SLS and Orion: August 2008 Archives

Shuttle Extension Update

NASA requests shuttle options, Huntsville Times

"It's not really a formal study, though," Yembrick said, "but an informal request. As an agency we realize we want to be prepared and look at our options across the program." Yembrick said the options would be part of briefings and testimony to White House officials, Congress and other decision makers NASA has to speak to about the subject, and it should take about a month to complete. Informal requests are often cloaked studies, said Keith Cowing, who runs the online site NASAWatch.com. "Whenever NASA gets caught in a study, but doesn't want anybody to know it is a study, then they try to call it something else," said Cowing."

NASA Tests Orion Parachute (Result: Spectacular Failure), Gizmodo
Orion Test Set-Up Parachute Fails, Mockup Crashes, Wired
Spacecraft crash due to test setup, not design flaw, New Scientist

NASA releases Orion crash photos, Scientific American

"Budding astronauts, avert your eyes. NASA has posted photos of a failed test landing (read: crash) of a mock-up of the Orion crew exploration vehicle, part of the Constellation program to replace the shuttle in 2015."

NASA Tests Launch Abort Parachute System - Releases Crash Photos

"NASA tested the parachutes for the recovery system on its Orion crew exploration vehicle above the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona on July 31. The test proved unsuccessful when a test set-up parachute failed..."

Editor's 19 Aug 3:00 pm note: ... And the test vehicle crashed into the desert floor. Nowhere does NASA mention that the vehicle slammed into the desert floor or crashed. They just say that "the result was a landing that severely damaged the test mock-up."

Nor has NASA issued a media advisory or a press release to alert people of the images it claimed that it did not have last week. No, they just quietly mentioned that some pictures will be online later to some reporters. And when these images were posted quietly on the NASA website, they were on a page titled "NASA Tests Launch Abort Parachute System". No mention of a failure, a crash etc. Nor is there any mention on the media page or on the ESMD page.

[Hat tip to eagle eyes Robert for spotting this]

Editor's 20 Aug note: ESMD is still not making any mention of this video or photos on its website. Why is this being hidden?

Editor's 20 Aug update: The links are finally up.

More Details on PTV Test Failure and Crash, earlier post
NASA Orion Parachute Test Vehicle Fails Drop Test, earlier post

Crash video below

NASA To Brief Media About Ares I Thrust Oscillation Plans

"NASA will host a media teleconference on Tuesday, Aug. 19, at 11:30 a.m. EDT, to discuss results and recommendations from the Ares I thrust oscillation focus team."

Editor's note: Last week NASA decided to implement the so called "Option 2B Active Aft Skirt Reaction Mass Actuator (RMA) option" with "damping and isolation at the FS frustum/US region" in order to deal with the thrust oscillation problem with the current design of the Ares 1 launch vehicle. This decision is a hybrid of sorts between two earlier options - one called "Dual Plane Isolation Plus Passive TMAs)" and the other "Active TMAs Plus Single Plane Isolation".


On Telecon

-- Jeff Hanley, manager, Constellation Program, NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston
-- Steve Cook, manager, Ares Projects, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
-- Garry Lyles, associate director for technical management, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

Notes below

McCain hears pleas to extend shuttle and accelerate Constellation, Orlando Sentinel

"In one exchange with a top Lockheed Martin government relations executive, McCain pressed him for one solution to the gap. The executive, Adrian Lafitte, said increasing funding to speed the development of the new Ares rocket would be his top choice. Although, he and others pointed out alternatives that included funding a short-term solution using existing expendable rockets to launch NASA's proposed Orion spacecraft."

OSU's cadaver tests help NASA design spacesuit

"Crash-test dummies are designed for a frontal crash; they don't have the instrumentation to predict injuries that could occur when landing a spacecraft," Bolte said. The bodies of three men who died in their 50s and 60s were used to test for injury at forces of 10 and 20 times the gravitational force we feel on Earth -- the landing forces used in Wright-Patterson tests."

