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The Upside of the NASA Budget 283

Posted by Soulskill
from the new-astronaut-ice-cream-flavors dept.
teeks99 writes "There are a lot of articles circulating about the new changes to the NASA budget, but this one goes into some of the details. From what I'm seeing, it looks great — cutting off the big, expensive, over-budget stuff and allowing a whole bunch of important and revolutionary programs to get going: commercial space transportation; keeping the ISS going (now that we've finally got it up and running); working on orbital propellant storage (so someday we can go off to the far flung places); automated rendezvous and docking (allowing multiple, smaller launches, which then form into one large spacecraft in orbit). Quoting: 'NASA is out of the business of putting people into low-earth orbit, and doesn't see getting back in to it. The Agency now sees its role as doing interesting things with people once they get there, hence its emphasis on in-orbit construction, heavy lift capabilities, and resource harvesting hardware. Given budgetary constraints and the real issues with the Constellation program, none of that is necessarily unreasonable.'"
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The Upside of the NASA Budget

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  • Economy of Scale (Score:5, Interesting)

    by teeks99 (849132) * on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:13PM (#30998710) Homepage

    There's also a pretty good article [space.com] from space.com that talks about a couple of the different points

    They go into some more detail about the commercial space transportation part paving the way for more "space tourist" like stuff. Obviously this will still be extremely expensive, but I hope that it could increase the total number of launches, and help bring some economies of scale.

    This is also the reason I'm excited about the orbital propellant storage and automated rendezvous technology. These items will allow us to launch big (weight wise) missions by using a bunch of smaller launch vehicles, instead of one really huge (and really expensive) one.

    • Re:Economy of Scale (Score:5, Interesting)

      by icebike (68054) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:13PM (#30999638)

      This is also the reason I'm excited about the orbital propellant storage and automated rendezvous technology.

      We are never going to get out of sight with our current propellant technology. The money spent on this is a waste, like building yet another pony express station. Its time to focus in another direction.

      As for automated rendezvous, the Russians have been doing this for years. Just buy it from them.

      • Re:Economy of Scale (Score:5, Interesting)

        by FleaPlus (6935) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @04:48PM (#31000966) Journal

        We are never going to get out of sight with our current propellant technology. The money spent on this is a waste, like building yet another pony express station. Its time to focus in another direction.

        Ack, not this again. When it comes to getting out of LEO, prices can still easily drop one or two orders of magnitude with propellant-based rockets. After all, fuel is just 1% of the cost of launching a rocket. By decreasing costs you'll grow the market, which will provide the future demand necessary for the various non-propellant technologies (space elevators, beam propulsion, whatever) to be successful.

        Also, it's worth noting that when Constellation started going overbudget NASA ended up finding money by canceling most of its technology development efforts, including things like non-propellant propulsion. The idea is to bring research into those technologies back with the expanded funding of R&D.

    • by happy_place (632005) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:24PM (#30999778) Homepage

      No matter how you look at this issue, it's really just putting rosed-colored glasses on a tough situation. Sure, scientists and such are clever and will try to figure out how to continue to expand the sciences, even without financial support systems of the past, but the demand in aeronautics will continue to diminish, fewer experts will get involved, and any incentives to stay will simply go away.

      Of course I might be wrong, but honestly, if this philosophy really worked in governing bodies (the idea that you slash the budget to marginally operating ability, and suddenly you get better "products") then you should not expect record spending, but instead we should expect to see record budget slashing.

      The truth is, there's no great plan, instead these cuts are politically motivated due to the demographics of states affected by this change. Of course that's a president's prerogative and presidents do political things. I just won't pretend it's good news for NASA or US space tech.
         

      • Re:Economy of Scale (Score:4, Interesting)

        by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @04:18PM (#31000530)

        Of course I might be wrong, but honestly, if this philosophy really worked in governing bodies (the idea that you slash the budget to marginally operating ability, and suddenly you get better "products") then you should not expect record spending, but instead we should expect to see record budget slashing.

        Nobody is claiming the new prioritization is better because the budget was reduced, only that the good done by the new prioritization offsets the damage from the reduction. Letting the Shuttle die certainly saved a boatload of money for other things.

