No son of Augustine study, Bolden has a forward plan

by | Aug 5, 2009 | Seradata News | 11 comments

A concern expressed by this blog was that the Norman Augustine led review, all 90-odd days of it, would simply be too short to achieve anything and that the options this US Review of human spaceflight plans committee would come up with would just lead to another study 

Fortunately it would seem, according to sources brave enough to talk to Hyperbola, that Bolden will have a “forward plan” very soon after Augustine has briefed the US Senate and House of Representatives, dates for which are being organised now

This will follow the committee chairman’s 14 August debrief to NASA administrator Charles Bolden and John Holdren, Office of Science and Technology Policy director – whose office kicked off the review on behalf of president Barack Obama’s administration

The rapid timing for all this is apparently because political wheels are to be set in motion as regards the Congressional budgetary process. So it is nice to know everything but the engineering is driving the schedule

But fear not Hyperbola readers because this NASA announcement yesterday indicated that all would be revealed sooner than you think

The Aug. 12 meeting will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. EDT at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center Amphitheater, located at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW in Washington. The agenda is:

1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Committee public deliberations:

Discussion of final options

Discussion of final report

Discussion of close-out activities

Hyperbola understands that all the Augustine materials will be made public on 12 August, and perhaps there won’t even be set of secret appendices…

Coming back to this forward plan of Bolden’s, some people have been getting quite excited about what Xcor founder and chief executive Jeff Greason’s (pronounced Grey-son) propellant depot presentation means for the options that Augustine’s committee could choose

But don’t hold your breath. Such a readiness to have a wide range of views represented at these events, including presentations by the likes of Robert Zubrin, have less, this blog feels, to do with a genuine interest in these options than a calculated decision to avoid a backlash – “but everyone was given the chance to air their views”

Instead some of the Augustine report’s options are likely to be incorporated into broad themes thought by some to be influencing the Bolden forward plan and they are, a strong international element, missions that go beyond low Earth orbit, perhaps to L1, a commercial element and something that fits within the NASA budget

At the first Augustine panel public meeting’s press conference the former Lockheed Martin chief executive and review committee chair said he was interested in “marginal costs and marginal benefits”

NASA tells Hyperbola that this was a reference to the budget. This blog disputed this but they insisted and so what can be inferred from this marginal cost or benefit approach for the budget is essentially, what likelihood is there of one option costing more than another in every sense

To once again look into the crystal ball the question that comes to this blog’s mind is which of the known alternatives that could be considered for the Augustine report’s options present more risk for budget and schedule for these themes than others? 

Which has more risk, Commercial Orbital Transportation Services’ (COTS) vehicles, the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELV), an altered Ares/Orion or Shuttle derived Heavy Lift Vehicle side-mount? Or the orbiter?

For this reason propellant depots are disliked, it is an entirely new spacecraft with no heritage and requires a radically different architecture. And what would launch it? The ULA Delta IV or the yet to fly SpaceX Falcon 9 heavy come to mind. Anyway the word on the street is that NASA personnel are not giving the depot idea the thumbs up to anyone. Just ask any contractor pushing that, and this blog is referring to companies with larger profit and loss accounts than Xcor

For some Bolden’s forward plan will probably be Shuttle extension, with HLV over lap and a crew transport developed from COTS or EELV, while others will prefer a reformed Ares/Orion, HLV combination

While this blog thinks the options are quite self evident (Flame Trench also named some of the more obvious options such as ISS extension) the real mystery now is what will that Bolden forward plan say? Any answers Charlie?

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to www.seradata.com/spacetrak

Related Articles

Proton-M launches Elektro-L N4 weather sat for Russia

A Proton-M/Block DM-03 launch vehicle was successfully launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, near Tyuratam in Kazakhstan at 0912 GMT on 5 Read more

SSLV failure cause: Violent second stage separation triggered chain of events which prevented SSLV final stage burn to stable orbit

The failure investigation set up by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) into the launch failure of the maiden flight Read more

South Korea confirms shift of two missions from Russian launchers; Kompsat 6 goes to Arianespace and CAS500-2 goes back to international market

The South Korean vice-minister for Science, Oh Tae-seog, announced on 1 February 2023 that they had selected an Arianespace Vega Read more

SpaceX launches another batch of Starlinks plus ION-SCV9 delivery spacecraft testing separation system

A Falcon 9v1.2FT Block 5 was launched from the Vandenberg Space Force base in California at 1615 GMT on 31 Read more

US sanctions SPACETY for supplying radar imagery to Russian Wagner Group in Ukraine

Just as Ukraine's military campaign has been supported by US commercial spacecraft operating firms — with SpaceX and Maxar providing Read more

Tianwen 1 mission’s Zhurong-1 Mars rover may have expired in its sleep

SpaceNews reports (quoting the South China Morning Post) that the Zhurong 1 Mars rover as part of the Tianwen 1 Read more

Tom Cruise may have saved cinema industry with Top Gun-Maverick but he has even higher movie plans with space station studio module now ordered

While action film actor Tom Cruise has his detractors, you cannot say he is not successful. Recently starring in the Read more

China deploys 14 satellites on Long March-2D rocket

The Chinese sent 14 new satellites into orbit on a Long March-2D/2 (CZ-2D/2) rocket at 0314 GMT on 15 January. Read more

Categories

Archives