Space leaders to Congress: Light this commercial candle!

By Phil Plait | March 3, 2011 11:00 am

I received a very interesting email from Alan Stern — head of the New Horizons Pluto flyby mission, and who, for a year, was NASA’s Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate.

Here’s what it said:

The attached open letter was sent to Congress today after being signed by over 55 space leaders.

The letter urges Congress to fully fund NASA’s plan to use commercial companies to carry crew to the Space Station.

Among the letter’s signatories are an unusually broad group of former NASA executives and advisors, former astronauts, CEOs and directors of firms large and small, space scientists, space journalists, and others. We include 14 former NASA astronauts, 5 former NASA senior executives, 13 educators and nonprofit leaders, and 24 space industry leaders from a wide variety of firms and institutions, both large and small.

I am a big advocate of this, having written many times that NASA should be exploring and creating new technologies, but should not be in the business of hauling stuff to space. That is better — and more cheaply — done by commercial contractors.

I’ve put the entire letter online here for you to read.

Here’s one part I particularly like:

By creating competition, and using fixed price contracts, NASA’s commercial crew program offers a much less expensive way of transporting NASA astronauts to the Station than any other domestic means. Funding NASA’s Commercial Crew program would lower the cost of access to low Earth orbit, thus enabling more of NASA’s budget to be applied to its focus on exploration beyond low Earth orbit, and better enabling the kind of program laid out in NASA’s authorization bill.

NASA is not immune to the cuts in spending the new Congress is so rabidly pursuing. In fact, it’s usually the first with its head on the chopping block. You’d think funding commercial crew programs would be an easy decision for Congress to make, given the propensity of Republicans in Congress to support private industry. However, many Republicans have bizarrely been outspoken against the commercialization of space for reasons I honestly do not understand (see Related Posts below).

So this letter may help. Congress needs to understand that for a tiny fraction of the national budget, NASA produces a hugely leveraged return on investment. And if we can put some of that money toward the commercial sector, we can leave more money for NASA to do what it does best: explore the Universe and bring inspiration to us back home.


Related posts:

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) disses private space
Congress passes NASA authorization bill, but I’d rather watch sausages being made
Akin breakin’ heart
President Obama’s NASA budget unveiled

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Piece of mind, Politics, Space

Comments (158)

  1. Benjamin

    Elon Musk is in there! Woohoo! (of course he’s in there, but I like to see the name anyway)

  2. Mgrad92

    Like you, I hope this letter gets Congress’ attention. A coupla questions for you, tho':

    Do you think the International Space Station is a valid endeavour for NASA? Does that fall under the heading of “exploring and creating new technologies”?

    If so, do you think it’s wise for the success of that mission to rely on private contractors? I know NASA has long wanted to get out of what it used to call “the space trucking business,” but it’s always been in a far better position to lead the operation of infrastructure below projects like the space station, the Apollo missions, etc., than private contractors. It’s valid to ask whether projects like those would have gotten off the ground without NASA playing the role it’s played.

    And if not, where do you think manned spaceflight should fall among NASA’s priorities? Is it time to privatize the astronaut program and focus instead on robotic space exploration? Is it more than just odd to think about NASA astronauts having to hitch a ride into space with private haulers?

    I always felt like you could compare space exploration with the age of exploration around the 15th-16th centuries. In the beginning, transoceanic exploration was funded by governments. By the 1700s, it was funded by private companies. It seems certain that’s the way space exploration should develop. But I’m fuzzy on how the transition goes.

  3. Jim

    I agree with Phil on what NASA’s focus should be, so for the time being I think they should work on both long-range exploration with robots, as well as learning how to support human habitation in space closer to home. Once the latter becomes more commonplace, it too can be picked up by private industry and leave government programs to focus on pushing the frontiers.

  4. I applaud Elon, Alan, and the rest of the signatory group for their broad consensus that they would all benefit (as would the nation) from sustained support of commercial space initiatives. At some point, NASA has to quit trying to be the composer, musician, conductor, and audience all at the same time. Space exploration should not be tied down to a single entity, no matter how brilliantly that monopoly has performed in the past.

    There are TONS of groups trying to convince Congress that broad funding for aerospace activities is critical to the long-term sustainability and growth of the US, educationally, economically, and technologically. Earlier this week the Space Exploration Alliance had meetings with over 100 Congressional offices. Next week the Space Frontier Foundation will storm the Hill asking them to “keep the promise” of funding commercial space ventures. The week after that ProSpace will push their “Zero-Gravity, Zero-Tax” initiative.

    Bottom line: we have a LOT of people talking to Congressional offices about space. Most are spending their own time and money to do it. Somehow it seems we are still not making the same impact as the *corn* industry. WHY?

    – Is it that space is too flashy? Do all those loud rockets and shiny satellites seem overly expensive?

    – Are we spending our energy in the wrong way? Would hiring more paid lobbyists get us better results for science and exploration?

    – Does Congress really just not understand how little we spend on space and science compared to the benefits society gets back from them?

    Whatever the cause, I don’t see one additional letter being the tipping point for sustained multi-year funding for NASA (or any other non-DoD aerospace venture). The government can’t even guarantee that they will keep themselves funded! That does not leave me much hope for any specific part.

    Our best shot at long-term viability is to push commercial space initiatives as much as possible, both from the government and as private citizens. If we really want to be a spacefaring civilization, we need to make the industry self-sustaining as soon as possible.

  5. A very important question: Why is Dr. Phil Plait not on the signature list? You have HORDES of adoring fans that would put weight to your signature. :)

  6. Sam H

    Ultimately I must say that I’m happy for this, but I’ve given up on the US (especially government initiatives) continuing to be a world superpower – for me, it’s pretty clear that America is slowly declining – it will shrink to the status it once was, unless it falls completely (less likely). China and Asia, for the moment, will soon really be the driving factors in spaceflight. And private business could possibly gain a real foothold there, either in competition or cooperation. But what goes up must come down, and when the price of oil skyrockets beyond all hope of affordability the endeavour will eventually collapse. But until then they will accomplish as many or more great things as you did in the ’60s – If I have one request for them, it’s that they land humans on Mars in the next 15-20 years.
    The key is the space elevator – if a breakthrough can be found soon enough, then we’ll have a permanent foothold in space, cost of covering a simple 100 miles no longer being a factor (and when oil climbs, launch cost will skyrocket ;)). We’ll be more than halfway to anywhere, according to Heinlein.

  7. Paul in Sweden

    “And if we can put some of that money toward the commercial sector, we can leave more money for NASA to do what it does best: explore the Universe and bring inspiration to us back home.” -Phil

    While that certainly is an idea, Phil, I believe congress is going to first focus on getting NASA away from being a left-wing politics & eco-advocacy organization, point NASA back towards space and eliminate non-primary mission tangents.

    Barack Obama: Nasa must try to make Muslims ‘feel good’ – Telegraph
    “The head of the Nasa has said Barack Obama told him to make “reaching out to the Muslim world” one of the space agency’s top priorities.

    Charles Bolden, a retired United States Marines Corps major-general and former astronaut, said in an interview with al-Jazeera that Nasa was not only a space exploration agency but also an “Earth improvement agency”.
    […]
    He added: “It is a matter of trying to reach out and get the best of all worlds, if you will, and there is much to be gained by drawing in the contributions that are possible from the Muslim [nations]”

    -http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/7875584/Barack-Obama-Nasa-must-try-to-make-Muslims-feel-good.html

  8. Ron1

    @7. Paul in Sweden Said:
    I believe congress is going to first focus on getting NASA away from being a left-wing politics & eco-advocacy organization, …

    …………………………………

    Paul, are you off your meds again? While indirectly referring to NASA as a left-wing politics & eco-advocacy organization is an interesting concept, IT’S WRONG. YOU MORON.

  9. Chappy

    Congress will read the letter. Then make some sort of B.S. remark that would include the words determination, spirit, dream, jobs, and America. Once the 2 minute speech of nonsense is over, it will then be thrown away and never be brought up again.

    I find it absolutely appalling that the very first thing on the chopping block is always NASA. Education? Science? Innovation? Exploration? High-tech jobs? We don’t need that!

    AMERIKUH! WE NUMBER 1!

  10. Ian

    Chappy @9 has it right here.

    The letter and objectives (and Phil) are right-on. But the congress critters will resist. You can bet the R-Team will say no just because that’s what they do. This is directly in line with the R-Team talking point of private sector doing better than the government, but in the current climate they’ll find some way to call it socialism and sink it. All to save the babies or something. Who knows any more?

    Paul @7: dude, yeah. Get back on the meds. There is no left wing science. Just because current science doesn’t jive with R-Team fantasy is not reason to discount it.

  11. Leon

    “You’d think funding commercial crew programs would be an easy decision for Congress to make, given the propensity of Republicans in Congress to support private industry. However, many Republicans have bizarrely been outspoken against the commercialization of space for reasons I honestly do not understand”

    Maybe it’s part of the way partisan politics has become for the Republicans in the past decade or so, where the object isn’t to win fairly but to win at any cost, and the standard practice is to take sides not necessarily based on issues, but on fighting their opponents (“The Democrats want it, so we’re not gonna let it happen”, that sort of thing). Or, I wonder if it’s a rather clever bargaining chip: opposing something they actually like so they can extract some concessions from the Democratic side. Just thinkin’.

  12. Carey

    Wow Paul (#7), way to completely miss the context.

  13. “However, many Republicans have bizarrely been outspoken against the commercialization of space for reasons I honestly do not understand…”

    How about because NASA jobs are in their home states and while they talk a big game about corporations creating jobs instead of governments, those thousands of government jobs mean thousands of content voters in their districts? Yes, the very same Republicans who shout about the inefficiency, waste, and importance of government make very good use of that government’s investments…

  14. At this point I don’t care if space exploration is driven by the agenda of the left, the right, the PRC Central Committee, Goldman Sachs, the Taliban or the Moral Majority. The important thing is that it is high on the agenda of homo sapiens!

    Also, If we’re going to move toward a global Kardashev type 1 civilization, shouldn’t we have a Global Space Agency (GSA) that pools the resources of the various national space agencies? This project is way too big and too important for any one nation!

  15. Chris Winter

    This letter is a good thing; let’s hope it has some effect.

    But what I find interesting is who did not sign on. Neil Armstrong, for one. (OK, he opposes the cancellation of Ares). Buzz Aldrin, for two. Harrison Schmitt, for three.

  16. Chris Winter

    Greg Fish wrote: “How about because NASA jobs are in their home states and while they talk a big game about corporations creating jobs instead of governments, those thousands of government jobs mean thousands of content[ed] voters in their districts?”

    Yes, there’s that. But I think a more important factor now is the sheer weight of corporatocracy in this country. The Republicans would like to “plow the road” for their corporate patrons, hence are pushing favors for big, established, non-risky* businesses like fossil fuels. Consider the continuing resolution (HR 1) which guts all kinds of environmental protections while keeping fossil-fuel subsidies intact.

    The League of Conservation Voters has the analysis:

    http://www.lcv.org/LCV-Special-Edition-Scorecard.pdf

    * Oil exploration is risky, but not in the same way — or to the same degree — as space exploration.

  17. Red

    I keep hearing what a terrific return on investment NASA is, and I think I still believe it, but I was listening to Bob Park on the Skeptics Guide to the Universe (episode 11, 8/31/05) and he said that many of the innovations claimed to have been created by NASA were really existing products that glommed onto the space program essentially for PR reasons.

    That’s got me wondering if NASA’s ROI is a bit of an urban legend. Can anyone clarify?

  18. Jared Lessl

    > I am a big advocate of this, having written many times that NASA should be exploring and creating new technologies, but should not be in the business of hauling stuff to space

    I agree, simply because NASA has given up any credibility as a space agency. The last straw for me was when I learned about their work on the Space Activity Suit. Basically high-tech spandex, it would get astronauts out of those bulky michelin man suits, the ones that are not only impossible to work in, but actually highly injurious to the wearer. Apparently they got as far as a working prototype back in the early 70’s and then just cut the project. Every EVA for the past _40 years_ has been forced to use frickin stone knives and bear skins for suits.

    But from its inception in the 50’s to this past decade when private space flight is actually becoming a reality, NASA was pretty much the only game in town if you wanted to “haul stuff into space”. And if you’re going to have a de facto monopoly, you might as well be a productive and useful one.

    They _should_ have been working more on launch systems than pretty much everything else, because without the former, the latter is just gonna be pipe dreams. Pure research is cool, but we have universities who would jump at the chance to do it, if only they could afford the price tag for sending probes, telescopes, and grad students into orbit. Researching industrial things like brewing beer is interesting, but there’s plenty of beer companies who would do it themselves if they had reasonable access to zero g. Apollo was beyond impressive, but without even the remote possibility of followup missions or a permanent presence, it was ultimately a PR stunt.

    What we’ve really only ever _really_ needed from NASA was a cheap and reliable way of getting stuff to orbit. Because without that, everything else will be prohibitively expensive or downright impossible.

  19. Elmar_M

    I am with Phil on this. It is important to leave this to the commercials. NASA has been running human space transport for 5 decades now and it has not gotten any cheaper, only more expensive in that time. Within a just a few months of the pure possibility of NASA giving human transport away to the commercials, not one, but several possible providers have emerged that all would be doing it much cheaper than NASA could have every done it.
    When people hear commercial space transport they inevitably think of SpaceX and Elon Musk. This is also where the critics usually try to gain leverage with the “risky, unproven, new company, etc” line of arguments.
    SpaceX is great and they sure have been the pace makers of this latest development, but they are not the only ones in the new effort for commercial human transport.
    There are others. Among those are big names:
    Boeing
    Lockheed Martin (both with their own capsules and cooperating as ULA with their rockets AtlasV and Delta II heavy) .
    These are big air and space companies with a decades history of providing NASA with the technology used to launch humans savely into space. ULAs rockets are relied on by the DOD to launch billions of defense hardware into space every year. ULA has a near perfect trackrecord for this. These are the same companies that would have built components for Constellation and that have provided components for the shuttle programme. So the “savety” argument is absolutely silly and just meant as a distraction.
    There are also other smaller companies involved, that will bring new and exciting technology to the table for human space transport. Just look at the recent press released by Sierra Nevada Corp and Orbital. They are both working on orbital space planes. Sierra Nevada Corb already has finished structural testing on a full scale prototype of the frame of its Dream Chaser space plane.
    The SpaceX Dragon capsule might look like a simple capsule design to some, with very little innovation to it. Some people have been trying to paint it as inferior to Orion (the capsule from the Constellation programme).
    Well that could not be further from the truth. It is a very robust and a very versatile, REUSABLE design.
    Both capsule and heat shield are designed to widthstand the reentry not only from orbital speeds, but also from lunar return and even Marsian return. Thats right, Dragon could be used for both lunar and mars missions, making Orion obsolete.
    The manned version of Dragon will also feature and innovative “pusher” Launch escape system, making it saver than Constellation. And Dragon will use the same system for retro- rockets for a save pin- point- landing on land, instead of a splash down in water. So yes, Dragon will land almost exactly like the scifi space ships we saw in the 50ies and 60ies. That will be pretty cool, I am sure and again it is much better than what Orion and Constellation would have done (water splash down).
    Space X will also have a heavy lift launcher in its portfolio next year already (first launch scheduled for 2012, but experience tells me it might turn into 2013), the Falcon 9 heavy.
    For other ways how commercial providers can contribute to real space exploration look at NASAs recent presentation of the Nautilus X. Based on commercial technology with mostly off the shelf parts, theis FULLY REUSABLE, modular true spaceship shows us the way to do a real, affordable and therefore also SUSTAINABLE Space Exploration Architecture.
    This is the way to go! No one shot moon missions that let us a do a few hopps on the moon and that are then cancelled because the money runs dry, because they are waaay to expensive. Instead this is an architecture that can support space exploration for many years, if not decades. It is modular and explandable. It can easily be adapted to different missions from lunar exploration to mission to asteroids and even Mars.
    It can be fully supported by commercial providers. Many of its components are built by commercial providers too. E.g. the habitats and storage modules which are Bigelows inflatable habitats.

    So why do some congress men insist on constellation or now a NASA led heavy lift effort?
    Well it is fiscal interests, pure and simple. Certain companies, such as ATK are important defense contractors. They would, oh what a surprise, also be the biggest contributors to both the now cancelled Constellation programme as well as the new HLV programme.
    The senators that have been insisting on the new HLV programme are- again no surprise- those that have facilities in their states that would benefit most from this.
    E.g. Senator Shelby (R) from Alabama. Guess where ATK has its headquarters? Thats right, Alabama!
    Then we have Bill Nelson (D) from Florida. He of course wants to keep the Shuttles standing army in place for a government run jobs programme. Well that jobs programme is what makes the Shuttle so expensive to operate and he wants to keep it going at all cost. That would also mean that space would never be affordable and that it will stay something that only the elites will ever have access to.
    Then there is Senator Hall (R) from Texas.
    What do we see here? Wasteful government spending is not just reserved for the democrats. No, both parties will happily take part in this, as long as it suits their lobbies. The republicans are just better at covering their tracks, since they mostly spend on defense and things like that and since defense expenses are almost never questioned for their size, they get away with it more easily. That is all
    As an external observer, I think that the US needs an independend 3rd opposition party that keeps the other two honest. Otherwise they will just keep passing the spending ball back and forth between the two with the voter having very little of a choice.
    Anyway, after this little lesson in politics, where does that leave the space programme?
    In dire need for an overhaul! By passing much of the cost on to competing(!) commercial companies that are contracted via fixed price contracts (instead of the expensive cost plus contracts that NASA usually uses), you leave the government out of the actual space transport business and stop it from interfering with how rockets are designed (e.g. Nelson inserted wording into a bill to make sure ATK HAS to be contracted for the HLV, no matter what) and operated.
    IMHO, no matter what political side you are on, whether you are a republican, a democrat , a libertarian and especially if you are a tea party voter (who are supposedly soooo in support of private enterprise and sooo against wasteful government spending), you should be supporting the administrations plans for NASAs future. It is the only way that will lead to a more affordable and sustainable space program . And maybe, one day, if things work really well, space will be affordable enough for the rest of us as well and not be reserved to a small elite and some really rich people. You think that this is impossible? Space Tourist and famous game developer Richard Garriot recently said in an interview, that had the price of his ticket been in the single digit millions, the experiments, he did for his sponsors on the ISS, would have paid for his entire ride and stay on the ISS.
    So write to your congress- men and inform the public. The future of manned spaceflight in the US, maybe the world is in your hands!

  20. Brian Rose

    The best thing we can do as citizens is to contact our elected officials and let them know how important an issue this is to us.

    You might get the form message back saying that they disagree, but they will be on notice that one of their voters finds this useful. Get enough voters together and they will change their form message.

  21. T. Miller

    This times 1000!

    According to an April 6, 2010 article, NASA will be paying the Russians $56 Million PER SEAT to launch aboard the Soyuz. SpaceX with its Dragon capsule (which holds up to 7 astronauts) can be launched for $56 Million TOTAL (1/7th the cost) [Source: Space News]. I’m not certain this number includes the Dragon capsule or if it is for a manned launch, but the point is that we could be saving hundreds of millions of dollars per launch by using commercial launch providers. The Space Shuttle costs even more to launch than Soyuz so there is the potential to save a vast sum of money. Hopefully this isn’t taken as an opportunity to cut the budget, but rather as an opportunity to shift funding to new technology.

    NASA’s job should be to fund and develop bleeding edge space (and aeronautical) technologies that will be able to take us into the 21st century and beyond.

  22. Elmar_M

    @T. Miller
    IIRC, the cost per seat on board of dragon will be 35 million initially, but that cost will go down signifficantly, once SpaceX has recouped the development cost and its initial investments, which in a commercial program, they have to bring completely themselves.
    Even the initial, high cost of 35 million is much less than what the Russians are charging though, resulting in a saving of 140 million per flight. Plus, Dragon can do so much more than just bring cargo and crew to the ISS. There is a long term perspective there.

