SLS and Orion: July 2008 Archives

Houston, we have a problem: Nasa will struggle when shuttle retires, says boss, Guardian

"It is more than a matter of pride. Griffin likens the space station to a miniature Antarctic research base, which needs a regular supply of food and water, which suffers technical glitches, and needs to have its staff rotated on a regular basis for their sanity if nothing else. Both the US and Russian space agencies agree that at a minimum, it needs two independent supply chains - read rockets - to ensure the safety of the station and those on board. Nasa's push for the moon and Mars will leave just one. "Anyone who doesn't understand why that is a problem, from my perspective, just hasn't done enough real things in their life."

Editor's note: I agree Mike. So why is NASA creating the gap in the first place? Why has the gap grown during your tenure?

Buzz Aldrin calls for reevaluation of NASA moon project, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA documents obtained by the Orlando Sentinel suggest that it will be years before the agency will know whether its proposed fixes will work. In the meantime, the documents say, new problems have arisen involving the design of Ares launch pad, the astronaut emergency escape system on Orion and the capsule's heat protection system.

A NASA report made public last week said the agency will probably not meet its own internal goal of launching the rocket in 2013, and may even miss its publicly stated goal of a launch by 2015. However, NASA officials publicly insist the 2015 date is still on track."

Russia's CEV

Manned spaceship design unveiled, BBC

"It is designed to replace the Soyuz vehicle currently in use by Russia and will allow Europe to participate directly in crew transportation. The reusable ship was conceived to carry four people towards the Moon, rivalling the US Ares/Orion system. Unlike previous crewed vehicles, it will use thrusters to make a soft landing when it returns to Earth."

Editor's note: Soyuz vehicles have been using braking rockets for decades.

NASA's Use of Human Cadavers In Testing the Design of the Orion Spacecraft, SpaceRef

"I recently learned that NASA has made some limited use of human cadavers in testing during the development of the Orion spacecraft. Now, on first blush, this might sound somewhat macabre. In fact, it is more common than you might expect. There is also a practical reason for using this approach.

Let me start by providing the statement that the NASA Public Affairs Office provided me with today in response to an inquiry I made regarding the use of human cadavers in the Orion program: ..."

NASA used cadavers in Orion landing tests, Houston Chronicle

"Personnel working under contract for NASA used cadavers in tests to develop landing systems, spacesuits and seats in the new Orion moonship, space agency officials said Friday. Three human bodies were used in the tests at Ohio State University Medical Center last summer and fall."

NASA: getting more macabre, Nature

"Yesterday it was wee, well today the testing phase for the Orion spacecraft, that will take the place of the space shuttle, has taken a more sinister turn."

NASA Internal Presentation: CxMPR, Orion Project Office, 2 July 2008

NASA moon capsule running late, full of problems, AP (via Newsweek)

"The 117-page report, posted Wednesday at, shows an $80 million cost overrun this year for just one motor and a dozen different technical problems that the space agency put in the top risk zone, meaning the problems are considered severe. The report put the program's financial performance in that category. Technical problems included software that may not be developed on time, the heat shield, a dangerous level of shaking during launch, and a hard-to-open hatch door. The report also said NASA's plans would shortchange astronauts' daily water needs, giving them only two liters a day when medical experts say they need at least 2.5 liters."

NASA Directs Contractor To Adopt Ares and Orion Launch Date Postponements, SpaceRef

"On 16 January 2008, Constellation Program Manager Jeff Hanley issued an internal agency memo wherein he asked a lot of people to adopt a series of Ares and Orion launch date slips. Most significantly, he said that Ares 1-Y would shifted 12 months from September 2012 to September 2013.

All of this arm waving and denials aside, it would seem that Jeff Hanley knew what was going to happen - eventually. NASA sent Lockheed Martin a letter on 1 July 2008 asking that the company "develop a NTE value" for the several changes. One change was to ..."

NASA engineers work on alternative moon rocket, AP

"The Jupiter design is being reviewed by a team of 57 volunteer engineers, from line engineers up to NASA middle managers, Tierney said. Those numbers are dwarfed by NASA's Ares work force, which has thousands of government workers and contractors. The head of the Ares office at Marshall said he can't rule out the possibility that some of his people are involved with the underground program. "I don't know what people do on their own time," Steve Cook said in a recent interview with The Associated Press."

Constellation Update, NASA Watch, 15 May 2008

"Editor's note: When I asked Steve Cook if any of his employees were working on the "Direct" or "Jupiter" project he said that he was not aware of that anyone was. When asked if this would be allowed during or after hours, he said that it would not and that this would be "unapproved" work."

Doug Cooke Dumps on Direct Concept, earlier post

Is Steve Cook Being Less Than DIRECT About What NASA Is Doing?, earlier post

NASA Takes On Its Detractors, Releases Analysis of 'DIRECT' Proposal, Wired

"DIRECT's whole selling point is that it will be "faster"- i.e. that they could get to a first flight faster than Ares I. However with Ares I three years into the program, already at PDR (Preliminary Design Review) and with all contracts awarded, it is not credible that another program (given the same governmental procurement system) could "catch up" and launch first....

... Now if only Exploration Systems could get their responses to the technical questions people are asking from buried in their Exploration Systems->About->FAQ page to their front page so people don't have to go to NASAWatch to find a copy, that would really be a giant leap forward."

What is the latest update on NASA's Transportation Architecture? (DIRECT launch vehicle design)

"Over the last two years, NASA has performed feasibility assessments of the different DIRECT launch vehicle designs that have emerged. "These feasibility assessments are summarized in the attached white paper. The charts below detail the assessments of the DIRECT 2.0 concept (April - May 2007) and the updated DIRECT 2.0 (September 2007) and provide the background for the white paper."

Doug Cooke Dumps on Direct Concept, Earlier Post (with FOIA request for documents such as these)

Is Steve Cook Being Less Than DIRECT About What NASA Is Doing?, Earlier Post

Constellation Update, Earlier Post

"Editor's note: When I asked Steve Cook if any of his employees were working on the "Direct" or "Jupiter" project he said that he was not aware of that anyone was. When asked if this would be allowed during or after hours, he said that it would not and that this would be "unapproved" work."

Editor's note: Clearly Steve Cook either did not - or does not - know what his own people are doing while sitting at their desks. One of the MSFC documents released is dated May 2007 and is 70 pages long. Please tell me how Steve Cook overlooked or was unaware of this little effort by his staff? Either Cook is clueless as to what his staff is doing or he decided to be less than truthful when asked what they are doing. Either way, having someone managing one of NASA's flagship development efforts who practices this level of official obfuscation and/or absentee management is troubling to say the least. Oh yes - this is the same guy who is telling us how well Ares development is going ...

Take home message: the DIRECT fan boys should stick to their day jobs and leave bad rocket design to the professionals at NASA.

NASA Debuts Web Site for First Ares Test Flight

"The Web site was created to offer key information about the details and objectives of the Ares I-X test flight. The site features articles, images and videos that outline the objectives of the Ares I-X test flight and explain how these objectives will influence the design and flight of the Ares I rocket and Orion crew capsule. The Ares I-X flight will test hardware, facilities and ground operations associated with the Ares I rocket. It also will provide critical data during ascent of the integrated Orion crew exploration vehicle and the Ares I launch vehicle stack -- data that will be used to design a vehicle system that is safe and fully operational before astronauts begin traveling into orbit."



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

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