Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Articles of Interest

An artist's concept of the Space Launch System on the pad at LC-39B. Image source: NASA.

Lots going on in recent days ...

Work continues on the Space Launch System's Orion crew capsule (AKA Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle). Florida Today reports that work has begun on the abort motor for the Orion escape system that will be used in an early 2014 test flight.

ATK is developing the main motor for the abort system that would pull an Orion capsule and its astronaut crew away from a rocket in the event of an explosion or other emergency on the launch pad or during launch. The company also is developing smaller abort system thrusters that would steer the capsule into position for the deployment of parachutes that would float a crew to a safe landing back on Earth.

The Salt Lake Tribune, ATK's hometown newspaper, has more on the abort motor.

As for what's below the capsule, notes that, "NASA must find and purchase a cost-effective, proven cryogenic propulsion system for the first two flights of the agency's heavy-lift Space Launch System because the behemoth rocket's Apollo-era upper stage engine will not be ready in time, officials said."

The clock is ticking for the rocket to be ready in time for its first mission in late 2017. And NASA has a tight budget to pay for the upper stage, which is planned to send humans to the moon on a flight in 2021, according to agency managers.

The Space Launch System's initial missions are expected to dispatch Orion space capsules on flights around the moon and back to Earth. The 2021 launching will carry a crew.

Both flights will be powered into space by cryogenic core stage with three space shuttle main engines, known as RS-25D/E engines, and twin five-segment solid rocket boosters. But development of the J-2X upper stage engine, an upgraded version of a powerplant used on the Saturn 5 rocket, will not be finished in time.

As for potential missions, has a potential outline for the first SLS unmanned test flight.

The debut of the Space Launch System (SLS) will send the Orion (MPCV) on a 7-10 day mission to the Moon, with an aim to qualify the Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (HLV) and Beyond Earth Orbit (BEO) Orion to carry humans into deep space. Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) involves sending Orion around the far side of the Moon, prior to a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

With a launch date of December 17, 2017, the historic mission will aim to hand NASA a Christmas present of becoming a successful pathfinder for crewed flights on the new spacecraft, in turn providing a baseline for a return to exploration in deep space for the first time since the 1970s.

Down the Cape Road at LC-40, Florida Today reports that SpaceX has scheduled a "wet dress rehearsal" for March 1 of the Falcon 9 with the Dragon capsule that is scheduled for its International Space Station demonstration flight in late April.

The simulation at Launch Complex 40 is part of preparations for a NASA demonstration flight that aims to deliver the Dragon to the International Space Station, possibly as soon as late April.

A successful demonstration flight would prove Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX is ready to begin delivering cargo to the station later this year under a $1.6 billion NASA contract.

I received an invitation from a SpaceX representative to attend a media event at LC-40 tomorrow afternoon, however a NASA media credential is required and I don't have one.

This image of the SpaceX Falcon 9 with the Dragon capsule was posted February 25 on the Twitter account of CEO Elon Musk.

UPDATE March 1, 2012 8:15 AM ESTFlorida Today calls today's wet test "an important step in preparations for a potential launch late next month."

SpaceX hopes to be ready to launch by late April, but no official target date has been set since the mission was postponed from early February to resolve technical issues.

“We’ll address it whenever they tell us they’re ready,” said Josh Byerly, a NASA spokesman at Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We’re looking forward to a successful rehearsal that will give both SpaceX and NASA even more confidence that they’re headed toward an April launch date.”

Orbital Sciences, the other company with an ISS commercial cargo delivery contract, blames Virginia's spaceport authority for its launch delays. The Delmarva Daily Times reports:

Orbital Sciences Corp. Chief Executive Officer David Thompson blamed delays in the company's Antares rocket project on the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, saying there have been multiple problems in completing the launch pad and associated equipment for the rocket's planned launches from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island.

The problems have set the project back eight to nine months, Thompson told investors in a Feb. 21 conference call.

UPDATE March 1, 2012 8:45 AM EST — Not withstanding their delays, Florida Today reports that Virginia hopes to win part of the space launch business — but Florida claims not to see them as a threat.

Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell signaled his intent to catapult the commonwealth into the highly competitive commercial space marketplace last month at the Federal Aviation Administration’s 15th annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, D.C.

With hundreds of industry heavy-hitters in the audience, McDonnell noted that the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on the eastern shore of Virginia is one of only four spaceports in the nation licensed by the FAA to launch orbital missions. The others: Spaceport Florida, which includes Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Kennedy Space Center; Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and Alaska Spaceport at Kodiak Island 250 miles south of Anchorage.

An artist's concept of an Orbital Sciences Antares launch at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, as it appeared in Florida Today. Original source: Orbital Sciences Corp.

As for programs past, Florida Today reports that the orbiter Discovery is scheduled to depart Kennedy Space Center April 17 for delivery to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian on Tuesday unveiled plans for four days of “Welcome Discovery” festivities, including the arrival viewing and welcome ceremony, a day of student activities and a “Family Weekend.”

The Smithsonian said Discovery would fly over parts of the D.C. area before landing, but its exact path would not be publicized.

The orbiter is expected to depart KSC around sunrise. A local beach flyover is possible.

Florida Today reports that United Space Alliance appears to have reversed plans for the Shuttle logistics facility in the City of Cape Canaveral off Astronaut Boulevard.

Lead shuttle contractor United Space Alliance pursued new business opportunities, and last fall appeared to have secured a post-shuttle mission servicing military and commercial hardware at the Astronaut Boulevard facility. There was even talk of a new name for the eight-building complex.

But plans changed abruptly when USA’s parent companies, The Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp., began re-evaluating the joint venture’s future and reportedly directed managers not to sign new contracts.

“USA had come a very long way against daunting odds to crack the defense logistics marketplace and intrigue a number of private sector industrialists with the capability they had,” said Dale Ketcham, a community leader involved in the transition effort. “Unfortunately, at the last minute, Lockheed and Boeing pulled the plug.”

