The Santa Ana winds are blowing harder now, reaching all the way to E Street. The flames are rising all around the fiddler as he furiously packs his bags in sight of those with torches and spears. The back door is open. Time to make way out of the city.
So you want specifics? Why ARES-1 will not work as designed? We have several problems to choose from, but let us remind you of one root problem, already mentioned here previously, that goes straight to the heart of your failures. Failure to lead, failure to gain credibility, failure to gain our trust.
The flight dynamics control problem for ARES-1 is complex. The rocket hammers its way into space plagued by a thrust oscillation problem brought on by vehicle scale (longer organ tubes make deeper tones). Yet another reason why steroids are bad for you. To keep our astronauts bladders intact, a counterpunch will be provided by oscillation cancelling thrusters at the base of the rocket.
But this multi-segmented, sort of, but not quite, leftover from the shuttle, solid rocket booster is also not very stiff when it is not attached to an external tank. So it will twist and bend like a piece of spaghetti being pushed from behind. To compensate for that another control system will fire rockets at the top of the first stage to keep it pointed uphill.
The Emperor claims these are all just problems to be encountered in the normal course of design. Thrust oscillation plagued the F1 rocket engine during its gestation period, he says. All true. But the von Braun team did not put their heads in the sand like the minions and forego physical testing to resolve the problem and verify the solution. Instead, they placed small bombs in the engine to induce instabilities and show that their eventual design solution would work under extreme conditions. Do we see any kind of in depth testing like that in the future on the ARES program? Of course not. It has all been removed from present day plans because of lack of budget to do what is needed and what is right.
But we digress. Back to the specific example of why ARES is presently doomed and why most of the smiling minions do not grasp the seriousness of the situation (The ones that are not smiling have only two more weeks to hunker down and hope for better days ahead). No integrated simulation has yet been performed in the digital domain of the ARES-1 configuration instantiating the real control loops with the capabilities of the selected 1553 bus. With a bandwidth of less than 50 Hz, phase margins in the mid to high 30 degrees, and only about 50 words of control data available to keep the rocket pointed skyward, this bladder busting, twisting and turning bronco will not be tamed. Imagine Flicka being reined in with a piece of twine. Good luck keeping it from colliding with the launch tower after ignition as it drifts with the lightest of winds. Come back to us with the detailed simulation results and show how this will work! The Kettle is now calling out the Pot.
There’s some specifics for you. Mr. Emperor, please have your discussion with Mr. Nyquist and leave us out of your finger pointing next time you feel a need to whine. Silence Dogood and her brothers and sisters in the blogosphere will continue to such raise issues for public awareness and discussion. Morale is not bad because you are on a righteous path, the problems are hard, and the naysayers are ignorant. No, morale is bad because the core competency knows the problems are pathological and they seek to shine the light of understanding on the plague that is staining the core values and integrity of the last 50 years.
While you are able to quote Lord Acton, and ramble on in detailed analysis of why others are responsible for your failures, you yourself fail to grasp why the world is burning down around you. If the charts were more green than red we would know that risks were being managed. You take pride in saving $5B in a $160B program when the alternative wasn’t even technically feasible? Pshaw! You still fight the ghosts of a previous time castigating EELVs instead of looking inside to find the error of your ways? You wonder what Seamans would have thought? He already told us, “I knew James Webb, and the Emperor is no James Webb.” Did you forget that already?
Trust, credibility, and leadership are the pieces missing from the whole cloth. Time to step aside and let someone who understands this lead us out of the dark alley you have left us in.