Thursday, December 4, 2008

Complexity Bites

"Amazingly complex."

"Incredibly complex."

Such is the rationale Doug McCuistion offered for charging us taxpayers yet another $400M to what started as a $650M mission and is now going north of $2B. Once again, the Emperor presides over another gap...delaying a return visit to Mars to 2011.

Is it any wonder they are paying the Russians $47M for a $20M ride to ISS?

The destruction of Nasa's program management skills by the Emperor's hand is now complete. Not even JPL can deliver a reliable vehicle on time within budget.

And what should be done next is not complex at all. It's very simple, really.

It's time to open a new gap...on the 9th floor on E Street.


Anonymous said...

JPL has been pretty sad for a long time.

They lost 3 mars missions in a row in
the late 90's MO MCO and MPL
if i have it right.

They had some success with Pathfinder
but then they started doing the JPL Bloat.

Galileo and Cassini were insanely overweight
and overbudget.

JPL has the bandwidth to mange 200-300 Million
dollar programs, when you give them
billions they just choke.

if they would just grind out Pathfinder
in mass production and just start
sending them in bulk, they'd really
do something.

Anonymous said...

What JPL does, they do very well (e.g.,Pathfinder). Ask them to stretch beyond that and it's next to impossible.

Anonymous said...

Those first two comments are tragically simplistic. MSL is clearly a screw-up, but I doubt either of those posters has the behind the scenes reach to back-up their driveby opinions. Let the stories be written (seems like there was at least one already) or have something to back up the femtodepth of your assertions. JPL is far from sad. MPF, MGS, Odyssey, MERs, MRO, Phoenix, Deep Impact, Stardust, SRTM, QuikSCAT (used for wx), Jason 1&2. Yeah, horrible missions those.

Time to start mod'ing the comments again.

Anonymous said...

Its all about the jobs.

Why else would you not build more Spirits and Opportunities with new science instruments to blanket Mars and achieve the goals of the one and only MSL?

Griffin said it today. Without new delivery systems no science would be funded. Harkens back to the old argument about no space program without humans.

Is there no middle ground?

Ben the Space Brit said...

I do have to say that I have always wondered why NASA did not respond to the obvious success of the MERs by sending more of them. Bulk production would save costs and they would be able to apply operational experience to fix known issues (like the wheel actuator and the software glitches) in order to ensure greater reliabiltiy.

MSL is a huge one-off but would be wasted if it was sent to the wrong place. Let the MER 'plague' identify the best site for more in-depth analysis before sending the bigger and more expensive probes after it.

Anonymous said...

It's the old, old problem with the mindset of NASA and many engineers. Doing something the first time is exciting, doing something the second time is boring. JPL wants to do NEW things, NASA wants to do NEW things, because it's challenging.

I have to say, the first time I saw the MSL landing movie, I nearly choked to death on my soda. How can anybody be surprised it's turned out more difficult than advertised?

Anonymous said...

Time to start mod'ing the comments again.

Because somebody said something you didn't like? That's why we have these problems, because people won't speak up. If somebody says something you don't like, or something you think is wrong, speak up, that's what comments are for.

It's rocket man's blog, if he sees something he doesn't like, he'll mod it. NASA is not Michael Griffin's organization, no matter what he happens to think about it. He's a caretaker who is supposed to exercise responsible stewardship over it. When things go wrong, he is supposed to take responsibility for it. Thus far I have seen nothing of the sort from either Michael Griffin or George W. Bush.

On the other hand I do believe that Alan Stern did resign recently.

Anonymous said...

Stern didn't resign exactly, he was pushed out.

Anonymous said...

I'm commercial propulsion and launch, reuse and recovery, sorry, can't help you there. Anybody know the scoop on Alan Stern's resignation/dismissal?

Anonymous said...

At this season of the America's sunset may reason prevail. There is no Ares I, no Ares V, no Orion, no Altair and no Vision for Space Exploration. There is only our failure as a nation in the natural world.

America's Vision for Space Exploration is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

Anonymous said...

Kt: How pithy. What's next? Delusional VSE haiku?