POLL - Who Should Build Big Space Rockets?

Who Should Build Big Space Rockets, NASA or the Private Sector?

  • NASA needs more funding so it can continue to lead the way and maintain total control.

    Votes: 19 38.8%
  • NASA should move aside somewhat, use funds as incentives to spur commercial competition.

    Votes: 27 55.1%
  • Time for NASA to step aside completely and let private enterprise compete boldly.

    Votes: 3 6.1%

  • Total voters
    49
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D

doublehelix

Guest
An independent blue-ribbon panel that reviewed NASA's plans to replace its space shuttles said Thursday that the agency should consider using commercial vehicles to help achieve its goal, and perhaps nix the new Ares I rocket slated to fly future astronauts. The reason: The agency is severely underfunded for achieving present goals.

Thing is, Ares 1 is on the launch pad and slated for its first launch Oct. 27. Still, the panel suggests NASA invest $5 billion as incentives to spur commercial growth and competition in this arena.

http://www.space.com/news/091022-august ... eport.html
 
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spaceman57

Guest
Correction: The Ares I is NOT on the launchpad. This rocket on the launchpad is no more the real Ares I than an Estes rocket model is a real spaceship. It is a slightly modified four-segment SRB with a dummy fifth segment mounted on top and a dummy second stage and a dummy third stage and a dummy Orion crew module shell and a dummy abort tower . What is on the pad is the Ares 1-X demonstrator.
 
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Booban

Guest
This is the stupidest idea ever. Except the people who suggest it are smart. Because they are corrupt. Everyone one of them has a vested interest in private space enterprise and are only too eager to see tax payer dollars in their pocket. Just watch when this deal is done, they will be sitting in those companies.

Private companies can build their own rockets when they are doing their own business in space. The only thing consistent with private to government business is the low balling and constantly rising costs.

It is American citizens who had paid all these years for human space flight and own all this knowledge. Now you want to hand it over to a company so they can sell it back to you for a profit?
 
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topastro

Guest
"This is the stupidest idea ever. Except the people who suggest it are smart. Because they are corrupt. Everyone one of them has a vested interest in private space enterprise and are only too eager to see tax payer dollars in their pocket. Just watch when this deal is done, they will be sitting in those companies."

Well, I'm a tax payer and have no "vested" interest in any of the private space companies. What is stupid is to spend billions building Ares I when the already existing Delta IV heavy-lift (which is already flying and launching large satellites) can put 800kg more payload to orbit than it is specified to. In the 70's I saw the Apollo moon program canceled because the Saturn V was too costly to build and too uneconomical to operate. I don't want to see that happen again. Let's fix it to where we can access space in a more economical and sustainable way. Let NASA pay private companies to do the mundane task of getting their personnel to orbit so that NASA can concentrate on building more advanced craft that can do bold exploration beyond Earth orbit. And that is the only thing that is being suggested.

I'm an astrophysicist, so believe me I want the most space bang for my tax buck.
 
J

Jinto

Guest
While reading the Poll title i thought that Option #2 was the best choice on the board intill i read the other users posts and ran across Booban who really got me thinking that NASA needs more funding im sure there is some way that the Gov can get NASA more cash cause i still dont see were all out money is going its mostly vanishing into peoples pockets never to be seen again but thats a different story for a different topic

The NASA should never "Step Aside" and let someone else build THERE Tech still that THEY invented and spend 40+ years learning about cause you will have the same issue as you had in Armageddon clueless people trying to build something they know nothing about and would really set the World of Space back 5-10 years while the private sector learns what NASA already does know :roll:
 
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topastro

Guest
"The NASA should never "Step Aside" and let someone else build THERE Tech still that THEY invented and spend 40+ years learning about cause you will have the same issue as you had in Armageddon clueless people trying to build something they know nothing about and would really set the World of Space back 5-10 years while the private sector learns what NASA already does know"

You posted the same time I did so you didn't see my post which is right before yours. Maybe some of you guys should actually read the report instead of going on someone else's opinion.
 
