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#1 2013-12-25 18:03:45

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,141

Nasa Inflateable Structures

Nasa sold the technology that they had from Transhab to Bigelow quite some time ago but when the Project constellation started there were dreams of using them once more for the moon. Even we have had dreams of here of using inflateables for Mars.


inflatable-habitat-spaceflight-architecture-lg.jpg


Working With NASA On The Space Structures Of The Future

NASA is seeking to advance a technology with the potential to drastically change how we envision transporting and safeguarding astronauts: inflatable structures.

Space structure engineers and designers have identified inflatables as a lightweight and durable supplement to current human spaceflight architectures.

Inflatable structures also possess numerous terrestrial applications; quickly deployable-durable habitats, hyperbaric chambers, deployable shock absorbers, storm surge protection device. Inflatable structures also possess numerous terrestrial applications; quickly deployable-durable habitats, hyperbaric chambers, deployable shock absorbers, storm surge protection device....

Here is the good part

Engineers at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) are currently offering co-development opportunities focusing on four important technologies necessary for improving the performance of inflatable structures:

I think this is just the tip of the ice burg...of what inflatebles can be used for.

1.The development of a flexible, inflatable bladder capable of maintaining elasticity in the harsh cold of space (-50 Fahrenheit) and exhibiting a low permeability to minimize the chance for leaks. Such a structure could also serve as a cold temperature storage tank for numerous industries here on Earth.

2.Analysis and testing of high strength and high stiffness advanced materials like Kevlar or Vectran to verify their potential as construction materials.

3.Innovative ways to monitor the health of inflatables and conduct repairs. Engineers are especially interested in developing non-invasive monitoring of structural layers and low power ways of sensing important traits like pressure, temperature, physical strain and radiation exposure.

4.Methods for integrating substructures into a large inflatable habitat.

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#2 2013-12-25 18:22:58

SpaceNut
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

Had to add some more as the Co-Development and Partnering Opportunities

NASA’s Johnson Space Center is seeking partners with bold ideas for collaborative development to mature technologies required for NASA’s future missions and to enhance life on Earth. As a means to accelerate technology development and strengthen commercialization of federally funded research and development, JSC is looking to partner with other public agencies, private companies and academia on the development of broadly applicable technologies.

These partnerships have broad applications within industries including defense, energy, medical, advanced manufacturing, oil and gas, robotics, sub-sea exploration/production, first responders, aerospace and others.  These partnerships benefit not only NASA, but provide collaborators with access to JSC’s facilities and expertise and the opportunity to grow or sustain their activities through technology development.

Lots of links to what seems like endless possibilities to help get us to Mars.....

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#3 2013-12-25 22:54:39

JoshNH4H
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

As I understand it, the need for radiation shielding and pressure containment means that solid structures really aren't heavier than inflatables.  However, it does mean that you can fit larger structures inside smaller rocket fairings, which is a pretty important consideration.


-Josh

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#4 2014-01-07 19:16:38

SpaceNut
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

Link found by an old friend.
New Mission Concepts for SLS With Use of Large Upper Stage

I think the SLS was posted for a change in 70mt to 130mt but with that change came some more capability and uses.

sls_architecture.jpg.png

with the larger shroud you can now house BA 2100, or Olympus module concept:
Z95.jpg

Spacious layout
ba-2100c.jpg

Last edited by SpaceNut (2014-01-07 19:18:05)

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#5 2014-01-07 20:30:59

Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

The rocket on the Right looks a bit like Zubrin's Ares rocket, and with the capacity to lift 130 tons to low Earth orbit, I think it would serve.

