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US space policy

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Kraken
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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken »

How's that 2024 moon landing coming along? NASA could get a Trump bump that could maybe sort of make it happen, but now there's politics.
One retired NASA astronaut named Leroy Chiao, a former commander of the International Space Station, agrees that 2024 seems like a really long shot.

"My realistic assessment is that it is not likely," says Chiao, who notes that NASA has to deal with a lot of political considerations. "Why was 2024 chosen? Well, anyone can see that, with the election cycles and all that."

A moon landing in 2024 would mean a triumph during the last year of President Trump's second term, if he gets reelected in November.

Chiao says he feels bad for folks at NASA headquarters. He thinks they really want a moon landing and are doing everything they can.

"I don't think they're just blowing smoke necessarily. They've set things up so that there's a somewhat believable story that if the money shows up, they can do it if everything goes perfectly," Chiao says. "But we know from history that that doesn't usually happen."

After all, rockets can blow up. Technical tests can fail. And Congress controls the budgets. Not everyone there feels the same sense of urgency as the Trump administration. A NASA authorization bill just introduced into the House of Representatives would extend the moon landing deadline to 2028 [which was the original plan. -K].

"I am more interested in maximizing the odds of success for this bold undertaking and making it as safe as any human journey into the deep space can be, than I am in having NASA meet arbitrary deadlines," Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson — a Democrat from Texas and the chairwoman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology — said at a recent hearing.

And if someone besides Trump wins in November, the new president will likely have his or her own feelings about returning people to the moon.
...and none of the D candidates have space policies on their websites, so who knows?
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Re: US space policy

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If Trump got an anal probe it would cause his tongue to swell. Thats my thought on Trump space program.
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Re: US space policy

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Having dropped tantalising hints days ago about an "exciting new discovery about the Moon", the US space agency has revealed conclusive evidence of water on our only natural satellite.

This "unambiguous detection of molecular water" will boost Nasa's hopes of establishing a lunar base.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-54666328
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Re: US space policy

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Because this thread got bumped I thought I'd post a political perspective from 60 miles up. For when we can go back to thinking about abstracts and aspirations. We need to shield the US space program from election cycle chaos.
The next four years are critical. Under Artemis, NASA’s program to return humans to the moon, we’re seeing the development of technologies like lunar spacesuits, lunar habitation modules, landers, rovers, Gateway (a lunar space station designed to enable human exploration in deep space), and tons of other new technologies meant to make moon missions work. Only some would be immediately suitable for a Martian environment, and others that are adaptable would need time to redevelop and test. A new shift would be a disruption worse than any NASA has faced in recent memory.

The Biden campaign has released almost no details about space policies—hardly a surprise given all the calamities affecting the country at the moment. "So we're completely left to speculate here," says Casey Dreier, a space policy expert with the Planetary Society. "Nothing is technically off the table."

Biden was vice president under Obama, so one might reason he'd want to see NASA shift its focus back to Mars. But the Democratic Party platform released during the party’s convention in August stated: "We support NASA's work to return Americans to the moon and go beyond to Mars, taking the next step in exploring our solar system."
...
In spite of those disagreements, the bill shows that "fundamentally, the moon seems to be accepted by both Democratic and Republican apparatuses for being a step toward Mars," Dreier says. For a couple of years after Trump was elected, there was a sense that Mars was a Democratic destination and the moon was a Republican one. Being pro-Mars or pro-moon felt like a partisan issue.

