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End of Constellation? (rumors)

Posted by: JohnF - Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:20 pm
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End of Constellation? (rumors) 
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Post End of Constellation? (rumors)   Posted on: Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:20 pm
Analysts Predict Obama Will Not Give NASA The Funds It Needs.
The Houston Chronicle (1/27, Berger, Powell) reports analysts "say it's likely the space agency's budget will remain 'flat' for the coming year, potentially leaving humans stuck in near-Earth orbit for the foreseeable future." Citing supportive statements from several Texan Congressmen, the article notes "Congress has vowed to fight for the resources the Augustine Commission said NASA needed." However, according to the article, other than appointing Charles Bolden as NASA Administrator and setting up the Augustine Commission, "Obama has been mum, never articulating his vision for NASA."

According to the Orlando Sentinel (1/27, Block, Matthews), "NASA's plans to return astronauts to the moon are dead. So are the rockets being designed to take them there - that is, if President Barack Obama gets his way." Reportedly "according to White House insiders, agency officials, industry executives and congressional sources familiar with Obama's long-awaited plans," the entire Constellation program will be cut, with NASA directed to focus on "a new technology research and development program that will one day make human exploration of asteroids and the inner solar system possible." A conflict with Congress is seen as "looming," but reportedly the White House is "ready" for this.

In contrast, Space News (1/27, Klamper) reports, "A top White House budget official suggested to reporters Jan. 26 that NASA could still see a budget increase for 2011 despite U.S. President Barack Obama's proposed three-year freeze on most non-defense discretionary spending."

NASA Preparing For New Human Spaceflight Study. The New York Times (1/27, A14, Chang) reports NASA "is preparing for a major evaluation of its human spaceflight program, even as many who will conduct the survey have yet to be informed of the agency's revised mission." The article sees this study as "similar" to the Exploration Systems Architecture Study in 2005, but according to the article no destination or budget details have been revealed. "For many NASA employees, little will change in the short run. ... Work on the Ares I...will continue, even as many expect it to be eventually displaced by the commercial rockets and canceled." Because nothing has been specified, the article notes there is "optimism" from Ares supporters that it will continue in some form.

and seemingly more solid:

http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2010/01/27 ... 6453.shtml
January 27, 2010
Report: Obama Budget to Scrub Moon Mission
Instead of blasting off to the moon, NASA's hopes for a manned mission there have been blasted to pieces, sources in the White House, Congress and NASA tell the Orlando Sentinel.

They tell the paper that the president's budget, which will be released next week, will not allocate the money needed to fund the Constellation program that aimed to return humans to the moon by 2020.

"We certainly don't need to go back to the moon," one administration official told the paper.

Money instead will go toward NASA's development of a "heavy-lift" rocket that will allow humans and robots the chance to explore Earth's orbit, though the Sentinel reports that concept is still decades away from being a reality.

The sources add that the government will also invest money into private companies developing rockets and capsules that could serve as "space taxis" for astronauts headed to the International Space Station.

President Obama is likely to ask Congress for a spending freeze of up to three years on certain domestic programs during his State of the Union speech Wednesday. Administration officials say the freeze should not effect the 2010 NASA budget and may actually receive a boost of $200 to $300 million.


Special Report: Obama's 2010 State of the Union
The current NASA budget is close to $19 billion, the Sentinel reports.
The budget, according to one administration official quoted, will tell Congress that NASA won't be able to design programs just to create jobs in their districts. "That's the view of the president," the official said.


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Post Re: End of Constellation? (rumors)   Posted on: Thu Jan 28, 2010 8:02 am
Go big or go home.

Better to can govt. manned space and focus on technology development. Maybe do a Big dumb booster that the commercial sector has not brought forth yet.

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Post "Governments build roads, not operate trucking companies"   Posted on: Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:39 am
I have to agree that it's long past time this happened. A revolution of how americans think of getting into and around space, and the government's interest in it.


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Post Re: End of Constellation? (rumors)   Posted on: Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:43 pm
I will be sad to see constellation going down the drain, at least it was a plan for NASA work to. I'm not sure what will take its place but it was almost doomed from the start when the funding never came through for it, it might not have come to this had NASA made better progress but constant delays and technical problems have dogged it and it is problably a good idea to drop it.

