Orbital ATK Negotiating to Use VAB for Potential Next Gen EELV Rocket for USAF

NASA and Orbital ATK are in negotiations for the Dulles, VA-based company to make use of the agency's VAB High Bay 2 to process a potential next generation EELV rocket that Orbital ATK received Air Force funding to begin development on earlier this year. Photo Credit: Alan Walters / awaltersphoto.com

NASA and Orbital ATK are in negotiations for the Dulles, Va.-based company to make use of the agency’s VAB High Bay 2 to process a potential next generation EELV rocket that Orbital ATK received Air Force funding to begin development on earlier this year. Photo Credit: Alan Walters / awaltersphoto.com

This week NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) announced they are in negotiations with Dulles, Va.-based Orbital ATK for use of facilities at the Florida spaceport—facilities which exist to process rockets and integrate them with spacecraft (such as capsules and space shuttles) for flight.

Little details were released other than the fact that negotiations are underway on a “prospective property use agreement, which also will include a mobile launcher platform,” to use High Bay 2 in the famed Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). The enormous 525-foot-tall facility houses four high bays and was used previously to ready NASA’s Apollo Saturn V moon rockets and space shuttles for flight, before being driven atop giant crawlers to their seaside launch pads 39A and 39B a few miles east.

The Liberty system would have been comprised of a first-stage derived from a modified space shuttle Solid Rocket Booster, an upper stage utilized on the Ariane 5 rocket, a spacecraft and a launch abort system or LAS. Image Credit: ATK

The Liberty system would have been comprised of a first-stage derived from a modified space shuttle Solid Rocket Booster, an upper stage utilized on the Ariane 5 rocket, a spacecraft and a launch abort system or LAS. Image Credit: ATK

In a statement this afternoon, Orbital ATK confirmed that negotiations for potential use of VAB High Bay 2 is part of the company’s “preliminary planning supporting the possible development of an EELV-class Next Generation Launch vehicle system.”

A company spokesperson did confirm to AmericaSpace that Liberty, a full rocket and spacecraft launch system ATK had offered NASA a few years ago for the first round of $1.1 billion Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) contracts for ISS crew transport, is not being considered. Instead, a fair amount of “carry-over” work will go into the new rocket’s development.

NASA ended up not awarding Liberty a contract, even though the system was being designed around making use of heritage hardware and existing KSC infrastructure like the VAB. Without NASA funding to develop the Liberty system, ATK decided to focus on other areas.

However, earlier this year the U.S. Air Force awarded Orbital ATK a $47 million contract for development of something similar: “a solid rocket propulsion system prototype to support the EELV program for national security space missions.”

The award includes options for additional scope, valued at up to $133 million.

The Air Force also awarded the company a $3 million contract last December to perform a Booster Propulsion Technology Maturation effort, requiring the company to “complete studies to advance technologies that enhance performance and safety while reducing cost in support of the next generation booster.”

Liberty was based on the same idea, employing an extended version of a space shuttle solid rocket booster as the primary propulsion for the first couple minutes after liftoff.

“All the best features of solid motors, including operational reliability, high lift-off thrust, shorter development schedules and, importantly, affordability have improved over time with the advancement of new technologies. This means we can offer the Air Force a low technical risk and very cost-competitive American-made propulsion alternative,” said Charlie Precourt, Vice President and General Manager of Orbital ATK’s Propulsion Systems Division. “We are honored to be selected to develop this capability to help the Air Force achieve low-cost assured access for national security space launch requirements.”

Work on the program will take place at Orbital ATK’s facilities in Magna, Utah; Iuka, Miss.; and Chandler, Ariz., from 2016 to 2019.

“The merger of Orbital and ATK about a year ago created a new level of technical capabilities and cost synergies that have strengthened our propulsion system solution to the Air Force,” said Scott Lehr, President of Orbital ATK’s Flight System Group. “This funding, together with our own research and development investments, will lead to an operational launch capability in 2019.”

An Orbital ATK five-segment solid rocket booster conducting a test fire at the company's test stand in Promontory, Utah in March, 2015. Another test fire is scheduled to occur in June. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace

An Orbital ATK five-segment solid rocket booster conducting a test fire at the company’s test stand in Promontory, Utah in March, 2015. Another test fire is scheduled to occur in June. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace

Currently the U.S. government depends on United Launch Alliance (ULA) to loft the nation’s most sensitive national security satellites atop their Atlas-V and Delta-IV rockets. But both rockets will be retired within the next few years as ULA focuses on developing the Vulcan rocket, and the Delta-IV Heavy is the only rocket in the U.S arsenal capable of launching the nation’s heaviest payloads until SpaceX’s much anticipated Falcon Heavy rocket is ready and certified by the Air Force, which won’t be for another year or two (for now SpaceX will compete for DOD contracts that their Falcon-9 can support).

The move announced this week at KSC is one of three long-term growth initiatives announced by David Thompson, president and CEO of Orbital ATK, during an earnings call with investors earlier this year.

VAB High Bay 2, Mobile Launcher 3 is just visible at bottom left in another high bay. Photo Credit: NASA/KSC Kim Shiflett

VAB High Bay 2, Mobile Launcher 3 is just visible at bottom left in another high bay. Photo Credit: NASA/KSC Kim Shiflett

“Our investments in 2016, as well as those of the Air Force, will cover the initial phase of design and development work, with a decision in the first half of 2017 concerning the remaining activity to actually build and test this new launch vehicle family,” Thompson said.

Orbital ATK hopes to serve not just DOD launch needs, but the commercial industry and NASA as well.

Liberty would have utilized an upper stage taken from an Arianespace Ariane V rocket, but the new rocket, if it becomes reality, would likely employ a BE-3 upper stage from Jeff Bezos and his company Blue Origin. The Air Force contract awarded to Orbital ATK also covers development of an extendable nozzle for that engine, but the company stated they are looking at three upper stage options.

“Orbital ATK has a long history of working with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center,” said Scott Lehr, President of Orbital ATK’s Flight Systems Group. “We are excited about the possibility of utilizing KSC facilities for a future EELV-class launch system.”

NASA is currently modifying High Bay 3 to support processing the agency’s giant heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion crew capsule, which will fly astronauts on missions beyond Earth orbit (BEO) for the first time in decades starting sometime in the early 2020s.

However, SLS/Orion missions are currently scheduled few and far between, with an expected flight rate from pad 39B of once per year at best. Should Orbital ATK’s next generation EELV rocket become a reality, it would fly off the same pad, using a former shuttle and Apollo-era mobile launch platform (MLP) and the agency’s second crawler transporter (the other will serve SLS).

KSC has been trying to transform into a multi-user spaceport for some time, hoping to bring in business to make use of facilities since retirement of the shuttle fleet in 2011. Boeing now holds the keys to all three former shuttle processing hangars (OPF’s) for their CST-100 Starliner crew capsule and secretive USAF X-37B spaceplane, and Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), who recently received a NASA Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-2) contract to resupply the ISS from 2019 through 2024, will make use of KSC’s Operations and Checkout Building to process their Dream Chaser spaceplane and land it on the nearby KSC Landing Facility (formerly knowns as the Shuttle Landing Facility, or SLF).

“Over the past few years, the people of Kennedy have worked diligently to transform the center. We are now a true multi-user spaceport supporting a variety of different partners successfully,” said Bob Cabana, Kennedy director. “We look forward to working with Orbital ATK in the future to help expand the capabilities of this unique, historic asset.”

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111 comments to Orbital ATK Negotiating to Use VAB for Potential Next Gen EELV Rocket for USAF

  • James

    “We look forward to working with Orbital ATK in the future to help expand the capabilities of this unique, historic asset.”

    Wouldn’t some new heavy and super heavy rocket launch pads be useful?

  • Clio Marsden

    If you go down to LC-39B you’ll notice they took the clean pad approach to heart. There isn’t much there, at least by shuttle standard, except for the lightning towers and some support structures for the MLP, and of course the plumbing to the storage tanks. The idea is that anyone can use the pad as long as their vehicle has a compatible MLP, swapped for the SLS one and sent to the pad on the crawler. So if ATK goes with BE-3 upper and solid booster they have the infra already to support that just fine. I don’t think anyone anticipates the SLS flight rate will be high enough where NASA can’t timeshare the pad with ATK. Of course they would have to be careful not to Pad 0A this prime real-estate.

  • James

    MAYBE LOTS OF SMART SPACE FOLKS CAN ANTICIPATE A HIGH SLS FLIGHT RATE…

    “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. – C. S. Lewis”

    And, “We still have the pieces needed to pick up where we left off and head back to the Moon. And there, we will learn how to explore, live and prosper in space using the resources of the Moon.”
    Above Quotes From: ‘Organizational Whiplash: Why NASA Needs A Change in Direction’ by PAUL SPUDIS April 20, 2016 At: http://www.spudislunarresources.com/blog/

    “SLS does very well. It is being built in Alabama, the home state of Sen. Richard Shelby, who chairs the CJS subcommittee. The committee approved $2.150 billion, an increase of $150 million over FY2016. Of that amount, $300 million is designated for EUS.” From: ‘Senate Appropriators Approve $19.3 Billion for NASA for FY2017’ By Marcia S. Smith 4/21/2016 At: SPACEPOLICY ONLINE.COM

    “An appropriations bill approved by a Senate committee April 21 provides a significant increase to NASA’s human space exploration programs by trimming funds from many other major NASA programs. From: ‘Senate bill cuts other NASA programs to fund SLS and Orion’ By Jeff Foust April 22, 2016 At: spacenews.com

    “Mike Griffin. ‘Our space policy is bankrupt.’ As former Boeing official Jim Albaugh says, the Obama plan offers ‘no dream, no vision, no plan, no budget, and no remorse.'”

