Author Topic: Opinion by Jack Schmitt on SLS: The right rocket for the moon and Mars  (Read 5046 times)

Offline yg1968

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The right rocket for the moon and Mars

Apollo astronaut Jack Schmitt makes a detailed case for why NASA's Space Launch System beats the commercial alternatives.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/15/mars-moon-rocket-jack-schmitt-636632
« Last Edit: 06/15/2018 01:38 pm by yg1968 »

Offline hopalong

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He is comparing the SLS with the FH, apples and pears?

He should have been comparing the SLS with the BFR, then it looks a bit different.


Online Coastal Ron

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Mr. Schmitt has a lot of great history that he shares, and my hat is off to him for risking his life to go to the Moon.

However, Mr. Schmitt is being very selective with his justifications, and he is not taking into account modern space technology and techniques.

For instance, he assumes:

A. There is unlimited government money to launch the SLS and Orion
B. That in-space assembly is not to be used
C. That in-space refueling is not to be used
D. That an SLS flight will cost $500M

These are, of course, incorrect assumptions.

He also assumes that all mass has to be sent directly to the Moon, which is true for anything the SLS launches. But as we all know from our experience with the ISS, in-space assembly is within our current capabilities, and can be used to assemble much large payloads that need to be sent to not only our Moon, but to destinations beyond.

Thoughts on his closing arguments:

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Final Thoughts

Human activity in deep space always will be difficult and highly risky relative to now familiar, but still challenging activities in LEO. Performance and mission requirements drive the need for innovative, cutting edge technology and engineering solutions to unprecedented challenges in performance and safety.

While it is true that cutting edge technology may be necessary to open up frontiers, it is commodity technology that expands them. And the SLS and Orion are too niche, and too expensive for the U.S. Taxpayer to fund if the goal is to create a permanent presence at our Moon.

As the over 17 years of constant occupation of LEO has shown, we do know how to build large structures in space using in-space assembly, and we can do in-space refueling. Reverting back to the Apollo model for space exploration will cost more, and it limits us to venturing no further than our 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?

Online dlapine

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Hmm, there is another error in analysis by Jack Schmidt that I'd note. He assumes that only the "production" version of SLS the block 1B with EUS should be considered for comparison to the current FH. That's fine, but the FH is available today, and the SLS 1B is not scheduled to fly for the first time by what, 2026 now?

Given a decision to make lunar operations a priority and reasonable funding, a man-rated FH could be available by the end of 2020. Giving up 6 years of operations for a potentially more capable vehicle would seem to be sub-optimal.

Offline hopalong

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I am wondering if a lot of the industry, especially the 'old timers' just cannot see the BFR and / or New Armstrong coming. It is an OCP to them -

 As defined in Wikipedia -

Outside Context Problem (OCP), the kind of problem "most civilizations would encounter just once, and which they tended to encounter rather in the same way a sentence encountered a full stop."

Sub 'old space' for civilizations.......


Offline notsorandom

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I am wondering if a lot of the industry, especially the 'old timers' just cannot see the BFR and / or New Armstrong coming. It is an OCP to them
How much should one trust the BRF and NA projects when Musk and Bezos deliberately withhold as much information as possible about them? In order to replace SLS with either of them there needs to be a high level of confidence that the projects will succeed as promised. Musk has given a few presentations on BFR, shown some a few seconds of engine tests, and built a large composite test tank. As cool as that stuff is no one can tell from it how far along the project is, how much trouble it is having, how much it will really cost, and if it can even do what he says it will. Bezos has made maybe a few tweets regarding NA that's all we know about it. To be fair though neither company is calling for SLS to be canceled and have the funds given to them. They are not in competition with SLS and thus don't need to be open and transparent enough for us to compare them to SLS.

Offline Rocket Science

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Too bad the ex Apollo astronauts never use their platform to complain about why we haven't gone anywhere using existing capability or from new opportunities...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Offline john smith 19

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The right rocket for the moon and Mars

Apollo astronaut Jack Schmitt makes a detailed case for why NASA's Space Launch System beats the commercial alternatives.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/15/mars-moon-rocket-jack-schmitt-636632
I'll just remind people that right now a salvo launch of all major US LV's together will put about 136 tonnes into LEO within 1 week.

