May 5, 2004
Members will hear testimony on the U.S. space launch capabilities. Senator Brownback will preside. Following is a tentative witness list (not necessarily in order of appearance):
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Rear Adm. Craig E. Steidle, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Mr. William F. ReaddyAssociate Administrator, Space Operations and Mission DirectorateNational 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 inspection technology. · Recommendation 4.2-3 – Require that at least two employees attend all final closeouts and intertank area hand-spraying procedures. · 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 action item. 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 and affordable. 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 team. 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 Exploration. 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 ISS elements. For example, NASA could invest in upgrades to the heaviest planned versions of domestic Expendable Launch Vehicles (ELV’s) 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. Partnerships 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. Summary 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 commitments.
Witness Panel 2
Mr. John KarasVice President, Space ExplorationLockheed Martin
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. Introduction 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 lessons learned. 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 exploration mission. 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 60’s 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 60’s 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 80’s/early 90’s 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 reusable system. 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. 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 system. 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. March 2004
Mr. Mike Kahn
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 imagiation, 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 so. 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 cost effectiveness. 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-term utilization. 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.
Mr. Robert A. Hickman
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. As 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 be answered. 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 timeframe of need will dictate whether developers seek radical advancements through aggressive technology projects or accept a safer, more incremental approach. Defense Perspective 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) program. 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. Civil Perspective 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. Commercial Perspective 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 Vehicles 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 vehicles. 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 Vehicles 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 case. 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 facilitate maintenance · Modern thermal protection systems with 100 times the durability of Shuttle tiles · Integrated Vehicle Health Monitoring to automate vehicle checkout · Modern propulsions system designs with 10 times longer system life · Non-toxic propellants that don’t require hazardous processing · 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 regime: • Propulsion • Structures and materials • Airframe aerodynamics and controls • Thermal management 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. Hybrid Vehicles 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 less risk. Figure 1 depicts the estimated manpower to process a hybrid compared with the Space Shuttle and the rationale to achieve a 26-hour turnaround time. Figure 1. Comparison of Processing Manpower For Space Shuttle and Hybrid Vehicles 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. Development Strategy 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 recurring costs. 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. Figure 2. Modular Family of Vehicles – Based on Variants of 2 Reusable Stages 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.
Mr. Elon Musk
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 way. 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 Cost of 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 $4000 to $1300 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 launch business. 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 note 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 tax dollars. 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.