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Webinar: SLS Debate with John Hunt, Rick Boozer, Sunday, 11-16-14 November 17, 2014

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Webinar: SLS Debate with John Hunt, Rick Boozer, Sunday, 11-16-14

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/2357-BWB-2014-11-16.mp3

http://vimeo.com/channels/thespaceshow — Video

 

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Guests:  Webinar with Rick Boozer, John Hunt.  Topics:  Our guests debated the merits of the SLS rocket.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.   Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.  For those listening to archives using live365.com and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience.  We welcomed Rick Boozer and John Hunt to the program for our special WEBINAR SLS Debate.  You can hear the audio only for this debate as you would any Space Show program.  The video can be found on our Vimeo Space Show Channel, http://vimeo.com/channels/thespaceshow.  Regarding the video, my microphone lock was not working so you will see the mic swing to in front of my face from time to time.  Also, I look down a bit as I take notes to be able to summarize  the discussion.  These issues will be corrected for the next webinar. Rick’s book on the subject, “The Plundering of NASA: An Expose” is available on Amazon.  If you purchase the book and I hope you do, please use the OGLF/Space Show Amazon portal so Amazon will make a contribution to TSS.  Instructions are on the website, the blog, and all program archive summaries.

During the first segment of our two hour webinar, both John and Rick made five minute opening statements followed by a 2.5 minute rebuttal of the position statement by the other guest.  Rick Boozer does not support SLS and John Hunt does support it.  John went first, putting forth a good summary of why he supports SLS, the benefits it provides, and the importance of the project.  Rick’s opening statement outlined why he opposes the SLS rocket, calling it an “existential threat.”  He also said SLS was a “rocket to nowhere.”  The opening statements provided the basic positions for both guests as they debated all aspects of SLS so do carefully listen to their respective position comments.  We took both calls and emails from listeners.  Evon emailed in wanting to know what the money saved from SLS would best be spent on.  John pointed out that there was no assurance that any savings would even be spent on space let alone his priorities.  While Rick agreed, he did list several projects he felt far more deserving of funding, including using the funds to speed up the commercial crew program since it has never been funded to the level requested by the President.  Rick took the opportunity to bring up cost plus contracting and why it was not suitable for a more mature manufacturing project, instead being best suited for R&D projects.  He said that was a driver in the high cost of SLS.  In contrast, John cited his aviation experience with the A12 and P7 aircraft using fixed price contracts, cancellations, and more.  Dr. Doug sent in a note asking about the fundamental need for a heavy lift rocket.  Our guests had a different take on Doug’s question so listen to how they answered it.  Rick pointed out the advantages of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy as compared to the initial SLS version.  In fact, comparisons to Falcon Heavy plus future SpaceX plans and public remarks made by Elon Musk were cited frequently by Rick throughout the program.  John, while applauding the SpaceX accomplishments so far, strongly suggested that we see what the performance actually is on the SpaceX  rockets yet to be tested & flown.  John said we should not be in a hurry to cancel SLS in favor of unproven and as of yet nonexistent technology.  Tim from Huntsville called during this segment to inquire about SLS in light of Falcon 9 success, reusability success and more.  John suggested that reusability would be an important step forward but wanted to wait to see what it looked like when & if it becomes operationally successful.