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#6 2014-01-08 00:12:52

RobertDyck
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

It's a lot like Zubrin's rocket. Dr. Zubrin and his partner Dr. Baker came up with the "Ares"; lift capacity of a Saturn V, but built of Space Shuttle parts. One key consideration in 1989 was to launch from the same pad as the Shuttle, so they placed the main engines offset just like the Shuttle. That's so exhaust would allign with the hole in the Mobile Launch Platform. But once the Shuttle was cancelled, filling that hole and cutting a new one was an option. Part of the Constellation Program was "Ares V", there wasn't any such thing as Ares 2, 3, or 4, it was just supposed to sound like a Saturn V. And the name "Ares" came from Dr. Zubrin and Dr. Baker's design. The "Ares" had 5 Space Shuttle Main Engines, while Shuttle had 3. It also had 2 SRBs, 4 segment just like the Shuttle. "Ares V" was originally proposed to have the same engines, but directly beneath the external tank as a stage. Then NASA engine guys proposed upgrading it by making new engines that were more powerful. Then the manufacturer of RS-68 engines for the first stage of Delta IV rockets proposed using their engine instead. The argument was it has 50% more thrust but lower Isp; however the lower Isp was on purpose. It was designed to be expendable, so they made it less expensive to manufacture. They optimized cost: larger propellant tank cost less than cost saving for simpler engine, so total stage cost was lower. NASA management decided to use RS-68 engines as they were, off-the-shelf. But NASA engine guys insisted they had to be "man rated". Then they proceeded to put back all the features of SSME that were missing from RS-68, so it would have the same Isp. So they stuck in what they wanted, even though NASA management said "no". This delayed "Ares V" and drove cost up. Then Obama got elected and cancelled Constellation. Then contractors lobbied Congress to get it back. The Senate pushed through SLS. This went back to SSME for the core stage, but 4 engines instead of 5. Block 1 also uses 5-segment SRBs instead of 4-segment, and an interim upper stage with a single J-2X engine. (Upgraded from J-2S.) Block 2 will replace SRBs with new advanced ones: no segments, just a single long pipe. I'm not sure how they'll be transported from Utah. Block 2 also replaces the upper stage with a larger one, with 2 J-2X engines and larger fuel tanks.

At one point Dr. Zubrin said the only good thing out of Constellation was the heavy lift launch vehicle: Ares V. This SLS is effectively the same thing. Definitely sufficient.

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#7 2014-01-08 07:58:28

Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

Obama is a partisan, he didn't want anything having to do with George W. Bush surviving. The SLS could still be used for a Moon mission, which would probably occur after Obama is out of office. I don't think its an either/or choice, the Moon is definitely a lower hanging fruit. I think the SLS should be developed and then turned over to private industry for launching satellites If the Russians, Europeans, Japanese, Australians or the Chinese want to use it, I don't see any problems.

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#8 2014-01-08 09:25:49

Terraformer
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

130 tonne satellites, Tom? Seriously?


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#9 2014-01-08 10:17:28

Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

Terraformer wrote:

130 tonne satellites, Tom? Seriously?

If your going to build an orbital hotel, that would be just the thing. What else might weigh 130 tons, Solar power satellites, I hear we're making progress in building especially thin solar cells. I think it would be easier to assemble private space station in as few pieces as possible, not ISS style! Another application may be asteroid mining. Those asteroid mining ships could easily be in the 130 ton range, especially if they are bringing back asteroids in the 1000+ ton range! Then there are things like space telescopes, large ones would be in the 130 ton range and could probably be used to detect extra solar planets. A comsat in the 130 ton range could be used for hand held satellite telephones, if we can get launch costs down, it might make sense to launch larger more capable com sats with stronger signals.

Last edited by Tom Kalbfus (2014-01-08 10:22:34)

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#10 2014-01-08 10:57:41

RobertDyck
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

Solar power satellites will never be a viable idea. For one, power loss from microwave power transmission is at least as grate as reduced sunlight from night and clouds. I'm comparing to solar power generated on the ground. And that doesn't take into account the cost of launch, cost of the rectenna to receive power, and anything in space is a lot more expensive to maintain/repair than anything on the ground. Every advance for solar panels can be used on the ground. Solar power in space is for use in space, not beamed to Earth.

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#11 2014-01-08 11:41:54

Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

RobertDyck wrote:

Solar power satellites will never be a viable idea. For one, power loss from microwave power transmission is at least as grate as reduced sunlight from night and clouds.

However whatever the power loss due to microwave transmission, that power loss will be constant through day and night, as the satellite will stay in the Sun 24 hours a day except on those rare occasions when the Earth eclipses the Sun. On Earth power storage is required because the sun is either up or down, the amount that gets through is variable, at night its not there at all. One of the main defects with ground based solar is the on/off nature of its availability. With Solar power the loss is continuous. its not so much the power loss but its variability that is troublesome. An SPS satellite will provide a nearly continuous supply of energy much like a nuclear reactor or a hydroelectric dam. Another applications which hydroelectric dams can't provide is power to vehicles. One could for instance power a laser jet airplane from outer space, get it above the cloud layers and that plane can stay in the air indefinitely, this will also work above other planets, like say Venus for example. A Martian airplane will need only a fraction of the energy that a municipality would require, for a Mars base, as small SPS could supply all its energy needs and the energy needs of any independent rovers as well, no nukes required! Probably its these small power applications that the SLS could take care of rather that municipal power requirements for cities such as Chicago. Lets say you want to build an aircraft carrier without a nuclear power plant, or a long range laser powered bomber or fighter aircraft with unlimited ranges.

robertwalker wrote:

I'm comparing to solar power generated on the ground. And that doesn't take into account the cost of launch, cost of the rectenna to receive power, and anything in space is a lot more expensive to maintain/repair than anything on the ground.