        Could you clarify your point about demographics? Do you mean Medicare is crowding out NASA? Certainly there's truth to that; medical expenses are approaching 18% of US GDP. That means for every work week, almost one full day is spent paying the healthcare system (either through taxes, premiums, reduced wages to employers who pay premiums, or copays - it's all just different means of feeding the same hungry beast). After witnessing the failure of healthcare reform (starting with the public's receptiveness to scaremongering about unplugging granny) I've realized that's just an albatross we'll have to carry. Americans do not want fundamental reforms.

      • Re:Economy of Scale (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dintlu (1171159) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @04:43PM (#31000898)

        NASA's constellation program was ill-conceived waste of taxpayer money. Florida's been a "purple" state for the past three elections, and NASA has a tremendous presence down here. To argue that cutting NASA's budget is politically motivated is to say that Obama's administrations *wants to lose votes* in the state of Florida, which is patently absurd.

        What's happening to NASA is like an alcoholic stopping the sauce. Not only do they save a bunch of money, but they also free up a bunch of time and brainpower to pursue better things.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mrfrostee (30198)

        Sure, scientists and such are clever and will try to figure out how to continue to expand the sciences, even without financial support systems of the past, but the demand in aeronautics will continue to diminish, fewer experts will get involved, and any incentives to stay will simply go away.

        This budget restores funding to the science and technology development programs that Constellation cannibalized when it was under-funded. Aeronautics gets a 15% increase, for instance.

        The truth is, there's no great plan

    • Re:Economy of Scale (Score:5, Interesting)

      by coolmoose25 (1057210) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:31PM (#30999860)
      So what they are proposing is that we will do lots with relatively small rockets, and anything BIG that is needed can be built piecemeal. That is an approach - the one followed by ISS. The other approach is Skylab. We had a Saturn IVb knocking around, so we built a space station and lofted it up in one shot. Skylab was still probably bigger in total volume than the ISS is today, as it nears completion.

      Maybe this new approach will work, and I hope it will. But I believe that it won't. The Mercury astronauts said it best. No Buck Rogers, No Bucks. Without manned spaceflight, we'll mostly turn our attention to unmanned spaceflight, which is cool, and cheap, and makes great discoveries. The public will tire of this too. Robots are good and they can be used successfully, but "boots on the ground" or in this case "boots in space" are also required.

      The US has now essentially ceded manned spaceflight to the Russians and the Chinese... just as Spain and Portugal ceded the new world to the English and French. Unless there is a national commitment to a GOAL in manned spaceflight, not much of it will make sense, other than going back and forth to the ISS.

      By all means, we should look on the bright side... but the bright side is considerably dimmer now
      • Re:Economy of Scale (Score:4, Interesting)

        by cmowire (254489) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @05:07PM (#31001164) Homepage

        Actually, the ISS is bigger than Skylab at this point.

        The problem with the shuttle building the ISS is that it's really the worst of both worlds. You spend billions of dollars a year on the shuttle and build the American part of the ISS on that set of constraints and then wonder why it cost so much. Whereas, If you were to have lofted the American part of the ISS on commercially available boosters, even after the additional hardware to make each module contain a tug, you'd have built it for a lot less.

        Especially if you also consider that most everything gets cheaper in bulk and, if you were to place a guaranteed order for a hundred medium lift boosters, you'd get them at a much more reasonable price than the equivalent upmass in ten heavy lift boosters. Especially given that medium lift boosters are the right size for commercial missions and heavy lift boosters are not yet.

        The problem is the sunk costs fallacy. NASA had the design and hardware for Freedom and modified it instead of taking a giant step back when they had a chance. The shuttle was there and it worked, even though we might have done much better to have sent it to the museums after the first time we lost one.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fm6 (162816)

          You spend billions of dollars a year on the shuttle and build the American part of the ISS on that set of constraints and then wonder why it cost so much.

          Everyone seems to have forgotten that the whole point of the shuttle program was to bring launch costs down. Easy to overlook, since it ended up being a total money pit. But it didn't have to be that way.

          If memory serves, this is how it went wrong: NASA couldn't get the startup budget that was deemed the minimum necessary to develop the thing. They decided to build it anyway, and hope that once the program was started, Congress would be afraid to kill it.

