[Senate Hearing 108-1001]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
S. Hrg. 108-1001
THE SPACE SHUTTLE AND FUTURE SPACE LAUNCH VEHICLES
SUBCOMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY,
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE,
SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH CONGRESS
MAY 5, 2004
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SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH CONGRESS
JOHN McCAIN, Arizona, Chairman
TED STEVENS, Alaska ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, South
CONRAD BURNS, Montana Carolina, Ranking
TRENT LOTT, Mississippi DANIEL K. INOUYE, Hawaii
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West
OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine Virginia
SAM BROWNBACK, Kansas JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts
GORDON H. SMITH, Oregon JOHN B. BREAUX, Louisiana
PETER G. FITZGERALD, Illinois BYRON L. DORGAN, North Dakota
JOHN ENSIGN, Nevada RON WYDEN, Oregon
GEORGE ALLEN, Virginia BARBARA BOXER, California
JOHN E. SUNUNU, New Hampshire BILL NELSON, Florida
MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
FRANK R. LAUTENBERG, New Jersey
Jeanne Bumpus, Republican Staff Director and General Counsel
Robert W. Chamberlin, Republican Chief Counsel
Kevin D. Kayes, Democratic Staff Director and Chief Counsel
Gregg Elias, Democratic General Counsel
SUBCOMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND SPACE
SAM BROWNBACK, Kansas, Chairman
TED STEVENS, Alaska JOHN B. BREAUX, Louisiana, Ranking
CONRAD BURNS, Montana JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West
TRENT LOTT, Mississippi Virginia
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts
JOHN ENSIGN, Nevada BYRON L. DORGAN, North Dakota
GEORGE ALLEN, Virginia RON WYDEN, Oregon
JOHN E. SUNUNU, New Hampshire BILL NELSON, Florida
FRANK R. LAUTENBERG, New Jersey
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held on May 5, 2004...................................... 1
Statement of Senator Breaux...................................... 19
Prepared statement........................................... 20
Statement of Senator Brownback................................... 1
Statement of Senator Nelson...................................... 17
Hickman, Robert A., Director, Advanced Launch Concepts, The
Aerospace Corporation.......................................... 33
Prepared statement........................................... 34
Kahn, Michael, Vice President, Space Operations, ATK Thiokol Inc. 21
Prepared statement........................................... 24
Karas, John, Vice President, Space Exploration, Lockheed Martin.. 25
Prepared statement........................................... 27
Musk, Elon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Space
Exploration Technologies (SpaceX).............................. 41
Prepared statement........................................... 42
Readdy, William F., Associate Administrator for Spaceflight,
National Aeronautics and Space Administration; accompanied by
Rear Admiral Craig E. Steidle, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Associate
Administrator for Exploration Systems, National Aeronautics and
Space Administration........................................... 3
Prepared statement........................................... 5
Hollings, Hon. Ernest F., U.S. Senator from South Carolina,
prepared statement............................................. 49
Response to written questions submitted to William F. Readdy by:
Hon. John McCain............................................. 50
Hon. Ted Stevens............................................. 53
Response to written questions submitted by Hon. John McCain to
RADM Craig Steidle (Ret.)...................................... 53
Response to written questions submitted by Dr. George E. Mueller,
Chief Executive Officer, on Behalf of Kistler Aerospace
THE SPACE SHUTTLE AND FUTURE SPACE LAUNCH VEHICLES
WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, 2004
Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space,
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:37 p.m. in
room SR-253, Russell Senate Office Building, Hon. Sam
Brownback, Chairman of the Subcommittee, presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. SAM BROWNBACK,
U.S. SENATOR FROM KANSAS
Senator Brownback. Good afternoon. Thank you all for
joining me. The reason for my delay is, because I thought we
had a vote at 2:30. They did have it scheduled for 2:30, but it
has been moved to 2:45. So I thought what we'd do is try to get
the hearing underway, and see how far we can proceed, because
these things have a way of sliding on us. We're not the only
ones that have trouble keeping schedules. But we'll want to
move on through the hearing.
Today, we're going to consider something that is difficult,
rocket science. Some years ago, a major cruise ship company
coined a phrase that ``getting there is half the fun.'' Nowhere
is that truer than for space travel. Rocket scientists tell us
that once a spacecraft is in low-Earth orbit, just a few
hundred miles above us, we're halfway to anywhere in the solar
system, including the Moon and Mars.
This first step, lifting off the Earth and entering low-
Earth orbit, is expensive and dangerous, but it's part of space
travel. Astronauts or robotic spacecrafts spend the first few
minutes of their journey into space sitting atop a rocket that
releases as much energy as that contained in a small atomic
bomb. The cost and risk of getting into space has not changed
in the almost-half-century since we began space travel.
Today, our primary means of getting people and equipment
into space for NASA is the Space Shuttle. It's a magnificent
piece of technology. However, twice in the past 20 years, it
has failed, taking the lives of 14 astronauts with it. It's
expensive, as well, costing the American taxpayer effectively a
billion dollars per flight. Today, it's grounded, and we are
relying on foreign hardware to get our people into space and
maintain the International Space Station.
A few months ago, the President announced a new vision,
focused robotic and human exploration of the solar system,
beginning with the Moon and Mars. I support the President's
vision and like many of my colleagues in the Congress, need
some more information from NASA and the space community on key
issues. None is more critical than access to space, and that's
why we're here today.
I see three related questions:
First, we need to understand the true status of the Space
Shuttle and its return to flight. Implicit in this issue is
whether we might be better off phasing out the Space Shuttle
sooner than the President's 2010 date, and use the resources to
move the schedule for our expansion into the solar system
The second question is how best to meet our international
commitments with respect to the International Space Station
with less or perhaps no use of the Space Shuttle at all. This
is a key question, one which we cannot address in full detail
today, but I hope to get started on. Thus, I intend to hold
further hearings on this, including a field hearing, I hope, in
California later this month.
Finally, the experts tell us that to accomplish the
President's bold goals in exploration beyond low-Earth orbit
requires much larger payloads than we can launch today. The
Shuttle and our military big rockets, the EELV, can put about
20 tons into low-Earth orbit. We may need five times that per
launch, which is feasible due to such giant rockets as Saturn
V, from the Apollo program. Soviet Union built a huge booster
to launch similar payloads during the Moon race, and again in
the 1980s to launch enormous space weapons; these programs are
all gone. So we must ask our space community how they might
reconstitute the capability, and how much it will cost.
Let me now turn to the Space Shuttle. Since I assumed the
chairmanship of this Subcommittee over a year ago, I've asked
repeatedly whether we might be off phasing the Space Shuttle
out soon and I know that my questions are disturbing to many.
Some of my colleagues in the Senate have rallied to the defense
of Space Shuttle, and I expect to hear more on that today,
which is how it should be. We should have a vigorous discussion
and debate about the Shuttle program, where those who see
something to lose will be vigorous opponents of the new
direction. Conversely, those with something to gain in the
future are only lukewarm supporters at times. Despite this
opposition, I intend to continue to press these questions and
to ask the serious questions about the future of the Space
I've asked NASA to tell us today what they are doing and
how well it's going on returning the Shuttle to flight. I also
asked NASA what they're doing to find alternatives to the Space
Shuttle for completing the International Space Station. The
Commercial Space Act of 1998 calls for maximum use of
commercially provided services in support of the International
Space Station. I've been approached by a number of commercial
providers of such services, some of which believe they can
provide most, if not all, support services needed to complete
and maintain the Space Station and meet our international
In 2002, the United States Alliance, who operates the Space
Shuttle for NASA, recommended that roughly a third of the
Shuttle flights be offloaded to other vehicles. For our hearing
at the end of May, I'll ask that NASA describe their approach
to making fuller use of this private-sector capability. We want
to, and we need to, examine these ideas as we move forward in
A week ago, we held a hearing to consider what other
nations are doing in space exploration and heard that many
nations have aspirations of human exploration and expansion to
the Moon and Mars. Experts agreed that nations such as China
will expand into space regardless of what we do. I, for one,
believe we must not ever be in a position of explaining to our
children why others are walking on the Moon and Mars, as well
as reaping the benefits of space, while we are not.
Fortunately, we have an advantage that others do not in that we
have a private sector that can do anything, if only given a
legitimate chance. We also have a great deal of ingenuity, in
ourselves, that we can move forward on these programs.
The American people can have a space program that leads the
world--which is the current situation--and we need that in the
future. It can be a space program firmly embedded in
opportunity for all, and that's what I want to examine today.
I believe President Bush has set us on the right path to an
unlimited space future. I strongly support this exploration
vision and program, and urge my colleagues in Congress to do
To give you a bit of an idea of where I hope we can go, I
want to hold this hearing today. We'll have a field hearing, I
hope, in Southern California to look at other prospects for
being able to take care of Space Shuttle, the Moon/Mars
missions, and different ideas that people there might have. And
then, from that point forward, I hope we're going to be able to
put forward legislative language, authorizing language, in
looking at how we might move forward.
I see that the commission the President appointed had its
last field hearing yesterday, in New York, on Moon and Mars.
I'm looking forward to their report and what they have coming
out, which then I hope we can put together in: ``What's the
architecture for our space program and manned space mission
into the future?''
Delighted to have our panels here today with us to testify,
and we'll start off with the first panel, Mr. William Readdy,
Associate Administrator for Spaceflight of NASA, and Rear
Admiral Craig Steidle, Associate Administrator for Exploration
Systems out of NASA, as well.
Gentlemen, thank you for joining us. We're going to
continue this as long as we can, and then I may have to put us
in recess for a brief period of time. We look forward to your
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM F. READDY,
ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR FOR SPACEFLIGHT,
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION;
ACCOMPANIED BY REAR ADMIRAL CRAIG E. STEIDLE,
U.S. NAVY (RET.), ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR FOR
EXPLORATION SYSTEMS, NATIONAL AERONAUTICS
AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
Mr. Readdy. Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I
appreciate you holding the field hearing, particularly, there
at Clear Lake, to address the exploration vision. I also thank
you for the opportunity to testify before you today. And Craig
Steidle, Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems, is
with me, and he'll be available to take your questions.
Earlier today, I had the opportunity to meet with NASA's
newest astronaut candidate group. The class will be announced
tomorrow at the Udvar-Hazy facility out at Dulles. This is a
very impressive group of individuals, and I hope you'll have a
chance to meet them soon. They're the ones that will lead us in
the next steps to NASA's new exploration vision.
Let me begin with the vision for space exploration. It is
to advance U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests
through a robust space exploration program. The vision is bold
and forward-thinking, yet practical and responsible.
Fundamentally, it is not about a particular launch vehicle or
other hardware, but the relevance and value that space
exploration brings to our lives daily.
The Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs
provide transition paths into this next era of space
exploration. They're a bridge between what we've learned from
this extraordinary first-generation reusable-launch system and
the long-duration spaceflight experience that we have on
International Space Station and our future.
The focus of the Space Shuttle is to complete assembly of
International Space Station, including U.S. components that
support our exploration goals and those provided by our foreign
partners so that we can conduct the research necessary to
prepare us for our journey beyond low-Earth orbit. And, as you
said, Robert Heinlein's quote is: ``Earth orbit is halfway to
anywhere in the solar system.'' And, indeed, it's true, in
terms of energy.
No other vehicle in the world can do the Shuttle's job
today, which is in a class by itself, in terms of performance
and volume. It's a unique mix of cargo, crew, robotic
capability, rendezvous and docking capability, and the ability
to return payloads to Earth.
There's a lot of launch capacity out there today. New
vehicles are currently under development and are being
conceived in the private sector. But the other launch vehicles
that are available, even the ones at the heavy-lift end of the
spectrum, Titan IV and Delta IV Heavy, had no existing
rendezvous, docking, or robotics capability; they do not carry
crew; they cannot currently support ISS assembly; and they
cannot return payloads to Earth.
The ISS was designed to be carried into space and assembled
using the Space Shuttle. The elements have already been built,
tested; and most of them are integrated and awaiting launch at
the Kennedy Space Center. Switching to expendable launch
vehicle at this point would result in what we estimate to be a
minimum of four to 5 year's delay in resuming ISS assembly, and
require significant investments to add new capabilities, as
well as redesign and retesting of those Space Station elements.
Therefore, NASA believes the most responsible way forward is to
use the unique capabilities of the Shuttle for assembly, return
of payloads to Earth, and crew transport.
The best role, however, for commercial launch services, is
to provide future ISS resupply. And NASA seeks to release a
request for proposal in mid-2005 to acquire capability for
meeting resupply requirements after ISS assembly is completed.
As we look to the future, all options to meet launch
requirements are on the table and NASA's wide-ranging missions
require a variety of launch services. To meet these customer
needs, NASA already uses a mixed-fleet strategy to purchase
commercial launch services from a range of providers, as well
as launches provided by our international partners; NASA has
historically supported emerging launch companies. Through a
biannual on-ramp of the NASA launch-services contract that
occurs every February and August, we invite companies with new
launch capability to submit their proposals for NASA
consideration. Also, NASA will hold a pre-proposal conference
next week at the Kennedy Space Center regarding small-launch
NASA also partners with the Department of Defense, Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Air Force, all of
whom have interest and requirements requiring small launch
With regard to heavy-lift capability in order to support
the vision for space exploration, my office is working very
closely with Craig Steidle and his staff to understand the
requirements for space exploration and conduct the trade
studies necessary to meet those requirements. Those trade
studies include evolving the existing fleet of expendable
launch vehicles, the potential for using Space Shuttle
components, and the potential for clean-sheet new vehicle
designs. We're also reviewing previous lessons learned as a way
to springboard future studies to support the unique
requirements of the crew exploration vehicle. These activities
will position us for future acquisition of heavy-lift
With this vision, we are embarking on a journey, not a
race. We begin this journey of exploration and discovery
knowing that many years of hard work and sustained effort will
be required, yet we look forward to achieving these concrete
results in the near term.
The vision requires decisions to secure long-term U.S.
space leadership. This vision provides an exciting set of major
milestones with human and robotic missions, like there is
currently ongoing in Mars, and onboard the International Space
Station with Expedition 9, and invites new ideas and innovation
in the private sector. Accomplishing this bold, new vision will
provide the opportunity for new generations of Americans to
explore, innovate, discover, and enrich our Nation in ways
Thank you, sir.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Readdy follows:]
Prepared Statement of William F. Readdy, Associate Administrator for
Space Flight, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for this
opportunity to appear today to discuss the Space Shuttle and future
launch vehicles. When the President visited NASA Headquarters on
January 14 and announced the Vision for Space Exploration, he presented
a vision that is bold and forward thinking, yet affordable and
achievable. He stated that the first order of business was to safely
return the Space Shuttle to flight as soon as practicable, complete
assembly of the International Space Station (ISS), and fulfill the
commitments to our International Partners. Once the ISS assembly is
complete, planned for the end of the decade, the Space Shuttle--after
nearly 30 years of duty--will be retired from service. These are the
first steps on the journey to fulfill the Vision for Space Exploration.
After the Challenger accident, NASA has relied on a Mixed Fleet
Launch Strategy to meet the launch requirements of NASA's diverse
program objectives. This Mixed Fleet Launch Strategy takes advantage of
both domestic and partner launch capability and enables focused use of
the unique Space Shuttle capabilities. Our approach enables us to
continue to support the ISS through reliance on partner assets, while
NASA addresses the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB)
recommendations and focuses on returning the Shuttle safely back to
flight. Since the Columbia accident, NASA has continued flying
important science missions, including deployment of the Space Infrared
Telescope Facility, now called the Spitzer Telescope, and the back-to-
back Mars missions last summer on domestic commercial launch systems.
NASA expects to continue this Mixed Fleet Strategy as we embrace the
new challenges of the Vision for Space Exploration.
Space Shuttle Return to Flight
As the loss of Columbia and her crew has reminded us, working in
space is inherently risky. The CAIB recognized the risks associated
with operating the Space Shuttle and made its recommendations
consistent with the overriding objective of safety. NASA recognizes
these risks and is working to mitigate them, while moving forward to
accomplish our missions.
On April 26, 2004, NASA provided to Congress the latest version of
NASA's Implementation Plan for Space Shuttle Return to Flight and
Beyond. This plan details the currently anticipated work schedule and
cost estimates for Return to Flight (RTF) activities so that we can
safely return the Space Shuttle to flight. In addition to providing
updates on NASA's progress towards RTF, the implementation plan
recognizes the long-term goals of human planetary exploration outlined
in the Vision for Space Exploration.
The planning window for the next launch of the Space Shuttle is
currently scheduled for March 6, 2005--April 18, 2005. Prior to launch,
NASA must successfully address all fifteen RTF recommendations from the
CAIB. The RTF Task Group, chaired by Richard Covey and Thomas Stafford,
is charged with assessing the implementation of these recommendations.
The Task Group, as of April 15, 2004, agreed to close three RTF
recommendations. The three recommendations that have been closed are:
Recommendation 3.3-1--Develop and implement a comprehensive
inspection plan to determine the structural integrity of all
Reinforced Carbon-Carbon system components. This inspection
plan should take advantage of advanced non-destructive
Recommendation 4.2-3--Require that at least two employees
attend all final closeouts and intertank area hand-spraying
Recommendation 6.3-2--Modify the Memorandum of Agreement
with the National Imagery and Mapping Agency to make the
imaging of each Shuttle flight a standard requirement.
NASA is committed to addressing all CAIB recommendations, as well
as self-initiated ``raising the bar'' actions. The updated
implementation plan shows that NASA continues to make progress in all
efforts to make the Shuttle safer. The revised schedule for
implementing the CAIB recommendations shows that NASA has a deliberate
approach for achieving all necessary milestones required to close each
When we return to flight, the Space Shuttle will be the safest it
has ever been. NASA has confidence in its ability to maintain that
level of safety throughout the life of the Space Shuttle program. NASA
is also confident that the Space Shuttle program can accomplish its
role in the Vision for Space Exploration to complete International
Space Station assembly.
The focus of the Space Shuttle will be finishing assembly of the
International Space Station (ISS). With its job done, the Space Shuttle
will be phased out when assembly of the ISS is complete, planned for
the end of the decade. NASA will determine, over the next year, how
best to optimize the use of the Space Shuttle fleet for the remainder
of its service life, and what investments are required to ensure its
safety, reliability and maintainability during this period.
International Space Station
NASA plans to complete assembly of the International Space Station
(ISS) by the end of the decade, including those U.S. components that
will ensure our capability to conduct research in support of the new
Vision for Space Exploration goals and those components planned and
provided by our International Partners. The unique capabilities of the
Space Shuttle are essential to the successful completion of the ISS.
The ISS and its elements, most of which are already built, have been
designed to take advantage of the more benign Shuttle flight
environment in the Shuttle's cargo bay, removed and repositioned by the
Shuttle's robotic arm, and connected together by the Shuttle's
astronaut crews during space walk activities.
The International Space Station (ISS) research plans, assembly
sequence, and final configuration are being re-examined as part of the
Agency refocus to meet the Vision for Space Exploration. How we support
the ISS through its assembly and operational phases is also under re-
examination. NASA will continue its Mixed Fleet Launch Strategy and
optimize existing partner assets as we assess opportunities using
domestic capabilities to support the ISS. NASA is targeting completion
of the re-evaluation of assembly, utilization, logistics, and
maintenance requirements of the ISS for later this summer. The ISS
program is currently working closely with our International Partners to
develop a plan for meeting the revised requirements. We expect a
refinement of our Mixed Fleet Launch Strategy including Space Shuttle
launch requirements needed to complete assembly of the ISS to be an
outcome of this process.
The ISS Mixed Fleet Strategy concept of operations for the ISS has,
to date, included the Space Shuttle and Russian provided Soyuz and
Progress vehicles. In the future, it will also include the European
Automated Transfer Vehicle, and the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle,
which are both currently under development. NASA is also evaluating
opportunities for augmenting the Mixed Fleet with additional domestic
launch systems. To this end, the President's FY 2005 Budget Request
includes funding for initiation of an ISS crew and cargo capability.
NASA plans to release a request for proposals in mid-2005 to acquire
capability for meeting ISS operations requirements as soon as practical
The ISS offers us a tremendous opportunity to study human survival
in the hostile environment of space and assess how to overcome the
technology hurdles to human exploration beyond Earth orbit. NASA
research activities aboard the ISS will be focused to support the new
exploration goals, with an emphasis on understanding how the space
environment affects astronaut health and capabilities, and on
developing appropriate countermeasures to mitigate health concerns. ISS
will also be vital to developing and demonstrating improved life
support systems and medical care. Over the next year, the Biological
and Physical Research Enterprise will conduct a thorough review of all
research activities to ensure that they are fully aligned with and
supportive of the new Vision for Space Exploration.
