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Reactions to the Augustine report?

Posted by: DanielW - Sat Oct 24, 2009 4:39 am
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Reactions to the Augustine report? 
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Post Reactions to the Augustine report?   Posted on: Sat Oct 24, 2009 4:39 am
I am interested to see what folks reactions are now that the report is out.

I'll start. I have mixed feelings on it. Perhaps Launch of Orion could be better accomplished by some other booster. I am not a fan of solid rockets anyway. However Ares I will work and that is why NASA has been working on it.

I will be very sad if the Ares V gets the can or is replaced by something smaller. The Ares V allows for just about anything to be placed in orbit. It could have nearly put the ISS up in one go. Ok maybe a couple flights but it would be a very capable launcher.

The 'flexible path' is meandering road to nowhere in particular. A flight around the moon or mars and no landing? What is the point of that? Send a robot. The pictures we get would be the same. Completely uninspiring. The public would hardly notice a trip to mars without a landing. It would be pointless anyway. The reason you send people is so they can get out and do something; use those dexterous hands to poke and prod.

So in the end I could have wished they had built a liquid fuel ares 1 but I still feel the constellation goals and program were the best. Repeatedly changing NASA's goals will not help. If given a consistent goal they will eventually get the job done. There are good people working there.

Oh well if the whole thing gets changed we can just blame it on Bush for not anticipating Norm Augustine.


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Post Re: Reactions to the Augustine report?   Posted on: Sat Oct 24, 2009 4:26 pm
The Augustine commission has done an admirable job considering the task they were given. I think the key finding (highlighted below), the one that should not be ignored, is that current funding levels guarantee failure.

From pg 17 of the report:
"Options for the human spaceflight program:
The Committee developed five alternatives for the Human Spaceflight Program.
It found:
Human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit is not viable under the FY 2010 budget guideline.
• Meaningful human exploration is possible under a less constrained budget, increasing annual expenditures by approximately $3 billion in real purchasing power above the FY 2010 guidance.
• Funding at the increased level would allow either an exploration program to explore the Moon First or one that follows the Flexible Path. Either could produce significant results in a reasonable timeframe."


I am excited by the flexible path option. Flexible path allows for "hands on exploration" for NEO's & the moons of Mars as well as providing for real opportunities to develop the hardware and experience needed for mankind to become a space faring civilization.
Perhaps more importantly, I believe it provides the greatest opportunities for commercial involvement. And once that door is opened there will be no stopping the expansion of a human presence to the Moon, Mars and beyond, regardless of government assistance or attempted intervention.

The entire report can be downloaded here: http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/396093main_HSF_ ... Report.pdf

Be sure to at least read the Executive Summary!
Best!
MikeJ


Last edited by Michael Joyce on Sun Oct 25, 2009 4:41 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Reactions to the Augustine report?   Posted on: Sat Oct 24, 2009 7:25 pm
What's there to "explore" in LEO? Hey, world, we found sputnik!

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Post Re: Reactions to the Augustine report?   Posted on: Sat Oct 24, 2009 7:33 pm
I haven't read the full report yet, but my preliminary assessment is that they've done a decent job of answering the task they were given. As far as the quality of the analysis, my understanding is they relied heavily on the Aerospace Corporation for validation. I've worked with folks there, and they are top notch.

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Post Re: Reactions to the Augustine report?   Posted on: Sat Oct 24, 2009 9:29 pm
Why should we explore outer space? In one word: trabajo (work).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ5_6iWLquo

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Post Re: Reactions to the Augustine report?   Posted on: Sun Oct 25, 2009 3:16 am
--
it's NOT TRUE that the (nearly useless) HSF Committee's Report is "157 pages" long, because it's LESS than 90 pages, as explained in the 2nd UPDATE of my article about it:
--
HSF Committee Report: "treatment" much worse than "disease"
--
http://www.ghostnasa.com/posts2/056hsfreport.html
--

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Post Re: Reactions to the Augustine report?   Posted on: Sun Oct 25, 2009 3:40 am
I agree with some of the things stated. If the suggestions provided in the Augustine Report are accepted as recommendations to be decided upon by the administration then it will be a very sad day not only for the future of manned missions to other worlds but for the country as well. Human exploration is the closest thing we have as adults to experiencing what came naturally to us in our youth - personally discovering the unknown. The report suggests that we play it safe - not take chances, stick with what's more or less already been accomplished. It lacks inspiration. It lacks courage. It lacks leadership. NASA has been instrumental in adding to a shared national (if not global) exploratory experience and discourse that has built upon distinctly American ideals revered since this nation's inception. While our unmanned missions have been incredible, the human element and empathy with the experience has been lost; you cannot imagine how a machine must have felt upon its accomplishments. It is empathy that inspires us to do great things. If this country ceases to explore new worlds with men and women then it is no longer in its youth or even looking out of adult but curious eyes - it smacks more of the infirm and aging man who no longer is willing to risk a small hop or large leap for fear of his life; therein lies stagnation and decline. Without risk there can be no great gains. If we stop exploring we start dying.


