Author Topic: NASA Goal versus Mission  (Read 6290 times)

Offline mike robel

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NASA Goal versus Mission
« on: 07/06/2018 02:28 pm »
This is a conversation I started in https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=45947.0 and it was not within the thread boundaries and started by saying there is not gong to really be any new information presented, just an endless debate about SLS/Orion vs everythng else.

Here is my opening:

Pretty much everything useful has already been said, we are talking past each other, and anything else will likely not shed any new light on the best course of action, especially since all said vehicles are are either still on paper or being fabricated.

The National HSF Mission is ill-defined and the commercial ones mostly support the owners goals and not any national objective.  Thus there is no main effort and no unity of command/purpose.

When one or more are launched, then there can be a new debate on how to proceed.

A poor plan, executed and supported vigorously now is better than a poorly executed and supported "perfect" plan at a later date.

We have four projects, for better or worse:  SLS, Space X vehicles, Blue Origin vehicles, and Vulcan.

The national main effort is arguably SLS (because it is supported (however poorly) by the President, Congress, and the nation and is probably executing as well as can be expected under the circumstances.

The others have varying amounts of support - whether it is public, private, or a combination.

We are not massing our resources in support of a main effort although we may be inadvertently be conducting economy of force because we don't know what we want to do and things may sort out in a satisfactory manner.

Manned spacecraft programs are in a similar state, with Orion, Dragon 2, CST-100, whatever Blue Origin is working on, and perhaps the DARPA space plane executing in the same manner. 

If the laws of the marketplace are allowed to operate, 2 or 3 of these competitors will likely drop out hopefully leaving us with 1 or 2 sound vehicles.  (The B-52 or C-130 of the space program, so to speak.)

I think it is reasonable to have two different boosters and two different spacecraft to provide continuous and redundant space operations.
----------- 

Perhaps we need a debate thread on just what the National Mission, Strategy, and Tactics should be and framed in 4, 8, and 12 year increments for the short term (because these are where elections align and we have trouble looking beyond them) with 25, 50 and 100 year with more long term goals that the shorter term goals can support.


Strategy is what you are going to do, tactics is how you are going to do it.  Since we don't really have a National Mission, it is difficult to define strategy and tactics to accomplish it.


As an example, had someone made the mistake of making me a national decision maker, I would have asked/directed Congress/NASA, after the loss of Columbia, to:

     *Develop a spacecraft capable of providing crew rotations every 6 months for 3 people AND a vehicle for cargo delivery to the ISS every six weeks within 8 years or sooner on existing boosters.
     *Maintain the Shuttle at a launch cadence of two - four missions per year to sustain the ISS with a crew of two or three and restrict it to other high priority programs.
     *Retire the Shuttle after 4 successful cargo missions to the ISS.
     *Contract with Russia to provide crew rotation to the ISS until we have 4 successful crew rotations to the ISS.
     *Contract with other nations to provide cargo delivery at a rate to fill any gaps between the US and Russia after the retirement of the shuttle.
    *Direct NASA to determine the need, objective, and purpose of Human Space Flight for the next 25 - 50 years to include, but not limited to, an ISS replacement, mission to the moon, or missions to Mars.
     *As these milestones were reached, ask/beg congress to transfer money from shuttle and Russian crew rotation to the new programs.

I think I am going to go find my flak jacket now... :-\

There was some debate about the difference of a goal versus a mission...

The National HSF Mission is ill-defined and the commercial ones mostly support the owners goals and not any national objective.  Thus there is no main effort and no unity of command/purpose.

The national HSF mission is very clearly defined as: "Lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities. Beginning with missions beyond low-Earth orbit, the United States will lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations;". Among the 3 major commercial players, two are always aiming for the Moon, the third is also willing and eager to provide transport to the Moon. So there is no divide between national goal and commercial players' goals, they are very well aligned.

The problem is USG is ignoring their own strategic goal, instead they just want job program for NASA centers and big defense contractors.


The National HSF Mission is ill-defined and the commercial ones mostly support the owners goals and not any national objective.  Thus there is no main effort and no unity of command/purpose.

The national HSF mission is very clearly defined as: "Lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities. Beginning with missions beyond low-Earth orbit, the United States will lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations;". Among the 3 major commercial players, two are always aiming for the Moon, the third is also willing and eager to provide transport to the Moon. So there is no divide between national goal and commercial players' goals, they are very well aligned.

The problem is USG is ignoring their own strategic goal, instead they just want job program for NASA centers and big defense contractors.

This is may sound semantical, but what you call a mission above is a goal and you properly reference it in your final comment.

