It usually brings out thousands of screaming fans. The drumbeat starts, the bass fills in, and then it appears...The Strut. Mick Jagger walks on stage and all is well for the fans of our aging icon.
Unfortunately, that's not the case with ARES. MSFC and contractor engineers are looking at all sorts of band aids for the vibration problem that ARES is most prone to. The leading candidate this week is a "D" strut system between the first and second stage to reduce the vibration that will literally shake the crew to pieces. The Emperor is putting all of his chips on the table betting on the strut. But the contractors are forlorn. They know the strut has issues...and they know ARES will go away with the Emperor in short order. Its hard to work on something you know is headed for the trash heap of history.
Orion is also having problems with its thermal protection systems. The original material contemplated for the exterior of the capsule is not performing as desired. The answer: keep a piece of the Shuttle tile infrastructure and experts as a contingency.
The minions are also finding out how Orion probably should have been named Aquarius. Water landings are in its future to get rid of the weight associated with landing on land. The problem is that there isn't sufficient structural integrity for re-conditioning and reuse of the external capsule structure with all of the other weight reductions that have been accepted. Life cycle costs will be someone else's problem, as the plan now is to trash the vehicle structure and attempt re-use of its contents if at all possible.
We hope Mick Jagger will continue his Strut for years to come...but we think the curtain is about to come down on the Emperor and his poor excuse for a show. Watch for 3500 layoffs in the near future as the gap developing in his entertainment venue is realized.