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  Human Space Flight Capability Assurance and Enhancement Act of 2009

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Author Topic:   Human Space Flight Capability Assurance and Enhancement Act of 2009
Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-03-2010 04:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation release
Hutchison Introduces Bill to Close Gap in U.S. Spaceflight

Keep Shuttle Operational or U.S. Forced to Rely on Russia, China to Reach Space Station

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today introduced legislation to close the gap in U.S. human space flight that will occur if the space shuttle is retired before the next generation of space vehicle is developed. Senator Hutchison's bill would allow the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to extend the shuttle's service as work continues on the next generation of American space vehicle. Companion legislation is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives next week by Reps. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Florida) and Bill Posey (R-Florida).

"We must close the gap in U.S. human space flight or face the reality that we will be totally dependent on Russia for access to space until the next generation of space vehicle is developed," said Senator Hutchison. "If the space shuttle program is terminated, Russia and China will be the only nations in the world with the capability to launch humans into space. This is unacceptable."

Hutchison said the Obama Administration's budget proposal was "short-sighted and represents the wrong direction for U.S. space policy."

The Administration proposes to retire the shuttle as scheduled while discontinuing years of work on development of a new launch vehicle and provides no short term solution to deliver critical equipment and components to the International Space Station that are essential to extending the life of the station until 2020.

"Not only are we turning our backs on 40 years of American space superiority, we are giving up vital national security and economic interests to other nations. This must not be an 'either or' proposition where we are forced to choose between continuing to fly the shuttle to service the station and maintain our independence in reaching space, or investing in the next generation of space vehicle. We can and must do both. By maintaining our independence from other nations in reaching space, the U.S. can fully realize the research potential of the space station as a national lab," Hutchison said.

The Human Space Flight Capability Assurance and Enhancement Act would:

  • Make shuttle retirement dependent on the availability of replacement capabilities for comparable size crew and cargo delivery, whether government-owned or commercial, (assuming a rate of 2 missions a year), or until it is conclusively demonstrated that the space shuttle cargo capabilities are not needed to ensure space station viability;

  • Require International Space Station (ISS) operations and full utilization through at least 2020, and further establish the ISS National Laboratory operating mechanisms and procedures;

  • Provide for the acceleration of a government-owned human space flight capability to as close to 2015 as possible;

  • Expand support for Commercial Orbital Space Transportation (COTS) to support ISS -- both for cargo and for eventual crew launch capability;

  • Reaffirm long-term goal of moving beyond low-Earth orbit whether to the Moon, Mars or alternative destinations;

  • Provide for the near-term evaluation of heavy-lift rocket launcher design options, including shuttle-derived options, to enable the expansion beyond low-earth orbit and accelerate the start of vehicle design activity; and

  • Authorize top-level funding for all of NASA's mission activities, but would only address the human space flight policy issues.

SpaceAholic
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From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
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posted 03-03-2010 05:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A working draft of the bill can be reviewed here.

chet
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posted 03-03-2010 08:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hate to say it but if this bill even gets that far I'd expect a presidential veto.

Fra Mauro
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posted 03-04-2010 09:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maybe but if it is passed by the Deocratic controlled Congress, the President may compromise. Esp. with healthcare on the agenda, he can't fight a knock-down political battle on every issue. He may trade "space" for votes on other issues. At least there is some hope here.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-04-2010 10:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As pointed out by NASA Watch and posted to NASASpaceflight.com by Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee staffer Jeff Bingham, the purpose of this bill is to begin talk of a compromise.
At this stage you have "camps" at the extreme edges of "PoR" or bust and "Bold New Idea" with many of the influential folks and key players taking those positions--now. But when it becomes clear, as I believe it will, that neither of those are going to be sustainable, then a middle ground will be sought. But it has to be articulated as an option, and THAT is the true purpose of this bill.

