SLS and Orion: December 2008 Archives

Military rockets: Solution for NASA?, Orlando Sentinel

"According to documents presented to Obama's transition team three weeks ago -- including internal studies by the rockets' manufacturer, United Launch Alliance -- upgraded human-rated versions of the military EELVs would have enough power to take NASA's fully loaded Orion crew capsule into orbit. In fact, the studies say some configurations of the rockets can lift up to 6 metric tons more than NASA requires..."

... Industry officials say that a few days later, Griffin called Robert Stevens, the CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp., which jointly owns ULA together with Boeing Co., and demanded that Stevens stop what Griffin called the subsidiary's efforts to "kill Ares I" by promoting versions of its own rockets that could carry humans to space.

The Fight Over NASA's Future, NY Times

"The Obama transition team, in meetings and requests for information from NASA, contractors and others with a stake in the process, has asked whether increased financing can narrow the five-year flight gap by speeding development of the new spacecraft. The advisers have also asked what the costs and consequences might be of continuing to fly the shuttles for at least one or two additional flights, or even to keep flying them until the next system is ready. The team has also asked whether the development program is truly in trouble and, if so, whether the Ares I should be modified or replaced by rockets used by the Air Force to launch satellites, or the Ariane 5 rocket from Europe. While some involved in developing the rockets have read volumes into the questions, a spokesman for the transition team, Nick Shapiro, said that "the role of the agency review teams is not to make recommendations on any of the issues they are reviewing. They are fact-finding and preparing the full range of options for consideration by the incoming appointees."

Dear Santa

Santa Invited To Explore NASA's Moon And Mars Progress, NASA KSC

"When Santa Claus makes his routine pit stop at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility on Christmas Eve, he may do a bit more than chow down on milk and cookies. In the next few decades, humans could be living, working and playing on the moon, including millions of good little boys and girls counting on Santa to put presents under their trees, no matter where those trees are. So this year, Kennedy is inviting Santa to check out the progress being made with the agency's Constellation Program."

Editor's note: You know the end is near when NASA PAO issues inane pleas for technical assistance to Santa Claus. Alas, Santa is not likely to leave Mike Griffin much more than a few lumps of coal in his Christmas stocking this year.

Replacement for shuttle must serve as bridge craft, Steve Lindsey, Houston Chronicle

"NASA spent several years studying architectures and researching every available commercial rocket to find the design that could best accomplish those dual mission objectives in the safest, most reliable way. The conclusion we reached was that a space shuttle and Apollo derived vehicle was the best choice. Many have challenged this decision and still are advocating the use of existing commercial launch vehicles. Those have been studied extensively and fall short of our requirements for several reasons. First, existing commercial launch vehicles can lift only a fraction of the mass required for station and lunar missions in a single launch. Second, existing commercial launch vehicles have been designed and built to carry unmanned payloads; they would need to be heavily modified to meet our human rating requirements."

Launching Orion on EELVs

Obama Team Considers NASA Use of Modified Military Rockets, Wall Street Journal

"President-elect Barack Obama's transition team, considering ways to reduce the cost and risk associated with manned space exploration, has broached the idea of using modified U.S. military rockets to launch the eventual replacement for the space shuttle. No decision has been made and the concept raises major technical, funding and policy issues. But in recent weeks, the transition team assigned to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been asking aerospace industry officials about the feasibility of such a dramatic shift in priorities."

Editor's note: When asked in today's ESMD about moving Orion to an EELV Doug Cooke said "We do not have any data on that specifically." This is certainly a rather odd thing for Doug to say given that he and his staff regularly tell people that they know that using Ares 1 to launch Orion would be cheaper and safer than using an EELV. In order to know that Ares 1 is cheaper, don't you need to know what the cost of launching Orion on an EELV is Doug? Otherwise, how can you do the math to show that it is cheaper?

Cooke on change and the blogosphere, Space Politics

"Cooke also mentioned criticism of the Ares 1 development in particular, mentioning the recent preliminary design review. "I attended the review myself, and despite what was said in the blogosphere and the sensational media, it was very professionally done," he said. The number of "yellow and orange" evaluations that came out of the PDR, he said, was because the review was focused on those issues. "So we asked a lot of hard questions, and I have to say that the team was especially well-prepared."

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

"Below are verbatim commments provided to an online review website by the actual PDR recipients...

42. 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.
43. This one goes to both this team and those above them. It is impossible to have adequate review of parts or the integrated vehicle if the schedules for other Elements does not allow for participation.
44. Allow adequate time for issues raised in Element or sub-system reviews to be addressed and brought forward. If we are actually building an integrated vehicle, then we need to pay attention to all the parts. We were directly told in training that the results of the US and Avionics reviews didn't matter to this review.
45. Not enough actual design documentation was available for review, many of the products were in poor shape for a pdr."

Editor's note: and so on ... But according to Doug Cooke, comments made on MSFC's official PDR participant review website are the imagination of "sensational media".

NASA to Update Reporters about Constellation Program

"4 p.m. EST, Wednesday, Dec. 17 NASA will host a media teleconference to brief reporters about recent developments and ongoing progress in NASA's Constellation Program."

SpaceX Adds Two DragonLab Missions to Manifest

"Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) announces the addition of two DragonLab missions to its manifest, as a result of demand from a successful workshop held at SpaceX headquarters on November 6 to introduce the new DragonLab product. The first two flights are scheduled for 2010 and 2011 respectively from the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch site at Complex 40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX is currently working contractual arrangements with multiple prospective customers. DragonLab is a free-flying, reusable spacecraft capable of hosting pressurized and unpressurized payloads to and from space. It is the newest commercial offering from SpaceX. DragonLab launches to orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle."


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

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