All are existing flown designs.
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structured 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.

Online freddo411

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It seems illogical to argue vociferously against assembled structures and turn around and refer to SLS launching Orion and a seperate 10 ton piece.   

The giant fairing and "my pieces are bigger than your pieces" argument is not very compelling in a world where any launch system supporting activities on or near the Moon will be sending many missions.    Multiple pieces are clearly part of any future architecture.

It seems to me that the cost per pound *IS* the correct metric to optimize as long as you can meet a minimum package size delivered.   The previously mentioned 10 tones could be reasonable value.   FH can deliver that.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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I am wondering if a lot of the industry, especially the 'old timers' just cannot see the BFR and / or New Armstrong coming. It is an OCP to them
How much should one trust the BRF and NA projects when Musk and Bezos deliberately withhold as much information as possible about them? In order to replace SLS with either of them there needs to be a high level of confidence that the projects will succeed as promised. Musk has given a few presentations on BFR, shown some a few seconds of engine tests, and built a large composite test tank. As cool as that stuff is no one can tell from it how far along the project is, how much trouble it is having, how much it will really cost, and if it can even do what he says it will. Bezos has made maybe a few tweets regarding NA that's all we know about it. To be fair though neither company is calling for SLS to be canceled and have the funds given to them. They are not in competition with SLS and thus don't need to be open and transparent enough for us to compare them to SLS.

There's no need to know more -- Musk has already provided enough information about BFR for us to know it is a far, far better way to spend money than SLS.

Online RonM

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I am wondering if a lot of the industry, especially the 'old timers' just cannot see the BFR and / or New Armstrong coming. It is an OCP to them
How much should one trust the BRF and NA projects when Musk and Bezos deliberately withhold as much information as possible about them? In order to replace SLS with either of them there needs to be a high level of confidence that the projects will succeed as promised. Musk has given a few presentations on BFR, shown some a few seconds of engine tests, and built a large composite test tank. As cool as that stuff is no one can tell from it how far along the project is, how much trouble it is having, how much it will really cost, and if it can even do what he says it will. Bezos has made maybe a few tweets regarding NA that's all we know about it. To be fair though neither company is calling for SLS to be canceled and have the funds given to them. They are not in competition with SLS and thus don't need to be open and transparent enough for us to compare them to SLS.

There's no need to know more -- Musk has already provided enough information about BFR for us to know it is a far, far better way to spend money than SLS.

Assuming BFR works as advertised. Once SpaceX succeeds in getting a cargo BFS into orbit, then it will be time to reexamine SLS. There are no guarantees in life, especially in aerospace.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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I am wondering if a lot of the industry, especially the 'old timers' just cannot see the BFR and / or New Armstrong coming. It is an OCP to them
How much should one trust the BRF and NA projects when Musk and Bezos deliberately withhold as much information as possible about them? In order to replace SLS with either of them there needs to be a high level of confidence that the projects will succeed as promised. Musk has given a few presentations on BFR, shown some a few seconds of engine tests, and built a large composite test tank. As cool as that stuff is no one can tell from it how far along the project is, how much trouble it is having, how much it will really cost, and if it can even do what he says it will. Bezos has made maybe a few tweets regarding NA that's all we know about it. To be fair though neither company is calling for SLS to be canceled and have the funds given to them. They are not in competition with SLS and thus don't need to be open and transparent enough for us to compare them to SLS.

There's no need to know more -- Musk has already provided enough information about BFR for us to know it is a far, far better way to spend money than SLS.

Assuming BFR works as advertised. Once SpaceX succeeds in getting a cargo BFS into orbit, then it will be time to reexamine SLS. There are no guarantees in life, especially in aerospace.

Yeah, I agree there are risks.  But what SpaceX has said about BFR already combined with their track record is more than enough evidence, in my opinion, the BFR is a far better bet than SLS.

Offline kraisee

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I seem to recall that about a year before it collapsed, CxP trotted out a few other Apollo astronauts just like this, trying prop-up the failing Ares Program.

I was left with the feeling that they only did it because they were doing someone a big favour by showing support for 'whatever' was the Program of Record, simply because they feared what might happen if it failed.