A mission specifies who, what, when, and where and sometimes why, for example:  "First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.

and finally:

@SU27K:  (I have a hard time mastering quote trimming)

You ask:

Is there really that much difference? Your quote specifically said it's also a goal ("commit itself to achieving the goal"). Comparing the two the only difference I can find is the lack of when, who/what/where/why are all there.

So I say again:
The national goal or mission or whatever is there, "who/what/where/why" is not a mystery, "when" is not included probably because they couldn't commit the funding necessary to meet a "when", but that's ok as long as you're making progress towards the goal. What's not ok is the government ignoring their own goal and heading in the opposite direction.



Edit:  inserted my reply to SU27K


In my view:[/size]"When" is the key point.  Without a when and a main effort (or proper support), that is just a laundry list made by the good idea fairy, and you cannot focus your resources or planning on the most important task.[/size]We are now squarely into Space Policy and I risk censure and derailing the thread.  I will start a new thread up there named something like NASA Mission and Goals, and put my first post into it.Moderator:  I request after I create the thread, you move the posts dealing with goals and missions to that thread.




Let the games begin
« Last Edit: 07/06/2018 08:31 pm by mike robel »

Offline edkyle99

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Re: NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #1 on: 07/06/2018 02:53 pm »
When it comes to human space flight, the U.S. government has two primary efforts underway. 

The first is, of course, International Space Station and its supporting Commercial Cargo and Crew contracts.  This is NASA's main commercial incubator.  ISS won't last forever, but with so much international inertia, it might last longer than currently expected.

The second is SLS/Orion and where ever that leads, which is just beginning.  As I see it, SLS/Orion with lunar outpost (or whatever they're calling things now) could also end up being a commercial incubator.  Why else would several companies be working on massive launch vehicles that seemingly have no other obvious purpose?

 - Ed Kyle

Offline speedevil

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Re: NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #2 on: 07/06/2018 03:05 pm »
When it comes to human space flight, the U.S. government has two primary efforts underway.
<snip>
 Why else would several companies be working on massive launch vehicles that seemingly have no other obvious purpose?
Err - what?
Doesn't "I want to die on Mars, just not on impact", or  "a million people living and working in space." sound familiar?

Neither of these is very related at all to NASA, or USG plans, or 'traditional' space.
It's not going to happen at $25K/kg design/production cost for historical systems, but needs to be several orders of magnitude lower.

BFR/NA/... enable part of this with low launch costs, but another vital part is slashing cost of a human living in space by several orders of magnitude.
You're not going to do this by going to Boeing and asking them how to do it.

If your $1B/2 ton government moon rover lasts a year, for example, and the commercial alternative including launch is a hundred 10 ton rovers, for the same money, the 'old space' rover is not a winner, even though it might last 10* as long.

It is at least arguable that you can do a considerable amount more than NASA in many areas for considerably less cash, if you do not have to fund the traditional supply chain. But NASA can't do this politically.

With cheap enough launch, wealthy investors may be able to effectively outspend NASA simply as they are able to spend $10K on an off-the-shelf solution for a problem.
« Last Edit: 07/06/2018 03:15 pm by speedevil »

Offline Jim

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Re: NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #3 on: 07/06/2018 03:17 pm »

If your $1B/2 ton government moon rover lasts a year, for example, and the commercial alternative including launch is a hundred 10 ton rovers, for the same money, the 'old space' rover is not a winner, even though it might last 10* as long.


Just stop with the hyperbole.  It is getting tiring.  The same stuff over and over to the point, it is now spam

Offline edkyle99

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Re: NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #4 on: 07/06/2018 04:20 pm »
When it comes to human space flight, the U.S. government has two primary efforts underway.
<snip>
 Why else would several companies be working on massive launch vehicles that seemingly have no other obvious purpose?
Err - what?
Doesn't "I want to die on Mars, just not on impact", or  "a million people living and working in space." sound familiar?
Yes.  That is inspirational hyperbole.  People like Elon are good at such things.  The inspiration is terrific, and needed (because it gets people excited, thus building support), but money  - billions to tens of billions of dollars in these cases - always decides what really happens in the end.  Falcon 9 and Dragon were developed for and funded by NASA, remember, despite similar hyperbole at that time.

