SLS and Orion: July 2016 Archives

A new, independent review of the Orion spacecraft is pretty damning, Ars Technica

"Despite these concerns, NASA is pressing ahead with an effort to try and accelerate development of Orion to enable an August 2021 launch of Exploration Mission-2. Yet the GAO found this scenario improbable. "To stay on the aggressive internal schedule, the agency is counting on receiving higher appropriated funds than what it plans to request, which may not be realistic in a constrained budget environment," the report states. There is low confidence - 40 percent - in NASA making the 2021 launch date, and the GAO believes this may not be a "beneficial strategy" for Orion in the long term."

- Double GAO Reports: SLS and Orion Cost and Risk Estimates Are Still Unreliable, earlier post
- Earlier posts on SLS and Orion

Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle: Action Needed to Improve Visibility into Cost, Schedule, and Capacity to Resolve Technical Challenges, GAO

"GAO found that the Orion program's cost and schedule estimates are not reliable based on best practices for producing high-quality estimates. Cost and schedule estimates play an important role in addressing technical risks. ... For example, the cost estimate lacked necessary support and the schedule estimate did not include the level of detail required for high-quality estimates. Without sound cost and schedule estimates, decision makers do not have a clear understanding of the cost and schedule risk inherent in the program or important information needed to make programmatic decisions. ... NASA and the Orion program have made some programmatic decisions that could further exacerbate cost and schedule risks. The Orion program is executing to an internal schedule with a launch readiness date of August 2021, which has a lower confidence level than its commitment baseline. This means that NASA is accepting higher cost and schedule risk associated with executing this schedule .... The lack of cost reserves has caused the program to defer work to address technical issues and stay within budget. As a result, the Orion program's reserves in future years could be overwhelmed by work being deferred. Program officials told GAO that they have not performed a formal analysis to understand the impact that delaying work might have on the available reserves since the program was confirmed. Without this type of analysis, program management may not have a complete understanding of how decisions made now will affect the longer-term execution of the program."

NASA Human Space Exploration: Opportunity Nears to Reassess Launch Vehicle and Ground Systems Cost and Schedule, GAO

"... the SLS program has not positioned itself well to provide accurate assessments of core stage progress - including forecasting impending schedule delays, cost overruns, and anticipated costs at completion - because at the time of our review it did not anticipate having the baseline to support full reporting on the core stage contract until summer 2016 - some 4.5 years after NASA awarded the contract. Further, unforeseen technical challenges are likely to arise once the program reaches its next phase, final integration for SLS and integration of SLS with its related Orion and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) human spaceflight programs. Any such unexpected challenges are likely to place further pressure on SLS cost and schedule reserves. ... NASA officials stated that this review will have limited discussion of cost and schedule. Proceeding ahead without reassessing resources, however, could result in the EGS or SLS program exhausting limited resources to maintain pace toward an optimistic November 2018 launch readiness date. ... In July 2015, GAO found that SLS's limited cost and schedule reserves were placing the program at increased risk of being unable to deliver the launch vehicle on time and within budget."

Earlier posts on SLS and Orion

Market doesn't justify reusable launchers, expendable rocket makers argue, Ars Technica

"Monday evening in Salt Lake City, some aerospace industry officials sat down to discuss this new development. The panel at an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics forum on propulsion had a provocative title, "Launch Vehicle Reusability: Holy Grail, Chasing Our Tail, or Somewhere in Between?" Moderator Dan Dumbacher said of the panel, "We purposefully tried to get a good cross-section of those who have been working on it." However, the panel included no one actually building reusable rockets and relied heavily on the old-guard perspective. Dumbacher himself, now a professor at Purdue University, previously managed development of the Space Launch System rocket for NASA, and he expressed doubt about the viability of reusable launch vehicles in 2014 by essentially saying that because NASA couldn't do it, it was difficult to see how others could."

Keith's note: Well of course SLS-hugger and former NASA SLS manager Dan Dumbacher can't see a world where the launch market is diverse in terms of customers, payloads, launch vehicles, and financing. He only has wetware that lets him see giant government-built rockets - so that is all that he can see.



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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the SLS and Orion category from July 2016.

SLS and Orion: May 2016 is the previous archive.

SLS and Orion: August 2016 is the next archive.

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