The Band of Brothers Wants a Mars Flyby

Hearing: Mars Flyby 2021: The First Deep Space Mission for the Orion and Space Launch System?

27 Feb 2014 10:00am live webcast

- Dr. Scott Pace, Director of the Space Policy Institute, George Washington University Statement
- General Lester Lyles (ret.), Independent Aerospace Consultant and former Chairman of the Committee on "Rationale and Goals of the U.S. Civil Space Program" established by the National Academies Statement
- Mr. Doug Cooke, Owner, Cooke Concepts and Solutions and former NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Mission Directorate Statement
- Dr. Sandra Magnus, Executive Director, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Statement

- Rep. Lamar Smith Statement; Hearing on Mars 2021 Flyby Mission
- Statement from Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson - Mars 2021 Flyby Hearing
- Statement by Rep. Steven Palazzo on Mars 2021 Flyby Hearing
- House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Democrats Emphasize Need for Human Space Exploration Roadmap
- House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Examines Mars Flyby Mission
And oh yes

Statement from Inspiration Mars Chairman Dennis Tito on Feb. 27 "Mars Flyby 2021" Hearing

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Oversight Plan for the 113th Congress, earlier post

"Within the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee's jurisdiction, activities warranting further review include costs associated with cancellation of the Constellation program..."

Keith's 26 Feb update: The hearing charter has now been published. Guess what: Committee staffer Chris Shank is still going on about the cancellation of Constellation and how awful President Obama's space policy is. A few paragraphs down he also brings up Dennis Tito's plan to use SLS and Orion for a Mars Flyby in 2021. And of course, true to form, there is no question presented to the witnesses in advance about how much this Mars flyby might actually cost or who would pay for it.

That is the sort of question you'd need to ask NASA, the White House - or House appropriators. Curiously, they are not being asked to testify. As a result you will only hear criticism of the current Administration's space policy, hear Tito's surrogates speak highly of the mission, and yet will hear no mention whatsoever as to where the money is going to come from. In other words this is just a scripted puppet show staged by some of the participants.

Keith's 24 Feb note: Mike Griffin's self-proclaimed "Band of Brothers" is being reunited. In addition to having Scott Pace and Doug Cooke testify, another Band of Brothers alumnus Chris Shank (House Science Committee staff) is organizing this whole event including the questions to be asked. Although Doug Cooke is representing himself, he has been a consultant to Dennis TIto's Inspiration Mars. Inspiration Mars has been looking at a 2021 trip to Mars now that the chances of mounting a 2017 trip have proved to be unfeasible. As such, the title of this hearing is no coincidence. You can expect Lamar Smith and others on the dais to raise the issue of Tito's plans and ask the panel for comments.

The central concept for this is that NASA will pay for the mission using an SLS flight and the more powerful upper stage for SLS. Where the money for such a mission would come from remains elusive. Given that SLS has no funding for payloads, will not launch at the once-a-year rate that NASA says is critical, and has a per-launch cost that is simply imaginary, the task of trying to figure out what this will cost is compounded. Add in the fact that ISS has just been extended and Space Science is in a long term crunch, nothing short of a significant boost of the agency's overall budget - for a long period of time - would make such a Mars flyby possible.

Given that Congress has not wholly supported the Administration's prime initiatives for NASA (commercial crew, asteroid mission, technology), it is hard to see how the White House could be expected support this plan - one that requires a multi-year surge of money. The plan's supporters claim that the White House is supportive - yet that "support" (actually it was more like "enthusiasm") was related to a privately-funded mission using a Falcon 9 - not a NASA-funded mission using SLS hardware.

As such there is an air of deja vu and unreality to this topic - as cool and inspirational as it might well be. NASA has no clear cut long-term plan. And when they try to implement one, Congress just turns it on its head and funds what they want - at that particular moment in time.

So here we are: yet another unrealistic plan for NASA. But when has reality ever been a factor in discussions about big NASA projects?

- Is Inspiration Mars a "NASA Mission"? It Depends Who You Ask, earlier post
- Inspiration Mars Foundation Chairman Dennis Tito testifies before House Subcommittee on Space, earlier post
- How Dennis Tito Plans To Send People to Mars, earlier post
- Inspiration Mars: Some Thoughts About Their Plan, Dennis Wingo, earlier post
- nspiration Mars: Some Thoughts About Our Plan, Dennis Tito et al, earlier post

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on February 27, 2014 4:00 PM.

OIG: NASA Has No Idea How Many Portable Devices It Has was the previous entry in this blog.

Dennis Tito's Congressional Infomercial - in 5 Tweets is the next entry in this blog.

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