That’s not the case anymore. "I’ve been surprised at how quickly the moon became accepted by even pro-Mars folks," says Dreier. "It may have been an acknowledgment of the political realities." Many now seem to concede that Obama's ambitious direct-to-Mars plan was inadequately prepared or funded. A moon program can build momentum that could be applied later to Mars.
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Re: US space policy

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Speaking personally, I think establishing a base on the Moon is a wise choice. It is the less expensive of the two (going to moon vs. going to Mars) and establishing a viable base on the moon will give clout to any manned missions to Mars. Chances would be even better if future plans included sending an empty (no fuel) or partially assembled Mars vehicle to the moon to be completed or fueled there. Also, even if a future Administration were to nix going to Mars, having a viable moon base means successive Administrations could attempt to revive a Mars mission, especially if the base manages to generate surplus water and/or building materials.
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Re: US space policy

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I agree that a moon base is a worthy and achievable goal, and Artemis is too far along to cancel. I do think we need to stop pretending that it's going to land by 2024 and acknowledge that there is too much unbuilt, untested hardware for that to happen. Also, SLS is just too expensive to be the workhorse that gets it done. It will fill enough of a need to justify building a few of them, but Starship + Super Heavy are more likely to make it operational...especially if (as projected) you can buy 20+ Super Heavy launches for the price of one SLS.
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Re: US space policy

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Kraken wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 12:14 pm I agree that a moon base is a worthy and achievable goal, and Artemis is too far along to cancel. I do think we need to stop pretending that it's going to land by 2024 and acknowledge that there is too much unbuilt, untested hardware for that to happen. Also, SLS is just too expensive to be the workhorse that gets it done. It will fill enough of a need to justify building a few of them, but Starship + Super Heavy are more likely to make it operational...especially if (as projected) you can buy 20+ Super Heavy launches for the price of one SLS.
You have no argument from me for the 2024 landing date or for SLS. My guess is that 2024 will be moved back slowly to keep the interest of whatever Administration is in charge. SLS is in the hands of the Congress critters in whose states SLS is being built, so no chance in that being cancelled unless SpaceX and their launch vehicles make a laughing stock of SLS capabilities.
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Re: US space policy

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raydude wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 3:54 pm
Kraken wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 12:14 pm I agree that a moon base is a worthy and achievable goal, and Artemis is too far along to cancel. I do think we need to stop pretending that it's going to land by 2024 and acknowledge that there is too much unbuilt, untested hardware for that to happen. Also, SLS is just too expensive to be the workhorse that gets it done. It will fill enough of a need to justify building a few of them, but Starship + Super Heavy are more likely to make it operational...especially if (as projected) you can buy 20+ Super Heavy launches for the price of one SLS.
You have no argument from me for the 2024 landing date or for SLS. My guess is that 2024 will be moved back slowly to keep the interest of whatever Administration is in charge. SLS is in the hands of the Congress critters in whose states SLS is being built, so no chance in that being cancelled unless SpaceX and their launch vehicles make a laughing stock of SLS capabilities.
The House already introduced a resolution moving the landing to '28 and directing NASA to build its own damned lander. IDK if that hints at policy or was just a gesture.

How many Artemis missions (SLS+Orion) do you think will fly?
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Re: US space policy

Post by raydude »

Kraken wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 5:14 pm
raydude wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 3:54 pm
Kraken wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 12:14 pm I agree that a moon base is a worthy and achievable goal, and Artemis is too far along to cancel. I do think we need to stop pretending that it's going to land by 2024 and acknowledge that there is too much unbuilt, untested hardware for that to happen. Also, SLS is just too expensive to be the workhorse that gets it done. It will fill enough of a need to justify building a few of them, but Starship + Super Heavy are more likely to make it operational...especially if (as projected) you can buy 20+ Super Heavy launches for the price of one SLS.
You have no argument from me for the 2024 landing date or for SLS. My guess is that 2024 will be moved back slowly to keep the interest of whatever Administration is in charge. SLS is in the hands of the Congress critters in whose states SLS is being built, so no chance in that being cancelled unless SpaceX and their launch vehicles make a laughing stock of SLS capabilities.
The House already introduced a resolution moving the landing to '28 and directing NASA to build its own damned lander. IDK if that hints at policy or was just a gesture.

