Keith's note: Bragging about things that a simple Google search can refute isn't the best marketing approach, Lockheed Martin. Here's a list of the past week's desperate bragging attempts by Boeing and Lockheed Martin:
- Denial At Boeing Regarding Poor Performance On SLS, earlier post
- You Can't Exert National Prestige With A Rocket That Does Not Fly, earlier post
- Lockheed Martin's Flawed Comparison Between Orion and Dragon, earlier post
"NASA will host a media teleconference at 2:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, July 7, to discuss the outcome of its High Visibility Close Call review of the December 2019 uncrewed Orbital Flight Test of Boeing's Starliner spacecraft. Participants in the briefing will be: Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and Steve Stich, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program."
Keith's update: NASA had a telecon with HEOMD AA Kathy Lueders and Steve Stich, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. In a nutshell they have completed their report on the problems associated with Boeing's Starliner OFT-1 flight, have 81 recommendations that need to be implemented. No firm date for the re-flight OFT-2 for Starliner were offered other than maybe by the end of this year. In essence the NASA/Boeing processes broke down and an extensive review was made to be certain that "no stone went unturned" - as had been directed by Lueders' predecessor Doug Loverro.
I asked: "You only discovered that you had major problems with Starliner after the vehicle was actually in flight. The NASA/Boeing preflight process clearly failed in this regard. Yet things like this did not happen with SpaceX. Why did the NASA/SpaceX process work so well when it did not work very well with Boeing? Shouldn't the NASA process be the same for both contractors or are they that different from each other that different approaches are required? Given that SpaceX seems to have a better handle on this are NASA/SpaceX lessons learned being applied to the NASA/Boeing process to get them up to speed?"
Some intersting answers resulted. Stich admitted that when one spacecraft provider comes forth with a newer approach (SpaceX) than another (Boeing) people naturally tend to pay more attention to the new approach. "Perhaps we did not take the time we needed to in hindsight. We learned a lesson and we will be applying those lessons equally." Stitch admitted that NASA probably felt somewhat more comfortable with Boeing's more traditional approach and as a result so SpaceX may have had more oversight since they had a newer approach. "This is a wakeup call for NASA and all of its contractors and they all want the lessons learned."Categories: Commercialization
"That the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall use the Space Launch System, if available, as the launch vehicles for the Jupiter Europa missions, plan for an orbiter launch no later than 2025 and a lander launch no later than 2027, and include in the fiscal year 2022 budget the 5-year funding profile necessary to achieve these goals."
"Provided, That not less than $1,400,500,000 shall be for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle: Provided further, That not less than $2,600,000,000 shall be for the Space Launch System (SLS) launch vehicle, which shall have a lift capability not less than 130 metric tons and which shall have core elements and an Exploration Upper Stage developed simultaneously to be used to the maximum extent practicable, including for Earth to Moon missions and Moon landings: Provided further, That of the amounts provided for SLS, not less than $400,000,000 shall be for SLS Block 1B development including the Exploration Upper Stage and associated systems including related facilitization: Provided further, That $459,700,000 shall be for Exploration Ground Systems including infrastructure in support of SLS Block 1B missions: Provided further, That the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall provide to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate, concurrent with the annual budget submission, a 5-year budget profile for an inte11 grated system that includes the SLS, the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, and associated ground systems that will ensure a crewed launch as early as possible, as well as a system-based funding profile for a sustained launch cadence that contemplates the use of an SLS Block 1B cargo variant and associated ground systems: Provided further, That $1,557,400,000 shall be for exploration research and development."
Keith's note: The $22.63 billion requested for NASA in FY 2021 is the same as it was for FY 2020. However the request for FY 2021 was for $25.2 billion - so thats $2.5 billion that is missing. Also, $1.57 billion is set aside for exploration research and development - but $4.72 billion was requested. How NASA is supposed to do the accelerated Artemis program such that they land humans on the Moon by 2024 is hard to fathom. Maybe the Senate will be more generous. As for the Europa missions on SLS - planing orbital mechanics to meet political direction using a Congressionally-designed rocket that has not yet flown is always a bad idea. But Congress still does it anyway. Meanwhile Jim Bridenstine is putting on a brave face. But this is an election year - one marked by racial, societal, and political strife amidst a pandemic that is increasingly out of control. So who knows.