  23. Messier Tidy Upper

    I am a big advocate of this, having written many times that NASA should be exploring and creating new technologies, but should not be in the business of hauling stuff to space. That is better — and more cheaply — done by commercial contractors.

    Sorry BA but this is one of the rare issues where I completely disagree with you. :-(

    NASA’s job, in my view, is getting Americans (and others in the Free World) into space advancing the Wests generally and the USA’s specifically rocket technology and control and leadership of space – the highest of all high grounds.

    Alan Stern is a fan of the Obama plan? I’m surprised – I thought he was better than that.

    Neil Armstrong certainly isn’t a fan of it and it is one of the very few things that has made him speak out publicly against nor are many others. incl. Gabrielle Giffords.

  24. The politics of republican anti-commercial attacks work like this:

    Most commercials are in blue or purple states (VA, CO, CA, WA, NM)

    Most government rocket and shuttle-derived stuff is in red states (UT, TX, AL, LA)

    So when jobs meet philosophy, jobs win.

  25. Messier Tidy Upper

    This is what one of America’s greatest Presidents said :

    “This [space] is the new ocean and I believe the United States must sail on it and be in a position second to none.”
    – President John F. Kennedy after John Glenn’s first orbits in ‘Friendship-7’ on Feb. 20th 1962.

    That sums up what JFK thought NASA should be doing. Not begging rides off private companies and the Russians. JFK, I suspect, would be turning in his grave over how B.H. Obama is destroying his legacy.

    I think the United States of America needs a presence in space – & that’s the US govt and people not just some American owned and based private companies. America needs a space fleet defending it’s interests and displaying its capabilities internationally as much as it needs an airforce and a navy and an army defending it in the atmosphere, on the water and on land.

    This is what a NASA worker observed :

    “We had our hands on spaceships and we learned how to make them increasingly safer and then Washington pulled the plug. … We won’t have the ability to put an American on the space station, in an American rocket, for at least a decade, … [snip-ed.] .. When Obama cancelled Constellation, he cancelled the pride that every American should have in our accomplishments. One half of one percent of the federal budget funds NASA and they can’t afford this program?”
    – Gregory Cecil, Space Shuttle tile technician quoted on page 47, “Throttle down” article in ‘Air & Space’ magazine, Nov 2010.

    And this is what Neil Armstrong has said about Obama’s space policy :

    Obama ‘errs over space’ [Headline]

    WASHINGTON : [caps original] Neil Armstrong .. says US president Barack Obama is “poorly advised” on space matters, renewing criticism of a plan to abandon a project to return US astronauts to the Moon.

    Appearing before a Senate committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, Armstrong said Mr Obama’s plan to end the Constellation program and cut space efforts appeared to be made without input from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or the President’s Science advisor.

    “If the leadership we have aquired through our investment is allowed to fade away, other nations will step in where we have faltered. I do not believe that this would bein our best interests.” Armstrong said.

    – From Page 71, ‘The Advertiser (Adelaide’s local newspaper) on the 14th of May 2010.

    I’m with Neil Armstrong, Gabrielle Giffords, the NASA workers and many, many others here who think Obama has this totally wrong.

    Quite honestly, I can’t understand why the Bad Astronomer isn’t as angry at Obama over this as I am. I very strongly suspect that if a Republican President was proposing this exact same policy (s)he would get utterly savaged and bitterly attacked by Phil Plait for doing so. :-(

  26. Messier Tidy Upper

    More of Neil Armstrong’s criticism against Obama’s plan can be found here :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2010/04/14/neil-armstrong-slams-obamas-space-plan-president-will-defend-it-tomorrow/

    Where the First Man on the Moon states in an open letter also signed by Jim Lovell from Apollo 13 & Apollo 8 and Last Man on the Moon Eugene Cernan from Apollo 17 :

    Although some of these [Obama space “plan”] proposals have merit, the accompanying decision to cancel the Constellation program, its Ares 1 and Ares V rockets, and the Orion spacecraft, is devastating.

    America’s only path to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station will now be subject to an agreement with Russia to purchase space on their Soyuz (at a price of over 50 million dollars per seat with significant increases expected in the near future) until we have the capacity to provide transportation for ourselves. The availability of a commercial transport to orbit as envisioned in the President’s proposal cannot be predicted with any certainty, but is likely to take substantially longer and be more expensive than we would hope.

    It appears that we will have wasted our current $10-plus billion investment in Constellation and, equally importantly, we will have lost the many years required to recreate the equivalent of what we will have discarded.

    For The United States, the leading space faring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second or even third rate stature. While the President’s plan envisages humans traveling away from Earth and perhaps toward Mars at some time in the future, the lack of developed rockets and spacecraft will assure that ability will not be available for many years.

    Oh & its not just former Apollo astronauts condemning Obama either, if people want another example then how about this one? :

    http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/bay_area/news/article_db82e164-baff-5a24-80ac-c26b76e23aa6.html

    Where Apollo era flight director Chris Kraft’s calls Obama’s policy :

    ..“really a ticket to nowhere and a travesty for both NASA and the United States.” Kraft, NASA’s first space flight director who became a household name during the Apollo days, thinks it represents an end to human space exploration for many years to come.

    Even the author of the Da Vinci code, Dan Brown has observed that :

    “If we privatise NASA our current pursuit of scientific knowledge would be quickly abandoned in favour of profitable ventures. True space science would die in a heartbeat. Why would private companies bother studying the origins of our universe when it would cost them billions and show no financial return? They wouldn’t.
    The throngs of entrepreneurs rushing into space will NOT be rocket scientists. They will be entrepreneurs with deep pockets and shallow minds. No NASA means complete anarchy in space.”

    – Page 204-205, ‘Deception Point’, (Sf/ thriller / puzzle novel) Dan Brown, Corgi Books, 2001.

    It is also interesting to note what Obama promised *before* he won the election in 2008 :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2008/08/04/obama-and-mccain-on-space-exploration/

    I know it’s still being reported that we were talking about delaying some aspects of the Constellation program to pay for our early education program,” [Obama] said. “I told my staff we’re going to find an entirely different offset because we’ve got to make sure that the money that’s going into NASA for basic research and development continues to go there. That has been a top priority for us. [Emphasis added.]

    Notice how Obama did NOT say he would cancel Constellation and how he implied that those who suggested he was even going to be delaying it were wrong and that he would fund it properly and see it fly instead?

    I hoped Obama would be pro-space when he was elected. I expected him to display “the audacity of hope” that the US could properly fund and launch the Ares rockets and get back to Moon and go further beyond into the Black as well. I think he has betrayed us on that promise – among many others – and dashed our hopes for the future. :-(

    ————————————————————————————————-

    PS. Yes , some of these quotes may look familiar because, yes, I have posted some of them before. I think they are well worth repeating for those who haven’t seen them and for those who need to be reminded of them.

  27. Andrew W

    “Quite honestly, I can’t understand why the Bad Astronomer isn’t as angry at Obama over this as I am.”

    Well I can’t speak for Phil, but like others in the West who’ve had the opportunity to see the wealth and efficiencies created through the free market vs the stagnation too often seen in countries and economic sectors where the state operates as a centralised monopoly, I can’t understand why you don’t support the commercialization of the space trucking industry.

  28. Vince Charles

    Yet another half-informed Kennedy misquote from some spammer on the other side of the planet, and too young…

    You forget (or never knew?) that Kennedy went into Vietnam- it was Vietnam that choked off Apollo’s budget… just like Afghanistan contributed to the fall of the Soviets(pace program). Just like Portugal’s lead position in the Age of Exploration sank after it turned to expeditionary war (Albuquerque restarting the Reconquista in North Africa). Not to mention the Romans, Spain, British Empire/Third Reich simultaneously, etc.

    So why did you again choose to post a “sack of manure”?

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/01/27/apollo-1-challenger-columbia-and-those-who-sacrifice-for-the-stars/#comment-354568

  29. Vince Charles

    Or because, yes, you’re a troll.

  30. Andrew W

    Messier Tidy Upper, while the Armstrong, Lovell, Cernan letter is certainly a criticism of the cancellation of Constellation with the resultant gap in US manned launch capability until commercial systems are operating, I don’t think it can be interpreted as a critisicim of commercialization of space trucking par se.
    Dan Brown’s comments simply suggest that if there was no NASA, the scientific research NASA conducts would not be as extensive if it were done on a commercial basis. This is a strawman argument if it’s being presented as an argument against space trucking because it’s only relevant to space science which would remain NASA’s area of activity.

  31. Ron1

    @24, @26, @27 MTU,

    First of all, I disagree – President Obama is taking a prudent, realistic path forward.

    While I strongly admire the work done by Armstrong et al, I think they are simply not able to let go past glories and are stuck in the past. The way going forward is to let industry develop and operate launches while NASA focuses on new technology and missions. Launch is now nothing more than the equivalent of rail, truck or airplane transport – routine, established technology with incremental improvements.

    As for Dan Brown’s arguing the commercial sector has no interest and would ultimately limit advances in furthering science knowledge, that’s really dumb and paranoid. Again, the commercial sector would become nothing more than a truck carrying a science payload operated by NASA — the science continues and as long as there is a buck to be made, industry will provide launch capability.

    The rest of your arguments are little more than emotional pleading for the old glory days.

    Cheers

  32. Ferris Valyn

    Messier Tidy Upper – you can keep claiming that BS, but here is the reality

    1. Commercial already has 2 rockets flying. Constellation has 0 Rockets flying, and the rocket JUST TO GET TO orbit was YEARS away from first flight.

    2. Commercial has already tested its first capsule in space. Constellation’s capsule is years away from flight, and anyway doesn’t actually have a rocket to fly on on.

    3. Constellation deserved to be canceled. Go read the Augustine report, and it lays it all out there.

    4. We both can point to astronauts who support our proposals. But I’ll say something for the astronauts who suppport commercial, that you can’t say about those who support Constellation – they are putting their own blood, sweat, tears, and money into opening space to all of us. Armstrong, Cernan, Lovell, and the rest seem to want to keep space away from the common man. And thats just greedy, IMHO.

    In short, you are dead wrong, and Constellation would’ve killed NASA. Commercial is gonna save NASA. You wanna see the exploration that is offerred by Commercial, I suggest you look at NAUTILUS-X – http://hobbyspace.com/nucleus/?itemid=26786

  33. QuietDesperation

    I always felt like you could compare space exploration with the age of exploration around the 15th-16th centuries.

    I never thought that analogy held up. No matter where you went exploring on the Earth’s surface, you could, at the very least, breathe the air and find water, and much of the time food could be picked or hunted. Columbus and others didn’t have to seal up a chunk of Europe in some sort of steampunk biosphere and float that across the ocean. In space, anywhere you go you have to forge even a basic livable environment.

    Steampunk biosphere… hmm…

  34. Messier Tidy Upper

    @33. Ferris Valyn Says:

    Messier Tidy Upper – you can keep claiming that BS, but here is the reality

    1. Commercial already has 2 rockets flying. Constellation has 0 Rockets flying, and the rocket JUST TO GET TO orbit was YEARS away from first flight.

    The amount of years away Constellation was depended at least in part on how much funding and effort got poured into it. Obama should have put enough time and money into it to get Constellation ready quicker rather than scrapping it.

    The Apollo missions had teething troubles too – but worked brilliantly in the end, ditto the Hubble telescope was a flawed mirror lemon just after launch but has become the about the greatest telescope in history since then.

    Persistence was needed – NOT quitting.

    ,2. Commercial has already tested its first capsule in space. Constellation’s capsule is years away from flight, and anyway doesn’t actually have a rocket to fly on on.

    3. Constellation deserved to be canceled. Go read the Augustine report, and it lays it all out there.

    Well that’s a matter of opinion.

    For (2) commercial isn’t NASA – best of luck to them but they shouldn’t be doing NASA’s job and replacing it but working alongside and *with* NASA sharing the skies as well as the Constellation project.

    For (3) I disagree with the Augustine report – as does Armstrong, Lovell, Cernan, Kraft and many *many* more.

    4. We both can point to astronauts who support our proposals. But I’ll say something for the astronauts who suppport commercial, that you can’t say about those who support Constellation – they are putting their own blood, sweat, tears, and money into opening space to all of us. Armstrong, Cernan, Lovell, and the rest seem to want to keep space away from the common man. And thats just greedy, IMHO.

    Neil Armstrong trumps all the others! He certainly outranks Buzz! :-)

    I think the majority of astronauts on my side of this debate & not yours.

    In short, you are dead wrong, and Constellation would’ve killed NASA. Commercial is gonna save NASA. You wanna see the exploration that is offerred by Commercial, I suggest you look at NAUTILUS-X

    Commercial isn’t NASA!

    NASA is NASA and it is the public space agency NOT a private one. NASA is everybody’s and NASA is America not an minority of private entreprenuers, share-holders and tycoons.

    Also NASA has a proven track record of success that is AU’s ahead of theprvate companies. NASA can do the business and has got people to the Moon and has them in orbit now. Privateers not so much.

    @32. Ron1 :

    @24, @26, @27 MTU, First of all, I disagree – President Obama is taking a prudent, realistic path forward. While I strongly admire the work done by Armstrong et al, I think they are simply not able to let go past glories and are stuck in the past. The way going forward is to let industry develop and operate launches while NASA focuses on new technology and missions.

    What isConstellation if not new technologyand missions?

    Launch is now nothing more than the equivalent of rail, truck or airplane transport – routine, established technology with incremental improvements.

    If only *that* were true. It’s not. :-(

  35. Andrew W

    NASA has had decades to put systems in place to make space access routine. Left to their own devices they never will make it routine because they have every reason to dream up whatever excuses are necessary to keep out competition.

  36. MadScientist

    This sounds pretty strange to me since commercial companies do all the launch stuff, vehicle construction and maintenance and so on. So what exactly does he mean? That NASA should butt out and not be involved in the planning and development except to show up at a few meetings and say “yeah, that’s the feature we want”?

  37. Messier Tidy Upper

    Off topic but perhaps of interest here : Sad news folks – the Glory :

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/Glory/main/index.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glory_(satellite)

    launch attempt has failed. Lift-off looked good early on and first five minutes or so went okay but but then a fairing didn’t separate on one of the Taurus rocket stages and then the craft couldn’t achieve orbit with the fairing attached. Not enough velocity. They’ll hold a briefing I gather 5 pm or so – US time. :-(

  38. Messier Tidy Upper

    @37. Andrew W : … they have every reason to dream up whatever excuses are necessary to keep out competition.

    What like the Russians & Chinese & Japanese space agencies? :roll:

    @38. MadScientist : Which post / commenter are you referring to there? (Puzzled.)

    @29. Vince Charles :

    Yet another half-informed Kennedy misquote from some spammer on the other side of the planet, and too young…

    Pretty sure the quote is accurate NOT a misquote & I’m certainly no spammer. I happen to disagree entirely with you but that doesn’t mean I don’t get to express my opinion or that I’m wrong.

    You forget (or never knew?) that Kennedy went into Vietnam- it was Vietnam that choked off Apollo’s budget… just like Afghanistan contributed to the fall of the Soviets(pace program).

    Well, G’uh! Of course I know about the Vietnam war. :roll:

    Yes, that conflict was one factor in ending Apollo just as Afghjaistan – the “forgotten war” with the original Mujahideen vs the U.S.S.R. – might have been a factor hurting the Soviet space program. (which you do know is ongoing today right? Albeit under Russian management.)

    Just like Portugal’s lead position in the Age of Exploration sank after it turned to expeditionary war (Albuquerque restarting the Reconquista in North Africa). Not to mention the Romans, Spain, British Empire/Third Reich simultaneously, etc.

    Well that last sentence doesn’t make any sense at all. What are you talking about there? :roll:

  39. me

    hi MTU.. *waves*
    now, what feast of idiocy have you laid before us on this occasion?

    “Neil Armstrong trumps all the others! He certainly outranks Buzz!”

    Engineering and research decisions are generally not best made by playing a game of top trumps.

    Your attitude to this is a bit like insisting that the best people to take car of the car design in modern motorsport are your personal favourites out of the superstar racing drivers from the 1960’s.

    As for your use of the topic to trumpet your cultural preferences.. well, we have been here before.

    “NASA’s job, in my view, is getting Americans (and others in the Free World) into space advancing the Wests generally and the USA’s specifically rocket technology and control and leadership of space”

    I mean, really. Which universe do you inhabit? It must be a hell of a lot smaller than this one if you think that any earth based polity has control of space. Space, from what I hear, is rather big and has quite a lot of stuff in it.

  40. me

    “I think the majority of astronauts on my side of this debate & not yours.”

    To clear this up we could ask Phil. I’ve heard he works for some organisation called NASA, so he might know.

  41. Elmar_M

    Messier,
    Armstrong is not an authority on building spacecraft, or running a space programme. He is a US hero, yes, but he is “just” a pilot.
    You of course completely ignored and failed to adress all the point that I made in my post above, havent you?

  42. gss_000

    @41 Elmer_M
    Armstrong was also a DARPA deputy associate administrator for awhile and taught at the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Aerospace Engineering. He’s as much an engineer as Aldrin.

    As for this debate, I like the idea of commercial companies working on projects and launching astronauts, but there is hype and overexaggerations on both sides.

    Constellation was behind, but the Augustine report blamed finance mostly for the issues. Management was actually praised for its work under the adverse conditions. It also was judged on a much different standard than commercial concepts.

    Furthermore, SpaceX may have launched the Falcon 9 twice, but its cost estimates are based on it being reusable, which it hasn’t proven yet. Dragon came back, but Falcon 9 segments that were supposed to didn’t. It’s also year’s behind where it should be for COTS and more delays are expected.

    We can’t say commercial will be better because I haven’t seen that yet. Orbital’s Taurus spacecraft just failed for the second time in a row, and SpaceX has a very mixed launch record so far too.

    But I don’t agree with those who worry about safety, unless the right regulations aren’t put in place. We need the FAA and NASA to regulate the launches. This is not the end of manned spaceflight by any means, but I don’t think its a panacea like some do.

    As for the GOP: I think their opposition is more based on the fact they see space as a national security issue, which is the purview of the government. Their strong opposition is still wrong, but through that lens it is more understandable. As for Congressional supporters, it is just as much a “jobs issue” as for the Congressmen from TX, FL, and AL. They just want the jobs the commercial providers in CA, NM< etc will bring.

  43. Elmar_M

    @Messier who said

    The availability of a commercial transport to orbit as envisioned in the President’s proposal cannot be predicted with any certainty, but is likely to take substantially longer and be more expensive than we would hope.

    It can be predicted with more certainty than the development of Constellation which was already billions of dollars above the original budget and years behind schedule. There was nothing there in terms of flightworthy hardware. NO, Ares1X does not count as it had nothing in common with the real Ares1.
    It would not have been ready in time to service ISS. According to the original plan, the ISS would have to be dumped into the oceab by 2017 (because the money was needed for Constellation). With the new plan, ISS will be prolonged.
    All commercial options are predicted to be available long before Constellation would have been, which would signifficantly shorten the gap.
    Of course you do know that, since it has been pointed out to you on this board not once, not twice, but many times.
    Yet you keep spamming these forums with republican propaganda.
    Why?

    Messier also said:

    The amount of years away Constellation was depended at least in part on how much funding and effort got poured into it. Obama should have put enough time and money into it to get Constellation ready quicker rather than scrapping it.

    And that money would come exactly from where? AS YOU KNOW, Obama did in fact INCREASE NASAs budget. However even this budget increase would not have allowed Constellation to be ready in time. And you know hat to!

    Messier also said:

    The Apollo missions had teething troubles too – but worked brilliantly in the end

    Uhm, no it did not! It was a one off stunt. Yes it was a great achievement, but it was also an unsustainable architecture. It was way to expensive to be sustainable.

    You are also falsly talking about a “privatization of NASA”. This could not be further from the truth. What Obama wants to privatize is the access to Space. The transport of people and goods to space, not the many science projects and technological research that NASA is doing. Since the private space access is actually cheaper, NASA will actually have more money for science and research.

    Again, you know that! But you keep spamming this place with your propaganda.