And in closing, a preview of coming attractions ... The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology is scheduled to discuss NASA's proposed Fiscal Year 2013 budget on Tuesday March 7 at 2:00 PM EST. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will be the sole witness.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Jobs Lost — and Not — at KSC

Florida Today space columnist John Kelly looks at what jobs were lost — and which jobs were not — at Kennedy Space Center as the Space Shuttle program ended.

An analysis last year of federal government payroll data by USA Today showed that NASA had among the lowest percentages of people laid off or fired among all federal agencies. In the shuttle’s final year of flight, the agency had just 13 people let go out of a nationwide work force of almost 19,000 people ...

NASA still has a relatively flat budget, with the same amount of money being spent on the same kinds of projects, but they’re different ones, and new contractors are being hired.

NASA hired the United Space Alliance to operate its space shuttle fleet day to day. After years of service, NASA shut down the shuttle program that was the company’s primary reason to exist. So, most of the company’s workers were no longer needed after closing flights last year. A few are left preparing the orbiters for museums.

By the way, Florida Today has changed its business model so that subscriptions will be required to access part or all of future articles. If you're already a Florida Today subscriber, all you need to do is sign up for an online account. If you're not, click here to subscribe.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Truth in Advertising

Florida Today published today a column by "economic consultant" Howard Fishkind titled, "What Does Obama Budget Mean?"

His Q&A begins:

Q:President Obama released his proposed budget earlier this month. It has $2.1 billion for NASA’s space port projects and that, I believe, represents a substantial increase.

FISHKIND: It sure does, almost $300 million over last year. This is a big deal, and NASA is accelerating its attempt to get the private sector involved in the launch process. That’s another $300 million worth of contracts to be let this year, so they’ve done a pretty good job now of stepping up after the space program shut down.

"... After the space program shut down." Huh?!

The space program never "shut down." In fact, its current fiscal year budget is $17.7 billion.

Misleading claims like this only further confuse casual readers into thinking NASA is out of business, when the exact opposite is the truth. I e-mailed Mr. Fishkind asking him to print a retraction and correction. We'll see.

The rest of the article does note "$41 million for Kennedy Space Center’s planned multi-use launch facility, and another $404 million goes to upgrading the ground support systems for NASA’s new heavy lift rocket, and much of that is spent directly at KSC."

Coming Attractions

The Orion PA-1 test flight on May 6, 2010. Click the arrow to watch.

On May 6, 2010, NASA tested the Launch Abort System for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle using a prototype dubbed Pad Abort 1 (PA-1).

The prototype capsule was delivered yesterday to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center. Photos are below.

I don't know if it's going to be on public display, but it was certainly visible yesterday to anyone who was on a KSC Up Close Tour.

Friday, February 24, 2012

New Commercial Crew Promo

Click the above arrow to watch the video.

The NASAKennedy user account on YouTube has a new video promoting commercial crew. Pretty much everyone is shown, if briefly, in the video.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

KSC Prepares for Orion Assembly

An Orion mockup arrives at Kennedy Space Center on February 8. Image source: NASA. reports on preparations for the first Orion test capsule to Kennedy Space Center by late spring.

Now under construction in Louisiana, the Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle will be shipped to Florida in May, when engineers will start crafting the capsule into a flight-ready spacecraft.

Inside the space center's Operations and Checkout Building, technicians will add the Orion craft's heat shield, flight computers and avionics boxes. Lockheed Martin Corp., Orion's prime contractor, selected the O&C Building for final assembly of the spacecraft.

Engineers in Florida will start receiving flight hardware for the first space-bound Orion as soon as March, as components for the craft's service module arrive at the space center. A structural mock-up of the service module will fly on the first mission in 2013 or 2014.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

NASA Proposes Money for Suborbital Research

Aviation Week reports that NASA "has issued a call for proposals seeking suborbital payloads that could lead to 'game-changing' technologies for future space travel."

NASA expects to issue about 20 awards, most of them in the $50,000-125,000 range. But “several” may be worth far more for work that will enhance the research capabilities of vehicles such as Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and the XCOR Aerospace Lynx.

“This solicitation offers an opportunity to develop potentially transformative technologies that take advantage of our Flight Opportunities Program platforms, which allow frequent and predictable commercial access to near-space, with easy recovery of intact payloads,” says Michael Gazarik, director of the Space Technology Program in the office of the chief technologist at NASA headquarters.

KSC at 50

The Washington Post has a major article looking at Kennedy Space Center in the middle of its transition to the next generation of human spaceflight.

In 2010, President Obama spoke here and vowed to seed a commercial space industry, to replace the canceled Constellation program to return Americans to the moon. With NASA money, American companies would build rockets and spaceships to travel to low Earth orbit. They would deliver astronauts and cargo to the international space station and, someday, to privately owned space stations.

For 2012, the Obama administration and NASA asked for $850 million to spread among American space companies. Congress provided less than half that, $406 million. “Congress hasn’t sufficiently funded it,” said Dale Ketcham, director of the Spaceport Research and Technology Institute at the University of Central Florida. “It’s an Obama idea so Republicans don’t like it” ...

In 2010, Obama also pledged $40 million to transform Kennedy into a diversified research park. Energy, biotechnology and other high-tech companies were supposed to race for the funds — and the services of skilled workers along the 50-mile Space Coast.

But Congress never delivered the $40 million; except for a few small projects, Kennedy has not diversified.

Orbital Test Flights Delayed

Florida Today reports that the Orbital Sciences commercial cargo flight schedule this year will be delayed.

Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., is poised to carry out a key hot-fire test and then the inaugural flight of its Antares rocket once the state of Virginia completes delayed work on a commercial launch pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Va.

Those two events now are scheduled for May and late June, respectively, Orbital Chairman and CEO David Thompson told financial analysts in a conference call today.

Next up in late August or early September will be the launch of an Antares rocket and a Cygnus spacecraft on a mission to demonstrate the company can safely and reliably deliver cargo to the International Space Station.

UPDATE February 22, 2012 7:30 PM takes a look at Orbital's plans for Antares test flights in 2012 and the eventual flights of the Cygnus cargo module.

