SLS and Orion: December 2007 Archives

Fixing Ares 1

NASA LaRC Solicitation: Analysis of Ares 1 Thrust Oscillation Issues, NASA

"NASA/LaRC has a requirement for Use of the proprietary Universal Combustion Device Stability (UCDS) process developed and owned by the Gloyer-Taylor Laboratories LLC. The Government must assess thrust oscillation issues with the Constellation Program's ARES five-segment solid rocket booster. The Gloyer-Taylor Labs UCDS is a breakthrough modeling and analysis process, which provides detailed physical insight into the stability characteristics of complex combustion devices. Using calculations that are based entirely on known or measurable parameters, the UCDS makes it possible to predict for a given initial state the actual wave geometry, time history of the wave amplitude, limit amplitude reached by the wave system, and accompanying changes in the combustion chamber state properties. Design of corrective procedures can be accomplished with full physical understanding of the action of damping mechanisms."

NASA Will Tinker With Open-Source Rocket for Return to Moon, Popular Mechanics

"The "brains" of the Ares I rocket that will send four astronauts back to the moon sometime in the next 12 years will be built by Boeing, NASA announced todaybut the specifications will be open-source and non-proprietary, so that other companies can bid on future contracts. The avionics unit will provide guidance, navigation and control for the launch rocket, which will carry the Orion crew vehicle into Earth orbit."

Editor's note: Given the increased labeling of all things associated with Ares 1 as being ITAR sensitive I am not certain how NASA is going to truly do this "open source" stuff.

Editor's update: According to a NASA source: "The IU/avionics and software are owned, developed, and designed by the NASA One Team. This is not open sourced. The SAS, CEI specs, etc. are all ITAR-Export controlled."

Our position: Bringing the next space ship on line faster is the best solution, editorial, Orlando Sentinel

"Congressman Dave Weldon is right to be concerned about the looming gap between the space shuttle's retirement in 2010 and the launch of NASA's next manned vehicle in 2015 or later. But he's also right that his plan to fill the gap isn't very likely to pass. Actually, it has about a daisy's chance on the moon."

Boeing: Most Ares I Avionics Work To Be Done In N Alabama, AP

"The Boeing Company (BA) said northern Alabama will be the home base for much of its work on a guidance system for the Ares I rocket, the new spacecraft being built to take Americans back to the moon and beyond. On Wednesday, NASA awarded a $799 million contract for the avionics work to Boeing, which is expected to bring scores of jobs to Huntsville, home of the Marshall Space Flight Center."

Boeing Selected to Build Instrument Unit Avionics for NASA's Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle, Boeing

"The Boeing Company has been awarded an initial NASA contract valued at approximately $265 million to produce the Ares I crew launch vehicle's instrument unit avionics (IUA). The award follows Boeing's selection as the Ares I upper stage production contractor in August. The IUA provides the guidance, navigation and control hardware for the new Ares I crew launch vehicle, serving as the "brains" behind the rocket's ascent."

NASA CxP ISTIM Outbrief to JSC Engineering Management 30 November 2007 (Full Briefing Document - gives a comprehensive overview of Orion/Ares)

Editor's note: Despite official NASA PAO statements that no final decision has been made to baseline a water landing for Orion, the Constellation Program ISTIM Outbriefing to JSC Engineering Management paints a far different picture: "Landing mode - Nominal coast water landing, contingency-only land landing, cease/desist working nominal land landing, water landing environement definition per Team 0 recommendation, landing accuracy increased form 5 km to 10 km."

This sort of confusion makes you wonder who is actually in charge of this program, doesn't it?

Shooting The Messenger at ESMD, earlier post
ESMD Cannot ANswer a Simple Question; "Water or Land"?, earlier post
Constellation Management Changes, earlier post

GAO Ares 1 Commentary

Auditors voice concern about NASA launch vehicle program

"NASA has until July 2008 to prepare for a preliminary design review, but the report noted that existing gaps "are fairly significant and challenging, given the complexity and interdependencies in the program." GAO has recommended that NASA establish a more sound business plan before moving beyond the preliminary design review, even if that means delaying the program's next stage. One of the most significant problems, according to the report, is identifying program requirements. Ares I and Orion development must be synchronized, and NASA has identified this condition as one of the top risks of its effort. In addition, at least 14 of the 57 hazards identified by the integrated risk management system tracking the Ares project address the issue of instability."

NASA Set to Announce Final Major Ares I Contract

"NASA will host a news conference Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 4 p.m. EST to announce the selection of a contractor for the upper stage instrument unit avionics for the Ares I rocket. The avionics unit is the central system that provides guidance, navigation and control for the launch vehicle during ascent as it carries the Orion spacecraft to low Earth orbit."

Editor's note: Multiple sources also report that Mike Griffin (with the prompting of his special helper Marcia Ivins) was not at all happy with what he was told about Orion and Ares 1 progress as discussed at the Integrated Stack Technical Interchange Meeting last month - especially with regard to the path Skip Hatfield was taking things. So, in the time honored NASA tradition of shooting the messenger, Hatfield was reassigned to that new "Special Assistant job" i.e. Mike Griffin had him fired from his Orion job. NASA ESMD PAO has not responded to any of the questions I have sent them on this topic. Stay tuned.

Constellation Management Changes, earlier post

Editor's note: Last week I began to receive mutliple reports from NASA sources that the Constellation program has baselined a water landing for the Orion spacecraft. After multiple requests, NASA ESMD PAO replied to me a few moments ago.

From ESMD PAO's Melissa Motichek: "I can tell you that there has not been a final decision on the nominal landing mode (land vs water). The point of departure architecture assumes a nominal water landing to begin the analysis cycle. We will re-address this issue as analysis of contingency water and land landing progresses."

To which I replied: "You have simply confused me further. The "point of departure architecture" used to call for a land landing. Now you say it is a water landing - yet you say that the final decision has not been made."

In August 2007 both Doug Cooke and Doc Horowitz told me that this decision had not been made (contrary to other reports) and that studies were still underway.

It is quite obvious that ESMD PAO (and therefore ESMD) is incapable of making simple 'yes' or 'no' answers to simple questions.

Let me try this again: has NASA decided to land Orion spacecraft in the water as its basic plan of flight operations?

Editor's update: A NASA Watch reader noted that the 3 Dec Space News quotes Jeff Hanley as follows:

"Q. How did Orion manage to lose the weight?

A. In their recent weight scrub effort, the Orion team settled on a targeted water-based landing off the California coast as the nominal landing mode, which the program has accepted."

This really has me perplexed. Jeff Hanley says it that Orion is now landing in water yet ESMD PAO at NASA HQ (who says only what their management tells them to say) informs me that no decision has been made. Small wonder people have their doubts about ESMD and their spacecraft designs. One hand clearly does not know what the other is doing - or saying.



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This page is an archive of entries in the SLS and Orion category from December 2007.

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