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Obama's Latest Vision

Posted by: sanman - Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:46 am
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Obama's Latest Vision 
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Post Re: Obama's Latest Vision   Posted on: Fri May 21, 2010 4:07 pm
Voyager4D wrote:
Third problem US would have to use russian space taxi's for the rest of ISS's lifetime.

that's probably going to happen no matter what we do now.

The rest of your points are true, but still point to the major underlying factor: NASA is grossly underfunded. at the current budget, of course we can't have our cake and eat it too.
Either we do the research into the new tech, but have nothing to apply it to, or we attempt to push outwards with older tech.
yay Catch 22.

on the three points Braun mentioned:
A,C) with congress not giving NASA the money for constellation ( presidential mandated program) the money had to be scalped from somewhere. Not trying to defend it, I think it was a stupid way of doing it. Hell VASIMR would probably be operation on station already had it not been for the project being cut to fund constellation. But well, again back to my point of NASA being at the mercy of those who hold the purse strings. And they've not exactly their ability to think things through as being very good.
B) yeah, that wasn't a real good vision for constellation, but well, the whole thing wasn't very well thought out from teh begining.

Everyone wants Everything from NASA, but no one is willing to pony up the cash or give NASA the control they need to get the job done.


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Post Re: Obama's Latest Vision   Posted on: Fri May 21, 2010 9:42 pm
I don't think more cash is the answer.

More money is of course always a good thing, but NASA already gets plenty of money to make a difference.

I (and hr. Braun :wink:) think the answer is basic R&D in making access and travel easier and cheaper.
And I don't think we should chase huge heavy lift rockets (>100mT).
I don't like this single point of failure aproach and I think they would be to expensive to operate for extended periode of time.
It would be a lot easier to have international coorperation, if they use 20-50mT rockets instead. Then a lot of different rockets could be used.

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Post Re: Obama's Latest Vision   Posted on: Sun May 23, 2010 10:27 pm
*facepalm*
What good is R&D if you can't afford to do anything with it?
Voyager4D wrote:
More money is of course always a good thing, but NASA already gets plenty of money to make a difference.
see above comments trying to explain how little money NASA gets in relation to what they're expected to do. NASA is underfunded for the mission they are expected to perform.


as for the heavy lift issue, we already have plenty of rockets in the lift range (20-50mT).Why build more? what we don't have, is a reliable heavy lift, which will be needed for long duration space missions (even if multiple launches are used). What we need is another Saturn V class like the one that Von Braun designed so that we can have a platform to launch and test these new technologies taht we are developing. I forget who mentioned it, though I believe in rocketry the economy of scale works a little different. In that it is cheaper to do one large payload launch over multiple small launches.


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Post Re: Obama's Latest Vision   Posted on: Mon May 24, 2010 12:11 pm
If you want to push the boundaries of human spaceflight what is needed (has always been needed) is a cheap quick turn-around space taxi to get people into LEO. Once people can get to LEO cheaply a much larger market opens up and all sorts of requirements for Heavy lift are generated but all the time the current costings persist we will be going nowhere.

Building big rockets will not make LEO more accessible and hence it will remain out of reach, once there is a reliable low cost ride then heavy lift will be needed, we can get by with 20-50mT for now. What a big rocket will do is suck up all the available cash and keep flight rates down.

If you want to restrict flight rates and reduce the number of people going to space spend the money on a big rocket that will allow you to put up large spacecraft that will cost to much to send people to.

For all the achievements of Apollo, it was never going to be anything more than a foot prints in the regolith program. To extend out into space and keep us there will require something different. Now Obama's space policy may or may not bear fruit but, for him, I think it is a way of side-lining space and taking it out of the public eye which will make it much easier to cut down the road. If the gap stretches to long then the general public will wonder why they need space.

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Post Re: Obama's Latest Vision   Posted on: Mon May 24, 2010 12:56 pm
Andy Hill wrote:
If you want to push the boundaries of human spaceflight what is needed (has always been needed) is a cheap quick turn-around space taxi to get people into LEO. Once people can get to LEO cheaply a much larger market opens up and all sorts of requirements for Heavy lift are generated but all the time the current costings persist we will be going nowhere.

Building big rockets will not make LEO more accessible and hence it will remain out of reach, once there is a reliable low cost ride then heavy lift will be needed, we can get by with 20-50mT for now. What a big rocket will do is suck up all the available cash and keep flight rates down.