          That indeed was what happened, but the result was a d

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Cally (10873)
      With Constellation getting knifed, =anything= else is gravy as far as I'm concerned. Good riddance to an empty rhetorical gesture by Dubya in a pathetic attempt to be the 21st Century JFK. There was NEVER any funding for it, and the only positive result was the finally force the retirement of the ludicrous, dangerous, and ridiculously expensive STS. Sure, it makes awesome eye candy, but you got that in '81. Going back to the moon would be an empty gesture that would also burn through huge sums of money. I'
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Teancum (67324)

        While I agree with the notion that it was long, long overdue to cancel the Ares I rocket design and with it the Constellation program (for the most part... it is still limping along even now), it wasn't really George W. Bush's vision at all. Instead it was the vision of Michael Griffin who was the agency head and sort of his own personal vision for the future of NASA.

        All Bush said was that getting back to the Moon ought to be a long term priority as should moving on to the rest of the Solar System. I thin

  • by Larson2042 (1640785) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:16PM (#30998758)
    This new program is far better than the old one. It is so very heartening to see in a NASA program a stated goal to reduce the cost of human spaceflight, along with R&D of enabling technologies (orbital refueling, etc). NASA is finally shifting its human spaceflight focus in the right direction. As I've heard said before, it's not NASA's job to put a man on Mars (or the moon). It's NASA's job to make it possible for National Geographic to put a man on Mars.

    Now congress just has to not be a bunch of idiots and ruin it (possibly the greatest challenge to human spaceflight yet).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Minimum_Wage (1003821)
      The manned spaceflight program has always been the most popular element of NASA, both to the general public and to Congress. If the planned cuts to the manned program are successfully enacted, I'm not sure the how long the rest of this stuff will survive in the current bugetary climate. Note that I'm not necessarily saying the Constellation program is on the right track, but there is an element of the old proverb about a rising tide lifting all the boats that I think applies here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tjstork (137384)

      As I've heard said before, it's not NASA's job to put a man on Mars (or the moon). It's NASA's job to make it possible for National Geographic to put a man on Mars.

      That's insane. National Geographic's great expeditions followed in the footsteps of many gov't funded expeditions, particularly, all these expeditions were descended from the British sending out the likes of Cook, and geez, Darwin.

      • by Gilmoure (18428)

        Darwin has a posse [swarthmore.edu]. Just sayin'.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SpazmodeusG (1334705)
        The Royal Society that funded both Cook and Darwin was a privately established organisation.

        It receives some funding from government grants but i think National Geographic does too. So essentially both organisations historically fill the same niche for different countries.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:20PM (#30998820)

    Personally I feel NASA's ongoing mission should be the distribution of people into outer space for permanent relocation. We should focus on saving humanity from the off chance we kill each other with nukes or get hit by an asteroid.

    • Moron.

      I generally don't touch posts by A/C, but in this case . . . WTF? The man has a valid point, he put it succinctly and clearly. Whoever modded the post 'troll' needs to re-read the moderator guidelines.

    • Personally I feel NASA's ongoing mission should be the distribution of people into outer space for permanent relocation.

      There, fixed that for you. There was some humorous nonsense about *saving* humanity obviously tacked on by a hacker.

    • by billcopc (196330)

      Personally, I feel that if we're going to colonize the moon (or Mars), that responsibility should not be put in the hands of NASA, the USA, or any other hypercapitalist nation for that matter. What these bean counters love to ignore is that, once we hit space, money/wealth will quickly become irrelevant. I don't know about you, but I can't picture debt collectors chasing me through the galaxy so some dirty banker can buy a diamond-encrusted iPad.

  • So (Score:5, Funny)

    by jimbobborg (128330) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:26PM (#30998920)

    From the article:

    allowing multiple, smaller launches, which then form into one large spacecraft in orbit

    So NASA's building a version of Voltron?

    • Re:So (Score:5, Funny)

      by xleeko (551231) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:33PM (#30999030)

      From the article:

      allowing multiple, smaller launches, which then form into one large spacecraft in orbit

      So NASA's building a version of Voltron?

      They don't say so explicitly ... you have to read between the lions.

  • rounding error with what the President proposed for FY2010. Considering they are spending an unheard of 40% over their income I guess we should feel damn lucky NASA got anything.

    Being a geek I want NASA to receive funding an put people into space and on the moon. The space station comes off to me as a camper, someone looking for excitement and adventure but not wanting to commit to the log cabin in the mountains.