I've got the utmost respect for all of these guys, but I just can't bring myself to agree with them.

The money will still flow - the politico's will guarantee that - but wouldn't it be a lot better to be backing a thoroughbred horse that would really win, instead of continually supporting these two-legged old dried-up ponies that end up looking embarrassing to even the casual observer?

Ross.
"The meek shall inherit the Earth -- the rest of us will go to the stars"
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Online Coastal Ron

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How much should one trust the BRF and NA projects when Musk and Bezos deliberately withhold as much information as possible about them?

Not sure why "trust" is needed. Believe them or not, it doesn't cost you anything either way.

Quote
In order to replace SLS with either of them there needs to be a high level of confidence that the projects will succeed as promised.

Whoa, not so fast. Replace for what? There are no payloads or missions funded today that can only be lifted by the SLS. None. So there is nothing to "replace".

This seems to be one of the dividing lines between SLS supporters and everyone else, in that SLS supporters ASSUME that there is a set of requirements defined that when compared to all potential launchers that only the SLS meets the requirements. There are no requirements.

And in reality, the normal process for any government proposal would be to set the end requirements and then solicit industry for proposals on how to meet the requirements. So if a lunar outpost was requested, and the U.S. Government wanted it occupied continuously for X number of years, then industry could make proposals for how to accomplish that. NASA would then have the ability to consider all the alternatives, and recommend which approach would be the best combination of meeting the requirement and being affordable.

So far NASA only talks about the requirements, but no one in government talks about cost. Pretty suspicious, huh? Since we're talking about $Billions that could make or break a government budget.

From that standpoint, cost, it's clear that the private sector wins, regardless if it's Musk, Bezos, or existing launch providers. And it's only if SLS specific capabilities are mandated for the elements (regardless if they are really needed or not) where the SLS becomes a viable alternative. Which is how Mr. Schmitt was trying to justify the SLS, by only using criteria that matches the SLS, not criteria where it doesn't.

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Musk has given a few presentations on BFR, shown some a few seconds of engine tests, and built a large composite test tank. As cool as that stuff is no one can tell from it how far along the project is...

Of course you are ignoring that the SLS was mandated by Congress to have "...operational capability for the core elements not later than December 31, 2016." As of today the first operational mission with crew is not slated to launch until 2022, which is 6 years late. And the current trend in SLS schedules has been to slip almost one year for each year that goes by, so who knows what the actual launch date could be. And U.S. Taxpayers are paying for those slips, whereas we don't pay for any delays with the BFR/BFS or New Glenn.

Just to add some perspective...
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 mike robel

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Properly resourced, CxP, Orion, SLS, a Space Shuttle follow on, etc. would have probably all been successful but they weren't.

As Kennedy said at the end of the Rice speech:  "However, I think we're going to do it, and I think that we must pay what needs to be paid. I don't think we ought to waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job. And this will be done in the decade of the sixties. It may be done while some of you are still here at school at this college and university. It will be done during the term of office of some of the people who sit here on this platform. But it will be done. And it will be done before the end of this decade."

And form his speech to Congress:  "Let it be clear--and this is a judgment which the Members of the Congress must finally make--let it be clear that I am asking the Congress and the country to accept a firm commitment to a new course of action, a course which will last for many years and carry very heavy costs: 531 million dollars in fiscal '62--an estimated 7 to 9 billion dollars additional over the next five years. If we are to go only half way, or reduce our sights in the face of difficulty, in my judgment it would be better not to go at all."

(Emphasis mine)


Now we live in a time where we have lowered our sights or perhaps don't have a target at all, the only sacrifice most people are asked to make is to go shopping more, we pass tax cuts and then promptly spend more money, we are waging a 30 - 100 years war, and we think we will gain security by putting a wall up when every other similar wall failed to keep people out and the latest failed and it was meant to keep people in.


So, we get the space program we deserve.  At time I think we should abandon manned space and place more emphasis on unmanned programs.  If Musk and Bezos want to spend their money, this is America - let them do it - they might go bankrupt or they might get richer.  That's the way it is here.  Meanwhile, most of us can look down at our feet instead of up at the stars.
« Last Edit: 06/15/2018 10:33 pm by mike robel »

Offline JH

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Meanwhile, most of us can look down at our feet instead of up at the stars.

