Sunday, April 19, 2009

Steroid WIthdrawl

Sometimes its hard to see the forest for the trees. Truth is sometimes mistaken for personal criticism. Rather, we believe, incompetence speaks for itself.

Viceroy Hanley is throwing out the steroids. And the Constellation program right along with them.

At some level, we have to wonder if he ever even played with legos as a kid. From those experiences would come at least a basic understanding of how to build something. In an effort to make "his" 2015 schedule (ahhhh, Viceroy, the mandate was 2014, by the way), he is once again demonstrating his complete lack of systems engineering understanding. The Viceroy has proclaimed that he will reduce program content until he can achieve the magic date (we might interpret that to mean that he is reducing requirements, but that would mean that a stable set existed in the first place).

His first and foremost way of doing that is in the reduction of the Orion crew size from six to four, as was decided last week. Unfortunately, you still need all the same systems to keep four people alive as you do for six. Only some size and weight reductions result, maybe even enough to fit on the 2100 times safer than shuttle (so sayeth the former Chief Engineer of the Universe) ARES 1. But, as any competent manager would note, the critical development path is still going to march right through 2015 like Broomhilda's silhouette flying across the moon.

Of course, this does solve one problem. Weight. But, it appears that several other things have to go in order to meet that date. Like testing. That will be further minimized (remember the Ballad of Bill Arceneaux?). Instead, the program will now "verify" that all the correct paperwork is in place "validating" that the right work was accomplished.

As in every other program of recent note, some promised software will also be eliminated. No more unattended operation for Orion. Hard to put four people on the moon when one of them has to stay behind to steer.

You can see where this is going.

The Viceroy's solution is to castrate Orion from meeting its original lofty goal of being able to take people to the moon or elsewhere. Indeed, the new version will barely be able to make it to ISS. And despite these reductions, a big fat increase in cost is coming his way from the contractor he's been jerking around since day one.

The Stick Senator should start asking why we are getting a Pinto when we paid for the Cadillac? Our new President will be on solid ground when he cancels the program. He can say he was willing to sign up to the original budgets and schedules and goals, but now that Nunn-McCurdy are blushing, how can he possibly move forward with such a plan when he has to buy new iPods for improving relations with other heads of state? Ever wonder if a new Emperor has not taken the throne yet because there will be no throne to take?


Anonymous said...

To verify that the proper paperwork is in place? For what? Evidence for the grand jury? Counting 'shalls' is no substitute for real system engineering.

NASA proved they didn't want that stuff around to muddy up the waters so they ordered the contractor to stomp on anyone that took issue with their quasi specs which were mostly toner and paper flying in loose formation.

The managers of the large contractor have been converted to NASA drones, answering the sirene call, they ceased to behave like contractor employees much to the dismay of and detriment to those they supervise.

It is waaayyyy too late for system engineering to save the stick. The snicker factor is starting to rise exponentially. When the top dog decides to exercise a discipline which his entire organization is totally devoid of - there can be nothing but trouble ahead for all concerned.

What was the name of that truck driving academy? Truck Masters? We might all need that number before long!

Anonymous said...

Why not just do it with 2 then? I mean most airplanes get flown with two- isn't that enough? I am sure they could go to the moon, look around, make a notable quote and fly back. Mission Accomplished!!

If we are looking at cheap and fast that might be the ticket! Science be damned. This is all about Florida jobs. In fact they could do it with zero. Just hire all the people and make sure they work in Florida and build one rocket and they spend decades upgrading and modifying and testing and committee-ifying it until it corrodes to the launcher. Same ultimate effect. Then they can buy a ticket on a Chinese moon rocket in 2025.

Anonymous said...

> Instead, the program will now
> "verify" that all the correct
> paperwork is in place "validating"
> that the right work was
> accomplished.
Were you at SBR?

benrg said...

I think that we are now in the last lap for Ares-I. Its performance is so bad, its cost is so great and its schedule is so slipped that I cannot see Congress being willing to indulge NASA on this failed program any further. The Viceroy's latest changes actually remove all the Orion's mission functionality. It cannot rotate 6-man ISS crews, it cannot deliver four crew to the Moon for a long-duration stay and it cannot be reused.

So... then what?

Well, Orion will probably revert to the land-recovery version (I believe this configuation was called the '606') and will have a lot of critically-needed bits put back that were removed so it would fit on a Stick. Hopefully, a booster that exists will be selected to get it off the ground when it becomes available, which likely will be some time in the early/middle of the next decade as a 'taxicab' for taking crews to the ISS.

Beyond that, a budget HLLV program will be needed. After all the cash poured down the drain in an attempt to bring the Emperor's brainchild to life, there is very little availble for something as ambitious as the Ares-V. This, of course assumes that Obama doesn't finally kick over the card table and pull the plug on VSE.

Anonymous said...

Put Orion on either EELV and you have a space program. Ares 1 is done. Grab the yellow handle and get off while you can.

I did.

Anonymous said...

I now no longer have any confidence even the Orion can be closed. If Hanley/Cooke/Ivins have agreed
to slash the requirements to 4 to ISS, then
lets just end this clown show.

Switch to Delta 4,Heavy, put an apollo crew
capsule on it, put a smaller escape tower on, preferably with a liquid pressure fed escape tower.
Update the Service module.

Bang 5 to ISS, 3 to the moon.

Anonymous said...

Too bad Griffin is gone. I would have loved to have witnessed the "Gift of the Magi" absurdity of the Orion program getting cancelled in order to fund the completion of the Stick.