    Being a cynic, this unabashed spending has got to stop. If it means shutting down the manned

    • Spending (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tjstork (137384)

      Being a cynic, this unabashed spending has got to stop

      The spending is going crazy because entitlements are out of control. The feds promise that everyone who is this or that is entitled to a federal zennie, and now there's more of them as baby boomers get old. What was supposed to happen was that entitlements would be pretty cheap and there would be lots of kids to share the costs of the old people. Now, neither has happened.

      Bottom line is, if you want the spending to stop, you have to withhold care for

      • Re:Spending (Score:5, Insightful)

        by eln (21727) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:47PM (#31000090) Homepage
        The biggest spending areas are Medicare, Social Security, and Defense. Fiddling with any of these is a sure way to lose the next election, not only for yourself but for your party. So, no one will touch them except to add more to them and make the problem worse. Meanwhile, trying to even get taxes back up to where they were 10 years ago is political suicide. So, we're stuck with politicians doing the will of the people to stay in office, and the will of the people is more benefits, more defense, less taxes. This is obviously unsustainable, but no one seems to care. Oh sure, people go on TV screaming about it, and people grumble about it amongst themselves, but then what? Back in the late 1990s/early 2000s, we had a budget surplus. At that time, the few people suggesting we use it to pay down the debt were drowned out by those demanding it be "given back" in the form of a tax cut. Bush came into office and gave the people what they want, and we ended up back in the red again.

        We need to raise taxes, cut benefits, and slash defense spending. We now spend more than every other country in the world combined on defense, at some point we have to say we're spending too much on it. Of course, if anyone even suggests cutting defense spending they're labeled as an unpatriotic terrorist sympathizer, and their political career goes down the toilet. Similarly, if anyone suggests cutting social security or Medicare, they're accused of wanting to kill old people, and old people vote more than anyone else. Talk about raising taxes, and you're a big government socialist. The whole system has gone off the rails, and everyone is too busy trying to tear everyone else down and look good for the voters to actually fix any of it. All we can accomplish is bickering about discretionary spending, which is such a small part of the budget that even taking it all the way down to zero wouldn't solve the problem.

        End of rant.
        • by tjstork (137384)

          We need to raise taxes, cut benefits, and slash defense spending

          I agree completely.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by hey! (33014)

            But carefully. Get to where you want to be overnight, and a lot of people are out of work and the panic starts all over again.

            The best time to tighten your budgetary belt, unfortunately, is the time it is least likely to be done: when times are good. When times are good every dollar taxed is coming out of smoothly operating machine for turning dollars into wealth.

    • by Danathar (267989)

      I agree. Siphoning off just 20B from the Military Budget would take care of this.....

  • by dpilot (134227) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:35PM (#30999048) Homepage Journal

    Getting to LEO isn't rocket science, any more. We've been doing that for over 50 years, now.

    By now it's rocket engineering, and appropriate for the private sector.

    Keep NASA in the rocket science business - deep space, new technologies, etc. The goal here is for the private sector to do it faster and cheaper, enabling other things to piggyback on top - like even further out rocket science. Too much of NASA's attention is spent on that first 100-200 miles.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      You're right, but I'm sensing a contradiction in the article:

      keeping the ISS going

      NASA is out of the business of putting people into low-earth orbit

      So what, an automated ISS?

  • Shouldn't their whole mission be getting people and stuff into the air and/or into space? For bonus points, getting those people/things back would be kinda cool (where applicable - frankly, they can leave satellites in orbit if that's what's required).

    Science? That sounds like a job for some other organization. NASA should strictly be in the business of managing air/spacecraft (although with the FAA existing to handle atmospheric flight, I suppose we could change the acronym to NSA - National Space Admi

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      Shouldn't their whole mission be getting people and stuff into the air and/or into space?

      No, that's the job of NAPSA, the National Aeronautic and People in Space Administration. I can see how you would get confused, though.

      NASA's job is to look out for the USA's space-based interests. It's not clear what having people in space does for us at this point. Putting people in space was useful once, because it was the alternative to cold war: a space race is much better for development of technology than throwing the nation's money at arms manufacturers. Right now we would be better off developing be

    • You realize that NASA works with lots of people to do what it does. It works with lots of universities and contractors at private companies ...

      They basically do what you say they should do already. They manage things for the most part, and do some stuff in house because they are the center point to it all and farming it out wouldn't be nearly as cost effective.

      The current NASA is a government organization, not military. They work closely with the military, sure, but they do more civilian work than milit

  • Turning over a government-run system to private business? How socialist can you get!