    And, “Eileen Collins.” “To prepare for a human trip to Mars, ‘as a crewmember, I certainly would like to see the hardware tested on the moon’s surface first. … Policy leaders are asking astronauts to risk their lives on space journeys and it is our experience that testing in similar environments, like the moon, will minimize risk.'”
    From: ‘Witnesses Support Goal of NASA Restructuring Legislation, But Not Specifics’
    By Marcia S. Smith 2/29/2016 At: SPACEPOLICY ONLINE.COM

    Taxpayers and Congress fund the SLS and ORION, not vague and NONSCIENTIFIC Mars talk.

    The SLS and ORION are DESIGNED for LUNAR MISSIONS. NASA’s full control of pads 39A and 39B could enhance both the SAFETY and EFFICIENCY OF THOSE SLS/ORION LUNAR SURFACE MISSIONS.

    YEP, WE’RE GOING TO IMPROVE NATIONAL SECURITY IN CISLUNAR SPACE BY IMPLEMENTING THE ‘NASA AUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2010 (PL 111–267)’ AND USING THE SLS AND ORION TO LEAD INTERNATIONAL MISSIONS TO THE LUNAR SURFACE.

    Where are the Lunar Landers?

    That’s the real mystery.

    Maybe we can call some AMERICAN and RUSSIAN space museums and try to ‘borrow’ some unused Lunar Landers…

    Hmmm, CHINA has a great robot Lander…

    Or perhaps ORBITAL-ATK, or INDIA, or JAPAN, or EUROPE could develop a Lander…

    Whatever works. But let’s GET MOVING.

    • Clio Marsden

      It feels like a dam broke and an avalanche of capital letters came raining down on me. You don’t help your argument much by screaming at your keyboard or dumping 50 useless quotations like some horrible news bot.

      You can spin it anyway you want but Congress hasn’t funded a comprehensive plan to do anything with SLS. That may change but for now not so much. Even if you’re right and Congress funds aggressive return to Lunar missions…what will SLS flight rate be with Lunar payloads? Even 2-4 flights a year would be a kickass pace for such a program. And yet, that would still leave the pad idle for months every year. Past 4 flights a year and I would say you are smoking something you shouldn’t be, to paraphrase John Young.

      • We currently live under the 2010 NASA Authorization Act because of a mix of Administration resistance and politics. I’m just thankful that the 2010 Act has been a good guide.

        Congress has tried to put forward exploration goals within the NASA Authorization bills subsequent to the 2010 Act. Because of Administration resistance, centered primarily within OSTP and OMB, and ambivalence by the President, some in the Senate have worked to successfully thwart those efforts.

        Rep. Smith worked-up a 2016 Authorization Act that won strong support within the House last summer. But that bill sits over on the Senate side awaiting action. Specifically, we who are interested in moving beyond the 2010 NASA Authorization Act are really waiting for Sen. Ted Cruz to hold a vote. I find myself hoping Sen. Cruz fails in Cincinnati primarily so he can focus on actually doing his current jog before the end of the this Congress. Yes, I’m craven when it comes to wanting progress on a new NASA Authorization Act.

        Regarding funding a mission to do something with SLS, congressional appropriators, led by Rep. Culberson, took a strong step last year in mandating that the Europa mission would be launched on a SLS Block 1. The reasons for launching the Europa mission on an SLS come down to launching the largest payload of any rocket–the Europa probe will likely weigh-in close to a city transit bus–on the fastest trajectory. Rep. Culberson had to jam this down the Obama Administration’s throat to make that mandate, as it was resisted both by NASA HQ, OMB, and OSTP.

        It bears mentioning that congressional appropriators also had to force the EUS down the Administration’s and Charlie’s throats.

        It bears reminding that SLS and Orion have since the inception of the 2010 NASA Authorization Act experienced 20%-25% funding allocation cuts annually from levels appropriated. Despite those efforts, Congress has succeeded in keeping SLS and Orion moving along.

        Yes, we don’t have the space program many would like. Any further funding efforts would be welcome. Members of Congress who deal with space do know we need to next shoot for the Moon.

        In 2010, Congress saved our human spaceflight program and I have every confidence that, absent positive input from coming administrations, Congress will get us to the Moon and beyond. No, it won’t happen as fast as many of us would like. But we are going to get there.

        • Clio Marsden

          Certainly think it was a shrewd political move to pull in europa mission to SLS. The planetary science crowd (in and out of NASA), many of whom are skeptical of the cost/benefit of manned space flight in the first place, probably had a come to Jesus moment given the accelerated mission timeline SLS offers. SLS though is not going to be the goto launcher for planetary probes, given the costs involved, save some rare situations. Again, the SLS flight rate, in aggregate, rests squarely on the shoulders of developing missions and payloads to someplace like the moon. It will take about 5 minutes for Congress, and everyone else, to be done with it if a few missions are just Apollo redux (flags and footprints). Long term habitation requires a level of commitment in developing missions, operations and (payloads/habs/lander/power generation/re-supply). I’ve yet to see any real sense of this, across parties, possible future admin and the rest, even if something is passed will the funding exist in the out years? It seems to me this is the only way we are going to see even 2-4 flights a year of SLS.

        • James

          “Members of Congress who deal with space do know we need to next shoot for the Moon.”

          Yep. And lots of other folks know the same thing.

          And many folks could be happy with an initial 2-4 Lunar ISRU flights per year that make use of the excellent SLS and Orion combination.

          Orbital ATK’s proposed new launcher may also make useful contributions to doing Lunar robot ISRU exploration and resupply type of missions as well as many other types of cislunar spaceflights.

          And am I ever glad we now have the i back again! No more need for caps.

          Yet, the question still remains, “Where is the Lunar Lander?”

        • Conway Costigan

          All I want to know is if Jim Hillhouse and the rest of the staff at America Space are going to moderate their site or occasionally comment when they want- and let the NewSpace trolls run rampant the rest of the time. “Clio Marsden” started posting shortly after I began commenting as Conway Costigan and several other sock puppets joined in specifically to troll me into oblivion. When that did not work the trolls began posting AS Conway Costigan and Gary Church and Larry Church and Gary’s drinking game and….etc. etc.

          Besides Dr. Spudis site America Space was the only other place I was allowed to express my views. Hillhouse expressed his opinion that my comments are not really important by mocking me with a cartoon on one occasion. Thanks.

          “The reasons for launching the Europa mission on an SLS come down to launching the largest payload of any rocket–the Europa probe will likely weigh-in close to a city transit bus–on the fastest trajectory. Rep. Culberson had to jam this down the Obama Administration’s throat to make that mandate, as it was resisted both by NASA HQ, OMB, and OSTP.”

          The NewSpace mob considers the SLS the greatest threat to their LEO tourist empire fantasy scheme. I am one of the very few who criticize the space clowns and give them back all their bullying and insults. I expect the moderators of this site to do their job and keep the damn trolls in check so I have the same luxury they do to comment without being subjected to cyberthuggery.

          • Jeff Findley

            I could personally do without the mocking and the name calling on both sides. With phrases like “NewSpace mob” and “space clowns”, you’re engaging in the very behavior you claim to find offensive.

            • Conway Costigan

              Tell it to Hillhouse. And I doubt you will be shutting down Clio or the rest of that crew when they start hammering me again. Nobody will stand up to that crowd of bullies anywhere comments about space are posted.

              • Conway Costigan

                I would add I did not name call anyone specifically- if you consider terms like “NewSpace mob” and “space clowns” offensive then, yes, it is a personal problem that does not belong here. The NewSpace sycophants play the game of dancing on the edge of insults by veiling them with polite language and generalizations as a standard practice. If you are telling me that I cam not allowed to do what they consider themselves entitled to then…well, you know where you can go, don’t you?

                • Jeff Findley

                  I prefer fact based discussions as opposed to name calling. Just because you didn’t single anyone out doesn’t mean you’re not engaging in name calling.

                  • Conway Costigan

                    Preference noted. I will continue to use my entire lexicon of preferred terms to include, space clown wannabes’, hobby rocket, space station to nowhere, LEO billionaut tourist fantasy empire, fuel depot miracle, NewSpace mob, Ayn-Rand-in-Space bizarro libertarian Musk worshiping sycophants, etc. etc.

                    • Shlomo

                      Hobby rocket?
                      Are we talking about EELV class in general?
                      That would be strange because AECS+vulcan is one of the most interesting developments in space currently in fact much more forward oriented and innovative than the SLS.

                    • Conway Costigan

                      “-in fact much more forward oriented and innovative than the SLS.”

                      In fact it is far less powerful than the SLS- not in the same class.

            • Vladislaw

              Jeff wrote: “I could personally do without the mocking and the name calling on both sides. With phrases like “NewSpace mob” and “space clowns”, you’re engaging in the very behavior you claim to find offensive.”

              That is his standard tactic. He always has did that. Name calls, attacks attacks and then cries and whines about how he is the victim. He has did this same thing for a decade.

          • Vladislaw

            No one that I know consIders the SLS a threat. They consIder It a waste of taxpayer’s money that wIll be canceled by the NON space state members. It is hIlarIous how you keep lamenting what “new space” Is about. You are totally wrong, as ALWAYS.

            • Conway Costigan

              “No one that I know considers the SLS a threat.”

              Hilarious Vlad, as ALWAYS.

            • James

              “China must ‘raise its abilities and use the next 15 to 20 years to realize manned lunar exploration goals, and take a firm step for the Chinese people in breaking ground in the utilization of space’, Lieutenant General Zhang Yulin, deputy commander of the China Manned Space Program, said.”

              And, “The paper cited experts saying China needed first to develop a powerful enough rocket to lift a payload of at least 100 metric tons into low Earth orbit.”

