Author Topic: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans  (Read 20047 times)

Offline yg1968

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #80 on: 09/18/2018 06:01 pm »
Yes, I know but my point was that the Gateway would still work with BFR or some other commercial rocket.

Why would you need the Lunar Gateway if the BFS can take you to the surface of the Moon for far less than the SLS/Orion?

In my opinion, cislunar space is a destination just as much as the Moon or Mars.

In hindsight I wish that hadn't mentionned BFR. For the time being NASA is assuming that BFR may or may not happen and I think that is the right approach since the funding ($5B) for BFR may or may not materialize. But I think that NASA should plan on using FH (and its competitors) for the gateway since it exists.
« Last Edit: 09/18/2018 06:02 pm by yg1968 »

Offline Wudizzle

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #81 on: 09/18/2018 06:28 pm »
Yes, I know but my point was that the Gateway would still work with BFR or some other commercial rocket.

Why would you need the Lunar Gateway if the BFS can take you to the surface of the Moon for far less than the SLS/Orion?

In my opinion, cislunar space is a destination just as much as the Moon or Mars.

In hindsight I wish that hadn't mentionned BFR. For the time being NASA is assuming that BFR may or may not happen and I think that is the right approach since the funding ($5B) for BFR may or may not materialize. But I think that NASA should plan on using FH (and its competitors) for the gateway since it exists.

Being concerned that $5B may not materialize to fund a system 10x more capable than the one you're currently spending $30B+ on is a REALLY good description of why Lunar Gateway exists and gives great insight into its likely utility.

Removing comparisons to other still-notional architectures altogether, I still can't find what function Lunar Gateway provides, save giving SLS somewhere to go.

Offline Proponent

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #82 on: 09/18/2018 06:31 pm »
For the time being NASA is assuming that BFR may or may not happen and I think that is the right approach since the funding ($5B) for BFR may or may not materialize.

If there is a serious possibility that a much cheaper and more capable rocket will be available, would it not be rational to investigate the possibility and, if it seems sufficiently secure, firm it up by contracting SpaceX (or Blue Origin or ULA) to build it?  Rational, that is, if going to cis-lunar space really is the objective.  If the real objective is to build a particular rocket in a particular place, then it's not rational at all.

Offline yg1968

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #83 on: 09/18/2018 08:12 pm »
For the time being NASA is assuming that BFR may or may not happen and I think that is the right approach since the funding ($5B) for BFR may or may not materialize.

If there is a serious possibility that a much cheaper and more capable rocket will be available, would it not be rational to investigate the possibility and, if it seems sufficiently secure, firm it up by contracting SpaceX (or Blue Origin or ULA) to build it?  Rational, that is, if going to cis-lunar space really is the objective.  If the real objective is to build a particular rocket in a particular place, then it's not rational at all.

I agree but it's unlikely to happen. The government has decided to fund its own HLV and that HLV is SLS. My own view is that SLS will be cancelled once BFR becomes operational but I have some doubts as to how Musk will find the required $5B to develop BFR. $5B is not a trivial amount and NASA is not going to give SpaceX that money. 
« Last Edit: 09/18/2018 08:14 pm by yg1968 »

Online ncb1397

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #84 on: 09/18/2018 11:24 pm »
NASA is developing electric propulsion systems that BFS doesn't satisfy. Travel times would be on the order of 2 months to 15 months to Mars, which, on the high performance end is far superior to anything BFS is capable of and requires far less IMLEO (like 150 tons for a single ship). If the government hadn't supported chemical rockets 50 years ago, it is entirely possible that they wouldn't have progressed to the point currently where BFR was acheivable.

Developing electric propulsion systems is the easy part - now how do you power them, and what do they run on?
If you are launching at 8km/s or so, at ISP=1500, to halve the transit time to Mars, for a payload of a hundred tons, you have just used up the entire world production of Xenon for that synod.
(clearly, there are other propellants).


Did you do the math for how much Xenon there is in the atmosphere.

It is 0.0000087% by volume at 4.7x the mass of N2 or roughly 0.0000409% by mass. The mass of the atmosphere is 5.148010^18 kg. Meaning the amount of Xenon available is ~ 447,876,000,000 kg. Assuming a base vehicle used 100,000 kg. You could fuel ~4.5 million vehicles. Anyways, I didn't say anything about Xenon.

Quote
This is a ten megawatt solar panel. If this is 50kg/W, or another 200 tons. If this is built at typical NASA prices of $25/kg or so, up, you're looking at the thick end of ten billion dollars.