Elon Musk would have driven me absolutely nuts with the big-sky talk if it weren't for the fact that he has built and led an organization that has done such superb engineering, starting from the ground up with propulsion - the true difference maker in this business.  When it comes to this discussion, about NASA goals and missions, we should be asking why it took Musk to create Merlin, rather than NASA, or some other NASA contractor.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 07/06/2018 04:40 pm by edkyle99 »

Offline woods170

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Re: NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #5 on: 07/06/2018 04:44 pm »
When it comes to human space flight, the U.S. government has two primary efforts underway.
<snip>
 Why else would several companies be working on massive launch vehicles that seemingly have no other obvious purpose?
Err - what?
Doesn't "I want to die on Mars, just not on impact", or  "a million people living and working in space." sound familiar?
Yes.  That is inspirational hyperbole.  People like Elon are good at such things.  The inspiration is terrific, and needed (because it gets people excited, thus building support), but money  - billions to tens of billions of dollars in these cases - always decides what really happens in the end.  Falcon 9 and Dragon were developed for and funded by NASA, remember, despite similar hyperbole at that time.

 - Ed Kyle

You d*mn well know that you just over-exaggerated big time. Only a very small portion of Falcon 9 development (and then only v1.0) was funded by NASA. And Falcon 9 was not exclusively developed for NASA. SpaceX was already working on F9 development before NASA awarded them the COTS contract. The prime driver for F5 (and later F9) development was entering the commercial market.


You complain about hyperbole. However, you are in fact doing hyperbole yourself. I've read you making your claim about how F9 and Dragon were developed for and funded by NASA multiple times now. It is becoming boring, particularly given the fact that large parts of your statement are false. The only thing explicitly developed for, and funded by NASA is Dragon. Falcon 9 is a very different story.
« Last Edit: 07/06/2018 04:48 pm by woods170 »

Offline Star One

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NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #6 on: 07/06/2018 04:57 pm »
When it comes to human space flight, the U.S. government has two primary efforts underway.
<snip>
 Why else would several companies be working on massive launch vehicles that seemingly have no other obvious purpose?
Err - what?
Doesn't "I want to die on Mars, just not on impact", or  "a million people living and working in space." sound familiar?
Yes.  That is inspirational hyperbole.  People like Elon are good at such things.  The inspiration is terrific, and needed (because it gets people excited, thus building support), but money  - billions to tens of billions of dollars in these cases - always decides what really happens in the end.  Falcon 9 and Dragon were developed for and funded by NASA, remember, despite similar hyperbole at that time.

Elon Musk would have driven me absolutely nuts with the big-sky talk if it weren't for the fact that he has built and led an organization that has done such superb engineering, starting from the ground up with propulsion - the true difference maker in this business.  When it comes to this discussion, about NASA goals and missions, we should be asking why it took Musk to create Merlin, rather than NASA, or some other NASA contractor.

 - Ed Kyle

Cough Tesla. All I will say is have you being reading the financial press?
« Last Edit: 07/06/2018 04:58 pm by Star One »

Online meberbs

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Re: NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #7 on: 07/06/2018 05:03 pm »
When it comes to human space flight, the U.S. government has two primary efforts underway.
<snip>
 Why else would several companies be working on massive launch vehicles that seemingly have no other obvious purpose?
Err - what?
Doesn't "I want to die on Mars, just not on impact", or  "a million people living and working in space." sound familiar?
Yes.  That is inspirational hyperbole.
No, it is not hyperobole. They are very real goals with concrete steps being taken to achieve them.

You talk about money deciding what happens; the relevant people personally have tens of billions that they can spend, and since they can setup their operations as selling a service, they can reduce the actual amount they spend in addition to the actions they are taking to reduce costs to make the overall goals achievable.

Online AndrewSmith

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Re: NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #8 on: 07/06/2018 05:08 pm »

Elon Musk would have driven me absolutely nuts with the big-sky talk if it weren't for the fact that he has built and led an organization that has done such superb engineering, starting from the ground up with propulsion - the true difference maker in this business.  When it comes to this discussion, about NASA goals and missions, we should be asking why it took Musk to create Merlin, rather than NASA, or some other NASA contractor.

 - Ed Kyle

To be fair, there is a lot of NASA and TRW heritage in Merlin.   