B

Booban

Guest
topastro":2dhg54mr said:
"This is the stupidest idea ever. Except the people who suggest it are smart. Because they are corrupt. Everyone one of them has a vested interest in private space enterprise and are only too eager to see tax payer dollars in their pocket. Just watch when this deal is done, they will be sitting in those companies."

Well, I'm a tax payer and have no "vested" interest in any of the private space companies. What is stupid is to spend billions building Ares I when the already existing Delta IV heavy-lift (which is already flying and launching large satellites) can put 800kg more payload to orbit than it is specified to. In the 70's I saw the Apollo moon program canceled because the Saturn V was too costly to build and too uneconomical to operate. I don't want to see that happen again. Let's fix it to where we can access space in a more economical and sustainable way. Let NASA pay private companies to do the mundane task of getting their personnel to orbit so that NASA can concentrate on building more advanced craft that can do bold exploration beyond Earth orbit. And that is the only thing that is being suggested.

I'm an astrophysicist, so believe me I want the most space bang for my tax buck.
Com 'on, that wasn't the reason why it was canceled. The successive landings didn't accomplish anything more than with the first landing and it got dull. Costly and uneconomical? Compared to what? Compared to getting zilch from space that's what. If Apollo found a UFO on the moon would anyone ever even question the costs of launching? No!

Why are you comparing Ares I to Delta IV? One is manned rated and one is not. I'll accept whatever the engineers tell me about modifying unmanned rockets, but apparently they are not agreed amongst themselves.

You make it sound like getting to LEO is some kind of distraction for NASA, like going into space has nothing to do with going....further into space.

Ares V is for going to the moon and further into space. Ares is meant to be a family of vehicles and it shares the same name with Ares I for a reason. The technology is similar and they build on one another, to get to V, you go through I so you might as well build it because the shuttle is retiring and we got nothing else but greedy companies promising they will build something on time and on budget!
 
J

JonClarke

Guest
All the options in this poll are fundamentally wrong and are built on a false premises.

NASA and c ommerical splace flight are not mutually opposing exclusive, or contradiuctory, they are comlementary.

NASA does not built rockets. It never has built rockets. All NASA rokets are either build to tender or adaptred from existing launchers. NASA is both a driver for new types of launcher and a user of existing ones.

NASA does not have total control of space activities. It never has and inever will. NASA exists solely to serve US civil national interests in space, including R&D, astronomy, space science and planetary exploration. Even wqithin the US NASA does not control the commerical or military sectors, or a sizeable chunk of the Eartyh observation program which is run by NOAA. Plkus of course there is a large and diverse space sector beyond the US>

NASA does not need to "step aside", and let commerical sector take over. The commerical sector needs to be encouraged to continue to grow and take advantage of spcae opportunities and at the same time NASA should receive more funding to achieve the ever expanding roles it is expected to do.

Suggestions that NASA should be done away with completely are at best risible and at worst asinine. Private enterpise of itself with never do space astronomy, space science, or planetary exploration. Only people ignorant of how the real world works or opposed to basic science and exploration would advocate this.
 
K

kelvinzero

Guest
I think the wording of this poll betrays a bias. I dont think ANYONE thinks NASA should 'maintain total control'. Anyone who supports NASA building big rockets would probably only be doing so because they dont think anyone else is up to it right now, not because they want some sort of monopoly to keep the riffraff out!

That being said, given that clearly neither this president nor the last has shown any inclination to actually fund a constellation-type mission to the moon, that option seems to have been forfeited. If only peanuts are going to be spent then you cannot do the moon. What you can do is robotic space science, new technology (in rockets, ISRU, life-support), and a lot of xprize style incentives. Perhaps when the lunar lander, regolith shoveller and oxygen extraction all come together we will at least get a robotic colony on the moon, which would still be very very cool.