How many Artemis missions (SLS+Orion) do you think will fly?
I'm going to go out on a limb and say zero. SLS will become the "stupid tax" for NASA to eat as the cost of doing business. Especially if progress on Starship goes at the same pace as Falcon. If Europa Clipper goes on Falcon Heavy then SLS is doomed.
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Re: US space policy

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raydude wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 1:11 pmI'm going to go out on a limb and say zero. SLS will become the "stupid tax" for NASA to eat as the cost of doing business. Especially if progress on Starship goes at the same pace as Falcon. If Europa Clipper goes on Falcon Heavy then SLS is doomed.
Yeah - what a boondoggle. WTF happened to Boeing? Did all the talent throw up their hands and skedaddle over to SpaceX? It certainly feels like there is some story there to explain this.
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Re: US space policy

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malchior wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 1:16 pm
raydude wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 1:11 pmI'm going to go out on a limb and say zero. SLS will become the "stupid tax" for NASA to eat as the cost of doing business. Especially if progress on Starship goes at the same pace as Falcon. If Europa Clipper goes on Falcon Heavy then SLS is doomed.
Yeah - what a boondoggle. WTF happened to Boeing? Did all the talent throw up their hands and skedaddle over to SpaceX? It certainly feels like there is some story there to explain this.
My two cents: Boeing got bloated. Engineering teams got bigger, which justified higher costs in proposals. When bigger contracts got awarded Boeing figured they'd make their teams even bigger still, justifying even higher proposal bids. It didn't matter as long as Boeing kept delivering and as long as contracts allowed for cost overruns without cost to Boeing. From an article I found:
In essence, a cost-plus contract requires a particular contractor to develop a piece of space hardware. Then such an arrangement pays all of the contractor’s costs plus a fee, typically about 10 percent. For example, with NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, Boeing is responsible for the central core stage, Orbital ATK has the side-mounted solid rocket boosters, and Aerojet Rocketdyne the main engines. The contractor gets paid regardless of success. For programs difficult to cancel—and Congress has regularly asserted its support for the SLS rocket—delays just mean more funding.

“So, they never want that gravy train to end,” Musk explained. “They become cost maximizers. And then you have good people engaged in cost maximization, because you just gave them an incentive to do that and told them they’ll get punished if they don’t."
The downside of bigger engineering teams is that it's much more likely for stupid engineers to be on the team and stay on a team. Hence the "stupid tax", where the stupid engineers suck resources away from a good team, forcing the good engineers to work longer and harder while the stupid engineers get paid. Sometimes the stupid engineers even get promoted upwards, which is good in the short term because the actual technical work improves, but bad in the long term because now the stupid engineers are making stupid management decisions like cutting corners and removing critical tests to save money.

Credit to one of my co-workers for coining the term "stupid tax" and explaining it to me.

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Re: US space policy

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The ISS turns 20. What now?
In recent months, Bridenstine has been sounding the alarm about this. “There’s going to come a day when the ISS is going to end,” he said. “We really really love the ISS. But we do have to think about the fact that 20 years is a long time. We have to be able to be making the investments today so that we don’t have a gap in low-Earth orbit.”

The gap he mentions refers to a historical problem NASA has had. After the final Apollo mission in 1975, NASA had no capability to get its astronauts into space until the first space shuttle mission six years later. Then, after the shuttle retired, NASA went nine years without this capability until the successful Crew Dragon flight in May of this year.

Looking ahead, NASA appears set with transportation into space, thanks to Crew Dragon, Boeing’s Starliner, and potentially its Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket. But without a destination in low-Earth orbit, there’s not really anywhere for these vehicles to go except the Moon.
IMHO, we need to move beyond LEO. That was a major flaw in the shuttle which limited us for most of the past half century.
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Re: US space policy

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Bridenstine will step down. Defying expectations, he was a good administrator and it's a shame that NASA won't have continuity. NASA's not uppermost on Biden's mind and never has been; I trust that he'll appoint someone competent...eventually. And in the process, he's going to have to figure out his space policy.
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Re: US space policy

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Kraken wrote: Tue Nov 10, 2020 12:27 am Bridenstine will step down. Defying expectations, he was a good administrator and it's a shame that NASA won't have continuity.
Right but this highlights why you shouldn't put a partisan in the job. This continuity decision is all on his own back and still I wonder if Biden might be able to convince him to stay.
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Re: US space policy

