Friday, February 15, 2008

Spring Cleaning

The smells of spring are in the air. Pollen, dust, and rotting mulch. Time to get out the buckets, mops, and rags and tidy up the old homestead. Viceroy Hanley's domain is no different. And its about time for a clean sweep.

Handed his budget for this year, Hanley is having to make some drastic cut backs and hope for the best. Next week, at his management retreat in Utah (we wonder home much retreating will be accomplished among the skiing?), he'll lay out his reduced program for all of the minions to see. Systems engineering, the so far poorly stirred glue of the program, will be the first to suffer by the axe. As Squire Hardcastle departs, many of his fellow SIG (systems engineering group) buddies will be following him out the door as Hanley limits the participation in each SIG to but two people.

But the real cuts are going to be handed to the ARES Upper Stage effort. No amount of Formula 409 will be able to clean up the mess that is about to be spilled. With moths in his wallet, Hanley is going to cut back significantly (again) on propulsion system and structural testing of the stage. Despite the weight problem in the entire vehicle, he is also going to mandate that the minions in Huntsville dispense with the idea of building any part of it out of composites. Why give up this potential weight savings, you ask? Well, in the eyes of the program, metal is a lot easier (read: cheaper) to analyze. So by eliminating composites in the Upper Stage, Hanley can take a lot of analysis and test costs out of the development program. And, hey, if you're only flying four people to the space station, you just might make the weight with this approach after all.

Apollo on Slim-Fast, anyone?

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