(edit, after Jon's post)
Exactly, and people supporting private space companies really should clarify if they mean private space companies competing for taxpayer money, which is pretty close to what we have though NASA, or private companies wishing to directly market some product to civilian consumers, which no one is stopping.
 
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TreasureHuntFan

Guest
Jinto: The problem with "THEIR TECH" is that NASA insists on deploying it using cost-plus contracting. Actually it's worse than cost-plus contracting, because they go about it as some sort of partnership. This works well for NASA engineers having it their way, but it is a terribly inefficient system, on top of the baseline inefficiency of NASA being a large government organization. And if your ATK or Boeing, having a cushy cost-plus NASA contract doesn't exactly spur efficiency either. In complex projects, such inefficiencies tend to multiply. This is largely why we have watched this project grow from a few year endeavor at under 20 billion to a 10+ year endeavor at 40 billion and rising.

Just as bad, we are looking at 500 million per launch for the Ares 1.

$40 billion, half billion per launch, thats not all that much right? Wrong! First, a half billion per launch is about 3 times what SpaceX is going to charge for a manned dragon flight. How long do you think congress is going to be OK with that? Second, say we dump the 40 billion (only that hopefully), and somewhere around 2017 (wishfully) we get our Ares 1. At $500 million per launch, that is not as bad as the space shuttle's $1.5 billion... Well, if you calculate that $40 billion in, supposing it takes $40 launches before we decide to pull the plug, well (40 / 40 + .5 = 1.5) $1.5 billion per launch again! History has funny ways of repeating itself. Third, Ares is a huge worldwide perchlorate generator. Whatever your stance on perchlorates, issues like these tend to grow in time. Perchlorates are a global issue and thusly a major future risk to the Ares 1 project, and Constellation for that matter, should congress decide to take on this matter or sign a related treaty. Plus, it is not exactly good PR to have a space program that is being accused of lowering global IQs.

And yes, NASA is short on cash, but sadly congress is not in any mood to dole out few billion to NASA. And yes, NASA has been shortchanged, but this project has also doubled in cost. We can't just expect congress to support NASA simply because they were first. NASA does have a role in the future of space flight, its just not inefficient cost-plus rocket manufacturing and ridiculously overpriced ground operations.
 
S

SpaceForAReason

Guest
NASA does build rockets. I don't see anybody else building rockets the way they do. And not one company other than NASA would be fool enough to buy them.
 
C

CosmicGas

Guest
Who are these geniuses on the "blue-ribbon panel? It sounds like they'er trying to kill the whole space program. Ares-1 is just the first building block of a much larger project. With out "Ares" what happens to "Orion". With out "Orion" no need for "Altair" or "Ares-V". I can't believe what I'm hearing! Eres does have its merits. Its cheaper and safer than the shuttle. Solid boosters are reliable proven technology, can't throttle down like liquid fuel , but don't need to untill final stage. Has an escape tower. Ablative heat sheild which is better and lighter than tile. A much smaller man rated vehicle. The larger cargo 'Ares-V' don't need to be man rated. Why would we scuttle this whole program now after so much has went in to it already, and we have nothing to replace it with other than start from scratch? (If your not going to properly fund it, at least don't completly tear it down).
 
A

Astrochimp

Guest
NASA does build rockets. I don't see anybody else building rockets the way they do. And not one company other than NASA would be fool enough to buy them.
NASA = National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Please note that LAST word , the one in italics... ADMINISTRATION

NASA does NOT nor have they ever built rockets. they have contractors like Boeing, ATK and others that build them.
 
E

elroy_jetson

Guest
Whoever builds the new big rockets should seriously consider building them in a northern state, i.e. Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota - someplace with manufacturing capacity, skilled union labor, and shipping via St. Lawrence Seaway. This would expand American rocketry beyond the sunbelt, and bring about a more space-friendly attitude in states that currently get little or no direct benefit from NASA spending.
 
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topastro

Guest
"Why are you comparing Ares I to Delta IV? One is manned rated and one is not. I'll accept whatever the engineers tell me about modifying unmanned rockets, but apparently they are not agreed amongst themselves."

