Posts Tagged ‘Augustine’

The Man. On Space Review. [EDIT: About a month ago, but I only just read it.] This is just excellent. So many things I agree with, that go against the stupid myths of spaceflight and space policy. If you read one space policy interview this year, this should be it!

“NASA is an organization that is dominated by fixed costs. In business terms everything is in the overhead,” he said. The committee found, with some effort, that the fixed cost of NASA’s human spaceflight program is $6–7 billion a year. “The bottom line is that they can’t afford to keep the doors open with they money they’ve got, let alone do anything with it.”

However, he said, if you’re trying to minimize costs, it makes more sense to use a smaller launch vehicle that flies more frequently and has other users and applications. The key to making that work for exploration architectures that require large amounts of propellant—and hence have driven the planning for heavy-lift vehicles like the Ares 5—is the use of propellant depots and in-space propellant transfer. “If you use in-space propellant transfer, it’s no longer true that you have to have a really big piece,” he said.

He said that while he had his own opinions on the right selection of launch vehicles, he didn’t have any insights on what direction the White House and Congress would go. “It’s really up to policymakers whether we have a space program or a jobs program.”

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Danny Deger @ Nasaspaceflight.com forum on Ares I selection in ESAS (I don’t know if this is true, I have little knowledge about the matter):

The Ares data isn’t just ITAR, it is Sensitive But Unclassified as it should be to not expose criminal conduct. Yes that is right, all data that exposes any criminal conduct must not be exposed to any one for any reason at NASA or you will be fired.

And it doesn’t matter if Ares I won the sellection during ESAS, ULA [GL note: this was Lockmart & Boeing at the time] had to be allowed to bid – especially for cost data. I can’t say in strong enough words cost estimates ALWAYS come from the contractor. Doing internal cost estimates without a bid then letting a sole source contract is a felony under Federal Acquisision Regs.he sellection during ESAS, ULA had to be allowed to bid – especially for cost data. I can’t say in strong enough words cost estimates ALWAYS come from the contractor. Doing internal cost estimates without a bid then letting a sole source contract is a felony under Federal Acquisision Regs.

This was in the past. At present, the Augustine Panel is just mulling on which heavy lifter to build – even when panel member Jeff Greason showed none is necessary. But that option is not in the panel’s list. Why? Because it seems irrationality rules the world of most panel members. That’s how decisions are made: stupidly.

There will never be spacefaring or progress with such bad leadership.

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Skimming the document (thanks NSF, Florida Today). Cute how a launch without an upper stage at all in the heavy configuration works out for ISS (burn SM fuel for orbit):

Delta IV Orion options comparison with Ares I and STS from the Aerospace report

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From Hobbyspace, highlighted by Transterrestrial Musings:

The program of record (i.e. Ares I/V/Orion/Altair), which exceeds the expected budget substantially, will no longer be in the options table but kept separately just as a reference.


The historic words have been spoken. Now for a better future for NASA, for spacefaring and for humanity.

The Augustine panel has been good beyond my wildest imaginations. (My imagination is extremely pessimistic.)

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Jeff Greason is a rational person who simply gets it. It is mind boggling how completely opposite from someone like Mike Griffin he is.

See Jeff’s presentation with the Augustine Panel.

Paraphrasing, “we could go to Mars with Ares V but we shouldn’t – cause we couldn’t stay anyway”. Exactly. That’s the problem with NASA. (or the major one)

I bet he will be ignored completely.

Also, I would like to work for that guy. Too bad because of ITAR I couldn’t work in the USA.

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There are a lot of implicit assumptions that heavy lifters of this or that throw weight must be used for future exploration beyond low Earth orbit.

These “needs” have never been logically derived from anything.

Yet space policy and exploration architectures must be based on rationality above all. There is no excuse whatsoever to do things on a whim. Hundreds of billions of dollars, and the future of humanity’s spacefaring are at stake.

