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Author Topic:   Review of US Human Space Flight (Augustine)
Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-07-2009 12:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Office of Science and Technology Policy release
U.S. Announces Review Of Human Space Flight Plans

Independent Blue-Ribbon Panel Will Delineate Options

The Obama Administration today announced the launch of an independent review of planned U.S. human space flight activities with the goal of ensuring that the nation is on a vigorous and sustainable path to achieving its boldest aspirations in space. The review will be conducted by a blue-ribbon panel of experts led by Norman Augustine, the former CEO of Lockheed Martin, who served on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology under Democratic and Republican presidents and led the 1990 Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program and the 2007 National Academies commission that produced the landmark report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, as well as a number of other high-profile national commissions.

The "Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans" is to examine ongoing and planned National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) development activities, as well as potential alternatives, and present options for advancing a safe, innovative, affordable, and sustainable human space flight program in the years following Space Shuttle retirement. The panel will work closely with NASA and will seek input from Congress, the White House, the public, industry, and international partners as it develops its options. It is to present its results in time to support an Administration decision on the way forward by August 2009.

"President Obama recognizes the important role that NASA's human space flight programs play in advancing scientific discovery, technological innovation, economic strength and international leadership," said John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. "The President's goal is to ensure that these programs remain on a strong and stable footing well into the 21st Century, and this review will be crucial to meeting that goal."

In a letter to Acting NASA Administrator Christopher Scolese asking him to undertake the review, Holdren noted that it is prudent for the new Administration to obtain a fresh assessment of America's human space flight program given its scale and scope -- and especially given its importance for scientific and technological innovation and discovery.

Scolese expressed confidence that the review would serve the nation, NASA, and its employees well. "The thousands of workers who have given so much over the years to bring human space flight to where it is today deserve nothing less than a full assurance that their commitment will be applied in the smartest and most practical ways," Scolese said. "I appreciate the strong support that the President and Dr. Holdren have for NASA's programs -- including our human space flight program -- and I look forward to working with Norm, the panel, and the Administration to ensure that NASA remains on the best path as it moves forward."

Scolese emphasized that work on Constellation will continue while the review is underway and that workforce issues will be an important factor assessed by the panel as it considers various options.

The review panel will assess a number of architecture options, taking into account such objectives as: 1) expediting a new U.S. capability to support use of the International Space Station; 2) supporting missions to the Moon and other destinations beyond low Earth orbit; 3) stimulating commercial space flight capabilities; and 4) fitting within the current budget profile for NASA exploration activities. Among the parameters to be considered in the course of its review are crew and mission safety, life-cycle costs, development time, national space industrial base impacts, potential to spur innovation and encourage competition, and the implications and impacts of transitioning from current human space flight systems. The review will consider the appropriate amounts of R&D and complementary robotic activity necessary to support various human space flight activities, as well as the capabilities that are likely to be enabled by each of the potential architectures under consideration. It will also explore options for extending International Space Station operations beyond 2016.

Members of the panel are to be named soon.

"It is an honor to be asked to lead this important human space flight review, and I am excited about working with my fellow panel members to examine these difficult, complex, and pressing questions," said Augustine, a former aerospace industry executive who is a recipient of the National Medal of Technology, the Joint Chiefs of Staff Distinguished Public Service Award, the Department of Defense's Civilian Distinguished Service Medal, and has served as chairman of the American Red Cross and President of the Boy Scouts of America.

"I am a believer in the value of this nation's human space flight activities," Augustine said. "And we will do everything we can to provide the information needed to help the country maintain the spectacular arc of progress that NASA has fueled for five decades."

DChudwin
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posted 05-07-2009 02:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A copy of the letter from Dr. Holdren to NASA Acting Administrator Chris Scolese establishing the review panel can be found on the OSTP website.

jimsz
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Associated Press: White House orders review of NASA space plans
The White House has ordered a complete outside review of NASA's manned space program, including plans to return astronauts to the moon.

Officials want a report from an independent panel by August. White House science adviser John Holdren said Thursday that the new panel will look at the design of new spacecraft to replace the space shuttle and go to the moon, as well as consider possible alternatives to the current design.