See TreasureHunt's post. I was just using Delta IV as one example. NASA tailors the definition of "man-rating" to suit their agenda. The EELVs are already very reliable or the insurance companies that underwrite multibillion dollar satellite launches would make sure they had no business.

"Who are these geniuses on the "blue-ribbon panel? It sounds like they'er trying to kill the whole space program. Ares-1 is just the first building block of a much larger project."


Many are former NASA and space contractor aerospace engineers and former NASA astronauts.

Again, the idea is not to dismantle NASA, but to enhance its capabilities in areas where it is strongest.


"NASA does NOT nor have they ever built rockets. they have contractors like Boeing, ATK and others that build them."

To a certain extent they do build vehicles in that, unlike other launch vehicles, the Ares rockets were designed in-house by NASA. Also a lot of the solid fuel rocket assembly work will be done at NASA's Huntsville facility. So your argument is bogus.

Also, this is directly from the Augustine report:

"When it begins operations, the Ares I and Orion would be a very expensive system for crew transport to low-Earth orbit. Program estimates are that it would have a recurring cost of nearly $1 billion per flight, even with the fixed infrastructure costs being carried by Ares V. The issue is that the Orion is a very capable vehicle for exploration, but it has far more capability than needed for a taxi to low-Earth orbit.
(Section 6.4.4, page 90)"


Again, read the report, people!
 
H

heroineworshipper

Guest
Gee, that's not an unbiased poll. Elon Musk has been working on the Dragon for 10 years & he still says he's "3 years" away from getting humans in orbit if he gets yet more unspecified funds. We've already paid him $1/2 billion on electric cars he hasn't delivered. A "commercial system" would be nice, but it's in your dreams.
 
B

Booban

Guest
topastro":327ypv1v said:
Again, read the report, people!
Why? What is being misstated in the headlines and articles we are reading and commenting on? I think those reports are usually very thick, just summarize for us :)

The report is claimed to say that 5 billion should be given to private companies to develop technology that will then be sold back to NASA at a profit. How is that supposed to be cheaper than just keeping the money and doing something you, and actually only you have proven track record to do. NASA's budget is only 17 billion and they can't get more, but there's apparently 5 billion to giveaway to people who have never built a man rated rocket.

Why the faith that private companies will sell something cheap to the government? We are not talking about buying office supplies here.

If these private companies are so good, then let them put their money where their mouth is. Develop it on their own dime, come with an offer when it'll be ready and NASA can contract to buy however many flights it needs at a fixed price.

topastro":327ypv1v said:
Also, this is directly from the Augustine report:

"When it begins operations, the Ares I and Orion would be a very expensive system for crew transport to low-Earth orbit. Program estimates are that it would have a recurring cost of nearly $1 billion per flight, even with the fixed infrastructure costs being carried by Ares V. The issue is that the Orion is a very capable vehicle for exploration, but it has far more capability than needed for a taxi to low-Earth orbit.
(Section 6.4.4, page 90)"
I don't really how that changes anything. How expensive Ares is doesn't say anything about how much more expensive anyone else's rocket will be. Yeah, Orion is overkill, but you get 2 for 1 with it. So you want to pay for an Orion light too? Ok...then give more money, but why to private companies when NASA has the other bits and pieces.
 
P

portugal

Guest
The main problem here is that the people are seeing the promisses of some new companies like SpaceX saying that they can make a launch with a human crew for 300 millions per launch. But look at the prices they had talked and the prices they are now asking the ones that want to use there Falcon. The price is already 5 times the value that they sayed... and they only did 1 commercial flight for now.
I hope they get it good with falcon 9... but there is still a long way to go before saying that there launcher is better than Ares.
They failed on one test flight because they just bypassed the work of NASA with the rockets and the time for the second stage ignition to reduce the cost. They got back and got a new test and it was ok. But they still need to do 2 launchs with the new falcon 9 before getting the first commercial launch. So if everything goes like it is happening with the Falcon they will ask for 5 times the value that they made for the first commercial launch.... and that is higher that Ares.

