Friday, May 30, 2008

"Build it and they will come?"

The ISS Program announced that it is offering "free" rack space for experimenters to conduct research in the "National Lab." Sounds good on the surface, but just like the Emperor's clothing, you don't have to get far in the pathfinder strategy to see how bogus the offer is.

With only ten shuttle flights left, room is tight on the only free ride to ISS. After that, you'll have to go negotiate with the nonexistent COTS services or try to negotiate a spot on stuffed Soyuz, ATV, or HTV flights. Prices for those precious rides, if actually offered, will be astronomical.

But give the minions credit. They've built an empty cathedral with no way to get to it but on a wing and a prayer and they want to share that accomplishment with the rest of the world. We should all feel priviledged.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Nowhere to Go

ISS - The international space station's lone toilet is broken, leaving the crew with almost nowhere to go.

On so many levels, that headline says it all.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mars Population +1

The second time is the charm. Phoenix is on Mars.

Amazing what happens when you don't cut corners, test the way you fly, and fly the way you test.

Despite the Emperor's presence, it's too bad the Constellation Program Office was nowhere to be seen around JPL tonight. They just might have learned something.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Heard it Here First

Today's Headline: "Delays in the space shuttle program could force a one-month slip of an early test flight of NASA's next-generation rocket next year due to busy Kennedy Space Center launch facilities, agency officials said this week."

Of course, RandS told you about the forthcoming slips and the real reasons behind them back on Dec 28, 2007 and Mar 31, 2008.

BTW, we don't think it will be just one month...but you already knew that, too.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Atomic Batteries to Speed!

Hey have you seen the latest Batman trailer?




Oh, sorry, its just another Gen-Y presentation.

Never mind.

Put a LID on it.

Way back when, when the pony tailed engineers were designing today's debacle to the Emperor's specifications, they called out a new way for spaceships to come together. The Low Impact Docking System, better known as LIDS, was going to be the modern day answer to mating. Any two spacecraft, regardless of type, would be able to connect, transfer information, power, fluids, and even crew if suitably equipped with a LIDS docking adapter.

The LIDS mechanism is covered by US patent 6354540, titled "Androgynous, Reconfigurable Closed Loop Feedback Controlled Low Impact Docking System With Load Sensing Electromagnetic Capture Ring."

The password is "androgynous," defined as "being both male and female." It can go "both ways." That is to say a vehicle with LIDS on board could dock with any other vehicle, including a copy of itself. So why is it, then, that a CEV as designed today, cannot rescue a crew from another CEV via a docked tunnel hatch?

Somewhere along the line, the Chief Engineer of the Universe's Apollo on Steroids fattened up. What do you have to do when you are overweight? Work some of the weight off, of course. And how has some of that weight been worked off of the CEV? We bet you already know the answer...yep, the LIDS now only goes one way.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Ballad of Bill Arceneaux

With apologies to Paul Henning...

Come and listen to a story about a NASA engineer named Bill
A poor JSC guy, he tried to hold the line until,
One day he was tryin to make a real rocket success,
And up through the phone came a bubblin mess.

Emperor callin that is, fumin, DC style.

Well the first thing you know ol Bill's lost his chair,
Kinfolk said "Bill, move away from there"
Said "Testing is the place you ought to be"
So they loaded up the truck and moved to T&E.

Testin, that is. Rocket ships, space capsules.

Well now its time to say good bye to Bill and all his kin.
He's been told to pack his bags again.
Tried to hold the line on testin before PDR is reality,
Going to become the king of operability.

Doing nothing that is. Set a spell, Take your shoes off.

Y'all come back now, y'hear?.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Lost Art of Fact Checking.

Executive Director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Major General Robert Dickman (USAF-Ret): "In 2003, there were over 1,000 research projects focusing on basic non- exploration space physical and life sciences across the United States, which supported over 1,500 scientists, and over 3,000 students. Today, only five years later, there are 85 such research projects, supporting approximately 300 students."

Advisory Board Member, Coalition for Space Exploration Former NASA Flight Director / Director Mission Operations, Gene Kranz: "The funding stream that has supported the Shuttle will be redirected to the major development phase of Projects Orion and Ares. However, this approach, as laid out in the Vision for Space Exploration, will lead to the creation of roughly a 4 1/2 year gap--at least! This decision and impractical, shortsighted approach was not driven by the current NASA leadership, but rather by the preceding regime in close coordination with "bean-counters" from the Office of Management and Budget."

Ahhhh, Gene, maybe next time you testify you might want to check your facts? Who created the gap? Who killed the pipeline of technology programs aimed at reducing lifecycle costs, enabling reliable access to space, and inspiring the next generation replacing the 26% of aerospace workers eligible for retirement this year? Last time we checked, the previous group was going to be flying competing designs THIS YEAR, and flying to the moon in 2015, not just to ISS in 2016...and that's if we're lucky and PDR doesn't slip further.