Expanding on the slip to the right for Antares’ schedule, [Orbital Chairman and CEO David] Thompson added the first major milestone – a hot firing of the Antares first stage – should occur in late May, paving the way for the vehicle’s test flight just a month or so later.

"As I noted earlier, delays caused by the need to redesign and replace various ground systems at our Wallops Island, Virginia launch pad, have pushed (the schedule) out by another couple of months.

"We now expect to carry out the important hold down hot firing of the Antares first stage in late May and assuming it goes smoothly, the rocket’s first launch in late June or early July.

"This translates into being ready for the COTS demonstration mission – which would be launched on the second Antares flight – in the late summer and first operational CRS flight to the International Space Station on the third Antares launch at the end of the year."

50 Years of U.S. Orbital Spaceflight

NASA hosted several events this weekend marking the 50th anniversary of John Glenn's Mercury flight in Friendship 7. The events at Kennedy Space Center included Scott Carpenter, whose Aurora 7 in May 1962 was the second U.S. orbital flight.

On February 20, the actual anniversary, Glenn and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden were at the Ohio State University for a NASA Future Forum.

Although all these events noted the significance of the anniversary, participants spoke passionately and at length about the future. The International Space Station and the commercial space program were touted by Glenn and others as an extremely important step to the future of U.S. human spaceflight, as well as for research into the biological and physical sciences.

NASA so far hasn't posted the events online, so until they do here are the events as I recorded them off the webcasts.

John Glenn and Scott Carpenter address KSC employees at an "all-hands" meeting on February 17, 2012. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and KSC director Bob Cabana also participate.

"On the Shoulders of Giants," a KSC Visitor Complex event honoring Glenn and Carpenter on February 18, 2012. Also speaking are U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, Rep. Bill Posey, and KSC Director Bob Cabana. CNN correspondent John Zarrella emcees.

NASA Future Forum at the Ohio State University on February 20, 2012. Glenn and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden are the principal speakers.

What's Past is Prologue

The February 21, 2012 B.C. comic strip.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

SLS Fact and Fiction

When NASA's Fiscal Year 2013 proposed budget was released on February 13, Texas senator Kay Bailey Hutchison issued a press release in which she claimed that the Space Launch System she helped midwife is being designed as a "backup capability" for crew transportation to the International Space Station.

Despite repeated assurances from NASA and White House officials that the SLS and Orion are ‘key elements of our future strategy for human space exploration', vehicle development for the heavy lift SLS rocket and the Orion capsule is cut by hundreds of millions of dollars. These reductions will slow the development of the SLS and the Orion crew vehicle, making it impossible for them to provide backup capability for supporting the space station. The Administration remains insistent on cutting SLS and Orion to pay for commercial crew rather than accommodating both.

Buried in a February 13 article is a quote from NASA executive Bill Gerstenmaier during a press conference that day:

The focus is for us to get a redundant capability as soon as we can. In terms of using Orion for that back up capability, we’re not precluding that, but we’re not doing anything actively to allow that to occur,” noted Mr Gerstenmaier. “NASA is not doing any design work on Orion or SLS that would allow it (Orion) to go to the Station.

Gerstenmaier added, "It’s not a very effective way to get to LEO. It’s really designed to go to BEO, and that’s where we want to stay focused on."

Hutchison has repeatedly justified SLS as a "backup" option in case commercial crew fails. But it won't even be capable of docking at the ISS.

Which in my opinion is further proof that Hutchison promoted SLS just to direct pork to her state.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Orion Test Flight Aims for Late 2013

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana discuss the first Orion test flight. Click the arrow to watch the video. You may be subjected to an ad first.

Florida Today reports that NASA hopes to launch a test flight of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle by late 2013.

NASA late last year decided to add $375 million to the contract so that Lockheed Martin could carry out an early unmanned flight test.

The goal: to launch an Orion capsule into a 5,000-mile-high orbit and then simulate the type of high-speed atmospheric re-entry astronauts would fly on a return from the moon, Mars or other interplanetary destinations.

NASA schedules show the flight test launching in early 2014, and Bolden is not pressing Lockheed Martin to launch earlier. But the contractor is aiming for late 2013 — as early as October, company officials say.

The Golden Years

Click the arrow to watch John Glenn and Scott Carpenter February 17 at the KSC Visitor Complex. You may be subjected to an ad first.

Sitting Friday in a display of Mercury Mission Control at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, John Glenn and Scott Carpenter reminisced for the media about their historic flights fifty years ago.

The back-to-back launches 50 years ago of legendary Mercury astronauts John Glenn and Scott Carpenter marked a turning point in a Cold War battle with the Soviet Union, galvanizing Americans in a victorious race to the moon.

“Everyone was behind us. The whole nation was behind us. It gave us a lot of confidence to have all that support from across the nation, and particularly from the folks here in Cocoa Beach,” Carpenter said Friday in a news conference with Glenn at Kennedy Space Center.

Glenn and Carpenter will appear at KSCVC this evening at 6:30 PM. According to Florida Today:

Legendary Mercury astronauts John Glenn and Scott Carpenter will make a public appearance today at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex during a 6:30 p.m. celebration of the 50th anniversary of their Friendship 7 and Aurora 7 orbital spaceflights.

Regular admission to Visitor Complex is $43 plus tax for adults ($33 for children ages 3 to 11). Bleacher seating will be available to the first 750 guests to enter the complex, which opens at 9 a.m. today.

Admission to just the program is $15 plus tax and includes limited admission to the complex from 3 to 6 p.m. Due to limited seating, visitors are encouraged to bring folding chairs or blankets.

Call 866-737-5235 or visit

UPDATE February 19, 2012Florida Today has posted an article and a video excerpt from last night's event honoring Glenn and Carpenter:

The article and video do not tell the whole story. Glenn, Carpenter, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and KSC Director Bob Cabana all talked about the importance of the International Space Station and the commercial launch program. Glenn in particular said he thought the ISS is going to be the most important investment in our space program to date. Hopefully the video of the complete event shows up on NASA's web site.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Much Ado About Nothing

Local politicians have falsely claimed that the Obama administration has ceded "space leadership" (whatever that means) to China.