On the other side giving them the monopoly, there could be a time that NASA needed to send a heavy sattelite or some special cargo to the ISS or to any mission and they wanted 20 billions for that launch... Since the american rules say that NASA or any military unit can´t use another launcher when they have some "items" on board, the american tax payer would have to pay them those 20 bilions since that was the only launcher that was available.
Look at what happened to the Sea Launch. They where getting good contracts... but they got 2 failures. And everything started to go wrong. Now they are trying to save there operations... but there are few things that they can do.
Remember that the private industry just wants to get money to there pockets.
Yes they can build a new capsule. Yes they can build a new rocket. But for that they want a few hundreds of millions if profits from a launch. And if they get some monopolist way... they will get to everyone pocket and grab a share (like the banks have done for the past 50 years).
If they continue like they did with Boeing and some other companies, they can get things good... but that is not the option that the studie selects...
 
T

TreasureHuntFan

Guest
heroineworshipper:
Gee, that's not an unbiased poll. Elon Musk has been working on the Dragon for 10 years & he still says he's "3 years" away
SpaceX is only 7 years old, so clearly they weren't working on the Dragon 10 years ago. I don't know exactly when the Dragon project was started, but it seems to me they did not start doing significant development on it until about 4 years ago. Considering the 448 million investment (private+nasa) and they have 2 rockets and a capsule to show for it, plus building an entire test/production infrastructure from scratch, they are a stunning achievement even given Falcon 1's initial challenges.
portugal:
The main problem here is that the people are seeing the promisses of some new companies like SpaceX saying that they can make a launch with a human crew for 300 millions per launch. But look at the prices they had talked and the prices they are now asking the ones that want to use there Falcon. The price is already 5 times the value that they sayed...
Where are you getting those numbers? SpaceX's website shows $8.9 million for a Falcon 1 launch, the same price it has always been. And $300 million per manned launch? This has been widely published at $20 million per seat (presumably $140 million per launch). This figure is also in line with NASA's cargo contract, which is at $133 million per launch.

And Booban, it does make sense for NASA to pay these other guys money when it ultimately saves money. NASA's problem, like most government organizations, is being efficient and cost effective. Half billion for Ares 1 ground operations? That is just nuts to consider when you got SpaceX that has less invested in their entire company and have prove they only require a handful of people to perform a launch.
 
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Bugs99

Guest
Last time I checked Boeing and Lockheed Martin were private companies which are where NASA buys its rocket at this time, just because they are big doesn't mean they arent private. If you mean let little companies create the big rocket, well then people need to go to school to learn about economies of scale. Little companies may be good for stream lining development but to actually have them build the things is just plain stupid. Ideally, SpaceX and any other small company will just be bought out once the development is done and proved to be cheaper than their current rockets, then sold for a large profit to its investors. That way everyone is happy, We get an efficient rocket that is semi-reusable from a company that can sustain a large production rate.
 
