Below, with links, is the schedule for this past Wednesday’s meeting of the Augutine Commission. As noted in the edited title (for those who have checked in previously), this was a fascinating display of strong personalities and brain power being applied to a profoundly difficult problem. When your problem is not enough money, there are no good solutions. Nevertheless, the members have given the problem of options for human space flight a lot of thought and work.
The challenge was to match probable budget, vehicles and destinations versus the existing NASA budget for FY 2010 (down by $3Billion from FY 2009).
Option 2: ISS to 2015; STS to 2011; Ares I / Ares V; going to the moon; within FY2010 guidance
Assessment: Well, they scored this option, but it’s really just for reference
Option 3b: ISS to 2020; STS to 2011; Ares I / Ares V; going to the Moon; within FY2010 guidance
Assessment: They scored this option for reference only – no chance to do any Exploration with this option
Option 3b$: ISS to 2020; STS to 2011; Ares I / Ares V; going to the Moon; outside of FY2010 guidance
Assessment: Moon is closer, they scored it quite well, but there is no budget assessment yet (budget will probably be considerable above guidance)
Option 5: ISS to 2020; STS to 2015; NSC or DIRECT; going to the Moon; outside of FY2010 guidance (no costings yet)
Assessment: Scored very well – *especially* due to the Shuttle program being extended
Option 6$: ISS to 2020; STS to 2011; Ares V Light; Deep Space; outside of FY2010 guidance (3 billion per year above guidance)
Assessment: Scored well, but lower than Option 7$ and 7S$
Option 7$: ISS to 2020; STS to 2011; Hydrocarbon booster; Deep Space; outside of FY2010 guidance (3 billion per year above guidance)
Assessment: Scored better than 6$, less than 5$, probably lower than 7S$
Option 7S$: ISS to 2020; STS to 2011; NSC or DIRECT; Deep Space; outside of FY2010 guidance (3 billion per year above guidance)
Assessment: Scored better than 6$ and 7$, but less or in-line with 5
A note on acronyms: STS – Space Transportation System (The Space Shuttle); NSC – Not Shuttle-C (a side mount shuttle derived heavy lift vehicle); DIRECT (an architecture for space exploration involving a Jupiter rocket (shuttle derived launch vehicle) proposed by a group of NASA and space industry engineers); HSF (Human Space Flight).
The conclusions drawn by observers of the Wednesday session, which ran two and a half hours beyond schedule (an indication of the profoundly difficult nature of the problems addressed), were that extending the Space Shuttle missions tp 2012 or even as far as 2015, along with an obvious commitment to fund the ISS (International Space Station) through 2020, would consume almost all of NASA’s HSF budget (at FY 2010 levels) for the next decade. The result would be no human space flight program until the early 2020′s, no possibility of a Moon mission until after 2028, and no Mars effort for several decades after that.
As can be seen from the seven options listed (mixing and matching architectures, vehicles and destinations), new money and a renewed commitment to American leadership in space will have to be found.
Stay tuned, as the work is not yet done, and there will likely be another “final” public meeting on 24 August 2009, just a week before the final report is due.
Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee
Wednesday, August 12, 2009, 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm, local time
Ronald Reagan Building
1:00pm – 5:00pm Committee Deliberations.
Discussion of Final Options Dr. Ed Crawley
Affordability Analysis Dr. Sally Ride
Evaluation Measures and Critria Dr. Wanda Austin
Preliminary Options Scoring Dr. Ed Crawley
Discussion of Final Report
Discussion of Close-out Activities