Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sent To the Showers

Preliminary Design Reviews, or PDRs, are the time when design feasibility is assessed and engineers start to get the warm fuzzies about their new creations. With a little elbow grease, midnight oil, and cad work you start to see the way forward to the next milestone of Critical Design Review.

Or NOT, as in the case of the ARES 1 first stage.

Recently, an attempt at a PDR by ATK was called up short by the minions. Not even a goatee could make you feel warm and fuzzy that day. Having failed in their quest to show some level of design maturity, ATK was not even allowed to finish their presentations and were sent back to the showers to try again. And, oh, by the way, none of the ARES 1 designs at PDR, including the upper stage, include any of the modifications that will be required to turn the bladder basher into a real human space transportation system. That will come later. Makes one wonder why the PDR was scheduled if the design is that immature and missing pieces, don't it?

Like leaky seals in space shuttle boosters, this failure to perform required some "fixing up" back home in Utah. The organizational repercussions were quite visible as our old friend Ron D. had to step sideways to make room for man without portfolio, Carl M. Suffice to say, Mr. M will likely make his mark on the group quickly.

We will just offer him one piece of advice from our knothole in the world. Don't waste a lot of time working the PDR problem. Instead, go figure out how to satisfy the shareholders after ARES-1 is cancelled.

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