I

ittiz

Guest
I've spent the last couple days going over the panel's findings. It's pretty sobering, if the congress doesn't allocate more money to NASA soon it will pretty much be the end of Americans in space, at least for the next 20 years. If they do give NASA more money NASA could do interesting things, but we probably won't be sending men beyond LEO before the mid 20s no matter which way you cut it.
The commission seems to favor scrapping the Ares I for commercial options + a man rated version of the Ares V known as Ares "Lite," which seems suspiciously like the so called Ares IV proposed in the past). This recommendation also happens to get us past LEO the fastest, is the cheapest, and allows for the most metric tons out of LEO. They also seem to favor the so called flexible path where we'd go all over the place, but probably not land anywhere. This option is the one they think is the most marketable to the general public since we could achieve "new" things quickly like leaving Earth influenced space, going to NEOs, Mars, the Moon ect. The plan also leaves room for switching gears and landing on a world if NASA wanted to. The third thing about their preferred plan is it seems to focus on low gravity bodies like NEOs and the moons of Mars, which would be much more favorable to commercial space endeavors since one asteroid contains enough resources that if mined sold on the market it could pay off the national debt several times over.
They pretty much dissed the "Mars First" option as too risky. If we did go for a footprints first plan they seemed to like was the "Moon first" option, which had several variants, one of which was go to the moon then Mars as fast as possible. Although probably the best bet to go to Mars the soonest is the Flexible plan with NASA deciding to land on Mars after a few orbital/Mars moon visits.
The option I think the congress will go for if they don't decide to cut manned space flight all together is the "Moon First, Extend the Shuttle" plan. Since it preserves the most jobs and there is not embarrassing gap in manned space flight. In that plan the shuttle will get funds to go till 2016, and the ISS will be extended to 2020. I think that plan is fine except I doubt the needed funding to keep everything on track would be provided by congress.
What ever is done it doesn't look good for US manned space flight over the next ten years. Also NASA is not good at setting and then keep goals for itself, so unless it is given clear milestones and goals I doubt they will get far.
On a side note based on what I read I think once commercial spaceflight takes off, NASA will take an oversight role over spaceflight/spaceflight safety like the NTSB and FAA.
 
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CosmicGas

Guest
No one is more ecstatic about all these little up-start space companies like Space-X and Scale composites than I am. But lets get real! They're not any where near mature enough to take over NASA's human space flight program. What little the've done up to this point compared to Nasa's accomplishments,- THEY'RE NOT EVEN IN THE SAME UNIVERSE. What this is really about is further cuts to nasa spending so more can be spent on the big 'Social progams' coming up. If 'Ares1' is canceled 'Constellation' is DOOMED.
 
S

spaceman57

Guest
heroineworshipper":2zbo6vmr said:
Gee, that's not an unbiased poll. Elon Musk has been working on the Dragon for 10 years & he still says he's "3 years" away from getting humans in orbit if he gets yet more unspecified funds. We've already paid him $1/2 billion on electric cars he hasn't delivered. A "commercial system" would be nice, but it's in your dreams.
Holy cow, hw, why did you make up this misinformation? SpaceX was formed in 2002 after Elon Musk sold his company (Paypal) and received the funds to do what he had intended to do from early adulthood, to create a company whose goal is to help humanity become a true spacefaring civilization. Dragon was designed from the beginning to become man-rated, no one (NASA) has asked him to make it so yet. The three years timeframe is not based on Elon's engineering, but is based on how long it will take for NASA to set up and run their required tests to certify the Dragon as "man-rated". Why would Elon spend the money to man-rate it unless there was a known, paying customer waiting at the end of the lengthy process? That's Business 101 stuff. And Tesla Motors has already delivered over 800 cars to date. "We've" LOANED him 465 million dollars as part of the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program which is designed to accelerate the development of alternatives to today's combustion engine.
 
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Booban

Guest
TreasureHuntFan":82efznq0 said:
And Booban, it does make sense for NASA to pay these other guys money when it ultimately saves money. NASA's problem, like most government organizations, is being efficient and cost effective. Half billion for Ares 1 ground operations? That is just nuts to consider when you got SpaceX that has less invested in their entire company and have prove they only require a handful of people to perform a launch.
They have not done anything yet, you cannot say that it ultimately saves money. You cannot assume that they can do it so cheap and still make hundreds of millions in their own personal profit. SpaceX has not launched any manned rocket, nobody except NASA has. There is no proof that big corporations are not as bloated as government organizations, if you want those NASA engineers fired, write a letter to your congressman. At least he won't tell you to shove it like a corporation would. These private corporations want the know how and knowledge from NASA which has cost a lot of money, they want to then claim that they have developed a rocket when all they did was just build it. Of course it is cheaper if you stole someone else's 50 years of experience!

Private corporations and capitalism has absolutely no place in a monopolistic situation where there is just one customer and few competitors. Nothing will be cheaper for it.
 
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