Author Topic: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread  (Read 25088 times)

Offline Jim

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #120 on: 05/15/2018 06:37 PM »
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Civilian government space, not private space flight, nor the DoD,

Nor NOAA, FAA, or DOC

Online yg1968

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #121 on: 05/15/2018 06:40 PM »
The Obama Administration cancelled Constellation without Congress' prior approval. But it was difficult. In the end, only Ares I got cancelled and replaced with commercial crew.

Seems to me it was the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 that canceled Constellation.  That Act passed the Senate on a voice vote and, unusually, the House adopted the Senate's bill.

It wouldn't have been cancelled without the FY2011 Budget, so the Administration had a very important role in it.  Congress never would have cancelled it on their own.

Same thing with SLS and Orion, it will not be cancelled unless the Administration proposes to cancel it. But I don't expect that to happen. 
« Last Edit: 05/15/2018 06:48 PM by yg1968 »

Online yg1968

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #122 on: 05/15/2018 06:52 PM »
The Altair Lander was defunded quite early on :( I hope that at least some of that work ends up being used in a future Lander.

I was under the impression that almost no work had been done on Altair (or Ares V) at the time of cancellation.

Online yg1968

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #123 on: 05/15/2018 06:55 PM »
The Obama Administration cancelled Constellation without Congress' prior approval. But it was difficult. In the end, only Ares I got cancelled and replaced with commercial crew.

Seems to me it was the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 that canceled Constellation.  That Act passed the Senate on a voice vote and, unusually, the House adopted the Senate's bill.
That is correct. It wasn't the White House that cancelled CxP. The White House merely proposed it. But it was legislation from US Congress, more specifically the mentioned NASA Authorization Act of 2010, that terminated funding for CxP and was signed into law by the President.

Why did this happen? Because US Congress would have looked incredibly bad had it willingly ignored the harsh conclusions from the Augustine Committee. So, US Congress killed CxP to save face.
The gravy train however was fully resurrected less than two years later when two of the four major elements of CxP (Ares V and Orion) where brought back from the dead: SLS (Ares V in disguise) and MPCV (Orion in disguise).

SLS was meant to be Ares V in disguise and MPCV was meant to be Orion in disguise. The 2010 NASA Authorization was essentially Constellation lite. The only thing that got cancelled is Ares I (replaced by commercial crew). Work on Altair hadn't really started.

Online Coastal Ron

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #124 on: 05/15/2018 08:20 PM »

Remember the arguments about why Commercial Cargo was really "commercial"? The definition that I use for "commercial" is that the capability can be used for non-government customers.

And that would be the wrong definition.  "Commercial" is where industry designs, builds and owns the instruments to provide a service to the US govt.

Hence why I said "The definition that I use...", because there has been so much debate about what it means.

The definition you provided may be part of what "commercial" is, but even that leaves out government definition of the service like in the case of COTS. And the definition you provided sounds very close to normal government contracting, which does not always lead to the private sector marketing the same products or services beyond the initial government customer.

What the private sector will want to know is not only what Bridenstine interprets "commercial" to be, but what Congress interprets it to be too. We're talking about a lot of time and money the private sector is being expected to invest, but it's not at all clear what their ROI will be.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online yg1968

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #125 on: 05/15/2018 11:20 PM »
Gerst used essentially the same definition of commercial as Jim did. It's a fee for a service such as CRS and commercial crew. NASA doesn't own the hardware, the commercial company does. The potential for non-NASA customers is a bonus.
« Last Edit: 05/15/2018 11:24 PM by yg1968 »

Offline QuantumG

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #126 on: 05/15/2018 11:27 PM »
Gerst used essentially the same definition of commercial as Jim did. It's a fee for a service such as CRS and commercial crew. NASA doesn't own the hardware, the commercial company does. The potential for non-NASA customers is a bonus.

and before someone starts gerrymandering the definition here, ownership means control. If NASA could tell SpaceX that they can't upgrade the Falcon 9 and keep the CRS contract, we wouldn't be seeing the progress SpaceX has made today.
I hear those things are awfully loud. It glides as softly as a cloud. What's it called? Monowhale!

