Where does he come up with this stuff?
Rohrabacher suggests that “several hundred million dollars” could be transferred from the SLS program to commercial crew. There are several problems with his proposal.
First, commercial crew space craft such as the SpaceX Dragon are not due to start carrying human passengers until 2015 at the earliest.
What does this mean? Where does he come up with that date, and why would they not be “due” to do it sooner? I am aware of no reason that Dragon couldn’t be flying people in a couple years, given sufficient investment. It could fly even sooner if one were willing to forgo an abort system.
The cargo version, depending on some test flights being flow successfully, would start flying next year. There is little evidence that a transfer of “several hundred million dollars” would advance the start dates of either version by as much as a day.
This is ridiculous. The request for Commercial Crew for 2012 (which starts in about a month) was $850M. The House reduced it to about $300M. Does Mark really imagine that this reduction will not impact the schedule? And that increasing it won’t accelerate it? On what basis?
On the other hand, siphoning off money from the underfunded SLS would pretty much cripple that project and add to the arguments of those who want it scrapped entirely. That may be the entire point of Rohrabacher’s proposal. However the proposal is so transparent that it is not likely to be met favorably by other members of Congress. Rohrabacher is in the strange position of being a man who has advocated free market capitalism demanding more government subsidies for a space craft whose sole purpose, at least thus far, is to service the government.
Other members of Congress don’t really give a damn, except the ones whose states and districts are affected. He continues to not understand the meaning of the word “subsidy,” and continues to turn a blind eye to the real subsidy — multi-billion cost-plus contracts for vehicles that will likely never fly.
[Update a few minutes later]
Michael Belfiore discusses the implications:
If all goes according to plan, another unmanned Dragon, also riding a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, will dock with the International Space Station this December. A strong commitment from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and independent funding from the company’s satellite launch business puts Dragon on the fast track to manned flight within three years.
“Within three years” means 2014 by my math. And as I said, the long pole in the tent is the abort system, not life support. If there were an emergency, they could fly without the abort system much sooner (Ken Bowersox has said that someone could have flown last December with a beanbag chair and scuba tank). Of course, that would only happen if space were important.
[Friday evening update]
OK, I know I shouldn’t link his stupid blog (just as an aside, it’s hilarious that after all these years, the permalinks on his blog still have double tags), but as usual he doubles down on the stupidity and reading incomprehension:
Rand Simberg reacts. He doesn’t offer any evidence to refute the position that adding just a few hundred million is not going to advance the schedule of the commercial space vehicles becoming operation, besides throwing out words like “nonsense.”
Really? I’ll repeat again (it’s right up above), though he’ll ignore it again, rather than responding to it, because he has no response:
The request for Commercial Crew for 2012 (which starts in about a month) was $850M. The House reduced it to about $300M. Does Mark really imagine that this reduction will not impact the schedule? And that increasing it won’t accelerate it? On what basis?
He goes on:
Of course, one might concede the point that if one were to pour billions of dollars into the commercial crew program, which I think Rand is implying, one might get something flying in “a couple of years.”
Note that I wrote nothing about “pouring billions of dollars into the commercial crew program.” He may be inferring it, but as almost always, what he insanely infers is not what others imply.
Also, I think Rand has also admitted, though he will likely deny it, that funding projects like the Space Launch System more than currently contemplated would advance the advent of that launch system as well.
Again, I “admitted” nothing of the kind, though I would in fact concede that if we actually do “pour billions” (that is, tens of billions) into the SLS, it’s possible that its schedule might be moved up a year or so, perhaps only two or three years past the current date after which there is no guarantee that the ISS will even be flying. How he thinks this helps his case Jehovah only knows.