But also anything in space will require less maintenance than something on the ground, such as snow or dust on your solar panels, it doesn't snow in space, and the dust is minimal. Sometimes the cost is justified not only by the energy generated but by its availability. I think for instance a long range airship could have its own built in rectenna, and the power obtained could be used to drive an electric prop engine and to crack rainwater to fill its gas bags with hydrogen as needed.

robertwalker wrote:

Every advance for solar panels can be used on the ground. Solar power in space is for use in space, not beamed to Earth.

One advance that will not occur is solar panels that can collect energy in the dark, a Geosynchronous satellite stays mostly out of Earth's shadow, that is the advantage to having them, it is the continuous supply of electricity that matters, not necessarily how much. If you like vehicles that don't need refueling, then beamed energy would be just the thing. Also it doesn't matter so much if solar panels sitting on the ground are light, the lightness makes space-based solar power more competitive.

Last edited by Tom Kalbfus (2014-01-08 11:45:56)

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#12 2014-01-08 12:40:51

RobertDyck
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

First, I'm not robertwalker. That's someone else.

Tom Kalbfus wrote:

One could for instance power a laser jet airplane from outer space

Airplane? With a laser? Seriously? Do you realize the precision necessary? And to deliver enough energy to work, if you miss the collector you burn through the aircraft. A microwave rectenna is miles wide. That's to deal with aiming issues as well as dispersion. Forget trying to hit a moving aircraft.

Tom Kalbfus wrote:

But also anything in space will require less maintenance than something on the ground

Um, what? Do you realize the cost of Hubble service missions?

Ground base power generation will always be a mix of technologies. Don't expect any one thing to be "it". This means hydro electric dams can generate power at night, save their water during the day. Windmills depend on wind, but again dams can turn on or off water flow whenever they want. There are a couple ways to harness tides, either with a dam like Holland uses with turbines for water flow in and out of a contained harbour, or in-stream generators. Nova Scotia deployed generators at the bottom of the Bay of Fundy; to ensure ships could continue to navigate they didn't want to dam the Bay. In-stream generators have a propeller pushed by water flow, turning a small generator. They just use a lot of them at the bottom of the Bay. Another variable generation technology, but again a dam can be turned on or off. A hydro dam only has as much water as rivers and streams deliver to the reservoir, but it can be used whenever demand needs it.

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#13 2014-01-08 13:31:27

Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

RobertDyck wrote:

First, I'm not robertwalker. That's someone else.

oops, sorry, it was a typo with my copy an past, I copied something previously and forgot to copy your "quote="

RobertDyck wrote:
Tom Kalbfus wrote:

One could for instance power a laser jet airplane from outer space

Airplane? With a laser? Seriously? Do you realize the precision necessary? And to deliver enough energy to work, if you miss the collector you burn through the aircraft.

A laser is a single wavelength of light, I suppose an aircraft could be coated with a paint that mostly reflects that narrow wavelength of light, so if the laser beam misses, it just gets reflected off the skin of the aircraft. If the laser misses, it can simply zero in on a homing signal generated by the aircraft and the laser will be back on target.

RobertDyck wrote:

A microwave rectenna is miles wide. That's to deal with aiming issues as well as dispersion. Forget trying to hit a moving aircraft.

Obviously we won't be using microwave rectennas for vehicles, this is just to address the problem of birds getting fried by lasers. There won't be many bird flying at the cruising altitude of most aircraft anyway, there will probably be a small on board supply of fuel or a battery. I think a bomber flying level is easy to track a maneuvering fighter not so much, but if it is moving straight and level it can be tracked as well. The point is to get the fighters into the theater of combat, once there, they will use on board fuel supplies for doing combat missions involving lots of maneuvering.

RobertDyck wrote:
Tom Kalbfus wrote:

But also anything in space will require less maintenance than something on the ground

Um, what? Do you realize the cost of Hubble service missions?

Too be fair Hubble is a bit more complicated than a passive solar array.