In the second half of our webinar, Dr. Doug called & inquired about both the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy as compared to SLS.  Rick referenced an Elon Musk MIT video talk, www.teslamotors.com/forum/forums/elon-musk-mit-interview-video-24-oct-2014.  Rick referenced this talk several times during this segment.  Rick also said SLS would not be going anywhere as there was no budget for its completion.  He cited the references to back up his claims.  Doug also inquired about public/private partnerships, ULA working with Blue Origin, and ULA with Masten.  Andrew sent in an email asking each guest to outline a viable sequence of launch vehicle development and payloads using what hardware.  John took the opportunity to reply to Rick’s budget comments and said there was no way to know what a future congress and administration would do and he listed the rational for keeping SLS going given our state of uncertainty with many space and international issues.  Jerry called from Florida to inquire about the SpaceX super heavy rocket with methane engines as well as the possibility of using a Dragon as a lander.  Adrian emailed a question to our guests wondering if the Chinese lunar program would create a space race or urgency here in the U.S.  Rick then talked about the likelihood of SpaceX getting to deep space before NASA & this would be an embarrassment for NASA and the SLS/Orion gang.  John did agree that if that happened, it would be an embarrassment for NASA.  Kirk emailed in asking Rick about his opening statement when he said SLS would cause the US to rely on Russian in ways other than eating into the commercial budget. He wanted Rick to tell us the other ways such Russian reliance might unfold.  Listen to how Rick responded to Kirk’s question.  Each of our guests provided us with an excellent five minute closing statement.  Rick said the situation was very serious and had the potential to adversely impact the prominence and leadership of the U.S.  Don’t miss his concluding comments.  John reminded us that SLS was the program of record approved on a bipartisan basis, that it was important to have heavy lift capability, and that it preserved skills, work force talent, and needed capabilities for the nation for times when space would be better appreciated & valued.  He said the problems with SLS were all solvable & would be solved as the project moved forward.  Rick quickly got in a question on what capabilities were needed and being preserved!

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog.  You can reach each guest through me.

Comments»

1. Ken - December 16, 2014

In his opening statement, John mentions that the need for heavy lifter is widely accepted by many authorities, such as Mike Griffin, Elon Musk and Charlie Bolden. While this is literally true, closer examination shows that none of Griffin’s, Musk’s or Bolden’s statements are actually justifications for SLS.

Take Mike Griffin. He has certainly has come out in support of heavy lift. He did so in NASA’s Exploration Systems Architcture Study (ESAS) of 2005, which recommended the launch vehicles for the Constellation Program. He has also made the more colloquial argument that in all other modes of transport, larger vehicles have lowered costs.

But does anybody really have confidence in ESAS? It, after all, was the study that claimed EELVs were unsuitable for crew launch becaure of “black zones” during which safe abort was infeasible. The selection of Boeing’s Atlas V-boosted CST-100 vehicle for the commercial crew program proves that NASA itself rejects this conclusion. ESAS was also premised upon an failure rate for automated rendezvous and docking shown by ISS experience to be unreasonably high. It recommended the Ares I/Ares V architecture which proved unimplementable on plausible budgets (see the Augustine Committee’s report). In short, ESAS was severely flawed. NASA itself does not refer to ESAS in justifying SLS (more on NASA’s take later).

Griffin’s shorter argument is an analogy to the decrease in the cost of air travel occasioned by the development of the 747. While it is quite true that the 747 has reduced costs, Boeing did not develop it until the demand for air travel was sufficient to fill many of them daily. If the worldwide fleet logged just a flight a day, the 747 would be an economic disaster (as it now appears the larger A380 may become). With SLS flight rates being likely measured not in flights per year but years per flight, SLS is unlikely to reduce costs, much less repay the expense of its development. The time to develop a large vehicle is when confidence is high that it will be in demand, not when such demand is a but a faint hope.

We all know that Elon Musk is interested in a very large rocket, the “BFR.” In announcing the Falcon Heavy, however, SpaceX said[1]:

“Please note that Falcon Heavy should not be confused with the super heavy lift rocket program being debated by the U.S. Congress. That vehicle is authorized to carry between 70-130 metric tons to orbit. SpaceX agrees with the need to develop a vehicle of that class as the best way to conduct a large number of human missions to Mars…. Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars.”

Hence, SpaceX’s interest in anything on the scale of SLS has no connection with NASA programs, which might, at best, hope to send a few people per decade to Mars beginning many years from now. For that purpose, SpaceX explicitly states that an SLS-sized vehicle is unneeded.

Finally, we have Charles Bolden. He as a professional is bound, regardless of his own views, to support the administration’s policy or resign if unwilling to do so. Though the administration was obviously was forced into SLS by Congress, support is now its policy. The administrator’s statements simply must correspond. Were those statements backed up by NASA trade studies, Bolden’s claims would be of some weight. But, in fact, NASA has never presented any analytical comparison of SLS against the alternatives. Bolden’s remarks consequently remain in the realm of the political rather than the technical.