    Finally, Dan Brown is an author of trivial literature (the quality of which can be discussed), I do not see him as an authority in this matter.

  44. Ferris Valyn

    The amount of years away Constellation was depended at least in part on how much funding and effort got poured into it. Obama should have put enough time and money into it to get Constellation ready quicker rather than scrapping it.

    So, its your submission that, no matter how much more efficient it would be to use another system, on a money & energy basis, you still should use Constellation.

    Why?

    The Apollo missions had teething troubles too – but worked brilliantly in the end, ditto the Hubble telescope was a flawed mirror lemon just after launch but has become the about the greatest telescope in history since then.

    I would argue that Apollo did NOT work brilliantly, because it didn’t open up the solar system. It was a false promise.

    commercial isn’t NASA – best of luck to them but they shouldn’t be doing NASA’s job and replacing it but working alongside and *with* NASA sharing the skies as well as the Constellation project.

    NASA’s job shouldn’t be about going from Earth to LEO. NASA’s job should be about going from LEO to GEO, or the Moon, or asteroids, or MArs. Again, I reference NAUTILUS-X as the way NASA utilize Commercial, so it can do the cool exploration stuff.

    I disagree with the Augustine report – as does Armstrong, Lovell, Cernan, Kraft and many *many* more.

    Not that many more. Yes, a good number from the Apollo era, but I stand by my earlier comment.

    Neil Armstrong trumps all the others! He certainly outranks Buzz! :-)

    I think the majority of astronauts on my side of this debate & not yours.

    For the 2nd, provide evidence.

    Commercial isn’t NASA!

    NASA is NASA and it is the public space agency NOT a private one. NASA is everybody’s and NASA is America not an minority of private entreprenuers, share-holders and tycoons.

    Nobody is saying Commercial is NASA. The point is NASA can use Commercial from Earth to LEO, and save itself a LOT of money, open space up to everybody, and enable it (NASA) to do exploration. Again, look at NAUTILS-X, you’ll see a NASA & Commercial Project.

    Second – NASA isn’t everybody’s. Causae its not letting me go into space. Its not letting my dad go into space. Its not helping humanity at large go into space.

    Also NASA has a proven track record of success that is AU’s ahead of theprvate companies. NASA can do the business and has got people to the Moon and has them in orbit now. Privateers not so much.

    Your right, NASA has a proven track record, but its not of success. In the last 30 years, NASA has tried to produce a shuttle replacement, and FAILED multiple times. NASP, X-33, SLI, OSP, and finally Constellation. Thats not a good record.

    Once upon a time, NASA could get people to the moon, but the current NASA is not that NASA.

    OTOH, Private companies have designed new rockets in the last 10 years, that have successfully flown (Atlas V, Delta IV, Falcon 9).

    And actually, there are a number of companies that were doing Constellation that are also doing Commercial (ULA and Boeing). In fact, Boeing does have a proven track record of getting people to orbit.

  45. Gary Ansorge

    So, basically, the Russians are charging whatever the market will tolerate. For a 100 kg astronaut, that’s about $ 50,000.00/kg. We should never have taught those boys capitalism,,,

    Space X would LOVE to make that much. They could pay off their initial investments within a couple of years.

    ,,,and we STILL haven’t started R &D on the Nuclear Light Bulb thruster(it’s all theoretical right now).

    Bummer!

    Gary 7

  46. JMW

    However, many Republicans have bizarrely been outspoken against the commercialization of space for reasons I honestly do not understand

    and

    @2 Mgrad92 wrote: do you think it’s wise for the success of that mission to rely on private contractors?

    What we need to remember is that it currently does rely on private contractors. NASA doesn’t build its own hardware – it contracts out the contstruction after defining what the characteristics will be. To me, this is merely eliminating the step of NASA telling private contractors what the launch vehicle is to look like, how big it is to be, what propellant it is to use, how re-usable it will be, etc. Instead, individual companies can decide these matters for themselves, and NASA can then choose the option that best suits its needs.

    The danger is that NONE of the options will suit all of NASA’s needs, or worse that each solution offered will have some critical weakness. But then, there’s always the Russian option, and NASA’s rejection will just fuel more intense competition.

    At least, ideally.

  47. Paul in Sweden

    Of the people here, who recognize that private business can perform and replace NASA’s task of cargo transport & other missions, by show of hands: who here considered similar privatization options for Social Security & pubic schools? Hmmmm, is that crickets I hear? Wonder why?

    Actually, once NASA is back on the rails I would not mind if or at the very least NASA consider utilizing private haulers.

    MTU – “Neil Armstrong trumps all the others! He certainly outranks Buzz!
    Glad I didn’t have coffee in my mouth LOL :)

    What could influence and motivate the anti-science Obama administration?

    How about John Holdren, Obama’s Science advisor:

    A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environment in North America and to de-develop the United States. . . . Resources and energy must be diverted from frivolous and wasteful uses in overdeveloped countries to filling the genuine needs of underdeveloped countries. This effort must be largely political” .
    […]
    “Only one rational path is open to us—simultaneous de-development of the [overdeveloped countries] and semi-development of the underdeveloped countries (UDC’s), in order to approach a decent and ecologically sustainable standard of living for all in between. By de-development we mean lower per-capita energy consumption, fewer gadgets, and the abolition of planned obsolescence.

    -http://www.masterresource.org/2011/03/holdren-malthusian/

    Obama campaigned against NASA & science itself, nobody should be surprised by his actions. Swing states like Florida may lead to Obama providing NASA funds to keep some programs on life support to bolster his chances at re-election without consideration of the advancement of science.

    Regardless, commercial space programs are not being held back by NASA. For example Global Warming activist Sir Richard Branson flies off from his private island on one of his many private planes to destinations all around the world to promote his Virgin Galactic space tourism venture while reminding each and everyone of us we must do what we can to cut back and put earth first.

    It is natural that commercial space ventures are upset that they can’t latch on to and voraciously suck on a government teat milking down as many tax dollars as possible. Their turn may very well come.

    NASA needs to be fixed before tasks are farmed out elsewhere. NASA needs clear direction that does not change with the wind(or is that climate?) NASA programs span many administrations and continuity must be maintained to insure successful missions.

    This afternoon I let loose an audible groan when I saw the Glory mission headlines.

    Very disappointing. Things really need to get fixed!

  48. krikkit

    I think one current event is being overlooked here. Another Orbital Taurus just put another 400+ million dollar satellite into a sub-aquatic orbit.

    Yes I know NASA administrated rockets haven’ t always had the best launch records early on but…

    1) Every NASA administered rocket I can think of is from the late 60s and early 70s. With modern computer simulations, failure rate should should be much lower these days.

    2) When I say early on, I mean within the first year or two. Orbital has only launched 4 Tauri in the last ten years. Three of them failed. They don’ t have the same resources to troubleshoot their problems quickly as NASA and their contractors do. If we rely too heavily on private launchers and they start running into problems, like Orbital is now, it could take them a decade to fix, instead of the months to fix we see with NASA rockets.

    As of now it is looking like SpaceX will be able to match the same deadline the Ares had right before it was canceled. But what if they start having problems? It might be another 10 years before Americans will be able to launch themselves into space again.

  49. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Krikkit : Sub-aquatic orbit

    I’d laugh at that witty phrasing except .. it’s kind of dreadful too. I was watching that launch & .. durn that was disappointing. My commiserations to the scientists and engineers who will have had invested so much of themselves in it. :-(

    Orbital has only launched 4 Tauri in the last ten years. Three of them failed.

    But .. 4 Tauri would be a *star* – a Flamstead number star designation! ;-)

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

    Otherwise – thanks great comment, well said & agreed. :-)

    ***********

    PS. Haven’t forgotten the other’s who have responded to what I said before – I’ll reply later when I’m more sober and less tired. Trust me, its better that way! ;-)

  50. me

    “The danger is that NONE of the options will suit all of NASA’s needs, or worse that each solution offered will have some critical weakness.”

    Given that NASA is likely to be a major client, I suspect that they will look to meeting as many of NASA’s needs as they can, though maybe not all of their requests. Also, surely having several companies in the running reduces the chance of all of them displaying a critical weakness, whereas the historic situation has already seen decades lost due to critical weaknesses in NASA’s launch vehicles.

  51. me

    Paul in Sweden writes, “What could influence and motivate the anti-science Obama administration?”

    umm.. didn’t he put Steven Chu in charge of energy? How anti science can he be? And compared to what? Many members of the GOP are seemingly still having a hard time dealing with the earth being more than 6000 years old and with humans being a species of animal, so I’m not sure who you are proposing as an alternative.

  52. Messier Tidy Upper

    See :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flamsteed_designation

    For those who are wondering what’s meant by Flamsteed star numbers.
    Just in case anyone is.

    Plus : http://simbad.u-strasbg.fr/simbad/sim-id?Ident=4+Tauri&NbIdent=1&Radius=2&Radius.unit=arcmin&submit=submit+id

    Turns out 4 Tauri is better known as S Tauri and is a Sirian type star. :-)

  53. Elmar_M

    @krikkit, who said:

    As of now it is looking like SpaceX will be able to match the same deadline the Ares had right before it was canceled. But what if they start having problems? It might be another 10 years before Americans will be able to launch themselves into space again.

    Wrong on so many levels.
    1st SpaceX is still waiting for an actual funding for commercial crew. Any development they are doing for that now is at their own full risk that NASA will not be a paying customer in then end. Yet, they still are a long way towards launching crew to ISS. All that has cost US tax payers a ridiculously small fraction of what the Orion capsule allone has cost/is predicted to cost (29 billion)…
    2nd. SpaceX is NOT (and how often do I have to repeat that?´Do people actually read?) the only competitor for commercial crew. There are others, including Boeing and Lockheed.
    Even if SpaceX was going to fail miserably (and their current track record says otherwise), there are quite a few others that would step up. If anything there would be LESS risk. Because there would be MORE options. And all that for LESS money.
    I dont get what is so hard to understand about that.

    @Paul in Sweden Who said:

    who here considered similar privatization options for Social Security & pubic schools?.

    The US has had that for a long time and it has not worked. If something does not work after decades, it will most likely never work. We have had a public system here in Austria for a very long time and we are paying a lot less for on average better treatments.
    People here also have optional private insurance companies that offer an opt out plan, or an additional private plan that gives you certain improvements (better, more luxurious rooms and additional days of rehab, etc, but nothing that really improves the treatment as it is already among the best in the world).
    The US needs to fix the system there as it is simply not a fair system. It has not worked in decades and therefore has to be fixed.
    The same is true for NASA, but the other way round. There government involvement has not worked and therefore the commercials should get a chance.
    If positions were reversed, I would ask for it to be done the other way round.
    In either case, this is not an ideological question, but a practical one. If you have something that does not work, you replace it/fix it.
    NASA has proven over the decades that it is unable to develop LVs. So it needs fixed.
    The private health insurance industry in the US has proven over decades that it does not work and therefore this needs to be fixed.
    The rest of the world is doing health insurance differently and in most cases it is cheaper and better. So you look there for a possible solution.
    BTW, I do think that our public pension system in Austria is not working well. I would much prefer a private option for that, but our healthcare is awesome!

  54. krikkit

    @ 53; Elmer:

    “”1st SpaceX is still waiting for an actual funding for commercial … there are quite a few others that would step up. If anything there would be LESS risk. Because there would be MORE options. And all that for LESS money.””

    Read my post again.

    I never said ANYTHING about funding or budgeting.

    Of course private is a better deal.

    My only concern is timeline. If you saw the massive amount of money this country pissed away on the military, and overpriced social spending(which judging by the second half of the post you do know about), you wouldn’t pay any mind to the pittance NASA is spending.

    And as of now the United Launch Alliance and Boeing have no serious plans to compete for manned flight contracts. They have drawn up some plans to man-rate current launch systems but will not go any further until they have a granteed contracts. After all they have war machines to build.

  55. Ron1

    @35. Messier Tidy Upper said: “What is Constellation if not new technology and missions?”

    …………………………………………………………………………

    Um, we’re talking about launch capability or, as Phil said, ” the business of hauling stuff to space.” Of course Constellation is new technology and missions and I think that is, and must remain, part of the mandate of NASA. However, they’ve got better things to do than launches, which leads to your response to my comment …

    I said, “Launch is now nothing more than the equivalent of rail, truck or airplane transport – routine, established technology with incremental improvements.”

    You said, “If only *that* were true. It’s not”

    Well, it is true, even if we don’t like to admit it. Basic rocket technology has been around since the ancient Chinese used them for entertainment and warfare. All we’ve done today is (1) scale the rocket bigger, (2) make the propellant more powerful, (3) improve the guidance and stability system and (4) make it (more or less) human capable all of which we’ve also done with existing surface and aircraft technology.

    If you want to talk complexity issues, yes launch technology is complex and dangerous. Well, so is a 747-8, but it’s still nothing but a bigger, more powerful C150, or an RC airplane which are, themselves more refined versions of the Wright flyer. How about a nuclear submarine for complexity and danger — they’re built by the private sector and we consider their operation routine and the technology established.

    My point is not to denegrate the magnificent history of NASA launches — they are awesoome! My point is to simply show that it’s time for NASA to move ahead.

    Cheers

  56. Elmar_M

    On the crash of orbitals rocket I have a few things to say:
    It failed due to a problem with the fairing separation. This is not a major issue, but it does need some work (and they had this problem before).
    Orbitals rockets would also not be used for commercial crew.

    I dont think that this failure, while regretable, has any implication for commercial crew.
    I also want to point out that many rockets fail the first few times. That is not a big issue (unless you have a crewed vehicle with no escape system).

  57. Ron1

    @52. me and @54. Elmar_M

    Be careful feeding the troll.

    He’s not very smart, is persistant and is prone to babbling about the same, not part of the thread, thing over, and over.

    Cheers

  58. Elmar_M

    @Krikkit who said

    And as of now the United Launch Alliance and Boeing have no serious plans to compete for manned flight contracts. They have drawn up some plans to man-rate current launch systems but will not go any further until they have a granteed contracts.

    Not true. First of all. AtlasV and Delta2 are already there. They dont need any work in order to transport humans into space. All you need is a capsule plus LES.
    Boeing has the CST 100, which is already at a comparably advanced stage of development (not much behind Orion). Lockheed has “Orion light”, which is about the same leve. Boeing is already working full speed on the CST100 due to a contract with Bigelow who needs it in order to bring crew to his Space Station.
    Boeing is, as I was informed recently, already bending metal on the CST 100 and has received some (comparably little) money from NASA for that as well.
    Oh and please dont call me “Elmer”. I am in no way related to a balding unlucky hunter that is trying to catch the same “wabbid” over and over again.

  59. Ron1

    @56 Ron1

    Hmmm, before anyone jumps on me, yup, the nuclear submarine is probably not a good example because they are operated by government rather than the private sector. However, they are ‘launched’ by the private sector. :) (slinking slowly away …)

  60. Krikkit

    @59; ElmAr

    Truly sorry about the name, but my point still stands.

    All the sources I have found say that Orion Lite has already been canceled, and Boeing will not start manufacturing the CST – 100 until they get the Go from NASA.

    Also given the launch history of all the proposed launch systems for this capsule I am sure there would be plenty of testing demanded by NASA. So if they did get the Go they would still be years behind SpaceX

  61. Exceptionalist

    I can never understand the people who act like it would be a step backward for NASA to contract out for crew and cargo to orbit. We’d lose our dominance of space, we’d be falling behind the Chinese, etc. It seems to me like we’d be AHEAD of everyone else. The first country in the world to make space travel so routine you can hire a private company to take you there. The country with the cheapest access to LEO. Look at those poor Chinese, Russians and Europeans. They think space travel is so hard and expensive they have to let the freakin’ government do it!

    Even more, once there is an actual commercial market for LEO access (crew and cargo) you can count on the good old free market to make it steadily cheaper. In the meantime NASA can be flying people to the Moon and Mars with the money they save. What’s not to like? Let’s not be afraid of the future!

  62. Mike Mullen

    Isn’t what is being proposed simply putting NASA’s long standing relationship with commercial suppliers on a commercial footing rather than the hideously inefficient cost plus basis that has dominated for so long? It’s companies being asked to provide a service at a price and if the companies can’t hack it well then it’s their loss and not NASA’s.

  63. Ferris Valyn

    Mike Mullen

    Isn’t what is being proposed simply putting NASA’s long standing relationship with commercial suppliers on a commercial footing rather than the hideously inefficient cost plus basis that has dominated for so long? It’s companies being asked to provide a service at a price and if the companies can’t hack it well then it’s their loss and not NASA’s.

    There are a few details that change that slightly, but you are about 90% right on the money

  64. Andrew W

    29. Vince Charles (on MTU):

    “Yet another half-informed Kennedy misquote from some spammer on the other side of the planet…”

    ˙doʇ uo dn ƃuıʌıן ǝsoɥʇ oʇ sǝnssı ǝɔɐds uo ǝʌıʇɔǝdsɹǝd ʇuǝɹǝɟɟıp ɐ ǝʌɐɥ ɹǝpun uʍop ƃuıʌıן ǝןdoǝd
    ‘ʇı ǝɔɐɟ

  65. Elmar_M

    All the sources I have found say that Orion Lite has already been canceled, and Boeing will not start manufacturing the CST – 100 until they get the Go from NASA.

    Uhm, CST 100 has already received CCDev funding from NASA. Their condition is that NASA continues with commercial crew, not that they get selected as an actual final provider.
    Lockheed is planning to launch Orion on a Delta IV heavy for a testflight in 2013.
    That was the status as of December 2010.

  66. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ Andrew W. :

    doʇ uo dn ƃuıʌıן ǝsoɥʇ oʇ sǝnssı ǝɔɐds uo ǝʌıʇɔǝdsɹǝd ʇuǝɹǝɟɟıp ɐ ǝʌɐɥ ɹǝpun uʍop ƃuıʌıן ǝןdoǝd ‘ʇı ǝɔɐɟ

    Cleverly done. LOL. :-)

    Of course, from my perspective its you guys that are upside down & space has no up or down direction. All a matter of what angle you’re looking at things. I’m looking at right angles here natch! ;-)

    @58. Ron1 : Calling other commenters here “trolls” easy and sadly becoming commonplace but it is an unhelpful, unconstructive practice that fails to tackle the actual substance of their arguments.

    If there isn’t already an internet “Law” (akin to “Godwin’s Law”) whereby the first person to call someone they disagree with a troll automatically loses the argument – then there should be! ;-)

    I think having a diverse range of views on opinions expressed on all sorts of issues and a wide range of perspectives voiced here is a good thing. It’d be a boring world if we all thought the same and this place is better for NOT being just an echo chamber. Dissenting opinions should be argued – but in a polite, respectful fashion focusing on the argument and not the individual making it. Yes, I’ll admit that I’m not always perfect at this myself – we’re all fallible humans with our own issues and quirks and hot button topics – but its what I try to do.

    PS. I’ll respond to other comments later – probably tomorrow my timezone – there’s World Cup cricket on for a while now – Oz vs Sri Lanka.

    ***

    “I may not agree with what you say but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.”

    – Saying popularly although apparently wrongly attributed to Voltaire.