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malchior wrote: Tue Nov 10, 2020 12:39 am
Kraken wrote: Tue Nov 10, 2020 12:27 am Bridenstine will step down. Defying expectations, he was a good administrator and it's a shame that NASA won't have continuity.
Right but this highlights why you shouldn't put a partisan in the job. This continuity decision is all on his own back and still I wonder if Biden might be able to convince him to stay.
If Biden is foursquare behind Artemis, he might persuade Bridenstine. IDK what Biden thinks about Artemis. His campaign wasn't specific, and now they need to figure it out.
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Re: US space policy

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malchior wrote: Tue Nov 10, 2020 12:39 am
Kraken wrote: Tue Nov 10, 2020 12:27 am Bridenstine will step down. Defying expectations, he was a good administrator and it's a shame that NASA won't have continuity.
Right but this highlights why you shouldn't put a partisan in the job. This continuity decision is all on his own back and still I wonder if Biden might be able to convince him to stay.
I was actually warming up to Bridenstine and then he has to pull this partisan bullshit. It's Fucking NASA dude! If Biden wants you back just ask him if he's ok with continuing the "moon first" policy and if he's ok with your direction and is hand's off then why not stay? Really all it's telling me is that you weren't committed to NASA in the first place and that it was "just another job" to you.
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Re: US space policy

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raydude wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 1:57 pmI was actually warming up to Bridenstine and then he has to pull this partisan bullshit. It's Fucking NASA dude! If Biden wants you back just ask him if he's ok with continuing the "moon first" policy and if he's ok with your direction and is hand's off then why not stay? Really all it's telling me is that you weren't committed to NASA in the first place and that it was "just another job" to you.
Yeah, that's how I felt about it too. I was not happy when he was appointed, but ended up pleasantly surprised with his performance despite whatever baggage he brought into the position with him.

This just seems petty.
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Re: US space policy

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Pyperkub wrote: Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:43 pm
IMHO, we need to move beyond LEO. That was a major flaw in the shuttle which limited us for most of the past half century.
Am I wrong in thinking the shuttle was a Cold War platform intended to place and maintain military satellites?
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Re: US space policy

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Holman wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:06 pm
Pyperkub wrote: Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:43 pm
IMHO, we need to move beyond LEO. That was a major flaw in the shuttle which limited us for most of the past half century.
Am I wrong in thinking the shuttle was a Cold War platform intended to place and maintain military satellites?
That was one part of the story.

The space shuttle was part of Wernher von Braun's bootstrap space vision from the late 1950s -- we would use it to build a space station, which would build and service interplanetary craft and a moon base. Apollo sidelined the shuttle due to the Space Race. Apollo beat the Russkies to the moon, but proved to be a dead end due to cost and lack of public interest. So, back to the shuttle drawing board.

The initial plan was for a fleet of 10 orbiters (IIRC) with a fully reusable, piloted launch vehicle. Nixon whittled that down due to cost and lack of personal interest, and only went forward with the first step -- the shuttle itself, no space station, no moon rockets, no Mars mission (at the time, NASA was shooting for Mars in the 1990s). The USAF was working on its own Dyna-Soar shuttle, but was compelled to work with NASA instead, which in turn had to meet certain military requirements. Neither NASA nor the Pentagon were happy with that shotgun wedding. This all gets complicated, but wiki has a decent overview if you want more details.

The upshot is that America got a scaled-down fleet of compromised shuttles with no clear mission (the space station wasn't greenlighted until quite a bit later), and they never lived up to their economical promise. NASA chafed at having to meet military secrecy requirements and the Pentagon wasn't happy about relying on a civilian agency.