Since NASA does not turn to its own engineers to justify SLS, one naturally wonders whom NASA does regard as an authority. At a symposium late in 2013, NASA’s Bill Gerstenmeier and Boeing manager John Elbon looked to Inspiration Mars (IM) for justification[2]. It is true that the architecture study[3] released by IM in November 2013 calls for an SLS launch (as well as commercial launch of the crew). This study, however, offers no explanation at all for why IM eliminated the EELV and Falcon options it had previously considered[4]. Since the release of the revised architecture coincided with a proposal to Congress by IM founder Dennis Tito that NASA provide an SLS launch for IM[5], one naturally suspects that the choice was driven by the desire to procure a free launch. Since nobody is offering free SLS launches to NASA, this is not a justification for its use of SLS. Whatever the actual reason for IM’s focus on SLS, it remains the case that IM has offered no technical justification for choosing that launch vehicle over others. It is astounding that NASA and Boeing would lean on a long-shot effort like IM to justify SLS[5]; why can’t they present their own analyses? They are certainly competent to perform them. Boeing surely has the motivation to provide a technical justifcation, if it can, for it stands to lose income if SLS is cancelled.

————

1. SpaceX press release “SpaceX Announces Launch Date for the World’s Most Powerful Rocket,” 5 April 2011 (www.spacex.com/press/2012/12/19/spacex-announces-launch-date-worlds-most-powerful-rocket).
2. Marshal Institute symposium “Removing the Barriers to Deep Space Exploration,” 12 Nov. 2013 (www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHLWMwLvRG4), from 28:45.
3. “Inspiration Mars Architecture Study Report,” document number 806800151NC, 20 Nov. 2013 (www.inspirationmars.org/IM%20Architecture%20Study%20Report%20Summary.pdf).
4. Dennis Tito et al. in presentation “Feasibility Analysis for a Manned Mars Free-Return Mission in 2018” to Future In-Space Operations colloquium, 3 April 2013 (www.aiaa.org/uploadedFiles/About-AIAA/Press-Room/Key_Speeches-Reports-and-Presentations/2013_Key_Speeches/Inspiration-Mars-FISO-Presentation2013-04-03.pdf).
5. And ironic too. SLS’s first flight having likely slipped into 2018, it is now highly unlikely that IM could fly on SLS before the launch window closes on 4 Jan. 2018.

2. Alistair - December 2, 2014

Take the politics out of the discussion and there might be some merit to having a heavy lift rocket. However, it’s impossible to discuss this without bringing political realities into the discussion. I suspect SLS will live on in some form until Falcon Heavy is a proven asset at which point NASA should get out of the rocket business, period.

Yes, we can’t really have an SLS discussion without bringing up Falcon Heavy. Delta IV Heavy (albeit proven), doesn’t have the performance of the F9H and it’s been removed from the commercial market.

It would be interesting to have a hypothetical discussion if SLS was commercial and Falcon Heavy was government. Would people still sing the merits of Falcon Heavy because it’s a better design, or SLS because it was commercial?

Separating both boosters from their designers, it’s a closer debate, with SLS winning out on some areas (heavier lift). Falcon Heavy clearly wins on cost and possibly keeping things simple.

Commercial industry should be handling all rocket missions between LEO and GEO. Beyond that is NASA’s domain; This is where NASA should be spending the taxpayers money.

This all being said, I hope ULA realizes they need to follow the SpaceX model and start from scratch on a new rocket. I’m sure there are plenty of highly capable ULA engineers who would love to prove that they can do just as well as the “poached” engineers at SpaceX. Just give them a chance.

[Full disclosure, in a previous life, our office participated in the Falcon 1, Flt 1 mishap investigation. Could be some residual bias in favor of SpaceX].

