Highlights From Today’s House Science & Technology Hearing

Some interesting points came out of today’s hearing of the House Science and Technology Committee.

Ares I Launch Marginal Cost

First, the marginal cost of an Ares I launch is $176 million.

There seems to be a good deal of confusion as to what it costs to launch an Ares I, that’s the marginal cost.

When Ares I was operational in 2016, the marginal cost is expected of $176m per flight after 2016 for two flights per year. Is that number still reasonable?

That is still reasonable for marginal cost.

Claims By Some That Their Launcher and Spacecraft Are Human-Rated

Another interesting point was that claims by some…ok, ok, SpaceX, that their rocket and spacecraft are human-rated are, according to Admiral Dyer, head of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, untrue because NASA has yet to release the human-rating requirements for commercial crew launchers.

As I read the Augustine Committee, their criticism was that Ares would not be ready until the ISS was about to be terminated. Since ISS will be up til 2020, 2028, that changes things.

I want to assure my colleague form California that I’m a space commercial supporter, but we need to start with cargo first and build confidence. There’s a difference between cargo and people. The commercial guys are not ready for human flight. We’ve had Admiral Dyer (Head of Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel) state that NASA has not yet published the requirements for human space flight so comments by some who you know that they are human space compliant is untrue.

EELV’s As Commercial Launchers

Claims by some that the EELV’s are commercial launchers and that their success at launching satellites shows that commercial launch companies can operate safely got some cold water thrown on them.

Even today, airplanes land everyday with problems that would be catastrophic to a human space craft. I’ll remind all of us that the reason things fail today will not be in those requirements. Mentions metric – english units issue that cause a Mars failure. Or foam hitting the Shuttle. The requirements won’t get the job done. The strengths of NASA and industry working together will get that to work.

The EELV started as a commercial effort. Many in-flight failures there was a study done. Out of studies, a Presidential commission found that the EELV’s could not work, that given the market to support commercial launches had failed, the EELV launchers had adopted practices that would work. Today, EELV is no longer a commercial system.

We could human rate an EELV. It would take 5 1/2 – 7 years according to Aerospace Corp. There would be no cost advantage.

You’d be like to grow your space transportation system. You can grow an Ares I into an Ares V much more easily than you can an EELV.

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