              From: ‘China wants to put astronauts on the moon by 2036’ April 29, 2016 By Michael Martina At: http://www.businessinsider.com/r-china-aims-for-manned-moon-landing-by-2036-2016-4

              Well, humans are going back to the Moon. That’s wonderful!

              Space agencies of various nations can now get some real international leadership for their serious Lunar ISRU ambitions. And China knows how to build a Lunar Lander!

              Deja vu.

              Our American President has badly fumbled the international space leadership gig.

              But I’m sure he, and NASA’s leadership, will have some great excuses!

              Excuses are much easier, and clearly more useful, than leading.

              Yep, our human spaceflight policy doesn’t exist.

          • James

            Vladislaw –

            Concerning “totally wrong, as ALWAYS”, perhaps that is an apt description of our President’s beyond LEO human mission space policy. Or as Jim Hillhouse put it more politely, “Members of Congress who deal with space do know we need to next shoot for the Moon.”

            And as Mike Griffin bluntly put it, “Our space policy is bankrupt.”

            As long as the ‘Mars colonies soon’ folks are ‘working the crowd’ along with an Anti-beyond LEO NASA human spaceflight President, we’ll continue subsidizing the ‘Mars colonies soon’ nonsense and ‘giving away’ NASA assets that are needed to minimize the risks and costs in implementing our doable pro international human Lunar surface missions that are an important part of ‘PUBLIC LAW 111–267—OCT. 11, 2010’.

            ‘Bankrupt and Lost in Deep Space’ is the President’s de facto beyond LEO human spaceflight policy. It is what it is.

            “Deep space radiation is significantly different from radiation encountered on Earth, and it is unknown how the human body will respond to prolonged exposure. Earth, and to a lesser extent low Earth orbit, are protected by the Van Allen Belts, regions of trapped radiation held in place by the Earth’s magnetic field that shield the planet and its human inhabitants from space radiation and solar weather.”
            From: ‘NASA’S EFFORTS TO MANAGE HEALTH AND HUMAN PERFORMANCE RISKS FOR SPACE EXPLORATION’ By Office of Inspector General October 29, 2015 At: https://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY16/IG-16-003.pdf

            No young women in deep space. = No ‘Mars colonies soon’. And unfortunately, Mars has almost zip atmosphere and magnetic field, and is thus is rich in Galactic Cosmic Radiation.

            Someday we’ll design spaceships, surface vehicles, and well buried habs that can protect young women from Galactic Cosmic Radiation and make their hazardous Mars voyages, work, life, and road trips doable. But so far, all we get is cheap, empty, and nonscientific ‘Mars colonies soon’ rhetoric.

            Maybe long missions to Galactic Cosmic Radiation rich Deep Space and Mars are far too risky, costly, harsh, and unforgiving for the ‘Mars colonies soon’ folks that the President and NASA’s leadership seem to have embraced.

            Of course the ‘Mars colonies soon’ folks could try to nuke the polar regions of Mars and redirect comets to start building a Martian atmosphere and gain some surface protection against Galactic Cosmic Radiation.

            Good luck with selling that massive and costly ‘Nuke Mars and Redirect Comets Project’ to Congress and the international community anytime soon. But who needs the financial support of Congress and the international community, right?

            Yep, ‘Mars colonies soon’ folks should just ignore Congress and the international community and self fund their Mars rockets, spaceflights, colonies, nukes, comet redirecting technology, and Martian cancer hospitals.

            Orbital ATK seems to be focussed on Cislunar space. That Cislunar focuss probably makes a lot of good sense to most of the space folks in Congress and the international community who understand why “we need to next shoot for the Moon.”

            • Conway Costigan

              Vlad is not about Mars James, he is a space tourist advocate. He could care less about about anything having to do with space exploration except doing away with NASA and going on a cheap space station vacation. I have been reading his comments for years- just like he has been reading mine. Many of the comments you see by NewSpace fans are not opinions, they are advertising and blatant marketing.

              There is a “community” of about two dozen people (and their many more sock puppets) who endlessly comment on the half a dozen SpaceX propaganda blogs- and anywhere else they can get “column-inches.” The basic NewSpace dogma is easily recognized by any who occasionally visit the comment sections of space blogs. I say occasionally because those who do are so often so disgusted with the bizarro antics of these Ayn-Rand-in-Space libertarian wackos they lose interest.

              I refer to them as the NewSpace mob and they have bullied and insulted anyone who dares to criticize their demi-god for years. That is why you will not find anyone (except us) talking about going back to the Moon or supporting the SLS on any popular space blogs- a couple comments and they are trolled into oblivion.

              • James

                Actually there are lots of serious people across the world who are “talking about going back to the Moon”.

                “I recently had the opportunity to attend and speak at a special meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society called by Ian Crawford of the University of London. Like myself, he is interested in the possible use of the Moon’s resources, which includes the mining and processing of polar ice to create new capabilities in space.” Quote from: ‘Lunar Resources: Beyond the Fringe
                A recent meeting in London suggests that more people are coming to accept the idea of using space resources’ By Paul D. Spudis At: airspacemag.com
                April 25, 2016

                As for the SLS and Orion, the focus should be on minimizing risks in getting folks to and from Lunar orbit.

                Probably it is a much better option to have lots of performance margin on the boosters, core, and second stage of the SLS than it is to have reuse.

                The mass of reuse sytems and their requirements tend to significantly reduce the risk reducing performance margin of whatever stage that has such a reuse option.

                The usable performance margin on the second stage of the Atlas V was recently quite useful.

                “During the March 22 launch, the Atlas V first stage shut down six seconds early. The Centaur upper stage rescued the mission by firing 60 seconds longer than planned, placing Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft into its proper orbit nonetheless. Cygnus reached the ISS on schedule.” From: ‘ULA Traces Atlas V Anomaly to Malfunctioning RD-180 Valve’ By Marcia S. Smith
                29-Apr-2016 At: http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/ula-traces-atlas-v-anomaly-to-malfunctioning-valve

                As for “Orbital ATK’s next generation EELV rocket”, it could sometimes be critical if that launcher has lots of risk reducing performance margins for whatever important and costly payloads it lifts into space.

                Reducing launch risk is also a critical issue for human spaceflights.

                And time can be extremely valuable. Payloads lost due to insufficient launcher margins could mean that time valuable options are also destroyed.

                Some folks may try to troll you or me “into oblivion”, but they cannot troll nature’s harsh Galactic Cosmic Radiation “into oblivion”.

                Effective shielding against Galactic Cosmic Radiation in Deep Space and on the surface of Mars is quite heavy and extremely costly to move anywhere.

                No young women on long deep space missions and the surface of Mars due to nasty Galactic Cosmic Radiation = No ‘Mars colonies soon’.

                “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” – Richard P Feynman.

                • Conway Costigan

                  “Some folks may try to troll you or me “into oblivion”,-”

                  NewSpace is shameless and will use any misleading device they can to protect their LEO tourist agenda. One example being they will side with a liberal administration on global warming while in reality being virulent libertarians. They will expound on what NASA should do to support NewSpace while on another page ruthlessly damn the agency as a waste of tax dollars. Completely nefarious and underhanded.

                  I believe Mars is just an insider joke to them. They know it is all just a carnival sideshow facade to allow them to continue to suck up tax dollars to try and get their uber-rich tourists into orbit.

              • Vladislaw

                Conway Costigan wrote: “Vlad is not about Mars James, he is a space tourist advocate.”

                I am not about ANY gravity well for now. I am for the Nation’s space agency, NASA, developing actual space based, reusable, ‘gas n’ go’ space “ships” rather than a “monster rocket” as it was quaintly put by Senator Nelson. I believe NASA should be working on Nautilus X not SLS or Orion.

                I would prefer we stay out of gravity wells until we do have a vehicle that can at least act as an orbital base for when landings take place.

                “He could care less about about anything having to do with space exploration”

                I am all for SPACE exploration. Space is a PLACE not a program. Landing on Luna is NOT space exploration. That is LUNAR exploration. Landing on Mars is not space exploration it is MARTIAN exploration.

                In order to do SPACE exploration you first need space SHIPS to explore it with.

                “except doing away with NASA and going on a cheap space station vacation”

                I have never once ever stated or even eluded to wanting to do away with NASA. Since it would be impossible for you to produce a quote of mine stating that, it makes you a liar. THAT point is plain and simple.

                I also have never once stated I want to go a cheap space station vacation. AGAIN, that would make you a liar. You should try sticking to facts…. JUST ONCE.. it would be refreshing.

                • Conway Costigan

                  “I have never once ever stated or even eluded to wanting to do away with NASA. Since it would be impossible for you to produce a quote of mine stating that, it makes you a liar. THAT point is plain and simple.”

                  1.”We are right in the middle of a paradigm shift in space transportation. Going from a government controlled monopoly, where com sats used to be launched only by government rockets. To privatized commercial transportation. As more commercial companies come online the pork will shift from the usual suspects to NEW districts with new innovative companies. The space state members have slowly been losing clout and once the three legs of the stool are in place, commercial cargo, commercial crew, commercial destination, the NON space state members will stop being so willing to give all that pork to the shelbys and nelsons (in my opinion)”

                  2.”IF the federal government needs to move hardware it can do what it does in 99.9% of all cases of the govenment moving stuff. Buy the service or the hardware from the private sector and NOT do it as a pork project for the porkonauts in congress.”

                  3.”We will see this play out in space transportation also as it moves to the dept of transportation and the FAA and out of the hands of NASA.”

                  4.”We have commercial cargo transportation currently for hardware and human consumables, very soon commercial human transportation and following that commercial destination in LEO. Those are the tipping points that was peel the NASA pork away as it moves to different agencies like DOT and DOC.”

