MAIN ARTICLE: Will Obama jettison Bush's Vision for Space?

MIT releases White Paper on Space Exploration: What does this mean for President Bush's "Vision for Space Exploration? How did the NASA transition team view the paper?

Poll Results: Yesterday's Poll: "Maximum you would pay for a Suborbital Space flight"

Held one big surprise, scroll down to get newest poll results.

Star Trek: In the News. "I'm ah Doctor, not a bricklayer"

Yesterday's Comments: "I'll go for 200 Gs, but I won't want to come back until the Rick Warren diaries have stopped." - palantir

Today's Poll: "Take another look at the Vision for Space Exploration & Constellation."

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) released a white paper on a new vision for space exploration. Space Travel.Com reported this and relates how the paper was recieved by the Obama transition team, led by Lori Garver, "it was enthusiastically received". NASA Chief Mike Griffin and President Elect Obama's transition team filled the news for a week over the disagreement they had at a library, of all places. This was covered in:

Fri Dec 12, 2008 NASA's Griffin denies tension with Obama's transition team
Sat Dec 13, 2008 U.S. aerospace urges Obama to keep its flame bright
Fri Dec 19, 2008 Political Cartoon: Barack as Spock. NASA News.

David Chandler wrote "A New Vision For People In Space" calling it "comprehensive independent review of the future of the nation's human spaceflight program undertaken in many years."

He continued:

"After conducting preliminary briefings with various stakeholders in Washington, team members say it has been enthusiastically received by political leaders, a National Research Council panel, and the Obama transition team, among others.

"We need to rethink the rationales for human spaceflight," says the report's lead author David Mindell, professor of engineering systems and director of the program in Science, Technology and Society at MIT.

He says that after the Washington briefings, "we sensed a great deal of uncertainty in DC about how to proceed with the Bush vision and human spaceflight in general. Our paper speaks to those problems in a clear way and offers some new ideas."

The report offers "primary objectives" for sending human beings into space as those that can only be accomplished through the physical presence of human beings and are worthy of significant risk to human life.

Says Mindell, "we argue for including notions of risk, human experience, and remote presence into the fundamental rationales for sending people into space. The results show that the United States might want a rather different human spaceflight program from the one now planned."

And it is essential that whatever goals are set for human spaceflight, the funding should be adequate to meet those goals. "Trying to do too much with too little is exactly what caused the last two shuttle accidents," he says." - Space Travel

The MIT paper does not call for the end of President Bush's "Vison for Space Exploration" (VSE) but they certainly suggest a "redo". The paper calls for the Constellation program: Ares I, Orion - Ares V, Altair to be examined in a new light with possible alternatives. Very rarely do I suggest reading a PDF even though I often times provide the link, this one I highly recommend you take a look at because it just may be the new NASA policy.

MIT White Paper (16 pages)

"The Obama administration and Congress should examine the Bush vision, assess its limitations, and issue a human space flight policy that includes both strategic principles and concrete plans. It should include clear statements on:

• The primary and secondary rationales for human space flight
• The ethics of acceptable risk to human life in space exploration
• The relationship between the envisioned level of funding and risks to human life
• The importance and priority of international collaborations
• Utilization of the ISS
• Clarification of the moon Mars strategy with a timetable for the Mars component.

The new policy should be followed
by consistent expressions of presidential
and congressional support." ( page 10 )

The paper calls for more exploration with set timelines for mars. That will please a lot of folks in the space community. I only included the part that focused on human space flight:

"The Future of Human Spaceflight" PDF (16 pages)

"The Bush vision directed NASA to land astronauts on the moon by 2020 in  preparation for eventual Mars missions. It did not, however, specify how long the United States would remain on the moon. NASA’s current plans remain ambiguous about the relationship between the goals of moon and Mars, generating heated debate about the appropriate balance between the two (and potential other goals of near Earth asteroids or Lagrangian points). Some argue that extended presence on the Moon is a necessary predecessor to human Mars flights. A lunar laboratory, for example, would help scientists understand the effects of lunar gravity, dust, and radiation on human health, with the  goal of preparing for next steps to Mars. Others worry that a moon base could evolve into expensive facility
draining resources from further exploration goals.