Holdren said it will also examine the five-year gap between the shuttle's retirement and the new moon vehicles, with the first new space capsule flying in 2015. During that time, starting in late 2010, NASA would have to rely on the Russians for space travel. The review will look at extending NASA's use of the multibillion-dollar international space station beyond 2016.

Editor's note: Post edited to restore original AP headline, and direct wire link

Robert Pearlman
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Orlando Sentinel: Here's the names of most of the Augustine Commission
...here's the names of eight members we've been able to nail down:
  • Christopher Chyba - Professor of Astrophysical Sciences and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University.

  • Sally Ride - Physicist and a former NASA astronaut

  • Lester Lyles - Retired Air Force General

  • Edward Crawley - Ford Professor of Engineering at MIT, and a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and of Engineering Systems.

  • Bohdan "Bo" Bejmuk - engineer and executive at Boeing Co. and one-time executive at Sea Launch

  • Jeff Greason - President, CEO and founder of XCOR Aerospace and the Personal Spaceflight Federation.

  • Wanda Austin -- President and CEO of The Aerospace Corp.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-01-2009 01:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Announces Members of Human Space Flight Review Committee

NASA announced Monday the members of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee. They are:

  • Norman Augustine (chair), retired chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corp., and former member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush

  • Dr. Wanda Austin, president and CEO, The Aerospace Corp.

  • Bohdan Bejmuk, chair, Constellation program Standing Review Board, and former manager of the Boeing Space Shuttle and Sea Launch programs

  • Dr. Leroy Chiao, former astronaut, former International Space Station commander and engineering consultant

  • Dr. Christopher Chyba, professor of Astrophysical Sciences and International Affairs, Princeton University, and member, President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

  • Dr. Edward Crawley, Ford Professor of Engineering at MIT and co-chair, NASA Exploration Technology Development Program Review Committee

  • Jeffrey Greason, co-founder and CEO, XCOR Aerospace, and vice-chair, Personal Spaceflight Federation

  • Dr. Charles Kennel, chair, National Academies Space Studies Board, and director and professor emeritus, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego

  • Retired Air Force Gen. Lester Lyles, chair, National Academies Committee on the Rationale and Goals of the U.S. Civil Space Program, former Air Force vice chief of staff and former commander of the Air Force Materiel Command

  • Dr. Sally Ride, former astronaut, first American woman in space, CEO of Sally Ride Science and professor emerita at the University of California, San Diego
Norman Augustine will chair the independent review of U.S. human space flight plans. During the course of the review, the panel will examine ongoing and planned NASA development activities and potential alternatives in order to present options for advancing a safe, innovative, affordable and sustainable human space flight program following the space shuttle's retirement. The committee will present its results in time to support an administration decision on the way forward by August 2009.

"I look forward to working with the members of the committee to assist in defining the future U.S. human space flight program," Augustine said. "The members offer a broad spectrum of professional backgrounds, and we are all committed to offering sensible proposals that will serve the White House and NASA in their deliberations."

Dr. W. Michael Hawes is leading the NASA review team that will provide technical and analytic support to the committee. Hawes is NASA's associate administrator for program analysis and evaluation. Philip McAlister is the executive director of the committee and the designated federal official.

The committee will hold several public meetings at different U.S. locations. The first public meeting will take place June 17 from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. EDT at the Carnegie Institution, located at 1530 P Street NW in Washington. Topics on the agenda for the meeting include previous studies about U.S. human space flight; national space policy; international cooperation; evolved expendable launch vehicles; commercial human space flight capabilities; and exploration technology planning.

The Federal Register published a notice May 15 officially announcing NASA's establishment of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee. The committee will operate according to the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

NASA Acting Administrator Chris Scolese signed the charter for the committee Monday, enabling it to begin operations.

Robert Pearlman
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NASA release
NASA Launches Human Space Flight Review Web Site for Public Use

NASA is inviting the public to make its voice heard as a panel of experts undertakes an independent review of planned U.S. human space flight activities.

NASA has created a Web site for the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee to facilitate a two-way conversation with the public about the future direction of the agency's space flight programs. In addition to providing documents and information, the site will allow the public to track committee activities, receive regular updates and provide input through Web 2.0 tools such as Twitter, Flickr, user-submitted questions, polls and RSS feeds. Additional features and content may be added as the committee’s activities continue.