John Hunt - December 3, 2014

The Falcon Heavy will not have any effect on the fate of the SLS. They are in two completely different payload classes. Not the Falcon XX if it really is developed is a different matter. The question is can Space X afford developing such a large rocket?

jimjxr - December 4, 2014

The question is not “if” SpaceX will develop a super heavy, the question is when. They’re already developing the Raptor engine, so the work is already underway. Once the engine is tested, I think it would be beneficial to everyone that NASA cancel SLS and redirect part of the funding to SpaceX’s reusable super heavy in the form of public/private partnership.

rboozer1 - December 4, 2014

John, as I explained to you in the debate, having that attitude is nothing but burying your head in the sand. All SpaceX needs to do the swing around the Moon that Musk is talking about is an FH and Dragon V2 (won’t even need a service module since it won’t be entering lunar orbit). As I pointed out, if SpaceX gets to deep space before NASA, all bets are off. You yourself said it would “look bad”. Here’s a cartoon that was just released that nicely fits in: https://twitter.com/NASAWatch/status/540332378980634624/photo/1

Also you keep talking about Falcon XX. That was just a general concept for a vehicle vehicle that was never supposed to be released which Tom Markusik publicly showed without SpaceX’s knowledge and got in trouble for it. The new BFR is NOT Falcon XX — doesn’t even use the same engines.

rboozer1 - December 4, 2014

“Commercial industry should be handling all rocket missions between LEO and GEO. Beyond that is NASA’s domain; This is where NASA should be spending the taxpayers money.”
Absolutely correct.

3. Andy Hill - November 26, 2014

I think there are a few things to think about with regard to this whole debate.

If SLS is cancelled, its budget is unlikely to be spent wisely on stuff that will advance human space flight. I suspect that it will either be used to support another SLS clone (as happened when constellation was cancelled) or disappear back to the government (some small portion may be used to fund this or that feasibility study). So what is the point in cancelling it if the money is lost to the space industry?

The only reason that the SLS money exists is to support a jobs program in various states, a commercially built rocket will not achieve this end. A cheaper rocket will inevitably employ less people in fewer locations so will not be as good an employer. From a job creation point of view this is not as attractive, Senators and Congressmen want people employed not space hardware.

Rather than keep rebooting the program every few years what happens if the thing actually gets built and flown? At least NASA will then have to accomplish something with it, if its cancelled once its ready to fly I’m not sure that NASA would be allowed to develop another rocket, what would be the point? Saturn V went to the Moon, shuttle built the ISS both were cancelled after these tasks were accomplished and I think that SLS will need to accomplish some project before it is cancelled also.

I personally think that SLS is a farce but if you’ve got a joke you might as well wait for the final punch line.

R.D. Boozer - November 26, 2014

NASA’s budget has stayed pretty much the same (adjusted for inflation) for decades, so I don’t think it is likely that a significant part of its budget will be taken away and applied to something outside of NASA. That has never happened before in the almost 60 years NASA has existed and I doubt it will happen now.

Also, yes, another Shuttle derived vehicle came after Constellation, but that was before there were pre-existing commercial HLVs. Soon the FH will exist. Also, the BFR is already being worked on.

Furthermore, if this second of two shuttle derived vehicles gets cancelled due to excessive cost and not being developed as fast as its proponents said it could (as happened with the first), greater scrutiny by the media is bound to occur. The politicos may no longer find it as easy to pull such shenanigans again.

Andy Hill - November 26, 2014

NASA’s budget may have stayed flat but what that budget has had to support has not. The cost of the standing army and multiple sites have almost certainly increased as a percentage of their budget and the range of projects has increased, for instance how much is spent on global warming monitoring and investigation, something that was non-existent as an activity decades ago. In short NASA makes jobs and funnels money to where congress directs it to now, not the hardware or dreams that it used to.

You assume that congress or a president would not try to repeat the same mistake of SLS when clearly governments continually do exactly that lots of times. Besides by now we will not have “shuttle derived” it will be re-spun as “SLS derived” which will be an easier sell.

Not that I’m trying to defend SLS, I just don’t see that there is a viable alternative that would have sufficient support in congress to get funded. All the alternatives that I’ve heard about presupposes that there is a willingness from the US government to do anything cutting edge in space. I see a lot of rhetoric but very little substance by way of strategy or support for anything that could be a game changer and create a more pro-active farsighted space program.

