“Apollo 2.0”

Henry Vanderbilt isn’t very happy with NASA’s exploration plans:

This Apollo redux has the same fatal flaw as Apollo: The specialized throwaway systems invented to get (back) to the Moon ASAP were (will be) far too labor-intensive at far too low a max flight rate to allow affordable followup. The new ships are not only based in significant part on existing Shuttle components and facilities, but they are to be operated in significant part by the existing Shuttle organization. IE, tens of thousands of people narrowly specialized in various aspects of flying a handful of astronauts on a handful of missions a year – at, by the time all this fixed overhead is added up, billions of dollars a mission.

Like Apollo, NASA’s new ESAS plan has built into it the seeds of its shutdown by some future Congress, once the warm glow of the first few daring missions has once again faded…

…Once what’s come out unofficially so far becomes official, we will have no choice but to decline further support for new NASA exploration funding, and if as seems likely we can’t persuade our fellow SEA members to join us, we will have to regretfully resign.

Sadly, I find nothing at all here with which I can disagree.

[Update a few minutes later]

Aviation Week also says (correctly) that it’s Apollo redux, and is skeptical about its political prospects.

…basically using a replay of the Apollo approach of the 1960s, with updated electronics.

And here’s another problem:

Rewriting the exploration-hardware development plans drafted under his predecessor, Griffin will exert tighter control over hardware design, leaving much less to the imagination of the contractors and perhaps building the new vehicles in NASA facilities.

Shades of X-38…