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Dr. Clark Lindsey, Tuesday, 12-28-10 December 29, 2010

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Dr. Clark Lindsey, Tuesday, 12-28-10

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1485-BWB-2010-12-28.mp3

Guest:  Dr. Clark Lindsey.  Topics:  NewSpace 2010 and 2011.  Please note that you are invited to comment, ask questions, and rate this program on the new Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  You can find Dr. Lindsey’s assessment of NewSpace 2010 and looking forward to 2011 under the title “A Review of NewSpace Developments in 2010 posted on his blogs and website. See www.spacetransportnews.com and scroll down for the title.  Also check out the comments he will receive regarding this program.  During the first segment of our two hour program, Clark first defined NewSpace for the purpose of our discussion and his assessment.  Make sure you note his broader definition which is at the beginning of his article.  In addition, note that he did not prioritize what he listed and discussed.  During this segment, we talked about SpaceX and Falcon 9/Dragon accomplishments and the NASA budget process.  X-37B, our economy, and Constellation were also discussion topics in this review. Toward the end of this segment, Clark was asked about the impact of the shuttle’s retirement, NASA cuts and the job creating potential of NewSpace.  In our second segment, our first caller was Trent from Australia regarding Bigelow and its Memorandum of Understanding with six countries.  Another listener inquired about lifting bodies and Clark talked about needed diversity and competition regarding launch vehicles.  You do not want to miss this discussion about why competition with launch vehicles is a good things.  John from Atlanta called and talked about heavy lift and Clark mentioned an Air Force reusable booster program.  Thanks to listener Steve, here is the URL if you want to know more about this project www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/awst/2010/04/19/AW_04_19_2010_p30-219818.xml&headline=USAF%20Plans%20For%20Reusable%20Booster%20Development&channel=defense. Also during this segment, we looked forward to 2011 and Clark shared his thoughts with us on what to expect and what he hoped would happen.  In this segment, listener Tim asked how we might guard against a last minute addition to the budget language similar to the one Sen. Shelby did last year which kept funding for Constellation alive.  As you will hear, there is no real way to guard against something like that from a member of Congress. If you have questions or comments for Dr. Clark Lindsey, please post them on the blog URL above.  You can also email Clark at clarklindsey@hobbyspace.com.

Comments»

1. Rob Miller - January 26, 2011

My year in review: this sucks.

At the start of the year we had a goal, but an plan that was not to be touched or changed in the slightest to allow for some flexablity.
Now we have no goal, no plan, and no money.

The commercials have had some major successes, but the space policy debate had nothing to do with that. They keep pushing forward, and will regardless of ‘ObamaSpace’ coming to be. The space advocates can claim victory, but they are pretty irrelivent because no one wants to listen to techies bashing each other.

Bottom Line: Manned space has been successfully derailed, we have no plan or goal. Until NASA gets a goal and destination nothing will be certain.

Kelly Starks - January 26, 2011

Hell the commercials are having major set backs to. Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, etc are years behind schedule. SpaceX and Bigelow are seeing much less demand then hoped for – SpaceX is almost certainly locked out of carrying crew to the space station.

😦

2. Kelly Starks - December 31, 2010

> The one good thing I see in the authorization
> budget is the lack of formal objective,
> i.e. Moon or Mars. …

I’m not clear how this is a plus? With no goal, not even a goal to build anything, theres nothing to justify NASA doing anything?

Agree that congress effectivly has puta foot in a door rather then shutting it all down.

John Hunt (in Atlanta) - December 31, 2010

Actually the bill envisions building two things: a crew capsule and a heavy lift vehicle. The advantage I see in not having a specific objective is that it mutes the opposition that would arise from stating a specific objective.

The Augustine commission belittled the moon as objective. The idea of going to Mars was briefly floated but is obviously unrealistic given current funding. The only other specific idea that’s been floated is going to a near Earth asteroid. But that’s hardly inspiring.

In reality what this would give us is an admittedly expensive way to reestablish a LEO capability. And the ability to to orbit large payloads after the shuttle’s retirement. Ultimately, the capabilities being developed could support all the above objectives. But of course additional components would have to be developed to satisfy any of them.

The practical advantage I see in this is that incrementally we are billing components of future space capability.

Kelly Starks - January 1, 2011

>== The advantage I see in not having a
> specific objective is that it mutes the
> opposition that would arise from stating a
> specific objective.

??

But thats only a issue because the specific objective is the justification to build the craft, so if the objective can’t justify it – you can’t justify the craft at all. With no objective at all – you have no justification at all?

>== The only other specific idea that’s been
> floated is going to a near Earth asteroid.
> But that’s hardly inspiring.==

Also its wildly beyond the capacity of the Constellation ships, hence further undercutting the justification for it.

