Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This Won't Hurt a Bit.

Remember that nurse in grade school that made you pull down your shorts for a shot? Remember how you think she did it, not to make you feel better, but because she wanted to enjoy in your terror. You know the one...

The "nurses" building Orion would derive the same sense of pleasure, pulling down the shorts of the Emperor, if he had any. You know they would have a small grin on their face as they reach around to calm him down, just before sticking the red hot poker of an increased price tag in front of him.


That's what the Nurse Karas has his team preparing to ask for right now. Subcontractors are being asked to providing support for their claims of increased cost, as is the internal team that has been collecting new requirements from the minions, waiting for this day. With the Russians' Soyuz problems, COTS delays, and the Chinese knocking at the door, what better time to go in asking for a handout?

The Emperor has been telling Congressfolk that $2,000,000,000.00 would pull in the schedule of Orion to 2013. We're guessing now, that even if that $2,000,000,000.00 magically appeared, the new price tag means that Orion just slipped to 2016. And if the other funds, don't appear?

"Bend over and take it like a man, son..."

Friday, April 25, 2008

Procurement Peccadillo

Alas, "procurement irregularities" turns out to be just another way of saying, "thinking with the wrong head" and then then trying to inappropriately quiet someone who noticed you "thinking." An age old problem, but not compromising in any way to any competition, past or present.

We've kept the candle lit though. One can always hope.

History Repeats?

"I don't see this as a major problem," Bill Gerstenmaier said in NASA's first comments about the recent Soyuz ballastic entry and raucous landing.


"I don't see this as a major problem," Ron Dittemore said in NASA's first comments about foam breaking away from the External Tank and impacting the space shuttle.

When Abnormal is Normal

For you late arrivals, perhaps its time to recount where we are at today.

When a guy in the launch systems group loses his job and his SES for "procurement abnormalities" at MSFC. We lit a candle that this extends all the way back to Steve Cook eventually. In the mean time, Steve is campaigning hard for Dave King's job when he retires. We guess if you can't find a job befitting your skills, you might as well float to the top like a snickers bar in the pool.

ORION is 1500 lbs overweight and doesn't know where to land yet. First crewed flight now confidently placed in 2016. Yet the schedules everyone is working to still say 2013? Yet no more money is available to work off the menacing stack of risks building up on the side, the result of trying to turn 30 days of pony-tailed engineering on napkins into a real flight vehicle.

ARES 1 is shaking itself to bits, but if you tweak the unanchored models in the right direction you can begin to see how the leaf springs on your '57 Ford truck might keep an astronaut's bladder from shredding. Garry Lyles, allow us to introduce you to GIGO!

The Roger Clemmons memorial ARES V is too small. Can't support the lunar outpost logistics train at two flights a year as envisioned. Needs more Wheaties.

Soyuz has yet another failure that makes for a very rough ride and close call for the returning ISS crew. At least we know ballistic re-entries work, having tested them three times now. Nothing like 10 g in the seat after zero-g for six months. Jellow shots or not.

So now Soyuz has become unreliable, right up there with the space shuttle on some level. Could that also be why the Emperor decided to inform Congressfolk that he would not seek funds for more Soyuz rides to fill his self-imposed gap after 2011? At least we won't be held hostage to the Russians for transportation to ISS. We'll just handcuff ourselves instead. Does anyone really believe that COTS is going to fill that gap (and, oh by the way, SpaceX just renegotiated their plans to the right by another nine months)? Imagine the embarrassment to the Emperor and the minions if THAT happened. With less money, less time, and less experience, someone is going to produce an ISS crew carrying vehicle five years in advance of the Emperor's wet dream? Want to put odds on that?

Of course not!

Is it possible that the Chief Engineer of the Universe does not have some grand game plan, is really that inept, to let our strategic access to space become nothing less than a big gamble? We think not. So what is going on here? We'll give you a hint: ISS is done in 2016.

More tomorrow....

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sipping the Truth

Veteran cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko has closed the book on allegations he took a sip of alcohol while serving aboard the International Space Station, according to Russian news reports.

OK, but what about the jello shots in the Melfi? Just wonderin'....

Sunday, April 13, 2008

So Much for Gen-Y

Yuri's night was a colossal flop.

The Flickrholics in the red shirts with a helmeted character on their chests, the ones that are all a-Twitter, putting their Faces in some online Book, calling Space "Mine," outnumbered all other participants remembering 1961 last night. Across the country, the celebrations fizzled like Mountain Dew left out in the sun too long.

Yuri? Who's he? If you went to one of the gatherings, you probably still don't know.

The youngsters who want to be taken credibly forgot a few basic tenants for attracting "the rest of us" to their events. In California, the Coalition for Space Exploration tried their best to get their message across during the day, but it was lost on the dead heads that turned out for Telstar, dancing under the half moon.

In years past, Houston-based Russians have turned out in force for an evening of drinking and socializing. Nyet this time. If it weren't for the coincident motor-cycle rally, bringing in maybe less than 100 riders for the evening, poor Billy Joe Shaver would not have had an audience. A ride on a Zero-g airplane was given away to someone who had long since left the vicinity.

No, the Gen-Y folks, with the attention span of a page refresh, forgot or perhaps didn't know, how to bring out a crowd and get a message across. It starts with advertising. If nobody knows about your event, they won't show up. If you can't afford to pay for it, provoke the media into doing the job for you. It continues with content, especially if you are charging an admission fee. If you're intent is to raise awareness and interest in the space program, it might even help to have a couple of exhibits explaining why untold billions of dollars are being expended to get back to a place we've already been.

And explain it in language even a motorcycle moma can understand.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Fix is In!

Maybe we have been picking on old Viceroy Hanley a wee bit too much. Turns out he finally spent some of the the pennies that he's been saving for a sunny day. Gathering up some wise owls of the past, the Viceroy asked them to give him a design for Orion that weighed less, cost less, and most importantly, was actually flyable. That design is now securely locked away from the Emperor's menacing eyes awaiting the day of redemption. Along with the launch vehicle studies hidden well inside the ARES V budget at MSFC, the makings of a workable system are starting to come together because of some brave actions being pursued by the minions.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

We'd Like a Second Opinion

And today you shall have one...

"WASHINGTON - NASA's Constellation program -- the successor to the aging space shuttle -- faces critical problems and might never work as intended, according to a congressional report set for release today."We do not know yet whether the architecture and design solutions selected by NASA will work as intended," says the 20-page report, obtained Wednesday by the Orlando Sentinel. It will be presented today at a congressional hearing that is taking a critical look at NASA's plan to return astronauts to the moon by 2020."

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Happy Holiday

To the Emperor, his Queen, Scott, Doug (both of you), Steve, Joe, Bill (not G), Jeff, and John.

We know of at least 6400 of your minions in Florida who would be real happy see you take the day off and enjoy YOUR Holiday.