Monday, June 2, 2008

Bad Summer Vacations

The dog days of the fiscal year aren't even here yet, but you can sense, like a bad launch gone badder, that an ill wind is blowing the Orion CEV back on to land.

All spring long, the contractor has been trying to keep up with change orders, accommodate unlikely failures, and find room for a certain astronaut's broom. Trade studies have been reformulated to figure out how to use unobtanium to provide contingency land landing capabilities. Effort has been expended to keep the CEV crew alive for 36 hours in their suits, with the hatch closed, bobbing like apples in the south Pacific awaiting Broomhilda's reprieve. ARIES can only do so much to reduce its bladder spattering vibration loads, so ORION must sponge up the rest. And resources have also been diverted for an alternate launch abort system, as if the first is not good enough (it probably isn't) to get the job done (Think Andy Rooney here: shouldn't the minions get their money back from the contractor if things don't work as advertised in the original proposal?).

All of that work does not come for free...and so the contractor is now getting ready to ask the Emperor to cover the first $80M overrun (or as the managers call it, "new business") this year. The same folks will ask their employees (who have already put in lots of unpaid overtime while their bosses take home the bonuses) to also take a mandatory two week summer vacation to off-load the budget.

That is, of course, if they can get the outstanding work done before they go AWOL.

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