Sunday, March 1, 2009

Quiet Times

On average, things have now come to a screeching halt across the empire. Sure, the minions are going through the motions, but no serious decisions are being made in the current vacuum. It is in the quiet times, however, when the slightest noise brings the most attention.

Viceroy Gerst continues to run on rogue, pulling the levers and turning the cranks behind the green curtain. The COTS contractors have been restarted in spite of an ongoing protest that could overturn the award results sometime in the next couple of months. Shuttle C studies and Direct reviews have compared more than favorably with the Emperor's ego-architecture. When the minion's own accounting illuminate ways of getting to the moon for less than half of the current approach, you know ARES-1 is going the way of the Dynosaur.

And to the moon we shall still go. But the Snow Princess and her elfish Changelings did get the last laugh, it appears, on the shuttle huggers. No shuttles will fly after September 2010. Not unless a bake sale bailout like no other raises the funds to do so. At the rate things are going, Sam Ting may have finally been tonged.


Anonymous said...

Being a member of the DIRECT Team I'd sure like to hear more about those 'favourable result' you mention if you'd be good enough to contact me: info at


BirdmanofKSC said...

2010 might not be the swan song if Senator Bill can get his flyin' buddy Charlie at the helm. Not to mention that in the COTS contractor world, OS could stand for "OH, S***!". An MPLM needs a semi, not a Chevy LUV. said...

we can (go to the Moon)" are there only until real spending on Ares V and Altair start. The projected NASA budget is flat (vice 3% inflationary growth as it was), ISS looms until 2020, and the president wants to increase funding for robotics, Earth science, and satellite based air traffic control. With $34B or more lost through 2020 due to budget actions (vs. ESAS), there are no bucks and hence no (lunar) Buck Rodgers. The lunar charade will continue until OMB can blame the lack of progress on NASA rather than on a lack of funding, no need to rile up the lunar-crazy minions until absolutely necessary.

Anonymous said...

Shuttle-C can be brought into production in 2011.
Not that hard, ATK can keep making
SRB's, and frankly the 5 segment booster
from Ares 1 fits the growth plan fine.

Now SSME's might be a hassle but,
they could switch in the RS-68, and
that's not a bad switch, if you have the
5 segment booster.

keep making ET's using the tooling
in place and switch back to
T-6 aluminum. The 601 has plenty
of performance.

all you really need is new avionics and some
pod structure, and you can reuse the
KSC GSE and Pads.

even NASA could limp that out.

Ben the Space Brit said...

I have to say that I always felt sorry for the Dynosoar (X-20, IIRC) for having such an... unfortunate name. It was an interesting idea and one wonders what the consequences would have been, far downstream, if it had at least run a few test missions.

In any case, the flow of the current at present is that changes may be in the offing. Shuttle Extension was the last Great White Hope for the Ares-I orthodoxy. With a 6-year+ autominious manned launch gap likely, and with both Shuttle-C and DIRECT making such a strong showing in the community, I suspect whoever President Obama finally selects for the job is going to have a full archetecture review as the top item on his in-tray. We may even see an ESAS-2 study to completely review where NASA is going with Shuttle replacement.

I can't see Orion being replaced at this late stage (unless those tricky guys at Lockheed have prototype exploration-ready DreamChasers ready to fly and haven't told anyone). However, the pressure to find a quicker way to get it into orbit will be intense. EELV, DIRECT and Shuttle-C all have their advantages and disadvantages. I, for one, am glad that I am not the one being asked to make the call.

Anonymous said...

Little birdies at MSFC and KSC are quietly moving in the direction of the Shuttle C option as the only thing that keeps the two centers from becoming ghost towns like 75-81. The DIRECT guys continue drinking their koolaid but the adults who do the engineering say that Shuttle C is three years sooner.

kT said...

Shuttle C is three years sooner.

Dream on. 'Shuttle E' would be done in a year. There is no reason to stick three SSMEs onto anything when a single SSME would do, unless of course you are still entertaining fantasies about moon bases and stuff.

Anonymous said...

The DIRECT guys continue drinking their koolaid but the adults who do the engineering say that Shuttle C is three years sooner.

And... these would be the same people behind Ares I & V?

