SLS and Orion: July 2009 Archives

NASA MSFC Internal Memo: Ares Personnel Announcement

"We are pleased to announce that effective immediately, Danny Davis will take over as manager of the Ares Vehicle Integration Office (VI), acting, pending approval by HQ. Danny brings a wealth of hardware experience, as well as experience working with in-house and contracted projects. With the work we have before us it's essential we have a permanent lead in integration. Daryl Woods has done an excellent job as the day-to-day VI manager over the last few months, and will continue as the VI deputy. In addition to this personnel change, we are moving the avionics/software efforts and Ares Instrument Unit contract and workforce into Vehicle Integration, essentially bringing avionics and software into one office. Doing so will simplify interfaces and clarify accountability."

Keith's note: Sources report that Steve King and his team are now focusing on a so-called Ares IV architecture - a smaller, less powerful version of the Ares V - one that would keep the current Ares-1 upperstage. Boeing seems to be in favor of this option rather than one that would use EELVs. The Ares IV would be used to launch crew or cargo missions. Of course, Cook is convinced that he will be put in charge of this new effort now that his Ares 1 project has all but failed to deliver. Stay tuned.

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

Keith's note: Recently, the gang at Ares 1-X decided to do something to occupy themselves while they wait around for Ares 1-X to launch. They recently decided to kick the can down the road and wait until the Augustine Committee revealed their view with regard to the fate of Ares 1-X and her future siblings. So, the Ares folks came up with yet another movie-inspired poster to herald the impending, albeit constantly slipping, launch on Halloween (see Ares Adopts "Thriller" Theme For Latest Launch Poster). Well ... another version of that poster has emerged. Instead of an autumn moon rising calmly in the background, a much more ominous figure can be seen looming in the sky, gazing down upon Ares 1-X - with bats swirling before his eyes. The Great Pumpkin, you ask? No. Something much more dreadful for Steve Cook to ponder ... larger image below.

NASA JSC Internal memo: New I-X Launch Date, earlier post

"Today at CxCB, we presented an update to our schedule and a new launch date of 10/31/09 was approved. This is still a very aggressive schedule and requires a lot of tasks to complete on or before their planned dates. This schedule has a no-margin date of 10/17/09 along with 14 days of Mission Manager margin that I will hold. With the exception of FTRR and other "L-minus" milestones, no other tasks will move to the right just because our launch date did. That is: We will be managing to a 10/17 launch."

Keith's note: as has always been the case with the Ares-1 team, they like to hype the drama of the impending Ares 1-X launch with faux movie posters. In this case, with the most recent in a series of launch delays, the new launch date is on Halloween. The Ares folks have continued this movie poster tradition. Click on image for larger version. Trick or Treat, y'all!

HLV Crew Abort Assessment, July 21 2009, NASA JSC

Team Charter

* Develop and analyze abort trajectories for a Crewed HLV. Define realistic environments, define the aerodynamics, and define the abort modes from Liftoff to MECO.

* Provide preliminary abort summary and potential abort modes. Define any mandatory changes to Orion or the LAS by July 21.

Issues Addressed
* On-pad abort thermal effects on ET
* Abort at Mach 1.25
* For this quick study the team assumed that this covers Max q and Max drag case
* Abort at Mach 2.0
* ET bow shock interaction with Orion

Keith's note: There is a meeting underway at MSFC in room 1201 in building 4203 - started at 7 am CDT. Steve Cook's plan is to discredit the 45th Space Wing abort study.

Of course Steve will mount a witch hunt to see how the report got out. So much for openness at NASA. One small problem, Steve: this not a NASA report (i.e. it did not originate within NASA) and it is marked "unclassified".

USAF: Orion Crew Will Not Survive Early Mission Abort, earlier post

Keith's update: Charlie Bolden was supposed to have been given an update on this project yesterday. The MSFC approach seeks to question the methods used and results obtained by the USAF and that NASA has a "timing" issue that makes them confident that their abort scenarios can get the crew out of harm's way. But more work needs to be done. In other words they use the smoke and mirrors approach to get out of this pickle. Meanwhile a classic MSFC witch hunt is under way to find out how a USAF briefing got distributed to some - but not others - at NASA - and then to NASA Watch.

Report: No escape system could save astronauts if Ares I rocket exploded during first minute, Orlando Sentinel

"Critics countered the new report is the latest reason why Ares needs to be re-examined, or scrapped. "This is one technical issue among many," said Mike Gold, the Washington director of Bigelow Aerospace, a commercial space company. "What we find disturbing is that any time there is an external organization looking at NASA's plans, they seem to come across an issue, and this is just one example." The Air Force report, first published by, is the second safety challenge by the 45th Space Wing to the solid-fuel first stage of Ares I. Air Force officials previously warned NASA they fear that violent shaking on liftoff of the Ares I-X, a rocket that will test the Ares I first stage, would disable the steering and self-destruct mechanisms, meaning it could not be destroyed if it veered off course."