Musk succeeded because yes, he took ground-level technology development seriously -  but he also combined good staffing decisions (Tom Mueller) with a level of personal involvement in the day-to-day business that you only see at small-ish tech startups.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #9 on: 07/06/2018 05:24 pm »
You complain about hyperbole. However, you are in fact doing hyperbole yourself. I've read you making your claim about how F9 and Dragon were developed for and funded by NASA multiple times now. It is becoming boring, particularly given the fact that large parts of your statement are false. The only thing explicitly developed for, and funded by NASA is Dragon. Falcon 9 is a very different story.
SpaceX was working on Falcon 1 and planning Falcon 5 until September, 2005, when it announced plans for Falcon 9 to meet the needs of an unnamed government customer.  The company subsequently won its first $278 million COTS money from NASA during September, 2006, revealing the government and the customer.  SpaceX won another $1.6 billion for CRS during December 2008.  Keep in mind that at this point, SpaceX had yet to orbit any paying customer payloads on Falcon 1.  The company was running on fumes, having had to raise $20 million in outside venture capital during mid-2008 just to keep the doors open.  COTS/CRS was the springboard.  The first five Falcon 9s, and 12 of the first 20, launched NASA payloads.  Canada's space agency and the Turkish government also bought two of the first 20 Falcon 9s.  NASA has fed, or is feeding, something beyond $10 billion to Hawthorne.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 07/06/2018 05:44 pm by edkyle99 »

Offline Star One

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Re: NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #10 on: 07/06/2018 05:37 pm »
When it comes to human space flight, the U.S. government has two primary efforts underway.
<snip>
 Why else would several companies be working on massive launch vehicles that seemingly have no other obvious purpose?
Err - what?
Doesn't "I want to die on Mars, just not on impact", or  "a million people living and working in space." sound familiar?
Yes.  That is inspirational hyperbole.
No, it is not hyperobole. They are very real goals with concrete steps being taken to achieve them.

You talk about money deciding what happens; the relevant people personally have tens of billions that they can spend, and since they can setup their operations as selling a service, they can reduce the actual amount they spend in addition to the actions they are taking to reduce costs to make the overall goals achievable.

No itís hyperbole where timescales seem to exist in some kind of distortion field. I am not talking about any one company here as several of them have been guilty of this.

Online meberbs

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Re: NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #11 on: 07/06/2018 05:42 pm »
When it comes to human space flight, the U.S. government has two primary efforts underway.
<snip>
 Why else would several companies be working on massive launch vehicles that seemingly have no other obvious purpose?
Err - what?
Doesn't "I want to die on Mars, just not on impact", or  "a million people living and working in space." sound familiar?
Yes.  That is inspirational hyperbole.
No, it is not hyperobole. They are very real goals with concrete steps being taken to achieve them.

You talk about money deciding what happens; the relevant people personally have tens of billions that they can spend, and since they can setup their operations as selling a service, they can reduce the actual amount they spend in addition to the actions they are taking to reduce costs to make the overall goals achievable.

No itís hyperbole where timescales seem to exist in some kind of distortion field. I am not talking about any one company here as several of them have been guilty of this.
Please read the thread again. Aggressive or unrealistic timescales have literally nothing to do with what was being discussed, only the end goals. The accusation from Ed Kyle was that the objectives themselves were hyperbole, regardless of timescale.

Offline woods170

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Re: NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #12 on: 07/06/2018 06:10 pm »

Elon Musk would have driven me absolutely nuts with the big-sky talk if it weren't for the fact that he has built and led an organization that has done such superb engineering, starting from the ground up with propulsion - the true difference maker in this business.  When it comes to this discussion, about NASA goals and missions, we should be asking why it took Musk to create Merlin, rather than NASA, or some other NASA contractor.

 - Ed Kyle

To be fair, there is a lot of NASA and TRW heritage in Merlin.   

More specifically: there is NASA and TRW heritage in Merlin 1A and 1B. The current Merlin 1D is a completely new critter. No NASA heritage there, let alone TRW.

Offline Kansan52

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Re: NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #13 on: 07/06/2018 06:10 pm »
Okay, just looked up hyperbole. Since both statements are meant to be literal and inspirational, then hyperbole doesn't fit.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #14 on: 07/06/2018 07:54 pm »
Okay, just looked up hyperbole. Since both statements are meant to be literal and inspirational, then hyperbole doesn't fit.
Maybe it's that "truthful hyperbole" thing that the president uses... ???
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Offline FinalFrontier

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Re: NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #15 on: 07/06/2018 08:20 pm »
This is a conversation I started in https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=45947.0 and it was not within the thread boundaries and started by saying there is not gong to really be any new information presented, just an endless debate about SLS/Orion vs everythng else.

Here is my opening:

Pretty much everything useful has already been said, we are talking past each other, and anything else will likely not shed any new light on the best course of action, especially since all said vehicles are are either still on paper or being fabricated.

The National HSF Mission is ill-defined and the commercial ones mostly support the owners goals and not any national objective.  Thus there is no main effort and no unity of command/purpose.

When one or more are launched, then there can be a new debate on how to proceed.