History repeats itself and another cancelled NASA inititive to produce a shuttle replacement have confirmed a lot of people's fears that NASA isn't up to the task anymore. People who claim the private companies havent got the experience/knowledge to produce a new vehicle ignore 2 facts, apparently NASA doesnt have this ability either (having not flown a new manned craft for 30 years) and private industry already builds a lot of flight hardware for the manned space program.

I think that it will not be possible to stop the program in its tracks and it is more likely to be morphed into a Direct3 type vehicle for Ares5 and that if the COTS vehicles work out then Ares1/Orion will dissappear. I think we are starting to see NASA taking more of a back seat and being a customer of vehicles rather than a manufacturer.

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Post Re: End of Constellation? (rumors)   Posted on: Sun Jan 31, 2010 9:12 pm
Constellation wasn't required by the VSE. It was Nasa's frankensteined response to the VSE.

The big problem is that if you can politically get away with killing bad programs, then you could get away wih modifying them too.

The Administrators have been unable to modify it, so how can they kill it?

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Post Re: End of Constellation? (rumors)   Posted on: Sun Feb 21, 2010 1:39 pm
Well, what direction NASA goes is determined by the politicians who earmark their budget. With the space race long over, creating and keeping federal-funded jobs and corporations has a much higher political return on investment than launching rockets.

Whether Constellation is a good technical solution is not as relevant as whether it is a good political solution. A Shuttle-derived infrastructure will give the current industrial players a big leg up over any potential competition – ensuring they have enough money for campaign contributions, and a nice story about heroically exploring the moon and Mars will draw in the voting public. Since it's a long term project, it won't fail before your two terms are over anyway and everyone has forgotten how this got started.

And so this kind of thing happens. My guess is that this way of doing politics will last another decade or two, and get worse before it gets better. But ultimately, information wants to be free, and transparency will win. And we'll fly to the stars in a plexi-domed rocket.

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Post Re: End of Constellation? (rumors)   Posted on: Mon Feb 22, 2010 2:25 pm
Lourens wrote:
Whether Constellation is a good technical solution is not as relevant as whether it is a good political solution


Unfortunately you nailed it right on the head with that one.

NASA is a long term program dictated by extreme short term politics. When a good majority of those in charge are more worried about getting elected again rather than get something done, the system is broken. Tiem and time again, NASA has been congress' whipping boy.

The only thing I am afraid of at this point is that congress will force NASA to continue on with the path they are on, ramming Ares I down the Space Agencies throat, wether they like it or not. Will it help them poilitcally in the short term? yep, just like you had said. but these guys are so short sighted they make Mr. Magoo look like he has better than 20/20 vision.

While I have a lot of faith in the commercial space industry, they are just not ready to take on the task about to be dumped on them. How many companies are even remotely close to having man rated capability? and how long will it be before the first of them is ready?

I'm not trying to say that the commercial compainies are going to fail, but that they are seriously being put between a rock and a hard place. They cannot be expected to instantly take up the mantle of manned space transport to LEO at the drop of a hat. But well.. Politicians and their misconceptions and self serving motives.

In the end, I'm hoping that congress will not kill the Orion, will divert all they can to the development of a heavy lift booster as a stop-gap measure. From what I;ve gathered, barring the truck ton of red tape, NASA can have a shuttle derived, inline HLV flight test article by the end of 2012. and currently have enough parts to build atest article and two or three flight vehicles. This can certainly be used to help shore up the commercial transport system until they have the experience and the footing to take it up on their own.

Ares I was just not an adequet booster for the job that needed to be done. was it a good idea? sure. and you know what, that is the thing about the space industry, not everything you try will work. you will fail. you just hope and pray that you fail and learn from it before lives are on the line.

Shuttle does need to be retired, IMHO. Not because it's not safe, because it is. Not because it isn't capable, because it most assuredly is. Nor because it is too expensive. While it is a costly program, it has been a very worthwile investment. I believe Shuttle should be retired simply because it is time to move foward. Now, should shuttle be just flat out retired? that is debateable. If NASA were given adequet funding to pursue the afore mentioned SD-HLV, with Orion, then it would make sense to continue with one or two shuttle flights a year to station until the HLV and commercial were fully prepared to take over. especially now that the Russians have garunteed to raise the prices of Soyuz flights even more. A single shuttle flight can carry a replacement crew (not the entire 6 obviously, but still) as well as a large amount of supplies in a single launch.

Well there is my 2cent rant on the subject. Thanks for tuning in and putting up with my wharrgarrble, once again :)


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