Epic Fail Obama’s Commercial Crew Program
The policy Part 1
President Tours SpaceX Facility
President Barack Obama tours the commercial rocket processing facility of Space Exploration Technologies, known as SpaceX, along with Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Thursday, April 15, 2010. Obama also visited the NASA Kennedy Space Center to deliver remarks on the bold new course the administration is charting to maintain U.S. leadership in human space flight.
While we don’t have a transcript of the conversation that took place that day. We do know Elon Musk an avid Obama Policy supporter via his SpaceX Pac. We do know in written testomony submitted before congress Mr Musk’s thinking. The service his firm, SpaceX would provide NASA.
As a result of the commonality between the cargo and crew versions of Dragon, many of the critical components of the Dragon crew transportation system are already operational and flight-proven. Other systems for crew accommodation require some development, but the only major development is for the launch abort system. This commonality enables SpaceX to plan for crew demonstration flights in 2014, with a rapid transition to operational capability.
Since the launch of Obama’s Commercial Crew, its undergone many revisions just as many other programs within NASA. The Orion capsule was sold as a backup to Commercial crew.
Laying out his plans, President Obama committed NASA to a series of development milestones he said would lead to new spacecraft for astronauts to ride to the International Space Station, a modified Orion capsule developed as an emergency return spacecraft,
Noting the success of the agency’s development of the Orion crew capsule, Obama called on NASA to develop a version of that spacecraft so it can be launched without a crew to the International Space Station. It will be based there as an emergency craft for astronauts living on the orbiting laboratory.
Earth orbit (LEO) and the International Space Station (ISS). As NASA retired the Space Shuttle, the ability of private industry to take on the task of providing routine access to space was of vital importance.
Under current US law, Orion is continues its role as a backup to Commercial Crew. But this is only on paper! A paper law with no teeth in it, and sadly no congressional oversight to make sure its followed. The factual Orion program design was changed. Orion design was changed from a LEO (Low Earth Orbit) design to a BEO (Beyond earth orbit) ONLY design. The Orion of today can’t dock with the ISS as a backup to commercial crew. That’s only one of many problems with this program.
Sadly, Commercial crew was designed to fail from the beginning. Your other choice would be to buy into the thinking, and believe the SpaceX to plan for crew demonstration flights in 2014, with a rapid transition to operational capability.
The GAO layed it all out. http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/587021.pdf
The USA would purchase seats from Russia on Soyuz after the Space shuttle retirement.
As a result, NASA could become dependent on one contractor for developing and providing launch services to the space station.
The overall schedule for the Commercial Crew Program is aggressive and leaves little room for any potential delays. NASA’s planned approach relies on contractors to be in a position to provide transportation services for crew beginning in 2016. NASA has contracted for seats on the Russian Soyuz vehicle for the crew services it requires through early 2016. Under its current acquisition approach, NASA plans to procure seats for crew transportation to the International Space Station from the private sector through 2020, when the space station is expected to be retired. If the schedule slips too far beyond 2016 and NASA has not effectively developed a contingency plan, NASA risks spending billions on a commercial crew program that could only be needed to support the space station for the few years remaining until its current planned end of operations in 2020.
In addition, if NASA’s efforts at stimulating a U.S. commercial space transportation industry do not progress as planned, the U.S. capability gap will lengthen and will result in the need for a contingency approach of relying on the Russian Soyuz vehicle to transport crew to the space station. The decision to purchase seats on the Soyuz vehicle will likely be required, however, long before NASA has confidence that its commercial efforts will or will not succeed, as the lead time for acquiring additional Soyuz seats is 3 years. Specifically, NASA will likely need to decide by the end of 2013 whether to purchase additional seats.
Failure We purchased more Soyuz seats.
The Obama administration has to skirt the law to make this happen according to GAO.
In addition, the issue of purchasing seats on the Soyuz vehicle is further complicated by restrictions contained in the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Non-proliferation Act (INKSNA).22 These restrictions prohibit NASA from making certain payments to Russia in connection with the International Space Station unless the President determines that Russia is taking steps to prevent proliferation to those countries. NASA received a statutory exemption from this restriction in 2006 and an extension of the exemption in 2008, which has allowed it to continue to purchase seats on the Russian Soyuz vehicle; however, the current exemption expires in 2016.23
Today we find Obama lost his gamble, and the time has come to pay up. This will be done with more taxpayer dollars of course.
Congress Demands Answers from NASA Concerning Russian Space Eviction.
“To better understand the potential implications of these comments, the Congressmen request a briefing from NASA on the current state of international negotiations related to the proposed extension of the ISS beyond 2020. They also request a list of all critical components, services, or capabilities that Russia provides that are necessary for the continued operation of the ISS beyond 2020.”
The Congressional Letter: http://science.house.gov/press-release/committee-questions-stability-us-russia-space-partnership
Acting directly under Obama; Mr. Bolden NASA Administrator has a new program to save the day. He will sell this program for more money out of Congress.
Now the Commercial Crew program is being changed over to a Lifeboat. May 1 2014