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NASA's Lori Garver  (Source: wikimedia.org)
NASA urged Congress to provide the full $850 million, because if it is not paid now, the U.S. will be forced to pay the Russians $450 million for every year that the U.S. delays its own commercial crew vehicle starting in 2016

Lori Garver, NASA's deputy administrator, is pushing for increased funding for NASA's commercial crew vehicle development, or warns that the U.S. will be paying the Russians over the long-term instead.

The retirement of NASA's space shuttle fleet throughout 2011 has made U.S. astronauts dependent on Russia to travel to the International Space Station (ISS). The cost per seat for this rendezvous is estimated to increase to $63 million by 2015, and NASA is hoping to have commercial spaceships of its own to avoid having to pay the Russians. NASA is looking to Boeing Co., SpaceX, Blue Origin and Sierra Nevada Corp. for such spacecraft.

But these spacecraft developers will require assistance for the creation of NASA's request. NASA put aside $388 million to support such development, while the agency put forth another $800 million for spacecraft to be developed by SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp.

But now, NASA is moving on to its next phase of its commercial crew vehicle development, and needs $850 million.

So far, Congress has put aside $312 million in the House and $500 million in the Senate.

Garver urged Congress to provide the full $850 million, because if it is not paid now, the U.S. will be forced to pay the Russians $450 million for every year that the U.S. delays its own commercial crew vehicle starting in 2016.

According to Garver, paying U.S. companies the extra money needed now will outweigh having to pay the Russians $450 million per year in 2016 and beyond, which will obviously benefit the Russian space effort instead of the U.S.

But NASA's money troubles don't end there. Even if Congress comes up with $850 million in 2012, the cost of the commercial crew vehicle development will only increase as time goes on. Garver estimates that NASA will require $6 billion "over five years."

The next step is a hearing for funding the next phase, known as CCDev 3, next Wednesday. It was scheduled by the House Science Space and Technology Committee.

Source: MSNBC



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RE: SLS waste
By vanwinkle on 10/21/2011 4:11:59 PM , Rating: 2
Okay, since you posted twice in a row, let's pick this apart too.

1) SLS will consume funding. That's true. That's what heavy lift programs do. However, CCDev is currently operating alongside it, and is capable of producing manned LEO systems that operate at a fraction of SLS' budget. We want to continue having a manned presence in space, so we'll continue to fund both CCDev and SLS. In fact, CCDev makes almost no sense without something like SLS; it's more efficient to send the crew up in small, crew-focused capsules, but only if you also have a heavy launch system to put up things for them to dock with. The ISS won't last forever, we'll need to either start replacing modules or building an entirely new space station in the next 8-12 years, and once that day comes the CCDev capsules will become launchers to nowhere.

Also, SLS is a manned launch platform. How will it kill our astronaut program to continue funding a project that is intended to put astronauts into deep space?

2) Of course it will cost more than existing rockets; it will lift much more than existing rockets. Consider this: The International Space Station has a mass of 861,000 pounds. The largest Falcon 9 variant can only lift up to 58,000 pounds to LEO. That means that today, even if you managed to design it as space-efficient as possible so that you were weight-constrained, it would take 15 Falcon 9 launches to put the ISS into orbit. SLS will have a maximum payload of 280,000 pounds, meaning that it could put nearly the entire thing into orbit with just 3 launches!

This gets worse once you start thinking about missions beyond LEO. The farther beyond LEO you go, the more propellant you need to lift, both to send the crew to its destination and to bring them back. In 2009, NASA released a design study that calculated it would take seven Ares V launches to lift the spacecraft, propellant, and payload necessary to support a return-trip mission to Mars, with an additional Ares I launch to lift the crew into orbit. Given that Ares V was planned to be even more powerful than SLS, you're looking at something like 10 SLS launches for the same mission profile... or 50 Falcon 9 launches.

Do you really think using 50 rocket launches for a single mission sounds at all efficient? Basically, saying "SLS is inefficient" is saying "we don't need to go beyond LEO". That's what all the current launch systems are efficient at, LEO launches, and that's about it.

3) How does it violate NASA's charter to create a "government launcher"? Up until CCDev, NASA has internally designed every manned launch system that it has used (well, except for those it took from the Defense Department, which were also "government launchers"). NASA is pursuing commercial providers for its manned LEO launch profile through CCDev. There is no "possible engagement of commercial providers" for a heavy launch system, because no commercial provider can justify building a rocket with that much lift capability.

4) I agree that the forced re-use of space shuttle components is not all good. However, it provides for the continued use of established, proven hardware, which is kind of a big deal for manned space launches, and it does save money on design costs. I'm excited that they'll be competitively bidding the advanced booster system, and hopeful that we'll finally see the ATK boosters replaced with something safer and more economical.

5) It may be that Congress' real goal is to maintain contracts with current employers. But advocates of space travel can either embrace that and support the funding of the only true heavy-lift system on the table today, or they can try to kill it when they know that there's no support for space funding without there also being something in it for Congress.


