Author Topic: Significantly increasing NASA's human spaceflight budget  (Read 2479 times)

Offline QuantumG

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The Planetary Society has a thorough article on how NASA's budget is determined. It is said that many of the activities that NASA has been charged with in human spaceflight require a significantly greater budget. Ignoring the possibility of doing these things cheaper, and keeping in mind "how the sausage is made", how would it be possible to double the budget (or more) for human spaceflight?

Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Significantly increasing NASA's human spaceflight budget
« Reply #1 on: 07/28/2018 03:22 am »
Ignoring the possibility of doing these things cheaper, and keeping in mind "how the sausage is made", how would it be possible to double the budget (or more) for human spaceflight?

There just needs to be an important "National Imperative" that Congress agrees with. If the need is recognized, Congress will allocate what is needed.

A clear example is the Apollo program, which even though the public did not agree with it's goals until Apollo 11 was close to flying, Congress agreed with the overall need Kennedy laid out about how landing an American on the Moon could possibly help us win the Cold War.

When there are major development programs like the SLS and Orion, and budgets are held relatively flat, I think that shows that Congress does not see an important goal that needs to be addressed, but is OK with letting the programs be developed.

And while it would normally take 1-2 years for the normal budget process to work, Congress could take up an important program with only months of notice during their budget hearings - assuming what the administration was proposing was important enough to take up on short notice.

Usually such "National Imperatives" require the President to lay out a clear picture of the situation, and what would happen if the U.S. did nothing - and how the U.S. would benefit by doing "Program X". So we just need to see if Trump wants this to happen, and if he can articulate a clear reason why the current budget levels should be increased.
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 Steven Pietrobon

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Re: Significantly increasing NASA's human spaceflight budget
« Reply #2 on: 07/28/2018 05:10 am »
The Planetary Society has a thorough article on how NASA's budget is determined. It is said that many of the activities that NASA has been charged with in human spaceflight require a significantly greater budget. Ignoring the possibility of doing these things cheaper, and keeping in mind "how the sausage is made", how would it be possible to double the budget (or more) for human spaceflight?

With the US already spending more money on space than the rest of the world combined, there's not much that could happen outside of the US that could influence the US to spend even more money. Probably the only country that could match the US in spending is China, but they don't seem to be interested in competing, with their go slow approach.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline speedevil

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Re: Significantly increasing NASA's human spaceflight budget
« Reply #3 on: 07/28/2018 11:26 am »
With the US already spending more money on space than the rest of the world combined, there's not much that could happen outside of the US that could influence the US to spend even more money. Probably the only country that could match the US in spending is China, but they don't seem to be interested in competing, with their go slow approach.

I note the presentation to Congress in which Gwynne (?) mis-spoke(?) of SpaceX as the country launching the most rockets next year.

The interests are simply too entrenched to be easily overcome in a revolutionary way.
At some point in the nearish future SpaceX (or Blue, or ...) will work out how to rapidly reuse rockets capable of launching significant payloads very cheaply.

At that point, it is arguable that in some ways they have a budget multiplier high enough to make very, very modest spending comparable to NASA.

A corporate, native, relatively inexpensive program will likely be the 'country' NASA needs to compete against, and that I am unsure any congress would vote for a 5* budget increase for NASA to do less to compete.

Other than this, several countries could in principle using their existing rockets and fuel transfer get enough payload together for a manned moon mission.
China is pretty much the only option here, budget-wise, though as noted, they're going really slowly.

Barring a true existential threat (moderate asteroid certain to hit in 2020), or something really odd happening in the 2020 election (Go Buzz!), I can't see congress moving the budget up or down hugely.

Offline AncientU

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Re: Significantly increasing NASA's human spaceflight budget
« Reply #4 on: 07/28/2018 08:36 pm »
Congress has apparently discovered (amazing!) that spaceflight can be done cheaper than currently done by NASA.  Hard to double the budget instead of considering doing things cheaper.
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Offline Lar

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Re: Significantly increasing NASA's human spaceflight budget
« Reply #5 on: 07/31/2018 02:50 am »
I think SpaceX or Blue (or both) doing something privately that basically delivers what NASA has been talking about doing is less fantastical than the notion that NASA would get their budget doubled.

Both are somewhat fantastical but one is a lot more so.
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Offline TomH

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Re: Significantly increasing NASA's human spaceflight budget
« Reply #6 on: 07/31/2018 03:26 am »
I think SpaceX or Blue (or both) doing something privately that basically delivers what NASA has been talking about doing is less fantastical than the notion that NASA would get their budget doubled.

Both are somewhat fantastical but one is a lot more so.

Perfectly said.

