SLS and Orion: June 2009 Archives

NASA places RFI NNH09ZDA010L on hold

"NASA is placing RFI NNH09ZDA010L ("Feasibility of using Constellation Architecture for Servicing Existing and Future Observatory-Class Scientific Spacecraft") on hold. The August 10 due date for information in the form of a white paper is cancelled; no new due date is announced at this time. The "Workshop I" described in NNH09ZDA010L will not occur in June; a new date has not been established at this time."

NASA RFI: Feasibility of using Constellation Architecture for Servicing Existing and Future Observatory-Class Scientific Spacecraft, 10 June 2009

More Ares Woes

Moon rocket test shaky, Orlando Sentinel

"The violent shaking that threatens to destroy the Ares I rocket that NASA hopes will one day return astronauts to the moon is also threatening to delay -- or even cancel -- the first flight of its test version, the Ares I-X. Air Force officials who have safety jurisdiction over all launches from Kennedy Space Center are worried that the rocket's vibrations could knock out the self-destruct mechanism required in case the launch goes awry. If the Ares I-X went out of control during its scheduled launch Aug. 30, and the destruct mechanism failed, the rocket could threaten populated areas along the Space Coast. And the possibility that the $360 million prototype will veer off course is a real risk, according to both the Air Force 45th Space Wing and NASA managers, because the rocket's vibrations could also wreck its steering system, known as the Thrust Vector Control, or TVC."

Ares I-Y Update

NASA ESMD Internal Document: Ares I-Y Change Request

"Dear FTWG Members, The single CR presented at Tuesday's FTWG incorporating the I-Y configuration change and the PMR09 Mark updates was subsequently split into two separate CRs. This CR represents the Ares I-Y configuration changes and the associated FTOs for Ares I-Y and Orion 1. The PMR09 update CR will be published at a later time.

Please review this CR and send any comments back to John Coggeshall by COB Monday (6/8/09). Sorry for the delay in releasing but a number of discussions and updates have been occurring over the last couple of days."

What To Do About Ares 1

Reinventing NASA's Rocket Reputation, Aviation Week

"Among the more significant challenges the Augustine panel faces is the fate of the Ares 1 launcher. As has been the case with every previous human-rated launch vehicle, Ares 1 has encountered serious performance issues and stability concerns during its development. Critics have been particularly vocal in calling for its replacement with different vehicles, ranging from new designs to versions of the existing expendable fleet. If Augustine's review confirms NASA's current course, the challenge will be for the critics to close ranks and cease their sniping. But if the panel recommends replacement with another launch system, a more complex problem awaits."

NASA ESMD Internal Memo from Jeff Hanley: 6/20 Cx Update - Moving Forward

"During the public session, we used our time to cover two charts of Cx 'mythbusters' on some topics that need to be clearly described to remedy potential perceptions based on the way they have been reported in some of the media. This went very well, by all reports. ... I will leave the sharing of non-Cx topics for others to discuss, but all in all we left pleased that we had achieved what we had come to achieve. That combined with a fair and balanced report by Aerospace on their EELV vs Ares study and a well-presented Shuttle sidemount talk by John Shannon made for a good day at the end of the public session."

Keith's note: I guess Jeff stepped out of the room while the DIRECT presentation was being made ...

Study Finds Human-rated Delta IV Cheaper

"A NASA-funded study found that a human-rated Delta IV heavy rocket could be a cheaper route to the International Space Station than NASA's Ares I crew launch vehicle. But the human-rated United Launch Alliance rocket would be less expensive only if the Ares V heavy-lift moon rocket development is deferred, the Aerospace Corp. study reports. And the Delta IV alternative could add two years or more to the "gap" in U.S. human access to orbit if it starts this year, according to the unreleased study obtained by Aviation Week."