                  5.”To me that does not seem dismal at all .. for me it is America FINALLY moving space transportation away from a single government agency and into the commercial sector wihich already provides every single form of transporatation imaginable.

                  I believe NASA will be able to FINALLY get out of the fields they should have abandoned 30 years ago”

                  I also have never once stated I want to go a cheap space station vacation. AGAIN, that would make you a liar. You should try sticking to facts…. JUST ONCE.. it would be refreshing.

                  1.”Pointless to kill commercial crew now. They will be soon selling flights to Bigelow Commercial stations.”

                  2.”I believe a lot 2nd and 3rd tier nations will want to be able to immediately swim in the deep end of the pool just like NASA and lease space on a bigelow station. Why jump through NASA hoops to beam down your own nation’s astronaut to your schools when you can go around NASA. A BA330 is good for six people and look to NASA to lease a chunk just to keep others out of LEO.”

                  3.”Just like ANY extreme vacation of the wealthy, space will be also. Keeping up with the joneses is alive and well in the wealthy set. So it will become a right of passage like owning a 100 million dollar super yacht a sports team, a penthouse overlooking central park …”

                  4.”-isn’t that great? Now ANY America with a big enough checkbook can go for a ride 200 miles up .. America will dominate the commercial market.. But then I know how much you hate it for American aerospace workers building space hardware for commercial use. For you only a Stalinist big government command economy space program is the answer .. for everything.”

                  No, you never stated it- but that does not make me a liar. You are a fabricator and a false accuser.

                  • Vladislaw

                    and not ONCE did I state I want NASA gone. I want NASA out of doing launch operations that is no secret. NASA is a government agency, one of many, and if ANY government agency wants to put cargo into space they should be buying the service commercially, just like they do with everything else.

            • Vladislaw

              James wrote: “as Mike Griffin bluntly put it, “Our space policy is bankrupt”

              Since Dr. Griffin’s hands are all over that bankruptcy and destroying “The Vision for Space Exploration” for his congressional overlords means he has no credibility for me.

              “As long as the ‘Mars colonies soon’ folks are ‘working the crowd’ along with an Anti-beyond LEO NASA human spaceflight President, we’ll continue subsidizing the ‘Mars colonies soon’ nonsense and ‘giving away’ NASA assets that are needed to minimize the risks and costs in implementing our doable pro international human Lunar surface missions that are an important part of ‘PUBLIC LAW 111–267—OCT. 11, 2010’.”

              This President has been doing what every Executive to the Whitehouse has been doing since Nixon. Trying to rein in the Congressional pork machine that controls the, currently evolving, space transportation systems.

              Reagan started it with changing the Space Act of 1958 that added a NASA mandate to include:

              “(c) The Congress declares that the general welfare of the United States requires that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (as established by title II of this Act) seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space.”

              Reagan also was able to get passed the The Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984.

              Then the next executive to the whitehouse that changed it was President Clinton when he got passed the Commercial Space Act of 1998.

              “TITLE I–PROMOTION OF COMMERCIAL SPACE OPPORTUNITIES

              Sec. 101. Commercialization of Space Station.
              Sec. 102. Commercial space launch amendments.
              Sec. 103. Launch voucher demonstration program.
              Sec. 104. Promotion of United States Global Positioning System standards.
              Sec. 105. Acquisition of space science data.
              Sec. 106. Administration of Commercial Space Centers.
              Sec. 107. Sources of Earth science data.

              TITLE II–FEDERAL ACQUISITION OF SPACE TRANSPORTATION SERVICES

              Sec. 201. Requirement to procure commercial space transportation services.
              Sec. 202. Acquisition of commercial space transportation services.
              Sec. 203. Launch Services Purchase Act of 1990 amendments.
              Sec. 204. Shuttle privatization.
              Sec. 205. Use of excess intercontinental ballistic missiles.
              Sec. 206. National launch capability study.

              Section 201
              “(a) In General.–Except as otherwise provided in this section, the Federal Government shall acquire space transportation services from United States commercial providers whenever such services are required in the course of its activities. To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers.”

              It didn’t take long for the next Executive to the Whitehouse to work on the plan to commercialize space transportation. President Bush outlined in “The Vision for Space Exploration that the Nation would aquire commercial cargo and crew services to the International Space Station. He was not able to achieve all off it as a new NASA administrator was brought in my congress and gutted the VSE. But President Bush did manage to retire the expensive shuttle program and get commercial cargo but he had to accept the boondoggle Constellation program to get it.

              The next executive to the Whitehouse, President Obama brought in Commercial Cargo which congress has tried to gut with every funding cycle. But like President Bush, President Obama had to accept the boondoggle SLS-Orion to get it.

              The next executive will be finishing the job started with Reagan. The ISS will be splashed and Commercial destinations will start with Bigelow. And our Nation will FINALLY have moved space transportation to where it ALWAYS should have been. With the dept of transportation and not NASA.

              • Conway Costigan

                It is all a boondoggle to you- except for SpaceX of course. So transparent.

                • Vladislaw

                  If the government is designing, developing and paying to have PENCILS produced to 10 times the market price THAT would be boondoggle also.

                  ANYTIME the federal government is funding extremely over priced projects that the private sector can do for better prices then it is and always will be a BOONDOGGLE

                  Get over it.

              • James

                Vladislaw –

                PUBLIC LAW 111–267—OCT. 11, 2010
                At: http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/516655main_PL_111-267.pdf

                Page 4 “(9) While commercial transportation systems have the promise to contribute valuable services, it is in the United States national interest to maintain a government operated space transportation system for crew and cargo delivery to space.”

                Page 5 “(3) CIS-LUNAR SPACE.—The term ‘‘cis-lunar space’’ means
                the region of space from the Earth out to and including the
                region around the surface of the Moon.
                (4) DEEP SPACE.—The term ‘‘deep space’’ means the region
                of space beyond cis-lunar space.”

                Page 5 “(10) SPACE LAUNCH SYSTEM.—The term ‘‘Space Launch System’’ means the follow-on government-owned civil launch system developed, managed, and operated by NASA to serve as a key component to expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit.”

                Pages 7 and 8 “(b) UNITED STATES HUMAN SPACE FLIGHT CAPABILITIES.—Congress reaffirms the policy stated in section 501(a) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16761(a)), that the United States shall maintain an uninterrupted capability for human space flight and operations in low-Earth orbit, and beyond, as an essential instrument of national security and of the capacity to ensure continued United States participation and leadership in the exploration and utilization of space.”

                Page 9 “TITLE III—EXPANSION OF HUMAN SPACE FLIGHT BEYOND THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION AND LOW-EARTH ORBIT
                SEC. 301. HUMAN SPACE FLIGHT BEYOND LOW-EARTH ORBIT.
                (a) FINDINGS.—Congress makes the following findings:
                (1) The extension of the human presence from low-Earth orbit to other regions of space beyond low-Earth orbit will enable missions to the surface of the Moon and missions to deep space destinations such as near-Earth asteroids and Mars.
                (2) The regions of cis-lunar space are accessible to other national and commercial launch capabilities, and such access raises a host of national security concerns and economic implications that international human space endeavors can help to address.
                (3) The ability to support human missions in regions beyond low-Earth orbit and on the surface of the Moon can also drive developments in emerging areas of space infrastructure and technology.
                (4) Developments in space infrastructure and technology can stimulate and enable increased space applications, such as in-space servicing, propellant resupply and transfer, and in situ resource utilization, and open opportunities for additional users of space, whether national, commercial, or international.”

                The SLS and Orion are about maintaining national security by leading international missions to the Moon to “drive developments in emerging areas of space infrastructure and technology” and “stimulate and enable increased space applications, such as in-space servicing, propellant resupply and transfer, and in situ resource utilization, and open opportunities for additional users of space”.

                Commercial launchers and spacecraft are about making money.

                Maybe money could be made on the Moon sometime soon, maybe not. None-the-less, the President and NASA’s leadership are supposed to be planning to use the SLS and international Orion to get ready to do “in situ resource utilization” on the Moon.

                Instead, NASA’s leadership appears to spend more time doing Public Relations Work for one particular company, that claims it is headed for Mars, than that government agency does in planning to get NASA and international astronauts to the Lunar surface. Oddly enough, that company is led by a political and financial supporter of our President.

                Is the goal of helping a particular company’s leader retire on Mars more important than leading international efforts to develop the Moon and Cislunar space? Try telling that malarky to a Congress that needs to “rein in” Presidential “pork”.

                Presidential rights in deciding his or her preferred ‘winners and losers’ in launch services appears to be much more important than following the law and leading national security missions that use SLS as “a key component to expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit” and provide international leadership in accessing the “surface of the Moon”.

                If a ‘commercial’ space entity cannot make money at this time on the Moon by supporting the “United States national interest”, they’ll simply stay closer to Earth.

                We have the NSA, CIA, FBI, USMC, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, Army, and NASA to implement national security goals. Like It or Lump It.

                Folks can babble ‘commercial’ until the cows come home, but our national security interests mean we are either headed back to the Moon or we are instead headed for international irrelevance in “cis-lunar space” which “means the region of space from the Earth out to and including the region around the surface of the Moon.”

                Sorry Vladislaw, America is not in a position to wait for decades in order to cater to your individual preference that “we stay out of gravity wells until we do have a vehicle that can at least act as an orbital base for when landings take place”.

                If the American government followed the “individual preference” of each of our 323,460,500 citizens (see http://www.census.gov/popclock/) it would mean constant zig zagging policies and chaos would rule.

                ‘Prima Donna’ thinking and politics leads to gross failure in providing international leadership in planning both human Cislunar and Deep Space missions.

