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Author Topic:   Review of US Human Space Flight (Augustine)
mjanovec
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posted 11-10-2009 12:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:

Credit: Roger Launius/Smithsonian

It's interesting to compare the poll results in July 1967 versus July 2003. In July 1967, roughly 6 months after the Apollo 1 fire, public support for the moon landing seemed to drop off somewhat. Whereas, in July 2003, roughly 6 months after the STS-107 tragedy, public support appeared to increase.

I guess one could attribute the differences to a couple of different reasons:

  • The public in 2003 knew that a moon landing was possible, having already seen it done before. The public in 1967 didn't have that luxury and perhaps assumed a lunar landing might not be possible or might require more loss of life to achieve the goal.
  • The public in 2003 had started to grow a bit weary of seeing a flawed shuttle design continue flying to low earth orbit...well, at least the public who knew the shuttle doesn't fly to moon. To some, the accomplishments of Apollo seemed more like forward progress than the shuttle program did.
  • One could also point out that, in youth culture at least, there was a growing anti-establishment movement by mid 1967...rejecting programs and policys that were led by the government.

I wonder if the April 1970 poll was taken before or after the Apollo 13 mission. Also, I would be curious to see the results of a poll taken in January 1969 and August 1969, shortly after the missions of Apollo 8 and Apollo 11.

cjh5801
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posted 11-10-2009 03:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cjh5801   Click Here to Email cjh5801     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
If you want to make the moon seem more interesting, bring some IMAX cameras to the lunar surface and give people a sense of what it is actually like to be there. But don't forsake real science in the process.

There's no point in going if you forsake the science. I'm not advocating that. But how would it hurt to add entertainment to the mix?

In addition to watching the live broadcasts as a boy, I've recently watched the complete coverage of the Apollo missions on the Spacecraft Films DVDs. As a space geek, I enjoyed every minute of it. But frankly, the TV coverage wasn't intended to promote audience involvement or provide entertainment value. To the average person, much of it must have seemed like watching paint dry.

IMAX is essential to raise public awareness, but it isn't enough. Only a small percentage of people go to IMAX theaters to watch space documentaries. We need informative, entertaining, and accessible programming available to the masses to gain public support for the space program.

Public support may not have seemed all that important during the Cold War, but I believe it's essential for future space exploration. No support, no money.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-10-2009 03:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
Also, I would be curious to see the results of a poll taken in January 1969 and August 1969, shortly after the missions of Apollo 8 and Apollo 11.
Here is another of Roger Launius' slides from this morning that illustrates the difference between general support for Apollo and what happened to that support when the question of funding was added to the poll.


Credit: Roger Launius/Smithsonian

space1
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posted 11-10-2009 04:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for space1   Click Here to Email space1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think the chart should also somehow consider the public's perception of how much of the national budget NASA consumes. I think it's likely that those who think it costs too much don't realize the small percentage NASA actually gets.

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issman1
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posted 11-14-2009 03:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wonder if the apparent discovery of water in the Cabeus crater will spur a new "Moon race"? It seems to me that even that is as intangible as it is purposeless. In some of my previous posts, I have tried to rationalise the sending of humans to the Moon, to Mars and even Asteroids. But what is the relevance of doing so? Unless there is a genuine and pressing reason to do so, we (the human race) may as well stay in LEO.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-14-2009 03:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
Unless there is a genuine and pressing reason to do so, we (the human race) may as well stay in LEO.
There is and has always existed a single, overlying reason to go: because it is there. All other reasons may set the time line for our departure, but do not confuse our immediate desires with our long term motivations. Never is the answer the status quo.

issman1
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posted 11-14-2009 04:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I hope the leaders and lawmakers of spacefaring nations are as wistful.

issman1
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posted 11-26-2009 02:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The legendary Buzz Aldrin has again been proselytizing about the need to continue the Shuttle programme and abandon Ares 1. I have to agree with him. But what of President Obama?

Jay Chladek
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posted 11-27-2009 04:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've thought long and hard about shuttle for the past few years. While I understand what Buzz is saying, he is still not addressing the issue of one of the shuttle's limitations itself. It is a vehicle that requires a lot of manpower support and kit gloves to ready for flight. Stretching the program out THAT far would require a lot of people to remain on staff for only one flight a year and that consumes resources. It takes money for those resources and a lot of it. But, so does designing a new vehicle.

