Monday, December 29, 2008

Where Art Thou, John Young?

We need you now, more than ever, for the public relations onslaught, some would call it an outright war, continues today lacking your words of wisdom.

Instead another man who left behind the first boot print on the moon, the man who has kept quiet all these years, the man of honor and integrity, the man who heeds the call when called, was called by the man with none of the above. It's a shame that he has been taken advantage of in such a manner.

Fortunately, those casting spears once again in the direction of the Snow Princess and her elfish Changelings will once again fall short. The folks making the call on D Street are smelling the rotting fish in Denmark, or 14th street perhaps, ooops, sorry we do mean E Street, and will announce their new charge shortly.

And the theater of self destruction will finally come to a ignominious close.


Ben the Space Brit said...

Personally, I get the impression that a lot of the 'elder statesmen' of the space biz, and this includes Armstrong, are worried that Ares is the 'last chance saloon'. Their worry (probably nicely stoked by The Emperor whispering in their ear) is that if Ares is canned, any hope of a renewed beyond-LEO manned exploration agenda goes down with it. Hence the continual 'stay the course' messages. It isn't Ares they're defending, it is human space exploration.

I wonder if any of the alternate access plan teams have been in contact with Neil. Surely his old sparring partner Buzz must have told him about his own ideas in this area?

kT said...

It doesn't end there :

Edward F. Crawley
Orbital Sciences Corporation
Dulles , VA

Director Compensation (Orbital Sciences Corporation)

Fees earned or paid in cash
Stock awards
Total Compensation

Anonymous said...

The desperation shown by Team Griffin over the last few weeks is remarkable. I agree that Griffin's probably spreading "my way or the highway" talk, and that's got lots of folks worked up.

But the counter to this is Griffin's obvious fear of losing (a) his job; and (b) Ares I (and by association Ares V). There has got to be a LOT of stuff going on in the dark alleyways to get Team Griffin so panicked.

I have to wonder--what is it about alternatives to Ares I/V that has Team Griffin so afraid? All they ever say is, "Alternatives won't work," whereas they are having enormous troubles closing requirements on Ares I/V, which were obviously "supposed to work."

And as far as the "my way or the highway" stuff... I was in astronomy/space science back in the 80's and 90's, and was SO sick of the "support the space station or you'll pay the price" threats that NASA was using against scientists who weren't cheerleaders for the ISS. Even a pro-space person like me will eventually reach the point of saying, "I don't care; I'm tired of wasting good money."

Anonymous said...

14th Street - that's DoJ and Judiciary Square, right?

Anonymous said...

I think the Ares V should go ahead. We DO need a heavy lift launcher...That being said we do need to quit right now, goofing around with Ares 1...That horse won't pull...The lifting power for orion already exists. I am sure the thinking around NASA was saving jobs, but I think wasting billions being redundant is very counter-productive...

Anonymous said...

ARES I is clearly not needed and can be handily replaced by the Delta or Atlas.

ARES V cannot meet the lift needs associated with a real Altair that actually can support science for extended periods on the lunar surface. The present Lunar lander masses are totally bogus and do not represent any functionality. Hence ARES V cannot truly be justified as completing any particular job. At best it can deliver partially fueled vehicles to LEO or deliver partial elements to Lunar orbit. That level of function can be done by far smaller and more economic launchers.

This situation serves to illustrate the poor selection of architecture. The focus is on individual missions, wholly disconnected, which leave no foundations to build upon and can scarcely do better than Apollo. All elements of the EDS, and ALtair are destroyed or discarded- despite the fact that they are readily reuseable. There are unique propulsion systems for nearly every element and no thought given to commonality beyond wishful thinking.

The solution to this is plain: stop thinking about individual missions! Think about a continuing presence. You don't get to come home after a few days. You get to stay for 180 days at least. Think about a continuing delivery of propellants, spares, science cargos etc based on an unbroken series of launches from the most economic launchers. That means sharing launch infrastructure and hardware with non-lunar folks.

Now lets imagine what is required to make this happen. We need extensive, reliable automated rendezvous, docking and landing- not giant single purpose launchers. We need robust orbital logistics and flight-crew based mission planning - not single shot use it or lose it LEO rendezvous. We need a workable system of long duration cryogenic storage both on the lunar surface and in space- not a half baked "loiter ring". In short we need a new way of thinking about what our purpose is in even bothering to go to the moon.

I really do not think that any of the famous figures referred to in the article have given this any serious thought. They are simply talking off the cuff. Their experience base is with a short duration "hold your breath and pray" mission design modeled after military operations. Marginal vehicle/mission designs were held together by their talent and extensive training. They should be proud of their accomplishments but that is not a recipe for success over the long haul. It should be obvious from the rampant enthusiasm for lunar missions after Apollo 14 that the perceived utility of this kind of "exploration" is minimal- by both the science community and Joe the Plumber. Trying to replicate this via ARES, Altair and Orion is simple folly.