NASA Administrator Mike Griffin's Remarks to the Space Transportation Association, January 2008

"Finally, we considered both development and full life cycle costs. I cannot go into the details of this analysis in a speech, and in any case much of it involves proprietary data. We have shared the complete analysis with the DoD, various White House staff offices, CBO, GAO, and our Congressional oversight committees. Our analysis showed that for the combined crew and heavy-lift launch vehicles, the development cost of an EELV-derived architecture is almost 25% higher than that of the Shuttle-derived approach. The recurring cost of the heavy-lift Ares V is substantially less than competing approaches, and the recurring cost of an EELV upgraded to meet CEV requirements is, at best, comparable to that for Ares I. All independent cost analyses have been in agreement with these conclusions."

Getting To Know Max

A Closer Look at the Max Launch Abort System, OnOrbit

"The test launch of the Max Launch Abort System, or MLAS from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility has been delayed to no earlier than 20 June due to weather issues. Here's a look at the vehicle itself courtesy of NASA and what it is supposed to accomplish - plus some pictures you have probaby never seen before.

Mission Information: The NASA Constellation Program is developing an astronaut escape system for its Orion spacecraft, designed to carry humans to the International Space Station by 2015 and to the lunar surface by 2020. In a parallel effort, another NASA team, led by the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC), is preparing to demonstrate an alternate escape system to explore different technological approaches to the same task. The alternate escape system, called Max Launch Abort System (MLAS), is a risk mitigation effort on behalf of Orion. MLAS was named after Maxime (Max) Faget, a Mercury-era pioneer. Faget was the designer of the Project Mercury Capsule and holder of the patent for the "Aerial Capsule Emergency Separation Device," which is commonly known as the escape tower."

NASA's Ares I-X Rocket Achieves Historic Hardware Milestones

"NASA's Constellation Program reached two major processing milestones this week as two new pieces of Ares I-X hardware were transferred for final assembly in preparation for the first flight test of the rocket later this summer at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Once stacking operations begin later this month, it will be the first time a new vehicle has been stacked on NASA's Mobile Launch Platform in more than 25 years. The forward assembly, composed of the forward skirt, forward skirt extension and the frustum, was moved Thursday from Kennedy's Assembly Refurbishment Facility, or ARF, to the Vehicle Assembly Building for stacking operations."

MLAS Test Delayed

NASA Reschedules Test of Max Launch Abort System

"Because of weather concerns and launch site preparation needs, NASA has rescheduled the test launch of the Max Launch Abort System, or MLAS, to no earlier than June 20 at the agency's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. The launch window June 20 extends from approximately 5:45 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. EDT. The launch had been scheduled previously for June 15. The unpiloted test is part of an effort to design a system for safely propelling future spacecraft and crews away from hazards on the launch pad or during the climb to orbit. This system was developed as an alternative concept to the launch abort system chosen for NASA's Orion crew capsule."

Feasibility of using Constellation Architecture for Servicing Existing and Future Observatory-Class Scientific Spacecraft, NASA SMD

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is soliciting information through this Request for Information (RFI) to improve its understanding of using the capabilities of its Constellation System, adaptations of the Constellation System architectures, and/or robotic technologies to service a wide range of notional science observatory-class spacecraft. The NASA-defined notional missions studied will be consistent with NASA's current portfolio of future space science missions and/or conceptual mission ideas that were presented to the National Research Council's (NRC's) Committee on Science Opportunities Enabled by NASA's Constellation System during the spring of 2008. These notional missions include observatories designed to operate in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), at Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO), and at Earth-Sun Lagrangian points L1 and L2."

NASA Blog: Dual-Plane Isolators Emerge as Most Promising Thrust Oscillation Fix

"Engineers and rocket scientists love data. So no surprise the NASA thrust oscillation mitigation team has been gathering reams of data to best understand how to design an integrated vehicle that avoids thrust oscillation. This week at Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. NASA and industry engineers reviewed the latest progress to qualify and validate our understanding of thrust oscillation problems and solutions."