I am in agreement that ditching shuttle entirely is not a good idea since it is the best LEO work platform flying today (in fact it is the only one unless you count self maintenance on the ISS). It is a flying pickup truck. But you don't need to use a pickup truck for all the jobs when a bus will do the job of taking people up and down.

The way I see it, assuming Ares I Orion flies and does its job well and shuttle quietly goes into retirement, the need will eventually come up for a full replacement for shuttle. Then maybe somebody will finally go about creating a full replacement for it. I can hope anyway. Of course, one of the things that hobbled shuttle in the early days is it was intended to be paired with a space tug that could go into the higher orbits to drag satellites and other payloads down to LEO for repair or return to Earth. When the space tug went bye bye, shuttle lost a lot of the missions it was intended for.

issman1
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posted 11-27-2009 05:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Shuttle lost its way even before the first flight. When President Nixon deleted the Space Station from NASA's original plan, Shuttle was left without its raison detre until STS-71. Challenger was lost with a satellite that could have been launched on an expendable. While Columbia was lost returning from a mission with experiments that should have been done on the ISS. In other words, the fatalities were not just tragic but completely unnecessary. It may sound harsh, but its a fact of life. I initially supported the retirement of the shuttle fleet in 2010. But that was on the assumption a meaningful and worthy successor would be ready to fly as soon as possible. Constellation has become the stuff of science-fiction. Therefore, the shuttle should continue flying. But only at a maximum flight rate of 2/3 per annum until Orion has a capable launcher. Ares 1 clearly isn't that launcher.

issman1
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posted 12-09-2009 10:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I found this intriguing C-SPAN clip of Buzz Aldrin pleading for a voyage to Mars. Apparently, the object Mr. Aldrin alludes to is from a 1999 photograph taken by the now-defunct Mars Global Surveyor.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-09-2009 10:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The House and Senate agreed Tuesday on a FY2010 budget for NASA at $18.7 billion -- a nearly billion dollar increase over last year -- including $3.8 billion for human spaceflight activities.

In doing so, Congress protected the Constellation architecture from changes, at least for now:

In the absence of a bona fide proposal from the Administration on the future of U.S. human spaceflight activities and investments, the bill provides the budget request of $3.8 billion for activities to support human spaceflight in fiscal year 2010; however, the bill requires that any program termination or elimination or the creation of any new program, project or activity not contemplated in the budget request must be approved in subsequent appropriations Acts.

Larry McGlynn
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posted 12-11-2009 08:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, I was in the presence of space policymakers today. I attended the MIT seminar today about the Augustine Committee Report. It was a timely discussion, because the President will be making a decision about the future direction of manned space flight in the US in the next few weeks. Why? Because the deadline for sending the budget to the printers is coming up at the end of the month. And that is how we make decisions in the US Government.

First up was Norman Augustine. His discussion was mainly a preamble to Ed Crawley. The meat of his comments were about how NASA's budget does not adequately fund it's work scope for space flight. That NASA has a history of shutting down old programs in order to start new programs and thus creates a gap in space flight.

Mr. Augustine further stated that Ares 1 has slipped 5 years behind schedule at this point. Ares 1 will not be ready by the time we deorbit the ISS and the program has no money for lunar exploration due to the slippage and cost overruns. We are looking at a 7 year gap.

Finally, he stated that there is a clear need for the Ares V and for commercial space flight (COTS) to have a greater role in LEO operations in order to free up NASA to explore space.

Ed Crawley was up next and he was the systems engineer of the committee and he discussed the options that the President will have to review in order to make his decision.

He had two major points.

  1. Get the money to support NASA.
  2. Create good science plans and get the money to do them.
Then Ed launched into the specific options that the committee provided. In his initial points concerning the paper, he pointed out that the committee used the 1958 Space Act, The 2004 Vision for Space and the Global Space Exploration reports to create a bi-partisan approach in order to please politicians in both parties as well as our ISS global partners.

Ed said that the options were to land and live on the Moon, land on Mars and explore the planet and maintain the ISS. Our international partners have basically told us that if we want to ever a lead a future space expedition, then we had better extend the ISS. Which is just now starting to work as a lab in space.

In their discussions, the committee came to the conclusion that a Mars landing and exploration phase is too expensive, too long term and not safe, based upon our current knowledge of space flight biomedical issues like radiation. That leaves two exploration options open to the President, Moon landing and long term stays or the "Flexible Path."