  67. Elmar_M

    @Messier, the problem is that your views are not based on any relevant facts. They are opinions based on other peoples opinions.
    Fact is that Constellation would not have been ready in time to support the ISS.
    Fact is that the Bush administration wanted to dump the ISS early in order to finance Constellation.
    Fact is that the design of Ares1 was really bad.
    Fact is that Constellation was years behind schedule even though its budget had been increased over the years from the initial schedule.
    Fact is that Ares1 did not even have second stage engines yet.
    Fact is that Ares 1X was a fake testflight to distract the gullible public.
    Fact is that the companies that are behind Constellation said that they needed more money and more time.
    Fact is that a panel of independent experts saw the problem with Constellation and the program and therefore suggested to look for alternatives.
    Fact is that Obama actually increased NASAs budget (he did NOT CUT IT!!!!!), but even that budget increase would not have allowed Constellation to be ready to support the ISS in time before it would have been dumped.
    Fact is that the new plan makes a lot more sense, as it keeps the ISS up there for longer. The ISS is a quite successful project and it has cost a lot of money. It can easily be kept up there for much longer to get more for the money, so to say.
    Fact is that with the new plan there will be an american crew transport ready in time to bring people to that space station.
    Fact is that with the new plan there is actual development of true space ships going on (NautilusX) and there is money to test actual hardware for said spaceships and a way to get that comparably cheaply (e.g. the inflatable centrifuge done by Bigelow).
    Fact is that NASA now has the budget to finance the research and development of game changing enabling technologies, which is what should be NASAs job.
    Fact is that there is absolutely no reason to not do orbital space transport with commercial planes. You are not relying on government operated planes for traveling around the world, so why would space be any different?
    Fact is that NASA has had multiple scrapped programmes for next generation space transport hardware over the years. Projects that were successful in other agencies were cancelled and/or run into the ground by NASA. Some even were successfully revived by other entities later. Examples:
    X37B, HL20, X33, X34, Delta Clipper, X38, etc,
    Fact is that the government is not good at designing rockets. That is something that should be left to engineers. The senators Nelson, Shelby and Hall have no qualification whatsoever for designig rockets, yet they are constantly trying to interfere with that. Whenever politicians try to dominate engineers, desaster strikes, also in the Space programme. See Challenger desaster for an example.

  68. Ron1

    @67. Messier Tidy Upper Said, ” … calling other commenters here “trolls” easy and sadly becoming commonplace but it is an unhelpful, unconstructive practice that fails to tackle the actual substance of their arguments.

    ……………………………………

    You are assuming the troll wants a civil debate about an issue relevant to a thread. Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, they do not — they are dogmatic partisans who are rigid in their belief that they and their cause are right. They attempt to derail the discussion and divert it to their cause without regard to facts at hand. They are believers, not thinkers and they cannot be reasoned with.

    Cheers

    I do mean cheers with all due respect — while at times long winded, :) I appreciate your comments.)

  69. Andrew W

    Often people use the label “troll” as nothing but a personal attack on those expressing a minority opinion or an opinion opposite to that of the blog owner, sometimes the label troll is especially favoured if the target puts together hard to refute, well thought out arguments.

    For that reason I don’t really like the term, it’s over-used and abused.

    Unfortunately however, MTU has had several strong arguments put to him that he has chosen to ignore, choosing instead to focus his replies on the weaker or irrelevant arguments presented against his views.

    Maintaining their position while ignoring relevant points they find hard to refute is one of the signs of a troll.

  70. Elmar_M

    I wanted to add to the discussion that ULA has just successfully launched an X37B using one of its AltasV rockets. The same rockets could be used to launch astronauts into space on board of either capsules, or space planes like the Dreamchaser or the Prometheus.

  71. Ron1

    @70. Andrew W said, “Unfortunately however, MTU has had several strong arguments put to him that he has chosen to ignore, choosing instead to focus his replies on the weaker or irrelevant arguments presented against his views.

    Maintaining their position while ignoring relevant points they find hard to refute is one of the signs of a troll.”

    ………………………………

    Aw, MTU is fine.

    While he can go on, and on, and on :), he’s generally on topic and is harmless unlike Paul in Sweden who gets going on his rants in what appear to be deliberate attempts to divert threads toward his ongoing hates for Obama, Democrats and Liberals — he’s not about sharing with and learning from the thread, he’s about regurgitating right wing talking points that have no basis in fact (If his rants were fact based, I’d at least learn something). If he was doing the same with Liberal talking points, I’d also whack him. There is a BIG difference between that behavior and that of MTU and I have seen evidence of MTU backing down (not often but it has happened.)

    Like I said, MTU is fine.

    Cheers

  72. Andrew W

    Fair enough Ron1. MTU has said he’ll address points raised when he’s got time so my intent was more to prod him than red card him.

  73. Ron1

    @68. Elmar_M

    While I generally agree with your comment, I think you’re being a little loosey-goosey with some of your facts. For example;

    (1) “Fact is that Ares 1X was a fake testflight to distract the gullible public.”
    ………………………………………….
    This is your opinion, not a fact.

    (2) “Fact is that the government is not good at designing rockets.”
    …………………………………………..
    Saturn and Atlas are examples of good, government involvement rockets. The Russian, Chinese and Indian governments also appear to be good at designing rockets.

    (3) “Fact is that there is absolutely no reason to not do orbital space transport with commercial planes”
    ……………………………………………
    For starters, what do you mean by plane? I hope you’re not talking about commercial jet aircraft.

    Facts are great, when they’re real.

    cheers

  74. Ron1

    @73 . Andrew W

    Just in case you don’t know, MTU lives in Australia (you know, that backwoods place near New Zealand) ;) He’s probably sleeping.

    ps. … red car him — I smell soccer, are you in UK?

  75. Andrew W

    “are you in UK?”

    Heh, no, NZ.

    It’s Sunday 2:55 pm here and Aussie is 2 – 5 hours behind us so he should be up and about.

  76. Ron1

    Andrew W

    Lucky man. I haven’t been there in 20 years but I sure love NZ.

    It’s 7.45pm here in Alberta, Canada and I’m freezing my butt at -18C. Actually, it feels relatively warm compared to the -38C we were at a few days ago.

    You have a good day.

    Cheers

  77. Messier Tidy Upper

    On the Space Shuttle escape system – there are actually a number of these as space writer Tim Furniss notes :

    ”Launch pad aborts are dangerous since fire is a real possibility. If this happens the [Space Shuttle] crew would have to make an emergency egress by sliding down wires to an underground bunker or to an armoured truck for a rapid escape. Although evacuating for fire is a well-practiced procedure, no crew has yet had to do it for real.”

    – Page 131, The History of Space Vehicles Grange Books, 2001.

    There is actually at least one other escape system for use if troubles occur in flight as Tim Furniss again describes :

    Failing to reach land [in an abort contingency situation] means a ditching at sea. Before this happens the crew would have to bail out … an extendible pole has to be used to ensure the crew slide downward out of the main deck door so that they do not hit the leading edge of the orbiter. Each crew member has to attach his or her parachute harness to a ring, which helps the crew member slide down the pole and, once free, open the chute.”

    – Page 143, The History of Space Vehicles Grange Books, 2001.

    A fictional but probably fairly realistic narrative of such an evacuation is found early on in Stephen Baxter’s Titan novel where it saved all but two of the astronauts (incl. the main character Paula Benacerraf) from death when something went wrong with the Columbia resulting in that shuttle crash-landing and being destroyed.

    That shuttle escape system does need to be used at a certain height – it won’t work if you’re too high as with the actual Columbia loss and it does have a few risks associated with it – but the Space Shuttle *does* have that escape system.

    Plus the launch abort one(s) and I vaguely recall yet another escape mechanism seen on the TV news or a science program years ago where a space evacuation – or emergency transfer can be carried out from one craft (say the ISS to the Shuttle or perhaps vice-versa) using a bubble carrier device to move astronauts.

    Reality is that other spacecraft’s escape systems aren’t flawless or risk free either. Lives were lost in the Soyuz and even the <Apollo craft as well (Grissom, Chafee, White) and the lives of Neil Armstrong and David Scott were in serious jeopardy on their Gemini * flight to name just a few other examples. Space travel, like motor-racing, sky-diving, mountaineering and so many other things is never going to be 100% safe whatever we do.

    Finally it is worth noting that the Russian space shuttle Buran was fitted with ejector seats* – and that spaceplane was an almost identical copy of the US Space Shuttle so clearly the design isn’t that bad or the Russians wouldn’t have copied it so closely!

    * Source : Page 97, Tim Furniss, ‘A History of Space Exploration –and its future’, Thalamus Publishing, 2003.

    ————

    PS. This was posted at 3.45 p.m. my timezone – Australian Central Time – for those who are curious. Been up for a while but also had some work and other stuff keep me busy. RL does get in the way at times. ;-)

  78. Messier Tidy Upper

    @74. Ron1 Says:

    @68. Elmar_M : While I generally agree with your comment, I think you’re being a little loosey-goosey with some of your facts. For example;

    (1) “Fact is that Ares 1X was a fake testflight to distract the gullible public.”
    ………………………………………….
    This is your opinion, not a fact.

    (2) “Fact is that the government is not good at designing rockets.”
    …………………………………………..
    Saturn and Atlas are examples of good, government involvement rockets. The Russian, Chinese and Indian governments also appear to be good at designing rockets.

    (3) “Fact is that there is absolutely no reason to not do orbital space transport with commercial planes”
    ……………………………………………
    For starters, what do you mean by plane? I hope you’re not talking about commercial jet aircraft.

    Facts are great, when they’re real.

    Well said & seconded by me. Exactly. :-)

    @69. Ron1 :

    I do mean cheers with all due respect — while at times long winded, I appreciate your comments.

    Thanks. That’s appreciated. I enjoy your one’s too! :-)

  79. Messier Tidy Upper

    I’d also add to that list of Elmar_M’s not-so factual “facts” provided by @74. Ron1 :

    @68. Elmar_M : [ I’ve numbered your “facts” for ease of reference.]

    1. Fact is that Constellation would not have been ready in time to support the ISS.

    Well no, that’s your opinion too. We”ll never know when Constellation could’ve been ready had sufficent time & money been put in – nor do we yet know for a fact how long the ISS will remain orbiting and in use. Many spacecraft have extended missions after all.

    2. Fact is that the Bush administration wanted to dump the ISS early in order to finance Constellation.

    Irrelevant – and that didn’t happen in reality so its classification as “fact” is dubious.

    3. Fact is that the design of Ares1 was really bad.

    Opinion again – “bad” is almost by definition NOT a factual word but a value judgement and subjective personal assessment & the Ares I test flight was a success.

    4. Fact is that Ares1 did not even have second stage engines yet.

    Looked they were firing okay in its one & only flight to me. For non-existent engines I’d say they did a reasonable job! ;-)

    (Yeah, that was the IX version – just as they had the Saturn IV rocket version early on in the Apollo program. I still count the Ares I-X as a variety of the Ares I rocket.)

    5. Fact is that the companies that are behind Constellation said that they needed more money and more time.

    Yes – so? They *did* need more money & perhaps more time – that means you’re best advised to give them what they need to get it working NOT use it as an excuse to scrap the program.

    6. Fact is that a panel of independent experts saw the problem with Constellation and the program and therefore suggested to look for alternatives.

    Hmm .. other experts I’ve already quoted – Neil Armstrong, JimLovell, Chris Kraft, & others – disagree with that and independence is often in the eye of the beholder.

    7. Fact is that Obama actually increased NASAs budget (he did NOT CUT IT!!!!!), but even that budget increase would not have allowed Constellation to be ready to support the ISS in time before it would have been dumped.

    Wouldn’t it? We’ll never know because the program was scrapped when it could’ve been supported. My objection to Obama is specifically the cancellation of Constellation and the Lunar return program with no appropriate replacement.

    Besides you seem to be repeating yourself a little here (not that I can talk, I know ;-) ) see “facts” [& their rebuttals] 1 & 2 also dealing withe the ISS.

    8. Fact is that the new plan makes a lot more sense, as it keeps the ISS up there for longer. The ISS is a quite successful project and it has cost a lot of money. It can easily be kept up there for much longer to get more for the money, so to say.

    Which has to do with Constellation how? I agree we should keep the ISS going and haven’t said otherwise – but that should be as well as flying Constellation not instead of doing so. :-(

    Fact is that with the new plan there will be an american crew transport ready in time to bring people to that space station. Fact is that with the new plan there is actual development of true space ships going on (NautilusX) and there is money to test actual hardware for said spaceships and a way to get that comparably cheaply (e.g. the inflatable centrifuge done by Bigelow).

    Not facts but hopes – these haven’t come to pass yet. Maybe, hopefully, you’ll be proven right and that will *become* fact one day in the future – but that isn’t the case yet. Things may not work out as you think they will so you can’t call what you hope and plan to happen “fact” until it comes to pass.

    Fact is that NASA now has the budget to finance the research and development of game changing enabling technologies, which is what should be NASAs job.

    What *should* be NASA’s job is opinion and a persoanl value judgement NOT fact.

    I would say that NASA’s job is principally getting Americans into space and advancing the interests of the United States in space. That’s not its only job perhaps – but I would consider that its main one.

    Incidentally, “making Muslims feel good about themselves”, should be NASA’s very last priority – or rather NOT a priority at all. :-(

    Fact is that there is absolutely no reason to not do orbital space transport with commercial planes. You are not relying on government operated planes for traveling around the world, so why would space be any different?

    So, the US military who rely on the US airforce getting them around the globe are badly mistaken to do so? Really? Ditto all the other nations that fly their own troops about? :roll:

    I could be mistaken but I think you’ll find a number of major airlines have at least some government control and/or interest or involvement. This has been esp. so in the past but I think many still do. El Al – the Israeli airline, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa (for Germany) are a couple of examples that spring immediately to mind.

  80. Andrew W

    Thanks for the comprehensive replies MTU.

    From my perspective though you haven’t addressed the central issue:

    “I am a big advocate of this, having written many times that NASA should be exploring and creating new technologies, but should not be in the business of hauling stuff to space. That is better — and more cheaply — done by commercial contractors. ”

    NASA is always going to have a limited budget, so if the space trucking can be done more cheaply by commercial contractors, NASA will have more money left over for space exploration and science if the space trucking is done that way.

    So to me at least, the core of the debate is: are commercial outfits operating in a competitive and more-or-less free market likely to provide better value for money to customers than the alternative of a state owned monopoly (even allowing that other state owned suppliers of space access services exist, you don’t have a free market as states will often subsidise their own space launch provider to compete against foreign providers, which may be great for customers in the short term but it effectively destroys the function of the market – to let the most efficient supplier do the best and grow).

    We can go around the world and examine the performance of private firms operating in competitive markets to that of state owned monopolies in the same industries. Do you dispute the weight of evidence in favour of the free market option? Would you be cheering for the nationalisation of Australian supermarkets, banks, and building firms? In your opinion would the Australian traveler be better off if airlines operating in Australia were all government owned?

  81. Andrew W

    Another aspect of the commercialisation issue that is also relevant is innovation, I’d argue vehemently that commercial outfits are more likely to pursue the technological innovations that are more likely to lead to longer term efficiencies, indeed, innovation is an area where government controlled organisations are notorious bad, and simply pointing out the lockheed or Boeing etc are building the rockets/spacecraft is not offering a convincing reply as they build those rockets/spacecraft to the demands of their customer, those demands will be very different depending on the nature of the customer.

    So, for innovation, would you prefer it if Microsoft and Apple were state owned or private companies?

  82. Andrew W

    “So, the US military who rely on the US airforce getting them around the globe are badly mistaken to do so? Really? Ditto all the other nations that fly their own troops about?”

    That’s just silly in terms of this debate, unless you’re anticipating NASA leading the charge to militarize space.

  83. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Andrew W. : I wouldn’t mind seeing NASA militarise space – I think that is probably inevitable and may already, de facto, be the case. Whether folks like it or not.

    I also wouldn’t mind seeing NASA accept sponsorship if that helped its finanacial woes. I hate adverts & find them as annoying as the next person but if that’s what’s needed then I”ll grudgingly put up with it. We do need to be pragmatic.

    @ 82. Andrew W : Microsoft and Apple are very different things to NASA. I don’t think that analogy is necessarily apt or applicable.

    I think NASA has already been innovative & can still be into the future whilst still remaining public.

    @ 81. Andrew W :

    NASA is always going to have a limited budget, so if the space trucking can be done more cheaply by commercial contractors, NASA will have more money left over for space exploration and science if the space trucking is done that way.

    Well, this is yet to be seen. Can the commercials truly deliver? That’s the big question and I think the verdict is still out – & will be until they’ve operated a number of successful manned orbital missions.

    NASA, to me, is supposed to be about space exploration – manned especially as well as unmanned as handled mostly by JPL.

    If the commercials can do *some* stuff then sure that’s great – but I ‘d rather they weren’t oing *everything* – as noted before my feeling and thinking is that be as well as rather than instead of the national space agency.

    There are civilian airlines then there’s the military airforce in the atmosphere, that’s my thinking on how we’re best off in space too – private companies doing some stuff for profit in their companies interests and national ones doing other stuff in the national interest.

    Do you see what I’m getting at here?

  84. Elmar_M

    @Ron1

    Ares1X was a testflight that did not really test anything. It was quickly put together by ATK when it became evident that Constellation might get cancelled. I have said that before and I will elaborate on this more in my repeated explanation for MTU.

    (2) “Fact is that the government is not good at designing rockets.”
    …………………………………………..
    Saturn and Atlas are examples of good, government involvement rockets.

    Saturn was a bad design in the way that it was expensive and unsustainable. It was not possible to keep this programme going. It was a good design for doing the Apollo- moon- stunt, but it was not a great design when it comes to sustainable architectures.

    Atlas is a robust design, indeed, but for todays standards it is showing its age.
    Pretty much any rocket that NASA/government has designed since the Shuttle became a dead end. I named some of them. The shuttle also was a horrible design. Again, because of to much government involvement.

    The Russian, Chinese and Indian governments also appear to be good at designing rockets.

    That depends on how you define good.
    None of these was without problems. The Russian Soyus is cheap and robust and a very mature design. That is why it has few failures. However, it is not really all that great.

    (3) “Fact is that there is absolutely no reason to not do orbital space transport with commercial planes”
    ……………………………………………
    For starters, what do you mean by plane? I hope you’re not talking about commercial jet aircraft.

    That was meant to read “space plane”. The “space” part must have gotten lost somehow…

    @Messier who said:

    Well no, that’s your opinion too. We”ll never know when Constellation could’ve been ready had sufficent time & money been put in

    Uhm, it was actually said by the prime contractors for constellation that they could not be ready in time. NASA said so too. Not only that, they also wanted more money. So no, even with more money it would not have been ready in time. Of course if you believe that there is such a thing as unlimited funds….
    Back in the real world, the commercial providers can do it quicker, cheaper AND BETTER!

    Irrelevant – and that didn’t happen in reality so its classification as “fact” is dubious.

    Not irrelevant. The plan was there and it was a fact. Obama changed the plan.
    Please do you research!

    Opinion again – “bad” is almost by definition NOT a factual word but a value judgement and subjective personal assessment & the Ares I test flight was a success.

    There was no Ares 1 Testflight, as me and others have already pointed out to you multiple times!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Ares1X had NOTHING in common with Ares1. The first stage of Ares 1X was a FOUR segment booster (basically the shuttle SRB), not a FIVE segment booster as the one for Ares1 would have been. But I guess counting to more than four is difficult.
    The four segment booster does not have the thrust oscillation problems that could not only desintegrate the vehicle but also kill the crew and that was a MAJOR design issue for Ares1.
    Again, you obviously know NOTHING about this!
    Mitigating these vibration issues to required several complicated design changes that increased the system weight. This made a stronger upper stage engine necessary.
    Which leads me to the upper stage…

    Looked they were firing okay in its one & only flight to me. For non-existent engines I’d say they did a reasonable job!

    Again, you obviously know NOTHING!
    Ares1X did not even have an upper stage. The upper stage was a mere Dummy! Because of that (and it only having 4 segments on the first stage) the Ares1X test was merely suborbital!
    Please, again go and do your research!

    Yes – so? They *did* need more money & perhaps more time – that means you’re best advised to give them what they need to get it working NOT use it as an excuse to scrap the program.

    Really? You would have fed them more and more money for all eternity until maybe one day in 50 years, they would have had a rocket that actually exists not just on paper

    Hmm .. other experts I’ve already quoted – Neil Armstrong, JimLovell, Chris Kraft, & others – disagree with that and independence is often in the eye of the beholder.?!

    Argument from “authority”. However your authorities are not authorities on the actual subject.

    Which has to do with Constellation how? I agree we should keep the ISS going and haven’t said otherwise – but that should be as well as flying Constellation not instead of doing so.