The ISS is preparing us for future human exploration in many ways.
It is an exploration research and technology test bed. It is a platform
that represents an unprecedented accomplishment for space engineering
and on-orbit assembly of unique and complex spacecraft. It is a model
for future space operations, linking mission control centers on three
continents to sustain space flight on-orbit operations--twenty-four
hours a day, seven days a week--by an international team composed of
representatives from the U.S., Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada.
Perhaps the most significant contribution of the ISS Program is that it
is a foundation for international partnerships and alliances between
governments, industry, and academia in space exploration. The success
of the ISS assembly to date and its continued successful operation
during the absence of the Space Shuttle launches is a tribute to the
engineering excellence and successful cooperation of the international
The capability of this model is further evidenced by the successful
launch of a new crew to the ISS and the return to Earth of the previous
crew last week. The Expedition 9 crew, NASA ISS Science Officer Mike
Fincke and Russian cosmonaut Commander Gennady Padalka, were launched
to the ISS from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on April 18, 2004 EDT
on ISS Flight 8S (Soyuz TMA-4). Finke and Padalka, along with European
Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers of The Netherlands, docked to the
ISS on April 21, 2004 EDT.
After a week and a half of successful experimentation and handover
activities, Kuipers then joined the Expedition 8 crew, Commander and
NASA ISS Science Officer Mike Foale and Russian cosmonaut Flight
Engineer Alexander Kaleri on ISS Flight 7S (Soyuz TMA-3) for their
return to Earth April 29, 2004, 8:11 PM EDT.
Mission Control Center (MCC)-Houston and MCC-Moscow continue to
work closely and efficiently to resolve anomalies, perform avoidance
maneuvers, monitor Soyuz and Progress dockings, and re-boost and
reorient the ISS as required. There are on-going ISS technical
challenges, but the corrective maintenance is performing better than
anticipated. Anomalies are being addressed, and overall the system is
consistently stable. The operations teams have successfully resolved
system anomalies, but continue to watch crew heath maintenance systems,
Russian life-support systems, attitude control, and various components
of cabin pressure. All of these on-orbit scenarios and changing
situations from which we are prepared to safely deal with and learn
from, will better enable NASA to fulfill the Vision for Space
International Space Station Assembly Transportation Alternatives
To meet the goals laid out in the Vision for Space Exploration,
NASA is evaluating the current manifest for flights to the ISS. To
complete ISS assembly b the end of the decade, NASA is reviewing the
assembly sequence and final ISS configuration, as well as the
complement of currently available and proposed domestic and
international vehicles that are capable of delivering crew and cargo to
and from the ISS, and the predicted Shuttle return to flight date. This
evaluation, which will factor in the historic turn around time between
Shuttle flights, is expected to be complete in the summer and will
provide a better idea of how many Shuttle flights will be needed to
complete assembly of the ISS. NASA will trade ISS requirements against
launch capabilities to ensure that the Shuttle can be operated safely
and the ISS assembly can be completed by the end of the decade,
consistent with the Vision for Space Exploration.
Conducting ISS assembly mission using vehicles other than the
Shuttle would be very difficult. Prior to and since the Columbia
accident, NASA has assessed alternative launch capabilities to support
ISS assembly in addition to crew and cargo re-supply studies. The
difficulty in replacing the Shuttle in ISS assembly is that ISS
elements and partner facilities have been designed to take advantage of
the Space Shuttle's unique volume and performance, and more benign
launch environment. None of the domestic or partner launch systems have
the capability to meet requirements for assembly of remaining ISS
elements without significant modification of either the vehicle or the
For example, NASA could invest in upgrades to the heaviest planned
versions of domestic Expendable Launch Vehicles (ELVs) to address
current mass and volume shortfalls. There remain, however, significant
challenges that drive risk, schedule, and cost to accommodate the
transition in operations concept for ISS assembly items that are
already built and designed specifically for the Shuttle capabilities
and launch environment. The most driving challenge is how to define a
new operations concept and assembly process that uses ISS crew without
the benefit of the Shuttle's remote manipulator arm or space walking
crewmembers to safely complete each assembly mission. Investment would
also be required to develop a domestic transfer vehicle capability and
define new operations concepts to enable ELV deployment and element
rendezvous and docking with ISS. The existing ISS structures and
facilities would need to be redesigned to meet the new ELV flight
environment and would also need to develop an ELV carrier to replicate
Shuttle attach points. Due to multiple parallel development and test
schedules that would be required, NASA estimates that canceling the
Shuttle now and using only ELV's to build the ISS would result in a
minimum four to five year delay in restarting ISS assembly.
The significant challenges and risks associated with replicating
the Shuttle's capability for the remaining assembly flights have led
NASA to focus on use of the Shuttle for assembly of the ISS, while
continuing to pursue alternatives to the Space Shuttle for non-assembly
tasks and post-Shuttle ISS support.
The Office of Space Flight is working closely with the Office of
Exploration Systems and the Department of Defense to understand
evolving launch requirements to ensure an integrated National launch
strategy within the stagnant launch market. NASA, the United States Air
Force, and the National Reconnaissance Office held the fourth
Government and Industry ELV Mission Assurance Forum on March 9-10,
2004. At this year's forum NASA shared lessons learned from the CAIB
review of the Space Shuttle program as we are applying them to our
launch services program.
This forum was originally established by our agencies to ensure
that the lessons learned from the 1998 Presidential Broad Area Review
into ELV launch failures are not forgotten. The Broad Area Review
identified the importance of government users to serve as knowledgeable
buyers of launch capability and the benefit of value added government
technical oversight to enhance mission success. A critical lesson not
to be relearned is the importance of added government diligence in the
area of systems engineering when programs and their contractors are in
periods of transition and/or under severe cost pressures. This is
exactly the environment the Nation faced in 1998.
To formalize our cooperative efforts, NASA and members of the
Defense community established the Partnership Council in 1997 to
provide an opportunity for the senior space principals to meet face-to-
face on a regular basis to discuss issues relevant to the space
community. The purpose of the Partnership Council is to facilitate
communication between the organizations and to identify areas for
collaboration and cooperation. Much of the benefit of the Partnership
Council is the day-to-day activities and relationships built within the
government community engaged in space.
NASA's Mixed Fleet Launch Strategy is being updated to address the
Vision for Space Exploration. NASA is developing a strategy to acquire
ISS crew transport, as required, and cargo transportation as soon as
practical and affordable. NASA envisions that commercial and/or foreign
capabilities will be the building blocks for our future Mixed Fleet
Launch Strategy, as it has served us well. NASA remains confident that
the Space Shuttle can be operated safely for the remainder of its
service life and the ISS can be completed by the end of the decade
consistent with the Vision for Space Exploration and our international
Senator Brownback. Thank you, Mr. Readdy.
Admiral Steidle, would you care to make a statement, or do
you just want to respond to questions?
Admiral Steidle. I just want to respond to your questions,
sir. Thank you.
Senator Brownback. All right. Thank you very much.
Mr. Readdy, I believe you mentioned in your testimony that
if we move away from the Shuttle, it would delay the finishing
of ISS by 4 to 5 years. Is that correct?
Mr. Readdy. Yes, sir, that's correct.
Senator Brownback. NASA has studied the option about
decommissioning the Shuttle and going another way to finish
ISS, is that correct?
Mr. Readdy. Yes, sir, we have. And the study that I
referred to here, and the procurement that we're talking about
in 2005, is contained our budget request for $140 million. And
we intend to replicate the up-and-down mass of the Shuttle.
Thus far, our discussions with the industry reps estimate that
there is between 700 and a billion dollars of nonrecurring
costs, and then recurring costs for a flight rate of eight to
twelve per year to meet our requirements, which means the
development time, as I said earlier, is somewhere between 3 and
Senator Brownback. Well, let me back up on that, then. So
if we just said, ``OK, we're going to take the Shuttle, and
we're not going to fly the Shuttle anymore,'' how would you
then finish ISS? What would be the systems that would be used
to finish ISS, in the study that NASA has done?
Mr. Readdy. Well, right now, it would require a complete
redesign of the hardware that we already have tested, built,
and integrated at the Kennedy Space Center. So one issue is
that the existing hardware would have to be deintegrated. It
would probably have to be redesigned and certainly re-analyzed,
then repackaged to launch on expendable launch vehicles.
The other things that would be required are to develop the
autonomous rendezvous, docking, and robotic capability, as well
as new payload fairings and interfaces for whatever vehicle
might be chosen in order to lift something that heavy to the
International Space Station orbit.
Senator Brownback. How would it be lifted up? You're saying
you'd have to develop new capacity, or is there private-sector
groups that have put forward proposals to you to lift this?
Mr. Readdy. At this point, sir, there are two remaining
Titan IVs, which are the only equivalent to the Shuttle cargo
bay, in terms of capacity. Also, Titan IV doesn't have robotic,
rendezvous or docking capability. There are only two of those
launch vehicles left in the inventory, and they're committed to
national security purposes; I think they launch in 2005.
The nearest-term heavy-lift vehicle currently available is
Delta IV. The very first test flight of that is supposed to be
in the fall of this year in order to try and replicate a
similar 20-ton-to-orbit capacity. And, once again, it has no
rendezvous, docking, proximity ops, or robotics capability to
accommodate the unique hardware of the International Space
Senator Brownback. What about anything that the Russians or
other countries have that could carry out the lift capacity of
the final pieces of ISS?
Mr. Readdy. That's a good question, sir. In 1993, in the
Space Station redesign we conducted in Crystal City, we looked
at a variety of alternatives, such as launching the
International Space Station in three major elements, or looking
at it as a Russian derivative. In the end, the option that we
chose was a hybrid.
The Russians have launched hardware to the International
Space Station, including the FTB, which is the propulsion
module that's up there right now, a service module, and other
very small pieces with their Soyuz boosters, which do have a
Proton capability, but that does not suffice to boost the large
elements that we have; nor does it have robotic capability.
Senator Brownback. You mentioned, though, about taking the
large elements we have, and reconfiguring them. Are you
suggesting breaking those down into smaller parts to be able to
Mr. Readdy. Sir, I'm not even sure that that's feasible. At
this point, we haven't even looked at how complex it would be
to do that.
Senator Brownback. But in NASA's analysis of the future use
of the Space Shuttle, and then shipping them up on a Russian
Mr. Readdy. We don't think that that's feasible right this
minute nonetheless, and our near-term objective, spelled out in
the vision for space exploration is to return the Shuttle to
safe flight in accordance with the Columbia Accident
Investigation Board's findings and recommendations, which we're
on track to do; we were reviewed last week by the Stafford-
Covey Task Group. Also, we have the ``Space Shuttle Return to
Flight and Beyond'' implementation plan that was just issued
last week. And we're making steady progress toward returning to
flight in March or April of next year.
Senator Brownback. Now, if we don't return the Shuttle to
flight, have you contacted the Russians about the possibility
of them taking up more of the parts to finish the ISS? If yes,
whether or not they would be able to do so? Could they
reconfigure some of their work or could we reconfigure the
parts, in order to lift the equipment into space?
Mr. Readdy. Well, I have to commend all our partners for
how well, during the Shuttle down period, we have operated
together; the Europeans have been particularly supportive, as
have the Russians. Certainly, they have launched all the crew
members to International Space Station here in the interim--
most recently, Expedition 9. They have also launched progress
vehicles for propellent, food, water, and some limited spare
Our current operation, though, is constrained by logistics.
Just like an expedition to Antarctica or a deployed carrier
battle group, logistics drives exploration. It did in
Shackleton's time, during his voyages. At the moment, we have
reduced the crew onboard to two crew members in order to be
sustainable, given the Progress resupply vehicles that we have
available to us today.
The Russians and we both learned, during the Shuttle-Mir
era, that Progresses alone were not sufficient. In terms of the
partnership, though, we have the ATV, which is the autonomous
transfer vehicle, being designed and built by the European
Space Agency right now, over in Bremen and is being integrated.
The ATV should be ready for flight next year aboard an Ariane V
launch vehicle that will provide additional logistics
redundancy and a much larger capacity, similar to what the
multipurpose logistics module can launch.
Senator Brownback. Let me sharpen this question, because
I'm going to have to put us in recess right after this.
Have you contacted the Russians about them being able to
finish ISS, and said: ``Would you look at this? Do you have the
capacities? And over what time frame and cost would it take for
you to finish this?''
Mr. Readdy. We have a heads-of-agency meeting that's
planned for the end of July over in Noordwijk, Holland, where
the heads of all the agencies--Canadian, Russian, European, and
Japanese--will meet with the NASA Administrator, where we're
going to discuss the way ahead and what we view to be the
trades involved in the final configuration of International
At this point, the Russians were, in fact, relying on
Shuttle for logistics up front, such as to launch their power
platform. Therefore, we're going to have to engage in this
dialogue with our partners to establish what the way ahead may
Senator Brownback. The reason I'm asking the question that
a lot of Members are asking right now, is because Shuttle's
done great work, but it is very expensive to operate. Do we
need to continue this, or is there another way to finish ISS
without the Shuttle? And I realize there's a very clear answer
here of, say ``No, we just need to get the Shuttle back and
flying, because that's the way it's all configured, and that's
the way it's designed to operate.'' And I understand that
answer, which is a legitimate response. I just want to make
sure that we have looked at all other possible options
regarding this. If we're going to move on to another set of
missions, is there another way, or have we examined all of the
Mr. Readdy. Yes, sir. What we are doing is, we are
critically reviewing the manifests in the way ahead to make
sure that each and every one of those flights buys its way in,
that each and every one of those, not only in sequence is
required, each and every one of those capacities is required to
support exploration. Because that's what this is about--going
to the vision--is to inform us on countermeasures to support
humans for long duration in Earth orbit, so that we can go
beyond low-Earth orbit. And that requires a larger capacity
than we have onboard International Space Station right now, a
larger number of crew members, potentially scores of crew
members, as opposed to right now, where we can fly four crew
members per year in the current configuration.
So clearly that's something that we are looking at within
the International Space Station program, in terms of, not only
assembly, but how to get way up on the glide slope in terms of
logistics, so it will be sustainable for the long term using
other modalities, as opposed to Shuttle.
The line-replaceable units for International Space Station,
those major assemblies, like the control momentum gyros, were
designed, from the very beginning, to be maintained on the
ground, refurbished on the ground, troubleshot on the ground,
and then launched again. So we're going to have to look
completely at the logistics tale for International Space
Station and see what other modalities we might use when we no
longer have the Shuttle available for down-mass and up-mass for
Senator Brownback. Mr. Readdy and Admiral, if you can stay
around for a few minutes, I need to go over and vote. We're at
the back end of this vote. I'll vote and then be back. We'll
probably be in recess about 15 minutes.
Senator Brownback: We'll call the hearing back to order.
Sorry for the extended recess.
Mr. Readdy, I want to follow up on the line of questioning
we were on before I left. Also, let me say at the outset, I
appreciate the great work you folks do at NASA. So, I apologize
for the pointed questioning at times, but we're looking at
where we're going to invest in the next set of technologies,
and the decisions made now will have impact for decades to
come. Hence, I want to make sure that we're making the right
sort of decisions and we have all the information in front of
us when we make these decisions.
That's why I'm asking about particularly our inquiries to
the Russians or the private sector on finishing ISS, which
seems to be the major reason for continuing to have the Space
Shuttle at this point in time; that is, to finish ISS. Would
that be correct?
Mr. Readdy. Yes, sir. And if I could clarify my previous
answer with respect to Russian capability, European capability,
private-sector capability--I think a trip down to the Space
Station processing facility to actually see the hardware would
be extremely instructive. Like a picture is worth a thousands
words, when you go down there, you see the building and see it
full of the hardware that has already been tested, checked out,
integrated, and ready for launch, some people have an
impression of Space Station, because it is modular, that it's
an Erector Set or it's a Lego set that can be taken apart and
put back together again. But when you get down there, and if
you see each one of those launch packages, you realize just how
complex a truss element is; it contains electronics that go
into it. And because it goes around the Earth once every hour
and a half, it experiences extremes in temperature from being
in sunlight and in darkness. And the entire Space Station has
to play together as an integrated element; Russian elements,
Japanese elements, European elements, and our own. To repackage
any of those, irrespective of what kind of launch vehicle, to
change the loads from what the Shuttle experiences, which are
relatively benign during ascent, only three Gs, where we
throttle the main engines back for about the last minute or so
before main-engine cutoff, as Senator Nelson's familiar, that
provides a very benign set of loads. So the Space Station
hardware has a very minimal set of design requirements for
launch. If we were to repackage it, put it on any other kind of
launch vehicle, it would require extensive analysis, possibly
redesign, and de-integration/reintegration, sir.
Senator Brownback. I think you or the Administrator have
previously mentioned it previously to me that you would have to
My question really is, have we searched through all the
Mr. Readdy. Yes, sir, we think we have.
Senator Brownback. Well, let me ask specifically, though,
because your--very troubling to me earlier, when I asked you if
you had officially contacted the Russians about them finishing
ISS; and I take it from your answer, we have not.
Mr. Readdy. Sir, we are in constant communications with the
Russians in this partnership. The Administrator met with Mr.
Perminov just last week while we were over there for the
Expedition 8 landing, and we discussed a number of issues, all
having to do with the final configuration of International
Space Station. A number of those are intended to be readdressed
when we have the heads-of-agency meeting with the other
partners, and that is planned for the end of July over at
Senator Brownback. But we have not officially asked the
Russians, ``Could you finish ISS? Do you have the capacity? And
what would be the price of doing that?''
Mr. Readdy. Just to be clear, the Russians have asked us to
launch some of their elements, and we know what the Russians'
launch capacity is with their Proton launch vehicle. Right now,
the same repackaging would be required for their elements; they
do not have robotic capability.
The unique things that the Shuttle provides have to do with
the crew and robotic interface, the ability for the crewmen to
actually pick up the modules and install them on the
International Space Station. That is something that does not
happen--it is not available in Russia, it is not available
anywhere else in the world at this point.
It would have to be developed, at tremendous expense, and
it would also take time. So we think that the nearest-term,
quickest way to complete assembly of the International Space
Station so that we can get on with the exploration agenda and
learn those lessons that we need to, is to get the Shuttle back
to flying again, in compliance with the Columbia Accident
Investigation Board's report.
Senator Brownback. I don't doubt that what you're saying is
the quickest way to doing this. Nevertheless, I'm also curious
about the safest and the least expensive to us, and I want to
make sure we're inquiring about these other options. Because
maybe it does extend the timeline out to completing ISS, but is
there; the Shuttle's a very expensive program. We're
committing, annually, in excess of somewhere between four to
five billion dollars to the Shuttle program.
Mr. Readdy. Yes, sir.
Senator Brownback. We want to go to the Moon and Mars----
Mr. Readdy. We do.
Senator Brownback.--on human spaceflight. This is a huge
stream of funds, and I want to make sure we've inquired of the
Russians, the private sector, the European space community, and
others about ``Could you finish this? What would you do? How
would you bid the proposal to do this?'' so that we can see, as
we're making these decisions now, that are going to determine
the investment of $50 billion over the next 10 years, or
whatever the case might be, that we're going the right route to
finish this up.
Mr. Readdy. Yes, sir.
Senator Brownback.I'm not convinced that NASA has done
Mr. Readdy. Well, sir, we will assess all the other
capabilities and invite other people to make offerings with the
alternative access to space in 2005 that we have planned. We
have a budget line item that's $140 million. We will be looking
for other opportunities to offload the Space Shuttle to the
things that are not uniquely done--that require crew, that
require robotic capability. And we will do that, sir.
Senator Brownback. Does the United States have the option
in the next few years for heavy lift from other areas? Lockheed
have a heavy-lift capacity coming online in its Atlas V, that
they're going to be testing in a year, is that correct?
Mr. Readdy. Atlas V is flying. I think it's flown three
times successfully, thus far, in a medium-lift capability. I
think the Lockheed company will testify, on the second panel,
as to what their plans are for the way ahead.
The only heavy-lift vehicle right now, besides the Titan
IV, that exists, and is in service of the national defense
right now for two remaining launches, is the Delta IV, which is
planned for this fall.
Senator Brownback. But Lockheed will have this online in a
year or so? Additional heavy lift?
Mr. Readdy.I'd like Lockheed to take the question, sir.
Senator Brownback. All right.
Mr. Readdy. I'm not familiar.
Senator Brownback. And what's the weight of the largest
station element left to launch? Do you know that?