                And to be bluntly honest, a Deep Space vehicle that can act as “an orbital base” and can actually provide the heavy Galactic Cosmic Radiation shielding needed for safely implementing extended human missions might not exist for a very long time. Maybe that’s just another “Like It or Lump It” situation.

                International leadership and national security are two good reasons why we are going to the surface of the Moon. The nifty good news is that six meters of Lunar dirt is cheap shielding against Galactic Cosmic Radiation. And yes, the Moon has been busy harvesting the rich resources of NEOs for billions of years.

                And if a ‘commercial’ space entity, for whatever reason or reasons, doesn’t want to support NASA and the space agencies of other nations in learning how to tap the Moon’s many opportunities, that isn’t really an issue because other ‘commercial’ and noncommercial entities will most likely be quite willing to make some money in helping exploit those shallow gravity well resources.

                News Flash:

                America’s space policy isn’t predicated on the nonscientific whims and vague claims of a President, a billionaire, a company, you, or me.

                And the space policies of other nations aren’t predicated on the nonscientific whims and vague claims of a President, a billionaire, a company, you, or me. Yikes! That’s simply another hard “Like It or Lump It” reality.

      • Conway Costigan

        “Even 2-4 flights a year would be a kickass pace for such a program. And yet, that would still leave the pad idle for months every year. Past 4 flights a year and I would say you are smoking something you shouldn’t be, to paraphrase John Young.”

        You can paraphrase whoever you want and you will still be making stuff up. The SLS could launch 6 to 8 times a year with no problem. It is essentially a shuttle without having to turn around the orbiter, the SSME’s, or the SRB’s. Since reusing those components cost about the same as simply throwing them away and building new ones, the only reason the SLS cannot fly the same schedule as the shuttle did is….well, it is obvious: NASA’s invisible administrator and the two-faced double agents working for NewSpace concerns in the organization.

        • Jeff Findley

          Certainly there is no physical reason that the SLS flight rate has to be as low as it is projected. But what would the cost be to attain a sustained six to eight flights per year?

          • Conway Costigan

            “But what would the cost be to attain a sustained six to eight flights per year?”

            As I explained in the comment above, it would be about the same as the shuttle program. The NewSpace sycophants scream at the top of their lungs that it will be fantastically expensive but they have no proof of this except to spin the present low launch rate into their yarn. Anymore than they can “prove” reusing the hobby rocket will be cheaper than dirt.

            • Jeff Findley

              With the shuttle, the only hardware which was completely expended was the external tank, which was relatively inexpensive to manufacture since it was only a LOX tank, LH2 tank, and some structure.

              SLS will be completely expendable. So, I don’t see how you can say the cost of an SLS flight would be equivalent to a space shuttle flight without running the numbers since things that are different just aren’t the same.

              • Conway Costigan

                If you would simply pay attention you might get it Jeff. The cost of refurbishing the shuttle orbiter, rebuilding the SSME’s after almost every flight, and recovering and shipping the SRB segments by rail and reassembling them for reuse all add up to about the same cost as just dumping it all in the ocean and using a capsule. Just like the SLS.

                Except the SLS will be going to the Moon instead of going around in circles a couple hundred miles up. You go ahead and run the numbers if you want but if you don’t see how this works then you don’t want to see it to start with and that is not my problem.

              • Clio Marsden

                What Conway never accounts for is the budget for payloads and operations for all those SLS launches. That is the key to the flight rate, nothing to do with SLS constraints. As Vlad already said nobody fears SLS. The fear runs clearly and absolutely in the other direction. Reminds me of an old saying in my industry: “If you don’t like change you’re going to hate irrelevance”.

                • Conway Costigan

                  “-the budget for payloads and operations for all those SLS launches.”

                  The “standing army” NewSpace so detests (yet has no problem with any help that NASA standing army gives SpaceX for basically no charge) means “all those SLS launches” cost the same as one launch.

                  So I did account for them and you are making stuff up.

                  As for payloads- the only thing NewSpace is interested in sending into space is…..anything that will keep them in business. Anything. It follows that “anything” the SLS can send up is also relevant and just as valid.

                  NewSpace will keep wailing and gnashing their teeth that any payload the SLS sends up is evil and from satan, while their hobby rocket automatically bestows grace and beauty on anything it launches.

                  It is hypocritical and a complete scam.

                  • James

                    Yep, “If you don’t like change you’re going to hate irrelevance”.

                    A great example of “irrelevance” is a billionaire wanting to retire on Mars real soon.

                    Far distant Mars has zip for a business case.

                    The Moon could have hundreds or even thousands of ISRU, exploration, and construction robots that are efficiently and cheaply controlled in near real time by folks all across the nearby planet Earth.

                    The Moon offers relatively quick transportation access to Earth and Cislunar space, lots of solar power, a clear sky, and an ‘asteroid mining heaven’ that is also a stable platform to observe the Earth, overly ‘friendly’ NEOs, and other interesting things in our Solar System and our Universe. Large and small telescopes of different types can be built out of Lunar material and cheaply controlled from Earth in near real time.

                    Far distant Mars offers dust storms and long communication delays that make it impossible to efficiently and cheaply control working robots and telescopes in near real time from Earth.

                    And the Galactic Cosmic Radiation rich environment on Mars and in the immense and risky Deep Space environment that needs to be traversed in getting there doesn’t seem to have much current economic usefulness or ongoing relevance to national and international security either.

                    • Conway Costigan

                      Mars is, as I said, a sideshow nobody in reality takes seriously. It is the facade and behind it is the real goal- space tourism in LEO.

                      This is why the Moon is verboten. LEO is the only place the hobby rocket can go and Mars will always be conveniently 20 years away.

                    • Vladislaw

                      James wrote: “The Moon could have hundreds or even thousands of ISRU, exploration, and construction robots that are efficiently and cheaply controlled in near real time by folks all across the nearby planet Earth.”

                      And you do not think it is going to be billionaires that are doing the construction and exploration for those resources effieciently and cheaply but instead it is going to be NASA?

                      Until the property rights finally gets tackled it isn’t happening. Some in congress are starting to nibble around the edges of it but capital will require that first before it moves in a big way.

                    • Vladislaw

                      Conway Costigan wrote: “Mars is, as I said, a sideshow nobody in reality takes seriously. It is the facade”

                      And yet it has been the destination for over 20 of NASA’s missions to other planets to date. It has more hardware on it and around it then all the other planets combined.

                      Kind of a silly answer considering how much hardware the Nation has been launching at it since the early 1960’s.

                    • James

                      Far distant Mars is being explored by robots.

                      The nearby Moon has seen both human and robotic exploration.

                      Humans and robots are headed back to the Moon in order to continue to develop Cislunar space which is important for national and international security reasons.

                      The Moon, and its resources, will play a critcal and ongoing role in learning how to reduce the high risks and costs of beyond LEO human spaceflights.

                • Vladislaw

                  Clio Marsden wrote: “What Conway never accounts for is the budget for payloads”

                  and if you read his answer, he STILL did not say were the funding for payloads will come from for 8 launches a year.

                  Here is a little thought exercise. Calulate the total raw weight of all hardware payloads to space. Then factor costs and add in inflation and then calculate the average cost per ton of generate space hardware. Now multiple that cost per ton of generic hardware by 130 tons for the SLS. Now multiple that times eight launches a year. 40 billion? 60 billion? Per YEAR?

                  • Conway Costigan

                    Fill up the page with whatever nonsense you can contrive Vlad…..that is the NewSpace way.

          • Vladislaw

            Michoud can not do 8 a year from what Boeing has stated. The Orion capsule at 1.1 billion a pop is the only funded payload for the SLS. It is disposable so 8.8 billion year to launch just capsules?

            What other FUNDED payloads are there for SLS? If the James Webb cost 8 billion and over a decade how much and how long for each SLS payload? How much would 8 payloads cost PER YEAR? How many of those payloads would already have to been started already to start launching in 2021? – 2022? – 2023? – 2024?

            this FANTASY about 8 launches per year of the most expensive launch system every devised by congress is nuts.

          • Vladislaw

            Boeing charged 2.8 billion for the first two core SLS 1st stage. Now toss in the two boosters the second stage, the 1.1 billion a pop, disposable capsule and the standing army at NASA to operate it…. 3 – 4 billion will be drowned in the atlantic after each flight…

            now THAT is a sustainable and affordable system.. lets launch it EIGHT TIMES a year..

            • Conway Costigan

              4 billion per launch- quit making stuff up. Nobody believes the numbers the NewSpace sycophants are throwing up. B.S.

              The reality is that for what the space station to nowhere and Mars development costs every year we can go back to the Moon and establish a permanent human presence Beyond Earth Orbit.

              Going direct to the Moon with the Super Heavy Lift SLS dumps the NewSpace LEO business plan in the trashcan. This makes the SLS the number one enemy of the NewSpace movement and that is why these absurd numbers are endlessly quoted as “fact.”

              Throwing the B.S. flag on the death-to-SLS hype.

          • James

            Lots of funny cost posts.

            What is the real cost of losinng international leadership on the Moon and in the rest of Cislunar Space?

            “China Manned Space Office Advocates 2031-36 Moon Landing” May 2, 2016 By Bradley Perrett At: http://aviationweek.com/space/china-manned-space-office-advocates-2031-36-moon-landing

            And NASA/America is doing and will be doing what?

            “Other spacefaring nations will go to the Moon, with or without us. There aren’t just two space nations playing anymore, there are dozens. If we don’t lead that effort, another nation or nations will. This is important, as it partially reflects our overall position in the world.
            From: ‘The Politics of Space Exploration’ By Leroy Chiao Former NASA Astronaut and ISS Commander Elliot Pulham CEO of the Space Foundation 03/23/2016
            At: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leroy-chiao/the-politics-of-space-exp_b_9532278.html

            There are a lot more jobs potentially available to Americans and other folks in controlling robots in near real time on the Moon, and the rest of Cislunar space, than there is in doing anything on distant Mars with its very long lags in communication and transportation.

