that very much set it apart from F1. For example: pintle injector.
It is also this that sets Merlin 1A apart from FASTRAC. Merlin 1A uses the same design-choices as FASTRAC, but not the same design.

Offline AncientU

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SpaceX took the FASTRAC design as a starting point for Merlin 1A. However, FASTRAC had a few shortcomings. Tom Mueller and his team got rid of those and applied several dozen other improvements. The result was Merlin 1A, which was FASTRAC in cycle only. Just about everything else had been changed, modified and improved.

On that basis the Merlin is a "development" of the F1 on the Saturn.  :(

Yes, in that Merlin 1A uses a gas-generator cycle, like F1.
No, in that Merlin 1A has several design features that very much set it apart from F1. For example: pintle injector.
It is also this that sets Merlin 1A apart from FASTRAC. Merlin 1A uses the same design-choices as FASTRAC, but not the same design.

Merlin 1A is ancient history. 
How about Merlin 1D technology -- mass, thrust, T/W ratio, cost, 3D fab parts, regen nozzle, face shutoff, ... -- how similar to FASTRAC is that?  What has MSFC done with FASTRAC since 2000?
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline Jim

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As someone who has seen many of today's rockets which are in development up close, and also spent a lot of time at MSFC, they are definitely holding their own in the advanced tech dept.  A lot of the things they work on get percolated out to industry - and perhaps the first time you hear about them is in a SpaceX press release.  Being able to try new ideas without worrying about return on investment is incredibly freeing, and the industry needs that to keep pushing forward (in combination with a strong commercial sector).

Just my 2 cents.


Not really.   Most of MSFC is not research but bodies supporting SLS.

Offline woods170

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SpaceX took the FASTRAC design as a starting point for Merlin 1A. However, FASTRAC had a few shortcomings. Tom Mueller and his team got rid of those and applied several dozen other improvements. The result was Merlin 1A, which was FASTRAC in cycle only. Just about everything else had been changed, modified and improved.

On that basis the Merlin is a "development" of the F1 on the Saturn.  :(

Yes, in that Merlin 1A uses a gas-generator cycle, like F1.
No, in that Merlin 1A has several design features that very much set it apart from F1. For example: pintle injector.
It is also this that sets Merlin 1A apart from FASTRAC. Merlin 1A uses the same design-choices as FASTRAC, but not the same design.

Merlin 1A is ancient history. 
How about Merlin 1D technology -- mass, thrust, T/W ratio, cost, 3D fab parts, regen nozzle, face shutoff, ... -- how similar to FASTRAC is that?  What has MSFC done with FASTRAC since 2000?

How similar you ask? That's easy. Cycle only. In almost every other aspect it is a completely different beast.

As to what MSFC has done with FASTRAC since 2000? The answer is: nothing. There were no takers for it. Not even SpaceX because Tom et al. decided to do an independent development (Merlin 1A). Fastrac has been mothballed indefinitely.

Two of the engine bells developed for FASTRAC ended up as a table bases at MSFC:
https://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/about/star/star140820.html#fastrac
« Last Edit: 05/01/2018 05:47 pm by woods170 »

Offline john smith 19

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As someone who has seen many of today's rockets which are in development up close, and also spent a lot of time at MSFC, they are definitely holding their own in the advanced tech dept.  A lot of the things they work on get percolated out to industry - and perhaps the first time you hear about them is in a SpaceX press release.  Being able to try new ideas without worrying about return on investment is incredibly freeing, and the industry needs that to keep pushing forward (in combination with a strong commercial sector).

Just my 2 cents.


Not really.   Most of MSFC is not research but bodies supporting SLS.
Which does beg the question "If SLS went away what would there be left for those people to do?"
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline woods170

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As someone who has seen many of today's rockets which are in development up close, and also spent a lot of time at MSFC, they are definitely holding their own in the advanced tech dept.  A lot of the things they work on get percolated out to industry - and perhaps the first time you hear about them is in a SpaceX press release.  Being able to try new ideas without worrying about return on investment is incredibly freeing, and the industry needs that to keep pushing forward (in combination with a strong commercial sector).

Just my 2 cents.


Not really.   Most of MSFC is not research but bodies supporting SLS.
Which does beg the question "If SLS went away what would there be left for those people to do?"