"The human space flight program belongs to everyone," committee chairman Norman Augustine said. "Our committee would hope to benefit from the views of all who would care to contact us."

Anyone may use the Web site to submit questions, upload documents or comment about topics relevant to the committee’s operations. The committee will conduct public meetings during the course of the review. The first will be held June 17 in Washington, D.C. An agenda for this meeting will be announced soon. Time will be set aside for public questions and comments to the committee members. No registration is required to attend.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-16-2009 12:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
Agenda Released for U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Meeting

The first public meeting of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 17, at the Carnegie Institute, located at 1530 P Street NW in Washington. The meeting will take place in the auditorium and is open to the public. No pre-registration is required.

The planned agenda is below. All times are EDT.

  • 9 a.m.: Introduction and opening remarks
  • 9:20 a.m.: Summary of past studies
  • 9:30 a.m.: NASA's Constellation Program
  • 10 a.m.: International Space Station partner discussions (European Space Agency and Roscosmos)
  • 11 a.m.: Authorization bills and congressional perspective
  • Noon: Public comment period
  • 12:30 p.m.: Lunch break
  • 1 p.m.: Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle considerations
  • 2 p.m.: Other commercial launch capabilities
    • NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Program
    • SpaceX COTS program status
    • Orbital COTS program status
    • International Space Station commercial resupply services process and status
  • 3:30 p.m.: Alternative architectures
    • Direct
    • Space shuttle side-mount options
  • 4:30 p.m.: Public comment period
  • 5 p.m.: Meeting adjourned
Following the meeting, committee chairman Norman Augustine will answer questions from the news media from approximately 5:05 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. NASA Television will carry the meeting and news conference live on the agency's media channel. Both events also can be viewed on the agency's Web site.

Viewers also can watch and participate in the meeting online via Ustream.

FFrench
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posted 06-16-2009 04:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not that anything much should be read into her response, as the context is a (very astute) child asking about future NASA plans, but here is commission member Sally Ride giving an overview of US human space flight plans at the San Diego Air & Space Museum this weekend, with a mention of the commission at the end.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-24-2009 01:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
Human Space Flight Review Committee Announces Meeting Agendas

The Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee will hold public meetings July 28, 29, 30, Aug. 5 and 12. The meetings are open to news media representatives. No registration is required, but seating is limited to the location's capacity. Agenda times are approximate and subject to change.

The first meeting will be July 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT at the South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center, 2500 South Shore Blvd. in League City, Texas.

    The agenda is:
  • 10 a.m.: Committee chairman Norm Augustine opening remarks
  • 10:30 a.m.: Mike Coats, director, NASA's Johnson Space Center
  • 11 a.m.: Congressional perspective (presenters TBD)
  • Noon: Lunch break
  • 12:30 p.m.: NASA Constellation projects managed at Johnson
  • 1:30 p.m.: International Space Station/space shuttle subgroup (Sally Ride, moderator)
  • 3:30 - 4: p.m.: Public comment period
The second session will be July 29 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT at the Davidson/U.S. Space and Rocket Center, 1 Tranquility Base, in Huntsville, Ala.
    The agenda is:
  • 8 a.m.: Robert Lightfoot, director, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
  • 8:30 a.m.: Low Earth Orbit Access subgroup briefing (Bo Bejmuk, moderator)
  • 10 a.m.: NASA Constellation projects managed at Marshall
  • 11 a.m.: Congressional perspective (presenters TBD)
  • Noon: Lunch break
  • 1 p.m.: NASA Constellation projects continued
  • 2 p.m.: Integration subgroup briefing (Lester Lyles, moderator)
  • 3:30 - 4 p.m.: Public comment period
The third public session will be July 30 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT at the Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront Grand Ballroom, 1550 North Atlantic Ave., in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
    The agenda is:
  • 8 a.m.: Bob Cabana, director, NASA's Kennedy Space Center
  • 8:30 a.m.: Exploration Beyond Low Earth Orbit subgroup (Ed Crawley, moderator)
  • 11 a.m.: Congressional perspective (presenters TBD)
  • Noon: Lunch break
  • 1 p.m.: NASA Constellation projects managed at Kennedy
  • 2:30 p.m.: Public comment period
  • 3 - 4 p.m.: Committee public deliberations
Following each meeting, committee chairman Norman Augustine will be available to answer questions from reporters. NASA Television will carry the meetings and news conferences live on the agency's media channel. The events also can be viewed on NASA's Web site.