R.D. Boozer - November 26, 2014

“You assume that congress or a president would not try to repeat the same mistake of SLS when clearly governments continually do exactly that lots of times. Besides by now we will not have “shuttle derived” it will be re-spun as “SLS derived” which will be an easier sell. ”
You assume that the major media will be as slack about reporting the facts of what is happening to NASA to the public as it has in the past. You may be surprised at what happens in the near future, because I happen to know some well placed news people who are about to make a big deal out of this soon and get the word out to a broader audience than just us space geeks. With a wised up public demanding more from their tax dollars spent on NASA, things may change.

This is all I can say on the matter.

Andy Hill - November 26, 2014

I hope you are right and I am wrong and that things will change from the present status quo but the media have not got a good track record and are almost as bad as most politicians.

John Hunt - November 26, 2014

I think you basically on to the right track. If the Congress hadn’t pushed back against the Administration after the cancellation of the Constellation program, it is likely that a lot of the exploration budget would disappear. The reason why the budget had been relatively constant was because the two key programs were space shuttle and ISS. Constellation basically took up the shuttle budget plus some of R & D money. If the current SLS/Orion plan hadn’t been put in place with the budget pressure a little of the money would gone to commercial crew, some would have gone to some cool R & D, and most would have to non-space priorities. The problem is from where would the money come to actually build something out the R & D?

The same time one must realize that the Administration had ruled out return to the moon as an objective. Mars is not in the realm of a near term objective. So in the context the SLS/Orion project provide something to do in the present while we wait for a new Administration. It represents an incremental approach to developing key components that can be used by a future administration to launch a future lunar program. The remaining piece is the lander.

As for a affordability, if we are going to have a serious human space program beyond LEO we are just going to need more money for NASA. It is time that we let NASA’s budget grow with the rest the Federal spending.

R.D. Boozer - November 26, 2014

“It represents an incremental approach to developing key components that can be used by a future administration to launch a future lunar program. The remaining piece is the lander.”
B.S. for reasons I covered in the debate.

“As for a affordability, if we are going to have a serious human space program beyond LEO we are just going to need more money for NASA. It is time that we let NASA’s budget grow with the rest the Federal spending.”
Money from NASA is the more expeditious way to do it — with NASA doing a partnership with commercial entities similar to Commercial Crew. But it can be done without NASA, just slower.

“It is time that we let NASA’s budget grow with the rest the Federal spending.”
Agreed, but not BEYOND the growth rate of Federal spending like you want.

As the executive secretary of the National Space Council under the GHW Bush administration stated, if we get rid of SLS (even better without Orion) we can have an exceptional manned human space exploration program with NASA’s current budget.

It’s amazing that otherwise intelligent people can subscribe to the delusion that the cost of SLS/Orion doesn’t matter and massive increases in the NASA budget are somehow going to appear.

4. Joe from Houston - November 25, 2014

The SLS program is simply an explosive job’s program reserved for times of government spending sprees, especially now since it has no destination. The politicians are simply feeding it crumbs until the government spending spree emerges. Since we are not in a period of government spending sprees it is going to slowly evolve over time to maintain and sustain the maximum number of jobs already sprinkled in powerful voting districts. As any sane person would agree, the SLS program as it currently exists is in no way going to save the US taxpayer any money. There is no such thing as a safe rocket no matter how much safety engineers design into it just like there is no such thing as a safe nuclear power plant. The SLS program logically and religiously follows the money spenders and tempts them with re-election desires. The SLS program supporter’s mantra is “Do something with your power to give your voters something to be proud about supporting and we will put the money you spend on us to good use in your district”. If that doesn’t tempt you, what will? That is what money essentially is; a tempting behavior modifier. The current SLS money is in job protection; not cost savings. The companies that don’t get the SLS money threaten to layoff their workers; causing re-election desires to diminish. Even the name, SLS, may change as well, if that is what it takes to protect and cloak existing SLS jobs. If the powerful politicians in NASA districts have their way, we would be constantly sending people to distant destinations and bringing them back with rocks and dirt samples so they can thank the politicians for giving them the privilege to ride their rocket into space. What is NASA doing instead? They are sending robots to distant destinations on one-way journeys and transmitting data back for public consumption. They are also affordably sending people to low earth orbit to measure the deleterious effects of zero-gravity instead of conducting experiments to counteract the deleterious effects of zero-gravity because one is much safer than the other. This method of capturing the public’s attention or distracting the public from harsh times is proving to be more efficient use of taxpayers’ money than sending people on dangerous journeys to who knows where.

