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NASA’s Detailed Study of SLS Alternatives from a Year Ago, Told Ya So

Sheesh.

Nasawatch is still running some news bits about that NASA Powerpoint it got from last July that discussed just about everything on SLS and alternatives, including international partners and fuel depots.

From Nasawatch-

…it is obvious that even a year ago pragmatic thought was given to how a variety of launchers could be used for human, cargo, and other launch purposes including ways that mission profiles (DRM 4) usually associated with a HLV could be accomplished in whole or in part by the use of expendable launch vehicles. A more detailed look at what was being reviewed last year can be found at “Human Exploration Framework Team Presentation Online“.

Full story and comments…

Duh. This was discussed last time people were fussing over SLS vs alternatives, about a year ago. I don’t recall seeing the previous year’s charts online, but NASA did do a good, pragmatic study, as reported here. The study took into account different mission scenarios, lift capacity to carry out those missions, and different combinations of rockets that could do it (existing or planned), plus the time required to build the different fleets of rockets and/or depots, complexity, and reliability. SLS would cost more, but turntimes between missions are less and it’s not so complex.

If you replace SLS with a fleet, you still have to build the fleet at the right time and get them all into space when you need them, without anything going wrong.

Maybe Congress just wanted an SLS because it’s tall and looks cool. Maybe they looked at all the numbers and decided to keep it simple. (And then there may be uses for it they don’t want to talk about.)

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14 Responses to “NASA’s Detailed Study of SLS Alternatives from a Year Ago, Told Ya So”

  • Marcel F. Williams:

    Congress wants NASA to have the same heavy lift capability it had back during the age of Apollo. Both Democrats and Republicans wanted an HLV during the Bush administration and they still want an HLV during the Obama administration .

  • Ferris Valyn:

    Space,

    I am sorry, but then we’ll never get anywhere, and we might as well close down the HSF program.

  • Astronautics_Student:

    He’s still complaining? No surprises, I guess.

    Maybe we could turn this into an internet meme, Space?

  • libs0n:

    Space,

    There are two studies.

    The first, which you are familiar with, which disfavoured a fuel deport architecture over SLS due to issues raised.

    A second, more recent, which examined those issues, namely launch capacity concerns, and found them to be bunk. ie, the fuel depot route had more validity than the first study considered and which you base your opinion on. This second study found that the fuel depot route accomplished more for less, and not the other way around.

    The first study was bunk.

  • Space:

    I don’t think either study was bunk. Neither one pushes really hard one way or the other. You may be right on the launch capacity concerns. Maybe some assumptions were changed. It happens!

  • mike shupp:

    Hmm … I’m sitting here trying to figure out what a US manned space program looks like to a US Congressman, if that program satisfies folks like Barak Obama and Rand Simburg and Robert J. Oler and Major Tom and Ferris Valyn and the rest of the alt.space crew … and it ain’t that pretty, y’know? Pass a half billion appropriation this year without much debate, pass a billion buck appropriation next year without much debate, and that’s basically it. Vote and go home.

    There’d be no oversight, because the development is “commercial.” No Congressional involvement in contract awards. No discussion of goals since commercial crew is ground-to-ISS and back and nothing else. No debate over schedules or project economics or coordination with other government agencies.

    In other words, there’d be very little opportunity for Congressmen to deal with manned space flight in the manner that might be expected of legislators. And precisely to the extent that they were interested in the space program, precisely to the extext that they were knowledgeable and involved and consciencious in their performance of public duties, they’d find the situation obnoxious — and inclined to take action establishing Congressional authority in space policy.

    Of course it’s commonplace these days to lambast Congressfolk as idealogues or
    shameless reelection seekers or morally corrupt hypocrites. It’s a tad disconcerting to reflect that space buffs prefer them that way.

  • Space:

    Alt.space keeps getting worked up because they are thinking technical, but US money for spaceflight is political, and always has been.

    For Apollo, the technical and political sides needed each other. The cold warriors wanted to beat the Rooskies, and the techies wanted to do something amazing. The other big ticket spaceflight programs that got steady money were also political-Apollo/Soyuz, Shuttle, ISS.

    What is in it for professional politicians to give up what they consider ownership of a high-profile political tool?

    We have heard a million times that private is better, entrepreneurs do things better, cheaper, faster. OK, OK, we get it. I doubt there are many people in Congress that don’t think that way about most things anyway. I’m not sure if that is really the point in Washington, or they would be all alt.space fans too. There has to be more to it.

    Part of me thinks that (besides the “ownership” fear) people are forgetting the old-school buddy system. Politicians love to give money to big contractors that make the planes, missiles and other things that go boom and make them feel warm and fuzzy. Alt-space upsets the who-makes-what apple cart. Politicians resist. If it’s expensive, they want PWR, Boeing, ATK and LM to get paid. It’s not even a technical debate in Washington, just online.

  • Ferris Valyn:

    Space – forgive me for being the idealist for one moment (something I am loathed to do)

    What is in it for professional politicians to give up what they consider ownership of a high-profile political tool?

    Because maybe its the right thing to do? Because, in-between kissing babies and handing out big contracts to a select few, there is an entire country to consider?

    I do agree, there is much of political dimension as there is a technical dimension. But the flip side of that is some of these problems are reflected in NASA, not just in Congress.

    An additional point

    We have heard a million times that private is better, entrepreneurs do things better, cheaper, faster. OK, OK, we get it. I doubt there are many people in Congress that don’t think that way about most things anyway. I’m not sure if that is really the point in Washington, or they would be all alt.space fans too. There has to be more to it.

    The problem is there are a lot of space people who think most people care about space, or even most elected officials in Washington. And thats the other part of the story. Most don’t care about space, as space. They care if its impacting their personal issue, whatever that issue may be. Now, a there is a very small number who actually care (you can count on one hand). There is a larger number who care because its in their constituents interest.

    But most don’t, and by extension, don’t actually look at the issue. And thats the problem

  • Space:

    Ferris, remember what W Churchill said about Americans and doing the right thing…

  • Ferris Valyn:

    Space,
    I am sorry, but huh? Yes, I know the quote you are referring to, but the implication is that we should somehow accept stupidity, and waste, until something changes.

    Forgive me, but that seems irresponsible and lazy.

  • Space:

    I’m just writing about what I consider reality. It’s not like I agree with it!

  • Ferris Valyn:

    Again, with the huh?

    Ok, so thats the current reality. So, if you don’t like it, why are you just writing about it? Why not try and change it?

  • Space:

    I’m not too good at changing culture…

  • Ferris Valyn:

    Well, here is your chance to learn…

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