In the reality-based world, China has not launched any taikonauts since September 2008, and it looks like they won't be doing so any time soon.

Reports are emerging that China has chosen to postpone its next crewed space flight.

The Chinese newspaper Shanghai Daily reports:

China will launch the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft in June to dock with the orbiting Tiangong-1, a module of the country's planned space station, then launch the Shenzhou-10 next year to send astronauts into the module, the China Aerospace and Technology Corporation said yesterday.

Two or three astronauts will be sent into the 8.5-ton Tiangong-1, or "Heavenly Palace," during the Shenzhou-10 mission next year to make it a trial for China's future space station, said Zhu Yilin, a researcher on the project from the Chinese Space Technology Institute.

Space Daily columnist Morris Jones comments:

The recent announcement that China will fly its next Shenzhou spacecraft without a crew aboard is a shock. It completely goes against a tide of recent official statements and general feelings within the spaceflight community. It's also represents an abrupt change in status for China's human spaceflight program, which has been making steady strides forward with recent missions.

So much for the fear-mongering by local politicians.

UPDATE February 19, 2012 — Contradicting the above reports, says that China will launch crew this summer:

China's next human spaceflight will blast off between June and August and dock with the country's Tiangong 1 orbiting laboratory module, Chinese space officials announced Friday.

The Shenzhou 9 mission will carry three astronauts on China's fourth piloted spaceflight, according to the China Manned Space Engineering Office.

The announcement, also reported by the state-run Xinhua news agency, said the Shenzhou 9 crew will conduct a manual docking with the Tiangong 1 module. The astronauts will enter Tiangong 1's pressurized compartment to conduct space science experiments, the manned space office said.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Congress Could Render Commercial Crew Irrelevant

CBS News space reporter Bill Harwood writes that further major budget cuts to commercial crew could "push the program to the brink of irrelevance."

The Obama administration has asked Congress for $830 million in fiscal 2013 to fund on-going development of new commercial manned spacecraft to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station. But NASA only got half of what it asked for in 2012, a cut that effectively pushed the first operational launch back one year to 2017, and program officials said Tuesday any similar cuts in 2013 and beyond could push the program to the brink of irrelevance.

That's because the space station is the primary destination for private-sector spacecraft and the government currently is committed to operating the lab complex only through 2020. While NASA and its partners hope to keep the station going beyond that, funding is not assured.

If Congress significantly reduces funding for the commercial crew initiative again, if NASA only ends up with $300 million to $400 million per year for the next five years instead of the $800 million or so per year that's currently envisioned, "I would say it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to do this program," said Phil McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight development at NASA headquarters.

UPDATE February 15, 2012Florida Today reports on yesterday's commercial crew conference in Cocoa Beach.

NASA needs sustained funding at the levels President Barack Obama recommended this week for commercial vehicles to launch astronauts from Florida by 2017, officials said Tuesday.

“We think private industry could field a system in probably four or five years if they had adequate funding,” said Phil McAlister, head of commercial spaceflight programs at NASA Headquarters. “If we get less money than that, obviously it will slip that date out a little bit further.”

UPDATE February 16, 2012 — More observations on what could be a looming battle in Congress between commercial crew and the Space Launch System.

From Space News:

If Congress halves President Barack Obama’s 2013 budget request for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program like it did last year, it may not be worth pursuing the program since the vehicles might not be ready in time to support the international space station, Phil McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight development at NASA headquarters, said Feb. 14 at an industry briefing here ...

“Just one test fight is going to be a couple of hundred million dollars, probably. So that’s your whole year’s funding, right? So it doesn’t really make sense at that kind of funding level. If we felt like that’s all we could get, we would definitely re-evaluate the program,” he said.

McAlister added that he is hopeful the budget request will be supported. “The president’s budget request sort of balanced all the things NASA is trying to do. We’ve got several months ahead of us to communicate with Congress the importance of that.”

And over at Aviation Week:

Another confrontation between Congress and the administration over commercial crew development could be in the works.

“These reductions will slow the development of the SLS and Orion crew vehicle,” warned Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the ranking Republican on the Senate, Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, a NASA oversight panel. The Texas lawmaker is among those who believe NASA’s Orion/SLS could be called upon to serve as the space station’s crew transportation backup, if the commercial initiative flounders.

“The administration remains insistent on cutting SLS and Orion to pay for commercial crew, rather than accommodating both,” Hutchison said in a statement Feb. 13.

The Need for Speed

Florida Today reports that an unnamed aerospace company is looking at Titusville as one of four possible sites it might locate a rocket propulsion business.

Brevard County Manager Howard Tipton said Space Florida also is working up an economic incentive package for the company — the identity of which has not been made public for competitive reasons. Tipson said there also would be state-funded Qualified Targeted Industry cash incentives or tax breaks that are still to be determined.

Tipton said he is optimistic that the Florida, Brevard County and Titusville incentives will be competitive with the ones other communities are offering, and that the company will choose Titusville.

He said the region’s available aerospace work force, quality of life and proximity to Kennedy Space Center will be advantages in attracting the company — which local officials refer to by the code name “Project Speed” — to Titusville.

Edward Ellegood at the Florida SPACErePORT speculates on who might be behind Project Speed.

It will be a liquid propulsion operation, because solid rocket motors require wide-open spaces for explosive safety. That would eliminate ATK and their Liberty rocket program. It could be Yuzhnoye's Mayak program, which recently publicly announced their desire to launch and manufacture in the U.S. It could also be one of the companies considering the development of liquid-fuel strap-on rockets for NASA's heavy-lift Space Launch System, including either the Aerojet/Teledyne Brown team, or a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne team

Then there's SpaceX, which may be outgrowing their California-based Falcon rocket factory as they develop their new heavy-lift Falcon-Heavy rocket. And how about Orbital Sciences Corp. with their Antares rocket, or Stratolaunch with their air-launch Falcon rocket? These seem unlikely. Finally there's Sierra Nevada, but I don't think they intend employ so many people with DreamChaser. I'm guessing it is either Yuzhnoye or one of companies pursuing SLS, probably the latter.

