Posts Tagged ‘EELV’

Doug Stanley, the notorious ESAS leader has said some strange things (this is his option three, one being Ares I and two Ares V):

Eliminating Ares 1 and 5 and all shuttle infrastructure could save NASA future costs that could eventually be applied towards exploration by significantly reducing the workforce and fixed infrastructure costs. This approach would require “commercial” crew transportation for ISS and exploration missions, and would likely require propellant depots to compensate for the smaller commercial launch vehicles. This was not politically feasible in 2005, but perhaps could be today. Additional detailed cost analysis is required, however, to determine the true cost of a procurement that would require paying for two human-rated capsules and launch vehicles to refine the rather optimistic estimates of the Augustine committee.

Umm. The multi-launch scenario technical analysis in ESAS was a travesty. (One launch pad-> too many delays->multi launch not an option. Hello? And lots of other things, like the unbearable cost of manrating, which suddenly vanished a couple months ago when Doug last spoke…) And now Doug is turning around and saying it might be more politically feasible today? Way to wash your hands! So, politics tolerates more launch delays now? Or politics is sufficiently advanced to launch from more than one pad (or VIF)?

I’ve certainly heard stories from before ESAS of how Doug Stanley had been open minded to commercially launched capsules. So what was this nefarious political influence that caused the ESAS to be so bad and subsequently practically freeze most commercial progress for the next 5 years.

One quite obvious road was clear from day one when shuttle retirement was a real thing in the future: a simple capsule on an EELV for ISS taxi. Those rockets exist and fly and have a history. The sooner development is started, the better, the smaller the gap. You can use that for other purposes as well.

I do agree that more than just the Augustine panel report would be nice.

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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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Watching the NSF forum closely, the nicknames Antares:

Commission folks reading this thread (on topic, see ) need to request the Bullman study (MSFC) and the response to the Bullman study (not MSFC, ahem). The latter exists only in draft because some managers are… yella, to put it in G-rated terms. They both contain proprietary data and would be useless under a FOIA.

and Pad Rat:

“OSP-ELV Human Flight Safety Certification Study report”, dated March 2004. The soft copy I’m looking at has no document number, curiously.

The response document, “Collaborative ELV Response to the HFSCS Report”, exists in draft form only and thus has no document number assigned to it.

I have heard that the response document did find its way to the transition team, but I know nothing more than that.

Stay tuned for Ares on an EELV after all! This commission could be different than ESAS who got all their data from NASA (no wonder their launchers looked so good!).

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This time the Aerospace Corporation deems them suitable for launching Orion, tells a Nasaspaceflight.com article . Via Clark Lindsey.

I’ve gotten bored of all this a few years ago. When Griffin was in power, absolutely no change was considered.

From a quick look at the article, the Orion seems to have slimmed down considerably from the ESAS days (probably because of Ares I performance problems). The black zones myth has also been dispelled. Oh my. What do Doug Stanley and Mike Griffin say to that? Will there be  a congressional hearing about where the billions went, and why? Of course not, it’s space policy so no blunder or incompetence is technical ever – it’s all just happy equal opinions. The end part of the article is just bites from Griffin’s speech saying how the government doesn’t give enough money to NASA.

Seems also NSF is the only news outlet on the ball (I don’t really follow them all though, don’t know what’s been up at Florida Today for example). They got information weeks earlier but requested answers from the NASA side as well and got comments on this before making it an article.

Good work, Chris Bergin, the sources, all the people writing articles, as well as the forum people. I think the site was founded in 2005 so it’s been a swift rise to the top. Internet papers didn’t get any Pulitzers in the recent awards ceremonies, but in some specialist categories they might deserve good awards.

Perhaps space journalism prizes should be founded and given out every year.

In my view the CEV is still quite big, and thus the launcher alternatives are limited. Projected LEO versions of Apollo seated as far as six people. Though if Orion’s service module is refueled in orbit, the monolithic liftoff mass might be reduced considerably. The key is to have so light elements that you can use multiple launchers – which then on its own helps to ensure  improvability for the whole architecture since it’s not stuck with one solution from here to the end. The EELV launching is already a step in that direction, and miles better than Ares or Direct.

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I’ve been an opponent of Ares I for quite a long time (not from the beginning though, but I have become more of an optimist since, regarding better  ways). In light of these things, it might seem that the huge political and bureaucratic machine that is NASA can finally start turning around. Mike Griffin in his time changed the direction of NASA very quickly by firing a lot of leaders and starting the development of the Orion capsule and the Ares rockets based on the ESAS three month quick study. On the other hand, ESAS’ conclusions somehow ended with the industrial base not changing significantly. Still solid rocket boosters for example. So one can question, did the direction really change in that sense?

But if there’s a real change, it could very well be that an Orion (or some variant or derivative of it) could fly on an EELV. It is strange to an outsider that the ESAS (with references to unpublished appendices) claimed how EELV:s are less safe and more expensive than Ares I. Then there’s the whole “black zones” kerfluffle, that warrants its own entry, if true. Basically and oversimplified, NASA said the EELV:s need new upper stages since they have tiny engines in second stages which need vertical trajectories. The vertical trajectories are a problem in case of an abort, since they result in high G loads on the way down. But some people say the EELV guys were not consulted on this, and that they could easily fly shallower trajectories. Maybe I’ll post more about this some day with better references.

There are rumors around that a new NASA administrator has been chosen. While I do not think an EELV solution itself for US manned space access is smart in the long run, it is pretty good in the short run (next five to fifteen years). What is much much more important is that if there are multiple launch providers and the payloads are switchable between rockets, then that is a field where improvement is very easy and cheap, since one can introduce new launchers to the “launcher mix” without jeopardizing the whole “program”. (The program mentality is one big problem as well.) NASA is the biggest worldwide player in tonnage to orbit, by a huge margin. They have the bucks, and thus they control the spacefaring development of the world.

A lot hinges on the new NASA administrator choice. (Unless Griffin was really a puppet too.)

Expect to hear little

I expect mainstream aerospace journalism to be as apathetic about all this as before too. It seems there are relatively few technical people there, and hence they don’t recognize the whole existence of the difference between technical solutions, they are all equally good. To them, it’s just a political definition if Ares I works or not. Even programs like NASP, people like Rob Coppinger somehow think failed because of “politics” – I find they failed because of grossly unrealistic and unjustified technical assumptions right at the beginning. That again warrants a separate post (there are books about it already).

So, if you’re a politician, a space business person or a technical person working on the space sector, maybe you should read something else than the postmodern relativist lazy mainstream media if you want real insight… And probably actually at least many of the experts have already moved to other medias.

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