Isn't this what SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, Blue Origin, and the like are doing? Now that there are others in the playing field for LEO, with a head start on developing such a vehicle, why start NASA late into the game (not counting constelation)? Help them develop and operate the LEO systems and let NASA do what it's meant to do: Explore. Let the other companies do the grunt work in the design and operations, and free up NASA to leapfrog ahead of them, blazing the trail.

Andy Hill wrote:
For all the achievements of Apollo, it was never going to be anything more than a foot prints in the regolith program

Apollo was originally intended to be a stepping stone program. After the last three Apollo missions work would have pushed foward with Skylab, and the plan was to have a moon base set up by the mid eighties with a permanent space station in orbit, the shuttle being developed to build and maintain that station. NASA had plans on having a second much larger station in orbit by the mid to late nineties with a sizable permanent presence on the moon and the begining of a permanent base on Mars. Of course this all went out the window when congress Axed Apollo, but hey, hindsight's 20/20, no?

Andy Hill wrote:
for him, I think it is a way of side-lining space and taking it out of the public eye which will make it much easier to cut down the road. If the gap stretches to long then the general public will wonder why they need space.
Now this, I completely agree with. I've no doubts that his intentions have always been to get rid of the US's manned spaceflight program.


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Post Re: Obama's Latest Vision   Posted on: Mon May 24, 2010 1:28 pm
MFL wrote:
Isn't this what SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, Blue Origin, and the like are doing? Now that there are others in the playing field for LEO, with a head start on developing such a vehicle, why start NASA late into the game (not counting constelation)? Help them develop and operate the LEO systems and let NASA do what it's meant to do: Explore. Let the other companies do the grunt work in the design and operations, and free up NASA to leapfrog ahead of them, blazing the trail.


Agreed. So why isn't NASA designing a craft for deep space exploration that stays on orbit and the commercial companies ferry crew to?

They could do with some way to assemble stuff in orbit once the shuttle has gone so assembling a deep space exploration craft might give them a task that would have benifits to future ISS development or possibly Hubble missions.

One point, none of these commercial companies have flown anything resembling a crew carrier yet and to say they are on the same playing field as NASA is somewhat premature, they haven't even tried out for the team yet. If Boeing or Lockheed said they were going to produce a crew capsule at least you could say they have a track record in doing so.

MFL wrote:
Apollo was originally intended to be a stepping stone program. After the last three Apollo missions work would have pushed foward with Skylab, and the plan was to have a moon base set up by the mid eighties with a permanent space station in orbit, the shuttle being developed to build and maintain that station. NASA had plans on having a second much larger station in orbit by the mid to late nineties with a sizable permanent presence on the moon and the begining of a permanent base on Mars. Of course this all went out the window when congress Axed Apollo, but hey, hindsight's 20/20, no?


Apollo was taking 3-4% of the US budget this was never going to last once the goal of putting someone on the Moon was achieved. The hike in budget for a large station and Mars mission would have made this percentage even higher. NASA might have had plans for this stuff but the US (or anyone else for that matter) couldn't afford them and without the USSR in a race anymore where was the competition?. NASA should have looked at the cost and realised they were already on another planet. Then as you say hindsight is a wonderful thing.

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Post Re: Obama's Latest Vision   Posted on: Mon May 24, 2010 3:16 pm
Andy Hill wrote:
Agreed. So why isn't NASA designing a craft for deep space exploration that stays on orbit and the commercial companies ferry crew to?

