SLS and Orion: January 2011 Archives

For NASA, Longest Countdown Awaits, NY Times

"Two weeks ago, the agency told Congress that it had decided on preferred designs for the rocket and the crew capsule for carrying astronauts, but could yet not fit them into the schedule and constraints. "All our models say 'no,' " said Elizabeth Robinson, NASA's chief financial officer, "even models that have generous affordability considerations." She said NASA was continuing to explore how it might reduce costs. A couple of days after receiving the report, Senator Nelson said he had talked to the NASA administrator, Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr., and "told him he has to follow the law, which requires a new rocket by 2016." He added, "And NASA has to do it within the budget the law requires."

Constellation Celebration & Recognition Event at NASA LaRC

"All Constellation team members are invited to join Dale Thomas, our NASA Constellation Program Manager, Thursday, January 20th for a Constellation LaRC Celebration and Recognition Event in honor of the great accomplishments you've made to the program. It will be held in the Reid Center auditorium and starts at 8 am with breakfast (courtesy of the Constellation Program) followed by an All Hands and awards ceremony. A calendar invite will follow shortly."

Keith's note: Well, it would seem that Doug Cooke, Dale Thomas, ESMD, and CxP are putting that Congressionally-created money for the now-cancelled Constellation program to good use by buying breakfast for everyone on the team.

Anonymous senior SOMD reader note: "just read the comments on the article. What people are missing (and you understand) is perception. We used to have snacks, food, coffee, drinks outside all of our FRR's - this was not cheap. When we started laying people off, Gerst called an end to the practice. The message was: we are not going to spend scarce resources on cookies for upper management when we are laying teammembers off to save money. This provides insight into the difference between mission directorate leadership."

Letter from Sen. Nelson and Sen. Hutchison to NASA Administrator Bolden Regarding Space Launch System / Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle

"Finally, we would like to clarify our intent when stating "to the extent practicable" in the Authorization Act, such as the direction to leverage Shuttle and Constellation capabilities "to the extent practicable" in developing the Space Launch System and the multi-purpose crew vehicle. Federal courts have held that the phrase "to the maximum extent practicable" imposes "a clear duty on [an] agency to fulfill the [relevant] statutory command to the extent that it is feasible or possible*' (Fund for Animals v. Babbitt, 903 F. Supp. 96,107 (D.D.C. 1995) (noting that the phrase "does not permit an agency unbridled discretion") ..."

Click on Image to enlarge "Cost and Schedule of Shuttle sidemount compared with HEFT alternatives. This is the only HLV option that meets all legal requirements and fits within the budget and schedule assumptions of HEFT. Data derived from SSP Study NSTS 60583, dated June 8, 2010"

HEFT, Lies and Videotape, Paul Spudis, Air & Space

"So as Oliver Hardy would say, here's another fine mess we've gotten ourselves into. NASA creates an unaffordable architecture (ESAS) to implement the VSE. The response by the new administration is to cancel the VSE and replace it with promises of more distant goals at some nebulous time in the far future. Congress directs the agency to build an HLV anyway, but the vehicle has no mission, so they pull out the specs of the last HLV America flew. NASA responds by saying they can't do it on the money and schedule specified, even though they themselves have in hand a report that shows how it can be done. Moreover, the agency still claims it doesn't know why anyone would want to go to the Moon, despite having been shown repeatedly that what we do there will create new space faring capability."

Keith's note: During its recent deliberations the HEFT II activity look at a variety of scenarios, reference missions etc. One of them, DM1, actually meets the costs and schedule specified by Congress. DM1 entails creation and use of an in-space propellant depot and refueling capability. It also makes use of EELVs and other commercial launch assets. But forces within NASA ESMD personnel - led by Doug Cooke - have purposefully sat on such ideas and have made certain that they were scrubbed from presentation charts and reports to Congress and other "stakeholders". Charlie Bolden is aware of this tactic.

Chairman Hall Assures Close Oversight og NASA Human Space Flight Program

"The report recently provided to Congress by NASA on its heavy lift development is only the beginning of a long conversation Congress will have with the Agency regarding the future of the human space flight program. It was this Administration that killed the Constellation program, which Congress had repeatedly endorsed. Instead of providing the resources that the Augustine Committee said were necessary to have a program worthy of a great nation, this Administration simply said it was unaffordable, choosing instead to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on other priorities."

NASA OIG Letter Regarding Constellation Program and 2010 NASA Authorization Act

"The Inspector General Act of 1978 directs Federal Inspectors General to, among other things, "review existing and proposed legislation and regulations relating to programs and operations" of their agencies and to make recommendations "concerning the impact of such legislation or regulations on the economy and efficiency in the administration of programs and operations administered or financed by such establishment." In addition, Inspectors General are required to keep their agency head and Congress informed about "serious problems, abuses. and deficiencies relating to the administration of programs and operations administered or financed by such establishment, [and] to recommend corrective action concerning such problems."

Keith's note: Any typos are a result of the poor quality of the original letter - parts of which are illegible - released to the media by the NASA OIG - in clear violation of Section 508 requirements, by the way.