Offline AncientU

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #127 on: 05/16/2018 04:57 PM »
Gerst used essentially the same definition of commercial as Jim did. It's a fee for a service such as CRS and commercial crew. NASA doesn't own the hardware, the commercial company does. The potential for non-NASA customers is a bonus.

and before someone starts gerrymandering the definition here, ownership means control. If NASA could tell SpaceX that they can't upgrade the Falcon 9 and keep the CRS contract, we wouldn't be seeing the progress SpaceX has made today.

That is an insidious flavor of 'control' where the direction comes from the guys with money, but the financial responsibility (and risk) resides firmly with the 'commercial' entity.  Great way to get roasted on a fixed price contract.
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Offline Jim

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #128 on: 05/16/2018 05:24 PM »
That is an insidious flavor of 'control' where the direction comes from the guys with money, but the financial responsibility (and risk) resides firmly with the 'commercial' entity.  Great way to get roasted on a fixed price contract.

wrong.  If isn't in the contract or spelled out correctly, the 'commercial' entity is not bound to do anything.

Online Coastal Ron

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #129 on: 05/16/2018 09:36 PM »
Gerst used essentially the same definition of commercial as Jim did. It's a fee for a service such as CRS and commercial crew. NASA doesn't own the hardware, the commercial company does. The potential for non-NASA customers is a bonus.

and before someone starts gerrymandering the definition here, ownership means control. If NASA could tell SpaceX that they can't upgrade the Falcon 9 and keep the CRS contract, we wouldn't be seeing the progress SpaceX has made today.

OK, let's say that what Jim stated is what NASA uses as the definition for "commercial". But we all know that what is intended is not always what ends up happening, and that regardless of what NASA calls it the commercial sector may not find enough ROI to participate.

For instance, we all think "Commercial Cargo" is a good example of where NASA delineated a service need and then let the private sector determine how to satisfy it. But we also know that "Commercial Crew", even though the word "commercial" is in the title, that NASA has been much more hands-on with the designs of the crew vehicles. So even though NASA doesn't own the hardware, NASA was very involved in the design of the hardware.

Let's also talk business models, since for me the ultimate goal is to expand humanity out into space, so it's important that we find business models that allow that for the non-government effort.

For Commercial Cargo and Commercial Crew, the hope was that after NASA helped to create the cargo and crew transportation services, that non-NASA customers would eventually come forth to use the same services. Both SpaceX and Boeing have stated they made those assumptions, but from what we know no other customers have come forth.

So for this "commercial" lunar effort that Bridenstine and others want, what has the commercial sector learned about the likelihood that what they build for NASA's lunar needs can become a profit center without NASA? I think they have learned that it's not likely to happen, which means that the commercial sector is likely to treat any RFI's and RFQ's for LOP-G as strictly one-off efforts with no potential commercial business afterwards. In other words, unlike with Commercial Cargo & Crew, the private sector will be less likely to foot part of the bill for developing the lunar support services.

I raise this issue because we know the Trump administration is very "budget-minded", and everyone seems to be pinning their hopes on the private sector to make LOP-G affordable. I would not assume that.

Which is why I think that even though Bridenstine has high hopes, that they are not grounded in the realities he has been dealt.

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 clongton

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #130 on: 05/17/2018 11:14 AM »
For Commercial Cargo and Commercial Crew, the hope was that after NASA helped to create the cargo and crew transportation services, that non-NASA customers would eventually come forth to use the same services. Both SpaceX and Boeing have stated they made those assumptions, but from what we know no other customers have come forth.

So for this "commercial" lunar effort that Bridenstine and others want, what has the commercial sector learned about the likelihood that what they build for NASA's lunar needs can become a profit center without NASA? I think they have learned that it's not likely to happen ...

