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On to Mars via the Moon

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DavRedf

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Just heard on the news that President Bush has announced that they are going back to the moon and on to mars. Great news but excuse me for being cynical what will it cost and who will pay?

All pigs draw flight gear and report to the runway. :D :D :D :p
Seriously this is great news and we should get the off spin of people coming into rocketry after seeing the big birds fly on TV.
( shame SaturnV will not fly again that was some bird )

David
 

illini

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David, look here: http://images.spaceref.com/news/2004/01.14.04.budget.chart.lrg.jpg

The bottom line is that there is almost no increase in NASA's budget. Instead, what is happening is that NASA has been given a direction for the first time in 40 years. Existing white elephant programs like the Shuttle and ISS are giving way to the direction we should have been heading all along. The money would have been spent either way, but now there's a chance that we may get something good out of it.
 

illini

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Good catch, I hadn't noticed that! Yup, the conspiracy theorists will be feeding off that one for quite awhile.
 

DavRedf

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Yeah sounds good but there is a little voice that says "I wonder"
As for the "flat earthers" of course we hav'nt been to the moon before, everyone knows that many thousand people are in the know and all say
we did. Something like that can't stay secret for long let alone 40 odd years.

David
 

graylensman

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I'm trying oh so hard not to be cynical, but every President since Reagan has made calls for renewed efforts in manned space flight. I'd feel better if an administration would make a move toward the privatization of space flight, and ease the restrictions on firms and individuals attempting to open up the High Frontier.
 

illini

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I think the biggest difference between this and other presidential pronouncements of this type for the last 30 years is that this comes with more than a lofty vision, it comes with a plan. Even better, it asks for almost no new funding, making it politically palatable. Instead, it kills a bunch of existing programs to free up funding for this. It provides direction and a realistic roadmap to get there. Also, in the past NASA has been reluctant to give up any program and has viewed anything new as being necessarily an add-on to existing programs. I think NASA today is much more humbled and willing to do what it takes to move forward...either that or face extinction.
 

LMazza

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I seem to remember hearing that NASA funding will be steadily increased on a yearly basis in order to boost it enough for this project. I also heard the total cost will be half a trillion dollars. Finally, it also shouldn't be ignored that elections are closing in on us and that there may be certain political agenda's fueling these announcments.

Still, it sounds like a great mission!:D
 

illini

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In another list I posted a link to the planned funding chart. The only funding increase amounts to $1B over 5 years, averaging about $200M per year. That's peanuts, nada, zilch. The funding projections you're hearing are from the naysayers and are totally ill informed, or worse, deceptively hoping that you won't become informed. The naysayer party line goes something like this: It will cost $500B in new funding. That's money that can be used to provide free healthcare, improve education, find a cure for aids,house the homeless, end poverty, end world hunger, AND pay for Michael Jackson's attorneys. In fact, NASA's budget is $15.5B this year, which is about 1% of the entire federal budget. The return on that investment, if focused properly, could be enormous. Currently, 34% of the federal budget goes to "human resources" programs like social security, hud, education, labor, health and human services, etc. The naysayers are trying to make a case for killing NASA and giving them the funds, making it sound like it would cure all ills. 34% vs. 1%!!!!!
 

LMazza

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I didn't get the info from naysayers. That's just how much it will cost. Of course, you are right, there will be minimal NEW funding.
 

illini

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The $500B number comes from the naysayers and has been repeated in the press as though there is some truth to it. Will NASA spend $500B? Yes...over the next 30 years! What the naysayers don't want you to know is that $500B is how much their pet programs cost us in 1 (that's ONE) year.
 

Chilly

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Someone else pulled the number of 1 TRILLION (pronounced with my best Dr. Evil voice) out of thin air and it's getting some traction with the news services. It's appalling how many columnists are bloviating about this who don't have a clue what they're talking about - or are intentionally trying to mislead. But people who don't know better take them seriously because of their bylines.

If you really want the lowdown on what's happening, go to spaceref.com or nasawatch.com. The authors of both sites have been following this story for UPI since last year and I consider them the true authorities. Their sites are running a three-part series on the "inside story", and it began long before the Columbia accident. It confirmed a lot of what I thought was happening just from watching how the OSP evolved from a mini-shuttle to a maxi-Apollo.