BTW, I attended a von Braun lecture in 1976, while the shuttle was still in development and he was doing a PR tour for NASA. He thought Apollo had been a costly detour, and was less than thrilled with the scaled-back shuttle NASA was building...but at least we were finally taking the first tentative step toward his vision.
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Re: US space policy

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Kraken wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:56 pm BTW, I attended a von Braun lecture in 1976, while the shuttle was still in development and he was doing a PR tour for NASA. He thought Apollo had been a costly detour, and was less than thrilled with the scaled-back shuttle NASA was building...but at least we were finally taking the first tentative step toward his vision.
That must have been something to see. A couple of years later, I attended a lecture by Princeton physicist Gerard O'Neill regarding the viability of permanent orbital colonies in space. These would be self-sufficient entities that could house 10,000 people and includes farmland. By his calculations, we had the ability to undertake such an effort at that time. The process of creating them would have included a permanent moon base, where mass drivers would send raw materials into Earth orbit for construction.

I wonder if some day people will look at the time from 1980-present as the dark ages, where we could have done so much to advance getting humans off this planet but failed to do so.
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Re: US space policy

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I always have. LEO yawn.
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Re: US space policy

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I thought the future would be cooler. Oh well, we do have amazing televisions.
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Re: US space policy

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Hrdina wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 9:53 pm
raydude wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 1:57 pmI was actually warming up to Bridenstine and then he has to pull this partisan bullshit. It's Fucking NASA dude! If Biden wants you back just ask him if he's ok with continuing the "moon first" policy and if he's ok with your direction and is hand's off then why not stay? Really all it's telling me is that you weren't committed to NASA in the first place and that it was "just another job" to you.
Yeah, that's how I felt about it too. I was not happy when he was appointed, but ended up pleasantly surprised with his performance despite whatever baggage he brought into the position with him.

This just seems petty.
Bridenstine was stepping down regardless of whether Biden or Trump won.

I agree that I'd rather see him stay on, but it wasn't in the cards.
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Re: US space policy

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Interesting. Originally considered an anti-science political hack, Bridenstine became too competent and not political enough for trump. Biden probably would have kept him on in the spirit of comity (and because I don't think Biden's personally interested in space policy).

There's not much more we can say about space policy until we see who Biden appoints.
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Re: US space policy

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Huh, I hadn't realized that but I guess it fits in with my mental picture, which wondered how he managed to stay there so long without a lot of ass-kissing or Obama-bashing.
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Re: US space policy

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This is reassuring: Biden's transition team.
While the incoming administration’s plans for NASA aren’t certain, it is working quickly on that transition. On Nov. 10, it announced the rosters of the agency review teams, or transition teams, that will fan out across the federal government to gather information to guide the new administration’s planning.

“The transition teams really come in to see how things are doing and make recommendations going forward,” said Garver, who led the NASA transition team for the incoming Obama administration in 2008.

The agency review team for NASA is filled with people who either used to work at the agency or who are otherwise very familiar with it. Leading the team is Ellen Stofan, a planetary scientist who served as NASA chief scientist during the Obama administration and is now director of the National Air and Space Museum. Waleed Abdalati, her predecessor as NASA chief scientist, is also on the team. He was co-chair of the most recent Earth science decadal survey.

Others have a range of NASA experience.
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Re: US space policy

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Happy birthday, Orion: 15 years old!
The Orion spacecraft dates back to 2005, when NASA issued a "request for proposals" to industry with the goal of "developing a new Crew Exploration Vehicle by 2014 that is capable of carrying astronauts beyond low Earth orbit." NASA sought Orion as a building block to land humans on the Moon as part of what became known as the Constellation program. This program was later canceled, but Orion survived.

Since that time, according to The Planetary Society's Casey Dreier, NASA has spent $23.7 billion developing the Orion spacecraft. This does not include primary costs for the vehicle's Service Module, which provides power and propulsion, as it is being provided by the European Space Agency.

For this money, NASA has gotten a bare-bones version of Orion that flew during the Exploration Flight Test-1 mission in 2014. The agency has also gotten the construction of an Orion capsule—which also does not have a full life support system—that will be used during the uncrewed Artemis I mission due to be flown in 12 to 24 months. So over its lifetime, and for $23.7 billion, the Orion program has produced:

Development of Orion spacecraft
Exploration Flight Test-1 basic vehicle
The Orion capsule to be used for another test flight
Work on capsules for subsequent missions

Obviously, that is not nothing. But it is far from a lot, even for a big government program. To see how efficiently this money could theoretically have been spent, let's use an extreme example.