There is no foreseeable need to launch over 25 tonne monolithic payloads to low Earth orbit in lunar exploration, and probably even that number could be seriously diminished with some more thorough planning. Orion, EDS, LSAM, all are below that weight, if they are refueled using a depot in space.

If the huge development and operational estimated costs for a heavy lifter rocket go away, then that money is freed for real exploration work. In-space hardware development, more launches, more missions and operations.

Flight rate is _the_ most important way of reducing launch costs, the single largest impediment for advancement of spacefaring, and the propellant depot enables a higher launch rate. Multi-launch scenarios with a propellant depot also enable competition, redundancy and flexibility, all very good things, ensuring safety, robustness and progress.

I repeat as a summary how

1) Solutions for space exploration, like any large endeavour, must be rationally justified. No baseless assumptions should remain.

2) The need of heavy lift is a baseless assumption. It can be one of the alternative ways of execution, but it can not be a starting point or an axiom.

3) The current architecture is heavily based on the implicit assumption of heavy lift. Hence a rational space exploration architecture would examine things from the ground up. It could end up with some radically different conclusions.

4) Propellant depots is one alternative way of executing space exploration beyond LEO, and it does not need heavy lift.

5) Propellant depots can, if executed correctly, increase launch rates many fold, and thus enable lower costs, progress, reliability, redundancy, robustness – all the things that the space shuttle promised but failed to do because it was a sole solution that could not sustain a high enough launch rate and was too costly.

6) NASA at the same time should keep on working with fundamental research, to enable continuous progress trends in space technology.

7) Space exploration should look as different from Apollo as possible – there should continuity and continuous improvement possibilities, robustness and progress. The architecture should be affordable as well.

8) New space technology, like cheaper launchers, should be demonstrated at a smaller, humble scale first. That way many things can be tried and progress is faster, for the same price and effort. One failure also will not be as critical.

9) There seem to be impediments for information flow inside NASA, and many professionally acknowledged things like propellant depots, EML2 rendezvous or space tethers are never even mentioned in NASA high level planning. This is not rational.

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Haven’t read it yet, but I wrote about something similar (and not in name only) a few years back.

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I’ve to leave for a friend’s summer cottage in a bit.

Meanwhile, I give you people who to refer to; people who “get it”:
Clark Lindsey at Rlvnews, Jon Goff at Selenian Boondocks, Rand Simberg at Transterrestrial Musings, Monte Davis (get him to testify please!!), probably Henry Spencer as well. I’m quite sure Jeff Greason in the panel is one of those people.

They understand that Progress is not just a thirty year old Russian spacecraft – it is something we need in order to be spacefaring (which we are not currently). They can use my vote.

ESA’s Jean Jacques Dordain stressed yesterday how important it is to have continuity and how one can’t stop operations when one has development.

Hence one should not even *start* operations at a too early point. It leads to problems – it’s a constant money sink if your running costs for operations are extremely high – it actually leads to less total operations after a short while. Say, if you have a moonbase that is extremely costly to keep up, just as a sort of Apollo age national prestige relic – you have less money for developing a cheaper and sustainable way to actually get there.

One must crawl, then walk, then run. It serves a purpose.

Until next week, enjoy the midsummer weekend!

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It seems ULA finally got out in the public with their opinion on how long and what it would take to launch manned stuff or Orion with their rockets.

It only took four years, laboring under threatening and suppression.  What a refreshing happening!

Great work, whoever decided the panel would work openly! Was it Holdren, Augustine, Obama, or who?

This seems so far something that government work everywhere should look at.

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I think it’s Doug Cooke, presenting NASA things to the panel:

Key exploration objectives slide:


2. To ensure sustainability, development and operations costs must be minimized

Oh my.

Next thing: [these things] “drives you to heavy lift”. Excuse me?


Of all these goals in the slide, Ares I goes directly AGAINST each, except maybe for point 6, separate crew from cargo. It is mind boggling.

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