The short version is Bush had all this in mind when he put Sean O'Keefe in charge of NASA. Columbia just kick-started the process, much as 9/11 kick-started what he already believed about dealing with terrorism. Suffice to say, this is not a Karl Rove-inspired election stunt. Once again, the usual suspects are "misunderestimating" the President (sorry, but Harvard doesn't just give away MBAs, I don't care who your daddy is).
 

illini

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I'll second Chilly's recommendation: read the 3-part UPI series posted at NASA Watch to get the real story here. The new direction is absolutely logical and lives within the space of fiscal and political reality.

By the way, Chilly. Are we allowed to use words like "bloviate" on TRF? Seems like that should violate some kind of standard.
 

bobkrech

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I have read and reread the UPI articles and disagree with the previous assessment.

With the exception of the relacement of Goldin by O'Keefe which was a very good move, the entire plan simply doesn't cut it.

Attached is a document compiled from http://www.astronautix.com that contains the development and launch costs of the Apollo program, its capsules and boosters, and the currently available heavy lift boosters (note the booster launch costs do not include the cost of the payloads).

Apollo cost 25 Billion in 1967 dollars. That is equivalent to about 250 Billion spent over the next 10 years or so. That's more than NASA's budget for a 10 year time period. And it will cost at least that much to go to Mars even on a Simple Mars Direct Plan.

Putting mass into LEO costs at least $10,000 a pound including the cost of the payload. Going to GEO is 3 to 4 times that price. Going to the moon and back would be at least 2 twice that cost. Being conservative, going to Mars and back will double this figure again.

Using foreign hardware is no less expensive when you consider that the hardware is only a small part of the cost of a program. The engineering, testing, integration, and staffing overwhelm the parts cost. Look at the Sea Launch Zenit 3 and the Atlas V which have very good Russian engines. The costs are not different from US hardware.

Also the US will not purchase Russian hardware directly. See how the Bush administration plans to purchase Soyuz capsules through ESA instead of directly from Russia for political reasons. That to me shows a real double standard and lack of commitment.

Nixon and Fletcher put NASA down the road on a one size fits all space craft: The Shuttle. We abandonded all other manned lift vehicles and most boosters. It was a bad idea then, and it's a bad idea now. The Bush - O'Keefe CEV looks like another one size fits all vehicle to me.

Lastly the program defies the basic laws of physics. Putting a GPS system around the Moon or Mars does not reduce the required mass for a mission. The mission duration and number of people and their supplies determine the payload mass. That and the delta V for the mission determines the fuel requirements. Orbital corrections eliminated by any kind of high precision location system would account for less than 1% of the fuel load. Just remember we landed NEAR on Asteroid EROS autonomously without any Deep Space GPS system.

The real costs shouldn't prevent us from going to Mars. It's just that our leaders have to do their homework and be honest with the Americal public. There is no free lunch. The bills we don't pay today will be paid with interest by our children in the future.

Bob Krech
 

illini

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A few points to ponder:

Nowhere does the plan call for development of a Saturn V style booster.

Nowhere does the plan say we must return to the moon in 10 years, but rather leaves a wide window for pretty much anytime by 2020.

Nowhere does the plan say we must go to Mars at all costs, it simply points to the solar system as the proper direction for exploration.


The CEV is intended to be modular, not one-size-fits-all.

Much of the failure of the shuttle is from being a complex reusable spacecraft resulting from the one-size-fits-all requirements.

This is not a crash program with a fixed destination, but rather a long term program of exploration that attempts to justify NASA's budget. This strikes me as a highly flexible approach. Others, especially the press and democratic presidential candidates, are seeing something else.

