In the interest of sanity, I’ll skip large parts of the speech; which opens with a history lesson of manned spaceflight, and the usual politicanese.
So let me start by being extremely clear: I am 100 percent committed to the mission of NASA and its future. (Applause.)
So committed, that you’re forcing us to start all over from square zero, and throwing away the last six years of development time and R&D money.
All that has to change. And with the strategy I’m outlining today, it will. We start by increasing NASA’s budget by $6 billion over the next five years, even — (applause) — I want people to understand the context of this. This is happening even as we have instituted a freeze on discretionary spending and sought to make cuts elsewhere in the budget.
So NASA, from the start, several months ago when I issued my budget, was one of the areas where we didn’t just maintain a freeze but we actually increased funding by $6 billion.
NASA FY2011 Budget Summary
Of that $6 billion increase, $2.5 billion goes to simply terminating Constellation and closing out the program via contractor payments; $1.8 billion goes to Climate Science funding, and $2 billion goes to the ISS; leaving virtually nothing for actual development of things that go places with people in them.
By doing that we will ramp up robotic exploration of the solar system, including a probe of the Sun’s atmosphere;
You mean Solar Probe, which was approved and begun in the last year of George W. Bush’s presidency?
new scouting missions to Mars and other destinations
You mean like the Mars Science Laboratory, a one ton nuclear powered rover that was approved for development in 2006, under George W. Bush’s administration?
and an advanced telescope to follow Hubble, allowing us to peer deeper into the universe than ever before.
You mean like the James E Webb Space Telescope? Development of it began in 1996 under the Clinton Administration.
We will increase Earth-based observation to improve our understanding of our climate and our world — science that will garner tangible benefits, helping us to protect our environment for future generations.
There are so many NASA programs for Earth Observation Satellites that began earlier under Clinton and Bush II which are just starting to be launched or reach the final phases of development; that I don’t know where to start….
And we will extend the life of the International Space Station likely by more than five years, while actually using it for its intended purpose: conducting advanced research that can help improve the daily lives of people here on Earth, as well as testing and improving upon our capabilities in space.
That’s nice. You do realize that the ISS alone takes up a third of your so-called budget increase for NASA?
This includes technologies like more efficient life support systems that will help reduce the cost of future missions. And in order to reach the space station, we will work with a growing array of private companies competing to make getting to space easier and more affordable. (Applause.)
You mean the NASA COTS program that effectively was begun and signed contracts with private companies under George W. Bush’s administration?
Now, I recognize that some have said it is unfeasible or unwise to work with the private sector in this way. I disagree.
Oh, look, his patented strawman! I was wondering when you’d show up!
*snips random talk about how private companies built space hardware for NASA*
By buying the services of space transportation — rather than the vehicles themselves — we can continue to ensure rigorous safety standards are met.
The history of private spaceflight is not a very pretty one.
It seems to waste a lot of money in pursuit of rather dubious technological ideas — you only need to google “Rotary Rocket” to find this. The best part was that Rotary Rocket basically only added a couple ISP; which was just barely enough to make the rotary blades and transmission effectively “free”.
Then there’s Musk’s SpaceX; which has spent a not inconsiderate amount of money on developing it’s own rocket engine, the Merlin which can only put 125,000 lbf of thrust in it’s latest incarnation.
This has led to SpaceX’s plans to go from Falcon 1 (600 kilograms to LEO) to Falcon 9 (10,000 kilograms to LEO) by simply clustering nine Merlins together.
Their plans for ever heavier payloads are more hilarious.
They plan for Falcon 9 Heavy (20,000 kilograms to LEO), to simply bolt on two extra Falcon 9 first stages, each with nine Merlin engines; so that on liftoff of a Falcon 9 Heavy, you have 27(!) engines firing. Anyone who has studied the history of the Soviet N-1 program realizes how bad an idea this is.
SpaceX could have vastly simplified the development of their rocket family if they had just bought the RS-68 engine from Rocketdyne, with a rating of 663,000 lbf. This would have enabled Falcon 9 to only need two engines, vastly simplifying the pump network that feeds fuel to the engines, and saved them a significant pile of money on engine development.
They could then have spent that money on the detail design for the other aspects of the rocket, like production engineering and maintenance engineering — so that the rocket could be produced cheaper and require less personnel to prepare for a flight.