SpaceX is generally considered one of the most efficient space companies. Founded in 2002, the company has received funding from NASA, the Department of Defense, and private investors. Over its history, we can reliably estimate that SpaceX has expended a total of $16 billion to $20 billion on all of its spaceflight endeavors. Consider what that money has bought:

Development of Falcon 1, Falcon 9, and Falcon Heavy rockets
Development of Cargo Dragon, Crew Dragon, and Cargo Dragon 2 spacecraft
Development of Merlin, Kestrel, and Raptor rocket engines
Build-out of launch sites at Vandenberg (twice), Kwajalein Atoll, Cape Canaveral, and Kennedy Space Center
105 successful launches to orbit
20 missions to supply International Space Station, two crewed flights
Development of vertical take off, vertical landing, rapid reuse for first stages
Starship and Super Heavy rocket development program
Starlink Internet program (with 955 satellites on orbit, SpaceX is largest satellite operator in the world)
So much for the birthday celebration. The political part:
So how will the incoming Biden administration look upon Orion? Presently, as part of the Artemis program, Orion will carry astronauts from the Earth to lunar orbit, where two to four people will get into a separate lander, go down to the Moon's surface, and then return to Orion for the journey back to Earth. Such a mission could take place by 2026 or so, with enough funding.

This moment has echoes of 2008, when the incoming Obama administration was faced with the Constellation program to return humans to the Moon and found it over budget and far behind schedule. This transition team was led by Lori Garver, who would go on to become the space agency's deputy administrator, and called a blue-ribbon panel of experts led by Norm Augustine to review Constellation. "Our concerns were confirmed by the Augustine panel of experts," she told Ars. "After full deliberation, the Administration requested cancellation of the program, including Orion."

However, this effort was ultimately rebuffed by Congress. The Orion program survived, and NASA was told to start building the SLS rocket in 2010. NASA also was instructed to fly the Exploration Flight Test-1 mission in 2014 to show "progress" toward deep space.
We still don't have real information about Biden's attitude toward Artemis, but we know Congress loves to throw good money after bad.

Myself, I like the goals and architecture of the Artemis program, minus its reliance on SLS and its fictional schedule, and despite its already-antiquated throwaway technology. I won't be surprised if Starship flies astronauts before Artemis does. But SpaceX needs Super Heavy to send Starship to the moon, and that won't necessarily beat SLS.

It's funny that I see a space race between NASA and SpaceX; I wonder if Musk sees it the same way. He's only shown tepid interest in the moon. I'd wager all of my gold-pressed latinum that SpaceX will be first with the capability to go to Mars (although not necessarily to conduct surface operations).
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Re: US space policy

Post by raydude »

Kraken wrote: Wed Dec 16, 2020 1:00 am It's funny that I see a space race between NASA and SpaceX; I wonder if Musk sees it the same way. He's only shown tepid interest in the moon. I'd wager all of my gold-pressed latinum that SpaceX will be first with the capability to go to Mars (although not necessarily to conduct surface operations).
Personally I don't see it like that. If anything I see NASA saddled with an albatross (SLS) that it can't get rid of because of Congress. If it could I think NASA would gladly let SpaceX do rockets and capsules. Because rockets and capsules are the equivalent of taxis. Taxis can be mass produced and they make money because they only have one job - get the package to where it needs to go. Meanwhile, the packages themselves - astronauts or spacecraft - are one of a kind items. You can't mass produce astronauts and each spacecraft and instrument is custom built because their purpose - answering questions about stuff - is one and done. I think NASA would love to get back to what it does best - exploring space with technology that is custom built to answer questions - and leave the taxi driving to SpaceX.
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Unagi
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Re: US space policy

