HSF Committee Report: "treatment" much worse than "disease"
October 23, 2009

Today I've downloaded and printed the 157 pages of the very massive HSF Committee final report that I need days to read entirely (since english is not my mother tongue) and that has LOTS of data, image, diagrams, different options, alternative rocket... but (as I already predicted) NO ONE clear solution!

We in Europe have always thought of ourselves as slave of bureaucracy, while, we think about americans as much more pragmatic and quick to take their decisions but the HSF report might change this opinion, since it makes real what we in Italy call "Simple-Tasks Complication Office" (I hope the translation is correct) that means... "take something simple and make it VERY complex"... :)

The NASA Constellation surely is WRONG, should need TOO MUCH YEARS to born and is VERY EXPENSIVE but, at least, it has the merit of being JUST ONE CLEAR AND SIMPLE CHOICE and to don't propose DOZENS DIFFERENT SCENARIOS as the HSF report does!

I think, the Augustine Commission, was committed to start from some unsolved questions and to give to politics just ONE-TWO clear options/solutions, while the 157 pages report clearly complicates everything since it ask to politics lots of new and very complex questions, that (the non-experts of space) politics MUST answer to!

The consequence of this lack of clearness is that, the US President and all his scientific advisors will have very high probabilities to take the wrong way, to adopt the wrong rockets and vehicles, try to accomplish the wrong missions, prefer the wrong missions' architectures, aim to the wrong targets, allocate the wrong amount of money to the wrong tasks, etc. ...in other words, NASA will have lots of billion$ in the next years but all this money will be burned again and again, to go... nowhere.

[update #1] I've started to "analyze" the HSF report, that, first of all, is less "massive" than seemed at a first glance, since it has lots of "blank" and useless pages, in fact, of the 157 pages in total, four are just cover, subcovers and back cover, one is a Kennedy image, with the famous statement of his famous speech about the Moon, one page has only the signatures of the ten "experts" that have driven the HSF Committee, four pages have the Committee members biographies (vanity?) and three pages add a very long list of the Commitee "staff" (the list looks like the end titles of a movie but we don't see any movie around...) that seems made by over 200 names (why so many people involved for a so modest result?) then, one page (appendix E) with the (old, useless, well known and ready available on the HSF Committee website) "list of full Committee meetings and locations", two pages (appendix F) with another list of (entirely unknown) "briefers and Committee contacts" and one Flickr page with some microimages taken at the Huntsville public meeting.

But, the absolute record of useless pages in the HSF Committee Report, is held by the 31 pages (yes, thirty one pages!!!) that are completely blank with only two lines of text (as header and footer) and a page number (2, 18, 25, 26, 31, etc.) because, YES, these blank and useless pages are numbered!!!

I haven't thrown away all these (useless) pages, to reuse them in some ways (for hand writing notes, sketches, etc.) but, have the Committee members realized, that, all these useless pages multiplied by thousands and thousands copies (printed at NASA and everywhere) can mean a significant number of destroyed trees?

So, the real number of pages of the HSF Committee Report, isn't "157" but only a much modest "109 pages" like an human spaceflights "instant book"!

[update #2] I'm sorry, but I must "cut" further 22 pages from the residual "109 pages"
(really,
NOT so "massive") HSF
report, since... two pages are used for the report's index (all reports have an index, but the index isn't THE report) and one page is the preface of the report (WHO reads prefaces?) then, nine pages are only a copy of the "Summary Report" already published seven weeks ago on the HSF website (never seen a book or a report that includes also the summary of the full report that follows it) and the chapters 1 and 2 (ten pages in total) that are made (for over 90% of the text) with old, historical and already known info and data about NASA and its past missions... that's something everybody can easily find on Wikipedia and on the web, so, the true "report" starts with the chapter 3 at page 33 and (without these nearly useless pages) it's just 87 pages long (not "157").

Frankly, is truly incredible, that, the TEN "space experts" of the HSF Committee, have had need over FOUR months of time, to think and write the (less than 90 pages) HSF report, for over 95% made with (well known) info, data, concepts and options widely available on the web (and from NASA) from months, years or decades, and, all that, WITHOUT even find just ONE (clear, accurate and uncontroversial) SOLUTION for NASA and the future of the human spaceflights!!!

