SLS and Orion: October 2008 Archives

Nasa defends rocket to Moon that could shake astronauts to death, Times Online

"Ares is meant to be the rocket that will launch a new era of lunar exploration. Instead it is in danger of crashing into its own launch tower or of shaking its astronauts to death. ... The space agency admits that in certain conditions Ares could blast off into its own launch tower, and that other potential problems include the rocket vibrating so violently that its astronauts could die before they reach orbit."

NASA To Update Reporters About Constellation Program

"NASA will host a media teleconference Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 1 p.m. EDT, to brief reporters about recent developments and ongoing progress in NASA's Constellation Program. Constellation will build the spacecraft to carry astronauts to the International Space Station and return humans to the moon by 2020."

Ares PDR Was Not As Smooth As NASA Says It Was, earlier post

Notes:

Doug Cooke: Some recent news reports about Ares have been inaccurate and draw false conclusions.

PDR: In all cases we reviewed the approach resolving issues (such as vehicle drift) and are confident that there is a valid and straightforward path to resolve this - in some cases multiple paths.

Jeff Hanley: Up and running for about 3 years. 5 major procurements, 4 prime contractors on board. We have real hardware in flow - some of it on the way to KSC for flight tests in CY 2009. J2x reviews ahead, tooling for upper stage being delivered, solidifying schedules for new launch date - IOC first crew launch by Sep 2014. Working under a CR this year - funding is tight. Working on a study - Ralph Roe leading it out of NESC - acceleration of Constellation in the event that new Administration/Congress wants to ask us to do that. Press event in Mid-November at KSC - we want to show flight hardware for Ares 1-X.

Steve Cook: Ares is making outstanding progress toward flight. Ares 1-X delivering flight hardware to the Cape. Biggest accomplishment to dat - 1100 reviewers at PDR - 31 member PDR board approved. Identified challenges. Thrust Oscillation - team is pursuing 3 approaches to mitigate oscillations. Isolaters between 1st and second stage; looking at how we may use composite structures and optimize them for de-tuning, reaction mass actuators that actively cancel TO. Other challenges - environments and staging events, process control, making sure that process to resolve interface issues, enhancing operability. Claims that PDR earned a low score are not true - we rate according to color code. We do not use these as letter grades. Astronaut office revolt - not true. Crew office is not shy about expressing their opinions.

Brent Jett: Astronaut office has been invloved in early conceptual process.

Steve Cook: Another inaccuracy: Liftoff drift is a setback. Inaccurate. Liftoff drift happens due to wind and can be dealt with. Ares 1 can steer away from tower. We are cocnerned with 34 nm/hr winds from the southwest. This happens infrequently and the issue has been taken out of context more than it needs to be. NASA has not relaxed its safety requirements.

I asked Steve Cook if MSFC has reported back to HQ after being asked to do a 30 day look at how their recent ARES PDR was conducted - including the bad reviews that review got internally. Cook replied that NASA HQ has not directed them to do a 30 day review. What they did after the PDR was to invite people to make comments at a pause and learn activity on how they think various things went. Some things that were not good. "As you can imagine, with 1100 people, we'll have issues with process and doing things in timely manner. You are going to have issues with process. The purpose is to improve for upcoming CDRs. We found nothing particularly alarming or surprising. These are typical things that you can expect. This will not affect the Delta PDR which will focus on thrust oscillation.

I asked Jeff Hanley if he thought it was proper to state in NASA staff meetings that he thought that the manner in which the Orlando Sentinel reported things had to do with the way they run their company and current business climate. Hanley replied "I am entitled to my opinion and to share what I hear but I do not have facts one way or the other. That is hearsay on the part of my staff members."

NASA To Update Reporters About Constellation Program

"NASA will host a media teleconference Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 1 p.m. EDT, to brief reporters about recent developments and ongoing progress in NASA's Constellation Program. Constellation will build the spacecraft to carry astronauts to the International Space Station and return humans to the moon by 2020."

Editor's note: And of course, to make certain that the media has to double up - or pick one event over the other tomorrow, this Constellation press event competes with another NASA press conference for MESSENGER:

NASA To Release Science Results, Images From Second Mercury Flyby

"NASA will hold a Science Update at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 29, to announce findings and release new images from the Oct. 6 flyby of Mercury by a NASA spacecraft. The briefing will take place in the television studio at NASA Headquarters, located at 300 E Street, S.W., in Washington. It will be carried live on NASA Television."

