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Garver-Commercial Space Must Succeed

From Space.com-

For NASA to achieve any of its lofty goals for the future, the commercial space industry must succeed, NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver said.

The space agency has bet big that private spaceships will be ready to carry cargo and astronauts to orbit soon. The future of the International Space Station, as well as the future of NASA’s robotic science missions and human deep space ambitions, depend on that outcome, Garver said yesterday (Oct. 20) here at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight.

“In order to make good on the entire plan, it is this part of the plan that must be successful,” Garver said…

Full story…

Well, duh. If you make something an essential part of a plan, don’t be surprised when that part of the plan is considered essential!


18 Responses to “Garver-Commercial Space Must Succeed”

  • Ferris Valyn:


    I have no doubt Ms. garver understands that.

    However, I am less convinced that people in Congress understand that

  • Space:

    I agree, I think. Garver is not where she is to sit on the fence. She is there to help implement the admins view of how to proceed. At this point it’s past the point of no return and it has to work, or the US will have to scale back it’s ambitions and just keep paying for Soyuz rides.

    The commercial crew and cargo thing has to work and it will work, one way or the other. It’s still the wild west combined with the risk that airplanes faced when they were going through this phase. Hopefully we don’t blow anyone up as things get up to speed.

    Even if we get a new president in the next term, I don’t see a full stop reversal of what is put in place already.

  • Ferris Valyn:


    Then I guess I am wondering why the sarcasm?

  • The best way for commercial manned space programs to succeed is by helping to create a market for them outside of NASA. But if commercial space programs become largely dependent on NASA programs then they their survival will always depend on Congressional and public support for particular government space programs like the ISS. And the ISS is really a program that should be terminated in 2016 so that NASA can focus its limited resources of beyond LEO missions.

    But the Federal government could help the commercial space tourism industry in America become independent of tax dollar support by simply starting a national and international space lotto system so that billions of average people around the world could risk a dollar or two annually for a chance to win $250,000 (more than ample compensation for time off from work for astronaut training and it would be a small fortune in most third world countries) plus a round trip flight aboard a private American space vehicle to private American space stations or even to a private space hotel on the surface of the Moon.

    NASA could also help a company like Bigelow get off the ground by purchasing and deploying a few of its inflatable space stations for NASA use at LEO and and L1. The Delta IV heavy could be used to launch the small BA 330 units while the SLS could be used to launch Bigelow’s largest space station concept: the Olympus BA-2100. The NASA stamp of approval would also make Bigelow space stations much more attractive for potential purchaser like foreign nations and private corporations.

  • mike shupp:

    Bah, humbug.

    First of all, there’s no identified manned mission for the US space program except flights to the ISS for the next nine years, or perhaps even the next 17 years. This is plenty of time to develop fallback crew and cargo launch vehicles if bad things happen to all the SpaceX and Orbital and Boeing and the planned SLS systems. It’d be embarrassing for the US, I concede, but not disasterous.

    Secondly, manned space programs cost the US roughly 9 billion dollars a year. Unmanned, mostly scientific , programs cost NASA about the same. Weather satellites run to 4 or 5 billion a year, and space spending by DOD & NSA hits 40 to maybe 50 billion a year. ALL these efforts are under strain at the moment — all have problems with cost overruns and program slippages quite as bad as manned space flight. Similar problems occur in India, Japan, Europe, Russia and (very likely) China.

    It’s improbable, to put it gently, that there is a magical solution to US manned spaceflight problems which does not work as well on spaceflight problems in general. Or, putting things backward, it’s unlikely that a cure can be found for US manned spaceflight problems unless we figure out, as a species, how to do a better job of running space programs in general.

    Since commercialization is beiug presented as a cure-all for USD manned space flight, I await with interest proposals for commercializing meteorological satellites, planetary spacecraft, future observatories, intelligence gathering satellites, and launch activities at ESA, JAXA, and the like. Continued silence will suggest that even in Deepest D.C. commercialization is not seen as a panacea and that, as ever, politicians and NASA executives are simply flailing about senselessly.

  • Ferris Valyn:

    Mike – the issue is what you are trying to commercialize, and what your goal is.

    I will freely grant some things will not be successfully commercialized, at least for a long time to come (New Horizons being a good example).

    That said, there are a greater number of areas that could involve greater commercialization. But the key reason that commercialization will prove to be a huge benefit for HSF is because it will provide a measurable ROI for human spaceflight. That is something it hasn’t had since the Apollo days.

    That isn’t true of the unmanned program

  • mike shupp:

    Um… I’m on a tight budget, Ferris Other than flying immediately across the country, waiting on your doorstep, pummeling you to death with the limbs I’ve ripped from your bloody body, and jumping up and down on your grave while screaming “THIS IS BATSHIT INSANE!”, how might I politely suggest that your notions are batshit insane?

    What on earth is a “measurable ROI for human spaceflight?” What precisely was the “return” from our “investment” on Apollo, who claims to have “measured” it, and can you provide numbers to prove to a friendly small town banker that such investment was or was not justifiable? Why is it that the US government spends 3-6 billion dollars a year on unmanned planetary science and astronomy programs if there is NO measurable return? Please discuss the failed investment schemes behind weather satellites, and earth climate monitoring programs. For extra credit, explain why the US and French governments have attempted to privatize Landsat programs without success for over 50 years.

    My apologies for falling upon you like Bob-Oler-without-his-meds, but I think you’re throwing around buzzwords without much understanding of actual issues. Why not track down a bonafide economics prof and ask him or her to point you to some decent textbooks discussing large scale R&D programs? (I’d bet there’s nothing more recent than the 1970s, but I could be wrong.)