My statement on the House fiscal year 2021 Commerce-Justice-Science funding bill: pic.twitter.com/Nra1ILJGWK— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) July 7, 2020
Rethinking How And Who NASA Honors, earlier post
"At a time when everyone seems to be taking a hard look at commemorating past events with a light shone on racism and the denial of human rights, one would think that someone at NASA would reconsider having the heroic bust of a Nazi SS member who used slave labor to build his rockets as the way to greet people who arrive for work every day at NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center. NASA openly admits that von Braun used slave labor. Yes he was the first center director at Marshall and led a large part of the Apollo effort that landed humans on the Moon. No one is suggesting that this be erased from the history books. But should NASA continue to honor him like this?"
Keith's note: FYI a reader reminded me of this exhibit at the U.S. National Holocaust Museum (larger view). It is captioned "In summer 1944, noted German film and still photographer Walter Frentz was assigned to document the construction and launching of the V-1 and V-2 rockets. He took these rare color photographs of prisoners in the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp assembling these weapons. Ullstein Bild, Berlin."
And then there's this photo of the Nordhausen factory showing V-2 rockets being assembled by Dora Concentration Camp slave laborers.
This bust has been in a place of honor at Marshall since 1994. A quarter of a century later one would think that this prominent NASA tribute to someone who used massive amounts of slave labor - with inhumane, lethal consequences - should at least be put in a box somewhere.
It's time.Categories: History
"Boeing is a bit late on delivering the Space Launch System (SLS), and it was left out of NASA's competition to build a lunar lander. What are you doing to turn those programs around? On Space Launch Systems, I am really proud of the team for the amazing capabilities they developed with the world's largest rocket. She's sitting on the stand at Stennis Space Center. After watching how this team has battled through the COVID crisis, I'm looking forward to having a hot-fire [test] later this year. Early on, we struggled on SLS from an execution phase. There were also different challenges from a funding perspective and other things. Over the course of the last 1.5-2 years, the team has been hitting its milestones and commitments."
Exploration is a team sport, Kathy Lueders, NASA
"Orion is complete and SLS is on track for its last major test later this year before flight. These systems will be integrated early next year and launched together for the first time on an uncrewed flight test around the Moon in 2021 followed by a test flight with crew around the Moon in 2023."
"With less than 2 years until the planned November 2018 launch date for its first exploration mission (EM-1), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) three human exploration programs--Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion), Space Launch System (SLS), and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS)-- are making progress on their respective systems, but the EM-1 launch date is likely unachievable as technical challenges continue to cause schedule delays."
"Each of the major element contracts for building the SLS for Artemis I--Stages, ICPS, Boosters, and RS-25 Engines--have experienced technical challenges, performance issues, and requirement changes that collectively have resulted in $2 billion of cost overruns and increases and at least 2 years of schedule delays. We reported in October 2018 that Core Stage production is the primary factor contributing to overall SLS launch delays due to its position on the critical path and corresponding management, technical, and infrastructure issues driven mostly by Boeing's poor performance. Boeing's software development for the ICPS is also an ongoing concern as final modification of the software cannot be made until NASA finalizes the Artemis I mission requirements. ..."
"... In our October 2018 audit, we reported that Boeing's poor performance developing and building the first SLS Core Stage led to unsustainable cost increases and schedule delays for the SLS Program. We found Boeing officials in prior years had consistently underestimated the scope of work to be performed and the size and skills of the workforce required. In addition, Boeing did not fully understand the requirements necessary to complete development of the stage controller--that is, the command and control hardware and software needed to conduct an important test known as the Green Run--resulting in approximately an 18-month delay of the stage controller system. Further, and in parallel to the stage controller delays, contaminated rocket fuel tubing in the engine section, a misaligned welding machine, inadequate weld strengths, and a tornado at Michoud Assembly Facility (Michoud) resulted in significant delays to the delivery of the Core Stage flight hardware from Michoud to Stennis Space Center (Stennis). We found these and other issues would result in the first two Core Stages and an EUS costing at least $4 billion more than originally planned and falling behind schedule by 2.5 years."
"In addition, Boeing officials indicated the [SLS] core stage is the largest liquid hydrogen fueled rocket stage ever built and the green run test will be the first time the stage is filled with liquid hydrogen. Contractor officials indicated that one of the top remaining technical risks to the green run test is that the core stage may develop leaks when it is filled. ... According to program officials, Boeing underestimated both the complexity of [SLS] core stage engine section assembly and the time and manpower that would be needed to complete the core stage effort. As a result, the estimated stages development cost has increased by about $1.4 billion and the stages contract effort now exceeds the contract's negotiated cost ceiling."
"Any issues uncovered during planned integration and testing may push the launch date as late as June 2021."