Cheer up. There's more than one way to skin a cat. Will you really be bitterly disappointed if you get to space on a privately developed rocket rather than a publicly developed one?

Offline mike robel

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LOL.  I'm quite sure I won't be on one either way.  :)

Online Coastal Ron

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Now we live in a time where we have lowered our sights or perhaps don't have a target at all...

What? Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars!!! How is THAT lowering our sights.

Or are you just talking about U.S. Government goals in space?

Because we shouldn't confuse the "desire" to do things in space with the "need" to do them. Especially when the U.S. Government has to pay for it with taxpayer money.

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...the only sacrifice most people are asked to make is to go shopping more, we pass tax cuts and then promptly spend more money...

Why are you concerned with what the public thinks? The public did not support the Apollo program except for a brief time around Apollo 11.

I have been advocating that we have reached a natural pause for government funded space exploration, due to a lack of problems that sending government employees into space solves. Sure, the public supports science, but sending humans to the surface of the Moon is not really viewed as "science", and we can accomplish most of the same goals by sending robotic explorers.

This is not a Trump problem - whoever was elected would have faced the same conditions. But Trump has to be clear about his goals, and WHY it is important to our nation. And he has not spent the political capital to explain the WHY we should send humans back to our Moon. Other Presidents have tried and failed, and he will too if he doesn't articulate the WHY better. And notice Congress has not funded a return-to-Moon program yet.

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If Musk and Bezos want to spend their money, this is America - let them do it - they might go bankrupt or they might get richer.  That's the way it is here.  Meanwhile, most of us can look down at our feet instead of up at the stars.

Musk and Bezos (and others) are using their wealth to take what should be the next natural step - that the private sector leads us out into space.

Arguments could be made that governments should own space, but I'm of the opinion that the private sector has more reason to expand humanity out into space - and then of course government will follow. But for now, let those that have the vision AND the resources lead the way. And if I could wave my magic wand, I'd reorient NASA to focus on supporting private space efforts instead of competing with them...
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 MATTBLAK

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Dr Schmitt says in the article: "However, vehicles designed to carry crew to the International Space Station (Dragon-2 and CST-100 Starliner) each weighing between 18 and 20 mT - do not incorporate the additional fuel needed for lunar orbit entry and return to Earth," (snip cut and pasted here)

Does he know that Orion cannot insert itself into low lunar orbit - with or without a LM attached - and have enough delta-v to leave lunar orbit and head back to Earth as well? They would have to increase the small and systems jam-packed Orion Service module's propellant supply by at least 50-60% percent to do all the above.  :(
« Last Edit: 06/17/2018 11:45 am by MATTBLAK »
"Those who can't, Blog".   'Space Cadets' of the World - Let us UNITE!! (crickets chirping)

Offline AncientU

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The right rocket for the moon and Mars

Apollo astronaut Jack Schmitt makes a detailed case for why NASA's Space Launch System beats the commercial alternatives.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/15/mars-moon-rocket-jack-schmitt-636632

Mr. Schmitt also argued almost the opposite to Eric Berger a few years ago:

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Related. Schmitt, to me, in 2014 regarding the SLS.
"Apollo was sustained because Congress and the country agreed that we ought to do it. It’s not quite so clear now, at least in the Congress, that the motivation is anything more than jobs.”

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More: “Historically the SLS would be putting the cart before the horse. The Saturn V was developed, the Panama Canal was dug, and the Louis and Clark expeditions were done because of an overriding national purpose. ...

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... To accomplish these kinds of purposes, you needed these kinds of technologies. It’s a lot different to say we’re going to build a rocket and then figure out what we’re going to do with it."
https://twitter.com/SciGuySpace/status/1007722413461819392

Tongue in cheek...
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Boeing emailed to make sure that I saw this Politico piece from Harrison Schmitt comparing the Falcon Heavy rocket to an SLS variant (Block 1B) that won't exist before at least 2025 (and will cost ~$5-10b to develop). I did, y'all. Thanks.
https://twitter.com/SciGuySpace/status/1007715155503874049
« Last Edit: 06/16/2018 11:15 am by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Offline Proponent

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I am wondering if a lot of the industry, especially the 'old timers' just cannot see the BFR and / or New Armstrong coming. It is an OCP to them
How much should one trust the BRF and NA projects when Musk and Bezos deliberately withhold as much information as possible about them? In order to replace SLS with either of them there needs to be a high level of confidence that the projects will succeed as promised.