John Culberson, a US House Representative from Texas, now as a huge role in the appropriations committee for NASA. He is a much bigger supporter of cost effective robotic one-way missions than manned missions to distant destinations. It will be interesting to witness what he appropriates for NASA in the next Congress beginning in January.

5. Michael J. Listner - November 23, 2014

I can’t say that I thought this was a productive show as far as content, although the entertainment value was significant. Things did get out of control at times, but I commend David for the job he did in moderating this discussion, which is not an easy task to do remotely.

That being said, I still have no opinion one way or another about SLS. Some very good points were made in favor of it, and there were some equally compelling arguments against it. Suffice it to say that John and Rick are both right about SLS and they are both wrong about SLS. Somewhere in between that is the truth about the viability of SLS.

One of the fallacies of the discussion I found distracting was the constant reference back to Space X. The point of this debate was to discuss the pros and cons of SLS and not make side-by-side comparisons to Space X. Yet, Space X got dragged into the discussion and overshadowed the the topic at hand and that’s where I pretty much tuned out.

Some points I find salient to the discussion both pro and con:

1. SLS is a jobs program, but on the the other hand you are preserving your workforce and industrial base as well as the know-how to build a rocket of this scale.

2. SLS is going to be hugely expensive to build and to fly, so unless you have a purpose for it beyond flashy missions to asteroids that “inspire” it’s probably not worth building. However, as Dr. Griffin pointed out a few months ago, once you have a heavy-lift capability in place you can start designing missions to take advantage of that capability.

3. SLS is indeed a political construct and survives at the whim of politics. The members of Congress who support SLS doubtless have their constituencies in mind with their support, but I also think it’s disingenuous and beyond cynical to say that they don’t have the best interests of the space program at heart. One of the more childish terms I’ve seen floating around is “porkanauts”. That being said SLS’s political flavor is more of an end than a means.

4. SLS does provide a back-up in case commercial space efforts fail. Commercial space is in its infancy and because it is a business if the profitability doesn’t materialize then investment dries up and the business fails. if the government has to subsidize commercial space to keep it alive then it really isn’t commercial space; it’s just another contractor that depends on government business to survive. On the other hand, SLS alone is not the answer either. It is a combination of both the capabilities that government-run programs like SLS and private-run efforts bring to the table that are needed to move our space program forward.

jimjxr - November 23, 2014

“One of the fallacies of the discussion I found distracting was the constant reference back to Space X.”: Of course we need to consider SpaceX, talking about SLS without SpaceX is like talking about your business plan without mentioning your major competition, it makes no sense. France and Germany considered SpaceX when they dropped Ariane 5 ME and redesigned Ariane 6. ULA considered SpaceX when they chose BE-4. SLS is the only new western launcher that is not taking SpaceX into consideration.

Michael J. Listner - November 24, 2014

Whatever.

Vladislaw - November 25, 2014

The standard “enlightening” comment by Michael J. Listner

Michael J. Listner - November 25, 2014

The standard “I don’t waste my time on space enthusiasts who don’t want to listen” response.

jimjxr - November 25, 2014

Listen to what? You only said “whatever”. I didn’t have time to reply to your 4 points, but I can if you feel they somehow make SpaceX irrelevant in the discussion.

jimjxr - November 28, 2014

http://online.wsj.com/articles/eu-poised-to-approve-new-generation-of-lower-cost-ariane-rockets-1417110622

“The officials said European Union ministers, faced with the growing success of Southern California-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp., are likely to ratify the decision to develop and build updated versions of Europe’s venerable Ariane rocket for about €4 billion ($5 billion) at a meeting in Luxembourg early next week. If all goes well, the inaugural flight would blast off around the end of the decade.”

At least European politicians don’t have their heads in the sand, whatever indeed.

Vladislaw - November 25, 2014

M. Listner wrote: “1. SLS is a jobs program, but on the the other hand you are preserving your workforce and industrial base as well as the know-how to build a rocket of this scale.”