So, my questions are... WHAT did the HSF "experts" have done in over FOUR months?
...
WHY have they have needed FOUR month to write a so short and useless (87 pages only) HSF report? ... WHY didn't have written it in a week or so? ...and...  HOW MUCH they have been paid to write this (brief and useless) report?

Just to add that, despite the four months of "hard work" (and the 200+ staff members involved) many of the images, graphs, numbers and key data in the report are (nearly or completely) unreadable, either printed than seen on the PC screen from the (200-300% magnified) .pdf document, so, I hope that, all unreadable parts will be soon revised and republished on the web.

[update #3] I'm sorry to say that... but, also the chapters 3-4-5 of the HSF report are nearly useless and largely "inflated" since, all them, talk about things (and give data) that every space-hobbyist knows or can find on the web, without add nothing useful to decide about the future of humans in space!

As already said, also these chapters include many, very bad quality, images and graphs with NASA's data, concepts and missions architectures (then, again, it's only an already known material, published everywhere from years and with nothing new coming from the HSF Committee members' "minds"...) with poor readable (or completely unreadable) texts and figures that make the document very hard to read for eyes, not even reading it directly on the .pdf document in 200% dimensions or more, so, it means that, ALL the TEN "experts" of the HSF Committee (and ALL their 200+ staff members!) are not even able to make a good and readable .pdf document!!!

The chapter 3 starts with some astonishingly banal info about our space "destinations"
(with some data, about the Moon and Mars' dimensions, distance, gravity,
day/year, etc. that, also 10-years-old schoolboy, knows or can find on the web...) then, it continues to talk about the two main options for the "beyond Earth orbit spaceflights", already known (from years and years...) as "Moon first" (go first on the Moon, then, later, go to Mars from the Moon using the "lunar derived" hardware and, maybe, also lunar resources) and "Mars first" (that's, simply "skip the Moon and go to Mars directly from Earth") all that, using old and wrong (since entirely based on "chemical" rockets) NASA's concepts and Mars missions' architectures.

After pages and pages used only to show and repeat (again and again) the well known concepts (seen, evaluated and discussed, thousands times, in last four years) like the Ares-1 and Ares-5 based ESAS lunar mission architecture, or the sortie vs. outpost lunar exploration options, the chapter ends with the disconcerting idea of the "multiplication of destinations in space" proposing something really absurd and absolutely not viable (or, simply, pure nonsense!) like an (incredibly expensive and risky) "Venus mission"
(a planet where
never can land astronauts with its
450+ °C surface) or the (very very expensive and risky) "Earth Moon" or "Earth Sun" L1/L2 Lagrange points missions (to do... what?) or the "NEO" (Near-Earth Object) missions (very expensive and risky) to just "take samples" of them, for "scientific purposes", then, something that can be easy done (sooner, at 1/100th of the "price" of a manned mission and without risks for the astronauts) using simple and low cost robotic probes and sample-return vehicles!!!

Not forgetting some (crazy and very absurd) "options" and scenarios (never suggested before by any rational person of this planet) of the HSF Committee's "experts" that have proposed to just go "around" the Moon and (maybe) also "around" Mars, but (despite the giant costs and chilling risks of these missions) WITHOUT land ANY astronaut on the Moon nor on Mars... (°°)

Unfortunately, the true reality of facts, is that, humans have only three "destinations" where go with today's technology (or with the near-future technology) at affordable costs and without take too much (or useless) risks: low-mid Earth orbit, Moon (orbit and surface) and Mars (orbit, surface and moons) while, all other "destinations" (like go "beyond Mars") are entirely precluded to humans for, at least, the next 30-50 years.

Equally useless (to decide "something rational" about the future of human spaceflight) surely is the chapter 4 that's only a summary of the "existing" and "ongoing" programs: the (soon to be retired) Space Shuttles, the (soon to be finished) ISS and the (current design) Constellation (based on the Orion, Ares-1 and Ares-5) with some evaluations of costs, workforce, operational life, etc. (great part derived from already known NASA and external sources' documents) that adds nearly nothing to what's widely known nor give any clear suggestion about the choices to make about these very important points.

