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NASA Orion crew exploration vehicle (updates)

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FloatingFatMan    17,902
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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Unobscured Vision    2,650
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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FloatingFatMan    17,902

Awesome answer, @Unobscured Vision! :p 

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DocM    16,319

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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Unobscured Vision    2,650
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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FloatingFatMan    17,902

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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Unobscured Vision    2,650

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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FloatingFatMan    17,902

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

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DocM    16,319
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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Unobscured Vision    2,650

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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DocM    16,319

Several industry tweets referencing this,

 

 

 

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Beittil    561

LM congress critters are gonna have some angry lobbyists on the phone :D

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DocM    16,319

The reason is in the crewed EM-1 report: NASA is still not confident about Orion's AvCoat heat shield. It worked for the much lighter Apollo, but Orion is a different kettle of fish.

 

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, NASA considered PICA for Orion, which is a form of what SpaceX uses in Dragon. They didn't bite, and probably should have.

 

 

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Unobscured Vision    2,650

Can't say we didn't see this coming. All of the delays, funding overruns, more delays, politics, problems with engineering, etc.

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DocM    16,319

The Orion's complex & heavy "tractor tower" system seems more than a bit Rube Goldberg-ish compared to the compact "integrated pusher" systems developed for Commercial Crew (Crew Dragon, Starliner and Dream Chaser) and by Blue Origin for their suborbital capsule.

 

Grandson of Little Joe, 

 

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-moves-up-critical-crew-safety-launch-abort-test

 

Quote

NASA Moves Up Critical Crew Safety Launch Abort Test

 

NASA’s Orion spacecraft is scheduled to undergo a design test in April 2019 of the capsule’s launch abort system (LAS), which is a rocket-powered tower on top of the crew module built to very quickly get astronauts safely away from their launch vehicle if there is a problem during ascent.

This full-stress test of the LAS, called Ascent Abort Test 2 (AA-2), will see a booster, provided by Orbital ATK, launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, carrying a fully functional LAS and a 22,000 pound Orion test vehicle to an altitude of 32,000 feet at Mach 1.3 (over 1,000 miles an hour).  At that point, the LAS’ powerful reverse-flow abort motor will fire, carrying the Orion test vehicle away from the missile. Timing is crucial as the abort events must match the abort timing requirements of the Orion spacecraft to the millisecond in order for the flight test data to be valid.

NASA is accelerating the timeline of the test to provide engineers with critical abort test data sooner to help validate computer models of the spacecraft’s LAS performance and system functions.

“This will be the only time we test a fully active launch abort system during ascent before we fly crew, so verifying that it works as predicted, in the event of an emergency, is a critical step before we put astronauts on board,” said Don Reed, manager of the Orion Program’s Flight Test Management Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “No matter what approach you take, having to move a 22,000-pound spacecraft away quickly from a catastrophic event, like a potential rocket failure, is extremely challenging.”
>
>

 

 

20171111084822640olub.jpg

 

 

 

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Unobscured Vision    2,650

Oh good grief. They aren't even doing chute testing?! Uuuuuuughh. :huh: :| :s :crazy: :angry: Can't even be efficient about it if they're gonna destroy the f#####g thing.

 

NASA thought processes are trash nowadays.

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DocM    16,319

Confirmed: SLS slips to 2020

 

We need an auctioneer for this schedule 

 

 

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Unobscured Vision    2,650

Can't say we didn't call it right down the middle ... expect way more of these, then cancellation. What a money pit.

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DocM    16,319

AARRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!! :argh:

 

 

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Unobscured Vision    2,650

Arrgh indeed.

 

If it were ME, or most other Engineers running this fiasco? I'd address this problem IMMEDIATELY. SLS Block-2 is going to be on the order of 25% heavier ... that warp towards the centerline is GOING to result in a collapse and destroy the rocket, possibly even kill people. I wouldn't leave this to chance. :no:

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Unobscured Vision    2,650

Thinking about this some more, and the masses involved that this thing needs to support -- I'm dumbfounded that they'd even consider leaving it as-is.

 

"Sure, let's allow something that has multi-hundreds of thousands of tonnes (or more -- likely more) to lean in one direction. Nothing bad could possibly happen."

 

Are they serious?! It's a disaster waiting to happen. Nothing short of that. It's gonna be Challenger all over again, but on the ground this time. Complete negligence.

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Beittil    561

Hey, it only cost almost a billion dollars... Not bad for something that gets exactly one use!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like... Wth mate 

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DocM    16,319

 

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flyingskippy    165

You can't make this stuff up........ 

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Unobscured Vision    2,650

Yeah @ all of the above. Crazy how all of that has transpired. Some couldn't be helped, most of it could. Indicative of the culture of dysfunction that is in dire need of therapy at NASA.

 

SpaceX is doing what they need to be doing. So are the Scientists and Operations people who have nothing to do with the missions that are going right now. The issues are Old Space and the culture of sheer waste that perpetuates it, along with that same culture that sabotages newcomers and otherwise operates with political interests overriding the advancement of the U.S. Space Program. To me, that's really the larger problem -- and why things are in the state they're in. NASA is a program of several different, competing mindsets right now because of it.

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