SLS and Orion: August 2006 Archives

Lockheed Wins Contract to Build NASA's New Spaceship, Washington Post

"But it was blamed for the 1999 disappearance of the Mars Climate Orbiter, which vanished into space or burned up in the Mars atmosphere after Lockheed engineers incorrectly programmed it using English rather than metric units. When the Genesis space capsule crashed in 2004, NASA said it was because of errors in designs prepared by the company. Lockheed's earlier effort to build a shuttle replacement -- the X-33 "space plane" -- was canceled in 2001 after it ran into technological and cost problems."

Lockheed Martin Wins NASA Contract, AP

"The last time NASA awarded a manned spaceship contract to Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, Md., was in 1996 for a spaceplane that was supposed to replace the space shuttle. NASA spent $912 million and the ship, called X-33, never got built because of technical problems. Lockheed Martin Vice President John Karas said his company will succeed with Orion compared to its failure with X-33, because "we're not shooting as far... I'd say it (Orion) is within reach."

Editor's note: somehow this comment by Mr. Karas just doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.

CEV Announcement

NASA Announces Contractor for Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle

"NASA Exploration Systems' managers will host a press conference at 4 p.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 31, to announce the prime contractor to design, develop, and build Orion, America's next human spacecraft.."

Editor's 30 Aug 10:48 pm EDT note: According to an eyewitness, they are painting the grass green at the Northrop Grumman buildings in El Segundo. Apparently, this only happens on the eve of winning a very big contract so that a better TV backdrop is available. The last time this happened was when Northrop Grumman won the NPOESS contract.

Editor's note: Well, we're only hours away from NASA's announcement of the CEV winner(s). Rumours, of course, are swirling about who might win. I've heard nothing (yet) which is remotely reliable about who might win. None the less, here is a compilation of what I have been hearing as to how the selection might be handled:

  1. Either Northrop Grumman/Boeing or Lockheed Martin will be picked for everything.
  2. Both companies will get a piece of the action either by:
    • Dividing things into a prime/subcontractor arrangement spread across the CEV command and service modules.
    • Select one contractor to develop the command module and the other to develop the service module.

Editor's note: Many have observed that NASA is trying to recreate the capabilities already present - or easily obtainable - from private sector launch vehicles so as to implement the VSE. Specifically, capabilities exist in EELVs (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle) for which taxpayers have already spent billions of dollars to develop. COTS is a step in the right direction, but some feel that NASA could do much, much more in utilizing existing private sector launch capabilities.

NASA Announces Contractor for Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle

"NASA Exploration Systems' managers will host a press conference at 4 p.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 31, to announce the prime contractor to design, develop, and build Orion, America's next human spacecraft."

GAO Report: NASA: Long-Term Commitment to and Investment in Space Exploration Requires More Knowledge

"NASA's current acquisition strategy for the CEV places the project at risk of significant cost overruns, schedule delays, and performance shortfalls because it commits the government to a long-term product development effort before establishing a sound business case. NASA plans to award a contract for the design, development, production, and sustainment of the CEV in September 2006-before it has developed key elements of a sound business case, including well-defined requirements, a preliminary design, mature technology, and firm cost estimates."

Orion Revealed

Astronaut lets name of new spaceship slip, AP

"The name of the new vehicle that NASA hopes will take astronauts back to the moon was supposed to be hush-hush until next week. But apparently U.S. astronaut Jeff Williams, floating 220 miles above Earth at the international space station, didn't get the memo. Williams let it slip today that the new vehicle's name is Orion."

NASA Names New Crew Exploration Vehicle Orion

"NASA announced Tuesday that its new crew exploration vehicle will be named Orion."

NASA RFI: Crew Launch Vehicle Upper Stage Notice of Intent: Ares I Upper Stage Production and Ares I Instrument Unit Solicitations

NASA RFI: Ares I Upper Stage RFI Update August 2006

"The planning for the development and production of the Ares I (previously Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV)) Upper Stage continues and the following information is provided to assist Industry in planning for upcoming acquisitions."

Editor's note: Meanwhile, ESMD AA Scott Horowitz has been using the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) at LaRC as an ad hoc Skunk Works to try and rehabilitate CLV and CEV designs that his "Smart Buyer" and engineering teams at JSC and MSFC have already found to have serious flaws. Most concerns focus on the "Stick". Stay tuned, doubts not withstanding, CEV contractor selection is still on track for 7 September 2006.



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This page is an archive of entries in the SLS and Orion category from August 2006.

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