Ask Bush, Obama, and Congress. Granted I'm not sure any of them would even know what they were talking about in the first place.
Andy Hill wrote:
One point, none of these commercial companies have flown anything resembling a crew carrier yet and to say they are on the same playing field as NASA is somewhat premature, they haven't even tried out for the team yet. If Boeing or Lockheed said they were going to produce a crew capsule at least you could say they have a track record in doing so.
They aren't there yet, no... but they are farther along than anyone else. Even if you consider Constellation.
Andy Hill wrote:
Apollo was taking 3-4% of the US budget this was never going to last once the goal of putting someone on the Moon was achieved. The hike in budget for a large station and Mars mission would have made this percentage even higher. NASA might have had plans for this stuff but the US (or anyone else for that matter) couldn't afford them and without the USSR in a race anymore where was the competition?. NASA should have looked at the cost and realised they were already on another planet. Then as you say hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Apoolo was closer to 5% of the budget, but i see your point. And therein lies the caveat "the goal of putting someone on the Moon."The same problem then as it is now. Lack of a continued and defined Vision. No one stepped up to fill Kenedy's shoes and say "The moon is not enough, we need to continue to excel and push ever farther foward, if not for ourselves, then for all man" but, well no one would. Yay politics, always screwing with progress.
Vision and funding are NASA's two biggest problems at this juncture, incomplete vision with no additional funding under Bush was the begining of the proccess, now we have Obama changing his vision every few weeks, and a congress who's pissed at him for stepping on their toes, and Administrator who's an absolute tool...
As for the cost, yes we were operating on a HUGe budget back then, but now we are at less than 1% of the budget. Yet somehow, NASA still managed to nearly finish the Station, continue to operate the shuttle (which they would have done till 2020 before Bush mandated otherwise) run several R&D programs, several exploration programs (Spirit, Opportunity, Hubble, etc).
Increasing NASA's yearly budget by a mere 50% would only amount to $9billion a year. Considering the government throws several times that away into meaningless pork barrel projects at the drop of a hat it shouldnt be hard to come up with that money. Or maybe if they fixed Healthcare oand Social Security instead of making more problems with it, that money would appear quite readily. Yet with that extra funding, NASA would be able to not only run a truly meaningful R&D program, but also operate the Station, better develope a new vehicle, and better aid the new comercial entities. What does that mean in terms of what the taxpayer sees? Last I saw, it would amount to less than a dime a year extra on their income taxes ( or was it about a penny, i cant remember) either way a trivial amount.
Yes I know I am ranting. But it feels good.
And you know what? if a single person learns to take NASA into perspective with what they do versus what they are given, and that most of NASA's problems come from up the chain in the government, then it will be worth it to me. I know NASA isn't perfect. I know there are some issues, but what company doesn't have any, let alone what government agency. But when an Agency is blamed for things that are not in their control, that's when i get annoyed.


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Post Re: Obama's Latest Vision   Posted on: Mon May 24, 2010 7:42 pm
excellent rant :)

No one is saying that NASA hasn't done some good things. I agree with you that their problems stem from funding and focus, so given that they are always going to be short of the cash why not try to build a cheaper transport to reduce costs rather than a highly expensive one? With what they are going to be paying the Russians they could have had just that. It is highly remote that NASA will ever get the sort of funding levels it saw during Apollo, no matter how much bail out money the US gives to every congressman's pet project. NASA must sort out the transport issue and the huge infrastructure costs it currently carries.

If I was emporer I would have concentrated on building the cheap/simple craft that could launch on an Atlas/Delta to act as a transport for the ISS/deep space orbital craft. By making 2 variants of Orion they increased the cost and slowed the program down, they should have focused on a single simpler craft from the beginning. Once that was done they could have started construction on the deep space craft which would have started going through the design process once the Orion design had been finalised.

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Post Re: Obama's Latest Vision   Posted on: Tue May 25, 2010 1:14 pm
There is one misconception there that should be cleared up. Bigger does not necessarily mean more expensive. What it does mean is that it increases the economy per launch(i.e.cheaper to operate for the same payload to orbit). Could an atlas or Delta derivative be used? sure, but they would still have to go through a complete redesign to manrate those rockets.
It seems you and I are arguing about two different things.
Getting to LEO/ISS, sure a small rocket can be used to get there fairly cheaply. you're also not carrying much in the way of cargo. We already have several capable launch systems that are able to fill that role with some modification/redesign as well as several new systems coming online in the near future. Why should NASA spend their limited funds developing one of their own? What America doesn't have though, is a Heavy Lauch vehicle (outside shuttle). And if we plan on doing manned exploration missions, a Heavy lift will be needed. Probably in multiple launches for a single mission at that as well. There's no two ways around it. Another benefit ofthe development of a HLV is that larger discovery type systems can be put inot orbit, or around the LaGrange points, etc. Imagine a scaled up version of Hubble, or the James Web.

When you talk about the two versions of Orion, are you refering to that P.O.S. Lifeboat version that the Obamanator is trying to push? because yeah, that is garbage.
If you mean the fact that they've had to strip down Orion just so that it would work on ARES I, that is a different issue. That came about because Mike Griffin mandated that a 5 segment booster be used from the very beginning, and well, it couldn't do its job so they had to Gut Orion. Ohy, and another major problem with that whole bit was the fact that congress made it law that no major changes could be made to Constellation without their direct approval. So... either they sat on their hands and waited for some politicians to agree that the architecture was wrong and needed a redesign (months or years gone right there) or they try to make a faulty system work. Catch22 if you think about it. But yeah, Orion wasn't the problem, it was the underperforming SRB they were told to use to get it up there. Orion was actually going to be a very capable vehicle before they were told to strip it. And no, Orion was not 'overweight' They built it to the specs that they were told that the booster would be able to lift.
But therein is another issue, reliance on computer modelling vs actual hardware testing. there is only so much a computer can tell you. Then again, there comes the money issue again. Need more of it to do the proper testing. Catch22, you are a devious mistress.