    Because in the real world, there are budget limitations. Becaquse in the real world the previous administration ran the US into a major, major economic crisis.
    There are no unlimited funds! Sure, if the US has unlimited amounts of money for NASA available, then maybe it would have been a good idea. I do however ask myself: “why keep something on life support that is clearly not the best solution?!”

    Not facts but hopes – these haven’t come to pass yet. Maybe, hopefully, you’ll be proven right and that will *become* fact one day in the future – but that isn’t the case yet.

    No, not just hopes. Dragon and Falcon 9 clearly exist and not just as mockups or on paper. They have flown successfully, Falcon9 twice already, Dragon once.
    Ares1 has not flown yet. There is no upper stage, which is why ATK has partnered with Astrium (to provide the Arianne V first stage as an upper stage) in order to compete for CCDEV. They had to partner with Astrium, because otherwise they KNOW that there would be no second stage ready in time!
    As I mentioned and yes, I obviously have to repeat myself, because people just dont get it into their heads otherwise: CCDEV is not just SpaceX, it is also Boeing and ULA (Boeing and Lockheed) and SNC and more.
    All of them are very real! An AtlasV just successfully launched an unmanned orbital Space Plane for the airforce! (which is what I meant when I siad “planes” earlier, but I had somehow lost the “space”).
    Bigelows inflatable habitats also do exist. Two smaller ones have already been orbiting earth and larger ones will soon be launched.

    So, the US military who rely on the US airforce getting them around the globe are badly mistaken to do so? Really? Ditto all the other nations that fly their own troops about?

    Uhm one thing is civilian, the other is military. The military has very different requirments.
    Also, the planes that the military is using are designed and developed by commercial companies, not designed and developed by the government.
    The government simply provides a set of requirements (still there are a lot of cost plus contract involved there and it is not quite ideal, but still better than what NASA has been doing).

    On the shuttle escape systems: You have got to be kidding me. You are comparing escape modes that do not really exist (bubble) and/or only work under certain conditions which are almost never met to a fully features LES such as Dragon and CST100 would have?!
    Also, the shuttle had a 1 in 9 chance of catastrophic failure initially.
    http://www.npr.org/2011/03/04/134265291/early-space-shuttle-flights-riskier-than-estimated

    So again you are totally off with everything you say!

  85. flip

    #84, MTU

    I also wouldn’t mind seeing NASA accept sponsorship if that helped its finanacial woes.

    So basically you’re saying you don’t want commercial enterprises to do the job that NASA does independent of NASA; but are happy for commercial enterprises to give money to NASA in order to finance the very things that those commercial enterprises would hope to do themselves (ignoring the fact that commercial companies already work with and for NASA)… ?

    That makes perfect sense….

    I hate adverts & find them as annoying as the next person but if that’s what’s needed then I”ll grudgingly put up with it.

    Giant “Intel inside” along the shuttle would be kinda cool. Then we could advertise ourselves to those aliens out there ;)

    NASA, to me, is supposed to be about space exploration – manned especially as well as unmanned as handled mostly by JPL.

    How can they explore anything if their funding is run into the ground by projects that are behind schedule and can be done cheaper by other companies?

    If the comercials can do some stuff then sure – but as noted before my feeling and thinking is that be as well as rather than instead of the national space agency.

    I’ve not followed this issue for very long or in any detail – isn’t the plan to have NASA doing stuff alongside the commercials? Nobody is disbanding NASA, nobody’s telling them “you can’t send stuff/people into space”. Aren’t you inventing a strawman here? If this is the basis of your argument, then I’d say you’re confused because your last paragraph is pretty much what’s going to happen.

  86. Tony

    Just last week, I was on Capitol Hill with a couple dozen National Space Society and other technology membership groups actively lobbying our elected representatives on promoting commercial space launches and getting NASA back to its exploratory mission.

    I only recently joined the NSS, and would like to know if what’s others view of it are. Any members here? Any other groups that are as or more influential in space policy discussions?

  87. Elmar_M

    Its interesting how quiet MTU got all of a sudden.
    Tony, I would probably be a member of the NSS, if I was a US citizen ;)
    I have been hanging out with the new space crowd since the usenet alt.space- days.

  88. flip

    #88 Elmar_M

    I wouldn’t worry too much about MTU. There’s a big festival on in Adelaide at the moment, could be he’s just distracted elsewhere….

  89. Messier Tidy Upper

    @88. Elmar_M : Some of us have stuff happening in Real Life too, mate! ;-)

    I haven’t forgotten.

    Ares1X did not even have an upper stage. The upper stage was a mere Dummy! Because of that (and it only having 4 segments on the first stage) the Ares1X test was merely suborbital! Please, again go and do your research!

    Okay, you are correct about that one point there. The specific Ares I-X which was launched on didn’t have an operational second stage after all. Mea culpa.

    Instead it had a carefully crafted Upper stage simulator (wiki-link to follow.) Later versions would have had working second stages.

    What we did see was a real tangible NASA rocket – not an animation, not a plan, something that was finally starting to – quite literally take off and get us going somewhere again.
    We – NASA – had something that was getting off the drawing boards.

    Then Obama killed it and has stopped further tangible progress for NASA at least . That’s what I see & what I find unforgivable. That’s the reality I can’t get past.

  90. Messier Tidy Upper

    Link here :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ares_I-X#Upper_stage_simulator

    for the Ares I-X simulator.

    Link here :

    http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/NASA_completes_successful_test_flight_of_new_Ares_IX_rocket

    For a wiki-news report on the successful flight of the Ares I-X on the 28th of October 2009.

    Plus here :

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/constellation/ares/flighttests/aresIx/index.html

    For more on that & other tests direct from NASA.

    Note from there :

    The flight test is expected to provide NASA with an enormous amount of data that will be used to improve the design and safety of the next generation of American spaceflight vehicles, which could again take humans beyond low Earth orbit.

    That’s what was expected, the first test went well – and then Obama cancelled it.

    Did / do you really want all that work, all that effort and time people have put in to be just thrown out & count for nothing, Elmar_M? Really?

  91. Messier Tidy Upper

    @86. flip :

    So basically you’re saying you don’t want commercial enterprises to do the job that NASA does independent of NASA; but are happy for commercial enterprises to give money to NASA in order to finance the very things that those commercial enterprises would hope to do themselves (ignoring the fact that commercial companies already work with and for NASA)… ?

    There’s a pretty big difference between being sponsored by a company and actually *being* the company. :roll:

    NASA being in charge and using money from private sponsors is one thing.

    NASA being replaced in its primary role by – or depending totally on – the same private company(ies?) is something else entirely. :-(

    How can they explore anything if their funding is run into the ground by projects that are behind schedule and can be done cheaper by other companies?

    So fund it properly! That’s the solution – not cancelling the whole plan.

    Whether or not they can be done cheaper by others is yet to be proven – and even if they can I think having a national space agency working as well is a good thing.

    isn’t the plan to have NASA doing stuff alongside the commercials? Nobody is disbanding NASA, nobody’s telling them “you can’t send stuff/people into space”. Aren’t you inventing a strawman here? If this is the basis of your argument, then I’d say you’re confused because your last paragraph is pretty much what’s going to happen.

    I don’t see it that way.

    I don’t think its a strawman postion at all.

    You are right to say that they’re not officially disbanding NASA or telling it it can’t go into space – but they are taking away its capability to do so. The Obama administrationis changing NASA from being in charge and having a rocket program flying to NOT having a rocket program and NOT being in charge but depending on others.

    I don’t think that’s a good thing. I am a supporter of NASA and I do trust them when it comes to space exploration and development – they’ve demonstrated they do have that “Right Stuff” – and they will share the wonder with *all* the people. I want them up there in the Black, doing marvellous things as they always have.

    Not begging for rides unable to get there themselves and not playing second fiddle to anyone else.

  92. Messier Tidy Upper

    @85. Elmar_M Says:

    Ares1X was a testflight that did not really test anything. It was quickly put together by ATK when it became evident that Constellation might get cancelled. I have said that before and I will elaborate on this more in my repeated explanation for MTU.

    Well it tested the Ares I aerodynamics and first stage at least didn’t it? :roll:

    Plus more.

    Saturn was a bad design in the way that it was expensive and unsustainable. It was not possible to keep this programme going. It was a good design for doing the Apollo- moon- stunt, but it was not a great design when it comes to sustainable architectures.

    Er .. WHAT?!? :-o

    The rocket that won the space race that got the only twelve people who have walked on the Moon to the Moon and is arguably the gretatest single machine in human history was a “bad design” to you?!

    *facepalm*

    Expensive? Of course rockets always are & the better the more costly. Sorta like with caviar or gemstones or wine! ;-)

    The Saturn V was worth every penny in my book.

    Unsustainable? Hmm .. it was sustained long enough to do some pretty great things wasn’t it? Land men on the Moon and return them safely to Earth as JFK specified, defeat the Evil Empire, launch Skylab, launch the Apollo-Soyuz peace-making link-up mission – and of course it could’ve been sustained & done more if we decided to prioritise it & build and fund more of them.

    The shuttle also was a horrible design. Again, because of to much government involvement.

    Right. So horrible the Russians made an near-identical copy of it. :roll:

    So horrible it has taken more people into space than any other spacecraft in history. :roll:

    So horrible it has given us the Hubble Space Telescope and launched the Galileo spaceprobe to Jupiter and Magellan to Venus and about a million other things. :roll:

    How does the Space Shuttle stack up in history? Not perfect, sure, not lived up to expectations, granted but “horrible” … I am NOT permitted to post what my response to *that* is – the BA doesn’t allow swearing here! ;-)

    Suffice to say then that that’s another absolute *facepalm* statement you’ve made, Elmar_M.

    What do you have against the Shuttle and NASA so bad anyhow? Why this evident anti-NASA bias and rank ingratitude for what they *have* accomplished from you, Elmar-M? :-(

    Some one else : “The Russian, Chinese and Indian governments also appear to be good at designing rockets. That depends on how you define good.
    None of these was without problems. The Russian Soyus is cheap and robust and a very mature design. That is why it has few failures. However, it is not really all that great.

    No, indeed the Space Shuttle is much better – as was the Saturn V! ;-) :-P

    No rocket system is without its problems. Virtually nothing in life is without its problems. You can work to get as close to perfection and as good as possible but things rarely come with only pros and not cons.

    —– END Part I — [broken into sections for ease of readibility.]

  93. Messier Tidy Upper

    CONTINUING Part II @85. Elmar_M :

    Uhm, it was actually said by the prime contractors for constellation that they could not be ready in time. NASA said so too. Not only that, they also wanted more money. So no, even with more money it would not have been ready in time. Of course if you believe that there is such a thing as unlimited funds….

    Not unlimited – although in theory the govt can print as much money as it wants! ;-)

    (Not that I’m recommending that policy mind you.)

    If the Govt decides it absolutely has to something – it can do it. Usually. Look at the wars and the bank bailouts and Obamacare and so on. If we were sufficently determined to do it, if they prioritise it highly enough, they can find the funds required I’m sure. Where there’s a will there’s a way as they say. Even if they have to cancel Obamacare (which will quite possibly be repealed post-2012 anyhow once Obama’s removed from power) or cut back on foreign aid to indifferent or outright hostile nations to do so. If Obama can bail out the banks, he can bail out Constellation which is a much better idea and we’ll get a lot more benefit from. Space is an investment and a national necessity.

    Back in the real world, the commercial providers can do it quicker, cheaper AND BETTER!

    Can they?

    Remains to be seen.

    NASA has landed men on the Moon, orbited it, gone further and taken more people into orbit than any group in history. Private companies have a couple of sub-orbital human flights and the odd self-funded tourist travelling on NASA or Russian space agency craft. Maybe that’ll change. We’re still waiting to see it though.

    Not irrelevant. The plan was there and it was a fact. Obama changed the plan. Please do you research!

    Oh, I’m not disputing Obama changed the plan – that’s what I’m objecting too! :-(

    What? You meant the alledged Bush plan to de-orbit the ISS – that *is* irrelevant. Didn’t happen, almost certainly couldn’t have happened given the international partnerships involved. Nothing really to do with Constellation.

    Ares1X had NOTHING in common with Ares1. The first stage of Ares 1X was a FOUR segment booster (basically the shuttle SRB), not a FIVE segment booster as the one for Ares1 would have been. But I guess counting to more than four is difficult.

    Snarky. :roll:

    Also false. The morphology – aerodynamics, personnel , basic procedure, and plans etc .. were in common. Ares I-X was the first step, the early prototype and precursor just as the Saturn IV was a first step to the Saturn V.

    The four segment booster does not have the thrust oscillation problems that could not only desintegrate the vehicle but also kill the crew and that was a MAJOR design issue for Ares1. Again, you obviously know NOTHING about this!

    The early Saturn V had a pogo-ing problem that could have done the same. It was fixed.
    Do I need to re-quote the quote from Gus Grissom where he put a lemon on the Apollo rocket?

    Was Constellation experiencing teething troubles? Yeah, sure was. Every baby does. They grow up and turn out fine.

    You would have fed them [NASA-Constellation] more and more money for all eternity until maybe one day in 50 years, they would have had a rocket that actually exists not just on paper.

    Not all eternity -but a lot longer and given them what they needed – incl . a (metaphorical) kick in the pants if that was required too. Set some deadlines for tests and progress that I would’ve pushed them to make – NOT scrapped the whole thing as too hard as Obama did. :-(

    Argument from “authority”. However your authorities are not authorities on the actual subject.

    I disagree. Neil Armstrong *is* an expert on spaceflight, he does have engineering knowledge and more experience at getting people to the Moon than anyone – as does Jim Lovell, Gene Cernan, Chris Kraft. You really saying they’re NOT experts? Seriously? :roll:

    There are no unlimited funds! Sure, if the US has unlimited amounts of money for NASA available, then maybe it would have been a good idea. I do however ask myself: “why keep something on life support that is clearly not the best solution?!”

    The first part there I’ve already dealt with & you’re repeating yourself. As for the second sentence there, Constellation *was* the best solution, its certainly not “clearly” otherwise – and even if you don’t think so; it was the only solution we were actually working on. We were committed to it, it had the momentum – which was starting to build up nicely, it was what we were doing, we were best advised to keep on going and make Constellation work.

    No, not just hopes. Dragon and Falcon 9 clearly exist and not just as mockups or on paper. They have flown successfully, Falcon9 twice already, Dragon once.
    Bigelows inflatable habitats also do exist. Two smaller ones have already been orbiting earth and larger ones will soon be launched.

    Not carrying crew – and not to the Moon or beyond. Also good for them but, as I keep saying, they’re not NASA or the national program.

    On the shuttle escape systems: You have got to be kidding me. You are comparing escape modes that do not really exist (bubble) and/or only work under certain conditions which are almost never met to a fully features LES such as Dragon and CST100 would have?!

    No, I am refuting the incorrect argument someone (forget who now) put that the Shuttles don’t have escape systems. They do.

  94. Elmar_M

    @MTU

    Well it tested the Ares I aerodynamics and first stage at least didn’t it?

    NO IT DID NOT TEST THE FIRST STAGE!!!!!
    How often do I have to repeat myself?!!!!!
    Copy paste:
    The first stage of Ares 1X was a FOUR segment booster (basically the shuttle SRB), not a FIVE segment booster as the one for Ares1 would have been. But I guess counting to more than four is difficult.
    The four segment booster does not have the thrust oscillation problems that could not only desintegrate the vehicle but also kill the crew and that was a MAJOR design issue for Ares1.
    Again, you obviously know NOTHING about this!
    Mitigating these vibration issues to required several complicated design changes that increased the system weight. This made a stronger upper stage engine necessary.

    Instead it had a carefully crafted Upper stage simulator (wiki-link to follow.) Later versions would have had working second stages.

    Well, the second stage engine does not even exist yet. So it would have been MUCH later flights.

    Unsustainable? Hmm .. it was sustained long enough to do some pretty great things wasn’t it? Land men on the Moon and return them safely to Earth as JFK specified, defeat the Evil Empire, launch Skylab, launch the Apollo-Soyuz peace-making link-up mission – and of course it could’ve been sustained & done more if we decided to prioritise it & build and fund more of them.

    Well guess what!? Von Braun, the designer of the SaturnV originally wanted to go to the moon indirectly. Have a shuttle ferry the astronauts to a spacestation where they would switch to a true reusable space ship that would bring them to the moon.
    This is pretty much what the Obama administration is now planning with the Nautilus X (not exactly, but closer).
    Why did von Braun want this solution rather than the big rocket? Because he wanted a sustainable architecture. The space race rquired a more direct approach and for winning this space race the Saturn V was just good enough. It was a technological marvel and a great achievement no question about it, but it was ultimately a dead technological end.
    It was probibitively expensive. More missions to the moon were unaffordable with it.
    Again you are living in some fanatasy world where NASA has unlimited funds. I dont know how old you are. You cant be older than 10 if you can not understand the reality of governments having limited budgets.
    Maybe you should pay more attention in economics class in school!

    Right. So horrible the Russians made an near-identical copy of it.
    So horrible it has taken more people into space than any other spacecraft in history.

    Ok, where do I start:
    1. The shuttle was indeed a failed design. EVERYBODY who has been doing rocket design, even for a while, or has even been reading up on the issues will confirm that to you.
    There were so many compromises made in the design because to many government agencies were involved with it (NASA and the DOD and others).
    They all wanted it to do something and so it became the one vehicle that should do everything and in the end it did everything badly and expensively.
    In car terms the shuttle had to be a heavy truck, a family car, a mobile home and a sports car and all that in one vehicle. On top of all that it had to have a this insane corssrange so the DOD could do its black ops with it (so the shuttle could always reach a friendly airport, even if something went wrong)You dont do that with cars for a reason. You should not do that with the shuttle for the same reason.
    Plus the funding was cut several times during the design phase, so several compromises had to be made to the design. This too hurt the design.
    But you dont have to believe me, please just go and read it up.
    The DOD quickly abandoned the shuttle, because it was too fracking expensive! They have been launching their stuff using the EELVs since the eighties, because the expendable rockets are cheaper than the refurbishable (I dont want to say reusable because that would give it to much credit) shuttle cost so much more.
    Anyway, the EELVs are Atlas and Delta, the same ones that would be used by commercial options.
    2. The design was so bad that even the Buran, which was an improvement on the shuttle, did not fly more than once, because it was simply toooo expensive. It was a “me too” thing the russians wanted to do.
    3. The shuttle has brought that many people into orbit, because it was the ONLY western option! NASA wanted a replacement decades ago, but they screwed up every single attempt to do that (again to many politics invoived, overly ambitious designs, etc)
    I named some of them earlier. Just look it up!

    Not carrying crew – and not to the Moon or beyond. Also good for them but, as I keep saying, they’re not NASA or the national program.

    Again wrong!
    Dragon could go to the moon, even to mars. I told you that before. You dont need Orion for that. It would still need a transfer stage of course, but so would Orion…
    So you are wrong there too.
    Also Dragon could have already carried people on this flight. The only thing it was missing was a LES.
    So the whole system is pretty much there already. It is a MUCH saver bet than Constellation!

  95. Elmar_M

    No, I am refuting the incorrect argument someone (forget who now) put that the Shuttles don’t have escape systems. They do

    I think that the original poster was talking about a “launch escape system”. That is something that the shuttle clearly does not have.

  96. Andrew W

    When Constellation was first proposed I was happy to see NASA moving back to the capsule design for spacecraft as the shuttle had proven itself such an incredibly expensive lemon.
    After learning more about Constellation though, I was disappointed to learn that NASA was going for a solid rocket first stage, to me an extraordinarily bad decision given the expense and problems associated with the shuttle solids.
    Easily the best thing about the shuttle is her main engines, I’d go so far as to say that that was the one right thing about the design.

    Elmar, I feel your frustration, MTU is on his track and there ain’t no facts that are gonna get in his way.

  97. Elmar_M

    Talking about SRBs and LES I just remembered that the hard acceleration from the SRB did make a rather powerful LES a necessity. That one would then impose even worse G- forces on the passengers. IMHO Ares1 and Orion would not be a smooth ride.

