News: July 2011 Archives

Failure Analysis of an EckAdams Office Chair from the Maintenance and Operations (M&O) Building,
NASA Engineering Directorate Materials Science Division Kennedy Space Center, Florida

"A 17 year old EckAdams model number 5353 chair was submitted for failure analysis when the cylinder of the chair failed during use. Both macroscopic and microscopic indications of fatigue were observed on the cylinder fracture surface, indicating that the cylinder progressively failed due to the bending stresses imparted on the cylinder during a reclining motion. The stress on the cylinder was likely exacerbated by failed welds that were observed between the chair back mounting plate and the base plate, which ...."

Keith's note: Yes, NASA KSC actually did a full-blown failure analysis of an old piece of office furniture that broke. That's right - an old office chair broke (surprise) and the rocket scientists descended upon it as if it were a Mishap Investigation Board - like the kind that you set up after a rocket blows up. Included in this analysis were detailed SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) and stereo microscopic imagery analysis. I would be willing to bet that the cost of this analysis certainly exceeded the cost of simply replacing the broken chair and that it vastly exceeded the actual value of the 17 year old chair itself. You hear people defending the way that NASA operates and then something like this shows up. You have to wonder if there is any common sense in the management manuals they use these days. I wonder if KSC PAO can dig up the actual cost of this CFA (Chair Failure Analysis).

Photo: Shuttle Bread

Photo: Celebrating the Last Shuttle Launch with Food - NASA Style

According to someone@nasa.gov: "The LCS SE&I group celebrated the launch of STS-135 with homemade Italian bread and cold cuts!! Checkout this work of art!!"

Remarks by the President in Twitter Town Hall, The White House

"Question: So a slight deviation from the economy -- we have a lot of questions, and this will be our last before we start reading some responses to your question -- about the space program. And this one from Ron: "Now that the space shuttle is gone, where does America stand in space exploration?"

THE PRESIDENT: We are still a leader in space exploration. But, frankly, I have been pushing NASA to revamp its vision. The shuttle did some extraordinary work in low-orbit experiments, the International Space Station, moving cargo. It was an extraordinary accomplishment and we're very proud of the work that it did. But now what we need is that next technological breakthrough.

We're still using the same models for space travel that we used with the Apollo program 30, 40 years ago. And so what we've said is, rather than keep on doing the same thing, let's invest in basic research around new technologies that can get us places faster, allow human space flight to last longer."

The Road Ahead

With the Shuttle Program Ending, Fears of Decline at NASA, NY Times

"Space experts say the best and brightest often head for the doors when rocket lines get marked for extinction, dampening morale and creating hidden threats. They call it the "Team B" effect. "The good guys see the end coming and leave," said Albert D. Wheelon, a former aerospace executive and Central Intelligence Agency official. "You're left with the B students." NASA acknowledges the effect and its attendant dangers. It has taken hundreds of steps, including retention bonuses for skilled employees, new perks like travel benefits and more safety drills. Through cuts and attrition in recent years, the shuttle work force has declined to 7,000 workers from about 17,000."

After space shuttle program, NASA's future still bright, opinion, Waleed Abdalati and Robert Braun, Baltimore Sun

"By continuing to take on grand challenges in human spaceflight and science, NASA will catalyze America's innovation engine and play a significant role in America's economic recovery. By taking humans to places never before visited, by developing technologies that will serve society in broad ways, some that we cannot yet anticipate, and by empowering us to understand our world, our solar system, and our place in the universe, NASA will continue to serve our nation well into the future. The future is waiting; it's time to claim it."

Keith's 1 July update: According to NASA SMD: this is what SMD paid for the reception: "Planetary Program costs: $37.5K, which included the NASM facility rental, rental for chairs/stage/tables/etc, a/v, music, lighting and rigging, delivery, taxes." That's $37,500 that could have been spent on science. Instead, Ed Weiler spends it on a party.

Keith's 30 June update: According to the AAS: "AAS handled the reception, the costs of which were covered by the corporate sponsors. Over 250 people attended, and the cost per person for food was approximately $48." AAS did not handle rental for the facility, travel costs, media or any of the other things associated with this event. Rental of the floor space alone is in the range of $25,000 - even when discounted for NASA by NASM. NASA clearly wrote some large checks - and the money came from SMD - and that is money that was not available to be spent on actual EPO - or science. Yet last night at the reception SMD people were telling attendees (in response to my Twitter posts) that "no SMD money was used". I am waiting for SMD to tell me what the cost to NASA was. Stay tuned.

Earlier post below

Message from the Administrator: What's Next for NASA

"In just a couple of hours, I am delivering an address at the National Press Club to talk about NASA's future, and before I do so, I wanted to share with you what I'm going to be discussing. You can also watch the speech at 1:00 P.M. EDT on NASA TV or the Web, or if you are at Headquarters, in the James Webb Auditorium. ... Some say that our final shuttle mission will mark the end of America's 50 years of dominance in human spaceflight. As a former astronaut and the current NASA Administrator, I want to tell you that American leadership in space will continue for at least the next half-century because we have laid the foundation for success - and here at NASA failure is not an option."


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This page is an archive of entries in the News category from July 2011.

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