The only "interesting" point of the chapter 4 (but from a negative side) is the discussion about (incredible but true) the "good reasons" and "best ways" to (seriously) start to DEORBIT the $168 billion ISS in 2016 or in 2020 (that needs also large funds, special vehicles and of a complex "disassemble & deorbit" strategy) just FIVE (or, max, TEN) years after the day when, the ISS, will be (finally) finished (in 2011) thanks to dozens Shuttle, Progress, Soyuz, ATV and HTV missions and the hard work made with very big risks by HUNDREDS american or international astronauts... (°°) ...no comment...

At first glance, the 5th, could seem the "key chapter" of the report, the one that should allow the US President and Congress to "make the right choices" about the vehicles and rockets they should fund in the next ten years to replace the Space Shuttle and come back to the Moon soon, but, unfortunately, the chapter 5 is only the most useless and disappointing part of the report, since it's only a sort of "shopping list" with a series of vehicles and "concepts" (with the features, estimated development costs, risks, payload mass, etc.) like the (controversial and very expensive) Ares-1 and Ares-5, the (very dangerous for manned launch) Shuttle-C derived Side-Mount Launcher (aka SD-HLV) the shuttle-derived inline Jupiter (that's only the slightly-RESIZED-Ares-5-called-Direct supported everywhere by the homonymous Direct-LOBBY) the (very weak 75 tons max payload and unexisting now) Atlas V derived EELV Heritage Super-Heavy (that could be used only for cargo payloads) the Delta IV derived HLV (that should be used only to replace the very expensive Ares-1 to lift an "Orion-light", with less propellant mass, to LEO and that may need several billion$ and 5.5 to 7 years to develop and man-rate it, then, clearly, not filling so much the 7+ years US manned spaceflights' GAP) and, also, the "dream-only" new.space "option" that's nearly unexisting now since the only true "new.space" rocket flown so far, has been the very very small Falcon-1 (with a launch record of only two successful flights out of five flights accomplished) while, the (10 tons only payload) Falcon-9 "should" fly for the first time later this year.

Clearly, the "new.space" rockets can't replace soon (and, probably, not even 8-10 years away from now) the Space Shuttle or the EELVs to carry crews to the ISS and (surely) never can help NASA to launch the 200+ tons payload needed by a lunar mission, but (at its best) could carry only some very small cargo to the ISS (from 2014 or later) at very high and absolutely not competitive costs, so, the existing "new.space" hardware is completely out of the "NASA game" now and in the near future.

Also some (only apparently interesting) things (like the "Ares-5-lite", the "orbital refuel" and the "COTS-D") exposed in the chapter 5 of the report, have no chance of success in the near term, since, the "Ares-5-lite" is only another slightly resized Ares-5 that uses the 5-segments SRB and the J-2X (both, main origin of the very high costs and of the very long development time of the current Ares-1 and Ares-5) the "orbital refuel" is a good idea (for the far future) but, just a big dream today (since, this technology, needs of, at least, 8-10 years and $10 billion to be available and enough reliable at affordable costs) while, the "COTS-D", is just a word, today, that might need of, at least, five-ten years and lots of funds to be "filled" with something real and safe to fly with astronauts.

Again, also from the big flow of data, "concepts" and "options" of the chapter 5, doesn't come out no one helpful, clear and unambiguous suggestion from the TEN "experts" about WHICH kind of rocket is better (and WHY) making the entire chapter (and the full report) nearly useless to explain, to the US politics, WHAT they must decide about the future of human spaceflight... (°°)

Report: 87 pages... less 38 pages (chapters 3-4-5) = only 49 (real) pages... so far...

[update #4] ...coming soon...

 



Look better !!!  Direct is ONLY a slightly RESIZED Ares-5 !!!

Why China will WIN the new "commercial" Moon-race

The $5000 idea that can save SEVEN astronauts

What you can do with the $35 billion Ares-1 "price"

Augustine Commission's "decisions machine" picture leaked


                                     


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