The committee is planning two public meetings in Washington on Aug. 5 and 12. The Aug. 5 meeting is planned from 8 a.m. to noon EDT at the Carnegie Institution for Science, 1530 P St. NW.

The Aug. 12 session is expected to be the committee's final public meeting. It is planned from 1 to 5 p.m. EDT at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Agendas will be released when finalized.

LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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posted 07-29-2009 09:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The LEO Sub Team is currently reporting out to the Augustine Commission - can be watched lived on NASA TV Media Channel.

Apollo Redux
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posted 07-29-2009 05:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo Redux   Click Here to Email Apollo Redux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Quite a body to report what everyone and their Mother already knows - 'No bucks, no Buck Rogers!'

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-05-2009 07:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SPACE.com: Presidential Panel Narrows Options for NASA's Future
A White House panel tasked with reevaluating NASA's plans for future space exploration has begun culling a list of potential options - one that ranges from staying the current course to taking direct aim at sending humans to Mars.

The 10-member committee overseeing the Review for U.S. Human Space Flight Plans has trimmed a larger list of 3,000 options down to about seven general scenarios, which it plans to cull even further before presenting them to President Barack Obama later this month.

The article details the seven options:
  1. NASA Baseline Plan
  2. Space Station Focused
  3. Dash Out of Low Earth Orbit
  4. More Directly-Shuttle Derived System
  5. Deep Space
  6. Lunar Global
  7. Mars Direct

issman1
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In my own humble opinion, it has to be Mars Direct. But I fear what will happen is an extension of the Shuttle programme and a drawn-out attempt to return NASA astronauts to the Moon. Will it even happen in my lifetime (I'm not even 40 yet)?

divemaster
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posted 08-07-2009 10:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for divemaster   Click Here to Email divemaster     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Read Walt Cunningham's impression of all of this from his Op-Ed piece that appeared in the August 1st issue of the Houston Chronicle. Visit Walt's "Personal Views".

DChudwin
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posted 08-08-2009 07:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The committee documents from the latest meeting are online, and the outline of possible manned programs for NASA gives some idea of the range of possibilities.

The texts of all the presenters at the August 5 meeting can be found here.

DCCollector
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posted 08-12-2009 06:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DCCollector   Click Here to Email DCCollector     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My office is across the street from the Reagan building and I was able to get over to the Committee's meeting for about 45 minutes this afternoon. I enjoyed a (somewhat disheartening) presentation by Sally Ride about how to fit the various NASA plans and programs within really tight budget constraints.

I also noticed that Buzz Aldrin was sitting in the audience. I was not able to stay to see if Buzz had a chance to speak but wondered if anyone else had a chance to hear if Buzz weighed in with the Committee.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-12-2009 06:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The committee did not entertain outside commentary or testimony today. The meeting was devoted entirely to their deliberations, wherein they narrowed the options they will recommend from 16 to 17 choices down to four basic options with baseline models for comparison.

The major decision of the day seemed to be that all their options, whether it be to fly to deep space or not, go to the Moon or not, will be undertaken with the ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars.

However Mars itself, will not be an option (the so-called Mars Direct). The committee felt that we did not know yet how to do Mars "properly" and in the time afforded them, they were ill equipped to come up with such a plan. Therefore, they agreed that Mars should be the ultimate goal, but outside the budgeted activities for the next 15 to 20 years.

Among the four options (two that take us to the Moon, two that take us into deep space, e.g. L1 and the asteroids), there are four vehicle architectures from which the President and NASA Adminstrator might choose: Ares I/Ares V, Ares V Lite/Ares V, EELV and space shuttle-derived. Each had benefits above the others (budget, timeline, lifting capability and the best equipped to support an in-space fueling depot).