Mr. Readdy. I'll take that as a question, but a Shuttle's
capacity to a Space Station orbit was 36,000 pounds. So that
pretty much capped what each and every one of the launch
packages had to be. But we'll get you the details of each and
every one of the launch packages, so that you know what the
number is, sir.
[John C. Karas of Lockheed Martin replied:]
Atlas V has many versions. The most powerful ``medium/
intermediate'' class is the 500 series. (Even though this vehicle is
classified as an intermediate, it has ``heavy'' lift capability. It has
a -16 foot diameter and -55 foot long payload fairing (approximate
shuttle cargo bay size equivalent) and can fly with 1 to 5 Solid Rocket
Motors (SRM) strap-ons.
This vehicle version first flew on 7/12/03, and was 100 percent
successful. This particular mission flew with 2 solids and has an
equivalent of 28,700 lbs directly to ISS. This exact vehicle will fly a
second time in Dec '04, with a commercial mission. This vehicle
configuration, with 5 SRMs can lift 39,000 lbs to ISS. As a matter of
fact, NASA ``expendable LV and carriers directorate'' has already
bought this vehicle to fly the Pluto new horizons mission in Jan '06.
The other Atlas V we have is our ``heavy'' lift, or triple body.
This vehicle has not yet flown, but is >95 percent common to our 500
series (identical Atlas liquid booster, Centaur upper stage, and 5.4m
payload fairing). This vehicle could be ready to fly within 3 years of
a request from any Government customer. We substitute SRMs for
identical liquid boosters with unique attach hardware. This vehicle has
57,600 lb capability directly to ISS. These vehicles can lift -5-10
percent more if flown to lower ISS phasing orbits, where prox ops
stages like ATV/HTV would operate.
Even though these vehicles have good lift and volume capability to
ISS, there are still several items that have to be added and analyzed
before they can assist in ISS assembly or servicing. These include:
rendezvous and docking capability; STS equivalent payload attachments
and environmental affects on existing ISS hardware; and impacts to
planned human EVA and robotic arm assembly/servicing that would be
different without an orbiter. These responses were jointly coordinated
between Lockheed Martin and Associate Administrator, Bill Readdy before
we both testified to Senator Brownback's appropriations subcommittee on
May 5, 2004.
Lockheed Martin performed this type of payload conversion when DOD
missions were taken off Shuttle and flown on Titans after Challenger,
at a significant cost. In the case of the STS/ISS manifest, there may
be some elements that are easier than others, but this detailed
analysis has not been done.
Follow-Up Question: How much were these significant costs in
converting the DOD payloads off the Shuttle and putting them on Titan
Lockheed Martin Response:
Significant costs were spent on each individual payload
transitioned off Shuttle. Costs were in the hundreds of millions of
dollars each on the payload side and on the launch vehicle side for
analysis, modification and verification. This was tailored for and
repeated for each classified and DOD payload. Less complex spacecraft,
that had more flexible designs and were less integrated with the
Shuttle, were easier to convert and cost less.
Therefore, even if the ELVs described had the necessary lift
capability and developed the other required functions, complex ISS
assembly missions still do not appear feasible to be flown on ELVs due
to cost, schedule and risk factors. However, science and logistics type
mission elements (within the 30 Shuttle mission manifest) appear
feasible and should be studied further.
Senator Brownback. I want to make sure that we're looking
at this on an apples-to-apples basis, that if we've got so much
weight that we need to get up to the Station, are there other
alternatives that are coming on-stream that may not be owned by
NASA--it may be by someplace else--can we do that, and at what
Mr. Readdy. Absolutely. Yes, sir.
Senator Brownback. Are we getting that there? And that's
why I'm trying to determine, you know, what's the weight and
the capacity, what's the ability of others to be able to do.
Now, there's a--being informed--didn't we take large payloads
off the Shuttle in the 1980s, and start launching those on
expendables? Didn't we, when we were----
Mr. Readdy. NASA has always used a mixed-fleet approach for
our scientific payloads. We've launched a number of scientific
payloads and observatories and Department of Defense satellites
on the Space Shuttle. We've also, of course, launched those on
expendable launch vehicles, which we acquire. NASA has had a
policy of acquiring those services from commercial sources, and
continues this day. The Spirit and Opportunity that were just
launched were commercially acquired. The Aura launch that is
going to occur from Vandenberg next month is commercially
acquired; that is a consistent pattern. We use a broad spectrum
of launch vehicles, from Pegasus, at the low end, all the way
up to, right now, what will be the Delta IV and the Atlas V
Senator Brownback. OK. You will be, then, inquiring
specifically of the Russians and----
Mr. Readdy. Yes, sir. We'll----
Senator Brownback.--others about----
Mr. Readdy.--we'll inquire from the Russians, the
Europeans, and all our partners, as well as the private sector.
Senator Brownback. Because before we move forward in the
appropriation process this year, I would want that question
asked and answered about what these other options are and at
what price tag. And I realize these are big questions that take
time to process, particularly when you're going to other
groups, whether it's the Russians, the European Space Agency,
or the private sector, you're going to need time to process the
question that you put in front of them. But if we're investing
this scale of money, if we're going back to the Shuttle that I
continue to have questions about--this has been a great
vehicle; it's done a lot of good. How much is it going to cost
us to be able to get it flying again? And I don't know if you
have a figure yet available on that----
Mr. Readdy. No, sir, we don't.
Senator Brownback.--of what it's going to cost to get the
Shuttle back into space, back flying. Do we know that figure
Mr. Readdy. We could give you our 2005 budget submission,
sir, and we're living within that. And we think that,
currently, March to April next year is achievable. We're making
steady progress toward that.
Senator Brownback. That you will get it back into flight
March or April next year?
Mr. Readdy. Yes, sir. But we're being driven by the
technical milestones along the way--this is not a schedule-
driven exercise. You know, although there are launch windows
that are driven by having to have a daylight launch, having to
have the tank lit when we turn it loose when we get on-orbit,
having to do inspection, and those kinds of things drive some
very narrow windows for us to be able to launch. We'll move
from one window to the next window as we solve the technical
problems, but right now, the technical problems we have in
front of us, we think, are solvable, and we're on track for a
March to April window for next year.
Senator Brownback. Do you think you're going to be able to
stay within budget that you've budgeted for getting the Shuttle
back in flight----
Mr. Readdy. Yes, sir.
Senator Brownback.--by March or April of next year? And
Mr. Readdy. Yes, sir.
Senator Brownback.--you don't see any glitches--none have
presented themselves yet--to being able to do that within your
Mr. Readdy. Within our current appropriation, no, sir. We
don't see any issue at this point. But as time goes on, we're
going to identify whatever technical issues arise, because in
addition to the findings and recommendations of Columbia
Accident Investigation Board, we have also raised the bar on
ourselves. And a number of the things that we have found, like
the rudder speed brake actuator corrosion, were things that
NASA found. So we have raised the bar, in terms of our
We've looked at this with a new lens, the space exploration
division lens, such that we limit the Space Shuttle's life, not
to 2020, but to just those missions that are essential for
completing the International Space Station, those missions that
require the human, robotic, rendezvous, docking, those kinds of
things here in the near term to complete the International
So with that in mind, the re-certification that's going on
right now for return to flight, has got a window that extends
through International Space Station assembly complete.
Senator Brownback. Good. I agree with you on doing this,
not by a timeline, but on milestones; that you hit your
milestones, rather than by a certain date. We don't want the
Shuttle flying again if there are any safety questions that
there remain about it at all.
STATEMENT OF HON. BILL NELSON,
U.S. SENATOR FROM FLORIDA
Senator Nelson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, as you and I have discussed, both publicly
and privately, the question, to me, is not whether or not we
continue flying the Space Shuttle; the question is, how long do
we continue flying the Space Shuttle, not only to get the Space
Station completed, but long enough so that we do not have a
down period between the end of the Space Shuttle and the
beginning of flying of the crew exploration vehicle. That
hiatus, under the time schedule laid out by NASA and the White
House, could be as long as 4 years and, given the propensity
for slowness of development of new, complicated, sophisticated
systems, if it slips like the Space Shuttle did, which was
supposed to fly in 1978 and did not fly until 1981, could be
upwards of 7 years. And what I fear, from a policy standpoint,
is that if we stop flying the Space Shuttle, and it's another 7
years before we have our own American vehicle of access to
space by humans, that that puts us in the unenviable position
of relying on Russian rockets. With the changes in
international politics, with the changes that we've already
seen as a result of September 11, how can we predict the
vagaries of the Russian foreign policy projected now up until
the year 2017? And I'm not sure that this country would want to
rely just on Russian rockets, even if we flew the Space Shuttle
But regardless of what I have just said--and I've said it
many times, till I'm blue in the face--unless we can get the
alarm bell sounded, get the sufficient will marshaled, to have
the Space Shuttle flying safely to complete its mission, as
outlined by NASA here, and to speed up the process of research
and development and testing of a new vehicle, the United States
of America is going to be put exactly in that position, with a
hiatus of not being able to fly. That is what I think is going
to threaten the interests of the United States in having
assured access to space.
Now, take for example--you asked some very good questions
about the ELVs. I came here from a markup in the Department of
Defense authorization bill in our Senate Armed Services
Committee. One of the issues in front of that Committee, which
I think we're going to take care of, is that despite all the
problems that Boeing has had with the ELV contracts, the
resignation of top Boeing officials, and the penalties that
Secretary Peter Teets has put upon Boeing, and so forth, there
are plenty of us that, despite all of that, feel very strongly
that you have to have two lines of ELVs, the Lockheed line,
which, as Mr. Readdy said, is the new Atlas V, and then the
Boeing line, which is the Delta IV. Why? Because if one of
those went down, in this case, we wouldn't have assured access
to space from unmanned vehicles. So that's an issue that you
will confront later on, as we get on down. I think we're coming
out of the Armed Services Committee supporting the position of
two robust lines of EELVs. That's the bigger-lift ELVs of the
future. Of course, the Atlas is already flying.
But then to say, if we've got that robust line, that you
can suddenly take all of these components that have been
designed and now built--and a lot of them are stored down at
the Cape, ready for launch--and suddenly reconfigure them to
put on the top of an ELV that is not man-rated, we're talking
about a considerable bit of time, and a considerable bit of
effort, and a considerable bit of cost.
And so I would submit to you that as we explore the policy
questions, that, at some point in the future, I would ask you,
as the Chairman of the Committee, for let's to focus--once we
get through this policy question which you've raised, which is
``Shuttle or no?''--and if that, as I hope, and I think it will
be answered in the affirmative, yes to Shuttle, then the
question is, ``How long for Shuttle?'' for the protection of
the interest of access to space?
Since I've been in the Armed Services focus, I haven't
heard all the things, but I assume the two witnesses have gone
into the specifics on all the details of loads and design, and
so forth and so on, about the reason for completing the Space
Station. And I think, you know, the Space Shuttle is--it's a
vehicle of risk. There's no doubt about it. You know, it was
billed this last time as, like, one in 500. We now know that
the catastrophic risk factor is two in 113. And yet mistakes
were made that shouldn't have been made. And with the Gehman
Commission report being implemented, it is, in my opinion, that
we're going to be able to fly it as safe as possible, albeit
still an element of risk. And any time that you're going to and
from orbit, you're going to have some considerable risk.
And so I thank you for raising these issues. And if there's
anything on the technical things that haven't raised, they need
to be raised for the record here. And I wish you all would
Senator Brownback. Thank you, Senator Nelson. I appreciate
your thought, and I always appreciate your contributions here.
Of course, we're dependent on the Russians right now, so, I
mean, those things do happen, and they're going to continue to
Senator Nelson. And may I respond to that? Fortunately, we
have the backup system. But that's with the Soyuz. And all
Soyuz can do is carry three people, and not hardly any
additional cargo. And then when Soyuz--or when the Progress
comes up with cargo, it's carrying a very limited amount
because of the size of that particular vehicle. To assemble the
Space Station, you've got these huge components that are
already built that are on the ground that have got to be
launched. And so, for example, if you went just with the
Russians, we can't put any more people up there on the Space
Station than three, because we've got to have the capability,
in case of an emergency, of getting the crew down. To utilize
everything that we have built--not that we've completely
assembled, but that we have built and hope to assemble--we need
a lot more than three people on that Space Station.
Senator Brownback. And that's what we're trying to assess,
whether or not we have options in other places, and what price
those would be.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN B. BREAUX,
U.S. SENATOR FROM LOUISIANA
Senator Breaux. Are we in the question stage yet, or are we
Senator Brownback. I guess we're just chatting. No, we're
in the question--they're in the question phase, and we've got
another panel after this group.
Senator Breaux. OK, well----
Senator Brownback. If you want to hold for that or you can
ask questions of these gentlemen.
Senator Breaux. Well, thank you very much. I apologize, as
we've all been voting and everything else.
And I share a great deal of the sentiment of the Senator
from Florida with regard to the Shuttle. I mean, we've got to
deal in reality here. I mean, it's nice to talk about future
methods of getting into space--outer space, and taking care of
the needs in future exploration, but in the short term and in
the foreseeable future, we're going to be dealing with the
Shuttle, and--at least I think so--and I would just hope that
we can do everything to get it back on track as soon as we
And I happen to have seen Sean O'Keefe in the hall, and we
asked him a few questions before I came here, at lunchtime. And
I was just wondering, can you give me, maybe, Mr. Readdy, an
update on where we are down at Michoud, in New Orleans, with
regard to some of the work that we're looking at after the
Shuttle. I mean, I think we're doing some work down there on an
unmanned--the possibility of moving to an unmanned type of
vehicle to provide the carriage of hardware to Space Station
and into outer space. Can you give me an update both on where
we are with the Shuttle, and, second, where we are with the
work that's being done at Michoud with regard to the unmanned
Mr. Readdy. Yes, sir. Well, first and foremost, we have to
fix the insulation on the tank so that it doesn't come off. We
have to make sure that we have ways to apply that insulation
such that there is quality control, such that it will not come
Senator Breaux. You're saying we have to do it, and we all
agree with that. The question is, Are we doing it?
Mr. Readdy. We are doing it, sir. And we conducted a review
here just in the last couple of weeks. We're making great
progress not only on application of the thermal insulation, but
also doing non-destructive tests and evaluation of that to
assure ourselves that we've done that.
We've also taken a look, through some very, very
sophisticated computational fluid dynamics. This is like a wind
tunnel that has no physical phenomena; it is all modeled in
super-computers--and this allows us to take a model of the
tank, and then see where little pieces of debris hypothetically
could flow as the vehicle accelerates during ascent through the
atmosphere. In addition, we have decided to peel back further
around the side of the tank and institute new measures of
applying the foam, so that none of that foam can transport
itself to someplace where it could do damage to the orbiter.
Senator Breaux. What about the unmanned rocket that they're
doing some work on down there?
Mr. Readdy. We have a number of trade studies that are
underway to see what the way of the future is. Some of them
include taking the expendable launch vehicles that we currently
have in the inventory, and that are planned for future growth,
into heavy-lift capacities to see how we could grow them even
further. Some of the other trades include using Space Shuttle
hardware, and being able to use that for an ultra-heavy lift
capability. So those are all in the trade space that Admiral
Steidle and his people are working on.
Senator Breaux. Can you give me an update on the work of
the Kistler operation down there? What are they doing?
Mr. Readdy. The Kistler operation--we have thrown this wide
open to a variety of proposals--not only commercial
suggestions, but also in the private sector--and we had a
competitive competition here; there were four proposals, which
collapsed down to a single one. We went through the procedures
and our procurement regulations and policies, and issued a
justification for other than full and open competition because
there was a single provider. I have to tell you that, at this
moment, that procurement is under protest. The GAO is reviewing
it, and I really can't comment much more on that matter at this
Senator Breaux. OK. Can you give us a time-frame on it,
then, maybe about the----
Mr. Readdy. We expect that this summer and we'll abide by
the recommendations of the GAO.
Senator Breaux. OK. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Senator Breaux follows:]
Prepared Statement of Hon. John B. Breaux, U.S. Senator from Louisiana
There are lots of things we could talk about today: the timetable
and justification of the President's Vision, what kinds of new
technologies and vehicles we'll need to go to the Moon, the health of
the U.S. Space Industry, the desperate need this Nation has to renew
our launch systems and capabilities. That's what we should discuss
today. Whether the Congress accepts the President's Vision or not, the
health of the U.S. Space Industry is certainly an important and timely
But if we're going to discuss doing away with the Shuttle--now,
immediately--that changes the topic of today's discussion.
But that's a big step to assume we're going to take when we don't
have any replacements for our current fleet of U.S. Space Shuttles and
no means of getting to the next generation of crewed vehicles.
I personally can't foresee how we can say that we are renewing the
U.S. Space Program if we also propose to stop everything we're doing,
for a very long time, while we reengineer NASA from bottom to top.
That's one way to renew the U.S. Space Program, but you'd be destroying
That's just the wrong idea, it seems to me, and takes us further
into a hole instead of helping us find our way out of it. We may not
all like where the space program has taken us, but we're here and
there's no easy answer to turning it around.
While it's true that if we were to start running down the path of
shutting down the Shuttle and further limiting our commitment to the
International Space Station, a number of issues are resolved. We
wouldn't have trouble finding money to go back to the Moon. We could
continue NASA science and aeronautics programs without interruption.
And we be facing a future gap when we're flying U.S. astronauts aboard
Russian space vehicles--we'd just be extending the gap we're in today.
Those seem like easy conclusions to come to. But while it may feel
good to come to a much easier answer, I don't think it's the right
answer. The Congress should not take any action that further
jeapordizes the reputation and prestige of the United States in how it
conducts its Space Program and how it honors its commitments to the
I think we need to come to agreement on what we're going to do, get
our International Partners more involved in the discussion, and find
out from industry and other U.S. space participants what can be done
here. The President's Vision, as well intended as it might have been,
hasn't stopped the discussion nor moved the country forward. I'm not
sure what will move us forward from the current circumstance, short of
spending a lot more on Space than this President and this Congress
intends to spend. But we are in gridlock, and I hope we can find a way
out of it.
Senator Brownback. Thank you very much. I appreciate the
panel, and I appreciate your input. I do want to hear back from
you on some of the questions, and we'll pose those to you in
writing, as well.
Mr. Readdy. Yes, sir.
Senator Brownback. The second panel, Mr. Mike Kahn, Vice
President of Space Operations, ATK Thiokol; Dr. John Karas,
Vice President of Space Exploration, Lockheed Martin; Mr.
Robert Hickman, Director of Advanced Spacelift Force
Application Directorate, the Aerospace Corporation; and Mr.
Elon Musk, Chief Executive Officer, Space Exploration
Thank you, gentlemen, for joining us.
Senator Brownback. Mr. Kahn, I believe we'll start with
you. I'll need to vacate in about 30 minutes, so we're going to
run the clock here at 5 minutes for each of you, if that would
be acceptable. Mr. Kahn, we'll start with you. And if we could
hear your testimony. Your full presentation will be put into
the record, so you're free to summarize and make your major
points that way.
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL KAHN, VICE PRESIDENT, SPACE OPERATIONS,
ATK THIOKOL INC.
Mr. Kahn. Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank
you for the invitation to appear before you and discuss future
launch options for the Nation's human space program.
ATK applauds the President for articulating his vision for
the Nation's exploration program, and fully supports its
implementation. ATK is proud of its participation in the Space
Shuttle program, and looks forward to our continued involvement
in human and robotic missions.
Senator Brownback. Could you get that microphone a little
closer to you, would you, please?
Mr. Kahn. Thank you.
Senator Brownback. Thanks.
Mr. Kahn. In my career, I've had the privilege to
participate in many NASA programs, and I have experienced
firsthand the excitement that comes with technical achievements
and mission success. This success is what fuels our
imagination, motivates us to advance technology, and gives us
the confidence to meet future challenges.
There are three points I would like to cover on why the
Space Shuttle system is so vital to continued human access to
space, and how derivatives of this system can be the key
enabler to achieve the objective of the space exploration
The first step to achieve the space exploration vision is
to continue the U.S. presence in space by returning the Shuttle
to flight and completing construction of the International
Space Station. We recognize the need to finish the Station,
allowing space science to continue. The Shuttle is critical to
completing the Station assembly, and we look forward to the
Shuttle returning to flight as soon as it is safe to so do.