Dawn is 12.5 kg/KW or 125,000 kg for a 10 MW array. The baseline ROSA array for DSG is 150 watts/ kg or 6.7 kg/KW which would yield a mass of 67,000 kg. For the longer term, a goal of 3 kg/KW or 30,000 kg would be a reasonable target that I have seen written about as a future goal. With beamed power , which is a modular upgrade path for practically any solar power system, you can theoretically go much lower than 3 kg/ KW.

Certainly, the development costs and production costs of building only a few copies of new technology would be extensive and the pay off long term and uncertain, which is why the private sector won't do it. But you may find that the private sector will eventually "steal it" and run with it, just like SpaceX "stole" PICA from NASA mars landers, "stole" lithium-aluminum cryo tanks from NASA's space shuttle, "stole" cryogenic composite tanks from technology development activities at Marshall, "stole" rocket vertical landing from NASA LEM/DC-X, etc. 
« Last Edit: 09/19/2018 12:00 am by ncb1397 »

Online Coastal Ron

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #85 on: 09/18/2018 11:45 pm »
In my opinion, cislunar space is a destination just as much as the Moon or Mars.

The Lunar Gateway is not meant for all of "cis-lunar" space, just a specific orbit around the Moon. In fact it's location is determined by the limitations of the SLS and Orion.

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In hindsight I wish that hadn't mentionned BFR.

No doubt, but mentioning it with respect to the current news (i.e. the billionaire paying to fly around the Moon on a BFS) highlights the large disconnect between what NASA is doing and what the private sector is doing.

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For the time being NASA is assuming that BFR may or may not happen...

For purposes of the Lunar Gateway, they have never cared what the private sector is doing.

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...and I think that is the right approach since the funding ($5B) for BFR may or may not materialize.

Funding to finish the SLS may or may not materialize. Let's be realistic here, the business case for the SLS is pretty small, and Congress has been known to fall out of love of big programs without too much notice.

Quote
But I think that NASA should plan on using FH (and its competitors) for the gateway since it exists.

I don't think NASA should be picking winners before the bids are submitted...  ;)

NASA should put out for bid as much as possible on the Lunar Gateway in order to make it affordable. However we don't know yet whether it is affordable, and Congress has still not fully funded the Lunar Gateway program.

The Lunar Gateway is not a fait accompli yet.
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 Lar

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #86 on: 09/19/2018 12:33 pm »
We have a thread for the DEBATE of whether LOPG is a good idea or not. Thats off topic here
We have a thread for how BFS development gets funded. That's off topic here.
We have a thread for casting shade on SpaceX and BFS. That's off topic here.
We have a thread for casting shade on SLS. That's off topic here.

I'm sensing a theme. Moving all those off topic posts is a lot of work and I'm disinclined to move any in this case because I'm grumpy... so if we get more posts that are off topic I might swing my ax and get rid of all of them. Word to the wise.
« Last Edit: 09/19/2018 04:43 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 Khadgars

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #87 on: 09/19/2018 02:22 pm »
I find it astounding the way the comments continue to be on here.  I understand that most everyone is beyond cynical at this point, and for some good reasons for sure.  But listening to everyone state that what is essentially a mini ISS in lunar orbit that involves multiple space agencies has zero value?  I don't get it, even if you are not for government funded launch vehicles.



Perhaps an analogy would be useful here.   

Imagine the Army corp of Engineers needs a project in order to stay gainfully employed.   So a mysterious process occurs where the it is decided that they should go to the geographic center of Kansas and build a giant, 5 billion dollar earthen wall 900 meters high by 10 km long -- the largest dam ever constructed ... except it is not actually holding back a river.

This is the most fantastic project ever!  It is the biggest!   It takes a great deal of work by talented engineers and builders from all 50 US states.   It is a marvel of engineering.

Is this wise?

That is a very cynical, narrow view of Lunar Gateway.  Again, you believe nothing beneficial can come from a mini space station in lunar orbit.  I simply do not understand the amount of cynicism required to have that mind set, even if the money isn't going to your own personal favorite "project".

Offline spacenut

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #88 on: 09/19/2018 02:29 pm »
What existing rockets and payloads can reach NASA's proposed LOP-G location? 

Offline TripleSeven

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #89 on: 09/19/2018 02:41 pm »
Yes, I know but my point was that the Gateway would still work with BFR or some other commercial rocket.

Why would you need the Lunar Gateway if the BFS can take you to the surface of the Moon for far less than the SLS/Orion?

In my opinion, cislunar space is a destination just as much as the Moon or Mars.