Keith's update: Sources report that Steve Cook and his team were preoccupied on Friday with the ramifications of this report going public. Several meetings were held on Friday and another was planned for Saturday morning. Lots of finger pointing and asking questions along the lines of "who knew what and when did they know it?" and "how do we respond?" was reported to have happened on Friday. A briefing is being prepared for NASA Administrator Bolden for presentation as early as Monday. Stay tuned.

USAF: Orion Crew Will Not Survive Early Mission Abort, earlier post

Ares I-X launch delayed; Ares I thrust oscillation problems continue, Orlando Sentinel

"Last month, Sentinel Space Editor Robert Block reported on the likelihood that the first test flight of the Ares I-X -- a mockup of the Ares I intended ot test performance of the solid-fuel first stage -- would be delayed past its scheduled date of Aug. 30. Officially, he reported, NASA was holding to the August date for liftoff at Kennedy Space Center but that September was "more likely."
Now comes the officially revised date, courtesy of a memo from Johnson Space Center's Robert Ess, the Ares I-X mission manager: Oct. 31."

NASA JSC Internal memo: New I-X Launch Date

"Today at CxCB, we presented an update to our schedule and a new launch date of 10/31/09 was approved. This is still a very aggressive schedule and requires a lot of tasks to complete on or before their planned dates."

USAF 45th Space Wing Study: Capsule~100%-Fratricide Environments (Implications for NASA's Ares-1 and Crew)

"Estimate of Secondary Effects of the Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) Destruct Debris Environment on the Constellation Capsule

(Illustrated with the TitanIV-A20 Destruct of Comparable SRBs, Propellant Mass, and comparable MET of ~40 sec)


* The 45th-Space Wing has reasonable assessments for solid propellant debris fragment masses, velocities, etc.

* The Ares-1 capsule, with an LAS, will 25 not survive an abort between MET's of ~30-60 seconds.

(High-Q is a risk from ~20-75 sec)"

Farewell Ares 1?

Is Ares program dead? NASA told to explore new ways to reach the moon, Orlando Sentinel

"Members of the presidentially appointed panel reviewing the future of America's manned-space plans have asked NASA to design a new way to send astronauts back to the moon. The request could result in NASA ditching the controversial Ares I rocket design that the agency has spent the past four years and more than $3 billion creating and defending. ... Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin recently wrote Augustine, the review panel's chairman, saying that the idea was feasible but that he did not support it. "The dual-Ares 5 launch does offer considerably more capability to the Moon than the baseline Ares 1/Ares 5 scheme," he wrote to Augustine in an e-mail last week that was copied to the Orlando Sentinel. "However, it also comes at much greater marginal cost, and therefore I do not, and we at NASA in general did not, recommend it for the baseline approach."

Is Ares I a dead rocket after $3 billion spent?, Huntsville Times

"NASA spokeswoman Ashley Edwards confirmed that the agency is studying alternative designs to Ares but said that's normal with a new rocket design. But Dennis Wingo, a Huntsville space expert who has worked on various rocket concepts that the Augustine Commission is studying, said reviews and alternative options may well spell the end of the Ares I program. "It really looks like the deck chairs are being rearranged," Wingo said. "They are looking at other options because this option is not going forward."

Numerous benefits of space exploration, Ralph Hall, The Hill

"I strongly believe that we must close the gap in U.S. access to space and it is my hope that the Augustine panel comes to a similar conclusion. NASA has made great progress in developing the Orion vehicle and the Ares launch systems. Constellation is already in the development phase, so to abandon this plan now would be a massive waste of time, money and resources."

Save Ares Update

Key contractors meet with Sen. Richard Shelby about Marshall Space Flight Center's Ares rocket, Huntsville Times

"Graffeo said it appeared that the aerospace contractors did not have a public support strategy. "It's clear now that they do not. Regardless, Sen. Shelby will continue to work to see that the time and money we have invested to close the gap in manned space flight is not wasted," he said. Many within NASA, along with aerospace leaders and space experts, are divided on Ares. Chief among the concerns are that the rocket will not be ready in time to continue carrying crews to the space station by 2015. To Keith Cowing, who runs the independent Web site, no matter who makes the request meetings the end result is a type of lobbying."

NASA's Ares partners say they're open to moon-rocket ideas, Orlando Sentinel

"Early last month, top executives from the major Constellation contractors -- Boeing, Lockheed Martin, solid rocket builder ATK and rocket-engine manufacturer Pratt Whitney -- were in Washington, vowing to oppose any alternatives. According to industry officials present, former astronaut and Boeing Vice President Brewster Shaw, Lockheed Vice President John Karas and other executives met with the staff of powerful U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby to discuss creating a media campaign to counter Ares I critics and alternative ideas. Shelby, R-Ala., is a fierce protector of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, which is designing the Ares rockets."

