NASA could be Obama's greatest success.. if he doesn't screw it up. - DFWstangs Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-27-2010, 07:35 PM Thread Starter
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NASA could be Obama's greatest success.. if he doesn't screw it up.

After to 2005 Columbia disaster, President Bush called for a new space architecture that would put humans back on the moon and set us up for a journey to Mars. The plan was grand and the successor to the Space Shuttle seemed like a sensible solution.

But then he promptly decided to not bother funding it. He was also on board with NASA trashing $100BILLION the International Space Station in 2015

Before taking office, President Obama promised a total review of NASA's manned space activities. To that end, he created the Augustine Commission. It actually looked like President Obama (and admitted fan of NASA) was on the cusp of doing something great with NASA. But the question is, will he? The answer is starting look like, NO.

Here is what is being reported for President Obama's plans and my comments on them. None of this is set in stone and still needs congressional approval.

- Retire the Space Shuttle in 2011, as currently planned.

IMO, this has to be done anyways. The Shuttle airframes are simply too old. The Shuttle has some great capabilities but it also cost about $1BILLION per flight.

- Cancel the Constellation program for Lunar exploration (including the Ares I and V rockets, the Orion capsule, and the Altair lander)

Ares I and V are quickly becoming boondoggles. Almost $5BILLION has been spent on Ares I alone and all we have to show for it is a fake rocket. The original plan was to reuse as much Space Shuttle equipment as possible for these two rockets. Instead we are ending up with two totally new designs that simply "look" like they came from Space Shuttle parts. It has been estimated that a single Ares 1 launch will cost almost $1BILLION (with a B)

- Handle all access to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) through commercial entities

Now this is a home run. Basically they are looking at a competition to provide manned launch services to NASA for access to the Space Station. The most likely winners in this are either SpaceX or Lockheed. SpaceX is the likely winner because they already have a rocket and space capsule. They just need to complete an escape system so that they can start using them to carry people. SpaceX has done a great job in keeping their costs under control and estimates put launches of their Falcon 9 rocket at about $30MILLION per launch (with an M). That is a huge cost savings. The REAL rocket is finished and prepping for its first test flight as soon as this March. The cost for developing that rocket was $1BILLION but a good chunk of that money came from the private sector. IMO this is a real win that will start opening space travel to real world business in the future..

- Replace the cancelled Ares V rocket with a heavy lift rocket that is truly derived from the Space Shuttle

There are several options for this but the one gaining favor is called Jupiter 246 which uses the Space Shuttles main engines, the External Tank, and Solid Rocket Boosters. The main changes would be that the engines are placed below the Tank and the nose of the tank is modified for either cargo, a manned craft, or an upper booster.

- Extend the International Space Station to 2020 and possibly beyond

Yea, it would be kinda stupid to let a $100BILLION space station just burn up in the atmosphere.

- Instead of going to the moon, NASA would go just about everywhere in the inner planets of the Solar System (Moon, Mars, Venus, asteroids) but NOT land there

Go but not land. On the surface that sounds kinda dumb. But it really isn't. To do this would require an architecture for transporting people and/or equipment all over. Perhaps a fairly large (and multi use) spacecraft. Landers could be developed later as the need arises. The main point is to develop technologies that will push mankind beyond LEO. But still, this part lack direction and definition...

So what's my problem with this? It seems that President Obama is going to propose all of this but not actually fund it. Once again, he's going to do EXACTLY what GWB did. I wonder if he'll blame him for it too. President Obama's budget is calling for a modest increase in NASA's budget but nothing that would push forward with the development of anything here EXCEPT the commercial spaceflight part...

Meanwhile we're spending tax payer money ($2.8BILLION) on high speed rail between Tampa and Disney world. Yea, that will provide a few jobs but are those really the kinds of jobs we want to push our country forward? We just spent TRILLIONS bailing out the banks, how about fixing our space exploration program so that we actually go do some exploring?

As I stated, none of this is in stone. IMO, the administration could be floating these ideas to see what the response is. Most of the response hasn't been that good. Also, the Ares I and V have some VERY powerful backers in the Senate. The current budget states that those two projects may not be canceled without Congressional approval. So we might just be right back where we started. We shall see..

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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-28-2010, 12:02 AM
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Obama is for it? And Obama talks a big game about it? Ok so it's dead in the water.

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-28-2010, 08:57 AM Thread Starter
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Yea, I kinda had my hopes up for this. Obama is a big ass geek and a bit of a space nerd too. There isn't an official announcement yet but so far I'm hearing he is only going to say he wants to get out out of LEO but not really do much to fund it..

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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-28-2010, 09:04 AM Thread Starter
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As I stated before, none of this is set in stone.

Today comes something totally new. Frankly I hope it's true. If so, President Obama will be hitting one out of the park...

This is from NASA Watch. Some other NASA blogs are picking up on it too...

Full entry here:
Reliable sources tell me that all of the arm waving and negative stories (many sourced directly from within NASA BTW) that have been flying around do not constitute the entire picture of what NASA is going to get and what it is going to be asked to do. Indeed this is only part of the story. This back and forth is going to continue - all from folks inside NASA - until the actual budget with the full picture is released.

As the picture continues to emerge, not only is the push for commercial crew and cargo to the ISS going to expand in the new budget, but that push for commercialization will cover all aspects of American human spaceflight - LEO and beyond, cargo and capsules, and even the development of HLVs. This will all be done as part of an overall agency budget increase of $5.9 Billion over the next 5 fiscal years.

Notice below that NASA only saw fit to talk with some - but not all - of the media before the budget release while details of the budget are still under Administration embargo. Yet another example of how Morrie Goodman seems to be trying to parse access to the agency by the media.
PLEASE let this be true. If this goes forward, we could see a huge space industry growing in the US.

EDIT: An official announcement is going to be made on Feb 1st.

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Last edited by Sgt Beavis; 01-28-2010 at 09:12 AM.
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