In hindsight I wish that hadn't mentionned BFR. For the time being NASA is assuming that BFR may or may not happen and I think that is the right approach since the funding ($5B) for BFR may or may not materialize. But I think that NASA should plan on using FH (and its competitors) for the gateway since it exists.

in my view there are three things that would make this Lunar Gateway plan "useful"

first if the entire thing was a "private enterprise" stimulator, at least for all the money spent in the US.

second if part of that money being spent was designed to actually do some lunar exploration...

third if that lunar exploration was geared directly to setting up a lunar base (where the Gateway could in my view pay a role) and was also geared to allowing private enterprise access to on the ground resources

SpaceX, Blue, Bigelow, OSC, even the legacy contractors are going to have a hard time taking the "next step" without the same funding stream that took the first steps...commercial cargo/crew...and the local resource use is a natural for a national investment

none of the NASA plans do this, not the first ones, not this latest "thing".  its all about redoing teh space station...

this time mostly without the Russians...who NASA (and US policy makers) are having a harder and harder time dealing with; and who have no money....and second providing work for SLS and Orion

Offline Jimmy_C

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #90 on: 09/19/2018 03:29 pm »
Would it be beneficial to use BFS, if it comes online during the right time, for Platform resupply or as a habitation or augmented power module? It can provide a lot of upmass. However, its price might be too much for this usage. Is this unrealistic?

Online A_M_Swallow

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #91 on: 09/19/2018 04:30 pm »
Would it be beneficial to use BFS, if it comes online during the right time, for Platform resupply or as a habitation or augmented power module? It can provide a lot of upmass. However, its price might be too much for this usage. Is this unrealistic?

The BFS may be reusable on Earth but I am not convinced that it can be reused on the Moon. I suspect the BFS needs a proper landing pad otherwise it blacks a hole in the ground and sandblasts itself. It may also hit rocks that have not been removed.

The BFS could deliver a team of people to the LOP-G that can then catch a lander. It may also be able to deliver heavy cargoes to KOP-G.

Offline pathfinder_01

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #92 on: 09/19/2018 04:38 pm »
What existing rockets and payloads can reach NASA's proposed LOP-G location?

FH, Vulcan, Delta IV heavy and Atlas can all send cargo to the proposed location. Something Cynus like could carry cargo. In terms of building if the modules would have their own propulsion system or the station constructed elsewhere then moved to it's location then those rockets would be capable of constructing it. The only thing they can't do is send crew in one shoot(FH might be able to send a Dragon here with crew).

Online ncb1397

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #93 on: 09/19/2018 09:36 pm »
What existing rockets and payloads can reach NASA's proposed LOP-G location?

FH, Vulcan, Delta IV heavy and Atlas can all send cargo to the proposed location. Something Cynus like could carry cargo. In terms of building if the modules would have their own propulsion system or the station constructed elsewhere then moved to it's location then those rockets would be capable of constructing it. The only thing they can't do is send crew in one shoot(FH might be able to send a Dragon here with crew).

The attachment below is what I got by querying the NLS performance tool with a c3 of -2 km^2/s^2[1]. The C3 can vary a bit based on launch date and trajectory duration.

Subtracting the ~4000 kg mass of a Cygnus and a variable fuel load to do the ~450 m/s NRHO insertion yields the following payloads.

Atlas V 421 - 148 kg
Atlas V 531 - 401 kg
Atlas V 431 - 667 kg
Atlas V 541 - 981 kg
Atlas V 551 - 1435 kg
Delta IV Heavy -  5074 kg

The -2 km/s query doesn't return Falcon 9 results, but -1 km^2/s^2 does. For that, the payloads are:

Falcon Heavy (Recovery) - 1903 kg
Falcon Heavy (Expendable) - 9137 kg

It seems to me the only two vehicles that make sense are Falcon Heavy (recovery), Atlas V 551 and Delta IV Heavy. You would need a lighter vehicle than the lightest current U.S. cargo vehicle to make use of Falcon 9, smaller Atlas variants, Delta IV, etc. Future near term vehicles would include Vulcan and New Glenn. Max fuel load for the deep space cygnus would be ~1500 kg.

[1] https://descanso.jpl.nasa.gov/monograph/series12/LunarTraj--05Chapter4TransferstoLowLunarOrbits.pdf

« Last Edit: 09/19/2018 09:41 pm by ncb1397 »

Offline Proponent

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #94 on: 09/20/2018 07:04 pm »
For the time being NASA is assuming that BFR may or may not happen and I think that is the right approach since the funding ($5B) for BFR may or may not materialize.

