Category Archives: Space

SLS/Orion

NASA is thinking about putting up crew on its very first flight.

And yet they continue to delay commercial crew because “safety is the highest priority.”

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A congressional staffer told me about this last week: A hearing on NASA’s past, past, past and present, no future.

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More from Eric Berger.

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Joel Achenback weighs in.

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Thoughts from Keith Cowing. Yes, it’s a Hail Mary. And reckless, in my opinion. If it was to save the world, OK, but to save a bloated jobs program?

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Here’s Marcia Smith’s take.

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And here’s the story from the Chrises at NASA Spaceflight.

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And Jeff Foust’s take. Excellent point in comments:

If NASA agree[s] to this (putting astronauts on 1st flight of brand new rocket), they better not whine about SpaceX loading astronauts before fuel.

Indeed.

Risk In Human Spaceflight

I didn’t make it to the conference in time to hear him, but I was told a couple weeks ago that Bill Gerstenmeier would be talking about many of the themes of my book. He apparently did. I would note though, that “loss of crew” isn’t just probability of killing crew; it also includes causing a career-ending injury.

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Related: With new types of launch systems, we’re discovering new causes of launch failure, even after almost sixty years of orbital spaceflight.

To The Moon, Alice!

OK, actually, it’s to the moon, NASA. Bob Zimmerman has some thoughts.

In my opinion, this is a completely unrealistic goal, absent a) considering alternatives to SLS and b) being willing to risk astronauts’ lives. A seventy-ton SLS isn’t going to do that job, and that’s all they’re going to have (at best) by 2020. And putting up sending astronauts to the moon (even just around, and it’s not clear what the value of that is) on its first, or even second flight would be much sportier than Apollo 8 was, back when it was actually important.

FWIW, I also think that the reporter should have talked to someone besides Casey Dreier, The Planetary Society is hardly an unbiased source about human spaceflight.

OCST And The FAA

The biggest news from #CST2017 yesterday was probably Jim Bridenstine’s speech at lunch. Keith Cowing has a list of notes from it. It was a good speech, but to my ears, this was the only one that was news:

FAA office commercial space has battles within FAA. Reorganization needed. Looking for Trump to elevate office

To elaborate, while he floated this idea as a possibility in the Space Renaissance Act, this is the first time (AFAIK) that he clearly stated publicly that he wanted to see the president reverse the Executive Order in the Clinton administration that had folded the Office of Commercial Space Transportation into the FAA, and restore its original location, reporting directly to the Secretary of Transportation. I explained in my book why I thought this was a good idea. He only mentioned the fact that it would have more clout in budget battles, but the other point is that, since the ValuJet crash in the Everglades in the late 90s, the FAA lost its role as a promoter of the aviation industry, and I think this has resulted in a culture clash with OCST, which retains it, having to balance it against safety uber alles.

I talked to the Congressman briefly after the talk, and he told me he recalled my giving him a copy of the book three (!) years ago, and said he’d read it. Maybe he’ll go back and re-read it now. If so, given that he heartily endorsed SLS/Orion, I hope he’ll go back and re-read the appendix on that subject, but it may be that his endorsement had the same intended purpose as Alan Stern’s.