SLS and Orion: January 2010 Archives

Commercial Space: What Role Is It Ready For?, Scott Horowitz, Space News

"For instance, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has conducted five launches of its simple Falcon 1, four of which failed (three totally, one partially). The company has learned from its failures and is working on upgrades. The more complex Falcon 9, designed to carry cargo to the ISS, is two years behind schedule and has yet to be launched. Moreover, this is the same vehicle they say can carry crew to ISS within three years."

Keith's note: It is rather hilarious for Scott Horowitz to cite one company's developmental woes and yet ignore the immense problems, delays, and cost overruns that his Ares 1 team had. Go look at the Atlas' flight record when they flew John Glenn.

Newsflash, Scott: SpaceX was flying a real rocket from the onset - not a cobbled together one-off rocket (Ares 1-X), half of which was a dummy inert mass that experienced an anomalous post-staging flight profile, damaged its first stage, etc. And Scott, let us not forget, your rocket - one that would still not fly for the first time for another few years (according to your own schedule) - would be flying crew within a similar time frame as Falcon 9 - yet doing so with a spacecaft (Orion) that was constantly reduced in capacity and underpowered due to flaws inherent in your rocket's design.

Even if you were to double the amount of launch/testing problems Falcon 1/Falcon 9 will end up costing a small fraction of the $8-9 billion you wasted and will be working in space sooner - and more cheaply - than Ares 1 would ever have been capable of doing.

Face it Scott - you placed all your (our) money on the wrong rocket.

As for astronauts flying on rockets, I wonder what Ken Bowersox knows that you do not?

NASA Internal Email From Mark Geyer: The Future

"A few news bureaus and bloggers have been reporting on some major changes coming our way. Sometimes the number of reports gives the impression of validity when in fact they are all reporting on the same rumor. I can tell you that I have not received any direction or information that would confirm what they are saying. That being said, it wouldn't surprise me to find out that there will be some changes announced next week and that they may be significant. Again, I have no specific information on what that might be."

NASA tops off new Ares launch tower at the Cape, Spaceflight Now

"The total cost of the mobile launcher project is estimated at around $500 million, according to NASA. But the ultimate fate of the skyscraping tower is up in the air as the White House appears on the brink of canceling the Ares 1 rocket and scrapping NASA's Constellation program taking aim on the moon."

Keith's note: I can certainly empathize with the Constellation folks: I was part of the Space Station Freedom team at Level II and we sat around for months working on a program that we knew was (more or less) going to be totaly overhauled as innumerable redesigns went on around (and often without) us. It was maddening. But we just kept on working because that was our job. We did not have the Internet back then - just NASAMail and fax machines. FWIW I do not think that all of the work done on Constellation will have been done in vain. Indeed, I see lots of "Freedom" in the ISS. Worry not: the hard work done by Constellation folks will certainly emerge elsewhere - eventually. Whatever happens, y'all done good.

NASA to get more money, but must scratch moon plan, AP

"The money in the president's budget is not enough to follow through with NASA's Constellation moon landing plan initiated by President George W. Bush. An aide to an elected official who was told of Obama's plans, but who asked that his name not be used because of the sensitivity of the discussions, said Obama is effectively ending the return-to-the-moon effort, something that has already cost $9.1 billion."

Congresswoman Kosmas' Statement on the President's State of the Union Address

"The President has pledged to minimize the spaceflight gap and Space Coast families are looking for him to fulfill that promise. It will be unacceptable if his budget does not reflect a commitment to a robust human spaceflight program."

President's NASA "Plan" Is A Giant Leap Backwards and Would Be Devastating to America's Space Program and the Space Coast, Rep. Posey

"My biggest fear is that this amounts to a slow death of our nation's human space flight program; a retreat from America's decades of leadership in space, ending the economic advantages that our space program has brought to the U.S., and ceding space to the Russians, Chinese and others. I will do all that I can to stop this ill-advised plan."

Is Constellation Dead?

Anxiety rises over NASA budget, Huntsville Times

"I've read what you've read," said Steve Cook, who ran the Ares rocket component of Constellation at Marshall Space Flight Center from conception until leaving for a job in industry in September. "This is just a lot of speculation," Cook said Wednesday. "We just need to wait and see what the president does." Constellation employs about 1,500 contractor employees and 700 government workers at Marshall Space Flight Center, Cook said."

No space for Constellation? Former NASA Administrator speaks out

"I personally believe the rumors are likely to be true," said Griffin. "If they're true it's a very bad day for the nation and the space program." Griffin said tens of thousands of people will be effected by cuts."

Keith's note: Ares 1 is dead and Ares V is morphing into a commercially-provided HLV for TBD uses. The ISS will be serviced by commerical spacecraft for crew and cargo (not by Orion) and deep space "Flexible Path" missions will almost certainly use something other than Orion for crew transport. As such, there is not going to be much left of "Constellation".

Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee - Hearing: Key Issues and Challenges Facing NASA: Views of the Agency's Watchdogs

3 Feb 2010 Witnesses:

- Hon. Paul K. Martin, Inspector General, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- Ms. Cristina T. Chaplain, Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management, Government Accountability Office
- Vice Admiral Joseph W. Dyer [U.S. Navy, retired], Chair, Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, National

Keith's note: Hmm... Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, known Ares 1 hugger, who is anti-commercial spaceflight and an Augustine critic - and Joe Dyer (ditto) at the same hearing. Gee, I wonder what they will talk about ... There will be a NASA press conference to discuss the budget on 1 Feb and some sort of event at the National Press Club on 2 Feb. Rep. Giffords is holding her hearing on 3 Feb. Should make for some interesting news.

- Congressional Hearing on Safety, earlier post
- Too Close to NASA For Comfort?, earlier post
- Flying Air NASA, earlier post
- Congress Falls For Time Magazine's Ares Award Too, earlier post
- Chairman Gordon and Subcommittee Chairwoman Giffords Comment on Augustine Committee Report, earlier post
- Commercial Spaceflight Federation Takes Aim at ASAP's Report, earlier post

Ares I: Is it on or off? Decision probably will come soon on NASA rocket, Huntsville Times.

"The future of NASA seems to be in a tense hold - not unlike the delays that sometimes plague rocket launches - waiting for a presidential directive to set its future course. At stake is the Marshall Space Flight Center-managed Ares I rocket, a space shuttle replacement with its future in doubt and more than 1,500 jobs across the Tennessee Valley hanging in the balance."

Keith's 19 Jan note: Ares 1 is dead, folks. DEAD. So is the use of Orion in LEO for trips to the ISS. Use of Orion to destinations in cis-lunar space? That is still open. Ares V as currently designed is dead but there will be a heavy launch vehicle - the debate is between an inline shuttle-derived launch vehicle for crew and cargo and a sidemount shuttle-derived launch vehicle. The sidemount concept is losing favor - fast - due to crew escape concerns. Watch for a significant commercial focus such that NASA may well use a commercial provider to launch crews into space - in a vehicle that meets NASA specs - on a launch vehicle (not necessarily the same each time) that also meets NASA specs. NASA may well be about to bow out of providing human launch services - at least for LEO. Details? Watch for Charlie Bolden's speech at the 11 Feb session of FAA's AST conference. The news for MSFC is not good - and it is not necessarily good for JSC either.


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This page is an archive of entries in the SLS and Orion category from January 2010.

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