If there is a serious possibility that a much cheaper and more capable rocket will be available, would it not be rational to investigate the possibility and, if it seems sufficiently secure, firm it up by contracting SpaceX (or Blue Origin or ULA) to build it?  Rational, that is, if going to cis-lunar space really is the objective.  If the real objective is to build a particular rocket in a particular place, then it's not rational at all.

I agree but it's unlikely to happen. The government has decided to fund its own HLV and that HLV is SLS. My own view is that SLS will be cancelled once BFR becomes operational but I have some doubts as to how Musk will find the required $5B to develop BFR. $5B is not a trivial amount and NASA is not going to give SpaceX that money. 

If funding is the worry, I think Blue Origin is a better bet than NASA.  For starters, the budget deficit is now soaring during an economic upturn: imagine how ugly the budget picture will be when the next downturn arrives.  Plus, you can bet your booty that just as soon as a Democrat becomes president, Republicans will suddenly remember that theirs is the party of fiscal responsibility.  And sequestration is still the law and could come back to bite.
« Last Edit: 09/20/2018 07:08 pm by Proponent »

Offline speedevil

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #95 on: 09/20/2018 07:47 pm »
If funding is the worry, I think Blue Origin is a better bet than NASA.  For starters, the budget deficit is now soaring during an economic upturn: imagine how ugly the budget picture will be when the next downturn arrives.

This does not seem to be supported by the evidence.
Blue bars are budget for that year in adjusted dollars.
Post Apollo wind-down, the budget was more-or-less constant in dollar outlay until ISS ramped up.
Following several years of initial surge building up for ISS, it has  stabilised to a remarkable degree post 1995.

NASA has had continuing support through both flavours of administration, with the actual dollar amount spent not being slashed in bad years.

Might that change in the future - sure. Is it certain to - very far from it.
« Last Edit: 09/20/2018 07:49 pm by speedevil »

Offline Propylox

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #96 on: 10/20/2018 07:46 pm »
That is why they call it the "proving ground". It will eventually "evolve" into a Mars transportation system. -&- To me Gateway is exactly what NASA should be doing. NASA can leave transportation to commercial companies but building space infrastructure such as Gateway is still needed.
First, I'll point out that contradiction. Second, I'll refute the idea PPE/Gateway has any relevancy for future propulsion designs. Third, you can advertise it however you wish - it doesn't change what it is.

I find it astounding the way the comments continue to be on here. .. listening to everyone state that what is essentially a mini ISS in lunar orbit that involves multiple space agencies has zero value? ..
I doubt anyone here would object to a station or cooperation in principle, but this one just stinks. An argument can be made for a Lunar Orbital weighpoint, but this ain't that. An argument could be made for developing SEP toward cislunar cycling or BEO missions, but this ain't that. The only valid argument made for Gateway is appropriations and institutional justification, and that stinks.
I'm as astounded as you, but at the proposal and agency culture that could try and sell it.

Tell me, what is happening at the gateway exactly?   This is a serious question.
... and that is the reason why the benefit of these projects is questionable. NASA builds then so that NASA can build them.
I see no viable purpose for the existing Gateway, not even as a building program. It's spare parts compiled and sent into the void. Musk did the same with an old Roadster, the difference is his spare parts were cheaper and had no intentions to contract servicing of it afterward. Without a purpose to Gateway's destination, there's no reason to expand or develop it, to have a NASA building program or subsequent missions. It's just expensive spacejunk.

Offline Archibald

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #97 on: 10/21/2018 07:59 am »
Quote
n my view there are three things that would make this Lunar Gateway plan "useful"

first if the entire thing was a "private enterprise" stimulator, at least for all the money spent in the US.

second if part of that money being spent was designed to actually do some lunar exploration...

third if that lunar exploration was geared directly to setting up a lunar base (where the Gateway could in my view pay a role) and was also geared to allowing private enterprise access to on the ground resources

We have a winner here. Well, there are some encouraging signs on this front.
Lockheed big lander, for a start. Also Google lunar Xprize (or what's left of it) some teams may use the gateway as a waypoint.
Alternatively, Moon Express could drop some of their landers from the Gateway, to the lunar surface.
And of course SpaceX BFR/BFS.

Here is how I see things. While SpaceX is proceeding full steam ahead with BFR/BFS without any NASA involvement, other private companies are not so advanced or not so rich.

In this context, they may rally around a NASA Gateway as a "first foostep back into cislunar space".

Whatever SpaceX lunar plans, NASA still has an important role to play in the "human lunar return " game
- they have massive funding from the government - "massive" in the sense of a handful of billion of dollars
- only SpaceX and Blue Origin have more money than this
- and of course Apollo experience is still handy and precious, even after 50 years and counting.

