SLS and Orion: April 2008 Archives

NASA OIG: Final Memorandum on the Standing Review Board for the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle Project

"NASA did not establish the Orion SRB in accordance with Federal law or NASA guidance. The Orion SRB meets the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) definition of an advisory committee. Although FACA committees must be established in accordance with FACA and NASA Policy Directive (NPD) 1150.11, "Federal Advisory Committee Act Committees," September 22, 2004, the Orion SRB was not."

Editor's note: According to NASA PAO the Orion SRB membership consists of: Ed Gibson (chair) SAIC, Chester Sasaki, JPL, Richard Greathouse, NASA, Robert Bechtel, consultant, Ken Bowersox, consultant, Warren Brasher, consultant, Jack Garman, LM/Larc, Rick Green, JPL, Dave Hamilton, NASA, Neil Hutchinson, SAIC, Jim Jaax, consultant, Gary Johnson, consultant, Bob Kichak, NASA, Dave Kuntz, Sandia, Jack Lee, consultant, Al Louviere, SAIC, Charlie Mars, consultant, John Niehoff, SAIC, and Guru Shing, JPL.

Inspector General: Conflict of interest on NASA review board, AP

"An expert on government ethics said the conflict was "a flagrant abuse and Congress should investigate." "Not only is NASA ready to challenge the laws of physics, it appears more than willing to challenge the laws of Congress," said New York University professor Paul Light."

Editor's 25 Apr update: According to June Malone MSFC PAO: "Good morning. Regarding your questions/comments to the Ares Projects Office I can offer the following:

- Any individual employee personnel action which may or may not be in work is not subject to discussion and therefore we cannot comment on any specific allegation other than to reiterate that no actions associated with procurement irregularities are currently or anticipated to be in work.

- As far as any allegations of procurement irregularities regarding this matter, those allegations are false. There are no known procurement irregularity issues relative to Ares. A number of contract awards have been made over the last year regarding the Ares project and we are aware of no irregularities or concerns involving those contracts."

Earlier posts below.

ATK Plans Commercial Ares I, Aviation Week

"ATK, which is building the first stage of NASA's Ares I crew launch vehicle by recycling the solid-fuel booster it builds for the space shuttle, wants to make the same capability available to other users for missions without crews. Ron Dittemore, president of ATK Launch Systems, said the human-rating that led NASA to build the Ares I first stage around the shuttle booster should also be attractive to other customers with "high-value" payloads, including the Defense Dept. and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)."

Reader note: Great news taxpayers! First NASA pours money into a problematic launch vehicle and then ATK gets to use the beneficiary of that public investment as a product to sell - for profit. What a concept!

Ares I Vibration Problem Fixable, Aviation Week

"Horowitz, now an independent aerospace consultant whose clients include ATK, the Ares I first-stage contractor, and a "greybeard" advisor to NASA through the NASA Engineering and Safety Center, served on the tiger team that reviewed the thrust oscillation issue after it arose last fall. Garry M. Lyles, the senior NASA engineer who headed that review panel, is scheduled to brief Congress on his findings the week of March 31."

ESMD's Revolving Door
ESMD's Revolving Door - Update

Hill Concerned With NASA Workforce Projection, Aviation Week

"Sobering new NASA estimates that cancellation of the space shuttle in 2010 could cost up to 9,000 aerospace contractor jobs nationwide -- 6,400 of them here at KSC -- are refocusing Congressional pressure on the White House for additional funds to accelerate development of the Ares/Orion shuttle replacement vehicles."

No NASA without Marshall Space Center, Huntsville Times

"There is no NASA without Marshall Space Flight Center, because there is no space travel without propulsion," [Sen. Richard ] Shelby said. Shelby met with NASA Administrator Dr. Mike Griffin last week to discuss Marshall's future, he said, and was pleased that Griffin assured him that propulsion work would continue in Huntsville."

Editor's note: Shelby must really have some crack staffers if he says things like this. Oh yes let's not forget the X-33 and X-34 ...

NASA Provides Update on Ares 1 Thrust Oscillation Studies

"NASA is looking at options that would place dampers either in parachute region (between the Orion and the Ares 1 first stage) or in the aft skirt of the Ares 1 first stage. These dampers would be tuned to dampen out (de-tune) problematical vibrations produced by the burning of propellant."

Editor's note: Much of these issues are contained in a 10 March 2008 internal presentation "Thrust Oscillation Focus Team Checkpoint Report" by Garry Lyles with all pages marked "SBU" (Sensitive But Unclassified). I asked if this presentation (which has been circulating widely) will be posted by NASA. NASA's response was to say that they would post "those that we can" and that "we'll certainly clean up" some charts. The entire SBU presentation is online at in their for-fee section.

Editor's update: NASA has released an edited and shortened version of the Thrust Oscillation Focus Team Checkpoint Report by Garry Lyles (14 March 2008, 26 page) of the longer (10 March 2008, 66 page), SBU-labelled presentation.

Shock absorbers may fix rocket shaking, AP

"The Government Accountability Office highlighted other potential problems, including too much weight in both the rocket and Orion capsule, design issues with a new engine for a booster, insufficient facilities for certain types of testing, and private industry's inability to make the Orion capsule's 1960s-style peel-away heat shield. None of the technical problems are "a fatal flaw," the report's author, Christine Chaplain told a House Science subcommittee Thursday."

NASA says spaceship's violent vibrations under control, New Scientist

"But during a design review for Ares I in October 2007, engineers calculated that the rocket might vibrate so severely in the first few minutes of launch that it could actually destroy itself, threatening astronauts' lives. The problem was made public in January, after the independent website NASA Watch and the Associated Press questioned NASA and filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the agency."

NASA works to end Ares' shake threat, Huntsville Times
Get me to the Moon on time, Nature
Ares I Vibration Fix In Works, Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
Worry on Vibration in New Rocket Has Eased, NASA Says, NY Times
NASA studies shock absorbers to fix moon rocket, Houston Chronicle
NASA says it's close to fixing new Ares craft's flaw, Orlando Sentinel

GAO: Area I and Orion Project Risk and Key Indicators to Measure Progress

"NASA is currently working toward preliminary design reviews for the Ares I and Orion vehicles. While this is a phase for discovery and risk reduction, there are considerable unknowns as to whether NASA's plans for these vehicles can be executed within schedule goals and what these efforts will ultimately cost. This is primarily because NASA is still in the process of defining many performance requirements. Such uncertainties could affect the mass, loads, and weight requirements for the vehicles. NASA is aiming to complete this process in 2008, but it will be challenged to do so given the level of knowledge that still needs to be attained. The challenges NASA is facing pose risks to the successful outcome of the projects."

NASA to Brief Media About Ares I Rocket Vibration Report

"NASA will host a media teleconference on Thursday, April 3, at 2:30 p.m. EDT to discuss findings from the Ares I thrust oscillation focus team. The team has been studying possible vibration concerns in the early designs of the new crew launch vehicle NASA is designing as part of the Constellation Program, which is building a spacecraft that will return humans to the moon by 2020."



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This page is an archive of entries in the SLS and Orion category from April 2008.

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