Ares Troubles

Editor's 27 Oct update: This chart shows one of the scenarios where winds could cause the Ares 1 to drift toward the launch tower and possibly damage it with its plume. Click on image to enlarge.

Problems mount for NASA's Ares rocket, New Scientist

"One NASA engineer, who has participated in studies of Ares I performance, told New Scientist the rocket's design needs a complete rethink: "You might as well change gears and work on a design that is going to be successful."

Ares chief defends rocket design, Huntsville Times

"The head of NASA's Ares rocket program defended the design of the launch vehicle Monday, dismissing critics that claim it would be unstable at launch. Recent published reports say the Ares rocket could drift during launch because of winds, striking the tower. However, all rockets move during launch, said Steve Cook, manager of the Ares program at Marshall Space Flight Center."

Sentinel exclusive: Is NASA's Ares doomed?, Orlando Sentinel

"Now, in the latest setback to the Ares I, computer models show the ship could crash into its launch tower during liftoff. The issue is known as "liftoff drift." Ignition of the rocket's solid-fuel motor makes it "jump" sideways on the pad, and a southeast breeze stronger than 12.7 mph would be enough to push the 309-foot-tall ship into its launch tower. ... Internal documents and studies obtained by the Orlando Sentinel appear to support concerns expressed by Finckenor and others. Nonetheless, NASA's leaders maintain that Ares will be ready for launch in 2015."

Astronauts, whose prime concern is safety, are still not happy. Leroy Chiao, a former space-station commander who retired in 2005, stays in touch with his colleagues. "I would say that I have heard various concerns," he said. "If I were still in the corps, I'd be skeptical about when is this thing going to fly and will we be able to put all the fixes in place."

Grim outlook for Ares, says Beltway insider, Orlando Sentinel

"A former chairman of the House science committee told Brevard County leaders Monday that NASA's next rocket is "on the chopping block" and that a new administration may abandon the Ares I as successor to the space shuttle. The next president may look instead to use military rockets to launch NASA astronauts, said Robert Walker, a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania who, as a Washington-based lobbyist, represents Brevard County. Walker told county commissioners; U.S. Reps. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, and Dave Weldon, R-Indialantic; and representatives of the local aerospace community that the word in Washington and at recent space conferences was "that Ares I could be on the chopping block." Afterward, in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, he elaborated: "The discussion I am hearing in the space community is that Ares will certainly be reviewed by the next administration."

Editor's note: From the National Academies: "The following reports are tentatively scheduled for release during November. However, release dates of National Academies reports depend on successful completion of the review process and publishing schedules: Launching Science: Science Opportunities Enabled by NASA's Constellation Program [National Research Council] Assesses potential space and earth science studies that could be addressed by taking advantage of the launch vehicles and spacecraft being developed by NASA for the Constellation Program."

Griffin to speak here Tuesday, Huntsville Times

"At 9:15 a presentation about the Ares project will be held. Also featured in later discussions will be Steve Cook, head of Ares development at Marshall, along with Ares project managers."

Ares PDR Was Not As Smooth As NASA Says It Was, earlier post

"Too many people involved in the planning phase, meetings were too large"; "The integrated vechicle review did not present the element design issues (RIDs) so it was difficult to know if the parts added up to a rocket that will fly"; "The review occurred to close to the element PDRs, This did not allow for some of the element level rids to addressed or predeclared in documents"; "Much of the documentation presented for PDR was not mature enough for PDR. This limited an effective of these documents and left the impression that the PDR was rushed."; "The RID screening rules and procedures seemed to change from day to day, like we were making it up as we went along."; "Insufficient time was allotted to review the documents."; "Not allowing RIDs to be written against the SRD and declaring it a finished document prior to the PDR was just arrogant and wrong. This was further evidenced and confused by the introduction of two version of the SRD, showing that it was in fact being changed behind the scenes." etc.

NAC backs Constellation and warns against change, Orlando Sentinel

"James A. Abrahamson, a retired Air Force lieutenant general and the chairman of the NAC's Exploration Committee, praised the Constellation program to the Council at its quarterly meeting in Cocoa Beach, calling it the best program for the agency given its tight budget and schedule. "The NAC is confident that the current plan is viable and represents a well-considered approach given the constraints on budget, schedule and achievable technology," he said. He said that NASA considered more than 1,000 different rocketship designs before settling on the Ares rockets and Orion capsule which are at the heart of the Constellation program. Any attempt to rethink the plan, he said, would be bad for America's space program."


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

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