RobertDyck wrote:

Ground base power generation will always be a mix of technologies. Don't expect any one thing to be "it". This means hydro electric dams can generate power at night, save their water during the day. Windmills depend on wind, but again dams can turn on or off water flow whenever they want. There are a couple ways to harness tides, either with a dam like Holland uses with turbines for water flow in and out of a contained harbour, or in-stream generators. Nova Scotia deployed generators at the bottom of the Bay of Fundy; to ensure ships could continue to navigate they didn't want to dam the Bay. In-stream generators have a propeller pushed by water flow, turning a small generator. They just use a lot of them at the bottom of the Bay. Another variable generation technology, but again a dam can be turned on or off. A hydro dam only has as much water as rivers and streams deliver to the reservoir, but it can be used whenever demand needs it.

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#14 2014-01-09 12:38:05

GW Johnson
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

I like the Bigelow inflatables.  I like seeing how the pressure shell is unobstructed by mounted equipment.  This enables a fast patch if punctured,  rather than evacuation/depressurization as with Mir.  The advantage of the inflatable isn't weight,  it's shroud diameter for launch.  If only heat shields could really deflate and stow like that.

The big rocket would be nice,  if the commercial launch industry developed it,  not the government.  Period.

You put the Falcons,  Atlas-5,  and Delta-4 on a plot of unit cost vs payload size,  and you see that a launcher capable of 100+ tons to LEO should cost under $800/lb or $2000/kg.  You look at NASA's historical costs with Titan-4 and NASA's projections for SLS on that same plot,  and you see unit costs 4 to 10 times higher than they should be.  Titan never got the commercial redesign that Atlas and Delta got.  Those two no longer resemble their roots as government ICBM's used as launchers. 

The civilian government (not just US,  none of them) knows nothing about simplifying rocketry to reduce logistical support tails.  The military knows more about that,  but does not generally deal in launcher-capable rockets any more.  That's simply a sad fact of life that must be dealt with intelligently. 

Congress demonstrably does not deal with anything intelligently any more.  That problem appears erratically over historical time,  and actually predates the Civil War,  which is why we had one.  That's also why a way-too-expensive SLS (and all the other designs before it) were mandated upon NASA,  needed or not.

Atlas and Delta fly for around $2500/lb  in the 15-20 ton class fully loaded.  Falcon-9 is about the same at 13 tons.  Falcon-Heavy looks to be about $1000/lb at 53 tons.  A fully-loaded commercial 130-ton payload rocket should be around $500-800/lb;  unfortunately,  there is not such a thing. 

If SLS fully loaded really is near the projected $4000/lb fully loaded in the 100+ ton class,  and I think it will be that high or higher (maybe as much as $8-10,000/lb),  it will never be affordable to use for any of the potential missions that might use it.  Period.  You are simply far better off financially by launching smaller stuff with the commercial rockets and docking it together in orbit. 

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#15 2014-01-09 15:23:54

Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

There is no reason the SLS couldn't be developed commercially if the government provides incentives for a private company to develop it, bu the private company will still have to sell launch services, so it has incentives to keep costs down. There's two ways this could be developed, one way is for the government to give a subsidy, say for instance it defrays 50% of the cost, and doesn't add a lot of mandates for what should be on the rocket, just that it should have a lift capacity of 130 tons to low Earth orbit and let the company decide what to build and how. If the SLS is build and works, the government pays them back 50% of the development costs, now the company owns the SLS and will look for the best way to find a return on their 50% investment, after that the launch market should be self sustaining with many customers, the US government just being one of those.

The other way is for the government to hire a contractor and tell them that they want a rocket that does this this and that, and wants in built in that way, with various production facilities in these locations, because various influential congressmen and women want jobs for their constituents, this path is the more expensive one and has prevented the commercialization of space.

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#16 2014-01-09 22:35:39

SpaceNut
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

At least we have come back to the launch costs though I would like to talk more towards the technology, weight savings and such but I have an open mind.

While it would be nice to have a commercial low cost version but since all technology would need to be purchased prior to using it as space x and others have done or through design services from nasa on there own respective product I am not seeing any easy road through this.

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#17 2014-01-10 03:22:54

Quaoar
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

GW Johnson wrote:

I like the Bigelow inflatables.  I like seeing how the pressure shell is unobstructed by mounted equipment.  This enables a fast patch if punctured,  rather than evacuation/depressurization as with Mir.  The advantage of the inflatable isn't weight,  it's shroud diameter for launch.  If only heat shields could really deflate and stow like that.