A poor plan, executed and supported vigorously now is better than a poorly executed and supported "perfect" plan at a later date.

We have four projects, for better or worse:  SLS, Space X vehicles, Blue Origin vehicles, and Vulcan.

The national main effort is arguably SLS (because it is supported (however poorly) by the President, Congress, and the nation and is probably executing as well as can be expected under the circumstances.

The others have varying amounts of support - whether it is public, private, or a combination.

We are not massing our resources in support of a main effort although we may be inadvertently be conducting economy of force because we don't know what we want to do and things may sort out in a satisfactory manner.

Manned spacecraft programs are in a similar state, with Orion, Dragon 2, CST-100, whatever Blue Origin is working on, and perhaps the DARPA space plane executing in the same manner. 

If the laws of the marketplace are allowed to operate, 2 or 3 of these competitors will likely drop out hopefully leaving us with 1 or 2 sound vehicles.  (The B-52 or C-130 of the space program, so to speak.)

I think it is reasonable to have two different boosters and two different spacecraft to provide continuous and redundant space operations.
----------- 

Perhaps we need a debate thread on just what the National Mission, Strategy, and Tactics should be and framed in 4, 8, and 12 year increments for the short term (because these are where elections align and we have trouble looking beyond them) with 25, 50 and 100 year with more long term goals that the shorter term goals can support.


Strategy is what you are going to do, tactics is how you are going to do it.  Since we don't really have a National Mission, it is difficult to define strategy and tactics to accomplish it.


As an example, had someone made the mistake of making me a national decision maker, I would have asked/directed Congress/NASA, after the loss of Columbia, to:

     *Develop a spacecraft capable of providing crew rotations every 6 months for 3 people AND a vehicle for cargo delivery to the ISS every six weeks within 8 years or sooner on existing boosters.
     *Maintain the Shuttle at a launch cadence of two - four missions per year to sustain the ISS with a crew of two or three and restrict it to other high priority programs.
     *Retire the Shuttle after 4 successful cargo missions to the ISS.
     *Contract with Russia to provide crew rotation to the ISS until we have 4 successful crew rotations to the ISS.
     *Contract with other nations to provide cargo delivery at a rate to fill any gaps between the US and Russia after the retirement of the shuttle.
    *Direct NASA to determine the need, objective, and purpose of Human Space Flight for the next 25 - 50 years to include, but not limited to, an ISS replacement, mission to the moon, or missions to Mars.
     *As these milestones were reached, ask/beg congress to transfer money from shuttle and Russian crew rotation to the new programs.

I think I am going to go find my flak jacket now... :-\

There was some debate about the difference of a goal versus a mission...

The National HSF Mission is ill-defined and the commercial ones mostly support the owners goals and not any national objective.  Thus there is no main effort and no unity of command/purpose.

The national HSF mission is very clearly defined as: "Lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities. Beginning with missions beyond low-Earth orbit, the United States will lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations;". Among the 3 major commercial players, two are always aiming for the Moon, the third is also willing and eager to provide transport to the Moon. So there is no divide between national goal and commercial players' goals, they are very well aligned.

The problem is USG is ignoring their own strategic goal, instead they just want job program for NASA centers and big defense contractors.


The National HSF Mission is ill-defined and the commercial ones mostly support the owners goals and not any national objective.  Thus there is no main effort and no unity of command/purpose.

The national HSF mission is very clearly defined as: "Lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities. Beginning with missions beyond low-Earth orbit, the United States will lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations;". Among the 3 major commercial players, two are always aiming for the Moon, the third is also willing and eager to provide transport to the Moon. So there is no divide between national goal and commercial players' goals, they are very well aligned.

The problem is USG is ignoring their own strategic goal, instead they just want job program for NASA centers and big defense contractors.

This is may sound semantical, but what you call a mission above is a goal and you properly reference it in your final comment.

A mission specifies who, what, when, and where and sometimes why, for example:  "First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.

and finally:

@SU27K:  (I have a hard time mastering quote trimming)

You ask:

Is there really that much difference? Your quote specifically said it's also a goal ("commit itself to achieving the goal"). Comparing the two the only difference I can find is the lack of when, who/what/where/why are all there.

So I say again:
The national goal or mission or whatever is there, "who/what/where/why" is not a mystery, "when" is not included probably because they couldn't commit the funding necessary to meet a "when", but that's ok as long as you're making progress towards the goal. What's not ok is the government ignoring their own goal and heading in the opposite direction.