I agree completely that it would be a mistake for NASA to cross its fingers and base its plans on the hope that BFR or NA will arrive on schedule and with the advertised capabilities.

But if NASA actually needs an SLS-sized rocket -- and that has never been established (if you think it has, please identify the study in which NASA reached this conclusion), then it should compare SLS with the alternative of buying equivalent launch services from American industry (that's never been done either; again, if you disagree, please show us the study).  If NASA concluded that buying launch services was preferable, then it could sign a legally binding contract with a suitable company.  There would be no need to "trust" and hope that that the company would deliver on its marketing hype.

All of the above is subject to the caveat that some of the key decisions are outside of NASA's control.  But the point is that the credibility of SpaceX's and Blue Origin's non-enforceable marketing pitches is irrrelevant.

Offline john smith 19

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But if NASA actually needs an SLS-sized rocket -- and that has never been established (if you think it has, please identify the study in which NASA reached this conclusion), then it should compare SLS with the alternative of buying equivalent launch services from American industry (that's never been done either; again, if you disagree, please show us the study).  If NASA concluded that buying launch services was preferable, then it could sign a legally binding contract with a suitable company.  There would be no need to "trust" and hope that that the company would deliver on its marketing hype.
This remains the question for an SLS payload.

What needs both a 130tonne mass in a 10m faring?

I've seen 3 real applications that would need this sort of capability. They are
1) A big space nuclear electric (or mechanical shaft) reactor. Not 10Kw, 10 (or a 100) MW. Nuclear ship sized. AFAIK there is no budget for this at all.
2) A really big single piece telescope mirror. Bigger than JWST. AFAIK there is no budget for this either.
3) A single piece heat shield to do aerocapture into say Mars orbit, without retro slow down.AFAIK there is no budget for this either, and of course if HIAD works out very large heat shields can be packed into existing PLF's. 
Aerocapture (aerobraking has already been demonstrated) is a serious enabler of settlement (or "force multiplier" if  you have a more military turn of mind), by cutting the needed propellant to circularize into Mars orbit on arrival (or Earth return) a lot (at 1:1 trading propellant for anything else).

BTW Vulcan (with the BE-4 option) is 5.4m in dia. Jon Goff mentioned ULA had done fairing studies which were up to 1.89x bigger than a rockets core diameter. That would mean a Vulcan could launch a 10.2m dia fairing (although no one's funded them to do so AFAIK). Obviously nowhere near the payload mass of SLS but again, what actually needs that mass in a single lump?

Once you know that most of any deep space mission is the propellant to get it there you start asking yourself "Do I really need such a big new vehicle to do this?" Really?

BTW for anyone who's thinking "Yeah, but BFS is huge" without on orbit propellant loading it would much bigger. BFS is big because Musk and SX don't want a flags and footprints mission, they want to set up a whole settlement.  NASA's DRA 5.0 is simply irrelevant from their PoV.
« Last Edit: 06/16/2018 06:17 pm by john smith 19 »
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structured 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 Endeavour_01

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Quote
Mr. Schmitt also argued almost the opposite to Eric Berger a few years ago:

I think if you read the quotes that AncientU posted it seems that Schmitt wasn't arguing against SLS itself. He was arguing against the then current policy of not using it for a specific purpose. The strategy at that time was, "we'll build the rocket and then figure out what to do with it since we can't go back to the Moon cause we have been there before."

The situation today is different. The moon is no longer verboten and SLS has a specific role to play with the LOP-G going forward.
I cheer for both NASA and commercial space. For SLS, Orion, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Dragon, Starliner, Cygnus and all the rest!
I was blessed to see the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-99. The launch was beyond amazing. My 8-year old mind was blown. I remember the noise and seeing the exhaust pour out of the shuttle as it lifted off. I remember staring and watching it soar while it was visible in the clear blue sky. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I will never forget it.