Not a whole lot. And that is exactly the reason why the "Alabama space (sorry, need to stop here for a second and just say that I have to use stupid words to get my point across. I know that means I must have a weak argument, but that's why I use bad words)." (aka senator Shelby et al.) will make sure that NASA is always having a major program under development that requires the services of MSFC.
« Last Edit: 05/02/2018 10:06 am by woods170 »

Offline Proponent

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Which does beg the question "If SLS went away what would there be left for those people to do?"

Not a whole lot. And that is exactly the reason why the "Alabama space (sorry, need to stop here for a second and just say that I have to use stupid words to get my point across. I know that means I must have a weak argument, but that's why I use bad words)." (aka senator Shelby et al.) will make sure that NASA is always having a major program under development that requires the services of MSFC.

And that might not be such a bad thing if MSFC could do something other than develop launch vehicles.  Space power?  Propellant-depot technology?

Offline woods170

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Which does beg the question "If SLS went away what would there be left for those people to do?"

Not a whole lot. And that is exactly the reason why the "Alabama space (sorry, need to stop here for a second and just say that I have to use stupid words to get my point across. I know that means I must have a weak argument, but that's why I use bad words)." (aka senator Shelby et al.) will make sure that NASA is always having a major program under development that requires the services of MSFC.

And that might not be such a bad thing if MSFC could do something other than develop launch vehicles.  Space power?  Propellant-depot technology?

The leading US entity on space power is a NASA center, but it is not MSFC. MSFC plays second fiddle to NASA Glenn in this development.
The leading US entity on propellant-depot technology is not actually a NASA center but a company from Centennial, Colorado.
Much like the leading US entities on chemical rocket engines is not actually a NASA center but two private companies.

NASA in general, and MSFC in particular, have lost their leading role on several aspects of (manned) spaceflight.

The recent attempt by some politician to assign MSFC the official role of "leader in propulsion technology" (the very subject of this thread) didn't just drop out of thin air. Even at the Hill people recognize that MSFC can't stay alive on SLS-work only. Something will have to change, or MSFC becomes insignificant. The usual way to solve this, Washington-style, is to give it another big pork-barrel program.
« Last Edit: 05/03/2018 09:44 am by woods170 »

Which does beg the question "If SLS went away what would there be left for those people to do?"

Not a whole lot. And that is exactly the reason why the "Alabama space (sorry, need to stop here for a second and just say that I have to use stupid words to get my point across. I know that means I must have a weak argument, but that's why I use bad words)." (aka senator Shelby et al.) will make sure that NASA is always having a major program under development that requires the services of MSFC.

And that might not be such a bad thing if MSFC could do something other than develop launch vehicles.  Space power?  Propellant-depot technology?

I've asked this to some NASA engineers on r/NASA working on the SLS, including an avionics engineer, and the answer I got is that canceling NASA's LV development wouldn't pose a threat to the agency's workforce, and that they could be easily moved to other projects.
One of them also said that even the expertise at the cape could easily find its place in a future of complete commercial utilization of KSC and help support hypothetical new private/public partnerships.
 
The problem apparently lies in the contractors.
« Last Edit: 05/03/2018 10:22 am by AbuSimbel »
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Offline woods170

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Which does beg the question "If SLS went away what would there be left for those people to do?"

Not a whole lot. And that is exactly the reason why the "Alabama space (sorry, need to stop here for a second and just say that I have to use stupid words to get my point across. I know that means I must have a weak argument, but that's why I use bad words)." (aka senator Shelby et al.) will make sure that NASA is always having a major program under development that requires the services of MSFC.

And that might not be such a bad thing if MSFC could do something other than develop launch vehicles.  Space power?  Propellant-depot technology?

I've asked this to some NASA engineers on r/NASA working on the SLS, including an avionics engineer, and the answer I got is that canceling NASA's LV development wouldn't pose a threat to the agency's workforce, and that they could be easily moved to other projects.
Yes, because certain politician will make sure that those "other projects" come into existence if and when SLS gets cancelled. We all witnessed it happen when CxP got canned. SLS is a prime example of such "other projects".


One of them also said that even the expertise at the cape could easily find its place in a future of complete commercial utilization of KSC and help support hypothetical new private/public partnerships.
 
The problem apparently lies in the contractors.
IMO its a little more subtle than that.
Tell me: how much NASA personnel is involved in launching F9s and FHs? Or how much NASA personnel is involved in what Blue is doing at KSC and the Cape? How much NASA personnel is involved in getting Atlas V and Delta IV off the ground?

The answer is: not a whole lot. Very few actually.
Full commercial utilization of KSC means: no NASA around. The only way the NASA expertise would find its place in such a situation is when NASA personnel leaves NASA and takes a job at ULA, SpaceX, Blue Origin etc.
Which is exactly what is happening right now btw.