Second, we recognize the importance of the U.S. space
policy that supports a mixed fleet of vehicles. Following this
policy will maintain the integrity of the industrial base, and
assure access to space. The unique capabilities of the existing
fleet of Shuttle, EELVs, and commercial launch vehicles has
served us well in the past, and may offer advantages where they
can best serve exploration safely and affordably. The focus and
resources for space exploration should be applied to building
exploration capability and hardware that will be needed in
order to travel to and function on the Moon and Mars, getting
there and back, going beyond; not spent on something that can
already be done, getting cargo and humans to low-Earth orbit.
Which really brings me to my third and primary point. We
recognize there are numerous studies to put exploration
payloads in orbit and assure they are affordable and
sustainable. We are working with our industry partners to
provide options that utilize the unique capabilities of a
Shuttle infrastructure that can offer tremendous advantages.
By replacing the orbiter with a cargo-carrying module, and
using select components of the Shuttle propulsion systems, a
wide spectrum of capabilities that are sustainable and
affordable can be offered--multiple missions, common hardware--
most of which are already in place and flight-proven.
For heavy lift, by attaching a cargo carrier to the
external tank and using some of the existing capabilities, like
the booster's engines, launch pad, critical skills, we can have
a heavy-launch payload, 150,000 pounds to orbit, which is three
times the current capability. Since everything except the cargo
carrier is already in operation, the cost to develop and fly
the system is substantially reduced. In fact, this heavy-lift
system could even start flying before the Shuttle program ends,
sharing common hardware systems and people, which would make it
even more cost effective.
In later years, if payload requirements grow and
advantageous spiral development approach does exist to meet
future needs, the flexibility is in place to use longer
boosters, like the 5-segment motor tested last October, or a
longer tank, which could put almost 200,000 pounds to orbit, or
even an in-line configuration that could approach 225,000
On a smaller scale, the crew exploration vehicle program
plan shows demonstrator flights as early as 2008, with unmanned
flights by 2011. And since this vehicle only weighs 35,000 to
40,000 pounds, heavy-lift configuration may not be required.
But in keeping with the approach of maximizing use of
common infrastructure, common people, so costs and risks can be
minimized, and safety and reliability maximized, a Shuttle-
derived solution could also be considered. A human-rated,
flight-proven CEV launch system can be available by simply
utilizing a single booster with a liquid-engine second-stage.
This configuration would use the same infrastructure--again,
launch pad, people--as the heavy-lift system. Additionally, if
there are 35,000 or 40,000 pounds of payload instead of the
CEV, you could use the same system, further improving cost
By leveraging what has been invested in over the past 20
years in people, systems, production processing facilities, and
the knowledge and experience gained on these human-rated
elements, an exploration transportation system can be
structured to minimize risk and cost while maximizing safety
and reliability. Strong consideration should be given to an
exploration transportation system that is derived from the
experience-base and maximizes use of demonstrated common
hardware. And by replacing the orbiter with a cargo carrier,
operating costs can be reduced.
We recognize that EELV and commercial options are being
reviewed, and know they can play a role; but for heavy lift and
human lift, the demonstrated reliability and use of existing
derived elements offer a low-risk and cost-effective approach.
The Shuttle program embodies a significant national
resource of people--engineers, technicians, leaders--hardware
facilities, and tooling. The program has benefited from the
growing and learning that comes from human spaceflight. If this
knowledge capability can be utilized, the drive for science and
exploration can proceed with confidence, and minimize the cost
and schedule impacts with a new system.
So, in summary, the Shuttle program not only plays a vital
role in completing the Station and starting our progress toward
exploration, but elements of this program may also serve as the
building blocks for the exploration transportation system of
tomorrow. The benefits of using these demonstrated, well-
understood elements with common infrastructure across different
exploration missions will give the program the foundation and
confidence to meet the cost and schedule targets laid out by
the President. In fact, the benefits to safety should not go
without notice, either; not just because these systems were
designed and maintained over the years to be man-rated, but the
workforce in place today, supporting Space Shuttle, knowing
their efforts will evolve, versus end, will be a tremendous
motivation and source of security that will help enhance our
focus on safety. Investments in the existing infrastructure
will also have a better long-term utilization.
A propulsion system derived from Shuttle will allow maximum
attention and resources to be applied to the challenging
elements of exploration: living on the Moon, going to Mars, and
things that have not been done. The elements of this propulsion
system are already in operation, demonstrated, and fully
capable to meet the safety, cost, and scheduled growth needs of
Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with
you. I'll be pleased to respond to your questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Kahn follows:]
Prepared Statement of Michael Kahn, Vice President, Space Programs,
ATK Thiokol Inc.
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, thank you for the
invitation to appear before you to discuss future launch options for
the Nation's human space flight program. ATK applauds the President for
articulating a vision for the Nation's space exploration program and
fully supports its implementation. ATK is proud of its participation in
the Space Shuttle program and looks forward to our continued
involvement in human and robotic missions.
In my career I have had the privilege to participate in many NASA
programs and have experienced first hand the excitement that comes with
technical achievements and mission success. This success is what fuels
our imagination, motivates us to advance technology and gives us
confidence to meet future challenges.
There are three points I would like to cover on why the Space
Shuttle system is vital to continued U.S. human access to space and why
derivatives of this system can be the key enabler to achieve the
objectives of the space exploration vision.
The first step to achieve the space exploration vision is to
continue the U.S. presence in space by returning the Shuttle to flight
and completing construction of the International Space Station (ISS).
We recognize the need to finish the ISS, allowing space science to
continue and enabling future human space science and exploration. The
Space Shuttle is critical in completing the ISS assembly, and we look
forward to returning the Shuttle to flight as soon as it is safe to do
Second, we recognize the importance of U.S. space policy that
supports a mixed fleet of launch vehicles. Following this policy will
maintain the integrity of the industrial base and assure access to
space. The unique capabilities of the existing fleet of Shuttle, EELV's
and commercial launch vehicles have served us well in the past, and may
offer advantages where they can best serve exploration safely and
affordably. The focus and the resources for space exploration should be
applied to building exploration capability and hardware that will be
needed in order to travel to and function on the Moon and Mars, getting
there and back, and going beyond, not spent on something that already
can be done--getting cargo and humans to low-Earth orbit. Which brings
me to my third and primary point.
We recognize there are numerous studies on how to put exploration
payloads (CEV or heavy) into orbit in an affordable and sustainable
manner. We are working with our industry partners to provide options
that utilize the unique capabilities of the Shuttle infrastructure.
This can offer tremendous advantages. By replacing the orbiter with a
cargo-carrying module and using components of the Shuttle propulsion
system, a wide spectrum of capabilities that are sustainable and
affordable can be offered; Multiple missions--common hardware. Most of
which are already in place and flight proven.
For heavy lift, by attaching a cargo carrier to the external tank
and using some of the existing capabilities, such as boosters, engines,
launch pad, skills, etc.--we can launch a heavy payload--150K lbs to
orbit, which is three times the current capability. Since everything
except the cargo carrier is already in operation, the cost to develop
and fly this system is substantially reduced. In fact, this heavy lift
system could even start flying before the Shuttle program ends--sharing
common hardware, systems, and trained people. This would make it even
more cost effective.
In later years, if payload requirements grow, an advantageous
spiral development approach exists to meet future needs. The
flexibility is in place to use longer boosters like the 5-segment
Shuttle motor tested last October, and a longer fuel tank to launch
almost 200K lbs to orbit, or an in-line configuration that could
approach 225K lbs.
On a smaller scale--the crew exploration vehicle program plan shows
demonstrator flights as early as 2008, and unmanned vehicle flights by
2011. Since this vehicle will probably only weigh 35-40K lbs, the heavy
lift configuration may not be required. In keeping with the approach of
maximizing use of common hardware and proven infrastructure so costs
and risks can be minimized, and safety and reliability maximized, a
Shuttle-derived solution should also be considered.
A human rated and flight proven CEV launch system can be available
by simply utilizing a single booster combined with a liquid engine
second stage. This configuration would use the same infrastructure,
launch pad and people as the heavy lift transportation system.
Additionally, if there is a 35-40K lb payload/cargo requirement instead
of the CEV, the same system could be used--further improving overall
By leveraging what has been invested over the past 20 years in
people, systems, production and processing facilities, and also the
knowledge and experience gained on these human rated elements an
exploration transportation system can be structured that minimizes risk
and cost, while maximizing safety and reliability. Strong consideration
should be given to an exploration transportation system that is derived
from this experience base, and maximizes use of demonstrated common
hardware and infrastructure. And by replacing the orbiter with a cargo
carrier or CEV, operating costs will be reduced. We recognize that EELV
and commercial options are also being reviewed, and know they can play
a role, but for heavy lift and human lift (CEV), the demonstrated
reliability and use of existing Shuttle derived elements offer a low
risk and cost effective approach.
The Shuttle program embodies a significant national resource of
people (engineers, technicians, and leaders), hardware, facilities and
tooling. The program has benefited from the growing and learning that
comes with human space flight experience. If this knowledge and
capability can be utilized, the drive for science and exploration can
proceed with confidence and minimize the cost and schedule impacts that
come with developing new launch systems.
In summary, the Shuttle program not only plays a vital role in
completing the ISS and starting our progress toward exploration, but
elements of the program may also serve as the building blocks for the
exploration transportation system of tomorrow. The benefits of using
these demonstrated, well understood elements, with common
infrastructure across different exploration missions will give the
program the foundation and confidence to meet the cost and schedule
targets laid out by the President. In fact, the benefits to safety
should not go without notice either--not just because these systems
were designed and maintained over the years to be human-rated, but the
workforce in place today supporting the Space Shuttle, knowing their
efforts will evolve instead of end, will be a tremendous motivation and
source of security that will only help to enhance the focus on safety.
Investments in the existing infrastructure will also have better long-
A propulsion system derived from the Shuttle will allow maximum
attention and resources to be applied to the challenging elements of
the exploration missions--living on the moon, going to Mars, and other
things that have not been done. The elements of this propulsion system
are already in operation, demonstrated, and fully capable to meet the
safety, cost, schedule and growth needs of tomorrow.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you, I will
be pleased to respond to any questions that you may have.
Senator Brownback. I appreciate those thoughts, Mr. Kahn.
STATEMENT OF JOHN KARAS, VICE PRESIDENT, SPACE EXPLORATION,
Dr. Karas. Yes, sir.
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee, distinguished
panel members, thank you for the opportunity to appear before
you to discuss U.S. launch-vehicle capabilities for meeting the
vision of space exploration. We are truly excited about the
journey the vision sets for our country, and I appreciate your
leadership in moving this forward to realize this goal.
Mr. Chairman, Lockheed Martin is dedicated to each step of
the vision--first, helping NASA successfully return to flight.
We are working with Associate Administrator Bill Readdy in
delivering improved hardware that supports the Shuttle from
several operating units within the corporation, and we are also
applying CAIB findings not only to Shuttle and the external
tank, as well as other products within Lockheed Martin. We're
also working closely with Admiral Steidle and his team to help
define space-exploration architectures, which will ultimately
drive all the space transportation elements, and specifically
the heavy-lift requirements, for the future.
Lockheed Martin, in preparation for these studies, has
several alternatives at work: one is being ELV-derived, one
being Shuttle-derived, and clean-sheet vehicles. And everything
that we're doing there is to trade those off as evenly as we
My written testimony is primarily focused on ELV, as
requested. However, I believe each of these solutions is
technically capable of evolving to meet the space-exploration
heavy-lift requirements. The answer will be driven by two
things: affordability and sustainability, or the nonrecurring
and development costs of these systems, and the total mission
manifest. That will include smaller robotic and scientific
missions, larger CEV missions, ISS missions, and, potentially,
DOD missions as an overall aggregate manifest.
Focusing now on ELVs, both the Atlas V and Delta IV ELVs--
vehicles, in general, are very well prepared to evolve or
spiral from today's capability. In the case of Atlas, we have
introduced eight different models over the last 12 years, each
successful on their maiden flights, each adding performance.
Today's fleet of Atlas Vs can provide between 20,000 pounds and
60,000 pounds to low-Earth orbit. ELVs have not only increased
in performance, but increased reliability and operability
through new processes and new infrastructures. These
infrastructures also have plenty of growth already built in. It
is this proven, controlled-risk approach we've applied in the
past that will apply to the future of the heavy-lift vehicle.
Atlas ELV has formulated a phased growth plan consisting of
manageable risk and performance increments to match the
potential range of needs. Utilizing new booster propulsion and
the new ground airborne avionics and structures, all developed
on ELV, we could increase tank size or number of engines, just
like we did in earlier progressions, to grow to about 160,000
pounds to low-Earth orbit; we can do this in 25,000-pound
increments. This range of vehicles also fit into the existing
ELV operations and infrastructure as is today.
These configurations also have the benefit that each
element can reach back to service existing commercial, civil,
and DOD markets. We can strap more of these large boosters
together and achieve over 200,000 pounds to low-Earth orbit.
However, these vehicles call for ELV infrastructure changes and
improved, more modern upper-stage engines with more thrust and
reliability. It seems, at the upper end of the spectrum,
whether you're talking about EELV, Shuttle-derived, or clean-
sheet approaches, they all have similar performance-improvement
needs and changes in their infrastructure.
In general, I believe there is an adequate number of
solutions in the heavy-lift performance range to choose from.
As I mentioned before, the architectural requirements will
define the mission model and the affordability level. These
items will drive the answer to what's the correct heavy-lift,
not so much the technology. Economics will dictate lower
development costs with lower risk, minimizing overall
infrastructure costs. And assuming super-heavy/flies-
infrequently systems, with elements that can reach back into
rate synergies or reach forward into other in-space
transportation vehicles, will fare better than others.
Each option has pluses and minuses, and requires further
study. So I recommend we don't really get ahead of ourselves
yet, but work with Admiral Steidle and make sure we define
In that vein, we look forward to working with NASA and our
industry partners in defining requirements and refining these
trades. Our goal is to attain a successful space transportation
system, one that makes space exploration vision a reality.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Karas follows:]
Prepared Statement of John Karas, Vice President, Space Exploration,
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I would like to thank
you for this opportunity to appear before you to discuss U.S. launch
capabilities for meeting the national vision for space exploration. We
are truly excited about the journey that the vision sets for this
country, and I appreciate your leadership in moving us forward to
realize our vision.
I am reminded of what Robert Heinlein wrote, ``Once you get to
earth orbit, you're halfway to anywhere in the solar system.'' As we
were reminded by Challenger, getting to orbit is still risky; and as we
were reminded by Columbia, coming home is still risky. It's the first
and last 100 miles that are the hardest. As we move forward on this
bold national vision for space exploration, we need to carefully learn
and not repeat the lessons of almost 50 years of spaceflight. I would
like to provide a few recommendations based on our experience and
First, as specified in the vision, our priority is to return the
Space Shuttle to flight so that we can complete the International Space
Station and regain our momentum and yes, confidence for human space
exploration. I was honored to lead the Lockheed Martin Independent
Review Team looking into the Space Shuttle External Tank. Lockheed
Martin is supporting return to flight with all the necessary Corporate
resources. We all must continue to incorporate the lessons and
recommendations in the Columbia Accident Investigation Board report,
not only for the Space Shuttle return to flight, but in everything that
we do. For example, we are currently applying every applicable idea and
recommendation in the CAIB report to the Atlas EELV launch system to
make it even more reliable and robust. In keeping with the CAIB report,
Lockheed Martin is also investigating alternative concepts and methods
to assemble and service the Space Station in an attempt to reduce loss
of crew risk.
Next, before we can adequately address the space transportation
capabilities that will be needed for near-term or future space
exploration, I have to stop and ask, ``What are the requirements?''
I've seen bold statements that we will need heavy lift approaching 50
to 100 tons to low-Earth orbit, yet the Space Exploration Level 1
requirements from NASA will not be available until September. Admiral
Steidle and Code T are working diligently within NASA and with industry
to establish these foundation requirements. I caution us not to get
ahead of ourselves. How do we know whether existing launch vehicles
will or will not satisfy our exploration needs for the next 20 years
without understanding the exploration missions and requirements? We
often like to jump to solutions, but it's not about heavy lift or
developing new launch vehicles--it's not about the Nina, Pinta or Santa
Maria (vessels to get there), it's about the affordability of the
In the early 1960s, we did not have existing launch vehicles going
to space. A portion of the Apollo funding went into converting ICBMs to
be space launch vehicles or developing a new Saturn V launch vehicle.
Today, we are fortunate to have new launch capabilities through the
EELV program. We are working with NASA to look at all options, as shown
in Exhibit #1, in a systematic trade study, and keeping our options
open until we have definitive requirements that will drive selection
criteria and downselect to an optimal solution. These options include
utilizing the EELV, Space Shuttle-derived, hybrid options, or a new
clean sheet approach. All options are viable until we can perform
adequate analysis based on the exploration requirements. The majority
of my testimony focuses on EELV-derived vehicles per your request.
Existing EELV Capabilities
Another lesson that we can take from the 60s is that incremental,
evolutionary development is critical. We did not get to the moon the
first time by jumping directly to the Saturn V. We built, demonstrated,
and learned on Mercury/Atlas to Gemini/Titan to Apollo/Saturn; it took
us 68 unmanned launches and 20 human spaceflight launches before Neil
Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the moon. We learned valuable
lessons along the way at each incremental step, building capability and
confidence for the next step. The Atlas V EELV today was built with
that same model of evolutionary development from Atlas I, II, IIA,
IIAS, III, to the family of Atlas V vehicles we have today, as depicted
in Exhibit #2. Today, our Atlas V EELV covers a broad range of
capabilities all of the way to approximately 65,000 lbs to low-Earth
orbit, for government, commercial, and international customers at half
the cost of just 10 years ago. At the same time, we have improved
reliability through fault tolerance and parts count reductions and
increased payload volume. In addition to vehicle improvements, we have
drastically improved operations efficiency. We have created new
infrastructure that doubles our flight rate, which is operated with
reduced overhead cost, and increased responsiveness with demonstrated
eight hours from vehicle on stand to launch.
Another lesson from the 60s that is critical for this program to be
affordable and sustainable is NASA and DOD synergy. An Air Force ICBM
called the Atlas was converted to the launch vehicle for the Mercury
program to send John Glenn into orbit. The Air Force's larger ICBM
called the Titan II was converted to the launch vehicle for the Gemini
Program. While an Atlas ICBM is different from the human-rated space
launch vehicle used for Mercury, they are fundamentally the same
technology, and common processes, and provide economies of scale and
utilization of the industrial base that benefited both NASA, the DOD,
and the entire nation. When we move away from NASA-DOD synergy, as was
demonstrated with the Saturn V and the Space Shuttle, one agency has
difficulty maintaining an affordable and sustainable program. We have
the opportunity again with a brand new fleet of advanced technology
EELV launch vehicles to capitalize on investments by the DOD, Lockheed
Martin, and Boeing, to once again have that synergy for mutual benefit.
We have already studied improvements for human rating the Atlas V that
will no doubt provide higher reliability and service for DOD and
commercial customers. This is not unlike the improvements that we
implemented in developing the Titan III for the Air Force, based on
lessons from human rating the Titan II for NASA.
I also must mention a key lesson that we learned from Challenger:
assured access to space. Access to space is no longer a luxury, but a
necessity. This nation is dependent on our space assets. We need a
robust system that has assured access in the event of a failure, so
that we are not stranded without a launch capability for two years as
we saw post-Challenger and now post-Columbia. Fortunately, the Atlas V
and Delta IV EELV systems we have today are providing assured access to
space with two very capable but independent systems.
Atlas Growth And Other Capabilities
When larger lift capability is required for extensive moon or Mars
missions after 2015, the Atlas V will be able to meet the exploration
requirements. As shown in Exhibit #3, with incremental steps from the
current Atlas heavy, we can improve performance up to greater than
Saturn V class lift. The first step is to expand our upper stage
capabilities with larger tanks and existing propulsion. Both the Atlas
V and Delta IV EELVs can get you to orbit; however, requirements will
dictate that we go beyond Earth orbit. We would benefit from new in-
space propulsion capabilities to efficiently break the bonds of Earth
orbit. Unlike new booster engines that both Atlas and Delta have
developed, more modern, larger upper stage thrust engines would enhance
reliability and performance. We then can greatly improve our
performance by just increasing the size of the booster fuel tanks and
adding existing engines, not unlike when we developed the Redstone
rocket, grew it to the Saturn I and, finally, the Saturn V rocket with
common upper stage elements.
