Transterrestrial Musings

Defend Free Speech!

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay

Site designed by

Powered by
Movable Type 4.0
Biting Commentary about Infinity, and Beyond!

« McCain's Space Response? | Main | Surviving The Storm »

McCain's Space Advice

Well, now we know what the "space experts" told John McCain yesterday up in Titusville.

As I noted in my piece at PJM, the options aren't very pretty. The lowest risk course is to continue Shuttle past 2010, but to keep this option open, they have to take some immediate actions to keep production open on consumables, such as ETs. As I've noted before, it's ironic that they're shutting the system down just as they've finally wrung most of the bugs out of it. It still remains horrifically expensive, of course, but no more so than Ares/Orion, and it has a lot more capability. I think that the "recertification" issue is a red herring. Just because the CAIB recommended it doesn't mean that it makes any sense, since no one knows what it really means. Nothing magical happens in 2010 that makes it suddenly unsafe to fly. That date was chosen as the earliest one that they could retire and still complete ISS, not on the basis that anything was worn or wearing out. They could just continue to fly, and do periodic inspections.

I found it interesting, but not surprising, that Lafitte recommended an acceleration of Ares. It would be more in his company's interest to just give up on it and use Atlas, but I suspect that would be too politically incorrect to say with reporters around. He has to live with Mike Griffin for at least another few months.

What would I do if I were king? I'd stop buying Soyuz, and keep the Shuttle flying, I'd abandon Ares/Orion, and provide huge incentives to the private sector by establishing prop depots and paying good money for prop delivery. That would require more money than people want to spend, but we'd get a lot more robust transportation infrastructure, ready to go to either the moon or Mars (or other destinations) at a lot lower mission cost than NASA's current plans. It's what we would do if space were really important. But of course, it's not, so we won't.


0 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: McCain's Space Advice.

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Bill White wrote:

DIRECT 2.0 covers a number of bases:

(1) A much shorter gap

(2) Work force protection (since neither McCain nor Obama care much about space policy qua space policy and since an all EELV long term solution would be over Bill Nelson's dead body)

(3) NASA will add the capability to go beyond LEO.

= = =

Critics say the Jupiter 120 has "excess capacity" for ISS missions. Use that capacity to carry a water shield to LEO and then sell that water to someone who wants to buy a Bigelow habitat and make a hotel.

If Congress agreed to resolve legal issues, perhaps there is enough Jupiter 120 "excess capacity" to loft entire Bigelow modules as secondary payloads to an ISS Orion mission.

And of course a privately owned space hotel (not Bigelow he merely sells the habs rather than running the hotel) would offer terrific private sector demand for an nascent RLV industry.

Bill White wrote:

Jupiter 120 also would allow deployment of propellant depot hardware (perhaps as secondary payloads to ISS missions) and as soon as private players can prevail on price, they take over supplying fuel to that depot.

Rod K wrote:

Excess water to the ISS would be an excellent idea. It can always be used as propellant via hydrolosis or straight steam arcjet. However, I doubt it would be much good for Bigelow since his hotel/station would not be in a 51.6 inclination

Louise wrote:

"Excess capacity" is a problem most people wish they had. The Shuttle has lots of excess capacity and nobody complains.

Bill White wrote:

Yes, I agree 51.6 inclination is an issue.

That said, it seems to me that a Bigelow Genesis I habitat could be altered into a self propelled water tanker easily enough.

Or semi-self propelled if an RL-10 based tug and water electrolysis system were designed for separate deployment and subsequent attachment to the water tanker at 51.6 degrees inclination. The tug and electrolysis system could be fully reusable once on orbit.

Re-design the Genesis 1 so it fits securely between the Orion capsule and the Jupiter 120 main fuel tank. This protects the crew in the event of launch anomaly. Once on orbit, leave the water shield so it can mate up with the Centaur stage and hydrolysis unit and then use as much water as needed to deliver the rest of the water where desired, even EML-1 or EML-2.

Perhaps reserve enough H2 & O2 in the tug to return to 51.6 degrees.

Bill White wrote:

PS --

Instead of NASA paying to procure a water tanker, NASA should seek bids for how much a new player might pay NASA for the ownership rights to a Bigelow-style habitat filled with water in a stable orbit at 51.6 degrees.

Let Bigelow design the bladder on his own dime (and sell them to users) and let the tug remain as an exercise for the private sector.

Karl Hallowell wrote:

The lowest risk course is to continue Shuttle past 2010, but to keep this option open, they have to take some immediate actions to keep production open on consumables, such as ETs.

Rand, how long are you thinking of continuing the Shuttle? Long enough and you'll have to start producing "consumables" like orbiters and launch pads. In other words, I don't see a long future for the Space Shuttle with only three orbiters and a lot of old infrastructure. Sooner or later you're going to lose an orbiter or lose some of those other assets to wear and tear.

At least, by providing such considerable incentives to private launch, you'll probably be able to replace that Shuttle with a private solution within a couple of decades. I guess I wouldn't mind funding the Shuttle so much if I knew it'd be NASA's last in-house launch vehicle.

Leave a comment

Note: The comment system is functional, but timing out when returning a response page. If you have submitted a comment, DON'T RESUBMIT IT IF/WHEN IT HANGS UP AND GIVES YOU A "500" PAGE. Simply click your browser "Back" button to the post page, and then refresh to see your comment.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on August 19, 2008 6:06 AM.

McCain's Space Response? was the previous entry in this blog.

Surviving The Storm is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Powered by Movable Type 4.1