Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jan 29, 2008
The January 21, 2008 issue of Aviation Week And Space Technology has an article on a group of individuals attacking Mike Griffin and the President's Vision for Space Exploration (VSE). This group of individuals - that I will call the Stanford Group - claim to want "'green' missions to Planet Earth" to quote page 24 of the above described article.
An alternative vision that is more eco-friendly.
But is it?
Hardly, since the group is largely made up of planetary scientists who, so far as I remember didn't raise any objections at all to the smoky contrails of the cheapo Delta Iis belching kerosene into the atmosphere, even as their small solids (not having rugged steel construction of SRBs) are capable of exploding as seen here.
So much for the laughable idea of planetary scientists being "Green,"
Mike Griffin wants Delta II phased out in favor of the ARES I and ARES V launch vehicles which use no hydrocarbons as a liquid propellant.
Atlas V (unlike the Ares V), uses even more kerosene than Delta II, and has become a favorite of the planetary science community.
Delta II is to be replaced by the hydrogen burning Delta IV, which uses the same engines ARES V does.
Yet Delta IV isn't all that green either.
Delta IV will throw away far more clean, hydrogen burning engines RS-68 engines than will ARES V. You would have to launch six Delta IV 'heavies' expending 18 cores, eighteen RS-68 engines and six upper stages (without engine out) just to orbit the same payload a single Ares V can.
Ares V uses liquid hydrogen more effectively, helps demand for the hydrogen economy more, has engine out capability, and a cheaper price per pound.
Six times the payload at 1/6th the engine cost.
I call that a greener option than littering the Atlantic with Delta IV husks.
Aren't we supposed to be less of a throw-away society?
Also, Ares V will be build in Louisiana, helping our best and brightest there recover from Hurricane Katrina, where The Delta IV and Atlas are being made in a Red State that already has enough jobs.
One alternative to the Ares V is something called the DIRECT launch vehicle.
It is similar to but smaller than Ares V. But its inventor forgets that the same people who would oppose Ares also opposed a similar vehicle called MAGNUM by the way.
MAGNUM, like DIRECT and ARES V, was a shuttle-derived vehicle which was to use only clean hydrogen and oxygen.
And yet it was canceled while the Delta II--dirty secret of the automated probe crowd---continued to fly bomb disposal robots to Mars, like those were green missions.
Wes Huntress, a planetary scientist, is quoted as saying that there was little left of the 2004 VSE "except the real need to retire the space shuttle."
Yet this was the same man who opposed the shuttle replacement known as OSP (Orbital Space Plane) that became the CEV concept.
Huntress and others managed to convince then Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and Ranking Democrat Ralph M. Hall to nix the shuttle replacement.
It is true that top-mount minispaceplanes spaceplanes atop anything smaller (or less rugged) than DIRECT is problematic, any shuttle replacement demands that any spaceflight architecture has to come first--which is Griffin's point.
Many shuttle replacements have been proposed over the years: DC-X, Venture-Star/X-33, etc. And yet we have had automated probe, after probe after probe--many launched by the same kerosene belching Delta II.
Heavy Lift launch vehicles like the clean Ares V can be used for asteroid missions.
The Delta II launched Deep Impact mission hardly budged the comet it struck.
The best we can hope for in the way of an asteroid mission is for the Air Force to place a nuclear bomb atop the Delta II and hope for the best.
Ares V is large enough to allow for non-nuclear asteroid deflection missions, using simple tugs that have not used up all their deflection fuel in simply making the trip.
I therefore do not find the Stanford Groups claim to support manned asteroid missions (as an alternative to VSE) to be in any way credible at all.
I think this is a bait-and-switch, and being used to try to splinter manned spaceflight support away from NASA Chief Administrator Mike Griffin so they can kill off Ares or any new launch vehicle development---returning us to the days when Dan Goldin spoiled academics by giving certain cliques a Delta II launch every other year, if not every other week.
Even if the X-33/VentureStar concepts actually were viable, my guess is that the likes of Huntress and his ilk would STILL be opposed to moneys going to such LV development.
As soon as Ares is killed, and someone more to their liking is made NASA Chief, I expect them to nix any talk about manned asteroid missions (and DIRECT) just as they attack VSE and Ares now.
Many would have you believe that Mike Griffin is an enemy of science.
However, this is ludicrous.
He restored significant science funding cancelled by previous NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, who wanted to destroy Hubble by disguising an EELV launched de-orbit package under the aegis of an automated servicing mission.
Another bait and switch.
Engineers are the ones under the gun here.
Let me give you an example.
Wes Huntress is first and foremost a planetary scientist.
Robert Farquhar is a payload man.
Bill Eoff on the other hand was a supporter of Magnum, a sub-Ares V (DIRECT) class rocket.
He didn't get a lot of love from then NASA Chief Goldin.
Goldin said at the time we needed to leave the design of spacecraft "to the experts."
Experts (like the Magnum supporters), were ignored as planetary scientists got unmanned probe, after probe, after probe.
But Griffin (who is an aerospace engineer--and has literally written a book on spacecraft design) understands that Spaceflight is more important than one or another planetary scientist's pet legacy project.
He understands that you need shipbuilding skills first--oceanography can always come later.
Just as a wise father doesn't hand lollypops out to spoiled children all day long, but have them save their appetite for a truly filling meal at the end of the day.
But his critics don't have the maturity to understand this position.
Lou Friedman is one of the harshest critics of Griffin.
Yet it was Lou's group of ingrates that foolishly launched one spacecraft atop a rattletrap Volna SRBM--then repeated their mistake!
Too many scientists, not enough engineers.
The Stanford Group doesn't care about forwarding spaceflight capabilities, just their little fiefdoms.
On page 27 of the Jan 21, 2008 issue of Aviation Week, it says that the asteroid visit "would use much of the same CEV Ares I and Ares V heavy lift booster infrastructure," but that is the very infrastructure VSE's enemies want axed!
And they expect us to believe them?
This is nothing but a turf war with many in the anti-human spaceflight crowd turning their common foes against each other--a bait-and-switch.
I know many don't always agree with Mike--and I respect that.
Just remember this:
The enemy of your enemy isn't always your friend. Just ask Bill Eoff.
I for one don't expect anything of the "invitation only" Stanford Workshop--other than platitudes that deliver more of the same old same.
Publius Rex is a regular contributor to space discussions across the Internet and is solely responsible for the contents of this article.
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