You will start hearing a lot about the "Flexible Path (FP)" in the future on newscasts when Obama takes up the task of making a decision on the future of human space flight. What the "Flexible Path" title means is that the Constellation Program will fly into deep space, but will not go into the deep gravity wells of the Moon or Mars. That means they wouldn't land on either planet. The "FP" will fly lunar orbit missions, LaGrange Point missions and Near Earth Object missions in an ever expanding stepping stone process to gain experience in deep space.

It only takes a few extra meters per second of Specific Impulse (Isp) to leave LEO and fly to these various targets. The program will also need the development of an rocket engine capable of restarting after a few months in space. This type of process could lead to a Mars flyby in 2040.

The "FP" doesn't rule out landing on the Moon. It is just a interim series of missions that will hopefully keep the public engaged and the children inspired until the money can be found to build the Altair lunar lander and the habitats needed to survive long term (500 days) on the Moon. The cost of those two projects are estimated at $15B each and that money is not there now or in the next five years.

This means that the Ares V is really what the whole Constellation Project will rely on for a launch vehicle. The Ares 1 will be overkill for LEO, so what is hoped is that COTS will save the day in privately launching cargo and crews in LEO or the ISS. The committee admits that COTS is a big risk and the NASA administrator will need insurance against their failure. That insurance is the Ares V.

To do all this means that the NASA budget will have to be ramped up by $3B in the 2011 FY budget.

So be prepared to hear about the "Flexible Path" in the coming weeks.

It was then John Logsdon's turn to get speak. John's first comment was key to me. "It has been 48 years since man went into Space and we are still arguing about it."

John continued on about the changes in policies with each changing administration starting with Eisenhower and really ending with Nixon. Nixon changed space policy decision making from a special political decision to a normal political decision. That is the way all the following administrations have looked at decisions in space policy.

John characterized the Augustine Report as "like throwing a grenade into the room." NASA, the OSTP and the OMB are trying to pick up the pieces and move on. It also has caused NASA some concern with the line, "other than NASA can carry humans into space." While a high risk proposition, if NASA doesn't get the $3B extra funding to continue the Constellation Project, COTS could fill the gap. Dr. Logsdon is of the opinion that NASA will not get the added funding. That the US Government will invite international partners in to fund the needed $3B by building sections of the project that include Critical Path projects like the second stage of the Ares launch vehicles or, even, the LEAM descent stage.

John feels that we may not see either the Ares 1 or the Ares V, but a reduced Ares III that will carry out deep space missions, but not launch the LEAM. It would be a stop gap during the "Flexible Path" period of exploration.

Finally, Asif Siddiqi, was up to discuss the international history of space flight. I will say that I have worked with Asif on the MIT white paper. He is an expert in the Russian, Chinese and Indian space programs. He wrote the definitive book on the Soviet's lunar landing attempts. His book is titled, "Challenge to Apollo" and is over 1000 pages in length. You don't read it, you use it as a reference. He has taught me a lot about the various countries space programs.

Basically, Asif said that our lead in space flight has eroded. In the last ten years, more players have come on the stage and include, China, India, Japan and Europe.

He explained why China has developed a manned space program. He commented on the prestige China has gained with manned launches into space. Their country is now perceived as a country that no longer produces cheap inferior goods. China has shown that they can produce technological goods of superior quality and have become a competitor in market areas where we have had a long developed superiority. He also publicly stated that he does not think China will be on the Moon prior to 2030. They don't have the technology.

As for India, they have jumped on the manned space flight bandwagon using cold war rhetoric like "first in space is first in the world." They appear to be in a race with China. They plan to launch a two manned spacecraft by 2017 at the latest.

Asif's final comment was telling. He advocated cooperation by saying "We either cooperate or lose prestige if China or India get to the Moon before us.

That was the program in a nutshell. Then a few of us went to the MIT Facility Club to have lunch with the panel members. It was a chance to fill in some of the gaps.

DChudwin
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posted 12-11-2009 09:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Larry, thanks for an excellent report on the symposium.

Keith Cowing at NASA Watch is reporting some signs that Obama will soon make a decision on the future of manned spaceflight-- he reports that Charlie Bolden cancelled a speech on the West Coast at the last minute to remain in Washington and that Augustine said that the papers were on Obama's desk.