Online Coastal Ron

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I think if you read the quotes that AncientU posted it seems that Schmitt wasn't arguing against SLS itself. He was arguing against the then current policy of not using it for a specific purpose. The strategy at that time was, "we'll build the rocket and then figure out what to do with it since we can't go back to the Moon cause we have been there before."

Remember though that it was Congress who mandated the SLS, not Obama. So it was Congress who was, according to Schmitt, just building the SLS as a jobs program:

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"Apollo was sustained because Congress and the country agreed that we ought to do it. Its not quite so clear now, at least in the Congress, that the motivation is anything more than jobs.

The situation today is different. The moon is no longer verboten and SLS has a specific role to play with the LOP-G going forward.

Deciding that the next goal of the United States was to go to Mars is not the same as saying we could never return to our Moon.

And this new initiative for returning to our Moon is far from clear:

- What are the objectives?
- How long is the effort?
- How is "success" measured?
- What is the outcome we want?

As to whether the SLS is the right rocket, that depends on the answers to these questions.

In the meantime Congress has not funded a return-to-the-Moon program, only funded looking into it. Which isn't much different than what was going on during Obama's administration...
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 Endeavour_01

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Remember though that it was Congress who mandated the SLS, not Obama. So it was Congress who was, according to Schmitt, just building the SLS as a jobs program:

Sure, but the initial Obama plan (at least on the deep space side) was even worse than that. There were zero plans for manned spaceflight in deep space aside from spending money on nebulous "game changing technologies". A flawed plan to move forward was better than no plan at all.

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Deciding that the next goal of the United States was to go to Mars is not the same as saying we could never return to our Moon.

Re-read your history. The President said we weren't going back to the Moon because we had "been there before". The Obama administration was clear that the moon was no longer a target for NASA.

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In the meantime Congress has not funded a return-to-the-Moon program, only funded looking into it. Which isn't much different than what was going on during Obama's administration...

Actually they have funded the LOP-G to the tune of $500 Million. That is in addition to the funds allocated to SLS/Orion. Not as much as needed to be sure but it is a good start. This current direction is more solid than the Journey to Mars ever was.
I cheer for both NASA and commercial space. For SLS, Orion, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Dragon, Starliner, Cygnus and all the rest!
I was blessed to see the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-99. The launch was beyond amazing. My 8-year old mind was blown. I remember the noise and seeing the exhaust pour out of the shuttle as it lifted off. I remember staring and watching it soar while it was visible in the clear blue sky. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I will never forget it.

Offline AncientU

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I am wondering if a lot of the industry, especially the 'old timers' just cannot see the BFR and / or New Armstrong coming. It is an OCP to them
How much should one trust the BRF and NA projects when Musk and Bezos deliberately withhold as much information as possible about them? In order to replace SLS with either of them there needs to be a high level of confidence that the projects will succeed as promised.

I agree completely that it would be a mistake for NASA to cross its fingers and base its plans on the hope that BFR or NA will arrive on schedule and with the advertised capabilities.
...

Much less likely that SLS (the Boeing Rocket) would arrive on schedule and with advertised capabilities if all NASA did was cross its fingers and base its plans on hope.  Contract for a BFR (or a BFR launch per year) and see what happens.

Better yet, contract for each an SLS Block 2 and a BFR per year starting 2021 and see what happens -- of course, contract conditions with Boeing and SpaceX would be identical.  Cash on delivery; same dollars per tonne on orbit for each.
« Last Edit: 06/17/2018 11:44 am by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline clongton

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It is painfully obvious to me that Jack Schmitt has created a PR document for NASA/SLS without sufficient regard for what is real and what is not. There are too many things he stated that are simply wrong. There are too many cases where he ignores an alternative that invalidates his statements. And most glaring of all is that he bases his argument on the use of a commercial rocket that was never designed for nor intended to go the moon, the Falcon Heavy. Neither SLS nor BFR actually exist as an operational vehicle yet. While SLS is further along in development than BFR, the way SLS development is going BFR will likely fly before SLS. THAT should have been the comparison vehicle, not Falcon Heavy, a vehicle that was designed for earth orbit medium lift, not lunar heavy lift. For all I know this entire thing was authored by NASA PR and handed to Jack Schmitt for him to sign and deliver because that sure is what this looks like.
« Last Edit: 06/17/2018 01:54 pm by clongton »
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Offline AncientU