Post by Unagi »

I agree with that take 100%
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Zaxxon
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Re: US space policy

Post by Zaxxon »

Same.
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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken »

Here's a bit of good news that slipped under the radar: NASA's Europa Clipper has been liberated from SLS.
As Ars Technica points out, launching the Europa Clipper on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy saves the mission $1.5 billion. An advantage of using the SLS has been that it allows for a direct path to Jupiter without the time-consuming planetary flyby maneuvers that previous missions to the outer planets have required. The Falcon Heavy alone would not be able to get the Europa Clipper to Jupiter space directly, though it might be able to if equipped with a powerful Centaur kick stage.
The political background is well-detailed in the full article.
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Re: US space policy

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Kraken wrote: Mon Jan 11, 2021 12:36 am Here's a bit of good news that slipped under the radar: NASA's Europa Clipper has been liberated from SLS.
As Ars Technica points out, launching the Europa Clipper on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy saves the mission $1.5 billion. An advantage of using the SLS has been that it allows for a direct path to Jupiter without the time-consuming planetary flyby maneuvers that previous missions to the outer planets have required. The Falcon Heavy alone would not be able to get the Europa Clipper to Jupiter space directly, though it might be able to if equipped with a powerful Centaur kick stage.
The political background is well-detailed in the full article.
Well, Clipper's launch had already been delayed from June 2022 to 2024. Someone higher up probably did the extrapolation and saw that there was a less than even chance that SLS wouldn't be ready by then.
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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken »

raydude wrote: Mon Jan 11, 2021 11:39 am
Kraken wrote: Mon Jan 11, 2021 12:36 am Here's a bit of good news that slipped under the radar: NASA's Europa Clipper has been liberated from SLS.
As Ars Technica points out, launching the Europa Clipper on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy saves the mission $1.5 billion. An advantage of using the SLS has been that it allows for a direct path to Jupiter without the time-consuming planetary flyby maneuvers that previous missions to the outer planets have required. The Falcon Heavy alone would not be able to get the Europa Clipper to Jupiter space directly, though it might be able to if equipped with a powerful Centaur kick stage.
The political background is well-detailed in the full article.
Well, Clipper's launch had already been delayed from June 2022 to 2024. Someone higher up probably did the extrapolation and saw that there was a less than even chance that SLS wouldn't be ready by then.
Even if SLS is operational, it makes no sense to use the world's most expensive expendable rocket to boost a probe. Sure it would be nice to go direct and save years of travel time instead of taking the scenic route -- it's supposed to be a clipper, after all -- but not $1.5B nice.
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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken »

I debated putting this in the "Things trump sort of got right" thread, because Jim Bridenstine was one of his few good appointments, and because that thread needs anything it can get. :P Tasked with an impossible mission (land on the moon by 2024), he threw himself into the job and made a credible effort. Now he's gone, as expected.

President Biden is expected to pick a woman to fill the NASA administrator role, which has only been occupied by men since the agency’s founding in 1958. His transition team for NASA, led by the director of the National Air and Space Museum, Ellen Stofan, has spent over a month reviewing the agency’s top programs and interviewing agency personnel, but it hasn’t released any hints on where Biden will officially stand on space policy issues.

Bridenstine told The Verge he plans to take a job in his home state of Oklahoma but declined to specify what that job will be. Asked if he’s running for office again, he said “Oh, no no no. No. I’ll tell ya, I have no desire to run for office.”

“They say never say never, but it would take something significant to get me back into politics. I’ve never been so happy to not be in politics.”

In the Twitter video, where he choked up thanking NASA employees, Bridenstine ended with a simple message: “Go get ‘em. Go NASA. Ad astra.”
I hope Biden can find a woman who's as qualified to carry out...whatever his space policy will be.
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Re: US space policy

Post by Lassr »

It's funny that Trump picked him probably because of his past anti climate change stances, but when he came on board and saw the science it changed his mind. And turned into a very good administrator. But wow, a republican that believed in the science, seems a rarity these days

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