These vehicles up through 75 metric tons are compatible with
today's existing EELV infrastructure. Further enhancements could be
realized through partial reusability of the boosters, which are the
easiest to recover. When I say partial reusability, I am referring to
reusing only the most expensive elements, such as the engines and
avionics with 3-5 uses. These methods date back to Saturn in the `60s
and Atlas conducted experiments in the late 80s/early 90s to validate
these concepts. If these concepts are implemented, recurring cost of
less than $2,000 per pound could be achieved. This approach also
minimizes development cost and performance impacts versus a fully
As vehicle designs approach 100 metric tons or more, even larger
stage elements become necessary, trending towards LO2/RP
boosters with LO2/LH2 core or second stages. This
trend might suggest mixed fleet or hybrid combinations of EELV and
Shuttle-derived elements, taking the best from each. This is analogous
of how we combined the best elements of the Titan and Atlas launch
vehicles to create the Atlas V. Also, we need to consider other
technologies being developed within DARPA, like the Falcon Program, and
other NASA and Air Force propulsion programs to provide the best
solution within the space transportation, heavy lift trade space.
HLV Trade Study Drivers
Even though I have focused on the expendable launch vehicle
capabilities, the methods and approaches described can be applied to
Shuttle-derived or clean sheet solutions. Regardless of the solution,
the key is not just meeting performance requirements but affordability
and sustainability requirements as well. In order to meet those cost
requirements, we must minimize the non-recurring costs while reducing
and distributing overhead and infrastructure costs. Therefore, the
larger-lift vehicle elements that fly infrequently must be synergistic
with smaller higher-rate elements, such as CEV, ISS servicing, robotic
exploration, and DOD missions. This common element approach is what
enables the current EELV fleet to have cost effective, heavy class
vehicles, unlike in the past where Titan, Atlas and Delta had
independent hardware and infrastructures. Currently we have an
abundance of credible solutions with existing technologies for heavy
lift. After the exploration and overall space transportation
requirements are defined, we can then complete the economic trade-offs.
The national vision for Space Exploration calls for international
cooperation. We support this vision and believe it is important to
enhance the sustainability and affordability of the Space Exploration
vision. We have already implemented this model of international
cooperation, not only on the International Space Station, but in the
development of the Atlas V with the use of a rocket engine technology
from Russia, payload fairing from Switzerland, and structures from
Spain. We also have other business partnerships with Russian, European
and Japanese companies that look forward to bringing their technology
for space exploration.
In closing, our new expendable launch vehicles, Shuttle-derived,
and clean sheet approaches can have the same or better capabilities by
providing significantly more reliability than even their recent
versions through continual improvements. However, no system will be
perfect or invulnerable to failure. It would be negligent of us all to
develop a launch system for space exploration that does not provide our
astronauts a way out on a ``bad day.'' The Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo
systems all had crew escape systems. It is imperative that we maximize
crew safety through continual improvements of launch vehicle
reliabilities, institute integrated vehicle health management to warn
us if something is going wrong, and deploy crew escape systems that are
robust enough to protect our brave explorers.
Mr. Chairman, I would be happy to answer any questions you or
Members of the Subcommittee may have. Thank you.
Resume of John C. Karas, Vice President, Space Exploration, Lockheed
Martin Space Systems Company
Joined Corporation in 1978
Appointed to Space Exploration position February 2004
John Karas is Vice President of Space Exploration for Lockheed
Martin Space Systems Company. In this position, he is responsible for
coordinating the corporation's capabilities and assets for human and
robotic space exploration. Previously, he served as Vice President,
Business Development, and was responsible for strategic planning,
advanced technology concepts, and new business acquisition efforts for
strategic and defensive missiles, and commercial, civil, and classified
space lines of business. Karas reports directly to Tom Marsh, Executive
Vice President, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company.
Previously, Karas served as Vice President, Atlas and Advanced
Space Transportation, for Lockheed Martin Space Systems. This
responsibility included launch systems development and recurring
operations for the Atlas program and advanced space transportation
opportunities such as Orbital Space Plane and other manned, unmanned,
reusable and expendable systems, including their respective business
development, implementation and operations.
Karas served as Vice President and Deputy of the EELV/Atlas V
organization from March 1997 to December 2002 and was responsible for
developing new launch vehicles such as the Atlas IIIA, IIIB and Atlas V
family, and their launch facilities.
Karas began his career with General Dynamics Space Systems Division
in 1978 and joined Lockheed Martin in May 1994 when Lockheed Martin
acquired the Space Systems Division. From 1995 to 1997, Karas served as
program director for advanced Atlas launch vehicles, specifically the
Atlas IIIA launch system. He was instrumental in the creation of the
company's launch vehicle strategy, which included the evolution of the
Atlas II, III and V family of launch vehicles.
Karas was Director of the Advanced Space Systems and Technology
department and Site Director of the company's operations in Huntsville,
Alabama from 1991 to 1995. In this position, he was responsible for
management of operations research, system predesign, technology
development and new business funds for the entire division. Under his
direction, the department focused on structures and propulsion
technology. For example, new materials (aluminum-lithium and
composites) and manufacturing technologies (near-net forming) were
matured for cryogenic tanks. New cryogenic feedlines and Russian
engines and subsystems such as the initiation and development of RD-
180, advanced Russian propellants and flange tests also were completed
during propulsion technology development, all of which were
successfully transitioned into production on the Atlas III, Atlas V and
EELV programs. Karas was also responsible for Single Stage To Orbit and
National Aerospace Plane cryogenic systems and contracted R&D.
Karas served as Manager of Advanced Avionics Systems from 1986 to
1989. This group was responsible for new technology demonstration;
conceptual predesign; avionics system design; and system integration
lab testing for airborne guidance, navigation, and control (GN&C)
functions. These new technologies included developments such as
adaptive GN&C, multiple fault-tolerant controls, a totally electric
vehicle using electromechanical actuators and artificial intelligence
applications. The Advanced Avionics Systems group also had the
responsibility for the development of independent and contract research
and development (IR&D and CR&D) and insertion of new cost savings and
performance enhancement technologies into existing products. During his
tenure in this position, Karas was designated ``Employee of the Year''
for the development leading to the upgrade of the Atlas avionics
Prior to leading the advanced avionics department, Karas spent
seven years working all levels of integration on the Shuttle-Centaur
program. Karas led the integration of Centaur and associated airborne
and ground support equipment with Shuttle Airborne, Ground Systems and
Flight Operations. In this capacity, Karas became very familiar with
reusable, manned systems and with operations at NASA's Johnson, Kennedy
and Lewis Space Centers.
His technical expertise includes system definition, propulsion &
avionic technology development and insertion, and hardware/software
integration. Karas also has developed redundancy management concepts
for several flight-critical systems and their associated system
demonstration and validation techniques. Karas has served on several
national and international committees on these subjects.
In 1987 Karas was named employee of the year for advanced avionics.
Karas was one of five senior managers that received Aviation Week's
2000 Laureate Award for Aeronautics/Propulsion for development and
integration of the RD-180 Russian engine with Lockheed Martin's Atlas
launch vehicle. He was also named Lockheed Martin Astronautics Manager
of the Year for 2000. Karas and the Atlas team were awarded the 2002
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Leadership Award for the on-cost and on-
schedule successful first launch of EELV/Atlas V. Most recently, Karas
received the Houston Rotary Stellar award for Atlas V and launch site
in March 2004.
Karas received his bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from
the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1978. While working toward his
degree, Karas was a co-op student for four years where he worked for
NASA at the Kennedy Space Center. Karas has taken advanced course work
toward a master's degree in engineering and an MBA.
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Senator Brownback. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT A. HICKMAN, DIRECTOR, ADVANCED LAUNCH
CONCEPTS, THE AEROSPACE CORPORATION
Mr. Hickman. Mr. Chairman, distinguished Committee Members,
and staff, The Aerospace Corporation is a federally funded
research and development corporation which supports the Air
Force Space and Missile Center. For the past 44 years, we've
helped the Air Force plan and develop launch systems.
I'd like to discuss recent aerospace studies that have got
launch-system concepts that could support national needs.
While today's launch fleets are adequate to support current
launch mission manifests, all sectors of the space community
are seeking new transformational capabilities. The Air Force is
planning tactical space missions to support warfighters in real
time. These tactical payloads will weighs less than 10,000
pounds, and require very responsive and affordable launch
From a civil perspective, the plan announced by the
President to return to the Moon and eventually go to Mars is
anticipated to need a very large launch vehicle with a lift
capacity exceeding 100,000 pounds, and it would operate with a
relatively low launch rate. To regain our competitive
advantage, the United States commercial sector needs
significantly lower launch costs in the 10,000- to 40,000-pound
In terms of launch-vehicle options, the current expendable
launch vehicle range in price from $5,000 to $10,000 per pound.
Significant decreases in the cost of medium- and heavy-lift
launch are not anticipated. However, the Air Force and DARPA
are engaged in a program known as FALCON to reduce the cost of
small launch vehicles.
Reusable launch vehicles can potentially lower the cost by
reusing flight hardware; but in the case of the Shuttle, that
did not occur. Understanding the achievable operability of
future reusable launch systems is crucial in determining their
viability. Our detailed operability analysis indicates that,
using current technologies, reusable launch vehicles can be
developed which can be processed in 2 to 10 days. Even given
this range of uncertainty and operability estimates, additional
data is needed to determine if reusables have a clear cost
advantage over expendable systems.
On the other hand, hybrid vehicles, consisting of a
combination of a reusable first stage and expendable upper
stages, provides a lower-risk alternative to achieve responsive
and affordable space lift. They could potentially reduce the
current launch cost by a factor of three, and achieve a routine
churn time of 2 to 4 days. The hybrid vehicle requires only
about a third of the amount of disposable hardware as an
expendable system, and less than half of the hardware of a
fully reusable system.
If you--in Figure 1 in the handout, it depicts the
estimated manpower to process a hybrid, compared to the Space
Shuttle, and the rationale to achieve a 26-hour churn time.
Since a hybrid does not employ a reusable orbiter, it avoids
the complexity and cost of a thermal protection system.
Minimizing system complexity, eliminating toxic fluids, and
incorporating modern long-life systems engines are a few of the
potential enhancements to further reduce timelines and
manpower. Many of these enhancements are also applicable to
fully reusable systems.
We consider a hybrid a relatively low-risk first step in an
evolutionary development process that provides incremental
enhancements and capability over time. Developing separate
launch systems for the defense, commercial, and civil community
will be very costly. Modular vehicle designs that minimize the
number and types of stages that need to be developed are one
way to reduce the cost to support national needs.
The final figure is an example of a space-lift architecture
capable of supporting a broad range of payloads. It's based on
the derivatives of only two reusable vehicle elements. The
first vehicle is a hybrid capable of launching 12,800 pounds to
low-Earth orbit. If you combine this reusable stage with a
larger reusable booster, the lift capacity increases to 25,000
pounds. Combining three of the larger stages increases total
lift capability to 87,000 pounds. Finally, combining two of
these larger boosters with the EELV common core increases lift
capacity to 160,000 pounds.
In summary, the Aerospace study, in principle, indicates
that a modular approach holds the promise of developing
vehicles that could meet national needs. The reduced size of
the engineering, logistics, and processing infrastructure,
combined with the higher vehicle flight rate, will also
minimize recurring cost.
This testimony was intended to provide the Committee
insight into one potential design option, and it's not intended
to be a recommendation for the development of systems
supporting NASA or national needs. A lot further detailed study
launch requirements have been defined are necessary to make
So I'd like to thank the Committee for the opportunity to
describe some of The Aerospace Corporation advanced launch
studies, and I stand ready to provide any further information
or discussion the Committee may require.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Hickman follows:]
Prepared Statement of Robert A. Hickman, Director, Advanced Launch
Concepts, The Aerospace Corporation
Mr. Chairman, distinguished committee members and staff:
I am pleased to have the opportunity to describe the studies
conducted by The Aerospace Corporation as they relate to advanced
launch system design. The Aerospace Corporation is a private, nonprofit
corporation, headquartered in El Segundo, California. s its primary
activity, Aerospace operates a Federally Funded Research and
Development Center (FFRDC) sponsored by the Under Secretary of the Air
Force, and managed by the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) in El
Segundo, California. Our principal tasks are systems planning, systems
engineering, integration, flight readiness verification, operations
support and anomaly resolution for the DOD, Air Force, and National
Security Space systems.
For the past forty-four years Aerospace has helped the Air Force
plan and develop launch systems. Recent studies performed by Aerospace
have focused on advanced launch system concepts that could support the
Defense Department, NASA, and the commercial sector. This includes
involvement in joint studies where Aerospace worked closely with NASA
and the Air Force to address launch system issues from a national
perspective. The Advanced Space Lift Study began in 2002 and was the
prelude to the Operationally Responsive Spacelift (ORS) Analysis of
Alternatives (AoA). Aerospace performed the technical analysis for the
ORS AoA that is intended to identify the acquisition strategy for
future Department of Defense launch systems.
Desired System Capabilities
Today's launch fleet routinely deploys sophisticated spacecraft for
navigation, communication, meteorology, intelligence, surveillance,
reconnaissance, and space exploration.
Though impressive, today's launch fleet is not without limitations.
Launch costs and preparation times limit space applications to a
handful of high-value services. A revolution in new space applications
is possible, but would require a new generation of launch systems to
reduce cost and preparation times. The Department of Defense and NASA
have expressed interest in such ``transformational'' capability; but
before pursuing such a system, three major interrelated questions must
First, what capabilities are envisioned for the system? The goals
of the defense, civil, and commercial space sectors are different, and
the degree to which common solutions can be developed will determine
whether separate or joint programs are pursued. Second, what sort of
system should be designed? The choice between an expendable and
reusable system, for example, will depend on whether design techniques
and manufacturing technologies can be improved enough to make reusable
systems operable and affordable. Third, what development strategy
should be employed? The combination of risk tolerance, available
budget, and time-frame of need will dictate whether developers seek
radical advancements through aggressive technology projects or accept a
safer, more incremental approach.
Defense launch systems are in the midst of a major transition. The
heritage launch systems that served the Nation's needs for decades are
now being retired and replaced by a new generation of launch vehicle
families under the Air Force Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV)
These vehicles are adequate to support the current mission manifest
of national security satellites; however, the Air Force has identified
a need to launch tactical space missions that support war fighters in
real time. These missions would allow global strike capability, rapid
augmentation of satellite constellations, rapid replacement of
compromised space assets, deployment of specialized space vehicles for
combat support, and wartime protection of American space assets. The
Air Force is clearly considering that future military engagements may
require the launch of large numbers of payloads in just a few days. The
majority of these payloads are anticipated to be less than 10,000 lbs.
Prosecuting a war in this manner would be impossible without launch
responsiveness. Through the Operationally Responsive Spacelift (ORS)
Assessment of Alternatives, Aerospace is assisting the Air Force Space
Command define its future launch system plans. At this point, the AoA
is nearing completion.
In the course of more than 20 years, the Space Shuttle has launched
more than 2 million pounds of cargo and sent more than 300 people into
space. After the start of operations, however, it became increasingly
clear that the shuttle was difficult to operate, maintain, and upgrade.
Also, the differing orbiter configurations made each flight preparation
a painstaking ordeal.
The Space Shuttle Columbia flew its 28th and final mission,
launching on January 16, 2003, and breaking up 16 days later on its
return to Earth. A new plan announced in early 2004 calls for a return
to shuttle flights (until the International Space Station is completed)
and development of a space vehicle capable of carrying a crew to the
moon and beyond. Although no specific launch vehicle requirements have
yet been defined, it is anticipated that a large launch vehicle will be
needed with a lift capacity greater than 100,000 lb and with a
relatively low launch rate.
The traditional commercial launch market is focused principally on
lofting communications spacecraft into Earth orbit. A methodology
developed at Aerospace to explore launch costs suggests that the low
flight rate required to support traditional communications spacecraft
is not large enough, by itself, to justify large economic investments
needed to achieve dramatically lower launch costs. To regain their
competitive advantage, the U.S. commercial sector needs significantly
lower launch cost for 10,000 to 40,000 lb. payloads.
Expendable launch vehicles could support responsive tactical space
needs, just as ICBMs do, but the cost would be prohibitive. Current
launch costs range from $5,000 to $10,000 per lb. of payload to low
Earth orbit. The significant efforts of the EELV program have achieved
moderate cost reductions, particularly for the heavy-lift vehicles,
which use the same production line as the medium-lift versions. This
commonality effectively provides the heavy-lift rocket with production
rate advantages over the Titan IV and also permits the costs of
engineering and logistics to be spread over a larger number of
EELV has invested heavily in the latest manufacturing techniques
and processes. Still, further significant decreases in medium or heavy
lift expendable launch vehicle cost are not anticipated. On the other
hand, small launch vehicles currently cost substantially more per pound
of payload than their larger counterparts. The FALCOM program is a
joint effort between the Air Force and DARPA to determine if a
significant reduction in the cost of small expendable launch vehicles
can be achieved.
Reusable launch vehicles are commonly proposed as responsive and
inexpensive alternatives to expendable rockets. Analogies to aircraft
systems suggest that reusing flight hardware should substantially
reduce cost. However, in the case of the Space Shuttle this was not the
Understanding the achievable operability of future reusable launch
vehicles is crucial in determining their viability. Aerospace developed
the Operability Design Model specifically to evaluate maintenance,
turnaround operations, and recurring cost as a function of launch
system design. Using this tool, Aerospace evaluated the design features
that control operability and determined that a new vehicle could
improve operations by one to two orders of magnitude compared with the
Space Shuttle simply by incorporating:
Reduced vehicle complexity to reduce the number and type of
components that must be serviced
Increased design margins to provide a robust vehicle design
with improved component life
Improved accessibility and Line Replaceable Units (LRUs) to
Modern thermal protection systems with 100 times the
durability of Shuttle tiles
Integrated Vehicle Health Monitoring to automate vehicle
Modern propulsions system designs with 10 times longer
Non-toxic propellants that don't require hazardous
Standardized practices and procedures for vehicle repair
Even with the industry's best operability analysis tools, experts
agree that such estimates carry significant uncertainty. Credible
estimates of turnaround time for the next reusable launch vehicle range
from 2 to 10 days. This uncertainty is a problem for the Air Force
because it will affect how many vehicles and facilities are needed to
accommodate a surge in demand (for example, during wartime). This
affects cost sufficiently that the difference between a 2-day and 10-
day turnaround may determine the ultimate choice between expendable or
reusable launch vehicles.
Estimates of reusable launch vehicle production cost are also
uncertain because the only actual data point is the Space Shuttle. The
per-pound cost to build each orbiter was twice that of the Air Force's
most expensive aircraft, the B-2 bomber. Were this to hold true for the
next reusable launch vehicle, production costs would severely limit its
affordability. There are, however, rational arguments suggesting the
cost will be lower. For example, the shuttle was the first of its kind,
and was never optimized to control production cost. The orbiters have
life-support systems, and must be built to safeguard the lives of the
crew. The shuttle features distributed, rather than modular,
subsystems. The shuttle program did not have access to the latest
materials and production technologies. All of these problems can be
corrected or minimized by using modern designs, technologies, and
production techniques. Nonetheless, a factor-of-two uncertainty in
production cost greatly affects the decision on expendable versus
reusable launch vehicles.
According to Aerospace analyses, reusable launch vehicles that have
been optimized for minimum dry mass have staging velocities (that is,
the velocity at which the second stage deploys) roughly between Mach
10.5 and 11.5. In this case, the orbiter will be about half the dry
mass of the booster. The mass of the reusable launch vehicle will grow
steadily as the staging velocity deviates from this range. For example,
if the staging velocity grows higher, the booster must be bigger to
generate more thrust; if the staging velocity is lower, the upper stage
will have to make up the difference to reach orbit. This is the problem
faced by single-stage reusable launch vehicles. Single-stage vehicles
are not practical without significant advancements in materials and
propulsion technologies; however, two-stage vehicles are undeniably
feasible, given the state of existing technologies.
Air-Breathing Reusable Vehicles
The appeal of air-breathing vehicles is that they get their
oxidizer from the atmosphere, rather than carry it with them. Thus,
they might, at least in theory, be smaller and less expensive than
conventional rockets. The X-43A/C demonstrator programs represent
crucial steps toward achieving an operational hypersonic capability.
The recent successful proof-of-concept X-43A flight demonstration is an
important and welcomed milestone. These demonstrations should provide a
more credible foundation for predicting hypersonic vehicle performance,
building upon, and hopefully, validating available CFD analyses and
prior short duration wind tunnel tests. Many challenges remain before
an operational capability can be achieved, particularly in the
following areas of system operability over the complete mission flight
Structures and materials
Airframe aerodynamics and controls
The Aerospace Corporation concurs with the space access development
roadmap established by the NASA/Air Force Partnership Council in its
assessment of hypersonic vehicles. A series of demonstrators increasing
in scale and operational realism will allow for maturation of
hypersonic technologies to an operational status. This development
effort was estimated at about $24 billion (excluding the rocket-
oriented efforts), requiring at least 15 years to complete. In this
regard, we feel that hypersonic vehicles offer potential as a far-term
solution but should be considered high risk.