One of them also said that even the expertise at the cape could easily find its place in a future of complete commercial utilization of KSC and help support hypothetical new private/public partnerships.
 
The problem apparently lies in the contractors.
IMO its a little more subtle than that.
Tell me: how much NASA personnel is involved in launching F9s and FHs? Or how much NASA personnel is involved in what Blue is doing at KSC and the Cape? How much NASA personnel is involved in getting Atlas V and Delta IV off the ground?

The answer is: not a whole lot. Very few actually.
Full commercial utilization of KSC means: no NASA around. The only way the NASA expertise would find its place in such a situation is when NASA personnel leaves NASA and takes a job at ULA, SpaceX, Blue Origin etc.
Which is exactly what is happening right now btw.

I too would expect a lot of shifting towards commercial companies in a future without NASA LV.
I'm not an expert however on how the SLS workforce at the cape is divided between NASA employees and contractors.
I was just reporting what I've been told: he believed that the GSDO (EGS) team could play a role in supporting commercial operations. Is this out of question to you?
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Offline AncientU

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As someone who has seen many of today's rockets which are in development up close, and also spent a lot of time at MSFC, they are definitely holding their own in the advanced tech dept.  A lot of the things they work on get percolated out to industry - and perhaps the first time you hear about them is in a SpaceX press release.  Being able to try new ideas without worrying about return on investment is incredibly freeing, and the industry needs that to keep pushing forward (in combination with a strong commercial sector).

Just my 2 cents.


Not really.   Most of MSFC is not research but bodies supporting SLS.
Which does beg the question "If SLS went away what would there be left for those people to do?"

Not a whole lot. And that is exactly the reason why the "Alabama space (sorry, need to stop here for a second and just say that I have to use stupid words to get my point across. I know that means I must have a weak argument, but that's why I use bad words)." (aka senator Shelby et al.) will make sure that NASA is always having a major program under development that requires the services of MSFC.

The launch industry is a growth spurt not seen for decades.  These experts at MSFC should be easily able to sell their individual Advanced Rocketry expertise, or start their own launch companies and show everyone how to do it right.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Offline woods170

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One of them also said that even the expertise at the cape could easily find its place in a future of complete commercial utilization of KSC and help support hypothetical new private/public partnerships.
 
The problem apparently lies in the contractors.
IMO its a little more subtle than that.
Tell me: how much NASA personnel is involved in launching F9s and FHs? Or how much NASA personnel is involved in what Blue is doing at KSC and the Cape? How much NASA personnel is involved in getting Atlas V and Delta IV off the ground?

The answer is: not a whole lot. Very few actually.
Full commercial utilization of KSC means: no NASA around. The only way the NASA expertise would find its place in such a situation is when NASA personnel leaves NASA and takes a job at ULA, SpaceX, Blue Origin etc.
Which is exactly what is happening right now btw.

I too would expect a lot of shifting towards commercial companies in a future without NASA LV.
I'm not an expert however on how the SLS workforce at the cape is divided between NASA employees and contractors.
I was just reporting what I've been told: he believed that the GSDO (EGS) team could play a role in supporting commercial operations. Is this out of question to you?

Absolutely out of the question IMO. What you've been told sounds a lot like wishful thinking.
There are multiple commercial entities operating out of KSC and the Cape right now: ULA, SpaceX, Blue Origin. How many of them make use of the services of NASA's EGS?

The answer is: none.

Orbital ATK's OmegA might possibly become the first. But that's not enough to keep EGS going in-between SLS launches.

Another indicator: how much interest is there in using the (NASA-supported) LC-39C?
Answer: not a whole lot. This new pad, aimed at small-sat launchers, was completed in 2015. The first assignment of flights to this pad has yet to occur.

There isn't exactly a line-up of commercial companies wanting NASA EGS to support their launches. If anything the trend is for new commercial launch service providers to develop their own vehicles as well as their own launchpads:

- SpaceX took over CCAFS LC-40 and KSC LC-39A, and operates both pads by itself.
- Blue Origin took over CCAFS LC-36 and LC-11 and is modifying and operating the new pad by itself.
- Blue Origin is looking into building a new launchpad, at KSC, for its New Armstrong vehicle. Blue will operate that new pad by itself.
- Firefly has set its eye on VABF SLC-2W and will modify and operate that pad by itself.