Article says Air Force doubts Orion can escape an Ares I disaster, Orlando Sentinel

"According to Florida Today, the finding was detailed in a May 20 memo from Brig. Gen. Edward Bolton, commander of the 45th Space Wing headquartered at Patrick Air Force Base, to NASA's Constellation Program Manager Jeff Hanley. "Recent Air Force studies have called into question the survivability of the crew module in the fratricide environment from a destructing first-stage solid rocket booster," the paper quoted the memo as saying. However, the article also has Hanley pooh-poohing the Air Force's concerns, saying that "supercomputer analyses" will prove that the Ares I rocket is a fine vehicle and Orion's launch abort system will be able to save the crew in the event disaster strikes."

Keith's note: word has it that the meeting at Ames did not go well for Steve Cook and that it ended early as a result. Seems that Steve was not interested in any opinions that wandered away from the official party line.

Steve Cook Wants to Be The Next Deputy Center Director at Marshall, earlier post

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

Ares Troubles Mount

NASA falling further behind, Orlando Sentinel

"With a White House-ordered review of its next-generation Constellation rocket program just weeks away, NASA faces some unwelcome news: Key milestones for the agency's Ares I rocket and Orion crew capsule are falling further behind schedule because of design flaws and technical challenges. An important test of the Orion's emergency escape system that was supposed to happen last year will not come off before November and could slip further. A review of the proposed fixes for the violent shaking at liftoff that has plagued development of the Ares I has been delayed from this summer to December. Even the first test flight of the Ares design - a mock-up rocket called the Ares I-X - has been moved from April to July to August and now possibly September."

Draft NASA Constellation Program Management Directive Regarding Use of English Units of Measure

"3. RATIONALE: This directive defines and communicates a consistent approach to the use of engineering units throughout CxP. The program conducted an extensive and detailed effort to implement a primary SI units based system for design, analysis, test and operations while allowing English units for most of the hardware. This effort looked at various implementation strategies and worked the implementation details to the point of having workable implementation plans in all the projects. However, the cost estimates to achieve these plans significantly exceeded the resources that could be made available in the critical years. Therefore, given budget constraints and the need for consistent practice of units throughout the CxP lifecycle to minimize risks and to achieve mission success, the program is revising its previous management directive to a primarily English units based program with limited usage of SI as defined in the MD. This MD constitutes the basis for the waiver to NASA policy directing the usage of SI."

NASA OIG Assessment of NASA's Use of the Metric System, G-00-021

"Following the loss of the Mars Climate Observer, the NASA Office of Inspector General initiated a review of the Agency's use of the metric system. By law and policy, the metric system is the preferred system of measurement within NASA. However, our review found that use of the metric system is inconsistent across the Agency. A waiver system, which was required by law and put into effect to track metric usage and encourage conversion, is no longer in use. In addition, NASA employees are given little guidance on the Agency's policy and procedures regarding use of the metric system."

NPD 8010.2E Subject: Use of the SI (Metric) System of Measurement in NASA Programs

"b. All new programs and projects covered by NPR 7120.5 shall use the SI system of measurement for design, development and operations, in preference to customary U.S. measurement units, for all internal activities, related NASA procurements, grants, and business activities. Exceptions to this requirement may be granted by the NASA Chief Engineer based on program/project recommendations by the responsible Mission Directorate Associate Administrator where use of SI units is demonstrated to be impractical, adds unacceptable risk, or is likely to cause significant inefficiencies or loss of markets to U.S. firms. Special emphasis shall be placed on maximum use of SI units in cooperative programs with international partners."

Keith's note: NASA claims that it wants to have meaningful international participation in the implementation of VSE/ESAS yet it walks away from the system of weights and measures used by the majority of the people on this planet. Moreover, this decision clearly seems to fly in the face of established NASA - and Federal - policy.



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This page is an archive of entries in the SLS and Orion category from June 2009.

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