SLS and Orion: May 2010 Archives

Internal NASA email from Jeff Hanley

"I've been advised by HQ that my services as Cx PM are no longer required, effective immediately. Dale Thomas will be Acting PM until something more formal is issued from ESMD."

Shelby says NASA trying to 'suppress' Constellation supporters in ranks, Huntsville Times

"Shelby has grown increasingly frustrated with what he and other lawmakers believe is an attempt by NASA brass to kill Constellation even though the law says they can't without congressional approval. Calling NASA's own leadership "a key impediment" to the nation's space program is another sign of that frustration."

NASA ousts outspoken Constellation chief, Orlando Sentinel

"Bolden had little response at the hearing, but said afterward that Hanley lost his job because he was "conflicted" and had become a lightning rod for controversy. For example, one day after president Barack Obama visited Kennedy Space Center to lay out his reasons for cancelling Constellation, Hanley told his team to pour all its efforts into designing a test launch program for Constellation's Ares I rocket."

Hutchison questions reassignment of Constellation program manager, The Hill

"Emails sent to program officials last week indicate that NASA senior administrators were actively mandating de-prioritizing funding for elements of the program that do not fit within the President's new proposal," said Senator Hutchison. "I will be requesting NASA's Inspector General to conduct a full and thorough investigation."

NASA Gets New Constellation Program Manager, Aviation Week

"Thomas, a systems engineer who has been with NASA for 30 years, has been the deputy Constellation program manager since 2007. He is currently assigned to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., but will divide his time between Marshall and Johnson in Houston, where Constellation is based."

LeMieux joins call for NASA inquiry, Orlando Sentinel

"This is yet another example of NASA taking actions to cancel the Constellation Program, and that is a violation of law," said LeMieux, referencing a provision that Congress passed last year that forbids NASA from killing Constellation in 2010. "This is a very serious issue that affects the future of our nation's space program and thousands of Floridians."

Lawmakers Questioning NASA Manager's Removal, NY Times

"Mr. Rockefeller and Ms. Hutchison asked Paul K. Martin, the NASA inspector general, to "examine whether this or other recent actions by NASA were intended or could reasonably have been expected to foreclose the ability of Congress to consider meaningful alternatives" to the president's proposed policy, which invests heavily in new space technologies and turns the launching of astronauts over to private companies."

GAO report says NASA didn't break law with 'study teams, Huntsville Times

"NASA hasn't broken the law by spending nearly 13,000 hours of staff time planning what comes after the Constellation rocket program, the Government Accountability Office said Monday, but it must be careful not to cross the legal line while Congress continues to debate whether Constellation will end. The GAO investigated NASA's recent activities in response to a March request from U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith, R-Huntsville; U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville; and 13 other representatives."

Keith's 25 May update: Members of the Constellation community are saying that they have been told that contract termination letters for Constellation work will be sent out on/around 1 June. Moreover, Jeff Hanley has reportedly been telling his troops not to worry about these contract-related letters since the "Plan B" sorts of work that he has been directing them to do (with Mike Coats' and Charlie Bolden's backing) are really to set the stage for things that "the next Administration" will be doing. Stay tuned.

CAGW Releases Issue Brief on NASA Constellation Program

"President Obama has taken a step in the right direction by proposing to cancel the unsustainable Constellation Program in favor of looking to increased reliance on the private sector and investment in technologies that can lower the cost of human space exploration," concluded Schatz. "Congress should not interfere with this objective."

Issue Brief on the Constellation program., Citizens Against Government Waste

"According to Citizens Against Government Waste's 2010 Congressional Pig Book database, Sen. Shelby earmarked 60 projects worth $173 million in fiscal year 2010, so it is no surprise that he is abusing the appropriations process by slipping the Constellation program into the emergency spending bill. This is one of many reasons why taxpayers remain outraged over excessive spending in Washington."

Draft Broad Agency Announcement Heavy Lift and Propulsion Trade Study

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Marshall Space Flight Center is releasing a "DRAFT" Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) No. NNM10ZDA001J, entitled "Heavy Lift & Propulsion Technology Trade Study" on May 19, 2010. Comments to the "DRAFT" BAA are due on May 26, 2010, by 7:30 p.m. (central time). The "FINAL" BAA (NNM10ZDA001K), entitled, "Heavy Lift & Propulsion Technology Trade Study," will be available on or about June 2, 2010. Proposals to the "FINAL" BAA will be due on or about July 2, 2010."

Bolden at odds with Nelson on Ares I tests , Orlando Sentinel

"I can't pay for an Ares I today. It's too expensive," said Bolden, speaking after a meeting of the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee. "That's an easy decision for me because it wipes out everything. My friend Sen. Nelson, and he is my friend to be quite honest, we respectfully agree to disagree on this. It is incredibly costly for me to go off and try a series of Ares I tests to support a heavy-lift at the present cost of solid rocket motors. Now, there is an answer. Get the cost down. And ATK (prime contractor for the Ares I) says they can do that. But we're not there right now."

