SLS and Orion: January 2014 Archives

NASA GRC Educational and Outreach Support for NASA's Orion Program

"NASA/GRC intends to contract to Alphaport, Inc. This is a follow-on effort to activities originally performed by Alphaport under contract NNC13QB53P in which Alphaport developed a visually library of Orion illustrations, graphics facts sheets, and other media products. Currently, Alphaport is the only contractor who has develop the initial media material and has the needed understanding of the media activities to complete the SOW requirements in the limited time available to support Orion Exploration Flight Test 1."

Keith's update: Huh? Just what have HEOMD and NASA PAO been doing the past several years? Why does GRC need to develop "a visually library of Orion illustrations, graphics facts sheets, and other media products" in addition to what HEOMD and PAO have already developed? Why does NASA constantly need to have multiple teams doing the same thing? And how can GRC possibly state that Alphaport is "the only contractor" with this capability? And yet everyone in the EPO and PAO world is constantly whining about not having enough money. Gee, I wonder why.

- NASA's Tangled Human Spaceflight Web Presence, earlier post

Space Launch System Program (SLSP) Lgistics Support Analysis (LSA) Report 26 April 2013, NASA

Page 14 of 149: "Given the SLS Block 1 launch processing manifest (4-5 years with little to no activities), there is a potential of not having sufficiently trained personnel. Issue - Yellow (May require personnel with advanced skills not readily available)"

Space Launch System Program (SLSP) Integrated Logistics Support plan (ILSP), Version 1, 15 April 2013 , NASA

Page 8 of 111: "The developmental approach for the SLSP, consisting of 2 exploratory missions years apart, followed years later by the operations phase, presents unique logistics challenges."

NASA Conducts Orion Parachute Test

"Engineers testing the parachute system for NASA's Orion spacecraft increased the complexity of their tests Thursday, Jan. 16, adding the jettison of hardware designed to keep the capsule safe during flight. The test was the first to give engineers in-air data on the performance of the system that jettisons Orion's forward bay cover. The cover is a shell that fits over Orion's crew module to protect the spacecraft during launch, orbital flight and re-entry into Earth's atmosphere. When Orion returns from space, the cover must come off before the spacecraft's parachutes can deploy. It must be jettisoned high above the ground in order for the parachutes to unfurl."

SpaceX Tests Dragon Parachute System

"Engineers and safety specialists from NASA and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) gathered in Morro Bay, Calif., in late December to demonstrate how the company's Dragon spacecraft's parachute system would function in the event of an emergency on the launch pad or during ascent. The test was part of an optional milestone under NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative and approved by the agency in August."

Continued Victories for Planetary Exploration, Planetary Society

"The book is not closed on 2014. Now that NASA has its money, it has to spend it. It does this through its operating plan, where the agency can make minor adjustments to project funding based on programmatic needs. Last year NASA abused this process and tried to shift all additional money allocated for Planetary Science by Congress to unrelated projects. I feel that this is unlikely to happen again, but it's something that we will be watching closely. I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes you have to ensure that NASA spends planetary money on planetary projects."

The big problem with the "big win" for NASA's exploration program budget, Houston Chronicle

"Sen. Bill Nelson, who chairs the Senate subcommittee that oversees NASA, and bills himself as "one of the leading architects of a plan to build a new monster rocket and crew capsule for deep space exploration," said of the plan, "This is a big win." NASA's administrator, Charles Bolden, also praised the budget deal. This is the same Nelson who along with other congressional leaders and the White House agreed on a budget plan to fund and build the SLS and Orion during the summer of 2010 (see authorizing legislation). In that bill Congress called, for example, in fiscal year 2013 to fund the SLS rocket at a level of $2.64 billion. It received significantly less than that in fiscal year 2013. And one would presume funding along those lines, or more, would be needed as the SLS rocket program was building up toward a 2017 test launch. So what did the government give NASA in the new budget for fiscal year 2014? $1.6 billion."

Keith's note: Let's see what the FY 2015 Budget looks like. Those projects that benefited from the FY 2014 budget may see different news in a few weeks. And some projects that did not benefit in FY 2014 may well do even worse in FY 2015. Alas, everyone seems to be parroting the buzz phrase "flat is the new up". When your budget is supposed to be ramping up, "flat" is a budget cut folks.

Once the dust settles is will become clear that there is still not enough money for everything. Congress is going to fund SLS/Orion no matter what the White House or NASA wants them to do and they will raid commercial crew and technology budgets to do so. And when Congress realizes that even more money for SLS is needed it will go back and take more. The asteroid mission is one step away from dead as far as Congress is concerned. Commercial crew is substantially underfunded and will not be able to continue at NASA's advertised pace of flying its first crew in 2017. And despite all of this, the space science crowd thinks that they are somehow immune from these pressures and should be given more money. They are in for a shock.

NASA's Decision Process for Conducting Space Launch System Core Stage Testing at Stennis, NASA OIG

"Similar to the OIG's conclusions 5 years ago, the OIG found that NASA failed to follow its internal policies or its agreement with the DOD when it decided to spend approximately $352 million to refurbish and test the SLS core stage on the B-2 test stand at Stennis. Moreover, the OIG found that NASA did not adequately support its decision given that refurbishing the B-2 stand will be more costly and take longer than two other possible options: an Air Force test stand at Edwards Air Force Base in California and a test stand at the Marshall Space Flight Center. In addition, although SLS Program managers spent considerable time and money studying the B-2 option, they gave the joint NASA-DOD testing board minimal time to assess the cost, schedule, and risks of the other test stand options."

NASA OIG: Final Memorandum on the Review of NASA's Plan to Build the A-3 Facility for Rocket Propulsion Testing (2008)

"We found that NASA's Upper Stage Engine (USE) Element Manager, located at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, reviewed the J-2X rocket propulsion testing options and selected the A-3 test stand to be built at Stennis without the required formal reviews or recommendations of the NRPTA, or NASA's RPTMB."

NASA's Defunct Project Survives on Mississippi Pork, Bloomberg

"NASA will complete a $350 million tower to test rocket engines for a program that was canceled in 2010. The A-3 test stand will be finished early this year at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Its funding survived thanks to Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican from that state who supported the test stand's completion even though NASA doesn't need it."

The NASA Launchpad To Nowhere, Time

"Congress ordered NASA to complete a $350 million rocket-testing structure that may never be used, Bloomberg News reports. The 300-foot tower at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi was designed to test how the Ares I and Ares V engines would work at high altitudes, for rockets under development that would send people into space and up to the moon. But the project was scrapped after the Constellation program spearheaded by former President George W. Bush was cancelled in 2010."

Watchdogs hit NASA for spending $352 million in Mississippi on test stand already in Huntsville, Huntsville Times

"Federal watchdogs today criticized NASA for spending $352 million to refurbish a Mississippi test stand for critical upcoming tests on the Space Launch System when cheaper test stands were available faster in Huntsville and California. NASA responded by admitting it didn't follow its own rules and agreements, but "is confident it made the right decision."


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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the SLS and Orion category from January 2014.

SLS and Orion: December 2013 is the previous archive.

SLS and Orion: February 2014 is the next archive.

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