Hopeful for launch next year, NASA aims to resume SLS operations within weeks, SpaceflightNow, May 2020
"The last official schedule from NASA had the first SLS test launch in March 2021, but managers have said for months that schedule was no longer achievable. After a thorough review, NASA says the first SLS launch -- named Artemis 1 -- is now planned in November of next year "
Keith's note: This program had already gone off the rails before COVID-19 became a problem - certainly more than 1.5 to 2 years ago. As for "lack of funding" - oh please. Congress often gave SLS/Orion more money than it asked for and cut commercial crew/cargo - and yet commercial crew/cargo are now working - and SLS ... not so much. Here are last week's examples of Big Aerospace denial with regard to SLS/Orion. They are clearly worried that the program is in trouble.
- You Can't Exert National Prestige With A Rocket That Does Not Fly, earlier post
- Lockheed Martin's Flawed Comparison Between Orion and Dragon, earlier post
The President just mentioned the Apollo Moon landings, that America will soon plant a flag on Mars, and compared the Saturn V with the Ford F-150. pic.twitter.com/32SlA9pFcK— NASA Watch (@NASAWatch) July 4, 2020
The right tool to go to the moon, op ed, Tony Antonelli (Lockheed Martin), Politico
"Contrary to the iconic scene from "Apollo 13," we don't aspire to dumping a box of parts on a table and trying to make it work. Let's take the Dragon. You could add more backup computers, strings of communications, the ability to fly for days after loss of air pressure, and the ability to navigate in deep space without GPS and return to the Earth without the help of Mission Control. But it would no longer be a Dragon. It would be some new, untested vehicle that is bigger, heavier, less understood, and less capable than Orion, which the best engineers and scientists from around the world have designed for the sole purpose of opening the Moon and Mars to humanity. Specific technologies are needed to go to deep space. NASA knew this when it designed Apollo more than 50 years ago; there's a reason it didn't send astronauts to the Moon in Gemini or Mercury spacecraft."
Keith's note: This is silly. A Lockheed Martin vehicle named "Orion" has flown once. Once. And when it flew it was a stripped down test vehicle with a fraction of the capabilities that the final version will have. An Orion has not flown since 2014. By the time it flies for a second time in 2021 (maybe) there will have been a gap 7 or more years. Humans will first fly on it in 2023 (maybe) - 9 years after the first flight. The SpaceX Crew Dragon has flown twice - once with a crew - and it will fly again (with a crew) in a few months and then 4 (or more) times before Orion carries its first crew. SpaceX will have vastly more operational experience with crewed Dragon vehicles before Lockheed Martin flies its second (uncrewed) Orion.
The Crew Dragon is based directly the fight-proven hardware developed for Cargo Dragon which has flown more than 20 times (reused on many of the flights) and will fly half a dozen more times before Orion carries a human crew. By the time Orion starts to fly SpaceX will already have an extensive body of cargo/crew flight experience upon which to draw for possible upgrades. Lockheed Martin will have virtually none. Unlike Orion, which is built along the standard old aerospace model wherein each vehicle is unique thus making upgrades more complex. Indeed it has already evolved from a cargo-only vehicle to a crewed vehicle (quite an increase in complexity). Indeed, SpaceX adopted classic consumer product thinking when it designed Dragon such that its spacecraft are designed - indeed expected - to be upgraded based on flight experience.
Stating that a theoretical Crew Dragon variant designed for lunar missions would be "bigger, heavier, less understood, and less capable than Orion" is something a big aerospace company PR shop wants you to say - hoping that readers (legislators) who do not know better will fall for it. If anything, when compared to the SpaceX Dragon family and its possible derivatives, Orion is "bigger, heavier, less understood, and less capable" than Dragon. Dragon is also much, much cheaper to fly than Orion and it always will be. And with regard to the difficulties of making new Dragon vehicles NASA has picked SpaceX's Dragon XL variant to service and supply the Gateway. NASA and SpaceX are already doing what Lockheed Martin's op ed is afraid of.
There seems to be some desperation amongst the SLS/Orion team these days. It is chronically over budget and years behind schedule and no one knows when it will actually fly. Indeed the SLS/Orion system is so problematic that the Artemis architecture it was supposed to be anchoring has been constantly changed to make up for its performance problems (Gateway, transfer stages) and delays (adding commercial launches and components). Just a few days ago the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration posted an op ed in The Hill which made some similarly misleading claims (see "You Can't Exert National Prestige With A Rocket That Does Not Fly"). As one NASAWatch reader aptly put it "SLS is a national liability, not a national asset." You can expect more op eds like these from big aerospace as the election nears, the pandemic rages, the economy dives, and SLS slips further to the right while its imaginary budget evaporates.