Let the games begin

First off let me just say thank you mike for writing that and for this thread. I think this sort of thread has been overdue for a long time now, at the very least since the severity of problems on the SLS program started to become known. I was thinking of doing this exact type of thread but this is much better.

Second, let me articulate what IMHO the goal and mission should be.

The Primary Goal should be to land humans on the surface of Mars with the intent of establishing a research beach-head there, with permanent human habitation, before the year 2050. Not maybe by, not after, not during, before. There is no technical or financial reason why this cannot be done and the astonishing amount of hardware, advancement, and work that commercial providers have managed to accomplish on their own, in a much shorter time period than NASA has had for flagship programs, proves without doubt that this CAN be done, and without breaking the bank .

The Secondary Goal should be to utilize this initial beach-head to create a colony on Mars, with the ultimate goal being nothing less than full colonization. However I am thinking more in the short term here, so for now the secondary goal would be expanding the research station overtime by adding modules and surface habitats and increasing the number of people living there full time, in a sustainable way spanning out from first landing.

These should be unified goals of the spaceflight community within the US, and NASA's role should be to lead the way on this. NASA's role should NOT be to design and build the launch vehicles, engines, or space-craft needed do this, their role should be to design and run a unified program whereby this is facilitated. As far as what NASA should design and build, they should design and build the surface modules and systems that are too expensive and complex for commercial providers to do on their own, with collaboration with said providers in order to have true joint efforts in which costs are reduced and timelines shortened.

NASA's role should also not be that of a regulator, with endless requirements for flying NASA modules or humans to Mars constantly being changed, added, or deleted. This was a major driver for cost and time increases on the commercial crew program and it is essentially the sole reason why commercial crew flights have not yet begun.

As part of this effort, NASA's management structure should be totally overhauled, as well as their processes and procedures. The way of doing things like other government agencies of endlessly testing, endlessly adding requirements, and endlessly changing designs before a flight should be done away with. The risk averse attitude of endlessly having safety design meetings and endless design cycle reviews should also be done away with, it has not made NASA anymore safe and it has contributed to programmatic failure across multiple levels of the agency. The lesson learned from Challenger and Columbia should not to endlessly tie up any effort with red tape, it should be to enact common sense and efficient designs from the start which are inherently safer than more complex more outlandish designs. KISS should be the underlying principle for any and all Mars hardware programs since anything that breaks will have to be fixed in situ. NASA's entire culture must be changed.

The role of Congress should be that of a regulator. They should mandate and fund all of these things, but they should also provide PROPER oversight for once, and ensure NASA actually performs within the letter of the law and actually delivers ON TIME and IN BUDGET. No more endlessly slipping to the right.

The culture of kickbacks and slush contracts through NASA for giant centers like MSFC and sub-contractors on cost plus contracts like Boeing should be totally removed. Contract payments and future renewals should instead be based on real world progress made and hardware delivered on time and in budget like any other large program anywhere else DOD excluded . NASA should model itself after private companies and enterprises, not behave like a massive government agency any longer. NASA is a uniqe agency and therefore should strive for a much higher standard than others.

Now. THE MISSION:
The mission of NASA should be how to accomplish these goals in the quickest and most efficient possible manner. Safety should be inherent not disregarded, but it also should not be a crippling influence, the risks should be recognized before hand and understood, some people may die trying to do this, as did many on sailing ships during the exploration and development of the Americas. No reward without cost.

NASA should contract all launch vehicle services in the same manner as the COTS program, but without down selection and without changing the requirements and goal posts as the program advances both of which add delays. Contracts should also be awarded with pre-existing capability of each company in mind, in addition to future plans by each provider. NASA should not require companies to build new launch vehicles for a specific capability, rather they should let the company build whatever architecture that company thinks is the most efficient to do the stated mission.

NASA should immediately cancel SLS and all SLS contracts should be converted to merit based (as discussed above), and re-bid for a new program. The new program should be called the Mars research systems program, and its mission should be the construction of complex surface and as needed, deep space modules. More likely than not the majority of this program would be surface modules since existing proposals show us the quickest most direct flights to the planet are probably going to be the best financially, and the less time you spend in the deep space environment the better for both hardware and humans. Certain deep space items could still include the use of DSG type SEP or SEP cyclers. Such devices could be use to help accelerate cargo only vehicles built and launched by commercial providers, to higher velocities thus cutting trip times. NASA is well equipped to provide such a service and this would be a mutually beneficial system to both the commercial parties involved and to NASA toward's its ultimate goals.