NASA Proposed FY13 Budget Released

Click the arrow to watch NASA's proposed budget promotional video.

The Obama administration released Monday the proposed Fiscal Year 2013 NASA budget.

The details are on NASA's budget web site.

Click here for the complete NASA budget estimates.

The bottom-line total for NASA's proposed budget is $17.71 billion, a very slight decrease from the estimated FY12 final of $17.77 billion. That's a reduction of about 0.3% from FY12.

Nonetheless, porkers are lining up to decry the budget proposal as a disaster.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), who with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) is a patron of the Space Launch System, issued a press release claiming that slight reductions to the budget for SLS and the Orion crew capsule would "slow the development of the SLS and the Orion crew vehicle, making it impossible for them to provide backup capability for supporting the space station."

No one seriously believes that the SLS will be used as a space taxi to the ISS. It was billed as a deep space exploration vehicle, although Congress still hasn't given it a mission or destination. The first crewed SLS test flight isn't scheduled until 2021 — the year after the agreements expire among the nations to jointly operate the ISS. Using the SLS as a space taxi would be like using the Saturn V moon rocket for crew rotations to Skylab in the 1970s instead of the Saturn 1B.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who represents the district where the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is located, is pitching a fit over a reduction in the budget for future robotic Mars programs. According to the Pasadena Star-News, Schiff called the proposed cut "devastating" and claimed the U.S. would be ceding its lead in space exploration. He did not say to whom that leadership would be ceded or how not sending more probes to Mars ten years from now would make America a second-rate nation.

Former NASA chief technologist Bobby Braun, who left in September, sent out a Twitter message quoting a Planetary Society press release titled, "Science Pushed to the Brink: Proposed FY 2013 Budget Would Devastate Planetary Science in NASA". But if you do the math, the proposed planetary science budget for FY13 is $1.2 billion, down $301 million or about 20% from the current year's $1.5 billion. No other nation has probes going out into the solar system — Russia's recent attempt with the Phobos-Grunt failed miserably when the probe failed to achieve orbit and fell into the Pacific Ocean. And NASA's planetary science exploration is far more than just Mars probes; click here for a long list of its current missions.

Florida Today looked at how the budget proposal would affect Kennedy Space Center:

Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget would allocate slightly more than $500 million to continue transforming Kennedy Space Center into a 21st century launch complex to accommodate both the Mars mission and the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program, as well as other potential uses.

The proposal also sets up another confrontation with Congress over the commercial crew program. Last November, Congress cut the commercial crew budget from the $850 million requested by the Obama administration to only $406 million, despite warnings from NASA that the cut would extend until at least 2017 reliance upon the Russian Soyuz system for ISS access. The FY13 proposal asks for $830 million just to stay on the 2017 timeline.

But as I wrote on February 10, the White House budget proposal is largely meaningless, because the U.S. Constitution gives all budget control to Congress. The drama queens hyperventilating over their smaller slice of the pork will now turn towards the members of Congress, as they do every year, to pursue their share of taxpayer dollars. None of them will say a word about reducing the government's trillion-dollar annual deficits.

(Thanks for the Space Politics blog for references to several of yesterday's news articles.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bigelow Waits for Commercial Crew

They also serve who only stand and wait.

— John Milton, "On His Blindness"

Space Florida space reporter James Dean looks at the status of the Bigelow space station as the company waits for commercial crew to begin flights later in the decade.

Underpinning it all is the availability of more affordable transportation to get people to and from Bigelow’s planned private space stations.

And flights once optimistically projected as soon as 2014 or 2015 are now not promised before 2017, in large part because a NASA program supporting development of commercial crew taxis received less than half the money it sought last year.

“Our targets haven’t changed, but they have clearly been slowed a bit as a function of the ability of the Congress and the (Obama) administration to fund the evolution of the commercial crew capability,” Space Florida President Frank DiBello said. “It’s directly tied to that, because you can’t make the market work until you get those commercial cargo and crew capabilities flying on a regular basis.”

The Obama administration last year asked for $850 million for the commercial crew program to accelerate development so NASA could end its reliance on Russia, but Congress appropriated only $406 million.

The proposed Fiscal Year 2013 budget will be released today. According to, the administration will ask for $830 million for commercial crew, suggesting another confrontation with Congress over the pace of commercial crew funding.

The article states that Bigelow's space station would have "almost double the habitable volume of the International Space Station."

Bigelow has memoranda of understanding with seven nations to use their station — the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia, Singapore, Japan, Sweden and Dubai.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Leinbach: Commercial Crew is "Going to Happen"

July 21, 2011 — Shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach displays an orbiter Atlantis banner for STS-135 commander Chris Ferguson. Image source: NASA.

Florida Today space columnist John Kelly has a lengthy interview with Mike Leinbach, former Shuttle launch director who now consults for United Launch Alliance.

We talked this week about a wide range of space topics and the most important thing I got from it is that Leinbach, who commands an awful lot of respect from the human space flight community, is perhaps more optimistic about the potential of private companies’ efforts to deliver astronaut crews to low Earth orbit than anyone I’ve heard talk about it, including SpaceX’s Elon Musk.

“This is going to happen,” Leinbach said, repeating the mantra several times. “It’s going to happen.”

Among the highlights of the article:

  • Linebach estimates that the Atlas V will be ready for crewed flight in 2½ to 3½ years.
  • A new launch tower needs to be built at LC-41, which wasn't designed for crewed launches. "A further complication to that effort is developing an access tower that would work for three different designs of spacecraft: from private operators Boeing, Siera Nevada and Blue Origin, the three commercial crew firms who’ve opted to fly on Atlas V."
There’s a palpable excitement across the spaceport right now among the various government and commercial endeavors, Leinbach said, as people look toward what could be next. “The folks I talk to in my company are super excited about the prospects of launching humans on the rockets,” he said.