NASA inspector general urges Congress to stop wasting money on Constellation rocket program, Huntsville Times

"Constraining NASA's ability to stop spending money on aspects of a rocket program that the administration and Congress have both agreed to cancel while at the same time prohibiting the agency from beginning the follow-on program called for in the 2010 Authorization Act strikes us as a problem ripe for correction," Martin said in the letter to the Senate NASA oversight committee dated Thursday. "Accordingly, we urge Congress to take immediate action," Martin said, "that will enable NASA to reduce or cease funding aspects of the Constellation Program in order to more efficiently redirect these funds to the priorities outlined in the Authorization Act."

NASA Delivers Heavy Lift Proposal to Congress, Space News

"NASA told U.S. lawmakers Jan. 10 it intends to build a heavy-lift rocket that incorporates the space shuttle's main engines, giant external tank and taller versions of the solid-rocket boosters it jettisons on the way to orbit, according to a senior NASA official. However, neither the rocket nor the crew vehicle it would launch could be completed within the cost and schedule Congress outlined for the project late last year. Congress directed NASA last fall to get started this year on a multipurpose crew exploration vehicle and a heavy-lift rocket initially capable of hauling 70-100 metric tons of payload to orbit."

Keith's note: Hilarious - and typical. NASA is incapable of thinking outside of the box or letting go of old things. Nor can they stay within Congressional budget or schedule limitations. SpaceX has already outlined a way that they could do this for vastly less money - and most likely sooner.

But wait, there's more:

"Cooke said NASA expects to deliver a final report to Congress in the spring pending the results of a slew of heavy-lift launch vehicle study contracts awarded to 13 U.S. companies in November that are expected to yield a gamut of launch vehicle design proposals."

So NASA is telling Congress that it already has a HLV design that it wants to build - but that it cannot afford to build it or do so as Congress has asked. Yet NASA tells Congress anyway. Yet NASA is funding additional HLV studies? Why? It has already told Congress what its HLV is going to look like. Why waste money on these studies if you already have the answer? Shouldn't NASA do trade studies BEFORE picking a design - not after? This is starting to smell like Mike Griffin's ESAS all over again - and the same guy is running the show once again.

Human Exploration Framework Team Presentation Online, earlier post

Relaunch the U.S. space program, opinion, Rep. Ruppersberger, Baltimore Sun

"The president announced plans to cancel Constellation, the plan to return astronauts to the moon by 2020. This move jeopardizes an $11.5 billion investment, puts thousands of skilled scientists out of work, and shakes the very heart of the space industrial base."

Keith's note: Rep. Ruppersberger hasn't really been paying attention to recent events. SpaceX Launched a Dragon test vehicle on a Falcon 9 years ahead of any schedule NASA ever imagined for Orion and Ares 1 and did so for a fraction of what NASA spent on Constellation. For that $11.5 billion "investment" in Constellation, NASA produced nothing like Falcon/Dragon that ever came remotely close to flying. NASA "jeopardized" its "investment" all by itself. The White House simply sought to stop throwing good money after bad by cancelling Constellation.

Ruppersberger goes on to lament the fact that commercial crew transport services are being sent to Russia yet seems to be clueless that NASA is going out of its way to levy crew transport requirements on American companies that would hinder their ability to provide the same services that NASA throws at Russia. Russia is not - and will not - be called upon to adhere to these same requirements.

Prepared Statement by Michael Griffin 8 May 2003 (part 2)

"The base reliability of unmanned expendable vehicles seems to arouse concerns where that of the manned Shuttle system inexplicably does not. Many, if not most, unmanned payloads are of very high value, both for the importance of their mission, as well as in simple economic terms. The relevant question may be posed quite simplistically: What, precisely, are the precautions that we would take to safeguard a human crew that we would deliberately omit when launching, say, a billion-dollar Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission? The answer is, of course, "none". While we appropriately value human life very highly, the investment we make in most unmanned missions is quite sufficient to capture our full attention."

Testimony of Dr. Michael Griffin before the House Committee on Science, 27 October 1999

"We envision this Space Taxi to be industry owned and operated; however, the cost of development, production, and operation of the Space Taxi System would be paid for predominantly out of government funds because it satisfies unique NASA needs that are not currently aligned with those of commercial industry. The launching of this Space Taxi System, however, could be competed among commercial RLV or EELV suppliers that meet the cost and safety requirements. These future RLVs would be commercially developed with private capital and would be commercially owned and operated. Their development will be enabled by NASA's current and planned future investments in RLV technologies and could be enhanced by government-backed financial incentives, such as tax credits, loan guarantees or advanced purchase agreements. Once a truly commercial Space Station becomes operational or the current Space Station becomes sufficiently commercialized, NASA and industry launch needs will be in almost complete alignment, and a completely commercial Space Taxi may become a viable business opportunity. We strongly believe that industry ownership of the Space Taxi from initial operation is critical to enable the eventual development of such a commercial Space Station."


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This page is an archive of entries in the SLS and Orion category from January 2011.

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