Ray, over at VSE Restoration, provides the subtitles:
Once the White House embraces a direction for U.S. human spaceflight, Stanley said NASA should then be allowed to conduct a thorough architecture study to include apples-to-apples comparisons of the cost, safety and risk of the Augustine panel’s options, as well as alternative scenarios the panel might not have considered.
May I use my cynical filter to translate?
Once the White House embraces one of the Augustine committee options, NASA human spaceflight management should then be allowed to do an “apples-to-apples” comparison of the Augustine committee options, as well as alternative options the panel might not have considered that happen to serve NASA interests really well. They should then be allowed to discard the selected Augustine option, and pick one that benefits certain portions of NASA rather than the people of the United States.
In addition, Stanley urged that NASA be allowed to determine the true cost and risk of commercial crew transport in low Earth orbit.
In other words, NASA should be allowed to ignore the potential of commercial crew transport in low Earth orbit, and instead continue to buy crew transport services from Russia while NASA spends decades and tens of billions of dollars to build a government-designed and government-operated crew transport “business” to compete with U.S. commercial space business, but that does nothing to address national needs like security and commerce.
There is no need for a NASA evaluation of “the true cost and risk of commercial crew transport in low Earth orbit”. We already know that such a generic NASA evaluation of “commercial crew transport” is sure to conclude that a NASA-designed and NASA-operated crew transportation system is by far safer, simpler, sooner, better, faster, and cheaper than any imaginable commercial crew transportation. Why even bother with the evaluation when you know its conclusion in advance?
Obviously, Dr. Stanley has a lot of ego (if not a lot else) invested in this mess, and it’s understandable that he’d want to do everything he can to preserve the status quo that he created. But if I were General Bolden, I wouldn’t let any of Mike Griffin’s former minions anywhere near evaluation or policy going forward.
[Update mid morning]
Speaking of Doug Stanley, he was one of the speakers at a half-day symposium on the Augustine results, held at the Space Policy Institute a week ago. Dwayne Day has an interesting report in today’s issue of The Space Review.
I’m struggling to understand the logic here:
According to Stanley, the architecture that emerged from ESAS was the result of a number of assumptions they made when they started their evaluation. Had some of those assumptions been different, their architectural design would have been substantially different. As an example, if the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV, now named Orion) had not been required to go to the International Space Station, then they would have produced a requirement for only a single launch vehicle rather than the Ares 1 and Ares 5 combination that they ultimately produced. On the other hand, if the requirement had only been for the CEV to go to the International Space Station, they would have selected an EELV (i.e. the Atlas or Delta). Stanley said that now that the assumptions have changed, it was entirely legitimate to question if NASA was developing the right architecture.
So, he’s saying that the concerns about “human rating EELVs” were bogus? That it was safe enough to send crew to ISS, but not to LEO on the way to the moon? And that if they were only going to the moon, they would have gone with a Saturn V-like architecture? But doesn’t that violate the (dumb) rule about not mixing crew and cargo? I’d like to see an elaboration on this.
I found Tom Young’s comments quite tendentious (that’s the nicest word I can come up with off the top of my head):
Young connected those past efforts at acquisition reform to what he considers the current claims that commercial crew is the way to substantially decrease costs to the government. “There is no magic,” he warned. “When someone comes along and says ‘I’ve got this new magic solution,’ my advice is to run for the hills.”
I’m aware of no one who proposes a “magic” solution. I am aware of a number of people who have proposed solutions based on solid engineering, and not driven or constrained by the need to maximize employment in Huntsville and other places. Now it may be that it requires political magic to make that happen, but if that’s the case, we should be honest and say that, instead of setting up straw men and denigrating people who propose it as technical and accounting charlatans.
Young took several questions that were focused upon his remarks about the lack of a credible commercial crew-to-orbit industry. How can such an industry become credible without government supporting it? “You really have to be careful about what you mean by ‘commercial’,” Young replied. “You cannot have government provide 100% of the funding and do no close monitoring.” The only way to do it is to put private money at risk. “The private sector invests in providing a service that somebody comes along and buys. I don’t see an industry that is investing the capital that is necessary, and to the extent. I’m also skeptical of providers where there is only one market.”
First, no one has proposed that government provide 100% of the funding for COTS-D or commercial exploration. Nor have they proposed that there be no government oversight. But the government oversight in this case comes from the fact that progress payments are based on achieved milestones, rather than cost plus profit. My mind is continuously blown by people who don’t seem to understand this concept, and think that the latter provides better value to the taxpayer than the former. As for not seeing an industry investing what is necessary, he needs to take off his blinders. Elon Musk and his other investors will be very surprised to hear that they haven’t been investing what is necessary. And the notion that there is only one market (as another panelist said as well) is nonsense on stilts. What is Bob Bigelow? And ISS? Not to mention Space Adventures? Chopped liver?
There’s a lot more to comment on from the other panelists, but that’s all I have time for right now.