Friday, February 10, 2012

NASA FY 2013 Budget Proposal to be Released on February 13

Aviation Week reports that NASA's proposed Fiscal Year 2013 will have only a minimum reduction from last year's adopted budget.

NASA will take only an $89 million cut in its topline spending request for fiscal 2013 compared to this year’s operating plan, sources said Friday, but the $17.711 billion NASA budget proposal due out Feb. 13 will axe the joint effort with Europe to return samples from Mars, to pay for development overruns on the James Webb Space Telescope.

Human-spaceflight budgeting continues pretty much as expected, with an $830 million request for commercial crew development (CCDev) work and only a slight drop in the $2.8 billion NASA is spending this year on its heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion multipurpose crew vehicle.

The SLS would get another $1.8 billion under the new request, which must clear an election-year Congress focused on deficit reduction. The exploration-vehicle figures track with last year’s budget runout for fiscal 2013, with the Orion budget tweaked downward to keep it in pace with launch vehicle work.

Space News observes:

Due on Capitol Hill Feb. 13, the $17.7 billion NASA budget proposal represents only a slight reduction from the $17.8 billion Congress approved in November for 2012. But compared to the $18.7 billion Obama penciled in for 2013 in the five-year budget he sent Congress this time last year, it represents a 5 percent cut.

Things could have been worse. According to a source familiar with the Obama administration’s internal budget deliberations, the White House Office of Management and Budget asked the agency last fall to submit budget proposals for three scenarios: a 5 percent cut, a 10 percent cut and a 15 percent cut, relative to the outyear spending plan submitted last year.

Marcia S. Smith of adds her insight:

The administration's budget request is the first step in a lengthy process to determine how much the government can spend in FY2013. The new fiscal year starts on October 1, but few expect Congress to complete action on budgets before then. Meeting that October 1 deadline is a difficult task every year and especially challenging in an election year.

The federal budget proposal out of the White House is largely meaningless, because Article I Section 7 of the United States Constitution provides that "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives." Article I Section 9 gives Congress the power to appropriate money for spending. The President has no unilateral authority to raise revenues or to spend money.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

SpaceX Demo Flight Delayed Again

This is starting to repeat like a broken record ... From Spaceflight Now, yet another Dragon delay:

The target launch date for SpaceX's first test flight to the International Space Station is now no earlier than late April, the company announced Thursday, as the California-based firm and NASA continue extensive software testing to prove the Dragon spacecraft can safely approach the 450-ton orbiting complex.

"SpaceX is continuing to work with NASA to set a new target date for launch, expected to be late April," SpaceX said in a statement. "The primary driver for the schedule continues to be the need to conduct extensive software testing. This is a challenging mission, and we intend to take every necessary precaution in order to improve the likelihood of success."

Inside the Crew Quarters

Click the arrow to watch the video.

It's one of the most famous, yet also most mysterious, locations at Kennedy Space Center.

The Astronaut Crew Quarters in the Operations and Checkout building has been the KSC home for astronauts since Gus Grissom and John Young launched on Gemini 3 in 1965.

On Febrruary 7, NASA posted on YouTube the above video that takes you on a tour of the Crew Quarters.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

SpaceX Pursues the Reusable Rocket

Last September, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveiled plans to develop a reusable rocket.

The Popular Mechanics web site has published an interview with Musk that updates their progress.

Last fall, the company announced an experimental test vehicle called Grasshopper to prove and refine the reusability concept. "There is no question in my mind that it will work," Musk says with trademark confidence. "It’s just a question of how quickly the testing progresses. We expect to do several vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing (VTVL) flights this year and hopefully go supersonic in the fourth quarter."

NASA Commits to 28 Biomedical ISS Missions

Click the arrow to watch an Astrogenetix video about its research aboard the ISS.

Biotech firm Astrogenetix has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA that continues research at the International Space Station.

According to the Astrogenetix press release:

Astrogenetix Corporation, a subsidiary of Astrotech Corporation (NASDAQ: ASTC), has entered into a Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA, (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). This SAA commits to providing the critical resources needed to continue utilizing the International Space Station (ISS) and to further the development of important on-orbit microgravity vaccines and therapeutic drug experiments.

Astrogenetix entered into a similar SAA in 2009 resulting in 12 successful missions on the Space Shuttle that led to the discovery of potential vaccine targets for both salmonella and MRSA. This experience clearly identified that the most important part of the discovery process is the repeated frequency of access to microgravity. The new SAA reflects this important priority and NASA has committed to provide a minimum of 28 missions between 2013 and 2016.

“Astrogenetix has been working with NASA for over three years to put the necessary agreements in place that would pave the way for the continued commercial utilization of the ISS. It is very clear that NASA shares in our commitment to utilize this most unique of all laboratories and continue with the very promising progress that we have already shown to be possible,” explained Astrogenetix Chairman, Thomas B. Pickens, III.

“As of December 2011, NASA has completed the construction of the International Space Station and with signing of this landmark SAA, the ISS is now realizing its vision of becoming a fully operational National Laboratory. The Agency is very committed to the commercial success of companies like Astrogenetix and we look forward to supporting this very important work,” said Mark Urhan, Director ISS, NASA.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

SLS Mobile Launcher Passes Test

The mobile launcher as it climbs the LC-39B ramp on November 16. Image copyright © 2011

NASA reports that the mobile launcher originally designed for Ares I passed recent tests prior to its planned conversion for Space Launch System.

The 355-foot-tall mobile launcher, or ML, behaved as expected during its move to Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in November 2011, an analysis of multiple sensors showed. The top of the tower swayed less than an inch each way ...

The tests showed that computer models used in designing the massive structure were correct. The actual results varied less than 5 percent of what was predicted.

NASA Begins the Future

Commercial Crew Program (CCP) Manager Ed Mango, left, and Deputy Program Manager Brent Jett host a Program Strategy Forum Monday at Kennedy Space Center. Image source: NASA.

