Obama wants to eliminate Constellation. This eliminates Ares I, Ares V, Orion and Altair. Shuttle ends this year. That leaves us with nada for a manned launcher.
Granted - Ares I has problems, but there has been a test flight and it was successful.
Obama says we should have NASA do technology development and space science and regulate. He also says we should depend on commercial ventures to supply the space station. I'm all for that. But it's not developed yet. It's reinventing the wheel in most every case (chemical rockets are chemical rockets after all). The payloads they propose to carry are small in comparison to NASA capability. None are man-rated. And NASA will still regulate them. How is this better?
Just to put things in perspective payload-wise:
Some comparisons of max stated payloads:
LEO=Low Earth Orbit
GEO=Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit
TLI=Trans-Lunar Injection (to the Moon)
LCLV=Lunar Crew Launch Vehicle
Falcon 9 LEO - 11 tons, GEO - 5 tons (What we are banking on with NASA cut)
Falcon 9 Heavy LEO - 32.64 tons, GEO - 16.55 tons (Heavy version - not yet built)
Saturn V LEO - 131 tons, TLI - 50 tons (1960s technology that got us to the Moon)
Ares V LEO - 205 tons, TLI - 78.5 tons (Was going to be new heavy lifter - canceled)
Ares I LEO - 27.5 tons (Just had its first successful test flight - canceled)
Space Shuttle LEO - 26.8 tons, GEO - 4.2 tons (Being retired this year. Six more flights)
Jupiter 241H-LCLV LEO - 123 tons (Apparently nice solution based on existing shuttle technology - denied)
Weight of first space station module, Zarya - 21 tons
So with the commercial solution sitting in the wings we couldn't have even gotten the first station module up.
And this is good?
As to commercial.... what do you think Lockheed Martin and Boeing are? Commercial interest regulated by government. What is changing?
Nothing. We just won't have a manned spaceflight program anymore. What happens next? Without direction or popular mandate NASA dies. Then we're stuck with no NASA, no science, no space other than what the commercial ventures (which won't be funded or have incentive beyond their next government paycheck).
What do we need? Keep Constellation. Shake up NASA culture and make improvements there. Finish what we started and at the same time deregulate the commercial space start-ups as much as possible. Make it possible for commercial space to flourish in all the roles it can handle but make sure that we don't lose what we already have.
|Originally published at Twixel.|