It is still not too late to contact the Administration at whitehouse.gov to give your opinions.

mercsim
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posted 12-12-2009 10:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mercsim   Click Here to Email mercsim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Its sad that Ares I is 5 years behind schedule when you compare that to schedules in the late 50's and 60's. We didn't have any experience, CAD systems, e-mail, internet, etc. Now with all these tools and experience, we still struggle.

You would think with a proven first stage design (with hardware), modern off-the-shelf avionics, a tested LES, and all that experience, we could do better....

capoetc
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posted 12-12-2009 01:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What we had in the 50's and 60's was a vital national interest to fuel the effort. Other priorities take precedence in the minds of decision-makers today.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-15-2009 07:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the White House daily guidance and press schedule for Dec. 16, 2009:
...the President will also meet with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in the Oval Office to discuss the Administrator's work at NASA and they will also discuss the Augustine Committee's analysis.

3:05PM THE PRESIDENT meets with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden [Oval Office]

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-16-2009 03:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Florida Today: Obama Confirms Commitment To Space Exploration
President Obama and the head of NASA met in the Oval Office this afternoon and discussed the future of the nation's space exploration program

"The President confirmed his commitment to human space exploration, and the goal of ensuring that the nation is on a sustainable path to achieving our aspirations in space," said White House spokesman Nicholas Shapiro...

While details from the meeting may leak out over the next couple of weeks, Space News notes, "A senior NASA official reiterated today that the White House intends to wait until the February budget rollout to unveil the new plan."

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-16-2009 04:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Larry McGlynn:
I attended the MIT seminar today about the Augustine Committee Report.
Via MIT's TechTV, here is the video of that event:

Blackarrow
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posted 12-16-2009 06:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"The President confirmed his commitment to human space exploration, and the goal of ensuring that the nation is on a sustainable path to achieving our aspirations in space," said White House spokesman Nicholas Shapiro...
Interpreting the words of lawyers and politicians is fraught with difficulty. I do one for a living and the other because I enjoy it. (Sad but true). It's always important to bear in mind that sometimes we can read something into particular words that was not actually intended by the writer/speaker.

With that caveat in mind, I look at the above remarks and see several interesting words. First, I find it reasonably reassuring that the word "exploration" was used, rather than "flight" or "travel." NASA hasn't done human space exploration for 37 years, just space flight.

Second, "sustainable path" might just mean that NASA will have to cut its cloth according to America's means, but if NASA is going to do exploration, 'sustainable path' must mean that appropriate funding to do exploration will be made available, i.e. more than current funding, which Augustine rightly said was insufficient to fund Constellation.

Third, 'aspirations' ought not to mean simply maintaining that which is already there, i.e. the ISS. It surely must mean plans for something in the future which is NOT yet available.

Of course the key words in the White House statement were 'new plan.' Will that be new to NASA, or new to the Obama administration?

Finally, please excuse my ignorance of U.S. government financial matters, but does 'the February budget rollout' literally mean the budget to be rolled out in February? (And if so, is that early, middle or late February?) Or does it mean the earlier rollout of a budget to be delivered in February? (If so, when?)

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-17-2009 09:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
Of course the key words in the White House statement were 'new plan.' Will that be new to NASA, or new to the Obama administration?
Well, if the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is correct, then it may be a bit of both...

ScienceInsider: Obama Backs New Launcher and Bigger NASA Budget

President Barack Obama will ask Congress next year to fund a new heavy-lift launcher to take humans to the moon, asteroids, and the moons of Mars, ScienceInsider has learned. The president chose the new direction for the U.S. human space flight program Wednesday at a White House meeting with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, according to officials familiar with the discussion. NASA would receive an additional $1 billion in 2011 both to get the new launcher on track and to bolster the agency's fleet of robotic Earth-monitoring spacecraft...
Other details from the AAAS report:
  • The President's chosen launch vehicle does not include Ares I or Ares V, but rather a "simpler heavy-lift vehicle that could be ready to fly as early as 2018" (the article doesn't provide any further details as to the nature of this vehicle).

  • European countries, Japan, and Canada would be asked to work on a lunar lander and modules for a moon base.

  • Commercial companies would take over the job of getting supplies to the International Space Station (no mention of commercial crew supply).
"The decision is not going to make anyone gasp," said a White House source.

issman1
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posted 12-17-2009 11:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So it's a continuation of Constellation at a even more pedestrian pace. Just as I suspected.

