View Single Post
Old September 14 2012, 11:29 PM   #123
Rear Admiral
Re: Envisioning the world of 2100

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
"Big" isn't sustainable in space flight for any amount of time, unless you have an infinite supply of either capital or political will. More spam, still no point.
An opinion that you don't share isn't 'spam--its an opinion.

Big is sustainable, as we saw with 100= shuttle flights with not all that interest--because the STS was a LEO only system--but it was a defacto HLV in terms of mass to orbit--that that proves me correct.

In terms of future tech--al we need do is look to the past--and support such systems as opposed to sniping at them from the interwebs

Some projects to look at

Now in terms of depots: Lee P. Scherer told Culbertson that the LOSS might not be needed, and that his office viewed neither the Nuclear Shuttle nor the LOSS propellant depot “as clear requirements.”

This is what the illusion of cost-saving reusability destroyed--a quote:

It is one of the most damning indictments of numerous short-sighted administrations, whether Democrat or Republican and whether influenced by external influences or not, to have effectively cut us off from deep-space exploration for half a century and eliminated dreams of the Moon and Mars for two generations of children.

What SLS does is to reverse this:

Not thinking big as we used to is the problem.

Here is the problem with commercial space that folks seem to worship here. Real experts understand the need for heavy lift. Now if you want to keep selling NASA lots of smaller rockets--you argue for leaky depots.

Another quote to prove my point:

The twist with “commercial space” as it has taken shape is that the companies involved are saying that they must have government money in advance of performance to develop their product, while yet maintaining their right to conduct that product development according to their own concepts and standards. Nonetheless, the government must buy their product when it is available, and – oh by the way – is not allowed to develop its own product, because it will compete unfairly with “commercial” offerings.

It is this posture that I find so offensive. If I pay you to do something for me, I want you to do what I want done, not what you want to do. I further want you to do it in the manner in which I want it done, not as you may happen to want it done. That is what I expect for the money I provide – just as I would if, say, I engage your company to build a custom home for me. If you do not choose to do what I ask, as I ask it to be done, that is okay. In that circumstance, however, I am not required to buy your product. I can seek another provider who will agree to do as I ask.

But this quid pro quo, which would apply exactly in the case of a commercial contract for a custom home, apparently does not apply to a commercial contract for a custom spacecraft. NASA is forced to provide development money for a product whose design it cannot influence, and then to buy the product when it is finished, regardless of what responsible agency engineers might deem to be appropriate. The only outcome of such behavior that can possibly occur is that a technical, operational, or business failure will occur – and NASA will be held accountable for the failure, because public money was expended.

So, the U.S. government is the 80% majority investor in SpaceX – and this is prior to the $400+ million CCICap award. But, the government does not own the design or the product when it is complete; it does not own even 80% of it. What NASA “owns” is the right to buy a seat at market price. The only real change from the classic “prime contract” seems to be that a largely different set of contractors is performing the work, which is done primarily with public funds but without government supervision. The working definition of “commercial” seems to be “not built by an established contractor working to government specifications”. I have only one question: can I get that deal?

Some questions

So even as Obama’s campaign releases a press statement extolling the virtues of Orion and SLS, his folks at NASA are still trying to kill these programs. As to his comments about SpaceX, I guess Griffin feels strongly about its poor track record because he was the one who led NASA when SpaceX won its COTS contract. Griffin was the one who cut SpaceX it’s first big check of $277.8M. With both SpaceX and Orbital Sciences years behind schedule and each over $118M over budget, I can see why he’s upset. Worse, unlike Constellation, which had an excuse in that it was short-changed for years, not once did not SpaceX or OSC receive their promised funding on time. So one is left wondering what their excuse is. Maybe someone from the NewSpace community could answer that question?


What is indisputable is that an HLV mission architecture is much better understood in terms of risk, technique, and planning, thanks to Apollo, than any other. And that means while a HLV mission guesstimate will be off in cost and time, it will not be nearly so much as for similar guesstimates of other architectures deeply studied but never tried. For example, lunar landing studies conducted in the late 50′s pegged the cost at between $1.5-2B. Apollo came in on-budget only because Webb added an arbitrary 40% to NASA’s best-guess estimate for Apollo.
An HLV architecture certainly doesn’t exclude using ISS or SEP. But it does mean that lunar missions can be conducted absent the use of ISS, SEP, or anything else. that flexibility seems attractive.
Its obvious that you feel the non-HLV architecture is the best way forward in BEO human spaceflight. And your unhappiness with Griffin’s decision 8 years ago comes through.
For my part, since HLV-based architectures are better understood and we currently have an HLV in development, my inclination is to keep working on what we have. I’m not going to let the perfect be the enemy of the possible and oppose something currently underway.
So, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

Last edited by publiusr; September 14 2012 at 11:41 PM.
publiusr is offline   Reply With Quote