But no, I don't htink NASA needs an Apollo era budget to do what it does best. But it does need a budget that would allow them to continue their current mission (ISS/Shuttle, robotic exploration, R&D, and education stuff) while developing the next Gen vehicle. As is, they were expected to do all that, AND develope a new vehicle on the same (in fact less) budget than they had before. That meant that R&D programs (VASIMR is a prime example) and education money had to be cut. it also meant that Shuttle went from a 2020+ retirement to 2010, something NASA wasn't prepared for.

The infrastructure costs really aren't that great, so long as there is a vehicle in service. they've been reusing the same launch platforms and vehicle assembly beuildings since Apollo, and had planned on continuing to use them for future vehicles. On top of that NASA is trying hard to get the commercial companies to use these resources as well.

I hope I came across less ranty this time. I really don't want to come off sounding like a complete ass, but I do wnat to try to clear up some misconceptions.


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Post Re: Obama's Latest Vision   Posted on: Tue May 25, 2010 2:08 pm
What do you regard as 'heavy' lift? I notice that the Falcon 9 Heavy can lift 28mT to LEO (greater than the Shuttle at 24mT, same as DeltaiV). Is that not heavy enough?

Has Musk got ideas for even heavier launchers? Who knows, but I bet he has a twinkle in his eye ready to let go once the 9's start flying.

Obama's visit to SpaceX must have got him thinking - "what are we spending all this money on launchers for when this guy is doing it so much more cheaply."

Just for completeness the Saturn 5 capacity is 119mT to LEO, but no-one has needed one of those since 1972.


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Post Re: Obama's Latest Vision   Posted on: Tue May 25, 2010 2:40 pm
MFL wrote:
There is one misconception there that should be cleared up. Bigger does not necessarily mean more expensive. What it does mean is that it increases the economy per launch(i.e.cheaper to operate for the same payload to orbit). Could an atlas or Delta derivative be used? sure, but they would still have to go through a complete redesign to manrate those rockets.

And you fail to realize that you will get a low fly-rate of a super heavy lifter (>100mT), because there is not enough demand for this size of payload. And the development cost alone is enough to not make it a dead fish.
We instead need to get higher fly-rate on the current gen. of rockets. The most important thing to do that is generating demand. We need many destinations, project etc. in space.
When we get demand up, the rocket will begin to grow.

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Post Re: Obama's Latest Vision   Posted on: Tue May 25, 2010 7:59 pm
To clarify a few points

I was not referring to the the Orion Lifeboat farce dreamt up by the Obama administration. There were 2 Orion vehicle designs, one designed for deep space/moon exploration and one designed for ISS service missions. I think they were referred to as Block 4 and Block 1 vehicles respectively. NASA only concentrated on the ISS vehicle when it became apparant they were never going to have anything ready to fly on Ares 1.

If you read through the Augustine commission literature it gives NASA's fixed cost to service its infrastructure at something like 80% of its budget. Supporting the legion of engineers and all those centres is where most of the money goes, that doesnt leave a lot for missions. When people give the cost of flying the shuttle there is an awful lot of infrastructure cost included.

While I agree the cost per kg is normally cheaper on a bigger vehicle if there is only a couple of flights a year all those fixed costs are lumped up, if you could have 10 or 20 launches every year on a smaller vehicle then the fixed cost attributed to each launch would be much smaller and the cost per kg would be on a par with the bigger launcher or maybe cheaper.

Flight rate will help safety as ground crew will get more familiar with the vehicles and the cost of having a rolling improvement program is much smaller.

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Post Re: Obama's Latest Vision   Posted on: Thu Jun 03, 2010 3:06 am
Yeh that's the problem. How do you significantly reduce >50% a jobs program like NASA Human Spaceflight (not robotic missions) has become :?:
Another problem I believe (reading a report somewhere recently) is that the NASA labs where they now want advanced research to be done, have been significantly run down over the last decade or so and simply don't compare with private labs - means you've got to upgrade those (didn't see any funds allocated for that in the new program :!: )

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Post Re: Obama's Latest Vision   Posted on: Mon Jul 26, 2010 5:29 am
Looking at the recent releases seems like the House and Senate can't agree either.
Could this be the first step in the demise of U.S. HSF?
Seems to me like this very public spat by the various camps is being emulated in the political arena and imo once that happens, no-one will end up winning - except perhaps the Chinese who are taking the slowly, slowly approach and don't suffer the disunity of the general western-style democratic processes. :cry:

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