A hybrid vehicle consisting of a combination of a reusable booster
with expendable upper provides a lower risk alternative to achieve
responsive and affordable space lift. It could potentially reduce
current launch costs by a factor of three and achieve a routine
turnaround time of 2 to 4 days. Assuming optimal staging, at about Mach
7, the hybrid vehicle would only expend about one third as much
hardware as a comparable expendable rocket. Thus, their recurring
production costs are much lower. Also, the mass of the reusable booster
stage for a hybrid is about 45 percent that of a fully reusable launch
vehicle. Consequently, development and production costs are
significantly less. For these reasons, even relatively low launch rates
could economically justify their development.
The hybrid vehicle also carries less risk than a fully reusable
launch vehicle primarily because it does not employ a reusable orbiter.
Reusable orbiters present a difficult technical challenge, as they must
survive on-orbit operations and reentry through Earth's atmosphere
without significant damage. The reusable booster experiences a much
less severe environment, resulting in fewer technical challenges and
Figure 1 depicts the estimated manpower to process a hybrid
compared with the Space Shuttle and the rationale to achieve a 26-hour
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Figure 1. Comparison of Processing Manpower For Space Shuttle and
Designed with higher margins and vehicle health monitoring, the
next generation of rocket engines is anticipated to have an operational
life of 100 flights with a turn-time of 1-2 shifts. Electro-mechanical
actuators and self-contained hydraulics can eliminate most of the time-
consuming activities required to process the Shuttle hydraulic system.
Batteries can replace complex fuel cells and auxiliary power units. The
thermal environment for the hybrid's reusable booster would require
minimal thermal protection systems. The booster would also have a
limited need for reaction control systems that could be provided by
gaseous reactants. Cannisterized payloads eliminate the need for
payload bay reconfiguration between flights. The hybrid vehicle itself
would not contain crew systems. Numerous other enhancements have been
identified that give a hybrid vehicle a short 26-hour timeline. Many of
these enhancement apply to both hybrids and full reusable systems, but
due to the added complexity and the stressing thermal environment of an
orbiter, reusables have longer processing timelines and with higher
uncertainty and risk.
While many development strategies have been considered over the
years, the Air Force favors an evolutionary approach, focusing on
incremental enhancements in capability. Flight tests of a demonstration
vehicle are critical--to reduce uncertainties regarding achievable
production cost and responsiveness, to supply information needed to
crystallize a decision on an objective system, and to provide an
affordable flight test bed to demonstrate design features and
technologies needed to achieve various future technical objectives.
The hybrid is considered a relatively low-risk first step toward an
operationally responsive spacelift capability, one with clear
advantages over expendable and reusable launch vehicles. The
performance of this hybrid will have far-reaching implications. If the
cost and responsiveness of the reusable booster turn out to be on the
low end of predictions, then the Air Force and NASA might decide to
pursue a fully reusable launch vehicle as the next step. If not, then
the hybrid configuration would still provide a cost effective solution.
Clearly, no first step in an evolutionary process can satisfy all
the objectives of defense, civil, and commercial sectors. But the
evolutionary approach establishes a low-risk process for building upon
successes, ultimately supporting most or all spacelift needs. As they
mature, this approach allows new technologies to be incorporated into
the system to enhance system capability at low technical risk.
Modular Launch System Design
The initial cost of a new launch system for either DOD or NASA is
relatively high. The combined cost of system development, facilities,
and fleet procurement will reach well into the billions of dollars,
even for small fleets. For this reason, it may be unaffordable to
develop completely separate reusable launch vehicle designs for
defense, commercial, and civil communities. By minimizing the number
and type of stages that need to be developed, modular development
approaches will probably be more affordable to pursue to support the
needs of the DOD, civil and commercial community. For example,
derivatives of boosters and orbiters could be used in various
configurations to support a wide range of payload classes. While the
derivatives would not be identical to the original vehicles, they would
possess common systems and components, thus reducing development and
production costs. This commonality would also reduce the operational
costs of logistics and sustaining engineering, which are major
Figure 2 is an example of a notional spacelift architecture,
designed by Aerospace to support a broad range of payloads, based on
derivatives of only two vehicle elements. The first vehicle is a hybrid
capable of launching 12,800 lbs to low earth orbit. Converting the
hybrid's reusable booster to an obiter that is combined with a new
larger booster generates a 25,000 lb. lift capacity. Combining two of
these boosters with a third orbiter derivate increases lift capacity to
87,000 lbs. Finally using two of the larger booster with an EELV common
core booster produces a super heavy lift capacity of 160,000 lbs.
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Figure 2. Modular Family of Vehicles--Based on Variants of 2
In closing, the ORS AoA recommends the Air Force pursue an advanced
launch vehicle development strategy that incorporates an evolutionary
development approach. The FALCON small launch vehicle program is the
first step in that process. A hybrid vehicle represents the next
logical step in developing larger more affordable and responsive
reusable solutions. It can potentially lower the cost of space
transportation by a factor of three. If successful, subsequent steps
that may be fully reusable could further reduce the cost of space
transportation. Modular vehicle designs can be developed that support
all national needs at a lower cost than developing separate systems.
The reduced size of the engineering, logistics, and processing
infrastructure combined with a higher vehicle flight rate will also
minimize recurring cost. The decision on which type of system to
ultimately procure depends on numerous factors including specific
performance objectives, funding availability, schedule requirements,
and organizational priorities. Aerospace studies were only able to
address a subset of these issues. This testimony was intended to
provide the committee information and insight gained from analyses
performed by Aerospace and does not constitute a recommendation for the
development of systems supporting NASA or national needs.
Thank you for the opportunity to describe The Aerospace
Corporation's advanced launch system studies.
I stand ready to provide any further data or discussions that the
committee may require.
Senator Brownback. Thank you, Mr. Hickman. I appreciate you
Senator Breaux. Mr. Chairman?
Senator Brownback. Yes?
Senator Breaux. Prior to the time that Mr. Musk testifies,
I'd like to make a comment, and I do so with utmost respect for
the Committee and the Chairman. But I reviewed Mr. Musk's
statement, a third of it deals with a protest, which he is
financial involved in, about a contract with NASA. I asked the
Administrator of NASA about the current contract that exists in
this particular area, and he said that that contract award is
currently under investigation by the General Accounting Office,
and that he could not respond to what was going to happen with
that until the inspection and the review by GAO is completed.
Mr. Musk has an interest in that outcome, and I think it's
patently unfair to allow him to use this forum, without the
other parties involved in that contract having an equal
opportunity, at the same forum, to be heard to express their
opinion of what is going on with regard to those contracts. It
was very clear that NASA was unable to comment on it because
it's under review.
And Mr. Musk's testimony--a third of which deals directly
with that. I appreciate where he's coming from, but it's
patently unfair to not have the other side present at the same
forum, dealing with something that's under review by the
government in a contract dispute.
Senator Brownback. The reason the Committee had asked Mr.
Musk to testify was on heavy-lift capacity. I mean, what we
were trying to examine at the first of the hearing was Shuttle
options, and the second portion of it here obviously is heavy-
lift capacity. So maybe, Mr. Musk, if we could confine your
comments to the issue of heavy-lift capacity, and not to the
issue that's under review, would be an appropriate thing to do.
And it's certainly not the Committee's desire to favor one
group or another on anything. It's to try to get to some of the
bottom of the factual settings that are taking place. So if
that would be----
Senator Breaux. I just want to say how much I appreciate
the Chairman's position on it. I don't mind a complete
discussion on the issue. That's an appropriate thing for the
Committee to do, as long as we have all of the interested
parties making the presentation. And I think your suggestion is
very, very fair.
Senator Brownback. If we could confine your oral
presentation, Mr. Musk, to the issue that we're discussing here
today, which is heavy-lift capacity and options to finish the
ISS, I would appreciate that.
Mr. Musk. Certainly. Although, it's worth correcting--I
think Mr. Readdy misspoke when he said it was competitive. It
was, in fact, not competitive, and that is the nature of the
protest. So I just wanted to correct that reply.
Senator Brownback. Let's just stay to heavy-lift capacity
Mr. Musk. Absolutely.
Senator Brownback.--and finishing ISS, please.
STATEMENT OF ELON MUSK, CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF
EXECUTIVE OFFICER, SPACE EXPLORATION TECHNOLOGIES (SPACEX)
Mr. Musk. So, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee,
thank you for inviting me to testify here today.
The past few decades have been a dark age for development
of new human space transportation systems. One multibillion
dollar government program after another has failed. In fact,
they have failed even to reach the launch pad, let alone get to
space. Those in the space industry, including some of my panel
members, have felt the pain firsthand. The public, whose hard-
earned money has gone to fund these developments, has felt it
indirectly. The reaction of the public has been to care less
and less about space, an apathy not intrinsic to a nation of
explorers, but born of poor progress, of being disappointed
time and again.
When America landed on the Moon, I believe we made a
promise and gave people a dream. It seemed then that, given the
normal course of technological evolution, someone who was not a
billionaire--not an astronaut made of ``the right stuff,'' but
just a normal person--might one day see Earth from space. That
dream is nothing but broken disappointment today. If we do not
now take action different from the past, it will remain that
So what strategies are critical to the future of space
launch vehicle development? And here my testimony, I think,
will be a little different. First and foremost, I think we
should increase and extend the use of prizes. This is a point
whose importance cannot be overstated. If I can emphasize,
underscore, and highlight one strategy for Congress, it is to
offer prizes of meaningful scale and scope.
This is a proposition where the American taxpayer cannot
lose. Unlike standard contracting, where failure is often
perversely rewarded with more money, failure to win a prize
costs us nothing. Offering substantial prizes for achievement
in space could pay enormous dividends. We're beginning to see
how powerful this can be by observing the X Prize, a prize for
suborbital human transportation, which is on the verge of being
won. It is a very effective use of money, as vastly more than
the $10 million of prize money is being spent by dozens of
teams that hope to win. At least as important, however, is the
spirit and vigor it has injected into the space industry and
the public-at-large. It is currently the sole ember of hope
that 1 day they, too, may travel to space.
Beyond space, as the Committee is no doubt aware, history
is replete with examples of prizes spurring great achievements,
such as the Orteig prize for crossing the Atlantic nonstop by
plane, and the Longitude Prize for ocean navigation.
Few things stoke the fires of creativity and ingenuity more
than competing for a prize in fair and open competition. The
result is an efficient Darwinian exercise with the subjectivity
and error of proposal evaluation removed. The best means of
solving the problem will be found, and that solution may be in
a way and from a company that no one ever expected.
One interesting option, although radical, might be to
parallel every major NASA contract with a price valued at one-
tenth of the contract amount. If another company achieves all
of the contract goals first, they receive the prize and the
main contract is canceled, but the objective achieved. At
minimum, it will serve as a spur for whoever does win the main
Some people believe that no serious company would pursue a
prize; this is simply beside the point. If a prize is not won,
it costs us nothing. Put prizes out there, make them of
meaningful size, and many companies will vie to win,
particularly if there are a series of prizes of successively
greater difficulty and value. I recommend strongly supporting,
and actually substantially expanding up, the proposed
Centennial prizes put forward in the recent NASA budget. No
dollars spent on space research will yield greater value for
the American people than those prizes.
Second, I think we should rigorously examine how any
proposed new vehicle will improve the cost of access to space
rigorously. The obvious barrier to human exploration beyond
low-Earth orbit is the cost of access to space. This problem of
affordability dwarfs all others. I do not think there are
multiple problems in space; I think there is one, and that is
the cost of access to space.
If we do not set ourselves on the track to solving it with
a constantly improving price-per-pound to orbit, in effect, a
Moore's Law of space, neither the average American, nor their
great-great-grandchildren will ever see another planet. We will
be forever confined to Earth, and may never come to understand
the true nature and wonder of the universe. So it is critical
that we thoroughly examine the probable cost of alternatives to
replacing the Shuttle before embarking upon a new development.
The Shuttle today costs about a factor of ten more per flight
than originally projected. We do not want to be in a similar
situation with its replacement.
In fact, it was precisely to improve the cost and
reliability of access to space--initially for satellites, and
later for humans--that I established SpaceX, although some of
my friends still think the real goal was turn a large fortune
into a small one.
Our first offering, called Falcon I, will be the world's
only semi-reusable orbital rocket, apart from the Space
Shuttle. In fact, we employ a reusable first stage and an
expendable upper stage, as Aerospace Corporation recommends as
the smart approach to improving cost. So although Falcon I is a
light-class launch vehicle, we have already announced and sold
the first flight of Falcon V, our medium-class rocket.
Long-term plans called for development of a heavy-lift, and
even a super-heavy, if there was customer demand. We expect
that each size increase would result in a meaningful decrease
of cost-per-pound to orbit. For example, dollar-cost-per-pound
to orbit dropped from $4,000 to $1,300 between Falcon I and
Falcon V. Ultimately, I believe $500-per-pound or less is very
Item 3 was ensuring fairness in contracting, but I will
[The prepared statement of Mr. Musk follows:]
Prepared Statement of Elon Musk, Chairman, CEO of Space Exploration
Technologies Corp. (SpaceX)
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting
me to testify today on the future of Space Launch Vehicles and what
role the private sector might play.
The past few decades have been a dark age for development of a new
human space transportation system. One multi-billion dollar Government
program after another has failed. In fact, they have failed even to
reach the launch pad, let alone get to space. Those in the space
industry, including some of my panel members, have felt the pain first
hand. The public, whose hard earned money has gone to fund these
developments, has felt it indirectly.
The reaction of the public has been to care less and less about
space, an apathy not intrinsic to a nation of explorers, but born of
poor progress, of being disappointed time and again. When America
landed on the Moon, I believe we made a promise and gave people a
dream. It seemed then that, given the normal course of technological
evolution, someone who was not a billionaire, not an astronaut made of
``The Right Stuff'', but just a normal person, might one day see Earth
from space. That dream is nothing but broken disappointment today. If
we do not now take action different from the past, it will remain that
What strategies are critical to the future of space launch vehicles?
1. Increase and Extend the Use of Prizes
This is a point whose importance cannot be overstated. If I can
emphasize, underscore and highlight one strategy for Congress, it is to
offer prizes of meaningful scale and scope. This is a proposition where
the American taxpayer cannot lose. Unlike standard contracting, where
failure is often perversely rewarded with more money, failure to win a
prize costs us nothing.
Offering substantial prizes for achievement in space could pay
enormous dividends. We are beginning to see how powerful this can be by
observing the X Prize, a prize for suborbital human transportation,
which is on the verge of being won. It is a very effective use of
money, as vastly more than the $10 million prize is being spent by the
dozens of teams that hope to win. At least as important, however, is
the spirit and vigor it has injected into the space industry and the
public at large. It is currently the sole ember of hope that one day
they too may travel to space.
Beyond space, as the Committee is no doubt aware, history is
replete with examples of prizes spurring great achievements, such as
the Orteig Prize for crossing the Atlantic nonstop by plane and the
Longitude prize for ocean navigation.
Few things stoke the fires of creativity and ingenuity more than
competing for a prize in fair and open competition. The result is an
efficient Darwinian exercise with the subjectivity and error of
proposal evaluation removed. The best means of solving the problem will
be found and that solution may be in a way and from a company that no-
one ever expected.
One interesting option might be to parallel every major NASA
contract award with a prize valued at one tenth of the contract amount.
If another company achieves all of the contract goals first, they
receive the prize and the main contract is cancelled. At minimum, it
will serve as competitive spur for cost plus contractors.
Some people believe that no serious company would pursue a prize.
This is simply beside the point: if a prize is not won, it costs us
nothing. Put prizes out there, make them of a meaningful size, and many
companies will vie to win, particularly if there are a series of prizes
of successively greater difficulty and value.
I recommend strongly supporting and actually substantially
expanding upon the proposed Centennial Prizes put forward in the recent
NASA budget. No dollar spent on space research will yield greater value
for the American people than those prizes.
2. Rigorously Examine How Any Proposed New Vehicle Will Improve the
Access to Space
The obvious barrier to human exploration beyond low Earth orbit is
the cost of access to space. This problem of affordability dwarf's all
others. If we do not set ourselves on the track of solving it with a
constantly improving price per pound to orbit, in effect a Moore's law
of space, neither the average American nor their great-great-
grandchildren will ever see another planet. We will be forever confined
to Earth and may never come to understand the true nature and wonder of
the Universe. So it is critical that we thoroughly examine the probable
cost of alternatives to replacing the Shuttle before embarking upon a
new development. The Shuttle today costs about a factor of ten more per
flight than originally projected and we don't want to be in a similar
situation with its replacement.
In fact, it was precisely to improve the cost and reliability of
access to space, initially for satellites and later for humans, that I
established SpaceX (although some of my friends still think the real
goal was to turn a large fortune into a small one). Our first offering,
called Falcon I, will be the world's only semi-reusable orbital rocket
apart from the Space Shuttle. Although Falcon I is a light class launch
vehicle, we have already announced and sold the first flight of Falcon
V, our medium class rocket. Long term plans call for development of a
heavy lift product and even a super-heavy, if there is customer demand.
We expect that each size increase would result in a meaningful decrease
in cost per pound to orbit. For example, dollar cost per pound to orbit
dropped from $4,000 to $1,300 between Falcon I and Falcon V.
Ultimately, I believe $500 per pound or less is very achievable.
3. Ensure Fairness in Contracting
It is critical that the Government acts and is perceived to act
fairly in its award of contracts. Failure to do so will have an
extremely negative effect, not just on the particular company treated
unfairly, but on all private capital considering entering the space
SpaceX has directly experienced this problem with the contract
recently offered to Kistler Aerospace by NASA and it is worth drilling
into this as a case example. Before going further, let me make clear
that I and the rest of SpaceX have a high regard for NASA as a whole
and have many friends & supporters within the organization. Although we
are against this particular contract and believe it does not support a
healthy future for American space exploration, this should be viewed as
an isolated difference of opinion. As mentioned earlier, for example,
we are very much in favor of the NASA Centennial Prize initiative.
For background, the approximately quarter billion dollars involved
in the Kistler contract would be awarded primarily for flight
demonstrations & technology showing the potential to resupply the Space
Station and possibly for transportation of astronauts.
That all sounds well and good. The reason SpaceX is opposing the
contract and asking the General Accounting Office to put this under the
microscope is that it was awarded on a sole source, uncompeted basis to
Kistler instead of undergoing a full, fair and open competition. SpaceX
and other companies (Lockheed and Spacehab also raised objections)
should have, but were denied the opportunity to compete on a level
playing field to best serve the American taxpayer. Please not that this
is a case where SpaceX is only asking for a fair shot to meet the
objectives, not demanding to win the contract.
The sole source award to Kistler is mystifying given that the
company has been bankrupt since July of last year, demonstrating less
than stellar business execution (if a pun is permitted). Moreover,
Kistler intends to launch from Australia using all Russian engines,
raising some question as to why this warrants expenditure of American
Now, although we feel strongly to the contrary, it is possible that
NASA has made the right decision in this case. However, does awarding a
sole source contract to a bankrupt company over the objections of
others sound like a fair decision? Common sense suggests the answer.
Whether Kistler does or does not ultimately deserve to win this
contract, it should never have been awarded without full competition.
Again, thank you for inviting me to testify before you today.
Senator Brownback. Thank you very much.
Gentlemen, thank you very much for the testimony.
The first three gentlemen, you all three identified
significant options for heavy-lift capacity that are currently
available. Mr. Kahn, you were saying, let's use the Shuttle-
engine portions of this when we can--we can reconfigure, use
that, that that's a proven system, and that you can get--what
would you say--what were you saying the lift capacity you could
get up to in using that--150,000?
Mr. Kahn. 150,000.
Senator Brownback. What's that?
Mr. Kahn. 150,000.
Senator Brownback. 150,000?
And, Dr. Karas, you were saying you could get up to 200,000
pounds in a lift capacity?
Dr. Karas. You could, but I think--apples-to-apples, it's
about 150,000 pounds, as well, in the near term.
Senator Brownback. In the near term. What do you mean by
Dr. Karas. Within the technology and infrastructure we have
today, 3 to 5 years.