Emphasis mine. I don't think I agree with that Ron. I think they believe it could still happen but it is not likely to be near term. Commercial companies are used to looking for their ROI in a reasonable time period. What they have learned is not that it won't happen but that any ROI from USGov RFQ's are likely to be on a glacial time scale. What they'll do about that is adjust their expectations accordingly. They will still want any piece of the pie they can get and they will have to actually be in the game to get it.
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Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #131 on: 05/17/2018 06:53 PM »
Quote
I thoroughly enjoyed answering questions from @NASA employees during my first town hall. You can watch the full video at: youtu.be/YFqz7VBoZCE

https://twitter.com/jimbridenstine/status/997182739429421057?s=21


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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #132 on: 05/19/2018 05:47 PM »
Much of the press reporting of the town hall has focussed on Bridenstine’s remarks on climate change:

Quote
New NASA Chief Bridenstine Says Humans Contribute to Climate Change 'in a Major Way'
By Sarah Lewin, Space.com Associate Editor | May 19, 2018 07:24am ET

https://www.space.com/40640-nasa-chief-bridenstine-climate-change.html

FWIW I think he did a good job at the town hall. I think what he said was a truer reflection of what he believes now than some of his controversial political statements in the past.
« Last Edit: 05/22/2018 06:46 PM by FutureSpaceTourist »

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #133 on: 05/22/2018 02:35 PM »
For instance, we all think "Commercial Cargo" is a good example of where NASA delineated a service need and then let the private sector determine how to satisfy it. But we also know that "Commercial Crew", even though the word "commercial" is in the title, that NASA has been much more hands-on with the designs of the crew vehicles. So even though NASA doesn't own the hardware, NASA was very involved in the design of the hardware.

Let's also talk business models, since for me the ultimate goal is to expand humanity out into space, so it's important that we find business models that allow that for the non-government effort.

For Commercial Cargo and Commercial Crew, the hope was that after NASA helped to create the cargo and crew transportation services, that non-NASA customers would eventually come forth to use the same services. Both SpaceX and Boeing have stated they made those assumptions, but from what we know no other customers have come forth.

So for this "commercial" lunar effort that Bridenstine and others want, what has the commercial sector learned about the likelihood that what they build for NASA's lunar needs can become a profit center without NASA? I think they have learned that it's not likely to happen, which means that the commercial sector is likely to treat any RFI's and RFQ's for LOP-G as strictly one-off efforts with no potential commercial business afterwards. In other words, unlike with Commercial Cargo & Crew, the private sector will be less likely to foot part of the bill for developing the lunar support services.

I raise this issue because we know the Trump administration is very "budget-minded", and everyone seems to be pinning their hopes on the private sector to make LOP-G affordable. I would not assume that.

Which is why I think that even though Bridenstine has high hopes, that they are not grounded in the realities he has been dealt.

My $0.02

As it has plaid out....there really is nothing all that commercial about the commercial crew program, other than the fact that the government does not own the designs (I mean that in a literal sense - the companies retain the intellectual property) and the companies are free to sell their services to other customers. However, as Coastal Ron points out, they don't seem to have landed any other customers, which means that from a pure business perspective they will need to recoup their internal investments via contracts with the government. Since the pricing for commercial crew is essentially fixed, and seems to be turning out to be more expensive than they'd planned (as evidenced by the schedule slip if nothing else - we don't know how much internal reserve they were carrying but i doubt it was sufficient to cover 2 or 3 years of development schedule slippage), they'll look to recover that investment in other ways - perhaps via CRS 2 for SpaceX and Core Stage/EUS for Boeing (pure speculation on my part).

Bridenstine would be well served to take a very fresh, very hard, and very dispassionate look at the acquisition approaches for the commercial cargo program, commercial crew program, SLS, Orion, and even Launch Services Programs and separate the reality from the rhetoric. For years, proponents of the SLS/Orion approach claimed human space flight could only be done under cost-plus contracting. Despite it's lack of "commercial" success, the commercial crew program is (very close to) proving that assertion wrong. On the flip side, the same rhetoric we heard about the government being "one of many customers" for human space flight transportation is being used to tout "commercial" LEO habitats in lieu of a perfectly functional and capable ISS and even large commercial lunar landers....which, at least in the near term seems far fetched at best.