In addition, as part of this effort, we will build on the good work already done on the Orion crew capsule. I’ve directed Charlie Bolden to immediately begin developing a rescue vehicle using this technology, so we are not forced to rely on foreign providers if it becomes necessary to quickly bring our people home from the International Space Station. And this Orion effort will be part of the technological foundation for advanced spacecraft to be used in future deep space missions. In fact, Orion will be readied for flight right here in this room. (Applause.)
So you’re turning an advanced manned spacecraft that would have flown to the moon and to near earth asteroids into a glorified rescue capsule. How are you going to carry out your grand plans without something more advanced than a lifeboat?
And all the talk about eventually converting Lifeboat-Orion into Mars-Orion are just that, fantasy.
How many spacecraft designs has NASA substantially re-designed and improved past the first man-rated design?
There were plans for Block III and Block IV Apollo CSMs, but they never got off the ground; and there were tons of plans or proposals for Block II Shuttles, which again, never got off the ground, leading to the Space Shuttle essentially being the same spacecraft that flew in 1981, minus a new glass cockpit, and changes to the SSMEs to improve reliability.
Next, we will invest more than $3 billion to conduct research on an advanced “heavy lift rocket” — a vehicle to efficiently send into orbit the crew capsules, propulsion systems, and large quantities of supplies needed to reach deep space. In developing this new vehicle, we will not only look at revising or modifying older models; we want to look at new designs, new materials, new technologies that will transform not just where we can go but what we can do when we get there. And we will finalize a rocket design no later than 2015 and then begin to build it.
What new technologies are required for a heavy launch vehicle?
It is just a matter of national will to commit to the cost of designing and developing systems on a massive scale.
I would like to remind you that under Constellation, the Ares V heavy launch vehicle would have flown in 2018.
Now do you seriously think that under this new plan, NASA will somehow pick a design in 2015 and then have it flying in 2018 — just three years?
So this amounts to a massive defacto delay in the space program.
And I want everybody to understand: That’s at least two years earlier than previously planned — and that’s conservative, given that the previous program was behind schedule and over budget.
So in your brilliant wisdom, you are delaying the program and increasing the amount of time that the United States will not have a man-rated vehicle from five years to a decade or more.
And as other people than me have said; it’s no surprise Orion/Constellation was over budget and behind schedule — it was actually being built.
Other projects are within their budgets and ahead of their schedules because they aren’t being built, and are just paper studies.
At the same time, after decades of neglect, we will increase investment — right away — in other groundbreaking technologies that will allow astronauts to reach space sooner and more often, to travel farther and faster for less cost, and to live and work in space for longer periods of time more safely. That means tackling major scientific and technological challenges. How do we shield astronauts from radiation on longer missions? How do we harness resources on distant worlds? How do we supply spacecraft with energy needed for these far-reaching journeys? These are questions that we can answer and will answer. And these are the questions whose answers no doubt will reap untold benefits right here on Earth.
We answered all those questions 40 years ago with Apollo Applications, and then updated the questions 20 years ago when NASA began preliminary planning to support George H.W. Bush’s Mars initative.
Yes. Does anyone even remember that?
In May 1990, during a speech at Texas A&M, George H.W. Bush established 2019 as a goal for a manned landing on Mars.
A lot of NASA development work began to design heavy launch vehicles and the long term life support required to achieve this objective, and continued on during Mr. Bush’s remaining years in office.
However, after Bill Clinton took office, he ordered a review of NASA’s mission; which took three years to accomplish.
In September 1996 based on that review, Clinton cancelled Bush’s Manned Mars Landing by 2019, and instead committed NASA to putting a robot on Mars by 2000.
And like now, much was made of the need to increase efficiency in the space program by transferring activities to….the private sector.
So it’s 1996 all over again.
Some have said, for instance, that this plan gives up our leadership in space by failing to produce plans within NASA to reach low Earth orbit, instead of relying on companies and other countries. But we will actually reach space faster and more often under this new plan, in ways that will help us improve our technological capacity and lower our costs, which are both essential for the long-term sustainability of space flight. In fact, through our plan, we’ll be sending many more astronauts to space over the next decade. (Applause.)
On what? Russian Launch Vehicles under contract?
You just cancelled a man-rated launch system that would have flown in five years, and a heavy launch system that would have flown in eight years for…paper promises.
