Where we engage in further tea leave fortune telling.
Following Dr. Crawley’s presentation on 12 August 2009 of the Seven Deadly Sins (uhh, seven options that no one can execute under the current budget), Dr. Sally Ride set forth the financial analysis. Dr. Ride began with a review of the ever shrinking NASA budget. The slide below on the left starts with the original ESAS (Exploration Systems Architecture Study) budget from 2005 (black). Followed by the Bush administration FY 2009 budget (red). Lower still is the FY 2010 budget with the ISS (international Space Station) de-orbit in 2016 (orange). Last is the FY 2010 budget with the ISS extended to 2020 (green).
The right hand sand chart shows the components of the Constellation (CxP) program, which is the Program of Record (POR). The dashed black line running left to right between $8 Billion and $10 Billion is the FY 2010 budget, allowing for inflation. It shows the five (5) year gap between the retirement of the Space Shuttle and the scheduled arrival of the Orion crew capsule and the Ares I launcher. Ares I, intended to take humans to LEO and the Space Station, arrives after the Space Station is splashed in the Pacific. The diagram also shows that the unconstrained budget exceeds twice NASA’s projected budget in 2019.
Clearly the Constellation program as currently organized is untenable.
Dr. Ride next discussed the POR under FY 2010 and a less constrained budget.
Under the current proposed FY 2010 budget below on the left, Orion and Ares I arrive in December of 2018, seven (7) years after Shuttle retirement and three (3) years after the ISS is splashed. In addition, the US finally acquires the Ares V heavy lift vehicle in 2028, eight (8) years after President Bush’s goal of returning to the Moon in 2020.
Under a less constrained budget on the right, which adds an additional $3.5 Billion by 2013, Orion and Ares I arrive nearly a year after ISS is splashed, and the Ares V heavy lift arrives in 2025.
As can be seen on the right hand slide, Orion, Ares I, Ares V and Ground Operations consume the entire current FY 2010 budget, leaving no room for anything else, unless the budget is expanded.
At this point, it was clear that the Ares I was, in fact, a rocket with no mission. Without the ISS as a destination, there was no reason to send humans to LEO.
Further, our International Partners, Europe (ESA – European Space Agency), Russia, Japan and others have made it clear they would be disinclined to participate in future programs with the US if the ISS was splashed in 2016, just as useful research was getting underway. “Disinclined to Participate” is the diplomatic way of phrasing their reaction. Therefore, it seems that we will extend the ISS mission to 2020. By then, many components will have been in space for more than 20 years, and will have reached the end of their lifetime. The Zarya (Functional Cargo Block) was the first component launched in 1998, and controls the attitude of the ISS. The Unity module was launched in 1998 and mated with Zarya. The Zvezda life support module, was launched in 2000. These three modules constitute the core of the ISS. If any of these fail, the ISS is lost.
Below on the left is the FY 2010 budget, focused on utilizing the ISS until 2020. It assumes that the Ares I is abandoned, commercial resources such as the Delta IV and / or the Atlas V be developed to take human crews to the ISS, and that the Ares V continue development. Commercial crew flights could begin in 2016, and the Ares V heavy lift vehicle would become available in 2028.
On the right is a less constrained budget (additional $3.5 Billion by 12013 or so). Commercial crew is limited by man rating and cannot benefit from additional funds. However, work could begin on the Altair lunar lander in 2018, Ares V and Orion would arrive in 2023, and Human Lunar Return (HLR) would be possible by 2030.
One concern about human space flight has always been the question of the Moon as a financial cul-de-sac on the way to expanding human civilization into the Solar System. To address this issue, a number of studies have been conducted concerning Deep Space options. The most prominent is Wes Huntress‘ 2004 paper “The Next Steps in Exploring Deep Space” for the IAA (International Academy of Astronautics.
Dr. Ride continued her presentation with the Deep Space option budgets shown below. The left hand budget shows a dual Ares V approach, and the right hand budget shows the Shuttle Derived Launch Vehicle (SDLV). The comparison of occurrence of Deep Space destinations below clearly shows the advantage of the Shuttle Derived Launch Vehicle, whether it is the Sidemount Shuttle Derived Vehicle, or the in-line Direct Architecture.
|Event||Dual Ares V||Shuttle Derived Launch Vehicle|
|Lunar Flyby||June 2025||Dec 2023|
|NEO Mission||June 2030||Jan 2027|
|Mars Flyby||June 2034||Jan 2029|
|HLR||June 2035||Jan 2030|
Of note here is that during previous comparisons of side-mount versus in-line configurations, the in-line configurations scored better. For example see the side-mount Shuttle-C, explored by NASA between 1984 and 1995, versus the in-line NLS (National Launch System) from the 1991 study done by Lockheed Missiles and Space, McDonnell Douglas, and TRW,
Finally, we look at Dr. Ride’s last two analyses.
The first is the familiar Deep Space option (lower left), where the heavy launch function is supplied by a new LOX/RP1 engine in the RD-180 class (RP1 = kerosene based rocket fuel). Currently, the RD-180 engine is manufactured in Russia and used by the Atlas V program. For national security purposes, a LOX/RP1 (kerolox) engine to be used for manned spacecraft would need to to be developed in the United States.
Although the Commercial Booster option arrives later on the scene, it may be as much as six months earlier in supporting the HLR (Human Lunar Return) mission than the Shuttle Derived Launch Vehicle. Several questions arise. First, it should be noted that the Commercial Booster sand chart has no Ground Ops band. Since this is from $1.5 to $ 2.0 Billion per year in other slides, this would be sufficient to push back the Commercial Booster development and deployment curve by a year or more. Second, it is documented by the Aerospace Corp, the Jupiter shuttle derived launch vehicle proposed by the Direct Team could be operational by 2014. This would mean that Jupiter would depend on the arrival of the Orion space capsule as the determining factor for when Jupitor could launch human crew.
Lastly, we examine the Lunar Global option using the dual launch Ares V. This is the money pit discussed by Robert Farquhar in the March/ April 2008 edition of the Planetary Report. His article was entitled “On the Road to Mars: Three Stepping-Stones and a Stumbling Block”. In it he argues that the cost of a Moon base could consume NASA’s budget for the next five decades. As can be seen on the sand chart on the right, the dual Ares Lunar Global exploration program has a large spike in the 2017 – 2020 time frame, and the earliest HLR is “2030s”. The note says that “Re-planning and content push-out required to fit under the budget wedge”.
It is clear to this reviewer that the Lunar Global option is the money pit Robert Farquhar suggests.
Conclusion: In the best of rational worlds, the Auguatine Commission will propose to the Obama Administration the seven options discussed thus far. And the Whitehouse, with enthusiastic congressional support, will ask NASA to pursue fundamental research into cosmic radiation threats to long term human occupancy of space, the development of propellant depots to enable highly capable missions based on modest heavy lift capable rockets, and that NASA proceed with the Deep Space program using the Direct architecture.
Come the end of August and the filing of the commission report, we shall have our first hint of where it will actually come down.