The Augustine Commission – Letter to My Sister

My sister, who is following the blog entries about the Augustine Commission here on NSS Phoenix, wrote me and asked the following:

“OK OK since this is the other worthy human endeavor, clearly we must write our congress persons. Is it sufficient to simply tell them to LISTEN to the AUGUSTINE COMMISSION!!!!! ?”

My reply was that yes, we should tell our members of Congress to listen to the Augustine Commission. In addition, I told her that I would also advocate the exploration architecture put forward by the Direct team, which has the advantage of providing a real exploration program within the existing NASA budget. My email to her was the following:

The message is that the Augustine Commission identified the incompatibility of the Goals and the Budget.

Griffin’s Constellation program wanted the smallest crew launch vehicle (Ares I) and the largest cargo vehicle (Ares V).

Griffin wanted to be known as the biggest, baddest rocket builder ever.

Unfortunately, the Ares I is underpowered and technically challenged (see my Kansas comments in “Bad Day At Black Rock” on the NSS Phoenix blog). And the Ares V is so big that it cannot be used economically.

Neither Ares rocket is a “shuttle derived vehicle”. Each component may look like a shuttle component, but each component is brand new and needs to be rated on its own merit, which will require time and money that NASA does not have.

The Direct team recognizes both the technological and the political imperatives, and advocates a single shuttle derived vehicle that can send crew and cargo to the ISS, as well as go to Solar System destinations with the implementation of a Centaur derived upper stage and propellant depots.

When commercial crew launch and propellant launch capabilities arrive, Direct wants NASA to focus on expanding human civilization into the Solar System.

NASA has the talent and ability to do the exploration mission. We do not want to handicap NASA with the mundane operational tasks that commercial enterprises are so good at doing.

That is the message of “Bad Day At Black Rock”.


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