  • by Eric Smith (4379) <eric@NosPAm.brouhaha.com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:44PM (#30999200) Homepage Journal
    ...of having NASA do unmanned stuff and private industry do manned. Manned is far more challenging, and less likely to be profitable, so I would have expected it to make sense for NASA to do manned and private industry to do unmanned.

    That's just an observation. It's not intended to be criticism of the plan. I have plenty of criticism of the old plan, but I don't yet know enough about the new one.

    • by hlee (518174)

      Still a lot of exploration to do in our solar system - probes and robots are the best way to go about it right now.

      I don't see what incentive private enterprise would have in landing rovers on Mars, whereas this is something that NASA is very good at doing, and is able to conduct experiments for the sake of science and discovery.

    • Actually that was the old paradigm. Since the Space Shuttle Challenger's last ill-fated flight, all government payloads, except manned missions, are required by law to procure launch services from commercial providers.

      This new approach proposed by President Obama would remove NASA even from the manned launch business, and outsource all vehicle design, development, and operations to the private sector.

      I'm a child of the sixties and grew up with Apollo, and have followed the Space Shuttle program avidly sinc

      • by khallow (566160)

        But those will be for the enrichment of the their stockholders, not the advancement of American technology and interests.

        What an odd thing to say since US commercial space flight is more fully the advancement of American technology and interests than a NASA-only rocket. Keep in mind that the US more than anything else is an economic power, based on trade, industry, and the sweat of its citizens. I think going to commercial space flight is more in keeping with the traditions and strengths of the US.

  • How is NASA supporting that now that Ares V has been cancelled.

    No private firm is going to build a rocket of that capability anytime in the near future.
    • I know! But from reading the article, it is not entirely clear that the Aries V has been canceled. What they are saying is that the Aries V wasn't scheduled to receive any funding until 2016, so this is not necessarily a shift away from developing that vehicle, but other heavy lift options will be considered as well and once they get to that point they will decide what to do. In the mean time the Aries I has definitely been canceled.
    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:33PM (#30999902)

      There's $3 billion in the budget starting immediately to develope a heavy lift capability, considering that Ares V developement wasn't suposed to start for several years yet. Whatever solution they come up with should be delivered earlier than the Ares V would have been.

    • The falcon 9 heavy configuration lifts 30Mg to LEO. It will probably be up and running in next year or two. (The Falcon 9 regular's maiden flight will be in the next month or two). The ares 5 lifts 150Mg to LEO. Problem is that it wouldn't be ready for 2018~2020. That is quite a big difference! That and the cost will be many times as much. (I did notice the size difference, but I still think SpaceX will be working towards a heavy lift vehicle by the time ares would be completed)
  • I believe there should be different agency, one devoted to exploitation of space resources,including transportation and habitability, which is more suited to private industry as compared to NASA who does exploration and science. The two would be interdependent, but it would focus NASA at what it supposed to do.
  • Much needed overhaul of a partially moribund manned program.
    Putting science first will create a much more meaningful space
    program in the long run, one in which a manned presence is
    essential.

  • Somebody explain to me how this helps them go to mars in my lifetime. I may have 50 years left on the planet. I would like to see us go to mars.
  • I can't wait for the first space war, when the other countries have armoured battleshuttles and we have to hitch a ride on a tourist boat.
  • Is that this whole space privatization thing is anything more than a kill NASA move. Like, come on, we're supposed to believe that a political party that seems to think people should not be allowed to own rifles should be allowed to develop ICBMs? Would Democrats really ever let me own my own rocketship, when, the mere possession of the energy required to get into myself orbit makes for a hugely powerful weapon?

    Come on, Democrats banned mercury and lead, and they are going to let us have our own rockets?

    W

  • I understand why it was done (Cancellation of Constellation) but I have some concerns about not having ANY capability to get people into space until some commercial contractor has the equipment to do so. Also, saying "TBD" when it comes to when we will be back exploring space is the equivalent to "never" in terms of washington priorities.

    Also, what is to inspire the youth of tomorrow?

  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:51PM (#31000140)

    So, NASA's jumping on the same bandwagon as private companies now - outsourcing everything they can get away with. I'm not totally anti-outsourcing, but I do think it goes way too far. Executives love the idea of having as few things in-house as possible, especially when a business partner can do it cheaper. The problem is that they don't care how the partner manages to do it cheaper! This happens in every field. Outsource manufacturing, and you get poor product quality. Outsource software development, and you get crappy code that has to be rewritten anyway. Outsource IT, and satisfaction levels go down as the people who knew what was happening get replaced by the cheapest people they can find. How would this apply to space travel?