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It is painfully obvious to me that Jack Schmitt has created a PR document for NASA/SLS without sufficient regard for what is real and what is not. There are too many things he stated that are simply wrong. There are too many cases where he ignores an alternative that invalidates his statements. And most glaring of all is that he bases his argument on the use of a commercial rocket that was never designed for nor intended to go the moon. Neither SLS nor BFR actually exist as an operational vehicle yet. While SLS is further along in development than BFR, the way SLS development is going BFR will likely fly before SLS. THAT should have been the comparison vehicle, not Falcon Heavy, a vehicle that was designed for earth orbit medium lift, not lunar heavy lift. For all I know this entire thing was authored by NASA PR and handed to Jack Schmitt for him to sign and deliver because that sure is what this looks like.

MSFC/Boeing PR
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline IRobot

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Now we live in a time where we have lowered our sights or perhaps don't have a target at all, the only sacrifice most people are asked to make is to go shopping more, we pass tax cuts and then promptly spend more money, we are waging a 30 - 100 years war, and we think we will gain security by putting a wall up when every other similar wall failed to keep people out and the latest failed and it was meant to keep people in.


So, we get the space program we deserve.
Going against the flow (and Neil Degrasse Tyson), I believe that NASA is properly funded. The problem is in how it spends the money. Divert the SLS+Orion funding to payload development and there is enough money.

The big question is if NASA can maintain its budget when SLS and Orion are discard. I don't believe so.

Online Coastal Ron

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Sure, but the initial Obama plan (at least on the deep space side) was even worse than that. There were zero plans for manned spaceflight in deep space aside from spending money on nebulous "game changing technologies". A flawed plan to move forward was better than no plan at all.

Not "nebulous". From the FY2011 Budget Estimates:
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1. Technology demonstration program, $7.8 billion over five years.
Funds the development and demonstration of technologies that reduce the cost and expand the capabilities of future exploration activities, including in-orbit refueling and storage.

I know SLS supporters can't overtly support in-space refueling and fuel depots because it diminishes the need for the SLS, but if humanity wants to expand out into space we can't do it with single-launch architectures like the SLS.

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Re-read your history. The President said we weren't going back to the Moon because we had "been there before". The Obama administration was clear that the moon was no longer a target for NASA.

Right, because we were moving on to Mars. Show me where Obama declared that the United States could never return to our Moon? It's time to bury this meme...

But since NASA can barely focus on one HSF program at a time, and Congress does not lavish funds on NASA, the President chose ONE destination to focus NASA's efforts on. And this is actually better than what we have today, since NASA still says it's going to Mars, but then also has to say it's returning to our Moon - they are not complementary destinations.

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Actually they have funded the LOP-G to the tune of $500 Million.

I think you have a pretty low threshold for saying something is funded, since none of this money results in flight hardware. Which means Congress has only funded research into a potential future program, not the program itself. NASA spends a lot of money on proposals that never turn into programs, which is why no one should automatically correlate the two.

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That is in addition to the funds allocated to SLS/Orion.

The SLS and Orion are transportation systems that were funded by Congress before any beyond-LEO needs were identified, so you can't count their funding towards a return-to-Moon program. Congress wants the SLS and Orion regardless whether there is an actual need for them.

This is especially true since a LOP-G could be built and supported using existing commercial launchers. So the SLS is not critical to the U.S. leaving LEO - even the Orion is replaceable in the near-term.

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This current direction is more solid than the Journey to Mars ever was.

Well, THAT'S a low bar...  ;)

However since the end of the Apollo program there have been many efforts to return to our Moon or move on to Mars. So far this current effort is no greater than what they did, and in many ways far less. And all of those were cancelled due to cost and lack of defined need.

So until Congress OFFICIALLY funds a return-to-Moon program, like they did with the Constellation program, a return-to-Moon program does not exist. Only research into such efforts exists. The two are not the same.
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 Chris Bergin

I'm locking this for several (should be) obvious reasons, not all of them are to do with the posts.

Use a pinch of sponsored salt for anything Politico report.

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