At a press conference attended only by a dozen people, NASA announced its next round of competition that could result in the selection of the nation's first commercial crew spacecraft.

Click here for the NASA press release.

Click here to download NASA's official solicitation documents.

The documents request candidates to submit questions by end of business on February 13. A "pre-proposal conference" will be held February 14 at the Cocoa Beach Courtyard Marriott to answer those questions. Proposals are due by 1:30 PM on March 23.

According to the press release:

NASA's announcement asks industry to propose a base period of approximately 21 months, running from award [in August 2012] through May 2014. The goals of the base period include completing the design of a fully integrated commercial crew transportation system, which consists of the spacecraft, launch vehicle, ground operations, and mission control. In addition, NASA is asking for the proposals to contain optional milestones beyond the base period leading to and culminating in a crewed orbital demonstration flight.

The solicitation document spells out details of the crewed orbital demonstration flight:

Proposal must include optional milestones beyond the base period culminating in an orbital crewed demonstration flight. NASA goals for this period include significant test activities leading to the Participant’s certification of the system for orbital crewed demonstration flight. This demonstration should meet as many of the following goals as possible:

1. Mission duration: a minimum of 3 days on-orbit
2. Orbital altitude: achieve an orbit with a minimum altitude of 200nm
3. Demonstrate controlled orbital maneuverability (for example: a simulated rendezvous)
4. Demonstrate system sizing sufficient for a minimum of four crew members (NASA does not intend to provide crew for any proposed demonstration flights and recommends flying only the minimum crew necessary for a demonstration flight) quotes NASA deputy commercial crew program manager Brent Jett as saying "he is confident the agency will be able to award at least two companies agreements."

UPDATE February 8, 2012Florida Today reports on yesterday's CCiCap press conference.

Companies seeking NASA money to help develop private space taxis must submit plans showing how they could launch their own crews on a test flight by the middle of the decade.

After evaluating those plans, NASA this summer expects to award more than one company between $300 million and $500 million over 21 months to advance their designs for commercial crew transportation systems.

“We think it’s important to understand what it takes for a partner to go from now until the time they could fly a crew to orbit,” said Ed Mango, manager of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, during a forum Tuesday at Kennedy Space Center.

The program hopes to develop systems that could return NASA astronauts to the International Space Station on U.S. vehicles “no later than 2017, and hopefully much earlier than that,” said Brent Jett, the deputy program manager.

Other reports: "NASA Outlines the Next Phase for Its Space Taxi Program"

Parabolic Arc "NASA Details Commercial Crew Strategy"

Space News "Bids Due in March for NASA’s Third Commercial Crew Round"

Monday, February 6, 2012

SpaceX Dragon Flight a "High-Stakes Event"

Florida Today reports that the SpaceX Dragon demonstration flight scheduled for early April "can be seen as a test of whether it was a good idea to retire the shuttle and have the private sector take over the job of carrying crew and cargo to the space station. As NASA unveils its budget next week, officials are likely to ask for more money to keep the commercial initiative on track."

John Logsdon, founder and former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, calls the SpaceX launch “a really high-stakes event ... symbolic of a new way of doing business in space.”

The launch was scheduled for February 7, but was postponed until early April so NASA and SpaceX could address all remaining concerns.

Perhaps coincidentally, February 7 is also scheduled to be the day for the NASA's commercial crew forum at the KSC press site. This event will begin the third round of funding that should lead to the selection of finalists.

UPDATE February 7, published this article on February 3 reporting that the main delay for Dragon is software testing.

Describing an "insane amount of testing" on the Dragon's control software, Musk said a sizable chunk of the work in the weeks ahead will wring out the capsule's fault-tolerance capabilities, which are designed to respond to system failures without jeopardizing the space station astronauts or the spacecraft.

"The critical path task is verification of the systems failure/response matrix," [SpaceX CEO Elon] Musk wrote in an email to Spaceflight Now. "Dragon is designed to be tolerant of two failures of almost anything. We need to make sure that the failover systems work correctly in all scenarios."

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Commercial Crew Forum on February 7 has posted a synopsis for Tuesday's NASA Commercial Crew Forum.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will present an updated status of the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) strategy on Tuesday, Feb 7, 2012. The Forum will be held at the Press Site at Kennedy Space Center from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The Program Forum's topics will include:

1-Information on the release of the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) Announcement for Proposals (AFP) 1.1-Context and Scope of CCiCap

2-An update on the Commercial Crew Program Strategy since the December 20, 2011 Program Forum 2.1-Initial thoughts on Certification phase

3-Short clarification question and answer session

This process should result in NASA selecting one or two Commercial Crew finalists this summer.

Atlas V: Vehicle of Choice

Florida Today space columnist John Kelly writes, "It’s beginning to look more and more like the Atlas V rocket is going to one day carry astronauts into Earth orbit."

Transitioning Atlas V from launching satellites and robotic space probes to delivering people to the International Space Station would represent a major breakthrough in cooperation among the nation’s private, military and civilian space interests.

That level of cooperation, leveraging existing, successful space assets, is going to be critical to fielding a space program that makes steady progress, stays on schedule, and comes in on budget. It was super-critical to the rapid, successful ramp up of the early human spaceflight program, built upon the transition of launch technology first employed by the military.

Kelly concludes by asking an obvious question — if the Atlas V is so reliable, then why is Congress funding a government rocket?

Continued positive movement down the path to flying humans on today’s Atlas V will only make more urgent this question: Why would the United States not build upon that success and pursue the heavy-lift model instead of yet again investing billions of dollars and more than a decade starting from scratch on the proposed government super-rocket?

If the NASA rocket development program doesn’t have measurable progress by the time the first people are flying on Atlas V or SpaceX’s Falcon 9, then the questions from taxpayers and elected officials are going to be focused keenly on why NASA is spending money on its own vehicle.

Kelly chose not to answer his question, but I will.

Congress directed NASA to build Space Launch System to direct government pork back to their districts.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cape Kennedy Corvette Club

Alan Shepard with his 1962 Corvette.