    Also, here's another thought. In not too many years, China, India or one of the other developing economies is going to be the dominant country on Earth. It's just a fact - they have governments who pursue growth at all costs, and we've decided to stop trying to stay ahead. One of the things that kept the US and the Soviet Union on their toes during the Cold War was the run-up in their space programs. The US push to be first on the moon was basically a government mandate, along with the massive amount of funding that it took. Let's say we wanted to do something like that again - maybe to prove a point to China or something. Now, instead of using unlimited money and power to make things happen, NASA has to go beg/bribe 500 subcontractors to do the job instead of hiring the scientists and engineering staff themselves.

  • "NASA is out of the business of putting people into low-earth orbit, and doesn't see getting back in to it."

    That's like GM saying "You know what? We've been producing cars for a long time now. People should have a pretty good idea of how to figure it out. We are getting out of the car business, let people build their own cars from scratch now." (All GM sucks at building cars aside)

    Only building a shuttle capable of carrying humans to LEO and docking with a space station MIGHT be a bit more complicated.

    Perha

  • Many (not all, of course) of the posters here are in favor of capitalism. Just a guess.

    So, why is it that there are so many her in favor of socialized space exploration? What happened to "The free market can do it better?"

  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @04:38PM (#31000808) Journal

    This morning NASA Administrator Charles Bolden had a press conference where he gave more details on NASA's plans and announced the initial contracts for the $50 million commercial crew development contracts (was supposed to be $200 million, but most funding was diverted by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Al) towards Constellation). Mind that this is just for the first year, as the budget hasn't passed yet -- once the budget passes, future contracts will award a total of a few billion spread over a number of years. The video link is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9YvIESqDUk [youtube.com]

    Here's my notes on the press conference:

    (sorry about the heinous formatting)

    Charles Bolden takes a moment to thank the Constellation team for their years of dedicated service
    "We want to explore new worlds, we want to develop more innovative technologies, we want to foster new industries, and we want to increase our understanding of Earth, the solar system, and the universe."
    "each awardee also proposed significant investment from other sources to leverage taxpayer investment"
    Blue Origin
    o $3.7 million award to fund "risk mitigation activities related to its development of pusher launch escape system, and to develop a composite crew module for structural testing."
    Boeing
    o $18 million for space transportation system which includes a 7-person capsule to launch on medium-lift expendable launch systems
    Paragon
    o small business
    o has directly supported more than 70 spaceflight missions
    o $1.4 million for a development unit of environmental control and lift support air revitalization system
    Sierra Nevada
    o $20 million for Dream Chaser, 7-person spacecraft to be launched on Atlas V-402 vehicle
    ULA
    o $6.7 million for emergency detection system to monitor vehicle health of Atlas V and Delta IV rockets
    they are the vanguard; certainly adding to this group in the near future
    comments from presidents/reps
    o ULA
    EDS work for commercial crew and making sure products are more reliable for all customers
    o Blue Origin
    pusher escape system, at back of capsule to avoid jettison event, not consumed on nominal launch so it lowers operating costs
    composite capsule will improve durability over conventional technology and lower weight
    o Boeing
    principal teammate Bigelow Aerospace
    Bigelow represents most probable near-term market for crew transportation to LEO other than NASA
    want to satisfy both Bigelow's needs and NASA's
    parallel with Bill Boeing's young company and airmail to delivering cargo and crew to ISS
    o Paragon
    developing air revitalization system
    first of its kind: a turn-key system, usable on pretty much any spacecraft
    had very first commercial experiment on ISS
    o Sierra Nevada
    developed under unfunded Space Act agreement for past two years
    based on NASA's HL-20 from 20 years ago
    o Orbital Sciences (ongoing COTS contract)
    um, talked for quite a while
    o SpaceX (ongoing COTS contract)
    spoke about collaborations with NASA
    Q&A
    o Do you have a destination and timetable?
    tiger teams working on destinations and putting together timetables now
    o in-orbit refueling?

  • by sp3d2orbit (81173) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:18PM (#31002000)

    The US government is putting its manned access to space in the hands of private entities. When those entities go broke, will they be deemed "to important to fail"?

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