Future contracts, as well as future monies, renewals, and jobs for the districts of the bean counters in congress should be determined based on how well the commercial companies perform on each service and contract. Delays due to new technology should not be penalized but delays due to graft, incompetent management, or poor design choices should be, as should delays introduced by un-necessary complexity, as should cost over-runs as the result of any of these. No more cost plus. No more sweetheart contracts for 1.5 trillion dollar fighter plans. No more 9 billion dollars spent to build a 5 segment solid rocket motor and an Apollo reboot that can't do anything. No more PORK rockets to nowhere.

Regarding the existing situation. Boeing should immediately refund to the federal government, all costs incurred with the cancellation of the SLS program and all costs stemming from over-runs of the program. NASA managers that have been involved with SLS, particularly those at Michoud and MSFC, who are responsible for the current mess, should be identified and brought before a congressional oversight committee to testify, and if necessary congress should empower the executive branch and the DOJ to initiate investigations into the activities of these people during CXP and currently SLS. The federal government should also consider lawsuits against some involved parties if necessary to recover lost tax payer dollars. This particular paragraph will almost certainly never happen, but it should and deserves inclusion.

Finally. The near term mission should be to achieve first landing by the year 2030, with permanent habitation by 2034 at the latest. If it is technically feasible to achieve first landing by 2024-2028, that should be targeted as well.

Second. IF real progress can be shown on this new program in the first three year,s and IF the schedule is adhered to and all the parties involved prove their merit to the american public and engineering community, then NASA and Congress should consider ending the ISS program by 2025. It should be a pre-requisite however that the new POR proposed above is functioning correctly TO THE LAST DETAIL before ISS can be touched. Hardware has to already be close to flying or on its way to the red planet before ISS can be touched. We will not have a situation where a POR is years behind schedule but ISS is allowed to be thrown away, it will not be allowed.   

The entirety of this program on a national level, should be called the Mars Colonial Exploration Program, or MCEP. This my 'VSE' if you will. Within NASA MCEP would have two primary branches, one would be management and contracting of commercial services (the COTS BEO program), the other would be the Mars Research Systems Program.

P.S.
There should be no immediate goal to return to the moon. If it becomes useful to establish a way-point base either on the lunar surface or in some lunar orbit, to augment in some way the Mars (and future) programs, then and only then should anything be done with the moon. Otherwise there is no functional reason to go there. Permanent habitation of the moon could be a future goal, however Mars should take initial priority due to size and available resources.

« Last Edit: 07/06/2018 08:32 pm by FinalFrontier »
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Offline mike robel

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Re: NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #16 on: 07/06/2018 09:01 pm »



Second, let me articulate what IMHO the goal and mission should be.


The Primary Goal should be to land humans on the surface of Mars with the intent of establishing a research beach-head there, with permanent human habitation, before the year 2050. Not maybe by, not after, not during, before. There is no technical or financial reason why this cannot be done and the astonishing amount of hardware, advancement, and work that commercial providers have managed to accomplish on their own, in a much shorter time period than NASA has had for flagship programs, proves without doubt that this CAN be done, and without breaking the bank .


The Secondary Goal should be to utilize this initial beach-head to create a colony on Mars, with the ultimate goal being nothing less than full colonization. However I am thinking more in the short term here, so for now the secondary goal would be expanding the research station overtime by adding modules and surface habitats and increasing the number of people living there full time, in a sustainable way spanning out from first landing.


These should be unified goals of the spaceflight community within the US, and NASA's role should be to lead the way on this. NASA's role should NOT be to design and build the launch vehicles, engines, or space-craft needed do this, their role should be to design and run a unified program whereby this is facilitated. As far as what NASA should design and build, they should design and build the surface modules and systems that are too expensive and complex for commercial providers to do on their own, with collaboration with said providers in order to have true joint efforts in which costs are reduced and timelines shortened.




Thanks for your response.  I feared we would just continue to say "SLS Sucks, <insert program> Rocks". 


I think this is a good start on a mission defining what we want to do as a nation in HSF.  The rest of your post enters to intent and concept of the operation/execution, which is fine, but a little more broad than I really wanted to get at this point.


I would like to take the liberty to massage it a bit.


First, some assumptions.
1.  Such a lashup, as proposed below, is not unconstitutional.
2.  Congress would allot a baseline level of funding to ensure an expected level of funding, but not attempt to fund the entire cost.
3.  States, private corporations, private individuals, and other countries could join this Company and provide additional funding, perhaps with a lottery allowing 1 - 3 private individuals to be part of the team.
4.   Establishment of the base would be preceded by a "swarm" of unmanned reconnaissance probes to determine a location to provide the best science return and presence of resources to assist in making the base as self-sufficient as possible.
5.  The mission is not a one way trip.
6.  Additional revenue would be raised by the sale of artifacts returned to Earth for private persons but also for sale to organizations for research to provide some return on investment to the contributors.  (Probably "just" rocks but there could be other things we don't know about yet.)
7.  This would not prohibit other entities from crafting their own programs.
8.  No territorial claims or private ownership of land would be permitted.