You can also preserve your workforce by offering a competitively bid heavy lift program. Three companies offered alternatives. Boeing at 6.5 billion, Lockheed Martin at 6 billion and SpaceX at 3 billion. ULA combined Boeing and Lockheed Martin’s to a 8 billion sole source bid.

As taxpayers shouldn’t they get the biggest bang for the buck? If the Nation needs a heavy lift transportation system then let commercial interests supply the government with a commercial competitively bid offering.

Vladislaw - November 26, 2014

Mr. Listner wrote: “One of the more childish terms I’ve seen floating around is “porkanauts”. ”

Childish? This coming from a middle aged man who continually answers like a 16 year valley girl saying “whatever”.

Mr. Listner also wrote: “SLS is going to be hugely expensive to build and to fly, so unless you have a purpose for it beyond flashy missions to asteroids that “inspire” it’s probably not worth building. However, as Dr. Griffin pointed out a few months ago, once you have a heavy-lift capability in place you can start designing missions to take advantage of that capability.”

It is TO expensive to fly. Period. That is the entire debate, It is an unsustainable program. How can you “take advantage” of a system that is to expensive to even operate.

Mr. Listner added: “The members of Congress who support SLS doubtless have their constituencies in mind with their support, but I also think it’s disingenuous and beyond cynical to say that they don’t have the best interests of the space program at heart. ”

It is not cynical it is mearly facing the facts. They do not have the best interests of the space program at heart, they have their own personal constituencies in mind and at heart.

You can have a monster rocket and no launches or lunar landings…

OR

You can put American lunar researchers on Lunar utilizing the Nation’s commercial firms.

You can not have both. Congressional “porkonauts” choose the monster rocket and no launches to luna.

John Hunt - November 27, 2014

The SLS is basically the rocket that was plan during the Constellation program. So isn’t like the Congress decided to play rocket engineer and design their own rocket. Basically they were reversing Obama’s cancellation of Constellation.

It would be a lot more helpful to the space program if people would campaign for developing a lunar lander rather than cancelling the existing program.

R.D. Boozer - November 27, 2014

“The SLS is basically the rocket that was plan during the Constellation program.”

Partly right and partly wrong. Yes, it is similar to Ares V in that it is a large shuttle derived heavy-lift vehicle, but its performance specifications were radically changed. For instance, Ares V payload to LEO was to be 188 metric tons. For SLS block 1 – 70 metric tons, for block 2 – 130 metric tons. Quite a change.

“So isn’t like the Congress decided to play rocket engineer and design their own rocket.”

Balderdash. The above performance specifications were written into law; therefore, the Congress persons responsible were indeed playing rocket engineer and designing their own rocket. Also, legislatively restricting NASA personnel to Shuttle derived tech and not giving them a choice as to what tech to use is also playing rocket engineer and designing their own rocket.

“It would be a lot more helpful to the space program if people would campaign for developing a lunar lander rather than cancelling the existing program.”

For reasons I explained in the debate, not necessary if a more economically practical rocket was being developed because we could afford to do it without increasing the budget. Doing a campaign now with SLS will just result in the money for the lander being taken away from something else in NASA’s budget.

Keeping SLS because we have already spent a lot of money on it is a perfect example of the classic “sunk cost fallacy”. Continuing to spend money on a system that will yield NO competitive advantage against our nation’s international rivals because its development time is so stretched out that it allows them to erode our lead is foolhardiness. Especially since: 1) better alternatives can be up and running faster and 2) they would not require boosting the budget to beyond a level it can realistic be expected to reach. Again, that and more was mentioned in the debate and you chose to ignore it.

But I’m sure you will keep generating even more imaginative rationalizations.

Michael J. Listner - November 28, 2014

Yes, childish. Saying ‘whatever’ is easier to verbalize than rolling my eyes.

Michael J. Listner - November 28, 2014

“You can not have both. Congressional “porkonauts” choose the monster rocket and no launches to luna.”

Wrong. Not going back to the is administration policy not Congressional policy.

6. Alistair - November 20, 2014

The vimeo video link has stray period in the url. Removing it gets to correct Space Show page.

jimjxr - November 20, 2014

And the video is not there yet…


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