Review Panel Hears Rival Plans for New Spaceflights, NY Times

"In an interview, Steve Cook, manager of the Ares Project at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., said that the cost estimate for developing the Ares I and seeing it through its first manned flight was $35 billion. Contrary to the claims of critics, he said, costs have not spiraled out of control. "We've got a stable plan to get us to 2015," Mr. Cook said."

NASA Constellation Blog: Where Things Stand with Constellation (Jeff Hanley)

"Posted on Apr 08, 2009 04:41:33 PM: While there has been moderate growth relative to early cost estimates, these increases are contained within the projected budget profile to which the agency has worked to for the last three years. The development cost for achieving the first crewed flight today is roughly $30 billion, far short of estimates which have been recently bandied about."

Keith's 6 July note: In April 2009 Jeff Hanley pegged the cost as "roughly $30 billion". Two months later Steve Cook said that the cost was "$35 billion". Gee, that's more than a 10% difference in barely 2 months - from two guys who should know the numbers. Did ESMD's "rough costs" go up by 10% in the space of two months? Or do Steve and Jeff have different numbers? What will it be 2 months from now? Then again Jeff Hanley and Steve Cook have disagreed on things before. The Augustine Commission has been provided with some rather detailed internal cost data - not all of which synchs with the current publicly avowed numbers. Stay tuned.

What are the real costs of NASA's Constellation program?, Orlando Sentinel

"In a letter to the editor on April 7, 2009 in response to the Sentinel article, Doug Cooke, associate administrator for NASA's Exploration System s Management Directorate, wrote: "The cost of this initial operating capability of hardware and systems is still at $36 billion." That figure in part is based on a study by NASA budget analysts in August 2008. A slide of that study is used as an illustrationat here and can be seen in greater detail via a link at the bottom of this post."

Keith's 7 July update: I am starting to get a headache. On 7 April 2009 Doug Cooke says the cost will be "$36 billion". The next Day Jeff Hanley wrote that it was "roughly $30 billion". Then on 18 June 2009 Steve Cook says that it is "$35 billion". The cost goes up, then it goes down, then it goes up again - with each of three of ESMD's senior management coming up with a different number.

NASA Ares Projects Plan - CxP 70057 Revision B - August 12, 2008

"3.8.7 Termination Review Criteria - The Ares will be subject to a Termination Review if its schedule projections show that it cannot meet the approved Ares I IOC date or if its cost is projected to exceed the approved run-out (including reserves) by more than 25 percent. The PMC shall make a recommendation to the GPMC as to whether a Termination Review should be conducted. The Headquarters GPMC would make this recommendation to the NASA Administrator."

An Analysis of NASA's Plans for Continuing Human Spaceflight After Retiring the Space Shuttle, 3 Nov 2008, CBO

"The potential problems that those risks represent could require additional time and money to resolve. NASA's current plans include an allowance of almost $7 billion to ensure that the Ares 1 and Orion achieve initial operating capability according to the current schedule. (Unless otherwise noted, dollar amounts are expressed as 2009 dollars of budget authority.) NASA staff indicate that those reserves imply a 65 percent level of confidence that the IOC milestone will be met as planned. However, CBO's 2004 analysis of the growth of costs in previous NASA programs indicates that the costs that the agency currently foresees for the Ares 1 and Orion programs could rise by 50 percent. Accommodating that cost growth would require as much as $7 billion more than NASA has budgeted, CBO estimates. Moreover, if NASA's total budget grew by no more than 2 percent annually, such cost increases, in CBO's estimation, would imply a delay of as much as 18 months beyond March 2015 for the vehicles to achieve the IOC milestone."

GAO: Area I and Orion Project Risk and Key Indicators to Measure Progress, 3 April 2008

"All these unknowns, as well as others, leave NASA in the position of being unable to provide firm cost estimates for the projects at this point. Meanwhile, tight deadlines are putting additional pressure on both the Ares I and Orion projects. Future requirements changes raise risks that both projects could experience cost and schedule problems."

GAO Report: NASA: Assessments of Selected Large-Scale Projects, 2 March 2009

"Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV) - NASA has not released official cost and schedule estimates to complete the Ares I program. NASA officials stated that these estimates will be made available when the project moves into implementation, or at the conclusion of the Constellation Programs non-advocate review. However, the value of various development contracts for the Ares I have increased by $304 million since initial award, and the first manned launch has slipped from 2014 to 2015."

Safety & Reliability Assessment of Delta IV EELV Based Crew Launch Options, Gaspare Maggio & Tony Hall, Information Systems Laboratories, Technology Risk Management Operation, June 10, 2009

Safety & Reliability Assessment of Side-Mount Crew Option, Gaspare Maggio & Tony Hall, Information Systems Laboratories, Technology Risk Management Operation, May 28, 2009

Keith's note: These two presentations just go to show that you can use Powerpoint charts to deliver any technical message your management wants you to deliver - regardless of its accuracy.



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