Did the Emperor pay your green fees last week or something?

Maybe that regime and bean-counters know something the guys footing your paycheck don't? Hope your book editors fact check better than you do. Just a thought...Or do you just like launching into thunderstorms that much?

Subtraction and Addition

The head tailor for the Emperor's wardrobe is bidding the boss adieu. Scott Pace will be heading to the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University as its new director. Perhaps there he will once again regain his skills in math and be able to solve the equation on the blackboard.

Ares (1+5) = 0.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Leaving Solid Ground

John Glenn attended NASA's 50th anniversary celebrations on Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. this week. An American Hero, with a capital H. He's the first American in orbit, a former Senator, and the oldest to fly on the space shuttle at 77, ten years ago. Who says rank doesn't have its privileges?

Our Heroes, by their nature, are complex individuals. They are allowed to express their opinions long past their expiration dates. For someone who started down the enabling path to the moon it is unfortunate to hear out-dated opinions once again reverberating in DC.

"The investment we have up there and the potential for learning new things are tremendous at a time when we're coming under additional global competition. The International Space Station is the greatest, most complex laboratory ever put together."

But our Hero is not done.

"The shuttles may be old, but they're still the most complex vehicle ever put together by people, and they're still working very well," he added.

JG, ISS, STS. All complex. Unfortunately, complexity, in and of itself, is not always a good thing.

Orion's Cycle of Life

The ground thaws, spring flowers wave in summer breezes, and finally the colors of fall glow brilliantly in the setting sun. Winter comes. Mother nature passes on. Reds, Greens and Yellows turn to browns and greys awaiting rebirth again in the following spring.

Similarly, spring and summer held promise for a PDR for Orion. Now that promise has grown stale and slipped to November. Winter. Like all living things, Orion is following a cycle. And soon, it too, will die under its own weight. And cost.

And what lies beyond? A new year. A new spring. Rebirth?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Rube Goldberg Was a Piker

Werner Von Braun's body was found in China this week after making the trip from D.C. No, he wasn't exhumed, he just churned in his grave until he augured all the way through after an unidentified visitor paying respects whispered to him graveside about the latest hare-brained scheme to make ARES 1 lift off and fly right.

The picture at top left provides an indication of the level of sophistication that Steve Cook's minions will go in order to make ARES 1 the most unreliable launch vehicle ever brought forward for man-rating. Active reaction control jets will be employed in equal and opposite direction to the purported thrust oscillation ARES will experience in its five segment form. Remember when ARES was billed as "Soon, Simple, Safe?" It is turning out to be none of the above.

Of course, if the RCS jets fail, the crew will eject their hearts from their chest cavities and their bladders from...well, you know where. So, since it can't fail, let's add redundancy. Oh yeah, that's more weight for a vehicle already in hock up to its parachutes to weight-watchers and the country's taxpayers are stuck with the bill.

Is Garry Lyles finally calling the Emperor's bluff by proposing this ridiculously better mouse trap to solve the ARES thrust oscillation problem and exposing the folly for all to see? We know Garry and don't believe he would honestly propose such an abhorrent system without a smile on his face. Then again, maybe Garry already knows this will be the safest rocket yet made?

It certainly can't kill anybody if it stays on the ground.

Please Sir, I Want Some More?

The Emperor who needs new clothes, meet Oliver Twist.

NASA employees have used government credit cards to ring up iPods, video games and even clothes from the agency's own gift shop, while at other times using the cards in ways that sidestep competitive bidding rules, federal documents and a Houston Chronicle review of agency records show.

Bad designs, escalating risk, schedule slips, budget overruns, conflicted review boards, revolving doors (another big scandal that will be breaking next week, stay tuned), and now credit cards for personal use and even for avoiding competitive bids in some cases.

The Emperor and his minions want many more billions of dollars to send down the flame trench and yet still can't manage to develop a simple process to approve government credit card expense reports. How can we possibly trust them to watch over our dear taxpayers' dollars and our astronauts safety?

Maybe with the $270 worth of T-shirts and hats purchased from a NASA gift shop with a government credit card and justified by one cardholder as "safety attire?"

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Please Cancel My Time Magazine Subscription

Michael Griffin
By Marsha Ivins

Yet another review board (literally and figuratively) with a hidden conflict of interest.

Quote of the Day

Speaking of pony-tailed designs and nearsighted review boards, "Not only is NASA ready to challenge the laws of physics, it appears more than willing to challenge the laws of Congress," said New York University professor Paul Light.