How much larger than laucher can be the payload diameter?

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#18 2014-01-10 10:57:09

Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

SpaceNut wrote:

At least we have come back to the launch costs though I would like to talk more towards the technology, weight savings and such but I have an open mind.

While it would be nice to have a commercial low cost version but since all technology would need to be purchased prior to using it as space x and others have done or through design services from nasa on there own respective product I am not seeing any easy road through this.

You really think establishing a space construction yard in orbit would be cheaper? Do you want to build an interplanetary vehicle the same way we built the International Space Station. The way the ISS was built was more an exercise in international cooperation than a rational way to construct something in space.

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#19 2014-01-10 11:46:05

GW Johnson
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

Quaoar:  I don't really know what payload to stage diameter ratio is used,  but visually it looks like 1.5 is a reasonable number. 

Space construction yard:  There were right and wrong things about how ISS was built.  Docking modules is right.  Using a launcher 100-1000 times to expensive to send them up there was wrong (shuttle at min $27,000/lb and usually far higher,  vs commercial at $2500/lb). 

Part of the huge ISS expense is expected,  in that all of the the ISS modules were one-of-a-kind items.  In "general vehicle construction"  this does not have to be true.  You can adopt a modularized approach and standardize the modules,  and then use them for multiple vehicle designs and missions.  Then they are not so very expensive over the long haul,  as you get to amortize their development costs over several different projects. 

But it does require that you think ahead,  have a long-term plan,  and stick to it.  That is something NASA has not had since end-of-Apollo/start-of-shuttle.  They have had no long-term plan,  just a series of political footballs kicked to them by congresses.  (No better with ESA,  either.)

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#20 2014-01-10 22:31:00

SpaceNut
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

I was talking about the technology of rockets in that they are propietary in nature and by contract as well making any chance to one off an article in a cheaper version next to impossible without paying for the rights to do so.


An example is the rs180 engine used on atlas purchased from Russian and how Lockheed paid for the rights to make them for there own but once samples were made the cost rose to not making it worth doing.

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#21 2014-01-13 10:18:09

GW Johnson
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

The last point I was trying to make in post #19 just above was that the NASA space program has been over-bureaucratized into helplessness,  with all its major projects turned into political footballs.  The big projects become congressional mandates instead of things that make sense,  and control over them goes to congress,  not the agency.  SLS is just one example of this,  but it's a biggie. 

Here's a quote from an email I got from the NSS.  They oppose this latest power grab over NASA by congress.

--------------------------------------

National Space Society Opposes HR 3625

(Washington DC - January 13, 2014) The Washington DC-based National Space Society (NSS) strongly opposes the passage of House of Representatives bill HR 3625.

This bill would (a) require NASA to obtain legislative permission to cancel four of its most expensive human spaceflight and science programs, and (b) allow contractors for these programs to have immediate access to hundreds of millions of dollars in funds which currently are held in reserve to pay the government's obligations in the event of such termination. The four covered programs are the Space Launch System, the Orion crew capsule, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), and the International Space Station.

Ordinarily, government agencies like NASA have the right to terminate a project if it no longer appears necessary or cost effective, provided it pays "termination liability costs" which are sometimes provided for in such contracts.  It is unusual to require an act of Congress in order to stop a program.  As a practical matter, getting Congress to pass such an act would be extremely difficult.

Consequently, if HR 3625 is enacted, even after the responsible agency determined that a project was no longer useful, contractors would continue to get millions of dollars for unnecessary and unwanted programs until such a time as Congress passed a bill specifically calling for the cancellation of the project and allocating the funds required for program termination.

"The ability to cancel a program for convenience is essential to allow the government to deal with changing circumstances," said NSS Executive Vice President Paul Werbos. "Requiring explicit Congressional approval to terminate a program for convenience represents a significant shift in power between the Executive and Legislative branches of government that should not be taken lightly."

-------------------------------

If passed,  this would further prove my point,  a minor thing.  Here's the major thing:

If passed,  you can kiss goodbye the government ever sending astronauts to Mars.  These idiots in congress cannot keep up the roads and bridges they funded as the interstate highway program in the 50's and 60's.  They cannot even carry out reliably their basic constitutionally-mandated duties. 

These idiots want to micromanage NASA?

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#22 2014-01-13 13:32:26

SpaceNut
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Re: Nasa Inflateable Structures

If I recall there was also a mandate to nasa that said that there will be no more Flagship missions. This was done to control the beans.....

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