SLS and Orion: November 2006 Archives

NASA Responds To Stick Rumors

NASA Internal Memo From Constellation Program Manager Jeff Hanley

"All, between articles like this one (see below) and the wave of 'better ideas' for architecture that have waded into recent notoriety, I thought it was time to level set folks on where things stand and dispel these rumors and hearsay surrounding the "issue" of the Ares 1 performance and overall implications to the architecture."

Big Problems With The Stick, earlier post

Editor's 14 Nov. note: In closing his memo, Jeff Hanley notes: "We will continue to get these faux expressions of concern from those who wish to see us fail. They will be disappointed."

For the record, Jeff, I do not want to see you fail. I want to see you succeed.

What is really annoying about comments like Hanley's is the simple-minded and intellectually lazy way that NASA people deal with criticism. If you dare to criticize their approach - in any fashion - you are automatically against them. And, if you are outside the agency, then you are automatically unqualified to have an opinion. It never seems to occur to these NASA folks that the people who highlight potential issues may actually be concerned that they will not succeed unless these issues are addressed.

But no, it is so much easier to manufacture enemies - that way you have something external to blame things on when programs run into trouble.

Reader comments (send yours to nasawatch@reston.com):

Constellation Battles the Blogosphere, Space News

"Hanley said in an interviewhe normally does not respond so directly to what he characterized as misinformation that appearsin "the pseudo media-blogs and so forth." But the NASA Watch post spurred him to action. Hanley sent his e-mail, he said, to "a few dozen Constellation leaders throughout the program" - a long enough distribution list, it would seem, to ensure the message leaked to an even wider audience."

Editor's note: Jeff Hanley went to great lengths to make certain that I got his email. The way he did so (I have the original distribution list) makes me wonder why he was so eager to use other people to get his thoughts to me - but not do so himself - either directly - or through PAO. Moreover, if Hanley holds PAO- accredited news sources such as NASA Watch in such distain, one wonders why he'd even bother to reply in the first place. Just one of life's little mysteries, I suppose.

- NASA Reiterates its Official Support for Ares I, Earlier post
- NASA Responds to Stick Rumors, Earlier post
- Big Problems With The Stick, Earlier post

NASA Completes Milestone Review of Next Human Spacecraft System

"An example of the activity was a review and analysis that confirmed the planned Ares I launch system has sufficient thrust to put the Orion spacecraft in orbit. In fact, the Ares I thrust provides a 15 percent margin of performance in addition to the energy needed to put the fully crewed and supplied Orion into orbit for a lunar mission. Engineers established Orion's take off weight for lunar missions at over 61,000 pounds."

Editor's 14 Nov. note: Alas Jeff, some people in your organization would beg to differ on what you have stated. Meanwhile, some of your folks are still not certain that the first stage of Ares I (as designed) can be recovered and reused due to the currently planned reentry, descent, and splashdown profile. And if it can be recovered, many believe that it would not make financial or operational sense to do so. Further wind tunnel tests in the coming weeks are needed before this can be fully understood.

Your employees also talk of the extra billions and additional years that will likely be required before the Ares I design can be made to work. Yet it is also important to note that while a number of folks within NASA, while agreeing - and commenting on - troubles withn the Ares I program, have also said privately that they and their coworkers are committed to trying to make this work - even if agency politics seem to have already arrived at the official answer.

Big Problems With The Stick

Editor's note: Sources inside the development of the Ares 1 launch vehicle (aka Crew Launch Vehicle or "The Stick") have reported that the current design is underpowered to the tune of a metric ton or more. As currently designed, Ares 1 would not be able to put the present Orion spacecraft design (Crew Exploration Vehicle) into the orbit NASA desires for missions to the ISS. This issue is more pronounced for CEV missions to the moon.

The Ares 1 SRR (System Requirements Review) was held last week at MSFC. Mike Griffin was in attendance. Others participated off-site via webex.com.

It is widely known that both Mike Griffin and Scott Horowitz are reluctant (to say the least) about abandoning their current launch vehicle concept. Alternate approaches such as using EELVs are not welcome solutions by either Griffin or Horowitz.

One possible solution to the Stick's current design problems is to add side-mounted solid rocket motors. Many inside the program are not so sure that this solution is worth the effort. Others suggest that starting from a clean sheet of paper may be the only prudent course of action.

Stay tuned.


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

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