Keith's note: There is another wrinkle to the whole issue of SRBs, Ares, and Shuttle Derived Launch Vehicles - one that has not gotten much attention - yet: OSTP and others in the White House are concerned that these solid rockets are heavy polluters (1.1 million pounds of propellant each) and that it is time to move to something far less dirty to launch things into space.

When we send things into space, does it affect our atmosphere? ozone layer?, Yahoo ANswers

"... 23 tons of harmful particulate matter settle around the launch area each liftoff, and nearly 13 tons of hydrochloric acid kill fish and plants within half a mile of the site ... the environmental cost per launch is the same as that of New York City over a weekend."

Busy Schedule for Rocket Obama Wants Scrapped, NY Times

"Last month, in a speech at the Kennedy Space Center, President Obama modified his proposal, originally unveiled in February, and called for continuing the development of the Orion crew capsule that was to ride on top of the Ares I, but only as a stripped-down lifeboat for the International Space Station. The Ares program would still be canceled. Jeffrey M. Hanley, the Constellation program manager, said in an interview that given the uncertainty of what might emerge in the final budget, "we felt it prudent to continue to operate in the program as if the program were to continue." He described that possibility as "the unlikely case." ... He acknowledged that his efforts were somewhat at cross-purposes with those of his bosses, who are trying to convince Congress that Constellation is unworkable. "I really have to leave it to them to sort out with the national leadership," he said.

Contractors Face Shutdown Costs as NASA Space Program Morphs, Wall Street Journal

"The current clash stems in part from NASA's tradition of giving the Johnson Space Center --where U.S. astronauts are based -- extra latitude in running programs. According to industry and government officials, the Houston center frequently wasn't required to comply strictly with the same accounting and program-management rules that applied to other parts of the agency. That partly explains why many Constellation managers consistently relied on assurances from some NASA managers that the agency would step in and cover liabilities in the unlikely event termination became an issue."

Charlie Bolden's stand on NASA, Constellation and Ares I tests, Orlando Sentinel

"I talk to Jeff quite a bit. As far as I am concerned, Jeff does exactly what I asked him to do, to be quite honest. And Jeff and NASA, we are in a tough situation in that we have to comply with the 2010 provision in law that says we cannot terminate [Constellation], we cannot do this. Everybody knows that the language is and yet we have to be responsive to my desire to move forward."

Support for space center at dueling rallies, The Daily News

"As the Space Shuttle Atlantis orbited its way for a rendezvous with the International Space Station in what likely will be that orbiter's final mission, two rallies were held in support of NASA's Johnson Space Center in League City on Friday night. The underlying message of saving local jobs was the same, but the ralliers' approaches were very much different. The Galveston County Democratic Party teamed with labor unions for its rally that officials said was focused on positive lobbying in support of the space center. Members of local tea party groups and Republican activists pledged the only way to support manned space flight was to bounce President Barack Obama and Democrats who hold the congressional majority from office."

reader note: "I just got home from the "Support NASA Jobs" rally held in League City, sponsored by the Democratic Party and several labor unions. The overall message was I received was that everyone needs to come together to preserve the jobs at NASA because these are skilled and talented people that do great things for our country. Free food and drinks were available, and there was no campaigning or fundraising."

NASA's moon program gets a boost from Congress, Orlando Sentinel

"The measure by Republican Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama and Bob Bennett of Utah would force NASA to keep spending money on the Constellation moon program in 2010, even though President Barack Obama wants to cancel a key component: the Ares rockets that would boost an Apollo-like capsule into orbit."

Shelby: Amendment Protects Constellation Program

"The President's NASA proposal has no clear direction other than to cancel Constellation, at any price, even if it means relinquishing our leadership in space," said Shelby. "NASA is now attempting to undermine current law as it relates to Fiscal Year 2010 Constellation funding by slow rolling contracts and pressuring companies to self-terminate. It is disappointing that the political appointees at NASA have so much trouble following the letter and spirit of law."

Colorado leaders to lobby on Capitol Hill for state projects, Denver Post

"The group will advocate for the Orion crew capsule, left, being developed by Lockheed Martin Space Systems as an emergency escape vehicle for the international space station and foundation for deep-space exploration; growing military assets; a federal investment in medical research; and funding for several interchanges and FasTracks."

Abort Test Photos, Aviation Week

"NASA tested the launch abort system for the Orion crew exploration vehicle for the first time today, with spectacular results. Regardless of the ultimate fate of Orion -- now at the center of a Washington dispute over the future path of U.S. human spaceflight -- the test produced valuable data that can make future crew capsules much safer. William Faulkner, a freelance photographer in Las Cruces, N.M., took these shots of the test at nearby White Sands Missile Range for Aviation Week & Space Technology."