Using Cadavers To Test Orion, earlier post

NASA To Take Corrective Action In Spacesuit Contract Protest

"NASA anticipates that corrective action will involve reconsideration of its procurement decision. The pending protest litigation is subject to a Government Accountability Office Protective Order."

NASA to re-open bidding for space suits -letter, Reuters
NASA May Cancel Contract For New Spacesuit, Rebid It, Wall Street Journal
Hamilton Sundstrand Fights Back, earlier Post
Changing Horses, earlier Post
NASA OIG Audit of NASA's Pre-Acquisition Planning for the Constellation Space Suit System

United Space Alliance Files Lawsuit Against ATK

"United Space Alliance (USA), NASA's prime Space Shuttle contractor, filed a lawsuit in Brevard County Circuit Court in Florida today against Alliant Techsystems, Inc., and ATK Launch Systems, Inc., seeking damages for fraud and breach of contract, and seeking an injunction against further piracy of USA employees with skills essential to flying out the Space Shuttle manifest.

... ATK concurrently undertook an aggressive campaign to hire critically skilled USA employees, who have been performing specialized work in support of both the Ares and Space Shuttle programs in order to solely perform work on Ares."

NASA contractors locked in legal battle, Orlando Sentinel

"According to industry officials, there is a possibility that if USA does not get satisfaction in its dispute, the company could stop work on preparations for next years test flight of ATKs Ares I-X rocket. The test rocket is considered an important step toward developing the complete Ares I rocket that is supposed to replace the shuttle by 2015. A delay in the test could impact the already behind schedule Ares I."

Editor's note: This certainly does not bode well for a smooth transition from Shuttle to Ares operations.

NASA to Realign Constellation Program Milestones, August 2008

"In a news conference Monday, NASA managers discussed how the agency will be adjusting the budget, schedule and technical performance milestones for its Constellation Program to ensure the first crewed flight of the Ares I rocket and Orion crew capsule in March 2015."

NASA's Exploration Systems Architecture Study -- Final Report, Nov. 2005, Executive Summary, section 1.1.1

"Dr. Michael Griffin was named the new NASA Administrator in April 2005. With concurrence from Congress, he immediately set out to restructure NASA's Exploration Program by making its priority to accelerate the development of the CEV to reduce or eliminate the planned gap in U.S. human access to space. He established a goal for the CEV to begin operation in 2011 and to be capable of ferrying crew and cargo to and from the ISS."

NASA To Brief Reporters About Constellation Program

"NASA will host a media teleconference Monday, Aug. 11, at 3 p.m. EDT, to brief reporters about ongoing assessments regarding the budget and schedule for the Constellation Program. NASA managers will discuss evaluations being made as part of an annual budget planning cycle that considers program design and development activities in relation to available funds."

Editor's note: I asked Doug Cooke why ESMD was eager to highlight its success but was simultaneously reluctant to openly volunteer information about failures such as the recent Orion Parachute Test Vehicle crash on 31 July. Specifically, I asked why ESMD refused to release pictures of that test despite repeated requests for that imagery. Cooke replied that ESMD has "not received any pictures" of that test.

I then asked Jeff Hanley about his statements to the effect that additional money would not accelerate Orion development to any great extent yet Mike Griffin is on the record before Congress stating that additional funds would help to close the gap. Hanley said that he was "not privy" to what was contained within Mike Griffin's congressional testimony.

Hanley then went on to note that "the window to accelerate Orion is closing". He suggested that some things could be speed up "If new money should be available - and it depends on the timing of it - and it depends on where the program is."

Doug Cooke said "I do not think there is an inconsistency between what Mike Griffin said and what Jeff Hanley said."

Other notes (below):

NASA Compares Ares/Orion Targets To Funding, Aviation Week

"The official IOC for an Ares I crew launch vehicle able to send a crew of six to the International Space Station (ISS) in the Orion crew exploration vehicle is March 2015. But NASA has maintained an "aggressive" internal IOC target with a 65 percent level of confidence that falls late in 2013 or early in 2014, Griffin said. "We're going to adjust that internal date and let that slip out a little bit, by how much I don't know yet because it depends on facts not yet in evidence, like what is the magnitude of the CR, and what do we expect to see, and progress we've made to date," he said."