  98. Elmar_M

    So and there we go again. The senate appriations committee has cancelled funding for IMPORTANT and NEEDED Space technology in order to fund the pseudo- Constellation HLV and Orion. Of course they did not add money to the budget. So that means that there had to be cuts. This is not the fault of the Obama administration, btw, but the doing of the senate.
    They make sure that the pork keeps going to ATK (Senator Shelby wll be pleased with his “success” there).
    Anyway, the insistance of some people on a NASA rocket has now caused the US to stay rooted in LEO for another two decades, at least. Best hope we have is that the commercials finance BEO missions themselves. If a space tourist pays for it, hey we might actually live to see it happening.
    Gosh I hate politicians!

  99. Andrew W

    People making decisions who are too far from the impacts to understand them.

  100. @ ^ 99. Elmar_M : Gosh I hate politicians!

    Well we agree on that anyhow! ;-)

    @98. Elmar_M : IMHO Ares1 and Orion would not be a smooth ride.

    So? I don’t think the Saturn V was exactly a smooth ride either & it did the job. ;-)

    @96. Elmar_M :

    I think that the original poster was talking about a “launch escape system”. That is something that the shuttle clearly does not have.

    Really?

    What do you call this system :

    ”Launch pad aborts are dangerous since fire is a real possibility. If this happens the [Space Shuttle] crew would have to make an emergency egress by sliding down wires to an underground bunker or to an armoured truck for a rapid escape. Although evacuating for fire is a well-practiced procedure, no crew has yet had to do it for real.”

    – Page 131, The History of Space Vehicles Grange Books, 2001.

    then? :roll:

    @ 95. Elmar_M :

    Dragon could go to the moon, even to mars. I told you that before. You dont need Orion for that. It would still need a transfer stage of course, but so would Orion…
    So you are wrong there too.

    Potentially if it works as planned one day maybe. I was talking about its record up to now. How many times has Dragon successfully flown to the Moon or Mars so far? Lesse .. none. Does it have any Moonflights scheduled for the immediate future? Er .. no.

  101. Andrew W

    “What do you call this system : …”

    A really bad joke?

    Here’s how a LES is usually described (wiki):
    A Launch Escape System (LES) is a top-mounted rocket connected to the crew module of a crewed spacecraft and used to quickly separate the crew module from the rest of the rocket in case of emergency. Since the escape rockets are above the crew module, an LES typically uses separate nozzles which are angled away from the crew module. The LES is designed for use in situations where there is an imminent threat to the crew, such as an impending explosion.

    “Potentially if it works as planned one day maybe. I was talking about its record up to now. How many times has Dragon successfully flown to the Moon or Mars so far? Lesse .. none.Does it have any Moonflights scheduled for the immediate future? Er .. no. ”

    Vs Orion that is far from even being flown in space yet.

  102. @ 100. Andrew W : Referring to Obama there are you? ;-)

    @ 95. Elmar_M : (again)

    NO IT DID NOT TEST THE FIRST STAGE!!!!!
    How often do I have to repeat myself?!!!!!

    Repetition doesn’t make things true.

    It *was* a working Ares first stage – not the final one perhaps but an early version of it nonetheless. You seem to think this was somehow an invalid test, I disagree.

    … it [the second stage] would have been [ flown on] MUCH later flights.

    Fixed that for you – and what I was saying all along. ;-)

    Yes, it would’ve indeed, had Obama not killed the project. :-(

    If you are going to argue that Dragon will go to our Moon why is it wrong for me to similarly argue the Ares I would have flown well with a second stage and gone to the Moon too? Double standard there much? :roll:

    Well guess what!? Von Braun, the designer of the SaturnV originally wanted to go to the moon indirectly. Have a shuttle ferry the astronauts to a spacestation where they would switch to a true reusable space ship that would bring them to the moon.

    I recall that – but history shows he ended up taking the EOR-LOR* road instead which actually got us there in reality. It worked successfully, repeatedly for the Apollo spacecraft so why bash it?

    It [Apollo] was probibitively expensive.

    Yeah, that’s why it never flew and the Soviet Empire conquered the Moon turning it int a giant Communist Death station and forcing us to live under the Hammer & Sickle today .. oh wait, that’s not true is it? :roll:

    Apollo was built, did fly, did suceed many times and was the greatets thing the US – even Humanity ever achiveed landing on the Moon “in peace for all mankind” and launching Skylab and other things too. And *you’re* saying I’m tehone whoneeds to research & doesn’t know anything? :roll:

    We could and did afford it. We could do it before, we could do it again – it’s called precedent y’know! ;-)

    ——–

    * Earth Orbital Rendezvous – Lunar Orbital Rendezvous

  103. Cont. @ Elmar-M :

    you are living in some fanatasy world where NASA has unlimited funds. I dont know how old you are. You cant be older than 10 if you can not understand the reality of governments having limited budgets.

    Already answered in my comment # 94 above :

    [Cut & pastes it again here in the hope you’ll actually read it properly and get it this time.]

    Not unlimited – although in theory the govt can print as much money as it wants! (Not that I’m recommending that policy mind you.) If the Govt decides it absolutely *has* to something – it *can* do it. Usually. Look at the amounts spent on wars and the bank bailouts and Obamacare and so on. If we were sufficently determined to do it, if they prioritise it highly enough, they *can* find the funds required I’m sure. Where there’s a will there’s a way as they say. Even if they have to cancel Obamacare or cut back on foreign aid to indifferent or outright hostile nations to do so. If Obama can bail out the banks, he can bail out Constellation which is a much better idea and we’ll get a lot more benefit from. Space is an investment and a national necessity.

    So what was next? Ah yes,

    1. The shuttle was indeed a failed design. EVERYBODY who has been doing rocket design, even for a while, or has even been reading up on the issues will confirm that to you.

    Everybody? Ri-iight. Citations please. :roll:

    If spacecraft building & flying were an Olympic sport, the Saturn V would get the gold medal and the Space Shuttle would get the silver with the bronze medallist being a very distant third indeed.

    I’ve already listed some of the Shuttles remarkable accomplishments and flights – do I really have to go over its history again? It was NOT a failure – it worked superbly. Okay it wasn’t flawless, initial expectations weren’t entirely lived up to. But look at what it *did* achieve – look at all its hundred and thirty plus successful flights.

    I fear we’ll only realise just how good the Shuttle was once it’s gone. Look at some of the launch footage – such as that the SRB -cam(s) video the BA posted recently which you can view by clicking my name. Then tell me that isn’t a magnificent, (mostly) successful craft. Really.

    They all wanted it [the Shuttle] to do something and so it became the one vehicle that should do everything and in the end it did everything badly and expensively.

    Expensive maybe – that’s unavoidable.

    But did the Shuttles do a bad job of fixing and launching the HST?

    A bad job of launching probes like Magellan, Galileo, Ulysses & so on?

    A bad job of flying John Glenn and Sally Ride, Andy Thomas and Pamela Melroy, (astronaut!) Ken Ham and Soichi Nogumi to name just a handful out of the hundreds of astronauts that the Shuttle has flown?

    The design was so bad that even the Buran, which was an improvement on the shuttle, did not fly more than once, because it was simply toooo expensive.

    Well, the situation in the Soviet Union with that empire falling apart and ending might have had a bit more to do with *that* don’t you think? ;-)

    So the whole system is pretty much there already. It is a MUCH saver bet than Constellation

    We’ll see. Obama has won. I fear we’ll find we all regret that. :-(

    But even *if* your right, Dragon isn’t NASA, isn’t a patch on the Shuttles or Saturn V of the past. It’s not the same and, for me, its not enough.

    I want to see NASA flying marvellous engineering wonders too – for all of us not just company shareholder’s. I want to see *America* in space, not just US companies. :-(

    There’s space enough for both.

    I wish we could have seen Constellation go ahead and fly.

    All academic now I guess – unless a new Republican President repeals Obama’s plan and re-instates Constellation or something like that happens.

  104. Elmar_M

    Potentially if it works as planned one day maybe. I was talking about its record up to now. How many times has Dragon successfully flown to the Moon or Mars so far? Lesse .. none. Does it have any Moonflights scheduled for the immediate future? Er .. no.

    Uhm, Dragon has at least flown once. Constellation and Orion have never flown.
    Only thing Dragon is missing is a LES and some seats inside. Constellation and Dragon are missing a lot more.

    It *was* a working Ares first stage – not the final one perhaps but an early version of it nonetheless. You seem to think this was somehow an invalid test, I disagree.

    No, you do not disagree, you simply ignore the facts (once again). It was not an “early version”. It has as much in common with the final first stage as a Trident SLBM has in common with the Ares1 fist stage. Hey, they both are solid rocket boosters!

    I will get back to the rest later….

  105. flip

    #92 MTU

    There’s a pretty big difference between being sponsored by a company and actually *being* the company

    I’ll remember that if you ever post something about politics being corrupt

    NASA being replaced in its primary role by – or depending totally on – the same private company(ies?) is something else entirely.

    Once again, inventing strawmen. Where oh where does anybody say NASA is closing down and being replaced by corporations?

    So fund it properly! That’s the solution – not cancelling the whole plan.

    And if you RUN OUT OF MONEY? Sigh…

    Whether or not they can be done cheaper by others is yet to be proven – and even if they can I think having a national space agency working as well is a good thing.

    Please tell me you are petitioning the Australian government for our own space agency. And not just harping on about the US and ignoring that us Aussies aren’t exactly at the forefront of space exploration either. (Yeah yeah, I know we’re involved: we just don’t send rockets. Which is my point) Are you just as outspoken about our non-existent space program?

    You are right to say that they’re not officially disbanding NASA or telling it it can’t go into space – but they are taking away its capability to do so.

    Yep, right back at it again. (Scroll up, reread your comment I quoted) “Officially”. Do you really think NASA, with all those lovely high tech jobs, would just be ‘unofficially’ disbanded without anyone noticing?

    Frankly, I have no opinion on this either way. I just find your argument totally unconvincing.

  106. Elmar_M

    Correction: That was meant to read “Constellation and Orion are missing a lot more”. Was in a hurry.
    IIRC, Orion had not even passed the preliminary design review yet.

    In regards to the second stage:
    The J2X engine for the second stage had not even been tested yet. Only the gas generator has been tested, not the full engine. There is still a long way from the initial testing of an engine to the actual flight readiness.

    If you are going to argue that Dragon will go to our Moon why is it wrong for me to similarly argue the Ares I would have flown well with a second stage and gone to the Moon too? Double standard there much?

    Big differences:
    Constellation needed a second rocket to reach the moon (AresV).
    Ares1 would have only gone to LEO (just like Dragon does).
    Work on AresV has not even started yet…
    The Dragon capsule already existst. The Falcon9 rocket already exists. Both have already flown successfully. Ares1 does not exist. Ares1 has not flown successfully. Orion does not exist, Orion has not flown successfully.
    AresV has not even passed preliminary design review yet.
    Orion and Ares1 had still lots of unresolved problems. The weight of Orion was ever increasing and Ares1 was underperforming. There were still many engineering decisions that had yet to be made, most likely resulting in a smaller Orion.
    Both Ares1 and Orion have cost signifficantly more while making much less progress than Falcon 9 and Dragon did in the same timeframe.

    You also clearly do not understand how politics work. Constellation was designed not to be the best rocket, or the most efficient and best way to bring people to LEO and beyond. No, it was mainly designed to keep the status quo, to me keep money flowing in the same directions it did during the shuttle program and in roughly the same amounts. This also means that it would not have really achieved much, due to lack of funds. Congress and Senate love to keep these programs on life support just so that enough money keeps flowing into the direction of the usual suspects, without the program ever going anywhere. Once there is another opportunity for a simillar “jobs project” that keeps the money flowing again, they will cancel this one. My prediction is hat Constellation would have dragged along with insufficient funds for another 10 years and then it would have been cancelled.
    This would not have been Obamas desicion, but the decision of congress and senate.
    If you look at how these two have been twisting Obamas plan and how and especially why (Shelby and Nelson make no secrets out of their motivations, mainly to keep money flowing towards their states and lobbyists) they changed it. Then you will realize why the Augustine comission made the recommendations it made.
    You see, Obama was not following his guts, he was following the recommendations of an independent panel of experts. Of course you dont accept that, because you know it all better…
    Well, from my POV, you know nothing about how things work out there in the real world.

    If Obama can bail out the banks, he can bail out Constellation which is a much better idea and we’ll get a lot more benefit from.

    Uhm, the bank bailout was already a done deal when Obama entered office.

    Everybody? Ri-iight. Citations please.

    I will bring the citations, but for now just read this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_the_Space_Shuttle_program
    Also, think about that:
    The Shuttle was designed for the purpose of making transport of people and goods to LEO cheaper than with expendable rockets. It did not achieve that goal. Therefore it is a failed design. Simple as that.

    Expensive maybe – that’s unavoidable.

    ??????????????????
    Well the commercials show it is NOT unavoidable.

    Well, the situation in the Soviet Union with that empire falling apart and ending might have had a bit more to do with *that* don’t you think?

    Well, the other russian space programmes did not end with the soviet union, did they?

    Yeah, that’s why it never flew and the Soviet Empire conquered the Moon turning it int a giant Communist Death station and forcing us to live under the Hammer & Sickle today .. oh wait, that’s not true is it?

    Does the US have a moonbase right now? Where is it? Ah yes, they could not afford doing one, because going to the moon was PROHIBITIVELY expensive with the Saturn V (with real world budgets). Yes, I do not like that the US is spending so much money on wars and military either, but that is something the republicans are backing mostly.

    All academic now I guess – unless a new Republican President repeals Obama’s plan and re-instates Constellation or something like that happens.

    Actually, believe it or not, it is not just Obamas choice.
    Congress and Senate have a word in that too.
    They are the ones who actually define the budget and the republicans want cuts to it. Oh surprise. They do however want to keep giving money to ATK since it is a defense contractor. But you obviously do not understand politics and you obviously do not understand how things work in the real world. From how you think and write, I would guess that you are maybe 10 or 12 years old.

  107. Elmar_M

    More citations for shuttle design problems:
    http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/shuttle.htm
    Please also note that it was the republican Nixon, who reduced the NASA budget so much, that the shuttle design had to make compromises in order to save money…

    Interesting 2004 article about SDVs and their issues (which includes the shuttle and both Ares rockets):
    http://www.spacedaily.com/news/rocketscience-04k.html

    Here is a brief history lesson:
    http://www.space.com/1438-chapter-opens-space-shuttle-born-compromise.html

    And yet more.
    http://skywalking1.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/space-shuttle-an-astronaut-looks-at-its-legacy/

    And if you do a google search on the topic, I am sure that you can discover a lot more about the issues with the Space Shuttle design.
    Basically, as I said, the biggest problem was that it was a single LV for to many jobs and to many agencies and users.
    And even if these requirements had been possible to meet, the funding was simply not there to do all of that right.
    For all of these reasons compromises were made. These compromises cost the lives fo 14 astronauts and made the shuttle the most expensive way to get people and stuff into LEO.
    Simply put, it was a bad design.

  108. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ Elmar_M : ^ Really? :roll:

    Man, are you ever a long way off there! Out by decades. Doesn’t say much for your judgement does it? ;-)

    Big differences: [Comparing future Ares I missions with future Dragon ones]

    Well how “big” those diferences really are is subjective opinion.

    Both are potentialities yet to be realised. Your faith in private enterprise isn’t backed by their track record so far. They done some good things sure but compared with NASA not-so-much. They are now where NASA was inthe very beginning back in the 1960’s.

    Ares1 has not flown successfully.

    Yes it has – in the early Ares I-X version. As I’ve said about a 1,000 times now. You claiming that wasn’t really an Ares rocket when it was is getting very boring, Elmar_M.

    Speaking of which :

    Ares1 does not exist. … [snip] Ares1 was underperforming.

    Gee, Elmar-M, a *non-existent* rocket is simultaneously *under-performing*?? What the .. ! I think you’ve just destroyed your own argument there! It can’t be both!

    Constellation was designed not to be the best rocket, or the most efficient and best way to bring people to LEO and beyond.

    Wow! Talk about an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence! :-O

    You really think so? Citations and supporting evidence please!

    This would not have been Obamas desicion, but the decision of congress and senate.

    Tell that to Neil Armstrong and others Constellation supporters who have singled Obama out for harsh criticism here. In the end, it *was* Obama’s policy and Obama’s decision. The Buck stops with him. He had to get it past Congress where some even in his own party like the now-injured Gabby Giffords were strongly against him. Obama selected it, he argued you can’t say its blood is not on his hands.

  109. Messier Tidy Upper

    To see what I mean about the success of the Space Shuttle see :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_astronauts_by_name

    All those with STS after their name flew on the Shuttles.

    The third woman in space – and first American woman Sally Ride :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally_Ride

    and all the female US astronauts after her flew on the Shuttle.

    Same with African-Americans where all that have ever flown flew onteh Shuttle sarting with Guion “Guy” Bluford, Jr :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guion_Bluford

    Think of allthose astronaust, all they’ve done in flight, alltheyexperienced and learnt and allthey’ve given us afterwards.

    Think of the Hubble Space Telescope and all the knowledge and joy we’ve gained from that.

    Think of the photographs of Jupiter and moons captured by Galileo; the maps and knowledge of venus captured by Magellan

    Plus so very much more as well. :-)

    Think about all that. Reflect and mull over it.

    Then say thankyou Space Shuttle. Thankyou.

  110. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ Elmar-M : BTW. Just wondering how old are you? ;-)

    The Shuttle was designed for the purpose of making transport of people and goods to LEO cheaper than with expendable rockets. It did not achieve that goal.

    It was designed to be a mostly resueable spacecraft rather than a throw-away one. It suceeded in that.

    It was designed to take off like a rocket and land like a plane and carry sizeable cargo – such as the Hubble Space telescope, Spacelab, segments of the International Space Station and so forth into orbit and it suceeded in doing all that – plus retrieving satellites, fixing Hubble & more.

    Another question for you, Elmar-M, where’s your gratitude and appreciation for what the Space Shuttles *have* accomplished for us all?

    “Expensive maybe – that’s unavoidable.” [MTU]
    ??????????????????
    Well the commercials show it is NOT unavoidable.

    They do? Okay when was the last time a commercial operation landed humans on the Moon? (Which is what we were talking about there remember old boy? ;-) )

    Oh yeah, they haven’t done so yet. :roll:
    Get back to me on this when they have & they have something to compare!

  111. Messier Tidy Upper

    Ah yes, they could not afford doing one, because going to the moon was PROHIBITIVELY expensive with the Saturn V

    Which explains why they landed there with Apollo 11, Apollo 12, Apollo 14, Apollo 15, Apollo 16, Apollo 17 and circled our Moon with Apollo’s 8 and 10 and 13.

    “Prohibitive” means its too costly to do at all. You *do* know that right?? :roll:

    Setting up Moon-bases, of course, do need a lot more than just Apollo missions – great as they were – could deliver. Returning and setting up a permanent lunar base was part of what Constellation might’ve been a step towards.

    All part of the G. W. Bush vision that B. H. Obama killed off. :-(

    (With an exceptionally glib and erroneous line about “we’ve been there before” too to add insult to injury. No, Mr President we haven’t been there before, the previous 1960-70’s generation had, our generation not-so-much.)

  112. Messier Tidy Upper

    Spacelab wiki-basics info. here :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spacelab

    for those who may have forgotten or not known.

  113. Messier Tidy Upper

    NB. This :

    109. Messier Tidy Upper :
    @ Elmar_M : ^ Really?

    was originally responding to this :

    From how you think and write, I would guess that you are maybe 10 or 12 years old.

    remark by #107. Elmar_M with his subsequent link-filled comment being invisible to me at the time as it was awaiting moderation. Just in case there was any confusion.

    Oh &

    @108. Elmar_M : Okay, you have a *few* cites there – but it still ain’t “everybody” which was I think an untenable claim on your part. Remember to disprove that, I just need *one* person who disagrees! ;-)

    (Why yes, I am a pedantic nitpicker, how’d you guess? ;-) )

    Also the Space Shuttle still flippin’ rocks and is an astounding piece of engineering – and was a success in many if not quite all ways! :-P

    ****************

    EDIT : Although, I guess :

    Simply put, it was a bad design.