Jay Chladek
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posted 12-17-2009 11:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ooooooh boy. Lets see, scrap Ares 1 when they've had a successful proof of concept flight and tested some hardware (with additional hardware in the development stage, construction and testing) and is potentially capable of getting back on target with a $3 billion funding increase while opting to instead back a vehicle that is now a paper project and this includes a one billion budget increase over one year? Right, great idea. Of course, what isn't said is that the as yet unbuilt paper project vehicle will probably go over its projected budget, have its own development problems and more then likely won't be ready to fly in 2018 anyway. Nice.

Of course, one thing I will also make mention of is how this might affect not necessarily the Alabama economy but also Florida's space coast. A very extended gap in manned spaceflight (eight years?!?!) is going to be not so good for the tourist dollars to the region as I see it. Sure you've got places like Cocoa Beach and Meritt Island which get tourism dollars from spring break. But I have a feeling some of those towns that subsist on additional tourism dollars provided by space launches might be seeing red in just a couple years.

I suppose if shuttle is extended it might help ease things a little, but that approach has its own risks.

I expect when this plan goes public that it is going to have a very public battle in Congress. I just hope there is a space program left when the dust settles.

DChudwin
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posted 12-18-2009 07:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am happy to hear that a new heavy lift launcher (HLV) may be in the works. Whether we go back to the Moon, to an asteroid or to the Martian moons, we still need the capability of putting large tonnage in orbit. A heavy lift vehicle is the key to getting out of low earth orbit.

With sufficient funds, it would make sense to do both Ares 1 and an HLV. However, if the choice is one or the other, it is clearly best for the future of space exploration to do the HLV.

If much of the HLV work is done at Marshall, why should Sen. Shelby be so outraged? He is a perfect example of a senator putting parochial interest ahead of the national interest.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-18-2009 09:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wayne Hale, NASA's Deputy Associate Administrator for Strategic Partnerships, tweeted this morning:
Wondering if reports on Obama-Bolden meeting are accurate or just blather. No hard news has appeared.
To which Bob Jacobs, NASA's deputy assistant administrator of Public Affairs, responded moments later:
Inaccurate. The meeting was informational, not decisional...

issman1
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posted 12-18-2009 09:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by DChudwin:
If much of the HLV work is done at Marshall, why should Sen. Shelby be so outraged? He is a perfect example of a senator putting parochial interest ahead of the national interest.
It's not just Shelby. There is also STS-134 commander Mark Kelly's politician wife and the other usual suspects on Capitol Hill who want the status quo preserved, ie. ATK and its Ares 1. In many ways it mirrors the ongoing health care debate in the US. Too many interests spoiling the broth so to speak! I hope the new HLV, whatever it is and whoever gets the contract, does the job as required. Not "Apollo on steroids" but on Viagra(!)

Jay Chladek
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posted 12-18-2009 06:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What worries me so much is not necessarily the cost of going with a new HLV, but rather the cost of scrapping Ares 1 at this point. You've got an MLP undergoing construction right now, work being done on the 5 segment SRMs and as I said, a flight that helped to prove the configuration can at least fly. Granted Pad 39B hasn't undergone total demolishion yet, but work is starting and contracts are being awarded for that.

It just seems crazy to want to pull an about face right now when things are trending positive and the testing is in work. If it is true NASA will only get 1 billion more out of the 3 they need for Ares 1 and to make a new booster by 2018 (which based on past performance of similar contracts will probably get hit with a two year delay if the budget is still a shoestring), then to me that doesn't seem like a smart decision at all, just the cheap one.

As for the Senator's beef, it probably isn't the NASA side of things, but rather the contractor and worker side. If work continues on Ares 1, then workers to the Alabama area will potentially increase and help the economy sooner. If the new booster comes along, then there will probably be at least another 3 years of design study with no hardware built and the talent pool in the state will likely leave for greener pastures elsewhere. It isn't so much about the money or the jobs, but WHEN you can get them.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-18-2009 06:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The consensus 24 hours after the ScienceInsider report was first published seems to be that it was not accurate; that at best, this was a trial balloon but as noted by Bob Jacobs earlier, Bolden's meeting with the President did not result in a decision.