The total cost numbers that are being thrown around must be kept in perspective. NASA's budget is ~$15.5B per year. If kept at that level, NASA will spend ~$500B (in today's dollars) over the next 30+ years. The difference is that instead of going into boondoggles like Shuttle and ISS, it will be focused into exploration. Two questions remain in order to judge cost effectiveness: 1) What would NASA's budget be like if we eliminated Shuttle and ISS and simply sustained an unmanned program? and 2) Is $500B over the next 30 years really enough for this program? The answer to the first is ~half of what it is now. The answer to the second is that unlike Apollo, the political reality is that the program will have to be tailored to fit the available budget and not vice versa. Can we make real progress in a program of exploration with a $15B annual budget? I think the answer is yes, but if proven wrong then we'd probably be better off going fully robotic.
 

bobkrech

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"Nowhere does the plan call for development of a Saturn V style booster."

That's one of the problems. To get anything useful to the moon, and to retrun to eath will take a booster of that size.

"Nowhere does the plan say we must return to the moon in 10 years, but rather leaves a wide window for pretty much anytime by 2020."

That another problem. Whenever you stretch out a program, the costs go up, not down. Short intense efforts always cost less.

"Nowhere does the plan say we must go to Mars at all costs, it simply points to the solar system as the proper direction for exploration."

That's another problem. If you can't go to Mars which is relatively close, you certainly can't go farther.

"The CEV is intended to be modular, not one-size-fits-all."

It's always been cheaper to develop a spacecraft for a specific mission. Weight is a premium, reduce weight by a point and you shave $75-$150K off the mission expenses. Besides that, every modular unit must be man-qualified seperately so your not going to save money there either.

The CEV reduces flexibility to LEO since it has limited landing options, and must be designed to have a heafty heat shield for interplanetary aerobreaking.

A next generation winged vehicle for LEO applications doesn't need the structurea and unburdened by the Shuttles main engine and payload bay, could really land at any airport. Burt Rutan's got it right with SpaceShipOne.

"Much of the failure of the shuttle is from being a complex reusable spacecraft resulting from the one-size-fits-all requirements."

Both shuttle accidents were totally avoidable and were due to political pressure from the White House. The only reason why Challenger was launched from a frozen launch pad was that Regan had written in the Teacher in Space as the highpoint of his State of the Union address. The engineers had voted not to launch, but the NASA managers overuled them. The schedule delays in the ISS and the failure to fix the foam shedding problem are what caused the Columbia accident. Foam shedding should have grounded the fleet the first timeit was observed, but since they kept getting away with it, they changed their ground rules. It was cheaper that way.

BTW the Oriinal Shuttle Development Cost were $: 10,100.00 million. in 1977 average dollars. Launch Price $: 245.00 million. in 1988 price dollars. Total Production Built: 5. Flyaway Unit Cost $: 63.00 million. in 1988 unit dollars. Cost comments: Shuttle has high fixed costs and low marginal costs. Cost per mission dependent on rate. Flyaway cost is marginal cost for extra mission. Launch cost is cost per flight at 6 per year. The cost to replace Challenger was $2 billion dollars.

"This is not a crash program with a fixed destination, but rather a long term program of exploration that attempts to justify NASA's budget. This strikes me as a highly flexible approach. Others, especially the press and democratic presidential candidates, are seeing something else."

I think the program will crash. There is no real increase in NASA's budget over inflation in Bush's plan over the next 5 years. Do the math $0.2 Billion in a $15 Billion budget is a 1.3% increase which doesn't even cover inflation. It's a budget cut in reality. If Bush gets re-elected, he has 5 more years to go counting this year, so nothing hits the fan on his watch.

"The total cost numbers that are being thrown around must be kept in perspective. NASA's budget is ~$15.5B per year. If kept at that level, NASA will spend ~$500B (in today's dollars) over the next 30+ years. The difference is that instead of going into boondoggles like Shuttle and ISS, it will be focused into exploration."

Neither the Shuttle nor the ISS is a boondoggle. The mission was not well defined. The problem is the same that it's always been except for the 60's where real strides occurred because we had a vision and a mission and the budget required for the mission was made available. Since the 70's NASA has been hamstrung by the White House and Congress. There has been no defined mission or vision other than to keep the costs down and yet at the same time increasing the system requirements. That's a no-win situation.

"Two questions remain in order to judge cost effectiveness: 1) What would NASA's budget be like if we eliminated Shuttle and ISS and simply sustained an unmanned program? The answer to the first is ~half of what it is now."