All four options recommended flying shuttle out to March 2011 (to be realistic about the current manifest), most recommended flying ISS out to 2020, all recommended limiting U.S. human access to low Earth orbit by way of a commercially supplied (COTS) vehicle and all but one included the addition of a substantially-funded technology program devoted to developing the knowledge we need to go to Mars.

With regards to COTS-D (commercial crew launch services), the committee said they wanted it competed not just among SpaceX and Orbital, but also the large aerospace companies. They all said that if a shuttle-derived option was the chosen architecture, it should not be man-rated, meaning that if and when it should launch Orion, it would go unmanned and then meet up with a crew launched by COTS once in orbit.

DChudwin
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posted 08-12-2009 09:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Newspaper accounts of the August 12 meeting paint a grim picture of the future of the space program unless there are budget increases. The current $18 billion NASA budget is insufficient to get us back to the Moon or anywhere else beyond low earth orbit. "No bucks, no Buck Rogers," as the saying goes.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-12-2009 09:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With all due respect to my fellow reporters, I think they largely missed the point of today's meeting. As I tweeted this evening:
Blue-ribbon committee suggests increase NASA budget & group programs under umbrella of humans on Mars and people find that view "grim". Hmm.
If the Administration had no intention of entertaining the idea of increasing NASA's budget, it could have easily restricted the committee to only suggest options that fall under the current "guidance". Why publicly float ideas only to then unilaterally turn them down?

capoetc
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posted 08-13-2009 05:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Why publicly float ideas only to then unilaterally turn them down?
Happens all the time in Washington.

Fly it up the flagpole, see if anyone salutes... if they don't, its easy to say, "Well, we weren't really planning to do that anyway...".

issman1
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It's becoming depressing... The best the world can hope for is that Obama extends the life of ISS until 2020. NASA astronauts can ride Soyuz there and back until Orion is ready - in whatever incarnation it comes. Not wishing to be political, but shouldn't the hand of friendship now be extended to China for ISS involvement?

DChudwin
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posted 08-16-2009 10:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the Orlando Sentinel: Obama faced with manned-space dilemma
Shaping the future of America's space program began Friday, when members of the committee presented their preliminary findings to NASA chief Charlie Bolden and White House officials. Initial reports indicated the group agreed to retire the space shuttle in 2011, extend the space station until 2020 and use more commercial rockets. They also liked the idea of exploring deep space -- rather than landing on the moon.

On Wednesday, the panel said that Constellation, NASA's current back-to-the-moon program, is running $50 billion over the current budget through 2020. But the alternatives presented Friday are almost as expensive, requiring $20-to-$30 billion more than the current budget through 2020.

Fra Mauro
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posted 08-23-2009 12:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sometimes I wonder if this commission was really created to kill virtually all of NASA's manned program. From what I have read, if you get private companies to ferry crews up and down from the ISS (like the commission might propose), then why the need for Orion? Sadly, this country has more of a fire to watch reality TV than to explore space. And we space enthusiasts will just sigh....

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-23-2009 12:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Orion is still needed for exploration missions. The proposed commercial manned spacecraft would not be used to leave Earth orbit.

All the options being put forth for the president include flying beyond Earth orbit.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-30-2009 10:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As has now been made public, the commission's report will be delayed until late September, though the briefings scheduled for mid-September with the President and Congress may go forward as scheduled, with the report being delivered later.

413 is in
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I'm just scratching my head on this one. Let's hold some hearings now and maybe look at the data later. Is this kind of approach really the proper way forward?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-31-2009 06:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Per the Orlando Sentinel, a draft of the commission's executive summary will be delivered to the White House and NASA within the next 36 hours (if it hasn't been already).

The final report will follow in mid-September.

Planned/rumored Congressional hearings are reportedly in a holding pattern.

That all aside, if you watch the last few public committee meetings, then you should already have a relatively good grasp what the final report will include by way of options forward.

Delta7
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posted 08-31-2009 06:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Where does participation with international partners figure into all of this? Is the commission's analysis based solely on a U.S. program, or is the notion international participation and financial support being considered?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-31-2009 06:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The commission met with and heard from representatives of other nation's space programs and I believe during several of the public meetings, it was suggested that the groundwork laid by the International Space Station program should be carried forward to exploration missions.