Senator Brownback. Mr. Kahn, what's your time-frame to be
able to do what you're talking about, of lift capacity using
Mr. Kahn. Well, the----
Mr. Kahn.--propulsion part of the lift capacity, which is
the boosters and the tank and the engines, are already flying
today, so they exist. So it's just, How long does it take to
build a cargo carrier and bolt it onto the tank, instead of
bolting on the orbiter?
Senator Brownback. Any idea on that, of a cargo carrier, of
what it would take to do?
Mr. Kahn. It's probably in the order of 3 to 5 years, as
Senator Brownback. To get that pulled together?
Mr. Hickman, in your approach you're talking about 160,000
pounds lift capacity, is that correct?
Mr. Hickman. That's correct.
Senator Brownback. OK. And what's the time-frame of your
development to do something like that, along the lines of what
Mr. Hickman. Well, we propose more of an evolutionary
approach to get there----
Senator Brownback. Just get that microphone up a little
Mr. Hickman. We propose more of an evolutionary approach to
get there, starting off with smaller payloads and lift
vehicles, and growing to the larger ones. I think one of the
things that it's important to emphasize, that we weren't just
trying to achieve a specific lift capacity, but the
transformational capabilities that most of the sectors need
also depend on responsiveness and significantly lower cost; so
we looked at hybrid and reusable vehicles to do that. And we
think they're really not limited by technology, currently, but
by available funding. With a well-funded program, I think the
time frame to get to heavy lift would be in the eight to ten-
year time frame.
Senator Brownback. Eight to ten-year to get there.
Gentlemen, why is it so costly for us? We've been at this
now five decades, to get into space. We're costing--Shuttle is
a four-billion-plus annual program, whether it flies or not--
you know, a billion dollars a shot. I mean, this is difficult,
but it's extraordinarily expensive. Can you tell me why this
has remained so expensive and over the lines of what we thought
it would be at this point in time?
Mr. Hickman. I'll try to address that question, if I may.
Currently, in our ORS AoA study, which we did for the military
to look at their----
Senator Brownback. Get that microphone up closer, will you
Mr. Hickman. In the AoA, the analysis of alternatives, that
we performed for the military, we looked at a large number of
costs for aerospace systems across the board--aircraft,
missiles, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles. They all seemed
to have a floor of about $750 a pound, is what it basically
costs to make fairly sophisticated hardware. We did not see
that we'd get significantly below that floor unless you move
toward reusable systems. And so we think that one of the key
things, though, is to design those systems to be operable from
the outset. The Shuttle was not designed with the factors
necessary to make it operable. We believe, with a highly
focused program, focused on operability, and the proper use of
reusability--and we think that's in the hardware of the first
stage--that you can get down to a factor-of-three reduction in
cost over what we're seeing today.
Dr. Karas. Mr. Chairman, I'd like to respond. I think the
Shuttle is a wonderful machine and has a lot of capabilities
that expendables don't, like cargo-down. So I think those are
other factors that drive cost.
I think in the case of ELV, or if we take Atlas
specifically, as I mentioned, we've phased in many vehicles.
Every time we had a different vehicle phase-in, we improved
reliability and performance. In the competitive environment--
it's kind of hard in an open environment to go, quote,
``cost,'' but I think in my paper I stated that you can buy
vehicles for significantly cheaper than the $6,000 per pound
today. It's probably two or three times less that, off the
shelf. And I think we can get the dollars a pound that are in
the $2,000 to 1.5--$1,500 a pound, relatively easily using the
scales of economy that we've talked about.
So I think you can probably draw a line through at least
through Atlas and the last 10 years of constant progression of
dollar per pound coming down. So I think there are areas where
we have done that. We have a long way to go. But I think it's
significantly less than the Shuttle because of the different
Senator Brownback. Would that auger for--that we need to
move away from the Shuttle as fast as possible to other type of
lift capacity to finish ISS?
Dr. Karas. I think Bill Readdy put it best, where it's all
about the requirements. And I think there are heavy-lift
requirements that can have the payload capacity, both
volumetrically and weight-wise, to put cargo to Station. But
it's all the other things that expendables don't have today,
like rendezvous and dock, human interfaces, robotics, to be
able to service the Station.
So there are different requirements, and we are working
with NASA in studies to go evaluate those things for them. But
I think in the near term, it would be hard to go do that
because of the capacity that the expendables don't have.
Senator Brownback. And the other areas that they don't
Mr. Musk, what's a meaningful prize? What's the size of a
meaningful prize to get people to do some of the things that we
would like to see private sector engage in, in space?
Mr. Musk. I think you can get very meaningful outcomes for
dollar figures in the tens of millions. And certainly, I think,
for something like $100 million for repeating the John Glenn
flight has been suggested. I think that is eminently doable. In
fact, I would say--here's a good way to approach something: If
you get an estimate, whatever the NASA estimate is to get
something done, erase a zero and make that a prize. And I think
you will find that it is done for that amount of money.
Senator Brownback. Gentlemen, I have another hearing I need
to go to. I appreciate very much you coming in, providing your
expertise and your thoughtfulness, the written testimony, as
well. Thank you so much.
The hearing's adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 4:25 p.m., the hearing was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Prepared Statement of Hon. Ernest F. Hollings,
U.S. Senator from South Carolina
As the Congress evaluates the President's proposal to return to the
Moon by the end of the next decade, our focus has turned to the Gordian
Knot at its heart. Since there is no new money for this effort, we have
an extremely tight schedule built on many interwoven, complex changes
to the U.S. Space Program. All of these changes must unfold in neat,
sequential order without any hiccups in order for the proposal to
The plan assumes NASA will stop flying the Shuttle on a date
certain, transferring its funds to the new Exploration Program, and
that NASA eventually end U.S. participation in the International Space
Station so that funding for the campaign to settle the Moon can start
in earnest. The President's schedule, and proposed funding, is such
that any upset in one part of the timetable will upset another part.
Therefore, even the rather casual deadline of 2020 may be hard to
accomplish unless everything goes just right.
And there are a couple of additional flies in this ointment. NASA
has proposed that many laudable NASA science programs should be
delayed, deemphasized, and probably cancelled in order to put this new
Vision in place. NASA has also proposed that for some time, presumably
from 2010 to 2014, there will be no Shuttle and no U.S. replacement
vehicle to fly U.S. crew to and back from the Space Station. I think
it's unlikely that this or any future Congress is going to go along
with those parts of this plan. But both of these assumptions are also
key to making this plan work within the resources the President has
assigned to the Vision.
So here we have the Gordian Knot--you probably can't execute the
timetable as it's proposed, but when you look for how you might change
it in order to either keep it on schedule or even accelerate it, you
come to very hard choices.
That's part of what this hearing is going to discuss today--how do
we move forward to renew and reenergize the U.S. Space Program, but not
bring it to collapse and confusion by introducing interruptions that
might threaten to put the program into further chaos.
As I said in my statement on April 1, ``You can't sustain
commitment to the U.S. Space Program by shutting it down, and you can't
accelerate development while you are in a sustained lull.'' I stand by
those words again today. You can't slow down and you can't speed up and
make the President's Vision work, not without a lot more funding and a
very different way of doing business than we have in the past.
There are some who want to discuss ``scuttling the Shuttle''. But
there is much at stake in these discussions that a simple phrase does
not capture, including American lives on board an orbiting space
laboratory. At the end of this discussion, let's be clear that whatever
vision or space mission the U.S. chooses to conduct in the future, it
must be done safely and with emphasis on reducing human risk, not
extending it needlessly. So we need to be careful to not get so
bollixed up in schedules and assumptions and new plans that we turn the
President's Vision into something that adds risk to Human Space Flight
instead of decreasing it.
I don't know what the answer is, but we need a whole lot more
answers and discussion than we've heard to date. My fear is that
today's hearing and others like it are going to start taking us in the
wrong direction, into more confusion than clarity. That's one reason
why the President's Vision concerns me; in this year of tragedy in the
American Space Flight Program, we need to be wholly focused on putting
the U.S. program firmly on its feet and cautious about any vision that
takes us in any other direction. Let's focus on adding prestige and
integrity to our U.S. Space Flight program, not cause for further
uncertainty and alarm.
Response to Written Questions Submitted by Hon. John McCain to
William F. Readdy
Question 1. What infrastructure improvements will be needed to
support the increased Space Shuttle flight rate to complete the
International Space Station (ISS)?
Answer. The planned flight rate does not necessitate physical
infrastructure improvements. Maintenance associated with sustaining the
existing infrastructure will be required. Additionally, irrespective of
the flight rate, NASA is making improvements to our management
processes and human capital infrastructure in response to the CAIB
report recommendations, including the establishment of an independent
Question 2. Can you update the Committee on the status of the
development of the European Automated Transfer Vehicle and the Japanese
H-II Transfer vehicle?
Answer. The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is at the European
Space Agency (ESA) facility near Amsterdam for approximately 8 months
of final assembly and verification. ESA has recently slipped the target
launch date for ATV from July 2005 to October 2005 due to schedule
challenges for the Ariane 5 rocket modifications that are required in
order to carry the ATV.
The H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) development is on track for launch
in Spring 2009. HTV Critical Design Review Number 1 is scheduled for
December 2004. In parallel, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency
(JAXA) is evaluating enhanced HTV capabilities to launch and return
International Space Station critical cargo and spares due to Shuttle
Question 3. Does NASA have any contingency plans in the event the
Space Shuttle is not able to provide the necessary assembly flights to
Answer. NASA is concentrating its focus on a safe Return to Flight
of the Space Shuttle. All indications, as of this writing, are that the
Shuttle will Return to Flight in March of 2005, after which, we fully
anticipate it being able to complete its mission of the assembly of the
NASA is working diligently to evaluate the current manifest of
flights to the ISS. The ISS on-orbit configuration and assembly
sequence are being evaluated. The complement of available and proposed
domestic and international vehicles that are capable of delivering
crew, spares, experiments, and crew support cargo to and from the ISS
is also under evaluation. These evaluations are expected to be complete
in the summer and will provide a better idea of how many Shuttle
flights will actually be needed to complete assembly of the ISS.
Question 4. Can you elaborate on how and why the ISS elements have
been designed to take advantage of the Shuttle's unique volume and
performance, and more benign launch environment?
Answer. The design and development of Space Station Freedom and
then the ISS took maximum advantage of the large cargo volume and heavy
lift of the Shuttle, which has the greatest lift capability of any U.S.
Launch Vehicle. The Space Shuttle, with the greatest cargo capacity,
allowed for fewer assembly flights, less complex assembly, requiring
less integration, and therefore lowering the assembly risk. The
additional benefit of supporting both EVA and robotic assembly of the
ISS were, and still are, unique to the Space Shuttle.
Numerous ELV studies have been done over the life of the ISS
Program. There is currently no other U.S. vehicle capable of automated
rendezvous and proximity operations or the ability to support EVA
construction or robotic assembly.
Question 5. Why does NASA predict a four to five-year delay if
Expendable Launch Vehicles (ELVs) are used to construct ISS, instead of
a Space Shuttle?
Answer. Current configurations of expendable launch vehicles would
require extensive modification and development of a new transfer
vehicle stage to transfer hardware from orbit to the ISS. Industry has
told NASA they would require three to five years to develop a transfer
vehicle to enable ISS cargo (non-assembly) transfer and redesign
existing ISS structures and facilities to meet the ELV flight
environment. Additional time would also be needed to design an ELV
carrier that replicates the Space Shuttle attach points. The finished
components waiting for launch were designed to fit inside the Shuttle
payload bay. Currently, no domestic or partner launch systems have the
capability to meet the components' volume and/or performance
requirements without significant modification. A new assembly process
would also need to be developed that utilizes the two-person ISS crew
without the benefit of the Space Shuttle remote manipulator arm or the
Shuttle crew to safely complete each assembly mission and perform
Question 6. What is the cost impact of delaying the assembly of the
ISS by four to five years and using Expendable Launch Vehicles (ELVs)
Answer. The ISS program baseline, established in FY 1994, assumed
the exclusive use of the Space Shuttle for all U.S. assembly missions
and Partner labs after the deployment of the Russian Service Module.
The Space Shuttle is currently the only vehicle capable of supporting
Station assembly. The ISS was designed to use the Shuttle's automated
rendezvous and proximity operations, robotic arm, and astronauts for
assembly. No other vehicle can provide these capabilities at this time.
The major ISS assembly elements are positioned at Kennedy Space Center
awaiting Space Shuttle Return to Flight.
Industry studies indicated that non-recurring development costs for
new ELV capabilities would cost a total of $700 million-$1 billion. In
addition, there would be the cost of ELVs at a rate of 7-14 flights per
year (the equivalent of 5 Shuttle missions per year). Finally, there
would be costs associated with the ISS Program to redesign and
recertify the existing modules and trusses for the EELV flight
environments and loads, which would be substantial. NASA has not
developed cost estimates for any Station assembly alternative.
Question 7. If the Space Shuttle returns to flight next year, what
is the cost of the two-year delay in assembling the ISS?
Answer. During FY 2003, NASA funded $21 million worth of ISS
impacts associated with Columbia and has approved an additional $76
million in FY 2004. An additional $225 million of Level I and Level II
threats remain, of which $40 million is associated with the one-year
slip into 2005. NASA is currently assessing the impact of the Shuttle
Return to Flight schedule as a part of the FY 2006 budget development
process and will update the impacts associated with Columbia once
Shuttle Return to Flight is achieved.
Question 8. What are the attributes of an effective national space
launch system and its accompanying infrastructure?
Answer. An effective national space launch system provides
sufficiently capable, safe, reliable and cost-effective launch services
to meet national needs. Such a system could be comprised of multiple
different launch vehicles using unique or shared infrastructure.
Question 9. Considering the current restrictive budgetary
environment, how can a viable national space launch system be built and
how will the private sector participate?
Answer. The nation currently has a mix of reusable and expendable
launch systems forming the basis of the Nation's space launch
capability. Both national security and civil space launch requirements
are met by commercial launch capability. NASA and the national security
community work together to leverage each other's capability and seek
synergy in investments in national launch capabilities
Question 10. The President's plan would terminate the Space Launch
Initiative (SLI) program that was, inter alia, developing new launch
vehicle technologies, and would retire the Shuttle fleet after ISS
construction is completed in 2010. What launch vehicle will supplant
the Space Shuttle after its retirement?
Answer. The Space Shuttle program has provided NASA with a
tremendous space flight experience base. It has expanded our knowledge
of complex space vehicles. The Exploration Systems Enterprise will
apply lessons learned from the Space Shuttle program and SLI projects
as we develop capabilities necessary to carry out safe, sustained and
affordable human exploration missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
Over the remainder of the decade, the Space Shuttle will be used to
complete assembly of the International Space Station (ISS). NASA is
developing a Shuttle retirement strategy that will assure space access
for required U.S. support to the International Space Station and future
Space Exploration requirements. The complement of available and
proposed domestic and international vehicles that are capable of
delivering crew, spares, experiments, and crew support cargo to and
from the ISS is under evaluation. These evaluations are expected to be
complete in the summer 2004. In addition, the Crew Exploration Vehicle
(CEV), which is being developed for a crewed mission to the Moon in the
latter part of the next decade, could potentially be adaptable for
missions to the ISS, though current development activities are focusing
only on a Lunar mission.
As the Space Shuttle is phased out, and a completed ISS becomes
fully operational, NASA will transition development activities to human
Lunar missions on the CEV in support of the Vision for Space
Exploration. To best accomplish the goals of the Vision for Space
Exploration, NASA will separate its acquisition strategy for Moon/Mars
exploration into a number of smaller and sequential acquisition
programs called spirals. Design and demonstration of a human launch
system will be demonstrated in Spiral 1 with the crewed flight of the
CEV in 2014. In support of this, NASA has initiated an integrated
launch system study to identify the range of launch vehicle
capabilities required to meet its exploration needs, as they are
currently understood. Current expendable vehicles, vehicles derived
from current system components and new vehicle designs are being
considered to meet exploration human launch and cargo launch needs. The
study will narrow the range of possible alternatives by the end of the
summer. A more focused look at the capabilities will then begin, based
on a greater understanding of the CEV requirements. The study will be
finalized before the CEV request for proposals are released.
Question 11. How do we encourage, to the maximum extent feasible,
the development and growth of U.S. private sector space transportation
capabilities that can compete internationally?
Answer. Federal agencies support the health of commercial space
transportation through a myriad of roles. Most importantly, the Federal
Government enables a stable business base by purchasing launch services
that can leverage international and commercial sales, and through
balanced regulatory and national range policies and procedures. NASA
and the DOD also invest in enhancements to launch systems to meet
unique government requirements (additional performance, reliability and
or volume (fairings) upgrades), which increase the competitiveness of
the U.S. suppliers. With recent reductions in commercial demand and a
shift back to the government as dominant user of launch systems,
Federal agencies are developing investment strategies that include
funding key skills and infrastructure to assure that access to space is
Question 12. What role will existing Space Shuttle contractors play
in the new space launch vehicle system?
Answer. NASA is beginning to evaluate future workforce needs in
support of the long-term goals of human planetary exploration. The
retirement of the Space Shuttle is not the end of the space program but
rather the beginning of an opportunity to transition a highly skilled
workforce into programs requiring their skills and challenging their
creativity. We believe, at the appropriate time, these workers who have
Shuttle experience will be able to continue work with NASA on new
programs requiring their unique skills. As the Shuttle Program nears
retirement, we fully anticipate that aerospace technician employment
opportunities will continue with NASA, driven in part by the Vision for
Space Exploration and the continuing need to support the International
Question 13. Has NASA done any studies on the use of robots, such
as the Robonaut, to assemble the ISS?
Answer. The current ISS Baseline is to use the Canadian Space
Agency (CSA)/Mobile Servicing System (MSS) for robotic assembly and
maintenance tasks. This currently includes the CSA/Space Station Remote
Manipulator (SSRMS), CSA/Mobile Base System (MBS), and the NASA/Mobile
Transporter to provide robotic capability to ISS using the NASA/Robotic
Workstation. It will include robotic maintenance tasks to be completed
via the CSA/Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) after its
launch currently scheduled for May 2007 on Flight 1 J/A. Many of the
ISS orbital replacement units were designed to be compatible with the
SPDM. The ISS has been successful with robotic assembly tasks and plans
to make extensive use of robotics.
The Robonaut has worked extensively with EVA tools to perform
simulated ISS assembly tasks, as both an independent agent and working
with an astronaut in a pressurized suit. While not currently part of
the ISS Program, the Robonaut's demonstrated capabilities indicate that
it may have future ISS application. However, the Robonaut is at least
3-4 years from being certified for flight.
Question 14. It is estimated that it will require 23 to 30 Space
Shuttle flights to complete the ISS. How can the ISS be completed by
2010 without causing some of the schedule pressure that was documented
in the Columbia Accident Investigation Board report?
Answer. It should be noted that the requirement is to complete ISS
assembly, including the U.S. components that support U.S. space
exploration goals, planned for the end of this decade. NASA is
evaluating the current manifest for flights to the ISS in light of the
Vision for Space Exploration. The ISS assembly sequence and final
configuration are being examined, as are the complement of currently
available and proposed domestic and international vehicles that are
capable of delivering crew and cargo to and from the ISS, and the
predicted Shuttle return to flight date. This evaluation, which will
factor in the historic turn around time between Shuttle flights, is
expected to be complete in the summer 2004 and will provide a better
idea of how many Shuttle flights will be needed to complete assembly of
the ISS. NASA is evaluating ISS requirements against launch
capabilities to ensure that the Shuttle can be operated safely and the
ISS assembly can be completed by the end of the decade, consistent with
the Vision for Space Exploration.
Question 15. What are the requirements for downmass (astronauts,
experiments, equipment, ISS Components, etc.) from the ISS during both
its construction and operation?
Answer. Currently, NASA is returning astronaut crews to Earth every
six months. The ISS Program is currently re-evaluating the original
systems maintenance approach, which would have required the periodic
return of orbital replacement units for repair and refurbishment. The
utilization community, in conjunction with the ISS Program, is also
currently refining its estimates and looking at ways to minimize
downmass. Results of these studies are expected later this year.
Response to Written Question Submitted by Hon. Ted Stevens to
William F. Readdy
Question. Mr. Readdy, I want to commend you for the initiative the
Office of Space Flight is taking to encourage development of commercial
launch systems to service the International Space Station (ISS). In
light of the current and future limitation on the use of the Space
Shuttle, it seems to me that it is very important for NASA to pursue
the development of the capacity to resupply and return equipment from
the Space Station.
I understand that NASA is evaluating commercial approaches to the
resupply of the International Space Station. What is your opinion of
private companies' ability to accomplish this mission?