...The hope is that having a reasonably cohesive, credible alternative "on the table" can provide an eventual rallying point for a path forward, or at the very least a focal point for the serious discussion of what that path should entail.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 03-04-2010 12:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Politics shares NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver's comments from a breakfast this morning regarding extending shuttle:
"The first question I asked when I came back to NASA was, 'Could we extend the shuttle?'" Garver said in response to a question on the subject. "I was told by the entire shuttle NASA folks that, in fact, that time had come and gone. It was not an issue of money at that point, it was an issue of second-tier suppliers, there would be at least a two-year gap between our last flight and the next one, et cetera." That situation, she said, was a result a previous policies: "We inherited what we inherited."

Fra Mauro
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posted 03-04-2010 11:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As long as the powers that be are opposed to any form of Constellation, to me, they are not serious about a manned future for NASA. Congress and the public must take the lead and tell them clearly, that it is not thier space program but the nation's.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
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posted 03-05-2010 12:04 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 Fra Mauro:
...they are not serious about a manned future for NASA.
And therein lies the problem that this bill is trying to address; that you disagree with those who support the President's plan does not make them any less serious about the future of human spaceflight, and vice versa. The sooner everyone realizes that, the sooner we can start working on a path forward for NASA.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 03-05-2010 04:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Said Senator Hutchison:
"If the space shuttle program is terminated, Russia and China will be the only nations in the world with the capability to launch humans into space. This is unacceptable."
This sums up the situation more accurately, I believe...

BNorton
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posted 03-08-2010 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BNorton   Click Here to Email BNorton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While it has been well known by everyone that the shuttle program was coming to an end, what was unknown until February 1st was that the US government is officially getting out of the manned spaceflight business. While the spoofs of political types who are "upset" about the end of the current program are more than appropriate, the true "backlash" is not because of the end of the shuttle program, it is that the end of the shuttle program will be the end of US government manned space flight, with no replacement capability in view, commercial or government owned.

Regardless of the President's spin in mid-April, without additional funding, his remarks about spaceflight will be hollow. No matter what side of the aisle one sits with respect to the plan, the latest review said with certainty that at least $3 billion more per year is required to sustain ANY manned spaceflight program. The small bump in funding proposed will not do it.

I believe the President's apparent lack of any technical background is not serving him well. Many do not agree with the President's plan have their point of view not because of jobs. Some who do agree have web sites with weekly video programs promoting commercial flight so THEY can go to Mars. A nice thought, to be sure, but the result of reading lots of science fiction and watching too much Star Trek. If they cracked a few engineering books and took a couple of business classes, their opinion would most likely be changed. The President's plan, or more accurately, lack thereof, is simply bad for the future of US manned spaceflight: it ends it.

If it is jobs that finally causes Congress to act, then so be it. However, if the seemingly newly converted proponents, such as Ms. Hutchison, do not back up their stated beliefs and/or legislation with serious funding increases for NASA, their words and writings will be as hollow as those of the President.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 03-08-2010 02:48 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 BNorton:
...what was unknown until February 1st was that the US government is officially getting out of the manned spaceflight business.
No, the proposal only calls for the government to get out of the low Earth orbit manned spaceflight launch business. The proposal specifically extends the government's manned spaceflight activities aboard the ISS, and as of Feb. 1, the estimated time lines for initial operating capability (IOC) for both the program of record and the proposed new plan were the same.
quote:
...the latest review said with certainty that at least $3 billion more per year is required to sustain ANY manned spaceflight
No, it said that $3 billion more per year was required to sustain any beyond-Earth orbit manned spaceflight program, assuming you were trying to develop both commercial and government low Earth orbit taxi services at the same time.
quote:
If they cracked a few engineering books and took a couple of business classes, their opinion would most likely be changed.
I think there are quite a few learned engineers and business leaders who would disagree with you.

BNorton
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posted 03-08-2010 08:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BNorton   Click Here to Email BNorton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It looks like we are just going to have to disagree, since we cannot even agree on a basic and clear point: that is, the US is out of the manned spaceflight business. I regret that I am unable to present and "sale" what to me is such an obvious point. Nevertheless I would like to conclude with a few more comments/points.