If NASA is really considering an Ares alternative, that's good news. But at this point, I really believe some outside people need to look this over. I don't believe that the folks who supported Ares within NASA, and the culture that failed to support those with concerns about Ares, are reliable.

What a wasteful catastrophe the last few years have been.

Anonymous said...

MSFC gets more serious engineering work with the Jupiter and KSC won’t have anything to justify their higher fixed cost for almost a decade because the Shuttle-C has no missions to fly until the lunar program starts up. So in a very tight budget environment the KSC workers will be allowed to just sit and watch ISS crews fly out of the Cape on Delta at fraction of cost because a sidemount configuration can’t be man rated? On the other hand even the entry level Jupiter-120 can deliver a crew and cargo to the ISS that would take 3 delta-heavy launches to match making Jupiter/KSC the lower cost solution. These wouldn’t happen to be the same adults that have defended the Ares-1 as a superior approach for the last three years? So now they have gone from trying to duplicate existing launch systems to design one with no missions for almost a decade? The same Engineers that designed the last Moon rocket rejected the Shuttle-C due to issues above and because it has an inherent mismatch between lift capacity and volume. They recommended the more capable, more extensible and crew capable inline NLS configuration as the best path to a Shuttle Derived Heavy Lift launch system. We have compromised rocket 101 principles for thirty year now. We should not set ourselves up for another thirty years of compromise. It’s high time to go beyond the Shuttle side mount configuration, its time for NASA to build, fly and do something great once again.

Mr. X said...

A Shuttle-C derivative would be the easiest way to preserve the status quo (i.e., jobs at KSC, ATK and elsewhere) but it's totally unsuited for crew launch. Would EELV + Orion-lite be an option if Shuttle-C replaced Ares?

Anonymous said...

NASA should have immediately given Shuttle C the green-light after Columbia. No need to pit Shuttle C and DIRECT against each other IMO, they can co-exist harmoniously in time given that they both share a large amount of shuttle hardware. Shuttle C can be brought on line much faster, with a tweaked DIRECT following. Even a modified Ares V could be developed in the very long-term...but what really needs to be shelved here is Ares I, which has proved to be a money pit...

Anonymous said...

The original Shuttle C is in conflict with Ares 5. A crewed shuttle C with the Orion on the nose of the shuttle C structure... cool.. All that lift for a crewed mission or a crewed mission with ISS/other cargo in the bay... cool

Move the shuttle C avionics to Orion, even cheaper (reuse). RS-68 are good motors .

Solves many problems, provides a nice alt to Ares 1.

Keeps shuttle people happy, keeps Ares V people happy, keeps Orion happy. end Ares 1. make many Astronauts happy..

Anonymous said...

Did I misread something or is it true that Ares 1-X is going to fly with a 4 segment booster and a dummy 5 1/2 stage segment?

I know that parts are being bought as fast as the money can be spent in an effort to save the program. However, if the above is true, then Ares 1-X will hide the 9 g shakes and I would bet that a great victory will be claimed in the press.

Anonymous said...

No you did not misread anything. ARES-1 using an of the shelf 4 segment SRB with the old propellant grain, an inert 5th segment and upper stage, an avionics grabbed from other programs not qualified for the vehicle environment upon which they are flying.

Sham test.

Anonymous said...

Mr. X, EELV most likely does not require Orion-lite. Delta IV Heavy Upgrade can lift 24.2mT to ISS, and Atlas V Heavy can lift 25.4mT to ISS. The current ISS Orion is much less than that. Margins for Lunar Orion are similar.

These are numbers from the designers, not the armchair.

Anonymous said...

the point of Shuttle-C is that
it makes no use of magic to fly.
The ET the SRB's the SSME's are
all there.

if it makes any sense to use a single
SSME, sure.

and, while Lunar Orion doesn't have
a lot of missions in queue, now, they
could build some big heavy
planetary missions and toss something
out beyond jupiter.

Anonymous said...

my superficial reading of the Direct
proposals leaves me worried.

I see inadequate margins, and a
happy go lucky "We can just" attitude
all over it.

I think DIRECT is better then Ares 1, but,
the devil is in the details.

EELV for ISS servicing is a slam dunk.

shuttle-c is a slam dunk, that would let the
much enfeebled NASA team try and make
a human lander work