A new human space flight policy should clarify the expected size and duration of a U.S. lunar presence and direct the balance between the moon, Mars, and other destinations in exploration programs. To satisfy primary objectives of human spacefl ight, a new policy should be more,and not less ambitious. It should also review the Constellation architecture to ensure compatibility with long-range exploration missions. Even if it means somewhat easing the 2020 deadline for lunar return, NASA must ensure that the new architecture provides a solid foundation for the next generation of human space flight.

These decisions have immediate implications for research and development performed on the ground and on the ISS. In biomedical research, for example, issues for lunar outpost missions lasting months include radiation exposure and management of sick or injured crew. By contrast, planning for long-duration Mars missions requires study of bone loss, muscle deconditioning, nutrition, sensorimotor and immunological issues. Similarly, a portfolio of technology research depends on the destination.

Critical technologies for long-duration missions and Mars landings are not being actively investigated as NASA focuses exclusively on mature technologies for the Constellation vehicles and systems. Immature technologies and fresh, unproven ideas – seed corn for the next generation of exploration – are not receiving adequate support. NASA should reestablish a fundamental research program focused on science and technology for human spacefl ight and exploration. Additionally, to take full advantage of the human experience dimension of exploration, NASA’s return to the moon should aggressively employ robotics, not only as precursors but as central partners in human missions. Telerobotics, remote presence, and participatory exploration will bring the lunar surface to broad populations of professionals and the public and help redefi ne the nature of exploration." (page 12 - Boldface in original)


58% of DKOS members who responded in yesterday's poll expressed "no opinion" on whether they would take a ride into space. Nine percent said space was to dangerous and would never take a flight. 28% would be willing to spend some money but 14% of those would only pay up to $10,000 dollars.

STAR TREK: In the News.

Received the link for this in an e-mail as part of a conversation. Hope it brings back memories of your favorite episodes.


A tip of the hat to Ferris Valyn for a picture of the White Knight Two:

(image - Space.Com) Virgin Galatic wiki

There was a great comment by Bill White talking about the lead candidate for an Ares I - Ares V replacement:

"I believe Direct is more and more likely every day that passes. Take a look at this comment from NSF by Ross Tierney, the public face of the Direct Team:

We would ultimately like to focus all Jupiter flights on lifting the Lunar mission hardware and have the commercial guys (COTS and EELV) lifting all the propellant and taking over routine crew-lift duties for all missions heading just for LEO.

Ares is currently assuming a cost of somewhere in the region of $10.5bn per year to pay for 2 ISS missions, 2 Lunar Crew missions and 2 Lunar Cargo missions each year.   That's the cost for 4 x Ares-I's, 4 x Ares-V's, 4 x Orion's and 4 x Altair's (mission ops, crew ops and science payloads are extra)

What could we achieve for the same money?

12 x Jupiter-232's and 2 x Jupiter-120's together would cost about $4.4bn, 8 x Orion's about $1.0bn and 12 x Altair's about $5.4bn.   That's an almost identical $10.8bn.   Yet that covers 2 x ISS flights and 6 x Lunar Crew missions and 6 x Lunar Cargo missions; triple the number of exploration-class missions every year.

We would be launching 12 US astronauts to the ISS each year, plus 24 Lunar astronauts every year, half of which would be international partners who supplied propellant in return for their seats.

Isn't this the sort of capability you need to be aiming for if you ever want to encourage additional investment from Congress in NASA?

And with that sort of total capability, you can re-allocate a Jupiter mission to an NEO mission quite easily (fuel supplied by partners who want seats on that).   You could even allocate 4 of the Jupiter's to lift all the hardware for a Mars mission too (fuel paid for by partners again).

Isn't this the sort of diverse capability you want to design into the system which you're planning to operate for the next 40 years?

Just for curiosity, lets just compare how much it would cost the other programs to match this same number of missions (Orion & Altair inclusive):

Ares = $16.2bn.

EELV = $18.8bn  (Note: Requires 120 cores to support, which is 3 times above the current maximum production rate).


Note the EELV core limitation.

Current manufacturing capacity does not allow 120 EELV cores to be built that quickly therefore that $18.8 billion figure shall only increase for EELV to do what Direct proposes to do for $10.5 billion." -


The MIT white paper calls for a reexamination of the "Vision for Space Exploration" where do you stand.

(Read more NASA Diaries on DKOS)

Originally posted to Vladislaw on Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 09:00 PM PST.


Take another look at the Vision for Space Exploration & Constellation.

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