For you late arrivals, perhaps its time to recount where we are at today.
When a guy in the launch systems group loses his job and his SES for "procurement abnormalities" at MSFC. We lit a candle that this extends all the way back to Steve Cook eventually. In the mean time, Steve is campaigning hard for Dave King's job when he retires. We guess if you can't find a job befitting your skills, you might as well float to the top like a snickers bar in the pool.
ORION is 1500 lbs overweight and doesn't know where to land yet. First crewed flight now confidently placed in 2016. Yet the schedules everyone is working to still say 2013? Yet no more money is available to work off the menacing stack of risks building up on the side, the result of trying to turn 30 days of pony-tailed engineering on napkins into a real flight vehicle.
ARES 1 is shaking itself to bits, but if you tweak the unanchored models in the right direction you can begin to see how the leaf springs on your '57 Ford truck might keep an astronaut's bladder from shredding. Garry Lyles, allow us to introduce you to GIGO!
The Roger Clemmons memorial ARES V is too small. Can't support the lunar outpost logistics train at two flights a year as envisioned. Needs more Wheaties.
Soyuz has yet another failure that makes for a very rough ride and close call for the returning ISS crew. At least we know ballistic re-entries work, having tested them three times now. Nothing like 10 g in the seat after zero-g for six months. Jellow shots or not.
So now Soyuz has become unreliable, right up there with the space shuttle on some level. Could that also be why the Emperor decided to inform Congressfolk that he would not seek funds for more Soyuz rides to fill his self-imposed gap after 2011? At least we won't be held hostage to the Russians for transportation to ISS. We'll just handcuff ourselves instead. Does anyone really believe that COTS is going to fill that gap (and, oh by the way, SpaceX just renegotiated their plans to the right by another nine months)? Imagine the embarrassment to the Emperor and the minions if THAT happened. With less money, less time, and less experience, someone is going to produce an ISS crew carrying vehicle five years in advance of the Emperor's wet dream? Want to put odds on that?
Of course not!
Is it possible that the Chief Engineer of the Universe does not have some grand game plan, is really that inept, to let our strategic access to space become nothing less than a big gamble? We think not. So what is going on here? We'll give you a hint: ISS is done in 2016.