Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Lunar Base - "Augustine Report" - Should you worry?

Just received this week's issue of The Space Review, by Jeff Foust.

I think you should read.
Doesn't give me a warm fuzzy feeling.
More like, "Here we go again, don't talk about putting humans on the Moon."
- LRK -

Bob Park gets his wish: "It's time for another Augustine Report"
Last week the White House announced plans for a new review of NASA's human spaceflight program led by Norm Augustine, who chaired another space policy review nearly 20 years ago. Michael Huang expresses concern that the choice of Augustine as panel chair may lead to conclusions that could put the overall program in jeopardy.


During my time at NASA Ames Research Center there were several changes in NASA Administrators and several reorganizations.
For a long time, no talking about going to the Moon with humans, then it became acceptable, and probable.
I feel for those still working at the various NASA Centers and Field Facilities, wondering what is coming next.

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
RSS link:
--- Will the new report look like the old one? Should you worry about going to the Moon?
- LRK -
Principal Recommendations of the Augustine Commission, 1990
[Editorial Headnote: From the Report of the Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 1990), pp. 47-48. Page numbers of original document in brackets.]

[47] Principal Recommendations

This report offers specific recommendations pertaining to civil space goals and program content as well as suggestions relating to internal NASA management. These are summarized below in four primary groupings. In order to implement fully these recommendations and suggestions, the support of both the Executive Branch and Legislative Branch will be needed, and of NASA itself.

Principal Recommendations Concerning Space Goals

It is recommended that the United States' future civil space program consist of a balanced set of five principal elements:

* a science program, which enjoys highest priority within the civil
space program, and is maintained at or above the current fraction
of the NASA budget (Recommendations 1 and 2);
* a Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE) focusing on environmental
measurements (Recommendation 3);
* a Mission from Planet Earth (MFPE), with the long-term goal of
human exploration of Mars, preceded by a modified Space Station
which emphasizes life-sciences, an exploration base on the moon,
and robotic precursors to Mars (Recommendations 4, 5, 6, and 7);
* a significantly expanded technology development activity, closely
coupled to space mission objectives, with particular attention
devoted to engines + a robust space transportation system
(Recommendation 9).

Principal Recommendations Concerning Programs

With regard to program content, it is recommended that:

* the strategic plan for science currently under consideration be
implemented (Recommendation 2);
* a revitalized technology plan be prepared with strong input from
the mission offices, and that it be funded (Recommendation 8);
* Space Shuttle missions be phased over to a new unmanned
(heavy-lift) launch vehicle except for mission where human
involvement is essential or other critical national needs dictate
(Recommendation 9);
* Space Station Freedom be revamped to emphasize life-sciences and
human space operations, and include microgravity research as
appropriate. It should be reconfigured to reduce cost and
complexity; and the current 90-day time limit on redesign should
be extended if a thorough reassessment is not possible in that
period (Recommendation 6);
* a personnel module be provided, as planned, for emergency return
from Space Station Freedom, and that initial provisions be made
for two-way missions in the event of unavailability of the Space
Shuttle (Recommendation 11).

Principal Recommendations Concerning Affordability

It is recommended that the NASA program be structured in scope so as not to exceed a funding profile containing approximately 10 percent real growth per year throughout the remainder of the decade and then remaining at that level, including but not limited to the following actions:

* redesign and reschedule the Space Station Freedom to reduce cost
and complexity (Recommendation 6);
* defer or eliminate the planned purchase of another orbiter
(Recommendation 10);
* place the Mission from Planet Earth on a "go-as-you-pay" basis,
i.e., tailoring the schedule to match the availability of funds
(Recommendation 5).

Principal Recommendations Concerning Management

With regard to management of the civil space program, it is recommended that:

* an Executive Committee of the Space Council be established which
includes the Administrator of NASA (Recommendation 12);
* major reforms be made in the civil service regulations as they
apply to specialty skills; or, if that is not possible, exemptions
be granted to NASA for at least 10 percent of its employees to
operate under a tailored personnel system; or, as a final [48]
alternative, that NASA begin selectively converting at least some
of its centers into university-affiliated Federally Funded
Research and Development Centers (Recommendations 14 and 15);
* NASA management review the mission of each center to consolidate
and refocus centers of excellence in currently relevant fields
with minimum overlap among centers (Recommendation 13).

It is considered by the Committee that the internal organization of any institution should be the province of, and at the discretion of, those bearing ultimate responsibility for the performance of that institution. . . .