Offline muomega0

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Which does beg the question "If SLS went away what would there be left for those people to do?"

Not a whole lot. And that is exactly the reason why the "Alabama space (sorry, need to stop here for a second and just say that I have to use stupid words to get my point across. I know that means I must have a weak argument, but that's why I use bad words)." (aka senator Shelby et al.) will make sure that NASA is always having a major program under development that requires the services of MSFC.

And that might not be such a bad thing if MSFC could do something other than develop launch vehicles.  Space power?  Propellant-depot technology?

The leading US entity on space power is a NASA center, but it is not MSFC. MSFC plays second fiddle to NASA Glenn in this development.
The leading US entity on propellant-depot technology is not actually a NASA center but a company from Centennial, Colorado.
Much like the leading US entities on chemical rocket engines is not actually a NASA center but two private companies.

NASA in general, and MSFC in particular, have lost their leading role on several aspects of (manned) spaceflight.

The recent attempt by some politician to assign MSFC the official role of "leader in propulsion technology" (the very subject of this thread) didn't just drop out of thin air. Even at the Hill people recognize that MSFC can't stay alive on SLS-work only. Something will have to change, or MSFC becomes insignificant. The usual way to solve this, Washington-style, is to give it another big pork-barrel program.
You would be incorrect in stating that the center of depot technology is in one location.

There are ~15 in space elements that require development beyond rockets, and their costs depends on reuse or common technology, and 'depots'.  Flight rate again is key.  Regardless, there is significant new work and challenges ahead for NASA to meets is objective of addressing the Space Grand Challenges.  Unfortunately, the moon distraction is designed to retain SLS/Orion under the *guise* of including 'commercial'.  Its the same strategy used to convert SLS from a crew to cargo only carrier.  The lunar path maximizes support to the base as well.

What many do not recognize is that Congress, about two decades ago until today, prevented NASA from developing many concepts directed toward the goal of VSE (common hardware and reuse), including a reuseable first stage. :o

Any rocket designs or incremental improvements should be directed toward 'economic access to space' or more broadly the Space Grand Challenges.   This is where depots shine--delivering dirt cheap propellant allows incremental improvements to certify changes while delivering something a value with little economic risk.  Unfortunately, lunar focus leaves out a substantial number of programs to employ the space community.

Its dismaying to think a robotic program to the moon addresses the Space Grand Challenges when it includes a huge number or different launchers.  IHMO, its a total 'flailing' and reflects a poorly thought national space strategy.  IOW:  with this approach, there is little left if one includes common elements.  its pathetic and still consumes the entire budget somehow.  If lunar could return $10Bs, then industry would just do it.

Huge reserves of water ice discovered on Mars could speed manned missions -- Its easy to envision numerous programs regardless of workforce elements.

Find asteroids to get to Mars   8)   

Offline woods170

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Which does beg the question "If SLS went away what would there be left for those people to do?"

Not a whole lot. And that is exactly the reason why the "Alabama space (sorry, need to stop here for a second and just say that I have to use stupid words to get my point across. I know that means I must have a weak argument, but that's why I use bad words)." (aka senator Shelby et al.) will make sure that NASA is always having a major program under development that requires the services of MSFC.

And that might not be such a bad thing if MSFC could do something other than develop launch vehicles.  Space power?  Propellant-depot technology?

The leading US entity on space power is a NASA center, but it is not MSFC. MSFC plays second fiddle to NASA Glenn in this development.
The leading US entity on propellant-depot technology is not actually a NASA center but a company from Centennial, Colorado.
Much like the leading US entities on chemical rocket engines is not actually a NASA center but two private companies.

NASA in general, and MSFC in particular, have lost their leading role on several aspects of (manned) spaceflight.

The recent attempt by some politician to assign MSFC the official role of "leader in propulsion technology" (the very subject of this thread) didn't just drop out of thin air. Even at the Hill people recognize that MSFC can't stay alive on SLS-work only. Something will have to change, or MSFC becomes insignificant. The usual way to solve this, Washington-style, is to give it another big pork-barrel program.
You would be incorrect in stating that the center of depot technology is in one location.

Kindly expand on your statement please.

Offline Jim

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I was just reporting what I've been told: he believed that the GSDO (EGS) team could play a role in supporting commercial operations. Is this out of question to you?

Not really. Commercial operations are already doing fine without EGS help.   Commercial operations get their help from Center Operations, LSP, and ISS payloads/Technology.
« Last Edit: 05/04/2018 02:17 pm by Jim »

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