Oh yes - although it is not part of the SLS/Orion project the other capsule being made by big aerospace, Boeing's Starliner, did not exactly wow its customer on its first flight.Categories: SLS and Orion, TrumpSpace
Keith's 1 July note: Ads appear on your browser based on your entire browsing history and other online habits such as Amazon, eBay, etc. Google Adsense often targets ads based on words they see on websites or websites are selected by advertisers to be deluged with advertisements. The post about Jeff DeWit and the Trump campaign caused these Trump ads to start to appear. If I type "Joe Biden" (as I now have) that will likely cause Biden ads to appear (and then we will block them). We block as many of these political ads as we can (over a hundred thus far). But the advertisers are insidious and unrelenting. You can also block these ads yourself by clicking the "Ad Choices" box on the upper right. Alas, advertising helps keep NASAWatch online. By supporting our donation effort we can delete them all together.
Notice to the Trump campaign - if you are going to use advertisements to try and annoy our readers and/or skew the appearance or direction of our coverage rest assured it will have the exact opposite effect..
Keith's 2 July update: Well the Trump campaign just put another ad on our site. We'll nuke it as we have all the others. Hopefully the latest block will prevent more of these from showing up again. But the Trump campaign advertises like the Borg i.e. they rotate their shield frequencies in terms of ad codes - so who knows. There is a certain desperation that goes with incessant placement of annoying and unwanted political ads on websites that simply do not want them. Maybe Trump's son's brother-in-law Kyle Yunaska who is now Deputy NASA Chief of Staff can pass on our request to the campaign.
"Texas Governor Greg Abbott has issued an executive order that all Texans don face coverings in public in counties with 20 or more Covid-19 cases. Texas has seen a surge of hospital admissions in recent days, hitting a record high of more than 8,000 virus cases in a single day on Wednesday. "Wearing a face covering will help us to keep Texas open for business," Mr Abbott said, announcing the order. After an initial warning, those who refuse will face a fine up to $250."
"Florida reported 10,109 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, breaking the state's one-day record yet again as leaders work to prevent further spread over the July 4 holiday weekend. The previous record for a single day was 9,585 cases reported Saturday. Just two weeks ago, the state's single-day record was 3,207 cases."
"Faced with infection and hospitalization figures worsening by the day for more than two weeks, California is beginning its first major reversal of economic reopening from the raging coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday ordered 19 counties with troubling COVID-19 trends to immediately close a wide slate of nonessential indoor businesses for at least three weeks. The group of counties, which includes Sacramento and Los Angeles, combine for about 70 percent of the state's population."
"Students in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have been attending parties in the city and surrounding area as part of a disturbing contest to see who can catch the virus first, a city council member told ABC News on Wednesday."Categories: Coronavirus
Kushner shakes up Trump campaign team, Politico
"Kushner on Tuesday replaced chief operating officer Michael Glassner with [Former NASA CFO] Jeff DeWit, who held the same position in Trump's 2016 campaign. ... DeWit, a former Arizona state treasurer, is a Trump loyalist who played a key role in the president's 2016 win. Trump later nominated him to serve as chief operating officer at NASA, a position DeWit stepped down from earlier this year. DeWit had been in talks with Kushner for several weeks. In his new position, he will oversee everything from budgeting to the planning of events and rallies."
"It is hosted by Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle who works on the Trump campaign. Her guests are former NASA Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWit and former astronaut and NASA GRC Center Director Janet Kavandi who is now a Senior Vice President at Sierra Nevada Corp."Election 2020, Personnel News
"Kathy Lueders, NASA's associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, has named Joel Montalbano as manager of the International Space Station Program. The appointment was effective June 29 following the June 26 retirement of Kirk Shireman, who held the position since 2015. ... Montalbano had served as deputy program manager for NASA's space station program since 2012, a role in which he shared responsibility with the program manager for day-to-day management, working across organizations and with NASA centers, other government agencies, and partners to ensure seamless and efficient space station integration."Categories: ISS News, Personnel News
NASA's mission to the moon is about far more than cost, Op Ed, Mary Lynne Dittmar/Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, The Hill
"As a result, the role played by national assets in deep space cannot be fulfilled solely by privately owned systems. Bringing someone else's rocket and crew vehicle to the geopolitical table does not convey the same intent. A national presence, backed by the full faith and measure of Congress, focuses international attention and creates incentives for partnerships around the globe."
Keith's note: This is nonsense. In the case of the U.S. the "national asset" i.e. SLS/Orion is billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule. Meanwhile SpaceX and other private companies could conduct the Orion/SLS plan for lunar exploration far more cheaply and flexibly than the SLS/Orion architecture ever could. Falcon 9/Heavy/Dragon work. SLS/Orion have not yet shown that they can.
