Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Brilliant Disguise

"I saw you last night out on the edge of town
I wanna read your mind and know just what Ive got in this new thing Ive found
So tell me what I see when I look in your eyes
Is that you Viceroy or just a brilliant disguise"

Something funny is going on inside Viceroy Gerst's head. Perhaps he shared too many pieces of the poison apple with the former Emperor. Perhaps he is tired. Whatever he is, he is not himself.

First he changed the rules wily nily to suit himself on the commercial crew cargo award, enough to inspire a protest. Next he forced words into another procurement to legalize his ability to disregard the grades brought forth by the evaluators. Once again, an agency whose very watchword is "discipline" has arrogantly compromised on principal. And you wonder why the financial system is still chastised by the GAO?

It should be evident to even the uninformed reader at the point, no one is watching the store, no one cares outside the store, and the franchise office has other things on its mind.

No rules, just wrongs.

The Viceroy is now engaged in a quiet battle to move his programs towards 2020 while paying lip service to the up and comer trying to take over his launch pads. And while the Russians conspire to shake apart the only destination we will have for some time to come, the Viceroy was handed a gift from the shuttle gods when a little old valve decided to damage itself some 28 years after its design went into operation. On the surface, it looks like yet another nail in the aging shuttle coffin. Au contraire, mon cher ami.

The little valve has flown many many many times before. It has a small resonance problem which fatigues it, resulting in limited life. One of these little guys was used too many times. We know what the Emperor would have done. Buy, build, or steal one with new parts and limit the number of times it flies. Launch!

So why is the program standing down now?

The Viceroy is playing the sympathy card. A risky, but time tested move that will accomplish a number of things. First, it points to the need for more money to keep our blue suiters flying safely. Second, it pushes out the schedule on handing over assets to its replacement, making it more likely that time will never come. And, third, it kicks the program end date out past the end of 2010. More time to build more tanks out of the stack of aluminum lithium that just happens to be available. If you can fly in 2011, proving everyone wrong about a need to stop in 2010, can 2015 be that far away?

"Tonight our launch pad is cold
Im lost in the darkness of our sky
God have mercy on the man
Who doubts what he's sure of."


Mr. X said...

Is there anything to be gained by stretching the program out to 2015? I'm all for stretching the existing manifest out if it means we'll fly out the remaining missions in a safe fashion (think 2011 or 2012 orbiter retirement,) but it's hard to imagine any more additional missions that would be constructive.

Anonymous said...

Build Ares V. Cancel Ares 1. Put Orion on a Delta IV. Make ULA the launch provider for NASA crewed spacecraft. Let ULA build a new upper stage for Delta IV ( use/build off the existing Ares 1 design). Give them 3 years. Use COTS for ISS crew and cargo. But go build Ares V. The USAF/NRO/NSA will all be happy to help pay for that rocket.

Anonymous said...

When the cricket coach recruits the player who knows which performance enhancing drugs can get past the steroids enforcement brigade (and does so without a prenegotiated salary), the steroid screening authority quite justifiably needs a more conservative definition of past prescription history to ensure the sanctity of his league to the fans. It would be unseemly to hire that coach if his three star players are going to demand higher salaries well before the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

"Is there anything to be gained by stretching the program out to 2015?"

Guaranteed US ISS manned presence.

Guaranteed US up and down mass utilisation of ISS.

Anonymous said...

Use the Ares 1 design? For what?

This is the design that could not stand up to independent review.

This is the design where the Emperor said, "No More RIDS".

This is the interpretation of a design that is 40+ years old and the interpretation is wrong. The interpretors have no knowledge base from which to procede nor will they listen to those that do.

The only advantage to continuing the program is so that they do not get loose and carry their ineptitude to other fields of endeavour.

Just remember, it doesn't fly until 2015 which is the projected final year of NASA involvement with ISS. The rocket will be all dresseed up with nowhere to go!

Anonymous said...

ultimately another shuttle will be lost.
the risks of flight are rising and the
good people are leaving.

shuttle is poorl designed and every now and then
the problems show up

Anonymous said...

There isn't anything wrong with the shuttle that the previous design tank would not cure. The new design, complete with the self jettisoning debris feature, is the problem.

It is old and it is expensive but it doesn't shake the cargo and crew into jello.

Burt Rutan once raised the issue of why, with so many proven ways to access space, do we persist in throwing them away just when we get the bugs worked out?

Just remember, the B-52 is old and expensive but there are plans to be flying that design 100 years after the first one was built.