I hope Bridenstine doesn't let his previous affection for "new space" OR his commitment to "old space" stakeholders to protect the status quo keep him from applying the lessons learned so far from all of these efforts to some of the key human exploration acquisition decisions that are going to be made in the next couple of years. If he can separate the realities from the fiction, he could make or at least influence some very big decisions in a way that will benefit the space program for decades to come. If not...two steps forward and three steps back seems more likely.

Offline clongton

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #134 on: 05/22/2018 04:01 PM »
On the flip side, the same rhetoric we heard about the government being "one of many customers" for human space flight transportation is being used to tout "commercial" LEO habitats in lieu of a perfectly functional and capable ISS and even large commercial lunar landers....which, at least in the near term seems far fetched at best.

That is kinda like judging the cake 90 seconds after it was put into the oven and 30 minutes before scheduled removal. Then it needs to cool and then be frosted.

There are no commercial destinations yet and won't be until commercial crew has actually flown. It hasn't flown yet.
What DOES exist is NGOs and foreign governments that are interested in commercial crew transportation to commercial destinations - once such destinations are actually on orbit. But until commercial crew flies there is no business case for commercial destinations - only potential business cases.

One cannot judge the viability of a developing market while the market is just beginning to develop. In fact the cake is not even in the oven yet. You obviously do not want to wait - but you're just going to have to.
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Online yg1968

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #135 on: 05/22/2018 06:23 PM »
If there was a market for space tourists on Soyuz, you have to believe that a similar market exists for commercial crew. But right now, Boeing and SpaceX are rightly focused on meeting NASA's commercial crew needs first.

In the past, Gerst has mentioned the possibility of having space tourists on ISS but I suspect that there is some resistance to that idea in Congress. But the market for LEO needs to include space tourism as that is likely to be the biggest non-government customers in LEO.

Offline AncientU

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #136 on: 05/22/2018 06:41 PM »
SpaceX has said that there is surprisingly strong demand for 'tourist' flights... but Chuck is correct that crew certification for NASA must be completed before any commercial business can be established.  The end date for the certification is sliding to the right, so Dragon and CST-100 availability for other than NASA is completely unknown.
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Offline Tea Party Space Czar

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #137 on: 05/22/2018 07:08 PM »
That is kinda like judging the cake 90 seconds after it was put into the oven and 30 minutes before scheduled removal. Then it needs to cool and then be frosted.

There are no commercial destinations yet and won't be until commercial crew has actually flown. It hasn't flown yet.

What DOES exist is NGOs and foreign governments that are interested in commercial crew transportation to commercial destinations - once such destinations are actually on orbit. But until commercial crew flies there is no business case for commercial destinations - only potential business cases.

One cannot judge the viability of a developing market while the market is just beginning to develop. In fact the cake is not even in the oven yet. You obviously do not want to wait - but you're just going to have to.
+1 (Sorry Chris)

There are several countries and companies that are eagerly awaiting crew certification.  Just my educated "guess" that once crew is up and running within 12 months you will see the shift.  Will Bigelow launch a 330 before 2021?  Doubtful but it could happen.

In the meantime SMD and the Defense Department enjoy lower cost access to LEO and GEO.  Maybe we will do an Apollo 8 mission and land some stuff on the moon.  We have many more options now.

Respectfully,
Andrew Gasser

Online Coastal Ron

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #138 on: 05/22/2018 07:38 PM »
On the flip side, the same rhetoric we heard about the government being "one of many customers" for human space flight transportation is being used to tout "commercial" LEO habitats in lieu of a perfectly functional and capable ISS and even large commercial lunar landers....which, at least in the near term seems far fetched at best.