It has apparently escaped Dittmar's notice that the original SLS/Orion plan - one that only used SLS and Orion has been continuously morphed into a program that uses more and more commercial capabilities to do the things that SLS/Orion cannot do - either for cost or capability reasons. Were NASA to have relied upon the SLS/Orion "national asset" alone it would have been impossible to meet this Administration's 2024 goal to land humans on the Moon. In fact, even with the shift toward enhanced commercial participation, chronic problems with SLS/Orion system now make it almost certainly incapable of doing its part in the current NASA plan to land humans on the Moon by 2024.
You cannot convey the intended political intent if the rocket you want to use to exert that intent has not flown and will not fly at the cost - or schedule - originally envisioned. Take a look at what European government-backed and Chinese-backed "commercial" companies are doing. They are copying SpaceX - they are not copying SLS/Orion. They learned from American successes - and failures. Can we?
Keith's update: NASA issued this press release today about initial authorization for the SRBs needed for 6 additional SLS flights - and that the eventual contract will "extend through Dec. 31, 2030". Yet nowhere in this release do they say when the first SLS launch will actually occur.
Florida breaks new daily record with 9,585 coronavirus cases, Orlando Sentinel
"The Florida Department of Health reported 9,585 new coronavirus cases Saturday, shattering the previous daily high for positive COVID-19 infections made just the day before. The state has now registered 132,545 positive cases to date. The previous record for a single-day increase of 8,942 cases was reported Friday, followed by 5,508 cases reported Wednesday."
"The rollbacks come amid a statewide surge of new coronavirus infections. On Thursday, the state health department reported 5,996 new cases, the third day in a row of record-high new infections in the state. The rate of positive test results, as of Wednesday, is also approaching 12%. "As I said from the start, if the positivity rate rose above 10%, the state of Texas would take further action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Abbott said."
"Another day of big increases in both coronavirus cases and hospitalizations prompted health officials Saturday to warn Los Angeles County is entering a "critical moment" and that some of the easing of stay-at-home orders are in jeopardy unless the trend changes."
Keith's 28 June note: Infection rates are soaring in Florida, Texas, and California. Yet KSC, JSC, JPL, ARC, and Armstrong are still at Stage 3 - not stage 4. But other centers (GSFC, WFF, GISS) in states with declining infections surges are at stage 4 according to NASA. There seems to be an inconsistency.
Keith's 29 June update:
NASA issued this COVID-19 update today which really does not say much of anything other than confirmed cases are increasing and check the NASA website for updates.
"The recent spike in COVID-19 cases in states where many of us work and live necessitates heightened vigilance and personal responsibility by all NASA employees and contractors."Categories: Coronavirus
"American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan - including targeting American troops - amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter. ... The intelligence finding was briefed to President Trump, and the White House's National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March, the officials said. Officials developed a menu of potential options - starting with making a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and a demand that it stop, along with an escalating series of sanctions and other possible responses, but the White House has yet to authorize any step, the officials said."Categories: Russia
"NASA has not implemented an effective Agency-wide information security program. SSP documentation for all six information systems we reviewed contained numerous instances of incomplete, inaccurate, or missing information. We also performed a limited review of the Agency Common Control (ACC) system, which aggregates and manages common controls across all Agency information systems, and found that many controls were classified as "other than satisfied," indicating they had been assessed as less than effective. Moreover, the NASA Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) has not addressed these deficiencies in the ACC SSP. .
.. Of the six information systems reviewed, we found that four were operating without current contingency plans. While three of the four systems eventually updated their contingency plans in RISCS during the course of our evaluation, these systems had been operating under outdated plans for as long as 4 years. The fourth system is currently operating under a 2016 contingency plan.
... Moreover, the number of systems without a current or available contingency plan in RISCS puts NASA at an unnecessarily high risk by hindering the Agency's ability to recover information systems if needed in an effective and efficient manner, thus threatening the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of NASA information maintained in those systems. .
.. During our review of selected OCIO IT security handbooks and other related governance documents, we found that 27 of 45 documents had not been reviewed and approved in more than 1 year and 8 that not been reviewed in over 3 years. OCIO policy states that IT security handbooks shall be reviewed or updated on an annual basis or more frequently if appropriate. However, the OCIO policy management process does not provide adequate oversight of this process or a reliable list of policies requiring review."Categories: IT/Web
After a successful launch aboard the Japanese HTV9 cargo vehicle, a new experiment facility was recently installed in the European laboratory Columbus as part of a comprehensive upgrade of Europe's International Space Station module.