260 posts in this topic

1 hour ago, Unobscured Vision said:

.... called it. :no: 

 

Are we getting tired of being right? Maybe NASA needs to hire us.  

 

No, scratch that. I wouldn't want to inherit that mess.

What if NASA gave you such a position that you could scrap their funding of this thing? ;)

 

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17 minutes ago, FloatingFatMan said:

What if NASA gave you such a position that you could scrap their funding of this thing? ;)

 

Awesome question, FFM. :)

 

Would I scrap the funding? That's actually not up to NASA Administration. Congress is funding it directly. NASA Administration can make recommendations based on status and management reports, though. The next question would be "Would I recommend termination of the program?" -- yes. I would recommend that the SLS and Orion programs be terminated. I would then recommend that the funding that was already allocated for SLS/Orion be diverted, at least partially, into the Commercial Crew Program so that it could be fast-tracked into an on-line status without any further interference or delays. And yes, that also includes Starliner.

 

Investigation: People are going to be held responsible for the overruns and mismanagement of the SLS/Orion Project as a whole. This will include looking into the severe cost overruns by Contractors for work that should have been foreseen as well as (for example) for existing facilities that could have been used (and simply upgraded) instead of entirely new ones that would be used perhaps six times that cost $80~100 million to build. Does the Administration "rock the boat" by doing this? That's the whole point. Contractors are abusing the system, and that behavior needs to end.

 

"Draining the Swamp": There is a significant percentage of NASA Personnel who are "serving more than one master". We all know what that means. I'm convinced that the infiltration of NASA Management and Operations, at all levels, by individuals whom are not working in a neutral and objectively professional manner needs to end. All this becomes is bad comedy, and nobody's laughing anymore. IF I was to have such a position and had the means to discover who these individuals were, they would be presented with ONE opportunity to fess up or they'd be charged with a laundry list of MCMJ, UCMJ and Civil Service violations. I'd still release them from employment, of course -- but they'd have the opportunity to avoid Federal Prosecution. NASA may be the Civilian Space Program, but the FACILITIES are still Government and subject to those laws. That's how we handle that. :yes: 

1 hour ago, DocM said:

 

 

Wow. :no: 

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Yes. The idea of Trump restarting the Space Council is to regain the control administrations had, but was handed over to Congress when the old Space Council was disbanded. Congress, as usual,has used NASA as a pork project machine ever since. Lots of make-work and going in circles (LEO), but not going anywhere new or actually having to produce a product on time/on budget. Tons of abuse.

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4 minutes ago, FloatingFatMan said:

Awesome answer, @Unobscured Vision! :p 

You're welcome, @FloatingFatMan. :) There's probably a whole laundry list of items that need to happen along with that, but it's the short one.

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TBH, I think the whole issue of what's going on with NASA and contractors just proves that government really should just get out of the launch business and instead divert that funding towards companies REALLY capable of getting us out there, like SpaceX.  Change NASA into more of just a research group than it already is and not worry about the actual expensive part of going out there themselves.

 

With people like Musk and Bigelow around, determined to not only get us out there, but to do it affordably, NASA would be much better off just working with them for actual launch and station capability.

 

I just wish all this could happen faster! I'm not getting any younger and I really REALLY want to see a viable Mars base in my lifetime!

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Well that's just it. That's all NASA does now. They publish a list of requirements for such-and-such a Mission Campaign, and the Contractors bid on it. The issue now is that NASA Managers keep adding and/or changing the requirements, and a lot of them are completely and utterly unneeded or unnecessary. Even unreasonable. Especially when it comes to SpaceX's Dragon and Dragon 2.

 

Time was, there was Rockwell, Boeing, Martin-Marietta, Grumman, Lockheed, Douglas, Aerojet Rocketdyne and more that actually built the stuff. "OldSpace". Now there's SpaceX and Blue ("NewSpace") added to whoever's left. Blue are the only ones willing to work with OldSpace (-- and they need to watch their back imo).

 

ULA (Boeing/LockMart cooperative venture) appear to be the dirtiest player of all the OldSpace companies. The depths they'll stoop to are just ... nasty. No deed too dirty. If it's even a convenient bit of bad welding, leave it to them and it'll be done badly. I think this thing with the SLS tank welds is a work. They've probably run into an issue with some other part of the rocket where they needed more time as a whole and thought "how can we buy more time? Hey, how about we just botch the tank welds?! That'll buy us YEARS." ...

 

I know it's far-fetched, but I can't help thinking that this level of incompetence HAD to be deliberate with the tank welds. ULA/LockMart Engineers are WAY too cautious to let something like this "just happen".

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Yeah, there's no way those welds got like that by accident. No one in that industry is that incompetent.

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5 hours ago, Unobscured Vision said:

Well that's just it. That's all NASA does now. They publish a list of requirements for such-and-such a Mission Campaign, and the Contractors bid on it. The issue now is that NASA Managers keep adding and/or changing the requirements, and a lot of them are completely and utterly unneeded or unnecessary. Even unreasonable. Especially when it comes to SpaceX's Dragon and Dragon 2.

>

There are a few things happening,

 

Debacles like SLS or Orion happen because Congress thought using Shuttle-derived components, designed and built using 1960's and 1970's tech, would make Ares I and Ares V less costly. Wrong! The adaptation costs exceeded the cost of a white-paper modern design using modern (2000's) production methods.

 

Because Congress has meddled so often, micromanaging NASA to the n'th degree, it has become risk-averse in design and operation. Part of this is over-management, lean and mean never crosses the 6th floors mind in Houston.

 

Example: the X-33 testbed for Venture Star was cancelled after the composite tanks had issues. It could have flown early missions with aluminum tanks, but Congress meddled and it was cancelled. The composite issues were solved shortly after. 

 

Contractors for existing programs also drive bad decisions by pressuring their local congressmen and senators in order to save their piece of the budget pie.

 

Example:  after Challenger was lost, and actually long before, the Space Shuttle was known to be an unsafe design - too Congress driven choices were made.  Columbia was nearly lost on its first flight, STS-1, because of reflected shockwaves nearly ripping  part of the tail off at liftoff.

 

A program was begun during the Reagan administration to replace Shuttle by the mid-1990's with 2 vehicles; the HL-20 PLS crew taxi, and it's larger brother the HL-42 crew-cargo vehicle. Both would be launched on the Titan rocket, and later on Atlas or Delta. Both were cancelled just as preparations for a test flight were ramping up. Shuttle contractors used politics to kill them. 

 

Today HL-20 has been revived as the Sierra Nevada Corp. Dream Chaser spaceplane, and we see political influences slowing down Crew Dragon's test flights so Starliner can catch up after it's many serious problems. Not to say Crew Dragon hasn't had problems, but they're down to only a few milestones and those flights make up 3 of them (DM-1, Flight Abort and DM-2). Starliner has a bunch.

 

HL-20/HL-42

hl20hl42.jpg

 

HL-42 cargo

 

hl42vers.jpg

 

 

Edited by DocM

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Yep, yep, and yep. I can't count how many times political influence has trashed potentially useful and technologically superior projects just because their organizations didn't think of it first. And then their organizations' alternative is "tried-and-tested technologies that will mitigate risk" -- aka "the old stuff" that they will sell at a higher markup than ever before.

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