Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Summary Report of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee


I have just finished reading the summary report by the HSF Committee. Although I am fully aware that none of this matters until the President picks a plan, I do have some comments on what I've read.

First, I'm not happy about their acceptance of hitching rides on other rockets, but fiscally it's still cheaper than running a shuttle launch, and the shuttle can't be extended forever if we ever plan to get to the next level. I just wish we were designed the next best shuttle/space plane and not reverting back to a capsule.

I totally agree that we need to maintain and increase the life of the ISS. We're idiots if we kill the ISS in 2015 after just finishing the blasted thing. It's like building a multi-million dollar house over a year, living in it for just 3 months, and then destroying it. Who the hell does that?!

I like how they leaned several times on the idea of having the commercial sector assume LEO operations (Crew and Cargo) while NASA focuses on all things beyond LEO. Now THAT'S a familiar concept...I wonder where I've heard that before? lol.

About time a group of people with a boat load of experience and practical knowledge make it perfectly clear that jumping to Mars right away isn't possible. Well, not possible within any realistic realm of budgeting. Throw enough money at the program...$700 billion would have been nice...and we could definitely go to Mars first, but that's not real life. Moon to test Mars stuff, maybe even a Lagrange or asteroid visit for testing, then Mars. Makes perfect sense to me.

Giving NASA full rights to shuffle money as it sees fit to accomplish the task. Why does this sound like common sense, and something that should not have to be implemented, but should already be there?

What's next to see is the full report, the numbers, but more importantly how the White House responds. Don't hold your breath too long, you'll pass out.


Norman Copeland said...

1.What should be the future of the Space Shuttle?

Keep it.

2.What should be the future of the International Space Station (ISS)?

Sell it.

3.On what should the next heavy-lift launch vehicle be based?


4.How should crews be carried to low-Earth orbit?

Shuttle {x-30}.

5.What is the most practicable strategy for exploration beyond low-Earth orbit?


Benacor said...

I'm excited! For once, it's made clear that the current plan isn't sustainable.

The fact that they give so many Shuttle-derived options shows that Ares really is on the chopping block.

Why aren't you happy with the "hitching rides" thing? That's going to do more to open up commercial space flight than just about anything else in the past.

I really think the Flexible Option is creative and would accomplish a helluva lot if done properly; however, it's the easiest to screw up because it lacks a grand unifying goal. No matter how cool it would be to visit the Lagrange points or being prospecting NEOs, it doesn't pack the same PR punch as the Moon. Meh...

Its_Amazing said...

Some small snips from the summary:

"The committee found no compelling evidence that the current design will not be acceptable for its wide variety of tasks in the exploration program."

"Ares I was designed to a high standard in order to provide astronauts with access to low-earth-orbit at lower risks and considerably higher lever of reliability that in available today."

"The committee was unconvinced that enough is known about any of the potential high-reliability launcher-plus-capsule systems to distinguish their levels of safety in a meaninful way."

So basicaly they are saying they found nothing wrong with Cx accept for the budget and gap and that it was designed to be safer than anything we have. They dont know exactly how it compares to the commerical rockets, but they still suggest commerical is the best way to go because its cheaper and faster?

Cheap, fast, safe....can anly have 2 of the three.

Norman Copeland said...

It may be relevant to remember that when space flight was first being developed the U.S Navy were the management of project vangaurd. Since all operations have been given to the air force developement has seen a change of momentum from the public's observation.

Perhaps a newer known front line management team/organisation is neccessary to ''recognise'' the faces of who does what in the 'order' of administration.

Marcel F. Williams said...

I'd be the happiest person in the world if we could sell the ISS to private industry or to our so called international partners. Spending $2 billion a year on that thing after already spending $55 billion is extremely wasteful. A small Skylab-like space station would have been much more economical. And if Europe and Japan wanted their own Skylab, we could have launched space stations for them too, if they paid us! And we could have charged them for passenger flights to their own space stations. Of course we'd need a Shuttle-C like heavy lift vehicle. But that would have cost chump change to develop ten or 20 years ago.

Norman Copeland said...

This is what is taught for this semester...


Norman Copeland said...

This is what is being taught this semester...


Douglas Mallette said...

I hate not being able to reply while at work...it's blocked. lol. So, here we go...


Shuttle: Keep it? Naw, upgrade it to a whole new system.

ISS: Sell it. Yes! Or at least rent out our space to private companies and become LEO Landlords. lol.

Heavy Lift: Saturn? No way, SpaceX or Orbital. Either one would be far cheaper than the government running it, or any of the big 3 doing it.

LEO lift: Shuttle 2.0

Practical Strategy: Humans. Amen! (Men & Women)


Hey Ben! Hitching ride on foreign rockets is basically what I'm referring too. Not happy with Russia upping the cost per astronaut, and the fact that we have no other option right now blows chunks.

Flex seems like a nice catch all to make everyone happy, which is wrong as far as I'm concerned. You can't please everyone right away, but with the proper sequential steps, you can eventually hit the targets everyone wants.

Amazing: Cheap, fast and safe is possible all at once, but not by the government. Private industry is motivated to do all three of these to stay in business. They need it fast, it has to be cheap to fit the bottom line, and it damn well better be safe. :)

Norman: I've heard several people say that the military should resume control of manned space flight, mainly because they have the bigger budget, and that NASA should do R&D to assist the military. Not sure if the rest of the world would consider the military running the manned space program as a friendly gesture though.

Marcel: I agree that we have footed way too much of the bill to ferry other countries stuff to LEO, including their people, while they've sat back and developed nothing. Only recently have ESA and JAXA stepped up and started building rockets of measurable worth, but of course I bet we don't get free rides. :(

Norman Copeland said...

I personally didn't think the focus of the report dealt with the number of opportunities that really could be presented to represent the catalogue of science that could be acheived with different frequencies of launch to LEO for the various scientific disciplines.

The emphasis is still on sticking a rocket on the ground and lighting the wire as opposed to caressing the science of what we really could do with what we have available now...

Still like a bull in a China shop really.