            Human Lunar missions are risky and costly, but far less risky and costly than human Mars missions. And the ‘business case for the Moon’ will ‘close’ much sooner than it will for distant Mars.

            Humans are going to the Moon to learn how to reduce the risks and costs of long space missions.

            Humans need to learn how to tap the Moon’s diverse resources that will be used for our eventual sustainable human missions to Mars, Ceres, and elsewhere across our Solar System.

            And if someone is the mood and has the money to Colonize or Terraform some body in space, the Moon is nearby, available, and potentially the best deal in our Solar System.

            “All told, colonizing and/or terraforming the Moon would be comparatively easy compared to other bodies. Due to its proximity, the time it would take to transport people and equipment to and from the surface would be significantly reduced, as would the costs of doing so. In addition, it’s proximity means that extracted resources and products manufactured on the Moon could be shuttled to Earth in much less time, and a tourist industry would also be feasible.”
            From:”How Do We Terraform The Moon?” March 31, 2016 By Matt Williams At: http://www.universetoday.com/121140/could-we-terraform-the-moon/

            “When it comes to remaking a celestial body in Earth’s image—“terraforming” it—the moon has clear advantages: It gets twice the sunlight of Mars. It’s a three-day trip with current technology, while getting people to Mars would take six months. Furthermore, the moon is dead and it’s small, so it needs less work and investment to build an atmosphere. Mars has slightly less than the total area of Earth’s dry land; the moon has a quarter of it—a bit smaller than all Asia.”

            From: “How to Terraform the Moon It’ll be habitable, if a lot like Florida”
            By Gregory Benford July 14, 2014 At: http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/07/terraforming_the_moon_it_would_be_a_lot_like_florida.html

            Orbital ATK’s “EELV-class Next Generation Launch vehicle system” is most likely going to be quite busy in Cislunar space for many decades to come.

  • Jeff Findley

    “NASA’s full control of pads 39A and 39B could enhance both the SAFETY and EFFICIENCY OF THOSE SLS/ORION LUNAR SURFACE MISSIONS.”

    You do know that SpaceX has leased Launch Pad 39A from NASA and has already modified the pad to support Falcon and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles. In fact, their new horizontal integration facility completely blocks the path that the MLPs used to take to get to the ramp which went up to the launch pad.

    • James

      What is built on the sands of highly partisan political ‘Mars soon’ rhetoric is built on a weak and nonscientific foundation and can be washed away with the next big bipartisan wave of Moon and cislunar exploration and development.

      There are a lot more jobs potentially available to Americans and other folks in controlling robots in near real time on the Moon, and the rest of Cislunar space, than there is in doing anything on distant Mars with its very long lags in communication and transportation.

      Human Lunar missions are risky and costly, but far less risky and costly than human Mars missions.

      We are going to the Moon to learn how to reduce the risks and costs of long space missions.

      We need to learn how to tap the Moon’s resources that will be used for our eventual sustainable human missions to Mars, Ceres, and elsewhere across our Solar System.

      Lots of folks are not overly impressed with the geopolitical consequence of SpaceX’s ongoing Mars hype and its devisive attempts at diversion of the nation’s bipartisan space agenda that was clearly written into law in ‘PUBLIC LAW 111–267—OCT. 11, 2010’ and is available at: http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/516655main_PL_111-267.pdf

      “‘Without the ISS and NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre, SpaceX would have no business,’ explains Linda Billings, space consultant and former editor of Space Business News. ‘SpaceX got started with grants and other subsidies from NASA and now does business as a government contractor. There’s nothing revolutionary about that.’” From: Management Today
      ‘Why SpaceX’s Falcon 9 isn’t the world changer you expect’ At: http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/news/1392497/why-spacexs-falcon-9-isnt-world-changer-expect/

      “Other spacefaring nations will go to the Moon, with or without us. There aren’t just two space nations playing anymore, there are dozens. If we don’t lead that effort, another nation or nations will. This is important, as it partially reflects our overall position in the world.”
      From: ‘The Politics of Space Exploration’ By Leroy Chiao Former NASA Astronaut and ISS Commander Elliot Pulham CEO of the Space Foundation 03/23/2016
      At: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leroy-chiao/the-politics-of-space-exp_b_9532278.html

      NASA using the SLS and Orion to lead affordable international missions to the Moon is the smart thing to do. NASA fully implementing ‘PUBLIC LAW 111–267—OCT. 11, 2010’ is in the best economic and geopolitical interests of America.

      Since SpaceX appears to be blocking SLS/Orion launch options needed to minimize risk and economically do legally required international Lunar missions, perhaps the patriotic SpaceX folks will be willing to move their “new horizontal integration facility” far away from Launchpad 39A.

      Time will tell.

  • Conway Costigan

    Try 8 SLS launches per year at about 500 million per launch. Considering the evolved iteration will put 130 tons up that makes the SLS far more efficient than the funky falcon faux heavy.

    Since the 27 engine monstrosity will not be lifting its former advertised payload due to no longer featuring the miracle of propellant crossfeed, what we are looking at is the Super Heavy Lift Vehicle as the only option for efficiently taking humans Beyond Earth Orbit.

    With the space station to nowhere deteriorating and no investors signing up to throw money away on tourist space stations it looks like NewSpace will no longer be sucking up all those sweet NASA tax dollars and gratis support. Won’t be needing the toxic dragon.

    Maybe SpaceX can stay in business launching satellites and maybe not. I personally believe that company is the worst thing that has ever happened to space exploration and the sooner it goes under the better.

    • Jeff Findley

      That $500 million per SLS launch is surely be the projected incremental cost to add an additional SLS launch to the schedule. In other words, no standing army costs by that accounting. The space shuttle program always played the very same accounting game to make their numbers look better. So you can’t compare this cost directly to a commercial launch cost, since commercial launches typically include standing army costs, or the company would never make a profit.

      But, let’s ignore NASA’s standing army costs, for now. If SpaceX really can sell Falcon Heavy flights for $90 million per launch and each can deliver 53,000kg (116,845 lb) per launch then for $450 million 265,000 kg (584,225 lb) can be placed in LEO. That’s far more than any planned version of SLS can launch for less than the cost of a single SLS flight.

      Admittedly, we’re comparing “paper rockets” here, so we’ll have to wait until both Falcon Heavy and SLS are both flying then use real numbers for our comparisons. At that point in the future, we can spread the fixed SLS costs over the (projected) average number of flights per year to do a fair comparison.

      Realistically, we need to wait until after the 5th SLS flight to do this comparison since that will be the first flight with the new RS-25E engines (prior flights will use “leftover” SSMEs for the core). Unfortunately, based on the current planning, we’ll have to wait 10 years (give or take) for that flight to happen.

    • Clio Marsden

      For the record FH didn’t just lose cross-feed. Will not be in initial config because no requirements for it as F9 as grown in perf at baseline. FH without cross-feed can obviously throw a Dragon2 to the surface of Mars (Red Dragon). Shotwell is on record that in the out years they are open to cross-feed if business case comes up for it.

      • Conway Costigan

        For the record what you just said is meaningless; if it is not using it, regardless if the “business case comes up for it”, that means, yes, they did lose it. Sophistry.

        And without the miracle of propellant crossfeed the previously advertised payload is now false advertising.

        • Clio Marsden

          It’s called revising the design as the data changes. Also known as iterative design/engineering. What commercial payload can FH not lift without cross-feed? What commercial payload can it not lift and be reused without cross-feed. You laugh at business requirements because you wouldn’t know the first thing about making a product that must close business case. Your comments reek of fear from commercial space players, and then you claim commercial space “fears” SLS. There is a word for this, projection.

          • Conway Costigan

            “-you wouldn’t know the first thing about making a product that must close business case.”

            Oh, I know B.S. when it is flung at my face. Your comments reek of technobabble and voodoo economics and are not convincing to anyone except maybe your NewSpace buddies.

            I am laughing but it’s not because I don’t know the first thing, it’s because I know the last thing you want anyone reading this to know- that your yapping about design and data and iterative engineering blah blah blah is all B.S. that means nothing.

            • Clio Marsden

              Does this mean I can stop going to all those meetings at work where they discuss which features are being pushed out of FCS (First Customer Ship) due to time to market considerations? Great.

              I think NASA knows about this too. It’s called SLS Block 1 IUS…

              • Conway Costigan

                Whatever you are babbling about has nothing to do with the SLS.

                • Clio Marsden

                  And as if just on queue SpaceX announces another perf upgrade to Merlin 1D+. FH now will have 5.1 million pounds of thrust and therefore no need for cross-feed to hit any of the intended payload targets for the vehicle. Not bad for a “hobby rocket” heavy lifter..

                  https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/726650591359819776?s=09
                  http://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities

                  • Conway Costigan

                    It does not say anything about cross-feed or a revised payload concerning cross-feed or cryo-cooling or whatever gimmick is being hyped.

                    27 engines violates the kiss principle- and that is just one feature of the hobby rocket that makes it a technological dead end.

                    All hype. It is a mediocre and poorly designed machine…and oh yeah, it blew up also. I doubt NASA will ever fly a human on it, or the Air Force risk a billion dollar spy bird. All hype.

                    • Shlomo

                      27 engines seems like a problem but on the other hand allows for engine out capability. Besides so far merlins seem to work well with 9 per core and R7/soyuz runs with 5 engines and is the most launched rocket ever made and we are talking about 50s engineering that is KISS to the limit.
                      + cryo cooling is also a proven technology used in USSR and Russia since the 60s and there were several attempts to explore applications of subcooled hydrogen in USA in the 90s

                    • Conway Costigan

                      “27 engines seems like a problem but-”

                      No, it is a problem.