>== In reality what this would give us is an
> admittedly expensive way to reestablish a
> LEO capability. And the ability to to orbit
> large payloads after the shuttle’s
> retirement. Ultimately, the capabilities
> being developed could support all the above
> objectives. ==

Really its hard to see how they could service any of the missions, orprovide any real post shutle capacity. HLVs to expensive adn limited to lift much, no long duration crew cary craft, with no radiation shielding of note. No ELV capacity much less anything like the shuttles assembly and servicing abilities. At bestyout reduced to little better capacity then during the Gemini program?

We’re scaping out all existing operational adn developmental resources — at best the HLV and Orion programs are useless busywork to keep a caretaker scale staff and industry to perhaps build on if a future program/market develops.

John Hunt (in Atlanta) - January 1, 2011

HLV’s can be used to orbit future space station modules and matter more efficient than the space shuttle could. Also, the HLV and Orion combination are certainly useful for lunar program. All is lacking is a lunar lander which of course would be developed later if budgets improve.

Ideally at some future date we should also add a reusable space plane vehicle like the shuttle. But even then HLV would be useful for the occasional outsized payload that wouldn’t fit into your shuttle’s.

Kelly Starks - January 1, 2011

>HLV’s can be used to orbit future space
> station modules and matter more efficient
> than the space shuttle could…

??
How? The launch costs are several times higher, and the things to be launched are more expensive since they have to be built to be more autonomous. So how do you mean more efficient?

>–Also, the HLV and Orion combination
> are certainly useful for lunar
> program. All is lacking is a lunar lander..

Are they? You need the Lunar lander, which could be lifted, deployed from the shuttle – and recovered and relanded for servicing by the shuttle. So what do you need the HLV and Orion for?

Agree a HLV is good for outsized cargo you can’t launch modularly in something like a shuttle – but that’s a dam expensive ship, and oversize cargo’s are damn rare.

John Hunt (in Atlanta) - January 1, 2011

I don’t disagree with your points. But given the alternatives that the political people leave us, I think this is the least miserable choice. There is a minor saving grace in the fact that the cost may not be that bad compared to running the shuttle is inefficiently as we have been in the past couple decades.

Kelly Starks - January 1, 2011

Agree with you’re “its a HLV orion or nothing” point. Its useless, but at least some industrial capacity will be retained for a future program.

Disagree strongly that “..the cost may not be that bad compared to running the shuttle is inefficiently as we have been”. Certainly operating or developing them will be much more expensive then operating Shuttle.

3. John Hunt (in Atlanta) - December 29, 2010

I just want to clarify my position on the Heavy Lift Vehicle issue. It’s not so much by support the specific plan in last year’s authorization budget. However I do think too much emphasis is being placed on the mission of the heavy lift vehicle. In reality such a launcher has multiple uses. It is most important that we develop capabilities incrementally in order to lay the foundation of the space exploration program.

There are many conceivable paths forward. Any of which are bound to be frustrated by the ongoing economic crisis. On the other hand, the development time for any of these alternatives is such that the current economic situation will be resolved one way or another by the time another launcher could be operational. Of course the economic outcome could be so negative that ongoing space programs will be impossible. In that case it matters little what we do about the heavy lift issue now. If the outcome is more positive then we’ll be able to find applications for launcher.

Personally, I have advocated the development of reusable launch vehicles. One concept I’ve outlined on this blog previously involves the development of a medium to heavy concept in the 50 ton range and a manned orbital space plane that it would launch. This would give us a replacement for the space shuttle for a wide range of missions at the same time it would give us a superior unmanned capability to LEO. The technologically challenging part would be to make the first stage of this launcher reusable. On the other hand one could develop a two stage reusable space plane system (as was originally planned for the space shuttle) or even a Siamese space plane concept.

What is to be recommended about the current HLV proposal is that they various warring factions within the Congress were able to agree to it and to have it signed by the President. The HLV concept outlined in the space authorization budget is certainly better than nothing which is likely to be the alternative. And, it may be the best chance we have in the near term to lay a foundation for long-term exploration options. I see the lack of a specific mission as a positive. The concept at present appears to be a modular approach. It envisions a core stage that would be suitable for all that scale up to a 130 metric ton vehicle. If I recall correctly, the initial plan with would have only a 70 metric tons orbit capability with a third stage to be developed later. One can also envision the core stage and second stage being used without SRBs for smaller payloads.

The authorization bill’s HLV would be suitable for a wide range of applications that would orbit payloads greater than any of the existing EELV’s can manage. It would allow the construction of various heavy lift options from a single set of modular components. This would allow for economies of scale in production and launch facilities. It would also allow for political support by appealing the various factions for application that they favor while avoided the push back that would occur if any specific goal was chosen. Ambiguity can be an advantage.