* That the current headquarters structure be revamped,
disestablishing the positions of certain existing Associate
Administrators . . .
* an exceptionally well-qualified independent cost analysis group be
attached to headquarters with ultimate responsibility for all
top-level cost estimating including cost estimates provided
outside of NASA;
* a systems concept and analysis group reporting to the
Administrator of NASA be established as a Federally Funded
Research and Development Center;
* multi-center projects be avoided wherever possible, but when this
is not practical, a strong and independent project office
reporting to headquarters be established near the center having
the principle share of the work for that project; and that this
project office have a systems engineering staff and full budget
authority (ideally industrial funding--i.e., funding allocations
related specifically to end-goals).

In summary, we recommend:

* 1) Establishing the science program as the highest priority
element of the civil space program, to be maintained at or above
the current fraction of the budget.
* 2) Obtaining exclusions for a portion of NASA's employees from
existing civil service rules or, failing that, beginning a gradual
conversion of selected centers to Federally Funded Research and
Development Centers affiliated with universities, using as a model
the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
* 3) Redesigning the Space Station Freedom to lessen complexity and
reduce cost, taking whatever time may be required to do this
thoroughly and innovatively.
* 4) Pursuing a Mission from Planet Earth as a complement to the
Mission to Planet Earth, with the former having Mars as its very
long-term goal--but relieved of schedule pressures and progressing
according to the availability of funding.
* 5) Reducing our dependence on the Space Shuttle by phasing over to
a new unmanned heavy lift launch vehicle for all but missions
requiring human presence.

The Committee would be pleased to meet again in perhaps six months should the NASA Administrator so desire, in order to assist on the implementation process. In the meantime, NASA may wish to seek the assistance of its regular outside advisory group, the NASA Advisory Council, to provide independent and ongoing advice for implementing these findings.

Each of the recommendations herein is supported unanimously by the members of the Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program.

/For further information, please contact /


Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program

Washington, D.C.

December 17, 1990

TO: The Administrator of NASA

Enclosed, in accordance with the schedule established 120 days ago, is the final report of the Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program. The Committee members look forward to reporting our findings with you to the Vice President.

The Committee's twelve members represent a broad diversity of backgrounds, comprising in the aggregate several hundred years experience in space activities but also including one member with no specific prior experience in space matters. The Committee includes individuals with backgrounds in industry, academia, the military, and a former NASA administrator; its perspectives include that of scientists, former astronauts, managers, engineers, private citizens, and former members of Congress. The Committee is unanimous in its findings.

The members are grateful to the more than 300 individuals who appeared before the Committee or its working groups as well as to the several hundred persons who wrote provocative, thoughtful letters -- often filling many pages. The Committee also had the opportunity to read or be briefed on over a dozen earlier studies of specific aspects of the civil space program.

The Committee's hearings were held in public session and were carried over satellite television for those interested. The Committee chose to perform its own inquiry and hence had no research staff but was ably supported by a small but excellent administrative staff. The cooperation and openness of the NASA employees with whom we met was superb, including those involved with our visits to all the NASA centers and headquarters.

We conclude that the civil space program is neither as troubled as some would suggest nor nearly as strong as will be needed, given the magnitude of the challenges the program must undertake in the future.

Norman R. Augustine
Laurel L. Wilkening
Pete Aldridge
Don Fuqua
Joseph P. Allen
Robert T. Herres
D. James Baker
David T. Kearns
Edward P. Boland
Louis J. Lanzerotti
Daniel J. Fink
Tom Paine

Executive Summary

The United States' civil space program was rather hurriedly formulated some three decades ago on the heels of the successful launch of the Soviet Sputnik. A dozen humans have been placed on the Moon and safely returned to Earth, seven of the other eight planets have been viewed at close range, including the soft landing of two robot spacecraft on Mars, and a variety of significant astronomical and other scientific observations have been accomplished. Closer to Earth, a network of communications satellites has been established, weather and ocean conditions are now monitored and reported as they occur, and the Earth's surface is observed from space to study natural resources and detect sources of pollution.

Problems and Perspectives.

In spite of these virtually unparalleled achievements, the civil space program and its principal agent, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, are today the subject of considerable criticism. The source of this criticism ranges from concern over technical capability to the complexity of major space projects; from the ability to estimate and control costs to the growth of bureaucracy; and from a perceived lack of an overall space plan to an alleged institutional resistance to new ideas and change. The failure of the Challenger, the recent hydrogen leaks on several Space Shuttle orbiters, the spherical aberration problem encountered with the Hubble Space Telescope, and various launch processing errors such as a work platform left in an engine compartment and discovered during launch preparations, have all heightened this dissatisfaction.