The US will no longer have the capability to launch humans into low earth orbit at will. They will have to rely on Russia or some other nation to get there. There is no government contract for a new vehicle; there is no existing commercial vehicle. No commercial company has a contract with anyone to build and deliver a vehicle. Also, there is no track record to support any belief that a commercial company can fly a manned spacecraft within the next five years if a contract were awarded. The only thing any company has is "seed money" and the US has the "hope" that some commercial company will step up and build a vehicle for a market that does not exist beyond the US government and a couple of other occasional astronauts.

There is a big difference in being in the airplane business and being a passenger in someone else's airliner. The same is true with manned spacecraft.

Allow me to offer one final example in this thread. There are a number of commercial launch vehicles which service the satellite market, so there is a market. Please consider rocket engine development for these vehicles. Let's review the billions of dollars the US companies have spent developing new engines for these vehicles. Please allow me to list the new rocket engines in which commercial companies have spent a billion dollars or more of their funds in development cost during the last 10 years:

Ok, now let's list the new rocket engines in which US companies have spent a billion dollars or more of their money for development during the last 20 years:

That's right: none. Now, one expects the US manned spacecraft business, which does not exist since no commercial orbital spacecraft has ever been built by anyone anywhere, is going to step up with lots of money and super high risk and fill the void. If one truly has such faith to believe they will, the only other thing I can add is that I truly hope they are right.

As you state, I am sure there are a few of my learned engineer colleagues who will disagree with me. However, I have yet to read of any business leader who finds this - commercial manned spacecraft development - a good opportunity.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-09-2010 07:46 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 BNorton:
Ok, now let's list the new rocket engines in which US companies have spent a billion dollars or more of their money for development during the last 20 years
I'm not sure where it's written that new engines need to cost "a billion dollars or more" but let me point you to several new engines:

BNorton
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posted 03-09-2010 11:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BNorton   Click Here to Email BNorton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
AJ26 [rocket engine] (commercial derivative of the Soviet N-1's NK33 engine)
This is to my point... even where there has been a market, commercial companies do not spend big to develop new hardware. However, the basic premise of the President's commercial manned spacecraft program depends on companies doing exactly that.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-09-2010 12:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
But you have missed my point: there is no rule that companies need to invest billions to develop new hardware when there is a nearly 50 year legacy from which they can draw and expand upon. All three engines I cited are being tested and qualified for commercial human spaceflight (nine of just one of the models are about to test-fired on the launch pad as I write this).

Commercial partners are also looking at using existing "off-the-shelf" engines to launch crews, and the FY2011 budget includes funding for NASA to develop a new hydrocarbon engine for use as the first stage of a NASA-developed heavy-lift vehicle but also available for commercial use.

BNorton
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posted 03-09-2010 01:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BNorton   Click Here to Email BNorton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With all due respect, you continue to "make my case" for me. The engine development proposed by the new direction is to "reenergize the propulsion system industrial base" because commercial companies just will not invest the funds... they will not do the work required. It's high risk with little to no ROI. Prior NASA Adminstrators have repeatedly tried to get industry to make investments with little success.

Your comments also reinforce concerns of people like Mr. Rutan. We (US) do not need another Gemini or Mercury capsule, nor a twicked Soyuz. Not only will it be inefficient, it will be costly and will take us nowhere we have not been. Now NASA will try to build the Russian RD-180. We will "copy" them as they have done us? A very sad commentary on the state of US aeronautical/astronautical advancement... also a waste of taxpayer funds.

SpaceAholic
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From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
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posted 03-09-2010 01:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by BNorton:
Now NASA will try to build the Russian RD-180. We will "copy" them as they have done us?
Sadly this is already the case - the US (P&W/Rocketdyne) leverages the RD-180 under license for the Atlas.

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