No, there would be a different mission with more funding to do it.

"and 2) Is $500B over the next 30 years really enough for this program? The answer to the second is that unlike Apollo, the political reality is that the program will have to be tailored to fit the available budget and not vice versa. Can we make real progress in a program of exploration with a $15B annual budget? I think the answer is yes, but if proven wrong then we'd probably be better off going fully robotic."

We agree, but for a different reason. I think the funding is sufficient but the timescale is too stretched out. I'd rather see a real $250 Billion over 10 years. We can not afford to get into the trap of tailoring the program to fit the budget. This guarantees specification creep, overruns and delays like ISS got into. You have to figure out what your want to do, and how much it's going to cost up front. It's the President's job to decide if this is how he wants to allocate our national resources, and then it's his job to market it to Congress to approriate sufficient funds to make it happen. The buck stops at the CEOs desk.

Bob Krech
 

Chilly

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Originally posted by bobkrech
"Nowhere does the plan call for development of a Saturn V style booster."

That's one of the problems. To get anything useful to the moon, and to retrun to eath will take a booster of that size.
I disagree. You're presuming that Lunar Orbit Rendesvous is the only way to get there, which is what the Saturn V was designed for. LOR was the best option available at the time, considering our experience level in space and the "crash" nature of Apollo. They needed to get everything up at once and on the way - so the first two stages of the Saturn V existed only to get the third stage into orbit. And before reaching that point, they had to do an awful lot that hadn't been done before.

Today, however, we have the experience and ability to get a more capable ship up there with multiple launches, and possibly keep critical components in earth-moon transit. So after the infrastructure is established, it would then be a fairly simple matter to launch a manned CEV to dock with a lunar ship already in orbit. That's just one of many options being floated around. We won't have to build a new Saturn V.

We either spend the money on the shuttle and ISS, or spend it on a long-term, permanent moon program. Seems to me we can pull it off.
 

illini

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Certainly you are correct that there are alternatives to the Saturn V, and that is what this plan is relying on...use of existing boosters. Which is better? Depends on how you define better, and I haven't seen any trade studies done yet that give me a definitive answer.

I don't see much point in a line by line rebuttal of Bob's arguments since it will simply regress into minutia which is beside the main point. The main point is that Bush's budget is appropriate for Bush's plan. Those citing the need for higher budgets are either using false numbers for political reasons, or grabbing numbers from other plans and trying to assign them to Bush's plan. Bob's argument is case in point. He wants a big booster and shorter timeline, therefore the current budget is inadequate. This is a correct assessment for Bob's plan (not a bad plan by the way, but not Bush's plan), but assigning budget numbers appropriate for Bob's plan to Bush's plan in order to make the case that Bush's budget is inadequate is nonsense.
 

Chilly

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And unfortunately that's the general tenor of the critics so far. Our local newspaper published a clueless editorial against the plan based on a lot of the same arguments. It was sadly ill-informed, which really ticked me off because this is where the struggle for public support will be won or lost. Bush will be out there arguing for apples and the press will be arguing against oranges. Who knows if the public will care enough to learn the difference?

Of course, it's all just a boondoggle for Big Oil and Big Aerospace! :D
 

illini

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Once again, we here at TRF are leading the debate. Here's James Oberg's rebuttal to the outrageous cost estimates in the media.
 

Chilly

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You beat me to the punch, man! I was just about to paste that in here myself.

Excellent, excellent article. Most clear-headed analysis I've seen yet - and if anyone isn't familiar with Oberg, he usually knows what he's talking about.
 

Chilly

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Bush's budget proposal for NASA next year:

http://www.space.com/news/nasa_budget_040130.html

Pretty interesting if you believe in getting private industry more involved with LEO access. Here's a good tidbit:

"The space station budget request also includes $10 million in new funding for 'a flight demonstration initiative to pursue launch services with emerging launch systems.' Industry and government sources said that money is earmarked for start-up firms such as Kistler Aerospace and Space Exploration Technologies."

The new budget also cuts out funding for the Next-Generation Launch Vehicle program. Looks like they've realized they're better off leaving it up to the rest of us!
 
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