    Followed by :

    @ Elmar_M : ^ Really? :roll:

    Also makes good sense too! ;-)

  114. Andrew W

    “They are now where NASA was inthe very beginning back in the 1960′s.”

    NASA is now where NASA was in the 1960’s, in LEO. ~50 years of two steps forward, two steps back. That’s what you get from a system where politicians (actually more the political system) call the shots, that’s what you’ll continue to get as long as space launch continues to operate under that same system.

    MTU, you’re like a die hard Marxist communist still convinced that Soviet communism works long after it’s collapsed.

    “They do? Okay when was the last time a commercial operation landed humans on the Moon?”

    You realise that NASA had to abandon manned flights to the moon about 35 years ago because the system they had for getting there was unsustainable because it was too expense?

  115. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Andrew W. : Yeah, well NASA got there – and are the *only* group hatever did. Doesn’t *that* tell you something?

    Imagine what they could be doing now – if the govt didn’t hamstring them by constatnt underfunding? :-(

    @108. Elmar_M : Okay, you have a *few* cites there – but it still ain’t “everybody” which was I think an untenable claim on your part. Remember to disprove that, I just need *one* person who disagrees!

    Like, for instance, these people featuring here :

    http://www.motherboard.tv/2011/2/24/a-love-letter-to-space-shuttle-discovery-the-hardest-working-ship-in-space-business-video

    and this rocket scientist here for another :

    http://knovelblogs.com/2010/01/28/craig-the-rocket-scientist-and-the-history-of-the-space-shuttle/

    Plus oh yeah, the people here :

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=30581923161

    as well – of which I am now one.

    “Everybody” then?

    No, definitely NOT. :-)

    ***

    >“We had our hands on spaceships and we learned how to make them increasingly safer and then Washington pulled the plug. … We won’t have the ability to put an American on the space station, in an American rocket, for at least a decade .. We all knew for years that the Shuttle program had a sunset but Constellation was supposed to provide human access to the space station. When Obama cancelled Constellation, he cancelled the pride that every American should have in our accomplishments. One half of one percent of the federal budget funds NASA and they can’t afford this program?”

    – Gregory Cecil, Space Shuttle tile technician quoted on page 47, “Throttle down” article in ‘Air & Space’ magazine, Nov 2010

  116. Messier Tidy Upper

    PS. Oh & this bloke :

    http://www.parabolicarc.com/2010/02/28/ksc-employees-supporters-rally-shuttle-shutdown/

    too!

    (NB. No I am NOT the Doug Messier who posted that. Odd co-incidence only. ;-) )

    PPS. This link here :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2008/08/14/russian-invasion-of-georgia-imperils-us-access-to-space-station/

    notes one good reason why we can’t rely on Russia for getting Amercians and Westerners generally into orbit.

    As for the privates, there’s always the risk they’ll go broke or fail to take into account. Really hope it doesn’t happen, but that’s why we can’t necessarily count on them.

  117. flip

    #93, MTU

    Once again you show a distinct lack of interest in nuance. It’s either black or white.

    #94, MTU

    You are discounting an important thing: time. Of course the commercials haven’t ‘proven’ themselves. They’ve had less time than NASA to do it all in. They may not be able to do things better or cheaper than NASA, but we shouldn’t hold their lack of a record against them. NASA has had decades; these guys have barely started in comparison.

    Was Constellation experiencing teething troubles? Yeah, sure was. Every baby does. They grow up and turn out fine.

    But apparently the commercial companies having problems means that they shouldn’t be doing it and should just leave it up to NASA.

    Not all eternity -but a lot longer and given them what they needed – incl . a (metaphorical) kick in the pants if that was required too.

    How much longer?

    Not carrying crew – and not to the Moon or beyond. Also good for them but, as I keep saying, they’re not NASA or the national program.

    and #109

    Your faith in private enterprise isn’t backed by their track record so far.

    See above comment about time. (And in regards to your comment at #101)

    #103, MTU

    Yeah, that’s why it never flew and the Soviet Empire conquered the Moon turning it int a giant Communist Death station and forcing us to live under the Hammer & Sickle today .. oh wait, that’s not true is it?

    Hope you get back to that other thread where we were discussing cultural relativism.

    #104, MTU

    I want to see NASA flying marvellous engineering wonders too – for all of us not just company shareholder’s. I want to see *America* in space, not just US companies

    Ah, that again. See my #106 comment for rebuttal.

    #116 MTU

    @ ^ Andrew W. : Yeah, well NASA got there – and are the *only* group hatever did. Doesn’t *that* tell you something?

    Yeah, that only a few groups were attempting to do something and that one group succeeded. Add more groups and the probability of succeeding goes up.

    … Just out of curiousity, and I mean this with all sincere kindness: have you considered moving to the US? You seem to like the country an awful lot.

  118. flip

    #108, Elmar_M

    From how you think and write, I would guess that you are maybe 10 or 12 years old.

    Can we leave the ad homs out please? I think this discussion is interesting and politely done on both sides: the ad homs are unnecessary.

    #115 Andrew

    MTU, you’re like a die hard Marxist communist still convinced that Soviet communism works long after it’s collapsed.

    Ha! MTU will sure love that comparison :) (To be fair: same request for the stoppage of ad homs)

  119. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Flip :

    Can we leave the ad homs out please? I think this discussion is interesting and politely done on both sides: the ad homs are unnecessary.

    Seconded. I try to avoid them & keep it to addressing the argument & not attacking the person myself.

    @ 118. flip : Once again you show a distinct lack of interest in nuance. It’s either black or white.

    Well if it were both then it’d be a zebra wouldn’t it? ;-)

    Or a penguin or a tuxedo or a newspaper! ;-)

    But apparently the commercial companies having problems means that they shouldn’t be doing it and should just leave it up to NASA.

    That is NOT what I’ve said here at all. I want to see *both* working – not just one or the other. I’ve no problem with the privates being up there in the Black. I do however want them to be accompanied by the national, public groups too.

    NASA has had decades; these guys have barely started in comparison.

    Yes, but here’s the thing – the privates have had those same decades too. NASA has, far as I’m aware, never prevented any competitors from attempting to fly to orbit too. So why haven’t they made it already?

    Just out of curiousity, and I mean this with all sincere kindness: have you considered moving to the US? You seem to like the country an awful lot.

    I do. I have good US friends and I’ve visited once and been impressed by the place – but I like Australia and where I live even more! Plus I have my family here. ;-)

    (Our countries have an awful lot in common plus those little differences as well. Both are great places. :-) )

  120. Elmar_M

    Messier,
    I am not going to repeat myself, please do your homework.
    You are so far off with everything you are saying. You refuse to read up on the topic. Whenever I state a fact, you claim that it is “only an opinion” which it clearly is not.
    I am not going to bother with you anymore. You anger me by being so god damn ignorant, that it seriously hurts. I have already had a heart attack, I am not supposed to get angry to my much. Your ignorants however is absolutely stunning! It feels like I am talking to a broken record.
    Please go and do the research as I told you. Stop pulling stuff out of your butt.
    Finally, your beloved shuttle shuttle killed 14 people, because of bad design decisions.
    Apollo was prohibitively expensive in the long term, I meant. Of course you can keep trying to split hairs with a non native English speaker… but I would say that I will let you do that when your German is as good as my English, alright?
    I still think that you are only a preteen at best. That is pretty obvious from your whiny attitude and your blaming of Obama for killing of your toy rocket that never flew (and Ares1 did never fly, unless you count a subscale model as Ares1… hey I have one at home then tooo).

    Further, you dont even know how US politics work. You keep blaming Obama, for cancelling Constellation, while it is congress and senate that are actually working out the budget and there some senators (idiots) are actively trying to insert language to “make sure that the money keeps flowing to ATK” and other facilities, like it always did. So they maintain the status quo. Of course that way you will never make progress…

  121. Andrew W

    “Imagine what they could be doing now – if the govt didn’t hamstring them by constatnt underfunding? :-(

    Sigh, Like NASA, we’re just going round and round in circle, maybe the four of us should form a committee.

    NASA, as a government owned organisation will always be “underfunded” so long as their main function is the politically mundane business of space science and exploration. If you want them better funded get NASA to fight a war.

    The underfunding is a permanent feature of the structure they operate within. The only way to rectify it is by changing that structure.

    Because That’s the situation NASA is in, the only realistic option to get some change in how space is done is to change some aspect of the existing system. Golly Gosh, how about we use private enterprise since it seems to have worked so darn well throughout the world in building the developed economies???

    flip, I don’t see my comment as an ad hom, though to be fair, it wasn’t the perfect analogy since, unlike the Soviet Union, NASA hasn’t actually collapsed. As I said, it’s just going round and round in circle not getting anywhere.

  122. Messier Tidy Upper

    @121. Elmar_M Says:

    Messier, I am not going to repeat myself,

    Well I think you’ve already been doing that! ;-)

    You keep saying for instance that Apollo was prohibitively expensive when it clearly wasn’t, that the Shuttle was a bad design when it was one of the most successful spacecraft ever and so on. Oh & you haven’t answered my questions & have continued insulting me – something which *I* have not done unto you. :roll:

    That angers me. :-(

    Whenever I state a fact, you claim that it is “only an opinion” which it clearly is not.

    Except the “facts” that you have stated as being facts are your opinion rather than actual facts as I have shown in comment # 93, 94 and others – and *that’s* a fact! ;-)

    Your ignorants however is absolutely stunning!

    When accusing someone of “ignorance” its probably bets if you don’t misspell the word. :-)

    No, ELmar_M, I’m NOT ignorant. Disagreeing with your perspective, your view onthis doesn’t make someone ignorant – it just means they disagree with you. It is possible for well-informed people to have differing opinions.

    I’ve named cited and quoted and discussed a lot of facts – real indisputable ones – and given reasons for why I think as I do.

    You have refused to answer my questions to you such as :

    Where’s your gratitude and appreciation for what the Space Shuttles *have* accomplished for us all?

    & BTW. Just wondering how old are you? (In regard to your perceieved albeit fallacious & irrelevant impression of my age.)

    Before you sulk off taking your bat & ball home with you Elmar_M do you want to at least answer those two for us?

  123. Messier Tidy Upper

    PS. Plus this question of :

    How the Ares I can be both “non-existent” rocket and simultaneously “under-performing” given these are mutually contradictory things?!

    (As noted in comment # 109.)

    As well as this answering this issue from your comment 107 that:

    “Constellation was designed not to be the best rocket, or the most efficient and best way to bring people to LEO and beyond.”

    As I said before – Wow! :-o

    Talk about an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence! You really think so? That is, essentially, a sort of conspiracy theory arguing that the Constellation designers are guilty of deliberately not doing their best work – or worse. Citations and supporting evidence for that – or an apology to the Constellation team is required now from you for that one.

    Finally, Elmar_M would it kill you to admit that NASA has got *some* things right, that the Space Shuttle and Apollo were magnificent pieces of engineering that did do – at least *most* if quite not all – of what they were created to do? Look again at some of the footage of Shuttle launches, some of the lists of things they’ve accomplished – that no other craft or group yet has. Ask yourself, please, it really fair to be quite so harsh on them? Why *are* you so anti-NASA, Elmar-M, what is your beef with them? Really?

  124. Messier Tidy Upper

    @122. Andrew W :

    NASA, as a government owned organisation will always be “underfunded” so long as their main function is the politically mundane business of space science and exploration. If you want them better funded get NASA to fight a war.

    Well I did kind of suggest that in comment # 84 where I said :

    @ ^ Andrew W. : I wouldn’t mind seeing NASA militarise space – I think that is probably inevitable and may already, de facto, be the case. Whether folks like it or not. I also wouldn’t mind seeing NASA accept sponsorship if that helped its finanacial woes. ;-)

    Turning NASA into a military or semi-military organisation – the US “space force” in a sense – is probably not the worst idea out there – certainly not in funding terms.

    Yes, space is theoretically “non-military” but that’s not really the case in reality now with China and the USA shooting down various satellites and using satellite spy technology and, no doubt, lots more we’re *not* being told about. Expecting space to be off-limits for war is just unrealistic.

    The underfunding is a permanent feature of the structure they operate within. The only way to rectify it is by changing that structure.

    Or you could, y’know give the funding they need instead? :roll:

    Mind you I’ll agree it might be good to do some structural changes and shake-up NASA management and make it less bureacratic etc … some too. :-)

  125. Andrew W

    No, no, I said “get NASA to fight a war”, just slightly increasing the degree of the militarisation of space won’t do because that would just mean more secret stuff in orbit that as you point out, we wouldn’t know about anyway. You’ll need to bring about a real war with lots of shooting and dead people, you know the sort of thing.

    “Or you could, y’know give the funding they need instead? :roll:

    Well I couldn’t because my wallets not that big, but perhaps you could, since you’re so keen on financing them to do more of what they now do and you’re so happy about how well their existing budget is being spent.

    One thing I can promise you though is that it won’t be the US government ie tax payer stumping up huge additional piles of cash anytime soon, though perhaps that’s another strategy you could look at financing, perhaps with an intense promotional campaign in the US on behalf of NASA.
    I encourage you in your endevours MTU, I look forward to watching your efforts to gain additional funds for NASA, I wish you the very best of luck.

  126. Elmar_M

    OK, here is a very simple explanation for you, in form of a video.
    Maybe even you, MTU are going to understand that then. But maybe not:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4J9uvhJQM0&feature=related

    And here are a few lessons in space politics for you:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=n2HeHfVSybo
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1_RMphRObEo

  127. Elmar_M

    And to support my claim that the rocket was designed in a way to maintain the status quo (keep the usual jobs programmes running), simply look at the new HLV design that congress imposed on NASA (and their justification why they did that):
    http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/out-of-this-world-pork-in-the-beehive-state/

    I hope that makes the whole situation a little cleare to you. It is the same reason why Ares1 was designed that way and why AresV was designed that way. Not because it is the best design, but because it is the best way to maintain the status quo.
    Anyway, I think that this is the last post that I am going to make here.

    Ask yourself, please, it really fair to be quite so harsh on them? Why *are* you so anti-NASA

    Where do I start?
    DC-X, X33, X34, X37, X38, X30, HL20,…
    All were meant to replace the shuttle, some of them were meant to replace it decades ago. All were cancelled because NASA could not get its act together, because decisions were made by politicians and not by engineers.
    The shuttle was a political design and it killed 14 people. It made space expensive and it kept private companies that were trying to do it better from getting the funding the needed. Why? Because NASA says that “space has to be expensive like that”. NASA also said that SSTO and RLVs can not be done with todays technology. Me and many in the new space crowd have been calling the bull**** card on this one for decades. RLVs can not be done at NASA because NASA cant get their act together. Because they always choose the most ambitious designs, because they always are trying to do to much with one vehicle (they made the same mistake with the X33 that they had made with the shuttle). Because the forces that want to maintain the status quo are to strong at NASA and in the politics that are ultimately telling NASA what to do. You can not do engineering like that!
    Also, the administrations plan to use commercials for LEO transport and to focus NASA on the space exploration has support even inside NASA. Because the good people at NASA know where their problems are.

  128. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Andrew W. Thanks. :-)

    If enough people *do* chime in & advocate for extra funding for manned spaceflight, it’ll help. We should all let the politicians know what’s important to us – & I do. I hope it makes a difference, it certainly can’t hurt. Write to your congresscritters & pollies.

  129. flip

    #120 MTU

    Well if it were both then it’d be a zebra wouldn’t it? ;-)

    Or a penguin or a tuxedo or a newspaper!

    Oh so funny. Not. Thanks for actually attempting a serious reply. Nice avoidance technique you got going there.

    I want to see *both* working – not just one or the other. I’ve no problem with the privates being up there in the Black. I do however want them to be accompanied by the national, public groups too.

    And once again ignoring the fact that that IS WHAT’S HAPPENING. As has been explained time and again, nobody is cancelling NASA. But boy, do you like to pretend that it is.

    Yes, but here’s the thing – the privates have had those same decades too. NASA has, far as I’m aware, never prevented any competitors from attempting to fly to orbit too. So why haven’t they made it already?

    Only if you ignore the fact that money and interest has something to do with it. If there’s only a passing interest in it from the public as a product or if it’s too expensive to gain any benefit from the opportunity, then of course, companies will be less interested in doing it. Same reason oil is big and alternative energy has been small: up until the public got more interested in it and the things have gotten cheaper. Solar panel technology gets better: solar panels get cheaper: more people buy them. Even I understand that and I suck at economics.

    Even if you take away that fact, you’re still left with the obvious. These companies are new, whether or not they had the actual opportunity to start ages ago. They can’t go from doing LEO to the moon in a blink of an eye. Unless you think a machine that has potential blowing-up issues in space can be perfected the first time around. (Or for a shorter version: the iphone is a new product. Doesn’t mean it works straight away, even if the technology has existed for ages)

    I do. I have good US friends and I’ve visited once and been impressed by the place – but I like Australia and where I live even more! Plus I have my family here.

    My question is more related to the fact that you constantly bemoan American policies and yet don’t seem to bemoan those exact same problems in Australia. I ask again: do you also advocate and petition your local government/organisations for an Australian trip to the moon? Do you write to your local MP to complain about the lack of funding for astronomy here at home? Do you complain when budgets are cut for science here?

    Considering how important Australia is to (American) space research/exploration, I would think you would be just as loud in your criticisms on Aus. policy as you are on NASA. You certainly have more chance of changing things at home via government/advocacy/etc than you do on the US situation. And yet, you go on and on (and on and on) about NASA as if it were the only space agency in the world and the only chance to do great things. (Please, this is not the time nor point to start the “America is great” stuff. I just want to know: do you hold Australia to the same standards?)

  130. flip

    #122 Andrew

    flip, I don’t see my comment as an ad hom, though to be fair, it wasn’t the perfect analogy since, unlike the Soviet Union, NASA hasn’t actually collapsed. As I said, it’s just going round and round in circle not getting anywhere.

    Neither did I actually, but could see how MTU might have thought that. And given I was slapping someone else on the wrist for an ad hom and then laughing at your comment in the same post, I didn’t think it was fair condone yours but not the other.

    I appreciate the polite tone, even if I don’t agree with MTU on many things. Just like to see the conversation stay that way.

  131. flip

    #123 MTU

    Messier, I am not going to repeat myself,

    Well I think you’ve already been doing that!

    We’ve been doing it because you’ve been doing it. And you’ve done it in other places too and have been told that you do it. You’ve even been told that you go around in circles, *repeatedly*.

    You keep saying for instance that Apollo was prohibitively expensive when it clearly wasn’t, that the Shuttle was a bad design when it was one of the most successful spacecraft ever and so on.

    You need to do some arts. Just because something works doesn’t mean it’s the best design ever or that it couldn’t be done better. (Take a look at websites from the ’90s. They worked, but they certainly aren’t eye-catching or the easiest thing to use)

    When accusing someone of “ignorance” its probably bets if you don’t misspell the word.

    Bwahahahahaha! Oh that is too funny :)

    Where’s your gratitude and appreciation for what the Space Shuttles *have* accomplished for us all?

    You can be grateful for something *and* want to move on to better things at the same time. Oh what’s that? Did I just see a zebra running past? ;)

  132. flip

    #124 MTU

    Talk about an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence! You really think so? That is, essentially, a sort of conspiracy theory arguing that the Constellation designers are guilty of deliberately not doing their best work – or worse

    Ok, you REALLY need to do some arts. We have a saying: you can have two of three things. Cheap. Fast. Good. Now pick!

    It doesn’t require a conspiracy, it just requires realism. They’re in a space race. The quickest people to get to the moon win. In that kind of environment, it’s easy to see that the best design isn’t necessarily the fastest design. I speak from experience here, if you want something fast you often lose quality of the product in the process.

    Why *are* you so anti-NASA, Elmar-M, what is your beef with them? Really?