Delta7
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posted 08-31-2009 07:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In my opinion, international participation is the only practical way to go. It makes sense to pool our resources, and even those who aren't impressed or inspired by space exploration and exploitation can point to the unifying effect it has among the participating nations. Let's propose a true global project and bring in as many nations as practical, including China and India. No single nation has the will and public support necessary to go it alone, financially speaking. The one possible exception is China, where public opinion is largely irrelevant. And sitting on our collective thumbs while China becomes the premier space-faring nation will lead to a "Sputnik" moment when we wake up one day and China has launched humans to the moon or Mars.

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posted 08-31-2009 08:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Geopolitical relationships are dynamic. The US needs to retain an ability to independently service national security interests in Space. Exclusive reliance upon international participation has some economic benefits but they are rapidly offset by loss in operational flexibility that result from co-dependency and competing objectives.

Delta7
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From: Ossian IN USA
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posted 08-31-2009 09:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All true, but there's the old saying "beggars can't be choosers." I'd rather see an international crew live in a lunar base and make the first landing on Mars, than watch it on a live feed from Beijing TV. Or not seeing either of those at all during my lifetime.

When I was a kid watching the Apollo missions, I took it for 100% granted that I would live to see men walk on Mars before I turned 40, and that I could possibly even be one of them. The now very real possibility that I won't live to see it, even if I live to collect social security and then some, is really disheartening. And I don't see us doing it or anything comparable on our own over the next several decades. The public support for paying for it just isn't there. International cooperation is the only hope and reasonable expectation in my opinion.

Aztecdoug
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posted 08-31-2009 09:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
...it was suggested that the groundwork laid by the International Space Station program should be carried forward to exploration missions.
I fear this may lead to buying Russian built space systems and seats on Russian built spacecraft. Basically outsourcing everything. The US is already sliding down the proverbial slippery slope.

I guess we can hope for change so that things don't turn out that way.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-31-2009 10:35 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 Aztecdoug:
Basically outsourcing everything.
The commission seemed to favor outsourcing all human transport to low earth orbit; not to foreign nations but to domestic commercial suppliers brought about by a $2.5 billion contract.

capoetc
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From: Newnan GA (USA)
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posted 09-01-2009 04:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LCDR Scott Schneeweis:
Geopolitical relationships are dynamic. The US needs to retain an ability to independently service national security interests in Space.
I couldn't agree more. US national security interests must come first.

Now, that doesn't mean we can't also pursue additional means for access to space. I am not thrilled about large international partnerships in space, however. Ultimately, they have high potential to be held hostage to geopolitical interests, and the likelihood of reaching a "consensus vision" on what goals to achieve in space is not very high.

In my opinon, the President needs to articulate his vision for human spaceflight, and then fund it appropriately. We currently seem to be working the problem backwards -- start with the funding (which obviously must be considered), and then work backwards toward an "affordable vision".

------------------
John Capobianco
Camden DE

collocation
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posted 09-01-2009 08:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for collocation   Click Here to Email collocation     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From today's Washington Post: Spaced Out
So it is little wonder that the Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee has been expressing concern. If the committee's public comments are any indication, its findings will be grim: NASA's recent budget cuts render the current manned mission plan impossible. This is not the first time NASA's plans have suffered from lack of fiscal foresight: Once the international space station is completed next year, the current budget calls for deorbiting it by 2016. Maybe it's time to take a step back to assess the right role for a manned space program that requires billions of dollars annually -- and for what? Certainly, boldly going where no man has gone before is an American creed. But with the advent of increasingly complex and precise instruments, science in space requires less and less input from astronauts. Groundbreaking research can occur without humans -- witness the Mars Rover and Hubble telescope. NASA should not have to sacrifice programs that are truly ground-breaking -- researching dark matter, black holes and gravitational fields of space objects -- to keep the international space station manned and supplied.

Now that the station is nearly complete, this might be an optimal time to open space to entrepreneurs. Many companies claim they possess the capacity to transport humans and payloads into space; the review committee found their reports convincing enough to suggest that these space entrepreneurs could take over the transport of astronauts and supplies to the space station after the shuttle program ends.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-08-2009 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The summary report (PDF) of the U.S. Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee has been released. It is worthwhile to read the entire 12-page document but here is their summary of key findings:
The Committee summarizes its key findings below. Additional findings are included in the body of the report.