Don't want to start a flame war here, but putting the albatross out of its misery would be far better than doubling the budget. Just let SpaceX do their thing with BFR. If that becomes problematic, a distributed lift lunar architecture using F9, FH, modified D2, with NASA contracting with someone else for landers is far more realistic (and affordable) than a doubling of the budget. Of course, that cadre of senators must retire first. Politics is such an enemy of efficiency.

Nothing new here. We've covered this ground a million times.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Significantly increasing NASA's human spaceflight budget
« Reply #7 on: 07/31/2018 03:32 am »
Nothing new here. We've covered this ground a million times.

I don't think we've covered it at all. Read the first post. If you have an opinion that is on topic then share it. Even if you'd like to throw out a scenario that won't work, then great. Stop derailing the thread.

Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline incoming

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Re: Significantly increasing NASA's human spaceflight budget
« Reply #8 on: 07/31/2018 12:20 pm »
Iíll bite. Coastal Ron points out the most common explanation for how this could happen - the Apollo like scenario. Some have posited that the Chinese could spark such a situation depending on how their (and our) space program goes. A non defense motivated scenario could be discovery of life - past or present - on mars, along with some very strong and convincing argument that such life can only be studied effectively in situ and by studying it we can make some sort of significant advances (perhaps in medicine/health) in an application ďback homeĒ that makes it worth the investment. The National institute of health had gotten huge increases in modern times so there is some precedent for that. But I still think both of these cases are far-fetched. In any case i freely admit itís pure speculation on my part.

Perhaps less far-fetched, and not something thatís often talked about, is landing strong NASA supporters on the appropriation committees in congress and them holding those positions long enough to drive up NASA budgets incrementally over several years. Arguably thatís whatís happening now with Culberson and Shelby. NASAs budget has been outgrowing most other agencies, and Culberson has openly stated he wants to dramatically increase NASAs budget. But because of the way elections and chairmanships work in the house Iím not sure heíll last long enough to realize that objective, and Shelby doesnít seem to have the same enthusiasm beyond his home state projects.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Significantly increasing NASA's human spaceflight budget
« Reply #9 on: 07/31/2018 01:45 pm »
Make it an election issue and sell it to the public for what it is; "a jobs program"... All politics is local and we have mid-term elections coming up. Corporations win and John Q does as well, forget all the altruistic, noble or nationalistic reasons...
It's no different than proposing infrastructure improvement employment as long as it's a good paying job that puts food on the table... When it comes to the national budget it's pretty much all deficit spending anyway...
« Last Edit: 08/04/2018 05:36 pm by Rocket Science »
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Offline Lar

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Re: Significantly increasing NASA's human spaceflight budget
« Reply #10 on: 07/31/2018 04:31 pm »
Nothing new here. We've covered this ground a million times.

I don't think we've covered it at all. Read the first post. If you have an opinion that is on topic then share it. Even if you'd like to throw out a scenario that won't work, then great. Stop derailing the thread.

The thread asks "how"... TomH and I answered, basically, "it's not". Perfectly on topic. Stop derailing the thread with claims that others are derailing the thread just because you don't like the answer.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline Lar

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Re: Significantly increasing NASA's human spaceflight budget
« Reply #11 on: 07/31/2018 04:48 pm »
That said I'll give you a scenario for a doubling...

BFS works. SpaceX plants the flag on Mars. New Armstrong works. Blue plants the flag on Luna.

Congress is presented a proposal from each for a US scientific base, supplied by their transport. (and ancillary comms networks, probes, etc) The bill for both bases is the current budget plus the SLS part. Congress kills SLS because with BFS and NA, it's not needed, and raises the budget to fund the two bases before China gets there.  new NASA budget is now 2x the old and 10-20x the science gets done. ISS and science directorate missions remain untouched except now use cheaper launchers.

Fantastical.

But more likely than Congress just raising the budget.
« Last Edit: 07/31/2018 04:49 pm by Lar »
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline high road

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Re: Significantly increasing NASA's human spaceflight budget
« Reply #12 on: 08/04/2018 04:51 pm »
Here are two more scenario's:

The drop in launch costs leads to opening up new commercial activities in space. International corporations quickly move to the countries with the best infrastructure and regulations. Countries compete among each other to attract these corporations and NASA and other national space agencies quickly become barely relevant institutions concerned mostly with blue skies research. Even without a drop in the budget.

China (the most likely at the moment, but it could be a totally new player as well) finds a way to control a bottleneck in those commercial space activities. National space agencies quickly become focused on protecting national interests in space. Their budgets are multiplied, but all projects are evaluated with regard to national interests. Blue skies research is severely restricted

Take your pick.

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