Exploration Video: PBS NewsHour Story on Orion and SLS By Keith Cowing NASA Watch December 3, 2014 Filed under Orion, SLS Keith Cowing NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber. 24 responses to “Video: PBS NewsHour Story on Orion and SLS” Joe Denison says: December 4, 2014 at 4:09 am 0 0 Sigh. More of the “game changing technologies” canard. I am sorry but spending 20 years just “developing technology” does not make a space program. NASA didn’t sit around and study life support and computers for 20 years and then decide to build the Saturn V. The technology we need for Mars missions can be developed as a part of the program. Funding is the major issue. As a broader point why can’t people here be happy that we have a future manned spacecraft launching tomorrow instead of throwing endless swipes at it. I get that in some people’s mind this is not the preferred way but goodness y’all can we not have one positive thought? I am beginning to think that if NASA does make it to Mars all some of y’all will do is complain about it. I am sorry Keith but sometimes I think the name of this site should be changed to “SLS&Orionstink” since that is all most people here seem to talk about. Michael Reynolds says: December 4, 2014 at 2:52 pm 0 0 Please explain to me what is positive about spending 15+ billion dollars on a return capsule (not a true spacecraft) that has taken over 10 years to develop, and will not even carry humans for ~ 7 more years? All I see is corruption and greed on a grand scale by Boeing, Lockheed Martin, NASA, the Air Force, and of course our legislators with SLS/Orion. These two programs (along with the F-35 program) are canaries in the mine as to the structural problems this nation faces as a whole. Joe Denison says: December 4, 2014 at 4:53 pm 0 0 I never said Orion is perfect but it is something that can be used to great effect. The major problem with Orion was trying to get it to be a BEO and a LEO capsule at the same time. (incidentally that is the same problem with F35. Trying to do everything in one craft) Now that it is being optimized for BEO that problem has been dealt with. Michael Reynolds says: December 5, 2014 at 5:14 am 0 0 I’m not looking for perfection and do not expect it. What I do expect is for some common sense in the planning, design, and implementation of NASA’s manned space program. Not the boondoggles that we have been pumping out for years (I hate that word by the way). I could seriously go on a long rant on how much I hate cost-plus/FAR contracting practices and the spawn of such programs but it would not be constructive in the least, and in no way would it change your mind about Orion/SLS, and possibly other programs of the same ilk. Hug Doug ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ says: December 4, 2014 at 10:42 pm 0 0 Orion isn’t just a return capsule though. it’s a Command Module. it carries the communications equipment, computers, life support systems, flight controls, etc. it’s the brains, the heart, and soul of a mission. sure you can stick a habitat with extra supplies on it, but the mission would be controlled with Orion. if it’s not a “true spacecraft” then i’d like to know what you think IS. it took 10 years to develop because it was never properly funded beyond the R&D stage during the Constellation era, and it was cancelled in 2010. work on building it only really began in 2011. Joe Denison says: December 5, 2014 at 3:53 am 0 0 Exactly Hug! Hug Doug ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ says: December 5, 2014 at 3:52 pm 0 0 lol, thanks. and please just call me Doug 😛 Michael Reynolds says: December 5, 2014 at 5:02 am 0 0 A true spacecraft in my opinion requires a proper propulsion system (not just RCS), a long term habitat (which the orion does not have even with the ESA’s service module), and ideally radiation shielding integrated into the command section/module (for humans not just electronic hardening). So far Orion has none of these. Just so the “SpaceX fanboy” ad homien doesn’t come out, I also wouldn’t call the Dragon V2 (which has actual thrusters) or the CST-100 spaceships either. To me the Nautilus-X was as close as I have seen to a true spaceship design by NASA since Werner von Braun. As a final point to your second remark; you are telling me that ~15 billion dollars and ~15 years (its not done testing yet) was not enough to properly fund and complete this capsule? Then again maybe you are a benefactor of FAR contracts such as this, I won’t go so far as to speculate on that, because I do not know you, and it would be rude. Hug Doug ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ says: December 5, 2014 at 4:14 pm 0 0 putting everything you’ve mentioned into one spaceship would make it far too heavy to launch or return to Earth. ideally you want to launch people and supplies / habitat space separately, as much as possible. what you really need is both an Orion and also something like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wik… the Constellation project was underfunded and mismanaged by Congress basically from Day 1. NASA spent roughly 4 years (2004 – 2008) doing Research & Development. there was an extensive round of thousands of tests of heat shield materials from 2008-2009, for example. the Orion CEV underwent several different design iterations, as did the Ares I, IV and V rockets. a great deal of money was spent just making designs, then Congress coming in and saying “no, we want X instead of Y” and then the design needed to be overhauled. don’t forget that all those years and all that money was NOT spent on JUST developing a capsule. Constellation was intended to encompass the entire regime of lunar exploration, culminating in a research outpost on the lunar pole. what came out of it were three huge rockets, which were designed and repeatedly redesigned, along with the Altair lunar lander, also there were projects like the Space Exploration Vehicle, a new manned lunar rover, the ATHLETE rover, extensive testing done by the RATS program, and more. Mike says: December 4, 2014 at 3:41 pm 0 0 “The technology we need for Mars missions can be developed as a part of the program. Funding is the major issue.” And this is why so many people aren’t happy about SLS/Orion. We are realists who know that there will not be some magical money fairy who comes down and bestows NASA with more funding. We see SLS/Orion sucking down money that could be used to develop real deep space craft and landers. We already have two companies working on return capsules. There is no reason to have a “Deep space capsule” There are many existing and planned rockets that can be used for launch. NASA is wasting billions on duplicate efforts so some guys in Alabama can fantasize they are von Braun. Joe Denison says: December 4, 2014 at 5:03 pm 0 0 Well I am a realist too and I know that there won’t be some magical money fairy that will bestow SLS/Orion funds on DSH and landers if SLS/Orion are canceled. Canceling SLS/Orion will not bring about what you guys desire. What I do think can happen is an increase in funding for DSH/landers in concert with SLS/Orion and commercial entities. Uh if you want to survive re-entry from lunar and Mars return I think you want a “Deep Space capsule.” I also want a bunch of redundancies when I am a couple million miles from home. Also SLS/Orion account for $2.7 Billion. ISS and Commercial Crew account for nearly $4 Billion. Why aren’t they considered “money suckers” too? Mike says: December 4, 2014 at 8:18 pm 0 0 I’m not going to defend ISS, but commercial crew is giving us 2 man rated rockets and 2 capsules for a tiny fraction of the SLS/Orion cost. The total commercial crew contract is half of what has been spent on SLS/orion so far, and that even includes paying for several manned flights. For a rational consumer, there is really no comparison from a cost vs capability standpoint. The tiny amount of extra capability that SLS/Orion gives does not justify the massive development and operational cost differences. Half Moon says: December 4, 2014 at 4:22 am 0 0 Holdren: “Of course we don’t have enough money in the budget today to go to Mars,,,,,it’s would need to be ramped up” (Words to that effect) What he didn’t’ say: “And Obama’s strategy of kicking that can (increased budgets) down the road past his own Administration, has been a complete success! NASA et al (i.e. NASA, WH, OMB, Congress) are collectively not committed to anything larger than their own survival. Not so Elon Musk. And Not so NASA’s Apollo Moon Program. (and I”m not advocating for another Apollo style mission..but it was a commitment that was big, and more than about survival of the Agency, so it’s a great example of what can come from committing to something larger than yourself) Absent such a future altering commitment, NASA” future will look much like it’s past. i.e. expect and Augustine II (perhaps a Young I) to recommend SLS/Orion/Mars cancellation as the plans presentably constituted are un-executable. Ryan says: December 5, 2014 at 12:23 am 0 0 Typical political double talk. Say we are NOT kicking the can down the road, then describes our plan to kick the can down the road. LPHartswick says: December 4, 2014 