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Post Re: Reactions to the Augustine report?   Posted on: Sun Oct 25, 2009 3:48 am
I just started digging into it. While I don't agree with some of the conclusions so far. It seems far from useless. They did actually ask the right questions and have presented the proper considerations. Some may seem patently obvious (Such as NASA's need to be able to manage their own budget and resources) but the fact that they are there as official points of consideration is encouraging.

They also mentioned that NASA needs to have a continuity of vision and funding and even mentioned that some of their suggestions would be a break of continuity and as such should be treated carefully by "the decision maker."

Some modifications to my previous position will probably be forthcoming now that I am reading the whole thing. The media did not do a very good job of highlighting the points. They missed all the caveats. Ares V lite is not as lite as I was led to believe. As long as we don't end up with the shuttle derived variant I will be ok.

I am not sure what it would cost but I would like to see
COTS D + ISS thru 2020 or beyond + Ares V + Altair with a moon colony as an immediate goal. It would probably be a bit more than 3 billion a year.

I do not think we should head to mars until we get a really big VASIMR and a lightweight nuclear reactor.


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Post Re: Reactions to the Augustine report?   Posted on: Sun Oct 25, 2009 8:35 am
the report tells you things are not sustainable on the current trajectory and provides options moving forward.

it it has not addressed why are things/programmes always so expensive.

continuity of vision is an important point raise. See the 1990s for the number of missed chances. DC-X, SLI, OSP,


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Post Re: Reactions to the Augustine report?   Posted on: Sun Oct 25, 2009 12:28 pm
I think that the underlying conclusion of the report is that things need to change if NASA wants to get anywhere but I also believe that it will be largely ignored.

Politicians and the media will focus on the parts that either interests them or serves their own purpose. This is already evident with various politicians trying to extend the shuttle so as not to loose jobs in their own districts and keep the status quo. If they had had better foresight they would have encouraged NASA to build a replacement much sooner (after challenger) rather than expecting the shuttle gravy train to keep rolling on foreever.

I do not think that the Obama administration will make any radical changes or are likely to increase NASA's budget significantly and will look for the cheapest alternatives. Aside from the fact that they appear to have very little interest in space they have bigger issues to deal with. The Augustine report will be shelved or intepreted whichever way is most expediant at this time. I hope I am wrong but past experience has shown that this is what usually happens with these reports.

Cynics would see this whole exercise as a way to cancel constellation or castrate NASA, not by the panel itself who I believe have said what was obvious to most, but by opening up the possibilities of alternative strategies it deprives NASA focus. Whether Ares1 is or is not a good lauch vehicle is almost irrelevant as if this course is abandoned it will lead to further rounds of delays.

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Post Re: Reactions to the Augustine report?   Posted on: Sun Oct 25, 2009 8:42 pm
I can't believe that no one in this thread bothered to mention the most important point of the Augustine report....

That is to say, Commercial Crew to LEO is how NASA should rely on flying astronauts to the station.

If there's anyone on this forum who disagrees, then why are you here?

Moon first or flexible paths both have the same goal - get to Mars c. 2040-50. I personally think Moon First is probably a wiser choice because I want to see lunar infrastructure developed. That being said I'd love there to be a mission to a NEO or two before we go to the moon (what with incremental development like they said in the report). Seeing as the flexible path allows for a lunar component once all the pieces are put together, I've gotta say that's my choice. Constellation is not a good option as is. It has potential, I'm not entirely opposed to Ares-I or Ares-V but I really think we could choose better for heavy lift and also we could not waste as much money on crew to LEO. There's no reason we need the extra 20mt or whatever that Ares-V gives over the lite variant. Also, don't hate on shuttle derived it doesn't even use the orbiter, just the boosters with a separate payload module. Best cost-lift ratio on the menu (I think, not sure on that vs EELV but that's a little too light for my tastes).

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Post Re: Reactions to the Augustine report?   Posted on: Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:36 am
I agree that Commercial crew is the way to go. It would nice if someone would demonstrate it independently though. NASA cannot currently go out and purchase tickets so the safest bet is to do it them selves. I could wish for a commercial option that would allow us to scrub Ares 1 and focus on heavy lift.

I hope that SpaceX gets aggressive in designing and verifying their launch escape system on their own. They could probably raise the money privately. I'd buy a few shares.

In a great world Boeing would stop posturing for crew contracts and simply build something. Sure it is a risk but in a year or two ,once the 787 is finally being delivered, they will be in a position to take that risk. If anyone can do it and do it right it is Boeing.

I am not sure what the hold up is. NASA has demonstrated the willingness to pay $50 million for a seat. Make a six seater and you gross three hundred million a trip. SpaceX would pay off their development in two or three flights. Of course they would have to under bid the Russians so It may take a few more flights.

Oh well. I think the whole industry is in a wait and see mode at the moment.


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Post Re: Reactions to the Augustine report?   Posted on: Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:06 am
SpaceX has their plate full with COTS. They will need another cash infusion and a guaranteed contract to develop crew services before their COTS flights are complete. Once that happens they will be able to go at it on their own but it'll be a while without a direct NASA intervention.

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Post Re: Reactions to the Augustine report?   Posted on: Mon Oct 26, 2009 12:35 pm
SpaceX is probably also awaiting results from the first COTS demos before they go ahead 100% with commercial crew transport.


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