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Countdown for decision - 2005

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Wed Aug 10, 2005 10:33 pm
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By Publius Rex, Jeff Wright: July 20, 2005 was a dark day for the monopoly that is the U.S. Air Force. Blue Suits blanched white under the glare of C-SPAN2–and the House Armed Services Committee under the Chair of Duncan Hunter (R-Calif), which grilled that most arrogant branch of our otherwise humble military.

The Air Force has a bad habit of blowing money on fancy fighter programs at the expense of existing projects that need support and future projects that will fit security needs better.

Let me give you an example. The $200 billion dollar Joint Strike Fighter. Though Lt. General Stephen Wood (Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans &Programs) would have you believe we need JSF (and F-22) the fact is…we don’t.

This is not Korea–and rogue airliners and missiles–not MiGs–are the enemies of today. An F-4 phantom with gunpods or an old Spad with a sidewinder is enough to down an extremist piloted jumbo. Even MiGs were prey to prop-planes: http://skyraider.org/skyassn/sartapes/migkill/migkill.htm

Northrup had an inexpensive fighter in the form of the lauded F-20 Tigershark. That program was sadly killed. And now we will be phasing out out much needed fighters that have proved themselves–in favor of fighter jocks who seem to want a new toy every five years–despite advances in UCAVs.

But neither a Skyraider nor the Tigershark nor a $200 billion JSF can shoot down enemy missiles. More and more nations are turning to the use of missiles in order to project power. India is working on a huge 200 ton Solid Booster to be used as a first stage and surrounded by hypergolics. Iran is working on its own satellite launch vehicles:

The Air Force leadership has as always been a pilot’s union–a pilot’s union we simply cannot afford anymore. Many in the armed forces understand just how bloated the Air Force has become. If you could have gotten Army National Guard Bureau Chief Steven Blum away from the AF hack, General Wood–I’m sure he would agree.

The Air Force stance on Mil-Space policy is also being questioned (”Congress Still Displeased With Space Management” SPACE NEWS, July 18, 2005, Page 1A of the inner Military Space section.)

Sadly–what with the recent events revolving around D. Druyen, we must ask ourselves whose interests the Air Force protects: Ours? Or those of the contractors who wish to soak the taxpayer, as shown in the same issue of SPACE NEWS (”Lockheed-Boeing Venture May Burden Taxpayers” (page 4A.) This article deals with how the monopoly caused by United Launch Alliance could really cause us trouble. Both Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (Atlas V and Delta IV) along with the Delta II will be made in Decatur, Alabama–in an area often struck by Strong/Violent tornadoes like the one that devastated Huntsville in 1989. So all of our rocket-production resides in North Alabama’s own tornado alley–the equal of the heart of the main tornado alley in Oklahoma. What is not often reported is that the Atlas V uses RD-180 engines built in Ukraine–engines similar to Zenit strap-on booster for Russia’s Energiya-Buran shuttle.

The Zenit itself is the most powerful successful rocket that Boeing has in its stable–until such time as Boeing perfects its Delta IV ‘Heavy,” which undershot its orbit by 10,000 miles due to a bad fuel sensor which–unlike shuttle–had no back-ups. The Delta IV uses the same kind of foam as the shuttle–but Delta IV also seems to be quite the fire hazard, as described in Jeffrey Bell’s Orwell-esque article below:

Fire Damage:

But this is the vehicle that the Boeing types want to foist upon NASA as a shuttle-replacement since the EELV-Albatross is not selling. The contractors also want us to focus on Ground-based missile defense programs that must shoot up at enemy warheads coming down–rather than shooting down at enemy missiles during boost phase before they have a chance to MIRV their warheads and depoy decoys. Pete Worden–a pro-space man formerly of the Air Force, suffered as a non-fighter jock, and his influence was curtailed. But he knows–like I do–that the only real way ground-based missile defense has a chance of working is if the interceptors are themselves in the very country firing the ICBMS, truth be told. And ABM-bearing Naval craft are as vulnerable as the Stark or the Cole–and to this:

Once ship-based ABM systems are sunk, ICBMs can be fired with little chance of being shot down. As new missile systems come on line–space-based missile defense is all that remains for us:

Instead of paying the contractors double to pay for ground-based missile defense failures and two EELVs–it is better for us to have one launch vehicle system that can give us better space-based missile defense systems and serve as a shuttle replacement.

