SLS and Orion: September 2009 Archives

GAO Report Confirms that Funding Shortfalls Have Hurt NASA's Ability to Execute Its Constellation Program As Planned, House Science and Technology Committee

"Constellation has been underway for four years, and we have invested almost $8 billion in it to date. I am heartened that the review committee found the program to be sound and one that can be successfully implemented if given adequate resources in a timely manner. GAO's report provides a sobering indication of the negative impact that funding shortfalls can have on complex and technically difficult space flight programs like Constellation, no matter how dedicated and skillful the program's workforce is," added Gordon."

GAO Report: NASA Constellation Program Cost and Schedule Will Remain Uncertain Until a Sound Business Case Is Established

"NASA is still struggling to develop a solid business case--including firm requirements, mature technologies, a knowledge-based acquisition strategy, a realistic cost estimate, and sufficient funding and time--needed to justify moving the Constellation program forward into the implementation phase. Gaps in the business case include

- significant technical and design challenges for the Orion and Ares I vehicles, such as limiting vibration during launch, eliminating the risk of hitting the launch tower during lift off, and reducing the mass of the Orion vehicle, represent considerable hurdles that must be overcome in order to meet safety and performance requirements; and

- a poorly phased funding plan that runs the risk of funding shortfalls in fiscal years 2009 through 2012, resulting in planned work not being completed to support schedules and milestones. This approach has limited NASA's ability to mitigate technical risks early in development and precludes the orderly ramp up of workforce and developmental activities."

GAO: NASA Faces Challenges Defining Scope and Costs of Space Shuttle Transition and Retirement, earlier post
GAO: Area I and Orion Project Risk and Key Indicators to Measure Progress, earlier post
GAO: Agency Has Taken Steps Toward Making Sound Investment Decisions for Ares I but Still Faces Challenging Knowledge Gaps, earlier post

NASA Sets Target Date for Ares I-X Rocket's Test Launch

"NASA is targeting Tuesday, Oct. 27, for the flight test of the Ares I-X rocket, pending successful testing and data verification. Senior managers made the decision after a meeting Monday at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The Oct. 27 target date has been confirmed with the Air Force's Eastern Range. The launch window will extend from 8 a.m. to noon EDT. There is another launch opportunity on Oct. 28. The date will be finalized at a Flight Test Readiness Review scheduled for Oct. 23 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida."

Orion Gets Recovery Act Money

NASA Solicitation: Recovery Act Funds for Orion Spacecraft - Contract Modification

"NASA applied funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 to work on the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle Project. The total amount is $165.9 million. This is a modification to an existing contract with Lockheed Martin Corporation of Denver, Colorado. Funds will be used to reduce schedule risk by initiating purchases of long lead components and moving forward with the design of Orion engineering development units. These items include avionics systems integrated circuit builds, procuring communication systems hardware, avionics integrated lab testing infrastructure, docking hatches, numerous mechanisms, advanced window materials and Propulsion and Environmental Control System units."

More Issues for Ares

Old and new studies question safety of Ares I rocket, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA and its contractors building the agency's next-generation moon rocket maintain that it will be the safest, most reliable rocket ever to send humans into space. But several engineering reports sharply question that claim. The latest report to surface was presented four years ago by NASA's Crew Survival Office, a group of engineers at Johnson Space Center specifically charged to find ways to increase astronauts' chances of surviving disaster. It came to light because it was sent to the presidential committee reviewing NASA's plans for human space exploration and was published on its website."

NASA and ATK Successfully Test Ares First Stage Motor (With Video)

"NASA and industry engineers lit up the Utah sky Thursday with the initial full-scale, full-duration test firing of the first stage motor for the Ares I rocket. The Ares I is a crew launch vehicle in development for NASA's Constellation Program. ATK Space Systems conducted the successful stationary firing of the five-segment solid development motor 1, or DM-1. ATK Space Systems, a division of Alliant Techsystems of Brigham City, Utah, is the prime contractor for the Ares I first stage. Engineers will use the measurements gathered from the test to evaluate thrust, roll control, acoustics and motor vibrations. This data will provide valuable information as NASA develops the Ares I and Ares V vehicles. Another ground test is planned for summer 2010."

Save Ares Campaign Underway

Ares may look dead but keeps kicking, Orlando Sentinel

"Nonetheless, senior executives from NASA's contractors -- including Alliant Techsystems Inc., or ATK; The Boeing Co.; Pratt Whitney; and Lockheed Martin Corp -- held a teleconference Thursday to map out a strategy to press for more money to keep Ares and Orion alive. Astronauts employed by contractors working on the project wrote an op-ed piece urging the White House and Congress to "stay the course." And the rocket's backers hit the airwaves and blogosphere, insisting that NASA engineers have found solutions to the rocket's major technical problems, including the likelihood it would drift into its launch tower on liftoff and shake violently enough to injure the astronauts aboard. Last week, the campaign hit the Internet with a video on YouTube that encourages viewers to tell Congress and the White House that NASA should stick with Ares and not "take a chance" with other spacecraft designs."

According to the Augustine Committee's website: "09.03.2009 - A Summary Report is in final preparations for transmittal to the Office of Science and Technology Policy and NASA on Tuesday, September 8, 2009."

The "Deciders" of NASA's future - Augustine Committee, YouTube

"At President Obama's request, a committee known as the Augustine Committee is reviewing Americas plans for Human Space Exploration. Although a thorough review was conducted four years ago--and a direction chosen, contracts awarded, tests conducted, and rockets built--the Augustine committee wants to stop work and do something new. This will widen the gap between the retirement of the shuttle and its replacement vehicle, waste billions of dollars and threaten Americas presence in space. You can STOP this."

Video below

Orion passes milestone, but do problems loom?, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA announced Tuesday that the manned capsule it plans to send to the moon has passed an early internal review with unanimous support. But the good news about Orion came with a caveat. If Orions companion rocket -- dubbed Ares 1 -- is spiked in favor of another rocket, then any Orion mission would be delayed by up to two years so engineers could fit a new rocket to the capsule."

NASA's Orion Spacecraft Passes Significant Design Milestone

"NASA has taken a major step toward building the next crew exploration vehicle by completing the Orion Project's preliminary design review, or PDR. Orion is being designed to carry astronauts to the International Space Station and other destinations. The preliminary design review is one of a series of checkpoints that occurs in the design life cycle of a complex engineering project before hardware manufacturing can begin. As the review process progresses, details of the vehicle's design are assessed to ensure the overall system is safe and reliable for flight and meets all NASA mission requirements."


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

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