Spaceflight Now: White House says no decision yet on NASA's future

White House officials say President Obama has not yet made a decision on the fate of NASA's moon program, two days after an Oval Office meeting with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

...NASA and White House officials claim such reports [as in the ScienceInsider] are mere speculation, but they are providing no information on when a decision could be announced.

Mercury7
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posted 12-20-2009 05:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mercury7   Click Here to Email Mercury7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was hoping it was not speculation, I have long thought funding the Falcon for a manned rating was a good idea and for NASA to instead concentrate on the Ares V. I thought the interesting part of the story that made it seem false was the outsourcing of the Altair lander to foreigners. That part just did not seem right, however I do expect Obama to try to involve most of our ISS partners in the moon mission in some way.

Bottom line is I am glad to see some positive speculation. Gibbs comments among others indicate probable support for the moon mission... I know I am connecting dots but I sure hope I am right.

Mercury7
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posted 12-21-2009 04:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mercury7   Click Here to Email Mercury7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
More and more news agencies are reporting the story as fact today, I think it is getting to be pretty obvious that this was leaked even if it was just to test the waters. Great news, we are going to the moon... maybe.

drjeffbang
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posted 12-22-2009 01:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for drjeffbang   Click Here to Email drjeffbang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ares I canceled? What say you insiders?

Editor's note: Threads merged

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posted 12-27-2009 11:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mercury7   Click Here to Email Mercury7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is sad that this story just died after the initial interest. I wish we had at least one reporter at the White House press briefings that made Gibbs say something on a weekly basis. If we did then I bet the decision would have been made a little faster.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-27-2009 11:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There would be little to be gained by pushing the White House press secretary for details when both NASA and the White House made it clear to reporters that the President would not speak on the issue until closer to the February budget rollout.

That a (perhaps purposely) poorly-sourced rumor stirred up the headlines for a few days didn't alter the Administration's position. The story didn't die because of lack of interest; it died because it was demonstrated to be wrong.

issman1
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posted 12-28-2009 10:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One need not rely on facts until they are confirmed or denied by Obama's spokesman. There are stories on the web (on fringe sites admittedly) from early 2008 which suggest that the Constellation plan, as put forth by former US president Bush, was being amended prior to the last presidential election. Now if that's true (and whose to say it is or isn't?), then the Augustine Panel was preordained. Furthermore, among the destinations suggested in '08 were several Near Earth asteroids and the moon Phobos. Weren't these among the recommendations made by Augustine? It does make one sceptical about the credibility of news reporting these days. But we must remain optimistic.

Fra Mauro
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posted 12-29-2009 12:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's comforting to see that the President seems to be leaning towards a meaningful manned spaceflight option for NASA. However, one big obstacle remains besides the funding, the Speaker of the House says she is not a big fan of manned exploration. Odd, esp. since her state would benefit from the jobs.

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posted 12-31-2009 04:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mercury7   Click Here to Email Mercury7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nothing really new here but nice overview of what's going on by USA today...

Obama set to launch vision for NASA

President Obama will chart a course for NASA within weeks, based on the advice of a handful of key advisers in the administration and Congress.

Obama, who met Dec. 16 with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, hasn't said when or how he'll announce his new policy.

The announcement likely will come by the time the president releases his fiscal 2011 budget in early February, because he must decide how much money the space agency should get...

cspg
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posted 12-31-2009 09:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm more intrigued about what will happen before and after next year's mid-term elections. If NASA gets more funding, will the budget pass for 2011? If Congress changes hands (it's Democrat now, right?), is there a strong bipartisan support for NASA? Hard to tell from this side of the pond.

issman1
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posted 12-31-2009 11:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's a valid point, but also depends on what course Obama sets for NASA. Right now, I'll take a return to the Moon - anything to get the human spaceflight programme out of LEO, post-ISS. I'd rather we went to Mars, but that clearly is unlikely. Having said that, US politics right now is as bitter as ever and the voting public acutely fickle.

capoetc
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posted 12-31-2009 03:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
...US politics right now is as bitter as ever and the voting public acutely fickle.
Unlike the voting public in the UK...

issman1
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posted 01-01-2010 02:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well that's true. But since we're discussing US human spaceflight, the UK will be a minor partner in whatever Obama announces. Although the government over here did say a new space agency would be created, it will do nothing on the scale of NASA. Or even Virgin Galactic, sad to say.


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