Saturday, August 16, 2008

COTS? Maybe Not?

Right on the heels of the Falcon 1 splash, comes a major milestone for the pinch hitters, and potential holders of the COTS flame, Orbital.

Anyone care to bet how that came out?

You guessed it! They didn't pass the milestone.

Maybe its time to paint the horses red, white, and blue again for good luck?

Out on the left coast, our other friends are getting ready to splash another one. QA is all but in hiding. Pinhole hydraulic leaks are patched with silicon instead of getting a more productive repair. Can't make any money sitting on the ground. Get the thing in the air!

Anyone care to bet on that little roll motion that set up during the last launch will eat the next launch's lunch?

The Russians still haven't figured out what's going wrong with their separation bolts either. As they dance through Georgia, we can see that they may be distracted from worrying about such mundane things.

Hard to believe that the most reliable way of getting to the space station is something called a space shuttle. All the folks scrambling to grab an orbiter for their museums when the system is retired probably might want to get some rest. Instead, they may want to start looking around for the couple of $B it's going to take to refurb them, not as museum pieces, but for extended flight well into the next decade.


Anonymous said...

Let's go back to a tank design that didn't shower the shuttle with styrefoam ice chests that could be blissfully explained away by people well beyond their level of competence.

The system has the advantage of having been proven to work. Yes, we have paid for that proof - big time. To simply put it away and risk loss of the investment in Station is the height of folly.

Or, we can stand back and hope that the biggest pieces of the station land upon the most deserving recipients because they never counted on political concerns placing our access to space in jeopardy. In their defense, they are the same ones that told us to plan on a 90 day contingency for station in the event that we lost the capability to launch! Then we spent 6 months looking for a hydrogen leak on the shuttle! You know about the rest of the lengthy delays in launch capability.

I listened to a presentation by Burt Rutan in which he really took NASA to task for throwing away successful systems in an effort to build something more complex and less successful. We had access to space, emphasis upon the word "had".

"Faster, better, cheaper" is just one more management platitude that obscures the fact that bad decisions have been made, realized and now, overlooked on purpose.

There is no excuse for not doing the job right the first time.

Well, at least the cold war holds the promise of needing some immediate talent!

kT said...

This post is making some pretty big waves over at NSF. They seem to be deeply disturbed that you are an accountant from Afghanistan.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how they found out? I would have thought that my day job at the Kangaroo gas station would have fooled them for years!

Shouldn't have to worry too much though, the fox is waaaayyyyy too busy guarding the hen house!

Anonymous said...

And to think it was just a year ago that Rocketplane Kistler presented NASA with $300 million in commitments for private capital to complete the K-1. NASA said no, NASA won't give you more time to raise the rest of what you need . . .

Anonymous said...

Does anybody realize that the design documentation is going through the boards with very little to no review at all?

One review out of 20 appears to be sufficient for passage.

"Looks okay to me" is heard all too often in those meetings.

Anonymous said...

The Emperor simply does not want anything to compete with his abominable designs. So we pick eccentric designs being done by the least competent and least proven design teams. Then you starve them for money and create contracts which have no reward in them even if they succeed.

When you selectively breed for failure that is what you will get. The Emperor has effectively cornered US launch vehicle and spacecraft design for at least the next 5 years. The ARES I is unflyable, won't see vacuum until 2015 it they are lucky and is ultimately unaffordable. The Shuttle, even if extended to the max, cannot do much more than starve other projects of needed funding while preserving a facade of national pride. The real, workable solutions involve using our existing ELLV assets but they have been stiff-armed so many times it is doubtful that ULA will become engaged without a long-term launch contract that makes it worth their while to be sucked into the NASA whirlpool of uncertainty.

The next administrator has his work cut out for him/her. I pity the foo'.....

marsavian said...

Your OSC information is incorrect, they have passed all 3 milestones easily which comes directly from their Vice President. The only problem has been on NASA's side as they have changed, after the award was given, what connector they want Cygnus to dock with from CAS to CBM which will involve design changes.