  • John:

    There needs to be a market for commercial space outside of NASA. They need to find their own niche and investors ( minus the taxpayer crutch ) to be successful, but of course NASA knows that. Congress and NASA have had a blast throwing billions of taxpayer dollars away on bogus projects like Constellation or New Mexico taxpayers footing the bill for Virgin Galactic’s spaceport, yet for some strange reason that wasn’t enough. Now its the SLS one shot ponzi scheme. So what ever happened to that dependable crew/cargo launch vehicle that should have been built 10 years ago that could have been inherited by commercial and private space…

  • mike shupp:

    McDonnell Douglas’ DC-X was destroyed by a fire in 1999, after a bad landing; NASA declined to spend $50 million for a replacement. According to Wikipedia, some of the engineers on the project went on to Jeff Bezos Blue Origins program.

    Lockheed Martin’s X-33 was halted during development in 2001, when NASA decided it would not be practical. Lockheed tried to interest DOD in continuing, but found no takers. Again, according to Wikipedia, Lockheed flew a 1/5-scale model three times in 2009, oddly enough in New Mexico, with mixed results.

    LMAC’s Altas 5 and Boeing’s Delta 4 EELVs have been in operation for the US DoD since 2002, with 40 or so successful launches (and one partial failure). These were supposed to carry commercial payloads as well, but it never happened. A beefed up Altas is being considered as part of Boeing’s entry in NASA’s commercial crew competition.

    ESA has just brought out a larger Adriane launcher. The Chinese had produced, or at least spoken of, a larger Long March launch. Russia was considering a replacement for the Proton, but apparently decided this year just to revamp the old design. Boeing and Ukraine and Russia and Norway are back in operation (after bankruptcy) with SeaLaunch.

    What is this shortage of launch capacity of which you speak, comrade?

  • If we want to get Americans up fast and safe, next year, the Eclipse spacecraft is the answer. The Eclipse is basically a 21st century version of the Gemini. Although the structure will remain unchanged, the systems will use the latest proven technology eg. avionics will have GPS. We have selected contractors and are ready to go…when funded.

  • Astronautics_Student:

    Sure, and the Conestaga will send us into the golden age of “commercial” space. So will the Roton and Rocketplane-Kistler. Lol.

  • Space:

    I wouldn’t make fun of Craig’s proposal.

    Who says we have to have something all new? The Russian Soyuz model is not so bad. They have been flying the same old clunker for decades, and look who is paying them for rides…

  • Ferris Valyn:


    1. You’ve included a number of pieces I specifically did not mention, intentionally. I was very specific in limiting it to HSF

    2. The (and I admit this is arguable) measurable ROI from Apollo was related to demonstrating our technologcial equality (or arguably superiority) of the Soviet Union. Now, as I said, I admit this is arguable, because the question that has to be asked is how much did Apollo actually contribute to the end of the cold war? It contributed something, but personally, I suspect space advocates over-play this claim by a fair amount.

    3. ROI isn’t just about getting money back. What I am getting at is, in essence, are we getting the value for the money we are spending, and how are we ensuring we are getting good value. I know in the financial world, ROI is about actual money, but in the rest of the world, ROI can be something different.

    The point is, are we getting good value, and how do we know we are getting good value. I submit that we aren’t getting good value, and part of the reason we aren’t getting good value is we have no way of getting good value, and by commercializing HSF, we’ll actually find the value.

  • Space:

    On #2 above, it was partly showing off, yes, but also it was a cover to develop ICBM and related technologies as well.

    That may be good or bad depending on what you think of MAD, but at least no one ever pushed the MAD button…(yet).

  • sabber:

    …past the point of no return. Are you sure? What about SLS? They said it could also be used to support the ISS. That means it could do the job which was to be done by the commercial industry…do you smell the rat?

  • Space:

    What year will it be by the time there is a human rated SLS ready for human missions?

    Unless something goes very wrong with commercial crew, they are going to be busy lifting people by the time SLS is ready for that.

    Also, recall that in the National Space Policy, it is forbidden for NASA to compete with commercial crew. Even if the admin changes after this next election, I don’t see a reversal of commercial crew, unless they just all blow up or something.

  • mike shupp:

    Well, at least you’re AWARE you’re using language somewhat carelessly, so I’ll tone the volume down. Apologies; I just get upset when people of whom I’d prefer to think well begin speaking like Republican presidential candidates. (You wouldn’t want to be lumped together with T*H*E*M, would you?)

    I reiterate the complaint I’ve made before, and likely will make again, that we really need some decent texts applying economics to space programs. Sadly, the only stuff I’m finding on the internet that has any application is “political economics” — which tells me how much different governments choose to spend on space programs, and not a damned thing about pricing R&D programs.

    (I’m a little tired of alt.space geniuses telling me “SpaceX builds rockets for 15% of what NASA would cost, so there!” Just from contrariness, I guess, I want some cost comparisons for a second program. I’d like to see government-vs-industry comparisons for jet aircraft, and tanks, and really large ships, with some discussion of results. There must have been a few people looking at this, don’t you think, over the last 6000 years, and maybe there have been BUT YOU CAN’T FIND OUT USING THE INTERNET. Isn’t that frigging amazing?)

  • John:

    Its a big rat for sure. NASA is being prevented from building a crew vehicle because of current monopolies. Commercial and private interests can build a crew vehicle or anything they want all day long, essentially developing their own space program if they wish.

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