Rocket Motors to Nowhere?

Frank's note: Heaven forbid that the 5-segment solid rocket motor test would have blown up - nobody in their right minds would want that. But I have to ask why on Earth is NASA proceeding to invest time and money in testing boosters that may have no role in the future of human spaceflight.

The Senate seems hell bent on requiring NASA to develop the next Heavy Lift launch vehicle using "no less than four segment solids", but the requirement, contained in the report not the actual Senate bill, has yet to be lodged in the House version, still in play. Wouldn't it have been better to wait a few weeks and see how the House bill language winds up in the much anticipated CR. Would it have killed them? So far, Congress seems intent to make a Shuttle-derived solution the basics of a much-accelerated HLV launcher for as-yet undefined payloads to haul into deep space to as yet undefined destinations.

The Orion CEV seems likely to also survive President Obama's budget knife and not just a rescue version either. But neither of the two bills actually specified the means for that Orion capsule to reach LEO as it is to be a sort of back-up to a commercially derived vehicle.

The two commercial capsules farthest along - the SpaceX Dragon and the Boeing CST-100 each have launchers in mind; the Dragon has SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Boeing's capsule one of the 3 Delta, Atlas or Falcon 9 launchers with a choice of which to manrate TBD. And then there is the "stealth manned launcher" research program. Called the The Human Exploration Framework Team, the group that was quietly formed up by orders from NASA Administrator Gen. Charles Bolden (you remember him don't you?) and is actively being led by Steve Altemus, the head of JSC's Engineering Directorate.

Lastly, just where is the Obama administration in all this? Both the House and Senate, led by Democrats for Pete's sake, are gleefully eviscerating the Obamaspace proposals to varying degree, yet not a peep has been heard from Pennsylvania Avenue. One has to wonder if Obama gives a damn for his own space ideas, or whether, like its predecessor, he prefers to make bold pronouncements and then slink away then they get under fire.

I mean, if this is how Democrats treat Obamaspace, just imagine how the GOP will treat these ideas when in about 8 weeks they retake control of the House and maybe even the Senate.

Is anybody paying attention?

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This page contains a single entry by Frank Sietzen published on September 2, 2010 9:54 AM.

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