Alliant Sees NASA Revamp Easing, WS Journal

"Alliant Techsystems Inc., potentially the biggest corporate loser in White House proposals to outsource large chunks of U.S. manned space exploration, Thursday sought to signal Wall Street that most of the programs are likely to survive the revamping. Alliant's share of NASA's Constellation program, which accounts for about $400 million of the company's $4.80 billion in fiscal 2010 revenue, will stay at roughly the same level through next March, company officials said. The forecast is surprising given White House's proposal to ax nearly all the program."

ATK Reports Strong FY10 Year-End and Fourth-Quarter Operating Results

"Forward-looking information is subject to certain risks, trends, and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Among these factors are: assumptions related to the Ares I and Ares V programs for NASA."

Obama's NASA plans in peril?, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA itself also appears to be hedging its bets that the president's vision might not pass muster with Congress. KSC officials and contractors, under direction from Johnson Space Center and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, are pressing ahead with plans for test flights of a multibillion-dollar Ares I rocket that Obama wants to cancel. Meanwhile, big aerospace contractors are trying to sell members of Congress on a new $8 billion rocket that could be fashioned from pieces of the space shuttle, which is supposed to be retired later this year. Last week, a group of contractors led by aerospace giant Boeing Co. met Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., to push the new rocket idea. Nelson previously has backed more Ares test flights."

"A Trajectory to Nowhere" by Scott "Doc" Horowitz

"The current debate has nothing to do with technical/programmatic issues, it is completely politically motivated and being driven by a few people in the current administration, e.g., Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator, Jim Kohlenberger, Office of Science and Technology Policy Chief of Staff, and Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the Office of Management and Budget. Their objective is to cancel the "Bush" program and punish the states (Alabama, Texas) that "didn't vote for us anyway".

Keith's note: Of course, Scott Horowitz, who certainly seems to enjoy the breeze of that revolving door, is utterly hypocriticial when it comes to deriding decisions as being "political" in Washington DC (ohmygosh, politics in Washington. I wonder who knew this was going on!?) given that he is still a registered lobbyist for ATK (paid $30K in 2008 and 2009, and $10K thus far in 2010), and has been interacting with NASA in that capacity. Does he bother to disclose this when he posts these little one-sided missives? Of course not. Pot, kettle, black, Scott.

Meanwhile, back in our universe ...

Constellation Program Cost and Schedule Will Remain Uncertain Until a Sound Business Case Is Established, GAO, August 2009

"The Constellation program has not yet developed all of the elements of a sound business case needed to justify entry into implementation. Progress has been made; however, technical and design challenges are still significant and until they are resolved NASA will not be able to reliably estimate the time and money needed to execute the program. In addition, cost issues and a poorly phased funding plan continue to hamper the program. Consequently, NASA is changing the acquisition strategy for the Orion project as the agency attempts to increase confidence in its ability to meet a March 2015 first crewed launch. However, technical design and other challenges facing the program are not likely to be overcome in time to meet the 2015 date, even with changes to scope and requirements."

Launch could be first test of rocket and Obama space plan, USA Today

"For company founder Elon Musk, it's showtime. "We're super excited to be launching from Cape Canaveral," Musk said. "It's like opening on Broadway." For others, the flight will be a measure of President Obama's plan to kill NASA's moon program, dubbed Project Constellation, and instead invest in developing commercial "space taxis" for astronauts traveling to and from low Earth orbit. The plan has encountered opposition in Congress. The odds of success on the first launch of any new rocket are about 50-50. "I hope people don't use us as a bellwether for commercial space," Musk said."

Bolden, Griffin Display Space Policy Differences, Aviation Week

"It has become much to fashion lately to compare Constellation to Apollo, with the thought of course that we don't want to do anything that might look at all like Apollo," said Griffin. "I wonder about that sometimes because Apollo made me pretty proud to be an American. That drive has sustained a couple of generations of space professionals. So, today we have a space policy choice confronting us. Do we want to do innovative, game-changing technologies? Or, do we want to do something that might look a little bit like Apollo?'

Charlie Bolden's stand on NASA, Constellation and Ares I tests, Orlando Sentinel

"Bolden: Who? Jeff Hanley? I talk to Jeff quite a bit. As far as I am concerned, Jeff does exactly what I asked him to do, to be quite honest. And Jeff and NASA, we are in a tough situation in that we have to comply with the 2010 provision in law that says we cannot terminate [Constellation], we cannot do this. Everybody knows that the language is and yet we have to be responsive to my desire to move forward. You know my challenge for you is to work with Congress and get them to understand that the vision that we have is good for the nation and is the right way to get us beyond low Earth orbit. So we are constantly walking this tightrope of not offending anyone or breaking the law and yet being very responsive to what the president wants us to do and aggressively going forward."

Jeff Hanley Openly Defies White House Policy, earlier post

Other Jeff Hanley news



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This page is an archive of entries in the SLS and Orion category from May 2010.

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