In conclusion it isn’t the lack of a mission for the HLV that is a problem for me but simply the fact that will be yet another very expensive expendable launch vehicle. However, I see little support within the power structure for my preferences and so for now the HLV is the best available option.

Trent Waddington - December 29, 2010

The problem is not heavy lift per se, the problem is unaffordable heavy lift. The SDHLV mandated by Congress is going to take so much money and time that there will be no budget available to pay for any payloads to go on top.

It seems like a tautological thing to say, but if NASA can’t afford something then they should figure out how to achieve their goals another way. Ignoring the cost is what they’ve been doing for decades and it’s gotten them nowhere.

http://quantumg.blogspot.com/2010/12/my-2010-review.html

Kelly Starks - December 29, 2010

Saying NASA can’t afford something is effectively nonsensical. Congress gives them whatever NASA would need to spend, to do what congress wants — usually Congress wants NASA to spend more then anything. Right now Congress seems to want some potential for future moon and Mars missions to be retained, which (according to everything NASA has told them for some time) means they will need a HLV.

The HLV need is really bogus, but the second thing congress seems worried about is NASA and the US losing any credible capacity to develop future maned missions beyond servicing ISS via Soyuz or something. That was explicitly NOT in the Obama space vision, and that shot that down with congress – but Congress has no clear idea what else to do other then build something major to keep the industry going. So build a HLV.

Given the above, to congress, canceling the HLV program really means discontinuing the US maned space program, and US maned space industrial capacity.

Jim Nobles - December 30, 2010

I believe Trent is correct in regards to NASA not being able to afford HLV as it is apparently being mandated by Congress. If Congress mandates a Shuttle Derived Launch Vehicle-using STS components, systems and procedures-then the cost will be high. NASA has a good understanding of what it costs to use these systems and can make a confident estimate of the cost of using them in a new system. It looks like the cost will be high and unless Congress starts giving NASA more money it seems to me, and a lot of other people, that the new SDHLV will likely eat most of their budget.

As Elon Musk pointed out,to the extent we use legacy systems and hardware we also inherit legacy cost structures. We know how expensive the shuttle costs to operate now so is it likely a SDHLV will be much more affordable?

And to make it clear where I stand on the whole HLV issue: I don’t belong to the Church of Heavy Lift. I believe that HL would be good to have and quite useful. But I do not believe it is essential. At least not at this stage of the game.

I can, however, see another side of the issue. I can understand the thinking of those that insist that a shuttle derived system is the way to go. I used to think that way myself. I was a Shuttle-C fan. But now that affordability has taken such a prominent position in the debate I realize that other things must be taken into account.

Which can be more affordable to develop and operate, a SDHLV or a newer design? Which is more politically feasible? These are two of the hard questions ahead.

Kelly Starks - December 30, 2010

> I believe Trent is correct in regards
> to NASA not being able to afford HLV as
> it is apparently being mandated by
> Congress. ==

That of course has nothing to do with the cost of the system, but with what Congress chooses to authorize/appropriate NASA to spend.

>== If Congress mandates a Shuttle
> Derived Launch Vehicle-using STS
> components, systems and procedures-then
> the cost will be high.==

Which could well be a major attraction to Congress. Constellation was projected to cost several times as much per launch as shuttle – which didn’t bother Congress.

Traditionally its always been much easier for NASA to get funding for big expensive projects then economical ones; and NASA primary source of public – and hence Congressional – support has been its ability to justify/deliver pork to districts. Which give congressmen more votes from happy voters. But this year voters don’t like pork, even if they were getting it. So simply canceling maned space could well be politically the most sensible.

A more economical maned space program in contrast offers far less pork per mission; but that limits the support from pro-pork voters, and still looks like pork to anti-pork voters.

The other source of NASA support is its coolness factor, and NASA going from flying big shuttles to old style capsules on boosters, will be seen as a huge leap backward — I.E. not cool.

Also I agree the HLV church is nuts. The idea that RLVs has been disproved, and redoing the Apollo style is the one true, or even best, path is rediculas. Griffen chose it to increase costs and ego, not because physics or economics recommended it.

John Hunt (in Atlanta) - December 30, 2010

The one good thing I see in the authorization budget is the lack of formal objective, i.e. Moon or Mars. I don’t believe there’s any major space project that would garner majority support under current conditions. However, I don’t believe there is majority support for ending US manned spaceflight either. So what Congress has done is to put a foot in the door for future projects within the funding that’s available today.

For now the choice is not between HLV and your favorite alternative. It’s between HLV and nothing.


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