at 4:46 am 0 0 More in the tank, pro Obama rhetoric. I’m sure Mr. Musk was more than pleased. Matt Johnson says: December 4, 2014 at 6:22 pm 0 0 I was a newspace skeptic but SpaceX is the one innovating and delivering game changing cost savings while gaining flight experience, while the establishment is proving to be more about pork-barrel spending by accepting laughably low flight rates and high operational costs, while selling the cislunar Orion reentry capsule on lies about it being a Mars craft. LPHartswick says: December 5, 2014 at 1:01 am 0 0 Nothing SpaceX has done so far is game changing or new. When they do something never been done before at one third of the cost then I’ll be impressed. Currently they are sending modest payloads to low Earth orbit. Mind you, I’m not against what they’re doing. I think it’s an appropriate task for people that want to generate some revenue from what is still a largely revenue barren business. I think it will remain so for protracted period, but I want to lift all boats, with an appropriate level of funding. Does anybody on this website really believe that $17 billion out of a federal budget of greater than $4 trillion is appropriate level of funding for the next frontier?I am still not convinced, as many are on this website, that it’s smart policy to put all our chips on these people. Michael Reynolds says: December 5, 2014 at 5:32 am 0 0 Well then the establishment needs to start doing thing different from what they did sixty years ago if they want to rise with the tide. Relying on cost-plus contracts that are nearly guaranteed to them by the U.S. government is not going to keep them floating indefinitely. Adapt and overcome! Jeff2Space says: December 4, 2014 at 12:48 pm 0 0 What is up with the “Obama” references? It’s Congress that passes the budget. The president just signs them into law, or vetos them. You want NASA’s budget increased and directed into the right programs? Write your Congressman and Senator. LPHartswick says: December 4, 2014 at 3:56 pm 0 0 The Obama references pertain to the transition to the currentspace exploration vision. It proposed moving all of the human space expiration funding over to the commercial sector. Many on this website believe it’s because the President & Lori Garver are so pro space exploration. I happen to believe otherwise. I believe the plan was favored because it is “cheaper”, and is only about sending funding to commercial vendors. I’ve always believed that it’s a lot easier to deep 6 a funding stream to commercial vendors down the road, then it is to stick a dagger in the heart of America’s National Space Program. I don’t believe he gives one whit about true human space expiration. We are only getting anemic funding to SLS & Orion because afew people who just dug their heels in for their own political reasons. There are very few true believers in the political class. Total funding for NASA should be significantly increased but I see no particular taste for that in either party at the present time. So, I support SLS & Orion because it’s the best we can get for now. dogstar29 says: December 4, 2014 at 6:26 pm 0 0 Personally I see the politicization of the spaceflight arena as our greatest problem. It means some of us see the solution as Republican and others as Democratic, and we would rather blame failure on the other party and fight than accept responsibility to work together. LPHartswick says: December 5, 2014 at 1:05 am 0 0 I absolutely agree with you. As stated below I want to lift all boats. I don’t think space exploration has to be a zero sum game, and that we dilute our influence by playing a game of “my dog is better than your dog”. I want appropriate funding for commercial crew & cargo; NASA development of BEO capability; the choice of an appropriate achievable medium-range target such as going back to the Moon; as well as appropriate funding for Ms. Garver’s “game changing technologies” as long as it doesn’t, the cost of the first three. As I’ve stated before, we should go back to Jackass Flats, drag out NERVA and go to work. Hey, I’m more on your side my friend than you think. Michael Reynolds says: December 5, 2014 at 5:22 am 0 0 NERVA integrated with a Nautilus-X style craft would be excellent. That’s what NASA should be really focusing on for the manned BEO space program, not HLV and space capsules. let commercial compete in non cost-plus style contracts for what NASA has already done before. dogstar29 says: December 4, 2014 at 4:40 pm 0 0 Garver hits the nail on the head. She calls a spade a spade. That’s the kind of tough honesty we need to run NASA.