The relationship between astronauts and Corvettes goes back to the beginning of the Mercury program. To this day, some employees at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Kennedy Space Center drive Corvettes.

Members of the Cape Kennedy Corvette Club will be the guest speakers Monday night at the monthly meeting of the Air Force Space & Missile Museum docents. Although this is a meeting for the docents, the public is welcome to attend the lecture.

The meeting is at the museum's History Center and begins at 7:00 PM with administrative business. The lecture begins about 7:30 PM.

To get to the History Center ... From SR-528 "Beachline" take the Terminal A exit at Port Canaveral to go north on SR-401. After you enter Cape Canaveral Air Force Station property — but before the security gate — you'll see a traffic light at Poseidon with a red and white Navaho missile on the corner. Turn right onto Poseidon and then quickly turn left onto Space Port Way.

You'll see signs for Space Florida and the SpaceX Launch Control Center. The History Center is behind SpaceX.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Updating the Calendar

Florida Today reports new launch and landing dates for upcoming missions.

The first week of April is considered a "realistic target" for the launch of the SpaceX Dragon to the International Space Station.

The launch of the next Soyuz craft to the ISS is now planned for May 15, six weeks later than originally scheduled. The designated craft was rendered unusable after the descent module ruptured during testing.

The three Expedition 30 crew members who were scheduled to return to Kazakhstan in late March will now land April 30.

Caramel Space Chimp Swirl

Click the arrow to watch the video.

Political comedian Stephen Colbert has recorded a promotional video for NASA and the International Space Station.

Among other things, he roots for the discovery of an astronaut ice cream flavor called Caramel Space Chimp Swirl ...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Remembering STS-107

Click the arrow to watch the NASA tribute video, "Sixteen Minutes from Home."

The loss of Columbia nine years ago set in motion a sequence of events that still impact humanity's future today.

Seven more astronauts lost their lives. Once again, we were reminded of the consequences of hubris.

The Challenger investigation report limited itself to the physical cause of the accident and the NASA culture that allowed it to happen.

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board pulled no punches. Their report was a scathing indictment not only of the decision-making process that led to the accident, but also of NASA management and a failure of political leadership to properly fund U.S. human space flight.

The summary of Chapter 1 stated:

Although an engineering marvel that enables a wide-variety of on-orbit operations, including the assembly of the International Space Station, the Shuttle has few of the mission capabilities that NASA originally promised. It cannot be launched on demand, does not recoup its costs, no longer carries national security payloads, and is not cost-effective enough, not allowed by law, to carry commercial satellites. Despite efforts to improve its safety, the Shuttle remains a complex and risky system that remains central to U.S. ambitions in space. Columbia's failure to return home is a harsh reminder that the Space Shuttle is a developmental vehicle that operates not in routine flight but in the realm of dangerous exploration.

The Board also showed a distinct lack of faith in NASA, citing a cultural arrogance resistant to change or external advice. The report stated on Page 102:

External criticism and doubt, rather than spurring NASA to change for the better, instead reinforced the will to "impose the party line vision on the environment, not to reconsider it," according to one authority on organizational behavior. This in turn led to "flawed decision making, self deception, introversion and a diminished curiosity about the world outside the perfect place." The NASA human space flight culture the Board found during its investigation manifested many of these characteristics, in particular a self-confidence about NASA possessing unique knowledge about how to safely launch people into space.

The report led the Bush administration in January 2004 to announce the Shuttle would be retired once the International Space Station was completed. In a January 14, 2004 speech known as the Vision for Space Exploration, Bush proposed a new launch system that came to be known as Constellation. It consisted of two vehicles — the Ares I to take crew to the ISS, and the Ares V for deep-space exploration.

Five years later, Constellation was years behind schedule and billions over budget. An August 2009 Government Accountability Office audit concluded that Constellation "lacked a sound business case." Later that year, the U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee (commonly known as the Augustine Committee) concluded that Ares I wouldn't be ready until 2017 — two years after the ISS would be decommissioned to pay for Constellation under the Bush plan, meaning Ares I had nowhere to go. The Ares V wouldn't be ready until 2028, if ever.

Constellation was only for launching crew. In November 2005, NASA announced a new Commercial Crew/Cargo Project Office "to spur private industry to provide cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit and the international space station in support of the Vision for Space Exploration."

Part of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, the office is located at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston. NASA named Alan J. Lindenmoyer project manager. The office will manage orbital transportation capability demonstration projects that may lead to the procurement of commercial cargo and crew transportation services to resupply the space station.

The commercial sector will soon get an opportunity to provide these services. In testimony before a Congressional committee last week, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said, "Later this month NASA will issue a draft solicitation requesting commercial service demonstrations for space station crew and cargo delivery and return. Where commercial providers have demonstrated the ability to meet NASA's needs and safety requirements, commercial services will be purchased instead of using government assets and operations."

More than six years after this announcement, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences are scheduled to launch in 2012 the first commercial cargo delivery flights to the ISS.

Later this decade, commercial crew flights will begin, flown by at least one of four companies competing for the NASA contract.

A private space station is being built by Bigelow Aerospace in partnership with Boeing, one of the four commercial crew candidates.

Other companies such as XCOR and Stratolaunch are developing Low Earth Orbit delivery vehicles independently of NASA's commercial office.

And Constellation has been cancelled.

What if the Columbia accident had never happened?

What if every flight since STS-107 had ended safely?

Would we still be flying the Space Shuttle today? Probably.

There would have been no Vision for Space Exploration, meaning no solicitation for a commercial launch industry to ferry cargo and crew to the ISS.

Access to space would still be a government monopoly.

The seven lives lost on STS-107 can never be replaced. Their loss had consequences no one could have foreseen nine years ago on February 1, 2003.

Click here to visit NASA's STS-107 crew memorial page.

Previous: "A Complex and Risky System" "Columbia’s Legacy Reminds NASA to Avoid Being Distracted from Future Mission" "Nine Years of Space Policy Disaster"

Spaceflight Now "From Tragedy to the Gap: How America Got There"