NASA Administrator Mike Griffin has advocated such a system, as I and others have in the past, as per the links below:


“The Aldridge Commission suggested that a heavy-lift vehicle was necessary, calling it an “enabling technology” for implementing the vision, yet also suggested that heavy-lift vehicles might be developed commercially…”


Michael Griffin, NASA’s associate administrator for exploration from 1991-1993, says the most logical approach, all things considered, is to spend the $3 billion or $4 billion it would cost to build a shuttle-derived heavy lifter and forget about EELV-driven approaches.


“This examination shows there is no significant cost savings by pursuing the use of numbers of medium-lift vehicles when compared to the development of a new, shuttle-derived heavy lift booster. The development of such a heavy-lift booster supports the President’s space vision by providing the capability of lofting heavy payloads to the Moon in support of the construction of a lunar base as well as providing the capability to conduct other missions. I believe the development of a heavy booster in conjunction with the appropriate use of medium-lift boosters and modular spacecraft represents the most effective strategy for the US manned space program.”

This would eliminate the risky orbiter and replace it with safe top-mount Apollo-type capsules.

Mike Griffin has written much on the subject of Heavy Lift, as have good military men:

When the Air Force was faced with a need for ASATs, they came up with this contraption:
http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/m-135.html Fighter-jocks to the last!

Having separate ground-based missile defenses in costly silos while forcing NASA to use inferior Delta IV type vehicles increases the cost to taxpayers. Having commonality (with an HLLV that can launch NASA and DoD payloads) makes much more sense and reduces the huge cost of funding many unrelated programs. Superior HLLV systems like those shown below (and ALS, NLS, etc.) have been repeatedly killed by RAND/Air Force sell outs:

Magnum Launch Vehicle

MagnumThe Magnum Launch Vehicle is an in-house study to Magnum Launch Vehicle determine the most cost effective means of providing heavy lift launch capability to support the ETO transportation requirements of a Human Exploration Mission. Payload capability is > 80mt accommodating a 25 ft. x 92 ft. payload envelop. Cost goals are $1000/lb to orbit for a modest non-recurring cost.

BMDO Space Based Laser (SBL) Launch Vehicle
BMDO contracted MSFC to support the Space Based Laser (SBL) Program. Space Based Laser The tasks included:
technically assessing SPL launch vehicle contractor’s launch vehicle designs and monitoring their work; providing technology roadmaps for those designs; performing an operations analysis for the launch vehicle and SBL payload; and providing an in-house vehicle design that could perform the SBL mission and be synergistic with the NASA Exploration Program (Magnum Launch Vehicle). The launch requirements were to place a 120 Klb into a 1300 km orbit, with a payload of 31 ft diameter and 104 ft in length.


But Mike Griffin’s hands have been tied, and EELV pushers have been trying to use their influence upon the White House OSTP–even though EELVs are an inferior product:

Griffin cannot make the call for such a system on his own–and must have DoD ‘permission.’

Lance Lord says he will support Griffin, but I wonder about his sincerity:

The Air Force has been an enemy of the Space Program–and loves to come up with $200 billion JSF programs we just don’t need–at the expense of removing proven fighter wings by calling for shut-downs (BRAC) in those key districts that are likely to need standard fighters the most, while costing taxpayers 20-25 times more than what NASA needs for the Heavy Lift Launch Vehicles detailed above. The Air Force is no friend of space:


I therefore call upon you to cancel both of the Air Forces white elephants (F-22 and the F-35) and to ground the shuttle orbiter/ISS, and put those moneys into true Heavy Lift boosters that both Griffin and true missile-defense experts know we need.

We would be saving the taxpayer huge amounts of money. Existing aircraft should be produced until such time as inexpensive UCAVs come on line.

Frankly–I think we were better off when we had no dignified Blue Suits–just the U.S. Army Air Corps. It was, after all, the Air Force that robbed space from competent ARMY men like General Medaris:

The Air Force is out of control. They should be made to know that they work for US. We don’t work for them.

Publius Rex
Jeff Wright

Comments or questions, please visit our SpaceFlight Cafe Forum:

P.S. More links here:

More HLLV news:






More here:
http://www.safesimplesoon.com (Updated)

The Euros will be building this:

The Ariane M the European Very Heavy launch vehicle:

The Russians are also looking at HLLV

Aldridge report out:

See Page 29-33 of 64 In Adobe
Page 27-30 hardcopy




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