RE: SLS waste
By JediJeb on 10/21/2011 7:02:38 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
it would take 15 Falcon 9 launches to put the ISS into orbit. SLS will have a maximum payload of 280,000 pounds, meaning that it could put nearly the entire thing into orbit with just 3 launches!


quote:
Do you really think using 50 rocket launches for a single mission sounds at all efficient?


If what has been stated further down that the Falcon launches cost 1/10 as much as the other launches, and your comparison is that 15 Falcon launches are equal to 3 of the other which is a 1/5 ratio then it would still make sense to go the Falcon route because it would cost 1/2 as much. It would take more launches but if it is simply a money issue the numbers still favor the Falcon.


RE: SLS waste
By delphinus100 on 10/21/2011 11:41:56 PM , Rating: 3
Economies of Scale. Gotta love it. (as well as maintaining proficiency in ground handling and launch operations)

SLS will never be manufactured and operated in numbers great enough (if any) to get much of that...


RE: SLS waste
By CryptoQuick on 10/21/2011 8:39:10 PM , Rating: 3
Only 15 Falcon Heavy launches? That's a bargain compared to how many STS launches it actually took to build the ISS, ain't it?

Also, Musk says he plans to build 400 Merlins for 10 Heavy's and 10 Falcon 9's each year at the height of SpaceX production. That would build the station in less than 2 years, vs. SLS's single launch per year. There's no doubt that if NASA asked for it, he could do it, too.


RE: SLS waste
By delphinus100 on 10/21/2011 11:16:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
but only if you also have a heavy launch system to put up things for them to dock with.


What are these things that require an SLS to launch them?

Usually you decide what you want to do first, then develop a new launcher to do it, if (and only if) one is required...not the other way around.

Commercial Crew on the other hand, is a means of meeting an existing requirement (domestic manned access to ISS), and anticipated requirements (manned access to privately operated platforms)


RE: SLS waste
By WinstonSmith on 10/22/2011 8:57:34 AM , Rating: 3
"Falcon 9 variant can only lift up to 58,000 pounds to LEO. That means that today, even if you managed to design it as space-efficient as possible so that you were weight-constrained, it would take 15 Falcon 9 launches to put the ISS into orbit."

The ISS is a HORRENDOUS waste of funds. It's a money pit, an orbiting white elephant in search of a mission. Nothing remotely as heavy as it is going to be placed in orbit again for many decades. But you use the ISS as a measure of the Falcon 9's value? Why?

Take a look at the ongoing experiments at any point in time and divide the cost of operations by that number. The number of scientific papers that result from a mission are a good measure of its scientific value. Just the papers from ONE unmanned probe mission typically dwarf the number of papers from ALL ISS experiments thus far.


RE: SLS waste
By brundall on 10/22/2011 9:57:31 AM , Rating: 2
Here's a thought, if the ISS is such a white elephant and is not doing anything productive - why not strap a few small boosters to it and send it off to Mars for a manned return trip? What's not to love?


RE: SLS waste
By ameriman on 10/26/2011 1:23:04 AM , Rating: 2
vanwinkle

1) Your claim/belief that we 'must have' or even 'need' a super heavy launcher, or SLS for leaving LEO is unfounded and specious... Of course we can easily assemble/fuel craft on-orbit, and we certainly don't need a ISS, SLS, or Orion to do it...

2) Current NASA schedules (LOL) are a 150k LEO payload by 2018, and a possible 280k payload BY 2030... 20 frigging years FROM NOW!!! at a bankrupting $50-60 billion!!! That is CRAZY!!! We can launch 500 Falcon Heavys, put 60 million lbs in LEO for less than that..

3) The SpaceX Falcon Heavy, requiring NO NEW/UNTESTED COMPONENTS, should fly in 2012-2013... with 120,000 lbs LEO payload!!!

4) The SpaceX Dragon capsule is MORE CAPABLE than Orion... we should cancel Orion, fund SpaceX...

NASA has WASTED 40 years and $500 billion on manned space... while killing 2 crews... WITHOUT LEAVING LOW EARTH ORBIT... Basically ZERO space science, technology, exploration to show for it..
Talk about a horrible cost/benefit!!!
NASA promised Space Shuttle as CHEAP, SAFE, RELIABLE access to space at $7 m/launch.. What NASA delivered cost $1.5 billion/launch, killed 2 crews, had 5 years of outages...
Then NASA promised ISS at $8 billion, promised it would be justified.. instead we have a $160 billion white elephant boondoggle which needs to be dumped in an ocean...
NASA blew 10 years and $20 billion on failed/canceled Constellation..

3 strikes and NASA is out..

You need to quit pretending that big govt NASA is the answer to any question...
You may have another 40 years to waste watching NASA tread water at $20 billion/year, but I DON'T...

If we stop this NASA waste/pork on SLS and Orion, and instead fund SpaceX, we can be on Mars within the decade...

Otherwise, SLS and Orion will SUCK UP ALL FUNDING, the greedy pols, existing space establishment, and NASA big wigs will kill SpaceX and commercial space...


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