NASA shall, in conjunction with the National Science Foundation and a voluntary association of private companies and donors, establish a West to Mars Exploration Company to fund, define, and execute a cooperative/coordinated program to establish a permanently staffed research science base by or before the year 2050, then expand the base to provide a permanent habitat and establish other research stations to further expand the human presence and research on the planet.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #17 on: 07/06/2018 09:35 pm »
Goals are aspirational, meaning there is a desire or wish to do something, but the particulars about the when, how and such may not be identified, and it is not being pursued fully yet. In the context of the U.S. Government, goals are not yet fully funded. The LOP-G is an example of this, since Congress has only provided funding to explore the idea, but has not committed fully to the entire program. NASA going to Mars is also a goal, with pretty much zero funding to support it and no timeline to achieving it at all.

A mission, in the context of NASA, is something that is funded to accomplish a defined goal. Creating and operating the ISS is a mission that has accomplished many interim goals, and continues to accomplish it's primary goal of doing research in space.

The SLS and Orion are not missions, but could be identified as part of a goal. For instance, the goal for the SLS could be to create a heavy-lift transportation system that can support the movement of large, bulky payloads for U.S. Government needs in space. But the SLS is just a tool that is used to achieve a mission, not a mission by itself (except for maybe a test flight to gather data).

I'm reminded of the old saying about politicians - "It doesn't matter what they say, it only matters what they fund."

Missions are funded, goals are not.

My $0.02
« Last Edit: 07/06/2018 09:37 pm by Coastal Ron »
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 Coastal Ron

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Re: NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #18 on: 07/06/2018 09:52 pm »
The second is SLS/Orion and where ever that leads, which is just beginning.  As I see it, SLS/Orion with lunar outpost (or whatever they're calling things now) could also end up being a commercial incubator.  Why else would several companies be working on massive launch vehicles that seemingly have no other obvious purpose?

Those building those "massive launch vehicles" have already stated why they are building them, but you would rather throw away their reasons and insert your own. Sorry, but you don't get to define what Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are doing, they do.

Elon Musk has his own goal, which is to make humanity multi-planetary, starting with a colony on Mars. Everyone at SpaceX knows this, and everyone (except apparently you) in the space community knows this too. Supporting Trump's nascent efforts to return government employees to the vicinity of our Moon is just a byproduct of the effort to colonize Mars, not the primary reason.

Jeff Bezos too has his own goal, and I'll quote him:

Quote
This is Blue Originís mission. Our mission is to try and put in place some of that heavy lifting infrastructure: Make access to space at much lower cost so that thousands of entrepreneurs can do amazing and interesting things, and take us into the next era. Iím very excited about it. We only need two things to be able to do it: reusability and practice.

So no, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are not building "massive launch vehicles" because the U.S. Government is building the SLS or saying it has a goal of returning to our Moon. Bezos and Musk have their own goals that are driving them, and by achieving their goals it will make other goals in space much less expensive to pursue.
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 Star One

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NASA Goal versus Mission
« Reply #19 on: 07/06/2018 10:06 pm »
When it comes to human space flight, the U.S. government has two primary efforts underway.
<snip>
 Why else would several companies be working on massive launch vehicles that seemingly have no other obvious purpose?
Err - what?
Doesn't "I want to die on Mars, just not on impact", or  "a million people living and working in space." sound familiar?
Yes.  That is inspirational hyperbole.
No, it is not hyperobole. They are very real goals with concrete steps being taken to achieve them.

You talk about money deciding what happens; the relevant people personally have tens of billions that they can spend, and since they can setup their operations as selling a service, they can reduce the actual amount they spend in addition to the actions they are taking to reduce costs to make the overall goals achievable.

No itís hyperbole where timescales seem to exist in some kind of distortion field. I am not talking about any one company here as several of them have been guilty of this.
Please read the thread again. Aggressive or unrealistic timescales have literally nothing to do with what was being discussed, only the end goals. The accusation from Ed Kyle was that the objectives themselves were hyperbole, regardless of timescale.

Trying to separate the two from each other seems a pointless activity as they are too closely linked.
« Last Edit: 07/06/2018 10:08 pm by Star One »

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