That is kinda like judging the cake 90 seconds after it was put into the oven and 30 minutes before scheduled removal. Then it needs to cool and then be frosted.

There are no commercial destinations yet and won't be until commercial crew has actually flown. It hasn't flown yet.

Life is not that serial. SpaceX was selling Falcon 9 launch services well before Falcon 9 had flown. Boeing sells planes before they even officially start the development programs for them too, so customers don't need to see a transportation system working before they starting committing to using them.

Quote
What DOES exist is NGOs and foreign governments that are interested in commercial crew transportation to commercial destinations - once such destinations are actually on orbit.

I think the least amount of risk for a commercial space station is the transportation part. I don't think there is much doubt that both Boeing and SpaceX will create safe transportation systems, and both are quite happy to talk with potential customers about their needs.

I think there are two factors that account for the lack of progress on commercial space stations:

1. Bigelow may be perceived to still be years away from being able to offer such a service, and no one wants to be the lead customer.

2. There really isn't that much demand for commercial space stations.

Quote
But until commercial crew flies there is no business case for commercial destinations - only potential business cases.

Entrepreneurs and businesses don't need to see a transportation system working in order to commit to using it for a future business. This is an artificial barrier you are suggesting.

Quote
One cannot judge the viability of a developing market while the market is just beginning to develop. In fact the cake is not even in the oven yet. You obviously do not want to wait - but you're just going to have to.

Actually you can. It's done all the time in business.

Bigelow has stated he had signed LOI's (Letters of Intent) for customers, which is considered a sign of "demand". But with Commercial Crew getting REALLY close we should be seeing the next logical step, which is customers signing contracts for future space station services. Because it will take Bigelow years to get his hardware built, tested, and ready for launch, and Commercial Crew will have been running for years by the point - wasted opportunity if there really was demand for commercial space stations.

Which is why, for reasons we don't yet know, there isn't yet demand for commercial space stations. And that needs to be taken into account for any plans NASA has for depending on the private sector for going to the Moon.

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?

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Re: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussion thread
« Reply #139 on: 05/22/2018 07:41 PM »
One cannot judge the viability of a developing market while the market is just beginning to develop. In fact the cake is not even in the oven yet. You obviously do not want to wait - but you're just going to have to.

SpaceX has said that there is surprisingly strong demand for 'tourist' flights... but Chuck is correct that crew certification for NASA must be completed before any commercial business can be established.  The end date for the certification is sliding to the right, so Dragon and CST-100 availability for other than NASA is completely unknown.

If there was a market for space tourists on Soyuz, you have to believe that a similar market exists for commercial crew. But right now, Boeing and SpaceX are rightly focused on meeting NASA's commercial crew needs first.

I don't think anything you guys are saying refutes my point.  If anything you are supporting it. I was responding to earlier posts about the business case for commercial space activities and the ROI "horizon" that companies are willing to consider. I did NOT say or even imply that there would never be other customers of the commercial crew vehicles. My point was that any future users of the vehicles are far enough out that companies will need to recoup their investment from their contracts with the government in order for the the ventures to be deemed profitable within a reasonable investment horizon by modern standards (10 years these days is considered a very long term investment horizon). And I was (admittedly speculatively) extending that point to LEO habitats and lunar landers. 

As to the certification question...it certainly hasn't stopped virgin galactic from taking deposits on space tourism flights. If there was so much pent up demand why wouldn't they be rushing to secure contracts with the companies so that they'll be at the top of the list?  And why would there need to be a destination for a space tourism flight?  It seems to me someone willing to pay "x" for a dragon flight to ISS or to a commercial space station would be willing to pay considerably less than "x" for a few days in orbit in a dragon capsule.

Not to mention the fact that Russia is so desperate for cash, why aren't they selling Soyuz to space tourists any more?  It seems like every year or two they make an announcement that they are marketing it or that they have a customer or two lined up but they never materialize. 
 




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