And if you seriously believe that SpaceX can man-rate the Falcon Nine….I have things to say about your sanity, or lack thereof.
There are also those who criticized our decision to end parts of Constellation as one that will hinder space exploration below [sic] low Earth orbit. But it’s precisely by investing in groundbreaking research and innovative companies that we will have the potential to rapidly transform our capabilities — even as we build on the important work already completed, through projects like Orion, for future missions. And unlike the previous program, we are setting a course with specific and achievable milestones.
In the immortal words of a recent congressman: YOU LIE!
Link to Bush II’s Speech Announcing Constellation
I shall summarize:
- Finish the ISS by 2010. (last shuttle mission this year will finish it out basically)
- Fly Manned Orion by 2014. (this has slipped by now to about 2015.)
- Return to the Moon by 2015-20 (You can achieve a 2015 return if you do a repeat of Apollo 8; and the best a manned landing can be made is 2019; which is the first manned flight of the Altair lander is under current schedules).
Later on during the development of Constellation, NASA announced that in 2020, planning for a Mars mission would have begun with a tentative date of 2030+ for planning purposes.
Early in the next decade, a set of crewed flights will test and prove the systems required for exploration beyond low Earth orbit.
As opposed to Constellation, which would have this occur during this decade.
And by 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the Moon into deep space.
Under Constellation, we’d have those spacecraft by 2015-2018 and it would be a simple matter of converting the Earth Departure Stage of Constellation into a wet workshop living space for astronauts on these long duration missions — just like the proposed Apollo Applications Manned Flyby of Venus using a Block III Apollo CSM and a wetworkshop S-IVB.
So we’ll start — we’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history.
Once again, this was also proposed 40 years ago during Apollo Applications and then 40 years later during Constellation Applications — so what are you proposing, other than a decade-long delay as we’re forced to ground zero and starting all over?
By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it.
-You won’t be landing on Mars without a heavy lift vehicle, which you cancelled in favor of a nebulous design which won’t even have it’s design picked until five years from now.
But I want to repeat — I want to repeat this: Critical to deep space exploration will be the development of breakthrough propulsion systems and other advanced technologies. So I’m challenging NASA to break through these barriers. And we’ll give you the resources to break through these barriers. And I know you will, with ingenuity and intensity, because that’s what you’ve always done.
Now, I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the Moon first, as previously planned. But I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We’ve been there before. Buzz has been there. There’s a lot more of space to explore, and a lot more to learn when we do. So I believe it’s more important to ramp up our capabilities to reach — and operate at — a series of increasingly demanding targets, while advancing our technological capabilities with each step forward. And that’s what this strategy does. And that’s how we will ensure that our leadership in space is even stronger in this new century than it was in the last.
You know, George W. Bush was smarter than you when he announced Constellation six years ago:
“Returning to the moon is an important step for our space program. Establishing an extended human presence on the moon could vastly reduce the costs of further space exploration, making possible ever more ambitious missions. Lifting heavy spacecraft and fuel out of the Earth’s gravity is expensive. Spacecraft assembled and provisioned on the moon could escape its far lower gravity using far less energy, and thus, far less cost. Also, the moon is home to abundant resources. Its soil contains raw materials that might be harvested and processed into rocket fuel or breathable air. We can use our time on the moon to develop and test new approaches and technologies and systems that will allow us to function in other, more challenging environments. The moon is a logical step toward further progress and achievement.”
I think I’ve hit my point for fisking.
The salient point that leaps out at me after having time to think over his speech:
He’s throwing up all these grand visions to divert anger away from his plan to kill off manned spaceflight in the United States.
Key points to be made:
1.) This speech could have been lifted from the Constellation planning documents of the last couple years, except with a 10+ year delay tacked onto everything, and major system components such as the Ares family terminated, the Orion spacecraft of which so much money has been spent on, reduced to a glorified lifeboat. He talks about replacements, but is incredibly vague about them.
2.) He talks grand visions of new manned spacecraft, but offers no money to fund their development — all the money in his so called budget increases is not going towards the part of NASA that builds and develops manned spacecraft.
3.) He talks about grand visions of new heavy launchers, but offers no real monetary increase to fund their development — and this is the kicker, he says a decision on the heavy launcher will be made…by 2015. Considering he’s up for election in 2012; this is a “kick the can down the road, it’s not my problem no more” decision of such gargantugan scope I haven’t seen in a while, if ever.