Some of the concern is, in the view of the Committee, deserved and occasionally even self-inflicted. For example, the practice of separately reporting the cost of space missions according to accounting categories (which for bookkeeping purposes allocates launch services to a distinct account) results in confusion as to what is the actual cost of a mission. Yet, in spite of recognized current problems, care must also be taken not to impose potentially disruptive remedies on today's NASA to correct problems that existed in an earlier NASA. The much publicized spherical aberration problem of the Hubble Space Telescope encountered this past year is in fact a consequence of an assembly error left undiscovered in tests conducted a decade ago -- in 1980. The decision to launch the Challenger in cold weather, when the seals between rocket motor segments would be most suspect, took place five years ago and has spurred NASA to many management changes. Since the Challenger accident, NASA has increased the emphasis on safety, and has borne the burden of delaying launches when reasonable questions arose over the readiness to launch safely. On the other hand, processing incidents during launch preparation continue to occur in NASA operations, and to be the cause of justifiable concern.

Because of the intense interest in -- and scrutiny of -- America's commendably open and visible civil space program, it is sometimes easy to overlook the fact that technical problems such as hydrogen leaks, faulty seals and erroneous assembly procedures are not unique to today's space activities, or even to NASA. Although problems of any sort are most emphatically not to be condoned, when comparing today's space program with the successes of the past, it must also be recalled that America's first attempt to launch an Earth satellite using the Vanguard rocket ended in failure. By the end of 1959, 37 satellite launches had been attempted: less than one-third attained orbit. Ten of the first eleven launches of unmanned probes to the Moon to obtain precursor data in support of the Apollo mission failed. Three astronauts were lost in a fire aboard the Apollo capsule during ground testing. A cryogenic storage tank exploded during the mission of Apollo 13 en route to the Moon, seriously damaging the spacecraft. During the few months surrounding the Challenger accident, a Delta, an Atlas-Centaur, two Titan 34-D's, a French Ariane-2 and a Soviet Proton were all lost. Space missions, whether manned or unmanned, are fundamentally difficult and demanding undertakings that depend upon some of the world's most advanced technology. The Saturn V rocket required the integration of some six million components manufactured by thousands of separate contractors. Voyager 2 arrived at Neptune a mere one second behind its final updated schedule after a 12-year, 4.4 billion mile flight, approaching within 3,000 miles of the planet's surface. The information to be gathered by the Earth Observing System could approach 10 trillion bits of information -- about one Library of Congress -- per day. The matter of human frailty is perhaps of even greater import: in the case of the Apollo program, some 400,000 people at some 20,000 locations were involved in its design, test and operation.

How shall we pay the bills for all of this? First, as already noted, we assume growth in civil space funding for the next decade. We also recommend a redesign of the Space Station, in part, to reduce cost. We would propose diverting funds from the planned additional Space Shuttle orbiter (but not from support hardware needed to assure the Space Shuttle's continued operational viability) to enable construction of the new unmanned heavy lift launch vehicle. We believe that a new unmanned launch vehicle itself can produce substantial savings -- but not in the near term and in the longer term only if we change our processing philosophy and manpower. We recommend configuring the long term manned exploration program, which focuses on Mars but has critical stepping stones along the way in the form of the Space Station and a lunar base, to a schedule that adapts to the availability of funding. And we propose a number of management enhancements that should produce efficiencies and modest attendant cost savings. The most important *ofthis category of improvement, however, is not fully within NASA's wherewithal to implement -- namely, the provision of predictable and stable funding. This will require the support of other parts of the Administration and the Congress. The essential role of this support cannot be overemphasized *ifthe U.S. is to have a successful civil space program.

Do you live in Minnesota?
- LRK -
Space Politics.Beltway…

That long-awaited Constellation review
May 6, 2009 at 4:37 am ·

It appears that a review of NASA’s Constellation program that had been anticipated by many for weeks, if not months, will finally be moving forward. The Orlando Sentinel reported yesterday afternoon that the White house will officially order that review later this week, perhaps when the detailed NASA budget request for FY2010 is released on Thursday. The review could start later this month and be done in 60 to 90 days. According to Florida Today, the likely chair of the review panel will be Norm Augustine, former chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin (and neither Lori Garver nor Pete Worden, contrary to previous reports). The White House declined to comment on the upcoming review, telling Florida Today only that “the administration believes it is extremely important to ensure that the nation is on a vigorous and sustainable path to achieving its boldest aspirations in space.”

Such a review would not seem to bode well for the Ares 1 in particular, but at least one supporter remained confident about its prospects despite the impending review. “The Ares 1 and 5 vehicles have been through several studies and reviews and I am confident that any additional study will show that the Ares program is our best option to take our astronauts safely to the space station and beyond,” Congressman Parker Griffith (D-AL) told the Huntsville Times.

[A lot of comments if you care to read. - LRK -]




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