Answer. I believe commercial launch systems have a substantial role
to play in future ISS resupply. Logistics is one of the most important
functions of Station operation. We are working with industry to
identify capabilities that might be developed to support ISS cargo
requirements. We intend to complete an assessment of up and down mass
requirements so that we can better understand how commercial launch
services might augment our resupply capability. Later this year, NASA
will release a Request for Information (RFI), to be followed by a
Request for Proposals (RFP) in 2005, to acquire capability as soon as
practical and affordable to support cargo missions to and from the ISS
and for meeting ISS operations requirements after ISS assembly is
complete and the Space Shuttle is phased out of service.
Response to Written Questions Submitted by Hon. John McCain to
RADM Craig Steidle (Ret.)
Question 1. Mr. Readdy's written statement states that the
International Space Station (ISS) is preparing us for future human
exploration in many ways, and that it is an exploration research and
technology test bed. How critical is the completion of the ISS to the
success for the President's Space New Vision? Is it on the critical
Answer. In support of the Vision for Space Exploration, NASA will
pursue international participation. Hence, it is important that NASA
fulfill its commitments to our international partners--including flying
the partner modules to the ISS. Furthermore, U.S. research on board the
ISS will be refocused to better understand and counter the effects of
space flight on astronaut health. Just as Gemini programs produced the
knowledge that allowed us to reach our Apollo-era objectives, what we
learn from ISS missions today and in the next few years will help us
achieve the goals of traveling to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. ISS is on
the critical path as a testbed for demonstration of future technologies
as well as future operations and engineering capabilities.
Question 2. Can you discuss your plans to include government
diligence in the area of system engineering when programs and their
contractors are in periods of transition and/or under severe cost
Answer. A strong systems engineering and integration capability
will provide the foundation for implementing the Spiral Development
process. The government will work in partnership with industry to
implement a strong systems engineering structure, relying on lessons
learned from NASA and DOD programs. NASA has asked the National Academy
of Engineering to recommend criteria for developing the systems
engineering capability that will be required to integrate this complex
system of systems and to execute a sustainable and affordable space
exploration program. Critical elements of the systems engineering
function will be a robust risk management process and independent cost
assessment. Requirements development based on sound systems analysis is
currently under way. These requirements will be validated by system
concept designs by government and industry teams through directed
government tasks and industry contracts from the Concept Exploration
and Refinement Broad Agency Announcement that was released on June 14,
Question 3. Can you explain the spiral development concept?
Answer. Spiral Development is an overarching strategic principle
that the Exploration Systems Enterprise has adopted for the development
of new capabilities. A single step acquisition strategy for a human
presence on the Moon, as a precursor to Mars exploration, involves many
uncertainties. To manage those uncertainties, the Enterprise is
developing new capabilities in stages or ``spirals'' with evolving
modular components. All spirals will be structured based on a well-
defined end state, specific requirements, current technologies,
manageable risks, an executable budget, and knowledge gained through
lessons learned from prior missions. To lower cost and improve
performance, the Enterprise invests in the maturation of technologies
for incorporation within modular components and inclusion in future
spirals when the technologies are mature. In this way, technology
development will transform future spirals without placing program
execution at risk.
In the first spiral, the focus will be on low-earth orbit
operations. High-level milestones are: the flight of a prototype in
2008; uncrewed Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) in 2011; and a first
crewed CEV flight in 2014. In the second spiral, we will develop
capabilities for extended human and robotic exploration on the moon.
Future spirals will evolve based on the successful deployment of new
capabilities, technology maturation, scientific discoveries, and budget
and policy priorities.
Question 4. There has been some discussion of canceling the Space
Shuttle, and using funding from that program to accelerate the
implementation of the President's New Space Vision? How would canceling
the Space Shuttle affect your plans for development of the Crew
Answer. The Vision for Space Exploration directs NASA to return the
Space Shuttle to flight, focus use of the Space Shuttle to complete
assembly of the ISS, and retire the Shuttle as soon as assembly of the
ISS is completed, planned for the end of the decade. If the Space
Shuttle were retired earlier than 2010, development of the CEV could
likely be accelerated. The accelerated development may be possible
because NASA could redirect funds now required to operate the Shuttle
to support CEV development and other exploration activities. However,
retiring the Space Shuttle before ISS assembly is complete would
significantly impact the Nation's ability to conduct human space
exploration and might prevent the United States from meeting its
obligations to the international partners. Early Shuttle retirement
could only be achieved by significantly reducing the final
configuration of the ISS, which might prevent completion of vital ISS
research that is needed to enable humans to travel back to the Moon and
then on to Mars.
Response to Written Questions Submitted by Dr. George E. Mueller, Chief
Executive Officer, on Behalf of Kistler Aerospace Corporation
On May 5, 2004, the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and
Space held a hearing regarding ``Space Shuttle and the Future of Space
Launch Vehicles.'' A number of questions were raised by Mr. Elon Musk
of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) in the oral and written
testimony regarding Kistler Aerospace Corporation, the K-1 reusable
aerospace vehicle, and Kistler's contract with NASA. In particular, Mr.
Musk raised questions about the General Accounting Office (GAO) review
currently underway regarding this NASA contract.
It is our strong view that many of these points were either
misleading or inaccurate, and we respectfully submit the following
statement in order to clarify our position. Thank you for the
opportunity. Kistler Aerospace Corporation would be happy to respond to
future questions and would make itself available to the Subcommittee in
any relevant context.
Question 1. Who is Kistler Aerospace Corporation and what is the K-
1 reusable aerospace vehicle?
Answer. Kistler Aerospace Corporation is a privately funded, U.S.
small business, headquartered in Washington State. Kistler is
developing the K-1 fully reusable aerospace vehicle, designed to
deliver payloads to orbit and provide a low-cost alternative to single-
use launch vehicles. The company intends the K-1 to become the
reliable, low-cost provider of launch services for commercial, civil,
and military payloads destined for a wide range of orbits. The K-1
mission capability includes cargo resupply to and return from the
International Space Station (ISS); satellites, scientific payloads and
technology experiments to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Medium Earth Orbit
(MEO), Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO); and space exploration
missions to the Moon, Mars and Beyond.
Kistler's senior management team has been involved in the United
States space program for decades. I was the first head of the Office of
Manned Space Flight at NASA, directed the program that put the first
American on the moon, conceived the Shuttle and Skylab programs, and
authored `An Integrated Space Plan,' which has guided our space
programs since 1970.
When I joined Kistler in 1995, several of my former associates
assisted me in developing the requirements and architecture of the K-1
vehicle, including Dale Myers, former President of North American
Aircraft Operations and Vice President of Rockwell International (in
charge of the B-1 bomber program) and former NASA Deputy Administrator
and Associate Administrator of Manned Space Flight; Aaron Cohen, former
head of NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC); and Henry Pohl, former Chief
Engineer for JSC and ISS. Today, Joe Cuzzupoli, former Rockwell program
manager for the Space Shuttle Orbiter project, and Dick Kohrs, former
program director of NASA's Space Station Freedom and deputy director of
the Shuttle, are in charge of completing the design and overseeing the
manufacturing of the K-1.
One of my legacies from the Apollo program was the use of ``all-
up'' testing on the Saturn V launch vehicle. This means that we
designed, built, and tested the same full-scale Saturn V that was used
to put men on the moon. We are using a similar process with the K-1.
The K-1 in development today is the vehicle that will fly initial
missions, starting with the very first flight.
Kistler is the owner/operator of the K-1 program, with detailed
design, manufacturing and test done by our contractors. Our contractor
team includes some of the best the United States has to offer: Northrop
Grumman Corporation (composite structures); Lockheed Martin Space
Systems--Michoud Operations (aluminum propellant and oxidizer tanks);
Aerojet--General Corporation (propulsion systems); Honeywell
(avionics); Draper Laboratory (guidance and control); Irvin Aerospace
(landing systems); Oceaneering Space Systems (thermal protection); as
well as a number of smaller contractors.
At the height of the K-1 development program, over 1,200 jobs were
located in more than seven states, including Washington, California,
Louisiana, Texas, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Florida, with
additional testing conducted in Arizona and Virginia. This represents
hundreds of millions of dollars of private investment. For plans going
forward, these same contractor teams will be employed on the K-1
program, also funded by private investment.
As a result of the efforts of our management, employees and
contractor team, our first K-1 vehicle is 75 percent built, 85 percent
design complete, and first guidance, navigation and control (GN&C)
flight software is 100 percent complete. All system requirements tasks
have been completed, and numerous tests conducted, including full-
length firing of the K-1's main rocket engines, full-scale drop tests
of the parachute recovery system, and Hardware-in-the-Loop testing of
the K-1 flight avionics hardware and software.
The K-1 will provide affordable, responsive access to space for
many customers--NASA, Department of Defense and commercial--using the
same vehicle and leveraging the inherent reusability and on-orbit
maneuvering capability of the K-1. The K-1 can deliver 12,500 lbs to
LEO (due east) as well as 3,500 lbs to GTO and 2,000-3,000 lbs to
interplanetary targets (with an Active Dispenser upper stage). For
future ISS resupply flights, our K-1 vehicle can deliver 7,000 pounds
of pressurized cargo to the ISS, return more than 2,000 pounds of
recoverable down mass to earth, and have the capability to reboost the
ISS up to 40 miles. As a result we are the most likely new candidate
for America to maintain vital support of an asset, the ISS, that the
U.S. has spent significant dollars to create and within which we trust
the lives of our astronauts. The K-1 will have the capability to
service the ISS as frequently as needed, with regular monthly flights
for routine logistics and launch on demand service.
Question 2.What is the contract that Kistler Aerospace Corporation
has with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)?
Answer. NASA awarded our current contract to Kistler in May 2001 as
part of an open competition known as the Space Launch Initiative. On
the same day, NASA awarded a total of 22 contracts worth over $800
million to industry and university organizations. Under our existing
contract, NASA is entitled to obtain and use pre and post flight data
from 13 ``embedded technologies,'' which are technological innovations
already built into the K-1 that are useful for future aerospace
systems. In addition, NASA can exercise options to obtain data from one
K-1 flight demonstrating its capability for Autonomous Rendezvous and
Proximity Operations (ARPO). This data will demonstrate the ability of
the K-1 and vehicles like it to navigate to and berth with the ISS, as
well as have synergy with other commercial and military applications
for on-orbit maneuvering.
In February 2004, NASA issued a synopsis announcing its intent to
exercise existing options and modify our existing contract to add data
from four additional ARPO flights--flights in which the K-1 will
demonstrate that it can navigate progressively closer to the ISS.
NASA's decision came only after an extended process in which NASA
evaluated the alternatives and concluded that only Kistler is in a
position to meet NASA's needs in the time frame required. NASA recently
issued what is known as a ``JOFOC'', or justification for other than
full and open competition, describing this process. There is no doubt
that NASA's decision is good news for Kistler. The original contract
value, as announced by NASA, was worth up to $135 million, and the
modification brings the total contract to approximately $227 million
(of which $8 million has already been paid for data deliverables).
Kistler's contract with NASA is a good deal for the government.
NASA pays neither to develop the K-1 vehicle nor for launch services.
Rather, NASA pays only for data, and only upon performance. It has no
obligation to pay until data are delivered and accepted. This allows
the government to leverage private capital investment in the K-1 for
broad government and industry benefit, without any upfront risk or
expenditure. Further, NASA has made clear that any contracts for ISS
resupply launch services will be subject to a separate procurement.
Kistler has supported this position completely.
One of our competitors, a company called Space Exploration
Technologies (SpaceX), has protested NASA's decision with the General
Accounting Office (GAO). Kistler believes that NASA acted properly, and
indeed did more than was required to evaluate the alternatives. In the
end, the GAO will decide the protest (expected by July 9, 2004), and we
have every confidence that the outcome will sustain NASA's award to
SpaceX has also recently sought to make Kistler's contract with
NASA a political issue, presenting a blurred view of the facts, and
even seeking to introduce testimony regarding the contract at the
above-referenced Hearing of this Senate Subcommittee on another matter,
which the committee declined to hear. We regret SpaceX's approach, if
for no other reason than it seeks to circumvent the GAO's process and
unnecessarily delays data that America's space program really needs,
and that Kistler is in the unique position to provide.
Question 3. What is Kistler's financial situation?
Answer. Kistler is a privately-funded, U.S. small business, and has
raised more than $600 million in private investment and spent more than
$800 million on the K-1 program. This is a significant undertaking,
particularly in an industry where nearly every existing launch vehicle
has been funded by government development money.
In order to restructure our existing debt and equity and to enable
us to raise additional capital to complete the development of the K-1
Program, Kistler filed for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S.
Bankruptcy Code on July 15, 2003. Continuing business as usual, we have
operated post-filing as a debtor in possession (DIP) and arranged for
in excess of $4.5 million of financing from our primary pre-filing
Bay Harbour Management LLC, a well-known firm specializing in
reorganizing and funding distressed companies, has committed to lead
the financial reorganization of Kistler. We anticipate filing a plan of
reorganization that will restructure the current debt and equity and
enable us to secure approximately $450 million of new capital that sets
the stage for completion of the K-1 program.
We fully expect to emerge from Chapter 11 this year, with the first
K-1 flight expected to occur 15-18 months after re-start.
Although Kistler continues to function and is fully confident it
will reorganize stronger than ever, it is important to reiterate that
even if we were to fail, the government still has no liability
whatsoever. The contract is a ``pay-for-performance'' contract with a
set expiration date. Only when we have produced does the government
pay. If we cannot produce the data, the government does not pay.
Question 4. What engines are used by the K-1 reusable aerospace
Answer. Liquid-propellant engines from Aerojet, a leading U.S.
propulsion contractor based in Sacramento, California, have been
selected to power the K-1. The two AJ26-58 and one AJ26-59 engine on
the first stage and the AJ26-60 engine on the second stage are U.S.
modifications of the fully developed, extensively tested core of the
NK-33/NK-43 engines originally designed for the Russian Manned Moon
Program in the mid 1960s and subsequently placed in storage in Samara,
Russia, for over two decades.
Aerojet purchased a large quantity of these engines in the mid
1990s, and currently has 47 at its Sacramento facility--enough for up
to 180 flights of the K-l vehicle. Aerojet also has in its possession
the intellectual property (engineering drawings, materiel
specifications, etc.) and the licensing provisos for U.S. modifications
and/or production, contingent on a case-by-case approval of the end-use
of these engines. Approvals were obtained for use of these engines on
the Kistler K-1 vehicle.
To meet the K-1 requirements, Aerojet has already modified,
upgraded, and test-fired a number of the engines with modern U.S.
electronic controllers, ignition systems, control valves, and thrust
vector control systems.
Question 5. What launch sites is Kistler planning?
Answer. Kistler Aerospace Corporation currently plans to establish
two launch sites for operating the K-1 reusable aerospace vehicles:
Woomera, Australia and Nevada, USA. Environmental approval has been
received at both sites. Test flights and initial commercial operations
are planned from Spaceport Woomera, located in the Woomera Prohibited
Area, a 127,000 square kilometer region in the desert of South
Australia, about 470 km (280 miles) north of Adelaide. A second launch
site is planned in the U.S., at the Nevada Test Site, near Las Vegas,
Nevada, USA, after demonstrating successful flights in Australia. The
launch sites will have nearly identical facilities, infrastructure and
support equipment. Reynold Smith and Hill (RS&H) of Merritt Island,
Florida, which designed launch pads at Cape Canaveral, has completed
detailed design of the K-1 launch facility and support equipment.
Woomera, Australia, has over a 50-year history supporting space
programs, including a long and strong relationship with the United
States. For example, the U.S. Redstone rocket successfully deployed the
WRESAT satellite in 1967; NASA Black Brandt sounding rockets have been
launched from there; and from 1968 through 1999, Woomera supported
joint U.S./Australian defense operations at Nurrungar (about 19km south
of Woomera Village) for the then-classified Defense Satellite
Communication Station, used as an intelligence outpost for early
warning. Woomera is an ideal base to safely conduct orbital launch and
recovery operations for reusable vehicles in terms of existing
infrastructure, population density, topography and weather.
The process of obtaining a license from the FAA, for launch and
recovery on land, represents a major hurdle for any fully reusable
aerospace vehicle. As an alternative, Kistler selected Woomera with the
full understanding of the Federal Aviation Administration's Commercial
Space Transportation Organization (FAA/AST). Kistler plans to re-engage
with the FAA/AST after successful K-1 flights in Australia using actual
flight data to obtain the license. Nonetheless, the option of flying
first commercially in the United States is not available as long as the
FAA/AST assumes a probability of failure of one during overflight.
In addition, Kistler has surveyed multiple other sites for
suitability of potential K-1 operations in the continental United
States, including the Fort Stockton area in Texas, the X-33 facilities
in Edwards, California, the Alamagordo area in New Mexico, as well as
the Florida Space Authority regarding potential launch and landing
sites at Cape Canaveral. Undoubtedly, having a U.S. site--earlier
rather than later--would facilitate easier logistics for some potential
In closing, thank you for the opportunity to submit this response
for the record. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
Additional information on Kistler Aerospace Corporation and the K-1
reusable vehicle can be found on our website at:
www.kistleraerospace.com or by E-mail request to [email protected]
Resume of Dr. George E. Mueller, Chief Executive Officer
Dr. George E. Mueller is Chief Executive Officer of Kistler
Aerospace Corporation, developer of the K-1 fully reusable aerospace
vehicle. He joined Kistler, a privately funded small business, in 1995,
continuing a distinguished career in space, science, engineering and
corporate management. Dr. Mueller led the program that put Americans on
the moon. In 1963, having led successful space programs at Ramo
Wooldridge Corporation, he was selected to take over the Apollo Project
by NASA Administrator James E. Webb. As Head of Manned Space Flight, he
was responsible for the Gemini, Apollo and Saturn programs, while the
Kennedy, Marshall and Johnson Space Centers reported to him. From the
beginning of Gemini in 1963 through the second Apollo moon landing in
1969, Dr. Mueller directed the U.S. Space Program as NASA Associate
Administrator for Manned Space Flight.
Mueller's leadership made possible the achievement of the national
goal set in 1961: the landing of men on the moon and their safe return
to Earth by the end of the decade. To accomplish this goal, he
synergized the activities of 20,000 industrial firms, 200 universities
and colleges, and hundreds of thousands of individuals into one
concerted effort. Throughout the highs and lows of the Apollo program,
George Mueller inspired industry, NASA, the citizenry, and the
legislative and executive branches of the government to overcome
adversity and meet the challenge of the Apollo program.
George Mueller is also the originator of Skylab, the world's first
space station, and is regarded as the ``Father of the Space Shuttle.''
His post-Apollo plan, ``An Integrated Program of Space Utilization and
Exploration,'' became the guiding document for NASA for the past
After leaving NASA, Dr. Mueller was Senior Vice President of
General Dynamics Corporation, Chairman and President of System
Development Corporation and Senior Vice President of Burroughs
George Mueller began his career in 1940 as a Member of the
Technical Staff with Bell Telephone Laboratories where he designed the
10cm ``polyrod'' antenna and other receivers. From 1946-1957 he was a
Professor of Electrical Engineering at The Ohio State University where
he developed the communications engineering curriculum and
Dr. Mueller is a Member or Fellow of the American Association for
the Advancement of Science, National Academy of Engineering, American
Geophysical Union, American Astronautical Society, Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Royal Aeronautical Society, and
French Academy of Astronautics. He is an Honorary Fellow of the
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and British
Interplanetary Society. Dr. Mueller has served as President of the AIAA
from 1979-1980 and of the International Academy of Astronautics from
Dr. Mueller holds a Ph.D. in Physics from The Ohio State
University, an M.S.E.E. from Purdue University, and a B.S.E.E. from the
University of Missouri at Rolla. In addition, he has honorary
doctorates from six universities. Eighteen international awards have
been bestowed on him, including three NASA Distinguished Service
Medals, Apollo Achievement Award, American Astronautical Society Space
Flight Award, American Academy of Achievement Gold Plate Award, Elmer
Sperry National Transportation Award, Medal of Paris, American
Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics Goddard Medal, International
Peace Cooperation Award--Russia, Gagarin Space Medal, United Societies
in Space 1997 Space Humanitarian Award, the National Space Society's
Wernher Von Braun Memorial Award, the National Award for Space
Achievement in 2002, one of Aviation Week's Top 100 Stars of Aerospace,
and the American Astronautical Society's Lloyd V. Berkner Award. Dr.
Mueller was awarded the National Medal of Science for his many
individual contributions to the design of the Apollo systems.
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