Internal Memo Details Failed NASA Orion Parachute Test Vehicle Drop Test

"According to an internal NASA memo CPAS Cluster Development Test 2 (CDT2) experienced a test failure on 31 July 2008. Initial observations indicated that
the programmer parachute did not inflate properly when the Parachute Test Vehicle (PTV) separated from the test pallet.

The programmer parachute puts the PTV into the proper position and thus sets up proper initial conditions for descent to the ground. In this test, the programmer parachute failed to inflate.This was due to the fact that the programmer parachute did not take in enough air to fully inflate and produce the proper drag. This situation occurred because of hard buffeting produced by the wake formed by the PTV and the stabilization parachutes."

More rumblings over Ares I; Is the stick dying? , Orlando Sentinel

"There are rumblings of discord in the NASA family over the agency's troubled Ares I moon rocket. According to well-placed sources inside NASA, the astronaut office is deeply unhappy with the design of Ares as it emerges from an important review that is in the process of being finished up now. The concern is so great, the sources say, that there is some talk at the highest levels of NASA about the possibility of ditching the Ares, with its unconventional stick-like solid rocket booster first stage, in favor of a more conventional rocket design - one that sounds like the shuttle launch system without the shuttle."

Editor's note: NASA sources report that a week or so ago the Ares 1 PDR Board pulled a presentation on thrust oscillation solutions because of concerns voiced by the Astronaut Office. At this point the favored solution seems to be heading for "Option B - Active Pulsing RCS Plus Single Plane Isolation" which involves using thruster packs that are aimed upward on the aft end of the first stage plus hardware at the upper end of the first stage to isolate/dampen loads.

Editor's 7 Aug note: I have made multiple requests of ESMD PAO starting on 2 August for pictures of the recent crash of the Orion Parachute Test Vehicle. AlI get back from ESMD PAO are responses such as "I don't, but I'll let you know when I know." Pictures were taken - to document the test and its aftermath. So why won't ESMD PAO release these pictures? What are they afraid of? Is there an ITAR issue? Or is this just an attempt to stall the release of images that would be bad PR for NASA? Is it time to file another FOIA request?

Orion Drop Test Fails, earlier post

Ares Architecture and ELVs

Pre-solicitation Synopsis of Proposed Contract Action for Ares Electric Thrust Vector Control Prototype Risk Reduction Procurement

Editor's note: I am a little confused (it happens). According to the Electric TVC Prototype Specification (PDF) contained in this pre-solicitation notice: "The heritage TVC (Thrust Vector Control) System does have some shortcomings: ... The system is a design that has not been in production for 20 years. The Ares launch architecture may seek expendable launch vehicle solutions and the cost associated with production of new heritage hardware would be prohibitive."

Does this mean that NASA MSFC is looking for ELV component solutions (Thrust Vector Control) for use in the Ares I/V launch vehicles (as currently being designed) or that NASA is looking to use ELVs as part of their Ares launch architecture?

Orion Drop Test Fails

NASA Orion Parachute Test Vehicle Fails Drop Test

"All but one of the 18 parachutes inflated. Although all other parts of the test and the system itself performed as intended, the parachute responsible for getting the mockup to the correct test conditions - called a programmer chute - did not inflate during the test. As a result, the test failed. The engineering team will be studying the hardware and the parachutes, as well as analyzing computer models and imagery, to determine what caused the problem."

NASA's Griffin Tells Forum Crowd There Are No Guarantees In Space Travel, Aero-News.net

"A few audience questions centered on the vibration issues associated with the Constellation launch. Dr. Griffin expressed the opinion that much of the concerns were "media induced" and that NASA was close to fixing the problem."

Editor's note: I wonder why the Ares PDR is having such a difficult time with this "media induced" design issue, Mike? They just can't seem to solve it no matter what they try. Could it be that there are just too many journalists on NASA's payroll particpating in the PDR?


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

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