In this context, a Gateway = a rally point.

Of course it would be better if NASA could get its "rally point" on the lunar surface (a Moon base !) rather than the libration point  Gateway, but hey, their present budget don't allow for it c'est la vie.

NASA flat budget is decades old and the issue is hardly new. Back in the 90's Dan Goldin was well aware of this and he really tried to get a human lunar return as *cheap* as possible, trying all kind of different tricks - lunar oxygen, the russians cheap boosters, using existing launchers like Titan IV or Ariane 5 , barebone landers... whatever Goldin flaws, this brought some interesting cost data later used by Augustine in 2009. Verdict: NASA flat budget can't do it.
http://space.nss.org/lunar-base-studies-1992-first-lunar-outpost-flo/

https://space.nss.org/lunar-base-studies-1993-early-lunar-access-ela/

http://space.nss.org/lunar-base-studies-1993-lunox/

http://space.nss.org/lunar-base-studies-1996-human-lunar-return/

That's the reason why they went for the Gateway in the first place: cheaper than lunar surface ops, yet still a strong signal / symbol "we are returning to the Moon, and this is an early step"
« Last Edit: 10/21/2018 08:13 am by Archibald »
...you have been found guilty by the elders of the forum of a (imaginary) vendetta against Saint Elon - BLAAASPHEMER !

Online Coastal Ron

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #98 on: 10/21/2018 06:51 pm »
In this context, a Gateway = a rally point.

Which sounds interesting for places here on Earth, but I think it remains to be seen if the concept works in space. And just to be clear, a "rally point" is not the same (to me) as a permanent installation of some type, and I don't see the proposed LOP-G as a permanent installation.

Quote
Of course it would be better if NASA could get its "rally point" on the lunar surface (a Moon base !) rather than the libration point  Gateway, but hey, their present budget don't allow for it c'est la vie.

We really don't know if the current flat budget profile would allow for the LOP-G to be effectively used. We may know how much is being spent to make the SLS and Orion operational, but so far NASA has not told the public or Congress how much the SLS and Orion will cost to operate. And transportation costs will be a significant part of the LOP-G budget.

I think we all remember how NASA used to claim the Shuttle only cost $500M per flight, but it wasn't until the end of the program that we learned that the real cost was more like $1.2B without accounting for DDT&E ($1.5B with). There will be lots more people paying attention to the SLS and Orion costs now.

Quote
That's the reason why they went for the Gateway in the first place: cheaper than lunar surface ops, yet still a strong signal / symbol "we are returning to the Moon, and this is an early step"

Just dealing with the facts of the hardware side of the SLS and Orion, the Orion as designed today cannot support lunar surface operations. So the orbit of the LOP-G is not in the most useful of locations for lunar study or supporting future lunar programs, but because of the limitations of the Orion.

But everyone knows there are alternatives to using the Orion and the SLS, so it's really a matter of political priorities - what is the government willing to spend to leave LEO with humans?
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 ncb1397

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Re: NASA updates Lunar Gateway plans
« Reply #99 on: 10/30/2018 05:26 pm »

If funding is the worry, I think Blue Origin is a better bet than NASA.  For starters, the budget deficit is now soaring during an economic upturn: imagine how ugly the budget picture will be when the next downturn arrives.  Plus, you can bet your booty that just as soon as a Democrat becomes president, Republicans will suddenly remember that theirs is the party of fiscal responsibility.  And sequestration is still the law and could come back to bite.

I believe the debt load is actually decreasing. Debt to GDP for 2017 was 105.4%[1] in 2017 while current debt to GDP according to the debt clock is 105.23%[2]. This would be the second year in a row where debt to GDP has fallen. It passes a gut check as the federal deficit was $779 billion in FY2018[3] with the economy in 2017 at $19,387 billion[4]. With real gdp growth at 3% and inflation at 2.5-3%, that is a nominal gdp growth of 1.08 trillion+ for 2018 (i.e. faster than deficit expansion). This is roughly what you want, a gradual decline rather than rapid deleveraging that could risk economic growth.

[1] https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/government-debt-to-gdp
[2] http://www.usdebtclock.org/
[3] https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/15/us-budget-deficit-expands-to-779-billion-in-fiscal-2018-as-spending-surges.html
[4] https://www.statista.com/statistics/188105/annual-gdp-of-the-united-states-since-1990/
« Last Edit: 10/30/2018 05:29 pm by ncb1397 »

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