                    • Shlomo

                      Also the 9 engines allows for artificial throttling down to 7% that they need to attempt to land and to share the engine with the upper stage.
                      All this is a trade off that they did we will see if their way is the best one to move forward in few years with competition from both blue origin and ULA + future Ariane6 and whatever Russians get working

                    • Conway Costigan

                      The hobby rocket is worthless for transporting humans Beyond Earth Orbit. The only launch vehicle designed to do this is the SLS. The funky falcon faux heavy will never have the power required. Nothing else comes close to the SLS. the competition, the landing stages and reusing, the “trade offs”; none of that matters, no matter how much NewSpace fans want it to because it is an inferior lift vehicle.

                      All the marketing and hype and carnival sideshow tricks are not going to change this truth.

                    • Shlomo

                      SLS is just a brute force approach while AECS is a great and innovative design that could revolutionise cislunar space exploration without the need for huge amount of heavy lifting.
                      Lunar ice exploitation would end the need to lift the TLI fuel into orbit because you can use a ACES waiting in LEO to go basically anywhere without putting together a nearly 3000t rocket every time.

                      I don’t think that SpaceX even want’s to manrate the Falcon Heavy so it is irrelevant because it is replacing DeltaHeavy not the SLS. That would be like comparing the Atlas401 with 552 and claiming there is no reason for existence of the smaller variant.There are thousands reasons why rockets smaller than SLS will be used namely the commercial and military satellites and for that Vulcan/Falcon are far superior.

                    • Clio Marsden

                      Shlomo, don’t waste your time. You could talk to a wall a get better responses. As if FH has anything to so with putting people beyond LEO…or SLS. It’s a false premise because that was not what it was designed for. Next gen MCT/BFR is the Super Heavy while FH is Heavy lift to compete Delta IV Heavy and Ariane 5 missions.

                  • Joe

                    “And as if just on queue SpaceX announces another perf upgrade to Merlin 1D+. FH now will have 5.1 million pounds of thrust and therefore no need for cross-feed to hit any of the intended payload targets for the vehicle.”

                    It is actually more interesting than that. According to the article at the link the payload increases are without any vehicle upgrades:

                    “If you thought SpaceX was already making a fuss over the capabilities of both its existing Falcon 9 rocket and the upcoming Falcon Heavy, you haven’t seen anything yet. The company has posted updated specs showing that both vehicles are more powerful than previously thought. A Falcon 9 is now known to be capable of hauling 50,265lbs to low Earth orbit, up from just shy of 29,000 pounds. The Falcon Heavy, meanwhile, will carry 119,930lbs instead of the previously promised 116,845lbs. Elon Musk chalks up the improved figures to more thorough testing — SpaceX hasn’t upgraded the hardware….”

                    So all this time SpaceX has been underestimating the Falcon 9’s payload capacity by 72%. Could make one wonder why all the furor over “chilled” LOX, when they “obviously” never needed it. Curiously the Falcon Heavy only went up 3% based on these same “startling” revelations.

                    Any one not skeptical of this kind of thing should not be allowed to go to a Carnival without adult supervision.

                    • john hare

                      Skepticism is certainly warranted until capability is proven. Stage recovery is now proven as an occasional success. Reuse isn’t yet. I strongly suspect that SpaceX will eventually recover a high percentage of boosters, and think it likely that reuse will be economical. I want to see some reasonable proof before I will state either as fact. I also want to know about at least one max payload contract before I get too exited about the new found capability.

                      All that being said, I am optimistic about the capabilities of SpaceX, Blue, Orbital, ULA and company that should develop over the next decade.

                    • Joe

                      Hi John,

                      Per the information in the link provided below, how credible do you believe it to be that SpaceX has been underestimating the Falcon 9 payload capacity by 72%?

                    • Clio Marsden

                      “Could make one wonder why all the furor over “chilled” LOX, when they “obviously” never needed it.”

                      If you listen to Elon’s comments after CRS-8 they intend to bring the balance of the landings back to RTLS rather than DPL over time. In that case you need all the help you can get…

                    • Joe

                      Clio,

                      “If you listen to Elon’s comments after CRS-8 they intend to bring the balance of the landings back to RTLS rather than DPL over time. In that case you need all the help you can get…”

                      Yes they will “need all the help” they can get. It is interesting that it was not that long ago, on this website, I was being lectured that there was no payload penalty for RTLS landings and they were only trying to land on the barge because the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Range Safety Office required it.

                      How fortuitous that they have now supposedly discovered an extra 72% margin lying around just waiting to be used.

                    • john hare

                      you’ll only know for sure what it and the uprated Falcon 9 are truly capable of when they leave the launchpad.

                      Joe,
                      I pasted the last line from the linked article. I think that sums it up.

                    • Joe

                      John,

                      While I agree with the sentiment, am not so sure about the actuality.

                      This whole thing seems like they are playing a “shell game” trying to (for some reason) obscure what they can (or is it cannot) do.

                      The motives to do that are at best obscure, but that it is being done seems unavoidable.

                    • john hare

                      Joe,

                      Replying to your 3 May 7:29 am post.
                      There are three levels (at least) to the things going on here.
                      Technical, business, and political.

                      Technically, I can calculate that it is theoretically possible to hit the payloads suggested by your link. That doesn’t mean that I know that this hardware can do it, just that it is possible from a theoretical standpoint. Dense propellants allowing higher mass ratios, but also higher pump delivered pressures at the same rpms from denser propellants. Higher pressures suggest higher attainable Isp. I can see it being possible, though whether it is likely is in question. The max payload listed would almost certainly be with no margins for error.

                      In a business sense, I can see where a conservative payload projection would be advantageous until enough data is available to promise more. It would only take one customer attempting to sign up for a max payload capacity that turns out to not be available to damage a company reputation far beyond that done by schedule slippage. With data apparently in hand, a more aggressive capability can be announced for business purposes. I think it likely that this (22 tonne) capability will never be required as satellites are not designed to this size due to lack of available launch vehicles. So the announcement can be made safely with the near certain knowledge that it will never be actually required. Falcon9 vs Delta4H is a compelling business case if cost is a factor.

                      I think politically is the focus. If an F9 can do 22 tonnes, then it stands to reason that an F9H should be able to do 66 tonnes without crossfeed. Without crossfeed, a triangular layout would support a 7-8 meter shroud. This makes it apparently competitive with the vehicle that you and I disagree so strongly about. With the steady blurring of apparent and real, this looks like the most likely explanation for the new claims. Given that there are several potential supplies of high energy upper stages in the next several years, it could be claimed that the F9H could surpass the block one with a bit of business dealing.

                      This is all speculative in absence of certain knowledge.

                    • Joe

                      Hi John,

                      I really appreciate you going to all this trouble and do not doubt your theoretical calculations, trouble is that is not what Musk is claiming

                      Here is another quote from another “news” story.

                      http://www.space.com/32767-spacex-rockets-falcon-9-capabilities.html

                      “”No physical changes to the engine. This thrust increase is based on delta qual tests. It is just tougher than we thought,” Musk tweeted on Saturday.“

                      He is not talking about “chilled” LOX now he is saying they underestimated the Falcon 9 original performance (by 72%). Even the normally credulous reporters seemed a little suspicious.

                      The political angle makes sense except that they are not making claims for big payload gains for the Falcon Heavy. It’s payload only goes up from 116,845lbs to 119,930lbs (53 tonnes to 55 tonnes). An increase of only 3%.

                      Add to that they just hired a movie costume shop to build their launch entry suits and I am having trouble taking any of this even as seriously as I used to.

                      Can picture the advertising now – Fly SpaceX, sure you may get killed; but you’ll look really cool while you’re doing it. 🙂

                    • John hare

                      Joe,
                      Replying to your 12:08
                      I can see the 22 tonnes of the F9 being accepted as fact by this fall. Then if the F9H flies at about the timeframe of the election, Elon will see which way the political winds are blowing. Then he can either hunker down with what he has, or make the claim that F9H can do the SLS job at that time.

                      It’s about perception,not engineering if I see it right.

                    • Joe

                      “It’s about perception,not engineering if I see it right.”

                      I am sadly forced to acknowledge that possibility. We seem to live in Reality TV nation now where image overrules fact.

                      In case you thought I was kidding about SpaceX selecting a company that (until now) has only made super hero costumes to build their launch/entry pressure suits because Musk wants them to look “cool” here is a link:

                      http://www.engadget.com/2016/05/03/spacex-taps-superhero-costume-maker/

                      I worry about the writers for The Onion (satirical website). When “real life” gets to be like this, how do you satirize it?

                    • Jeff Findley

                      SpaceX having a Hollywood company “designing” their space suits is surely just having them design what they look like on the outside. Do the aesthetics of a spacesuit have any impact its performance? Do space suits have to be dull and boring? Is there a physical or engineering reason that they need to be largely monochromatic?

                      This is akin to the Tesla Model S having a “ludicrous speed” mode, which seems to do absolutely nothing to diminish how that mode works, it’s just a marketing gimmick. Tesla has made their high end luxury car models much less boring than the competition. This is arguably a good thing.

                    • Joe

                      “SpaceX having a Hollywood company “designing” their space suits is surely just having them design what they look like on the outside.”

                      That is what you say, but (if you read the article) that is not what SpaceX says. The Costume Company is the contractor.

                      I know this is embarrassing to well intentioned people who want to believe Musk is revolutionizing the space industry, but it does no good to try and wish the facts away.

    • Jeff Findley

      Conway Costigan wrote “Since the 27 engine monstrosity will not be lifting its former advertised payload due to no longer featuring the miracle of propellant crossfeed, what we are looking at is the Super Heavy Lift Vehicle as the only option for efficiently taking humans Beyond Earth Orbit.”