The right mission and the right size: NASA’s budget should match its mission and goals. Further, NASA should be given the ability to shape its organization and infrastructure accordingly, while maintaining facilities deemed to be of national importance.

International partnerships: The U.S. can lead a bold new international effort in the human exploration of space. If international partners are actively engaged, including on the “critical path” to success, there could be substantial benefits to foreign relations, and more resources overall could become available.

Short-term Space Shuttle planning: The current Shuttle manifest should be flown in a safe and prudent manner. The current manifest will likely extend to the second quarter of FY 2011. It is important to budget for this likelihood.

The human-spaceflight gap: Under current conditions, the gap in U.S. ability to launch astronauts into space will stretch to at least seven years. The Committee did not identify any credible approach employing new capabilities that could shorten the gap to less than six years. The only way to significantly close the gap is to extend the life of the Shuttle Program.

Extending the International Space Station: The return on investment to both the United States and our international partners would be significantly enhanced by an extension of ISS life. Not to extend its operation would significantly impair U.S. ability to develop and lead future international spaceflight partnerships.

Heavy-lift: A heavy-lift launch capability to low-Earth orbit, combined with the ability to inject heavy payloads away from the Earth, is beneficial to exploration, and it also will be useful to the national security space and scientific communities. The Committee reviewed: the Ares family of launchers; more directly Shuttle-derived vehicles; and launchers derived from the EELV family. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages, trading capability, lifecycle costs, operational complexity and the “way of doing business” within the program and NASA.

Commercial crew launch to low-Earth orbit: Commercial services to deliver crew to low-Earth orbit are within reach. While this presents some risk, it could provide an earlier capability at lower initial and lifecycle costs than government could achieve. A new competition with adequate incentives should be open to all U.S. aerospace companies. This would allow NASA to focus on more challenging roles, including human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, based on the continued development of the current or modified Orion spacecraft.

Technology development for exploration and commercial space: Investment in a well-designed and adequately funded space technology program is critical to enable progress in exploration. Exploration strategies can proceed more readily and economically if the requisite technology has been developed in advance. This investment will also benefit robotic exploration, the U.S. commercial space industry and other U.S. government users.

Pathways to Mars: Mars is the ultimate destination for human exploration; but it is not the best first destination. Both visiting the Moon First and following the Flexible Path are viable exploration strategies. The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive; before traveling to Mars, we might be well served to both extend our presence in free space and gain experience working on the lunar surface.

Options for the Human Spaceflight Program: The Committee developed five alternatives for the Human Spaceflight Program. It found:
  • Human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit is not viable under the FY 2010 budget guideline.
  • Meaningful human exploration is possible under a less constrained budget, ramping to approximately $3 billion per year above the FY 2010 guidance in total resources.
  • Funding at the increased level would allow either an exploration program to explore Moon First or one that follows a Flexible Path of exploration. Either could produce results in a reasonable timeframe.

Fra Mauro
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From: Maspeth, NY
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posted 09-08-2009 11:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Let's face it, the glory days for U.S. manned space flight are over. The President should be bold and take efforts to repeal the Space Act of 1958. The public by and large would not care. I would rather see the program end than to let it bleed a slow death and become an agency that is going nowhere. While it saddens me to say this, just like every athlete should retire gracefully, then NASA should too, especially if the country doesn't believe in it anymore.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 09-08-2009 11:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems awfully premature to start declaring what will be decided, especially less than a day after a summary (not even the full report) has been released.

I might see some reason to be so fatalistic if the summary suggested insurmountable engineering challenges or completely unrealistic mission profiles, but it does not: the primary hurdle is funding and the levels proposed are not outside reason.

If you are concerned, then do something: write your politician, contribute to grassroots campaigns and promote the benefits of space exploration in your community. There will be time for epitaphs after the decisions have been made.

Fra Mauro
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From: Maspeth, NY
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posted 09-09-2009 12:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I do all those things. I also teach a class on the space program in my high school. Do you really believe that let's say, the President makes it a natioanl goal to return to the Moon by, 2025, that the nation will sustain it? It's taken us almost 40 years after the last moon landing to even think about going past Earth orbit.


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