    Mmm, strawmen again.

  133. flip

    #125 MTU

    Yes, space is theoretically “non-military” but that’s not really the case in reality now with China and the USA shooting down various satellites and using satellite spy technology and, no doubt, lots more we’re *not* being told about. Expecting space to be off-limits for war is just unrealistic.

    There’s a difference between shooting down a satellite in order to reduce the risk of people getting hurt from it when it’s going to crash anyway, and militarising space. I would suspect that militarising space would fall under the category of MAD, but I think I agree with you in that it’s unrealistic that it won’t happen.

    The underfunding is a permanent feature of the structure they operate within. The only way to rectify it is by changing that structure.

    Or you could, y’know give the funding they need instead?

    Can I come to your place, where there seems to be unlimited money lying about?

    PS. Nice to see you actually answered my questions. Instead I get zebras and penguins! How about saying how much longer you think Constellation should have been funded for? Or are you just not interested in an actual discussion?

  134. Elmar_M

    Just wanting to point out that two posts I made further up finally got government… cough… moderator- approval.
    So you will only be able to see them now, even though I posted them earlier.
    So please read back 8 posts…

  135. Messier Tidy Upper

    @134. flip : Can I come to your place, where there seems to be unlimited money lying about?

    Strawman. I have said not unlimited – but they can do it if they decide it matters enough – as the precedent of Apollo shows. If there’s enough money for Obamacare and for the bank bailouts and so on then there’s enough for Constellation.

    How about saying how much longer you think Constellation should have been funded for? Or are you just not interested in an actual discussion?

    I’m pretty sure I’ve already stated that Constellation should be funded for long enough and sufficently enough that it gets built and gets to fly. However long that is.

    They should, of course, keep checking its progress and a series of deadlines for particular steps is probably a good thing – but long enough to see it gets a proper red-hot chance of working. If it really cannot be made to work, then and only then should it be replaced with “plan B” – another NASA spacecraft program / design.

    I don’t think Constellation has been properly given that fair go. :-(

    @ # 133. flip : you can have two of three things. Cheap. Fast. Good. Now pick!

    Fast & good. :-)

    This is the government we’re talking about – do they ever do anything “cheap” anyhow? ;-)

    I suspect trying to do things in space too cheaply could be very nasty case of “false economy” – fatal even. :-(

    Firts priority -get teh craft built as wellas possible, as safe as can be made reasonable, as impressive and capable as can be possibly done. Economics should be secondary – and remember the money is spent on Earth & helps the national economy, provides jobs and boosts national confidence. Big government projects can sometimes be economically good things too. :-)

  136. Messier Tidy Upper

    That’s :

    First priority – get the spacecraft built as well as possible, as safe as can be made reasonable, as impressive and capable as can be possibly done. second priority – get on with it and get itdone as fast as possible. Keeping the cost down should rank well below those two main objectives. Economics should be a lesser consideration, IMHON.

    ****
    @ 132. flip : We’ve been doing it [repeating] because you’ve been doing it.

    Hang on, I was doing it because you were doing it! ;-)

    Bwahahahahaha! Oh that is too funny :-)

    Glad I gave you a laugh. yep, it is funny – but then at least I spelt “ignorance” right! ;-)

    [Checks spelling closer this time, my typing always has been lousy, sorry.]

    “Why *are* you so anti-NASA, Elmar-M, what is your beef with them? Really?”
    Mmm, strawmen again.

    I don’t think so.

    You saying so, doesn’t make it so. :roll:

    When has Elmar_M *ever* said anything that was good or been fair about NASA and what it has achieved? He seems from my reading of his comments to have a totally biased anti-NASA view on everything and be unwilling to give them any credit for anything good they’ve done, ever. :-(

  137. Andrew W

    “If there’s enough money for Obamacare and for the bank bailouts and so on then there’s enough for Constellation.”

    Well in that case no doubt you’ll be using that message in your campaign to convince the American voters of the error of their ways.

    It’s not surprising Elmar picked MTU’s age at about 12, there really is the naivety of youth in his logic.

    For example: “This is the government we’re talking about – do they ever do anything “cheap” anyhow? ;-)
    So he gets it … but still doesn’t get it.

    Anyway, that’s me also finished with this thread. Thanks people.

  138. If it really cannot be made to work, then and only then should it be replaced with “plan B” – another NASA spacecraft program / design

    Specifically, the existing “NASA Plan B” that was proposed and which is linked here – click on my name for the BA blog entry to it.

    Whatever happened to that option and why wasn’t it adopted instead of the Obama plan? :-(

    @Elmar_M – 135 & 127 & 128 : Okay, I will look at those links & maybe get back to you on that. I am aware that NASA has its critics – some like yourself are, I think, excessively harsh & unfair to them. But I’ll check those out.

    @130. flip : Oh so funny. Not. Thanks for actually attempting a serious reply. Nice avoidance technique you got going there.

    Serious reply to *what* though?

    Your asertion there that I was responding to was :

    @ 118. flip : Once again you show a distinct lack of interest in nuance. It’s either black or white.

    Where’s the question in that to give a serious answer to?

    I’ve tried following this upthread but no, I’m not sure what you’re asking there. Yes, I guess the answer I gave was well, flip, what your username is. ;-)

    Seriously, do I see things as black and white? Well, at times, yeah. But then, some things *are* pretty clear-cut & Black and White. I think this is one of those.

    If you want to say what you’re actually asking there – & this response isn’t enough for you – please try again & I’ll try and give a better serious answer.

  139. @ Andrew W : Well in that case no doubt you’ll be using that message in your campaign to convince the American voters of the error of their ways.

    That’s one of the arguments but not one of my main ones which are, mostly, the one’s that the Bad Astronomer wrote in the article now linked to my name – click my name here to read it or see :

    What value space exploration?

    Posted on this blog : April 14th, 2008 at 8:00 AM.

    Plus the arguments Carl Sagan used in Pale Blue Dot and Isaac Asimov suggested in several of his – and more.

    (Just in case Andrew W pops in again or others wish to know.)

    *****

    “We had our hands on spaceships and we learned how to make them increasingly safer and then Washington pulled the plug. … When Obama cancelled Constellation, he cancelled the pride that every American should have in our accomplishments. One half of one percent of the federal budget funds NASA and they can’t afford this program?”

    – Gregory Cecil, Space Shuttle tile technician quoted on page 47, “Throttle down” article in ‘Air & Space’ magazine, Nov 2010

  140. Elmar_M

    MTU, look at my links. You will understand why NASA can NOT build good space ships. It is all in the politics. So it is not strictly NASAs fault but the fault of the politicians that want to maintain the status quo at all cost. Status quo means tha the money keeps flowing towards the same companies and the same places, no matter whether it makes sense or not. It is not the result that counts to them, but the cash- flow.
    As long as you do not undersand how the system works, you can not understand why Obama wanted to change this and why he is facing so much resistance, even from within his own party and from so called conservatives that are supposed to be against government waste and big government and for private industry and fair markets and competition, etc (of course they are not, they just hide it better than the dems do).

    Also understand that it is in the interest of these people to make sure that space flight and space transport stays expensive (as it would stay with Constellation at roughly 1 billion/flight). This too maintains the status quo. Of course keeping this expensive and reserved to a small elite is NOT in the interest of the general public.
    We all should have a chance of going into space. Keeping this chance away from us, the tax payers that finance this space programme is despicable!

  141. Andrew W

    “That’s one of the arguments but not one of my main ones which are, mostly, the one’s that the Bad Astronomer wrote in the article now linked to my name.”

    So you’ve AGAIN returned to the same strawman argument that God knows how many people have already called you on.

    I agree with the Bad Astronomer there, I agree with him now, everybody is saying let the commercial firms do the space trucking so that NASA can concentrate on the real exploration, and you’re again arguing that letting the commercial firms do the space trucking is somehow an argument against NASA doing space exploration.

    I’ve actually reached the point where I’m seriously wondering if you’re just winding us up for fun. It’s a real struggle to accept that an adult can be so incapable of understanding such a simple issue for so long after it’s been explained to him in so many ways by so many people.

  142. rational

    MTU is wasting your time. Its clear guy/gal is an idealogue and prob troll. is MTU paid to repeat the same talking points dont know but keeps ignoring rational arguments. Else they are happy to be willfully ignorant. Dont waste time or health talking to this programmed robot.

  143. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Andrew W. : I understand your views on this issue, however I disagree and view things very differently myself.

    As does Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell & Eugene Cernan.

    As does Chris Kraft and others.

    Are you calling them idiots or child-like? I’m not alone in thinking as I do on this, remember.

    So you’ve AGAIN returned to the same strawman argument that God knows how many people have already called you on

    But its NOT a strawman. You calling my views expressed here a “strawman” doesn’t make it so.

    Yes, you and others have explained what your perspective on this matter is & I have done likewise. I doubt we’ll ever convince each other. But I am certainly serious about this and not just trying to goad or annoy people here. I do think its important and worth debating. Ultimately, I suppose time will tell which side is right.

    NASA can concentrate on the real exploration ..

    What do you mean by “real exploration” there?

    Just unmanned spaceprobes?

    Or humans returning to our Moon and venturing onwards to Mars, the asteroids and elsewhere?

    I think its the latter – as well as the robotic spaceprobes too.

    If NASA isn’t flying American astronauts to our Moon and further then in what sense is it exploring space? (At least humans~wise.)

  144. Elmar_M

    MTU, as has been expressed to you, NASA can focus on the actual space exploration, both manned and umanned if it does not have to waste money on expensive job pogrammes that are supposed to bring cargo and personell to orbit, but only cost money…
    Have you bothered checking my links. They are explaining the issues in plain, simple english. Even a 10 year old can understand that.

  145. Andrew W

    MTU, that link of yours is a refutation of the argument that spending money on space exploration is a waste.

    You’re advancing that link in an attempt to refute arguments offered by flip, Elmar and me, but it’s a strawman because we’re not claiming spending money on space exploration is a waste, only that by using commercial space trucking there would be more money left over in NASA’s budget for real exploration.

    And another strawman you keep offering as a refutation is that it would be nice if NASA’s budget were bigger. Hell, I think it would be great if NASA’s budget were bigger, I think it would be fantastic if each and every American forked out $1,000/yr to NASA, $300,000,000,000! Heck, lets round it up to a trillion.
    What I’m saying isn’t that more money shouldn’t be spent, I saying that significantly more money won’t be spent, we’ve seen the evidence of this over the last 40 years, you going on about it like other space enthusiasts have over that time isn’t going to change that. It’s not your place as an Australian, or my place as a Kiwi, to tell Americans to spend more on space, and even if I were an American, I wouldn’t agree with forcing Americans to spend more on space because I’m not a socialist.
    American people have their own lives to lead and if beer and football is what they want to spend their money on, rather than the castles in the sky dreams of some dorky geeks, it’s their money and their decision.

    When I was a young teen thirty something years ago I’d day dream about what it could be like on the Moon in a future of human space colonization. One image, and it’s probably built on scenes other people have written about, is a restaurant/nightclub on the Moon with huge windows looking out across the lunar landscape, with the Earth in the black sky, people floating across the dance floor the songs like Mancini’s Moon River.
    All with the style, grace and elegance, and quality of food and drink you’d expect of such an establishment. Beautiful!

    Such a thing was supposed to be happening by the time I was in my mid forties (about now). Well it hasn’t happened, and if space flight continues to be controlled by government agencies it never will happen, because it’ll never be done cheaply enough to make it economically possible.

  146. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Andrew W. : I grew up reading SF – Asimov, Clarke, Bova, Brin, etc .. I still love imagining strange planets & amazing things happening on them in the future. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

    @ 145. Elmar_M : I’ve seen one of them so far & have to head out shortly for the night. I will look at them all later, I promise.

    I am very cynical and distrustful of the politicians – but I certainly hope & would think we could expect better from the scientists and engineers at NASA. :-(

  147. Elmar_M

    but I certainly hope & would think we could expect better from the scientists and engineers at NASA.

    They are unfortunately not the ones responsible for the NASA budget. They are not even the ones defining what NASA has to do or where the money for new rockets goes. It is the politicians that do that. And once you have realized how the system at NASA has been working for the past 40 years, you understand why so many people, including president Obama and myself are so against this continuing.
    The best way to get out of this mess is by supporting the commercials. This will allow NASA to get out of the political mess, at least where transport to LEO is concerned. It will -hopefully- spark long term competition among the providers that will finally bring about innovation and cost reduction. Cost reduction is important. Sure one could argue that the government can print all the money that they want, but what about the smaller researchers, smaller businesses, universities, etc. As we could see at the sub orbital researchers conference, there are so many that want/need to go into space to do their research. If NASA keeps going the “high cost plus jobs programs” path, they will never be able to afford doing their research in space, or maybe they will have to hitch a ride from the Chinese or the Russians (but even the Russians are not cheap and I dont think you want to ride on a Chinese rocket)…
    I still believe that there is a chance of a ride to “space for the rest of us”, at least one day…
    With NASA being the only one doing rockets, that day would never come. And without Constellation cancelled, there would not have been enough money for CCDev. Congress and Senate would happily kill the few millions for that in return for keeping the jobs programs going. Heck, they were so proud about keeping the “landscaping and janitorial servrices” in place at NASA HQ, because it is a great “middle class” (really?) jobs program, but would rather kill commercial crew in return.
    Again, keep the money flowing to the same places it always did. Keep the status quo. Do not change anything and for heavens sake dont make anything cheaper or more efficient…

  148. Andrew W

    The restaurant/nightclub scene wasn’t the main point of my comment, and it was only amazing in that it depicts an event of everyday ordinariness .. on the moon.
    For such a scene to ever occur commercials doing space launch would only be the first teency weency step.

  149. flip

    #136 MTU

    I’ve lost interest in this discussion, so haven’t really come back to read what you’ve said. If I notice anything particularly interesting I’ll reply… but don’t hold your breath.

    (No, it’s not me running away scared. Just had too much work and other stuff to worry about this week and I’m battling time on a few deadlines)

  150. Andrew W

    Don’t worry flip, it’s obvious he’s finally got it…………………….. ;-)

  151. flip

    #136, MTU

    I’m pretty sure I’ve already stated that Constellation should be funded for long enough and sufficently enough that it gets built and gets to fly. However long that is.

    And if, as you acknowledge, there is not enough money to go around for everything (most people would rather fund health care than space if they had to choose between the two), then there would be a stop-date for programs that have not shown progress. I’m asking what yours is. The fact that you don’t seem to have a specific one suggests you’re not being very realistic, nor willing to let go of a program when/if it needs to be let go of.

    They should, of course, keep checking its progress and a series of deadlines for particular steps is probably a good thing – but long enough to see it gets a proper red-hot chance of working.

    According to the people who oversee it, there has been this time/consideration. But according to you, these people don’t know what they’re talking about.

    This is the government we’re talking about – do they ever do anything “cheap” anyhow? ;-)

    I suspect trying to do things in space too cheaply could be very nasty case of “false economy” – fatal even.

    You missed my point, or you choose to ignore it. You accused someone of creating a conspiracy – and did the internet version of yelling at them for it – and I showed that Murphy’s Law exists in creating something. Nobody has to plan for things to go wrong for them to make a less-than-perfect design.

    Firts priority -get teh craft built as wellas possible, as safe as can be made reasonable, as impressive and capable as can be possibly done. Economics should be secondary – and remember the money is spent on Earth & helps the national economy, provides jobs and boosts national confidence.

    Every artist in the world can attest to this belief being unlikely to do anything for you in the real world. In fact, I clung onto that belief for 20 years until I figured out that if I put money first, I will more likely be able to get what I want done. (In fact, I make more money now as an artist by first considering the financial side of things) It’s a nice idea, but completely bull in the real world. For every business that closes, there’s probably about 20 artists who failed, gave up, took a ‘normal’ job, or bankrupted themselves. If it were that easy to put economics second, then there’d be a lot more artists earning a lot more money.

    I don’t believe you’ve ever had to run your own business. If you did, maybe you’d be better able to grasp the concept of budgets.

  152. flip

    #137 MTU

    Glad I gave you a laugh. yep, it is funny – but then at least I spelt “ignorance” right!

    Actually, it made me laugh not for the spelling mistake, but because you also had missing punctuation. Go reread, it’s pretty ironic.

    When has Elmar_M *ever* said anything that was good or been fair about NASA and what it has achieved? He seems from my reading of his comments to have a totally biased anti-NASA view on everything and be unwilling to give them any credit for anything good they’ve done, ever.

    As noted on another thread recently, someone can disagree with a policy or action, but still be pro-whatever. (You are the example of this. You disagree with NASA, but are still very much for them. The fact you accused him of being anti-NASA is darn stupid and hypocritical, and another example of your trait to ignore anything that doesn’t suit)

  153. flip

    #139 MTU

    Serious reply to *what* though?

    In #92 the difference between sponsorship and doing it themselves
    In #118, How much longer? and the question of time being a factor.
    In pretty much all of the posts, the lack of money on NASA’s part
    Oh and specifically…. are you campaigning for more space stuff in Australia?

    I can’t be bothered going through the posts to find all of my points. But you haven’t exactly been clear about your opinions. Just that you think the cancellation is wrong.

    I don’t know, I thought a discussion meant that I post something and then you actually reply to the content (and not the side snarkiness), and then I reply back and so on. If you want to trade snark then hey, I’ve got plenty. But I actually got involved in this thread because of the discussion. Book editors are taught that if you want to make a change to the text, then you not only have to provide reasons why, but you have to offer some suggestions for improvements. And you have to argue them with detail. From my time here at BAblog, it’s clear this also applies to science. I see no detail in your problem with the cancellation/creation of corporate space. Just whining.

    Yes, I guess the answer I gave was well, flip, what your username is.

    It’s not short for flippant, believe it or not. It’s from a play. (Aussie bogan male if you can’t tell ;))

    But then, some things *are* pretty clear-cut & Black and White. I think this is one of those.

    Once again, I am unconvinced by your argument. See my above comments about budgets and economics being first. Budgets may be black and white, but the choices that you make with that budget aren’t. A lot of factors come into play, like chosing between two companies that offer the same product at the same price. Which one do you go for? The one that’s most earth-friendly? The one with better customer service? Etc. As far as I’m concerned NASA has a lot of different ways to achieve their aims. And even a maths-failure artist like me knows about prioritising money and making sure it goes where it needs to go.

    If you want to say what you’re actually asking there – & this response isn’t enough for you – please try again & I’ll try and give a better serious answer.

    Not sure I could have been any clearer. You do like to duck and cover sometimes. See comments about repetition. I’ve asked specific questions, that have yes/no answers, or clarification of a detail, or a timeline. You’ve given me ambiguity in return.

  154. flip

    #142 Andrew W and #143 rational

    MTU has been around here for a while. Not only did he change his mind on global warming (was ‘contrarian’ before, agrees with science now) but he’s also been here under different pseudonyms over that period of time. I can never quite work out whether he’s trolling or serious.

    #144 MTU

    If NASA isn’t flying American astronauts to our Moon and further then in what sense is it exploring space? (At least humans~wise.)

    Apparently robots just invent themselves out of thin air. How is a bot not human space exploration. (Yeah I knew what you meant. I nitpick because really it’s a stupid point to say that only humans-in-space is ‘exploration’)

  155. flip

    #146 Andrew W

    You’re advancing that link in an attempt to refute arguments offered by flip, Elmar and me, but it’s a strawman because we’re not claiming spending money on space exploration is a waste, only that by using commercial space trucking there would be more money left over in NASA’s budget for real exploration.

    This!!

    Also, am hoping that you’re well done there in NZ.

    One image, and it’s probably built on scenes other people have written about, is a restaurant/nightclub on the Moon with huge windows looking out across the lunar landscape, with the Earth in the black sky, people floating across the dance floor the songs like Mancini’s Moon River.

    Reminds me of retro 50s ads.

    #151 Andrew W

    Mmmm, I doubt he’s got anything. Except for a sudden urge to disappear.

    … And that my dears, is enough for me. Started a new job last week and have less time for the song that never ends.

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