      Actually, SpaceX just announced that, due to extensive testing, that they will be upgrading the thrust of the Merlin engines, resulting in increased performance for both Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. The new payload to LEO for Falcon 9 is listed as 22,800 kg (50,265 lbs) and the new payload to LEO for Falcon Heavy is listed ad 54,400 kg (119,930 lbs).

      So, while this isn’t quite “SLS class” payload it’s not far from SLS Block 1 and two Falcon Heavy launches are close to the largest planned SLS payload. So, it would be far cheaper to use Falcon Heavy in conjunction with in orbit assembly than to use slightly fewer numbers of SLS launches to do the same missions. The numbers here quite simply don’t lie.

      • Shlomo

        Falcon Heavy is very volume limited because of only 3.66m core diameter and some payloads can’t be split into smaller ones.But FH is by far the better lifter for 95%+ of missions thanks to it’s price.

      • James

        An inteesting question is what would be the LEO payload of a five core, or a Falcon H plus two cores, launcher.

        An Angara A5 type of SpaceX Falcon launcher seems like a possible goal while waiting for the development of SpaceX’s super large methane powered launcher.

        Would such a complex heavy launcher be technically and economically justifiable?

        It would seem that the SLS would be a lower risk launcher than a Falcon H or a Falco H plus two cores launcher, but cheap access to LEO is the new mantra, not minimizing complexity and its associated risks.

  • Conway Costigan

    “If SpaceX really can sell Falcon Heavy flights for $90 million per launch-”

    “So you can’t compare this cost directly to a commercial launch cost, since commercial launches typically include standing army costs, or the company would never make a profit.”

    Those two points reveal the “game” being played by NewSpace.

    SpaceX is no more “commercial” than NASA is.

    • Jeff Findley

      Actually SpaceX is paying NASA and the USAF for facilities. Those costs are passed on to customers who pay in real dollars. There is no accounting game being played by SpaceX like NASA plays.

      Note that for the entire space shuttle program, the cost per flight is actually $1.5 billion. That number is quite simply the total program costs divided by the total number of flights. So, development costs plus standing army costs account for a lot for the shuttle. There is no reason to suspect SLS will be any different.

      • Conway Costigan

        “Actually SpaceX is paying NASA and the USAF for facilities.”

        Token payment- Please tell us about those fees. Like most of SpaceX’s mysterious accounting practices it is not for us to know.

        • Jeff Findley

          The US Government sets the fees for commercial operators like SpaceX, ULA, and Orbital ATK. They all seem to use a combination of USAF and NASA facilities.

  • Conway Costigan

    “There is no accounting game being played by SpaceX like NASA plays.”

    Incredibly naive and disingenuous. Your NewSpace cronies may nod in agreement and smile but anybody with any understanding of what is really going on is rolling their eyes.

  • Conway Costigan

    The NewSpace narrative is toxic to any realistic appreciation of the challenges of space exploration. Musk’s cult-like promised land of Mars is bizarre and ridiculous to anyone with a basic understanding of Human Space Flight. The NewSpace playbook begins with a first Orwellian commandment: scream cheap! It MUST be essentially free because everything touched by NASA or government is corrupt and a waste of tax dollars.

    That is just page one of the NewSpace bible. It only gets worse. The lies and misleading information that have flooded the internet for years have contaminated any public discourse. The damage must be undone in short order or the opportunity presented by a new administration to change direction will be wasted. Abandoning the dead ends of LEO and Mars and going back to the Moon to exploit the resources there is the only path to expanding humankind off world.

    NewSpace is a cancer slowly destroying any chance of future progress in space exploration.

    • Jeff Findley

      So, you want to wipe out all commercial competition in the US (SpaceX, ULA, Orbital ATK, and Blue Origin)?

      • Conway Costigan

        What are you babbling about? I said nothing even remotely connected to that absurd insinuation. Puh-leez. NewSpace commonly uses such trashy tactics. You are just self-identifying.

  • Jeff Wright

    Agreed.

  • James

    Note that some ‘New Space’ folks understand that the Falcon H could be aimed at doing Lunar Base missions.

    “The International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) comprises members representing the space agencies of 14 countries. The ISECG has produced a Global Exploration Roadmap7 and the near-term goal of the vast majority of this group’s members is the Moon.”

    And, “With the fully fueled Falcon-HT in LEO, a second Falcon-H with its lunar payload is launched to LEO, retaining its second stage after main engine cutoff. This Falcon-H then rendezvouses with the Falcon-HT, transfers fuel to refill the retained Falcon-H second stage (similar to aircraft aerial refueling), separates from the Falcon-HT, and then refires its retained second stage to perform the translunar-injection burn.”

    From: VOL. 4 NO. 1 2016 NEW SPACE ‘Lunar Station: The Next Logical Step in Space Development’ By Robert Bruce Pittman, Lynn D. Harper, Mark E. Newfield, and Daniel J. Rasky At: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/space.2015.0031

    Orbital ATK’s “EELV-class Next Generation Launch vehicle system” is most likely going to end up competing with the Falcon H for future Lunar Base cargo missions.

    • Shlomo

      I think that in case of lunar operation Vulcan or some future designs by Blue Origin would be far superior to SpaceX ones thanks to hydrogen upper stages

      • James

        As Mike Killian noted, “Liberty would have utilized an upper stage taken from an Arianespace Ariane V rocket, but the new rocket, if it becomes reality, would likely employ a BE-3 upper stage from Jeff Bezos and his company Blue Origin.”

        The BE-3 is a hydrolox rocket engine. Orbital ATK’s “EELV-class Next Generation Launch vehicle system” is most likely going to be quite capable of doing Lunar Base cargo missions.

      • James

        And note: ‘NASA Is Seriously Considering Terraforming Part of the Moon With Robots The robots shall inherit the moon’ By Kelsey D. Atherton Posted July 8, 2015
        At: http://www.popsci.com/nasa-advances-lunar-terraforming-concept-phase-ii

  • […] ATK also received a $47 million contract from the U.S. Air Force earlier this year for development of something similar: “a solid rocket propulsion system […]

  • Jeff Findley

    “The Costume Company is the contractor.” I read the article. I can’t tell you how many times the “popular” press writes what an aerospace engineer would consider to be a very misleading story. Remember, most of the people writing these stories have journalism degrees (B.A.) not an engineering degree (B.S.)

    Designing the “guts” of a pressure suit is simply not something a “costume designer” can do. I’m quite sure that when these news articles say that a costume company is “designing” the spacesuit, they are only talking about the appearance of the suit.

    • Joe

      “Designing the “guts” of a pressure suit is simply not something a “costume designer” can do.”

      That is completely true.

      “I’m quite sure that when these news articles say that a costume company is “designing” the spacesuit, they are only talking about the appearance of the suit.”

      If you base your positions on what you hope is true, not on empirical evidence; then there is no point in further discussion. No one can dissuade you from what you choose to believe “quite sure” is true.

      No hard feelings and have a nice day.

    • Jeff Findley

      Actually, I’m basing my position on what I’ve read in the past from more reputable sources on science than the popular press. SpaceX has been working with a company named Orbital Outfitters on their spacesuit design. Here’s a cite:

      http://phys.org/news/2015-02-spacesuit.html

      From the above article:

      “The perfect spacesuit would be, to quote Elon Musk, “badass.”
      That’s the terminology the SpaceX used in their contract with
      suit-maker Orbital Outfitters, who are creating the pressure
      suit for SpaceX’s future commercial passengers.”

      • Joe

        That would be this Orbital Outfitters:

        http://orbitaloutfitters.com/about-us/

        From the PR Department:

        “We are incrementally developing our products and customer base, beginning with the suborbital human space flight market.”

        Get back to when Orbital Outfitters and/or the Costume Shop successfully fly something in the “suborbital human space flight market”.

        Like I said, have a nice day.

        • James

          Joe –

          Perhaps you’re missing something.

          “- On Planet Dust, especially the Martian dust which is thought to contain hexavalent
          chromium, the most potent carcinogen known.” From: Page 23 of ‘Advanced-to-Revolutionary Space Technology Options – The Responsibly Imaginable” April 2013 NASA/TM–2013-217981 By Dennis M. Bushnell Langley Research Center

          Perhaps it is actually all about remaking that wonderful Julia Roberts movie ‘Erin Brockovich’ wherein a new “Erin” helps astronauts suffering from the same old nasty hexavalent chromium from the original movie. Of course remakes aren’t usually as good as the original, and maybe that’s why all the emphasis is on a “badass” costume/spacesuit.

          • Joe

            You could very well be on to something.

            Makes as much sense as anything else.

            • James

              Sorry Joe, I forgot to add:

              “The safety aspects of Humans-Mars are worrisome. There are assertions that the Martian dust contains hexavalent chromium, an extremely potent carcinogen, and highly oxidative components, necessitating a dust-free environment for the humans – for habitats, suits, transporters, interlocks. The near absence of a magnetic field on Mars and the rarefied nature of the Martian atmosphere provides only minimal protection from galactic space radiation [30-50 Gev of Iron nuclei and such, reference 15 and 16] and solar particle events which are both highly carcinogenic and severely impact the immune system.” From: Page 24 of ‘Advanced-to-Revolutionary Space Technology Options – The Responsibly Imaginable” April 2013 NASA/TM–2013-217981 By Dennis M. Bushnell Langley Research Center

              Yep, count on the lawyers to make lots of money for the sick Mars astronauts, just like in other real life situations.

              Is a reality movie trying imitate art which imitated real life?

              Don’t worry, the lawyers are probably already preparing their sick Mars astronauts briefs and that too, “Makes as much sense as anything else.”