It seems we are not the only ones who have been reading the Norm '90's concerns and findings as captured in his first panel's Report. In fact, the Viceroys and minions have been studying that report carefully for clues on what Norm '09 might look like, and are now taking their best stab at preparing a smokescreen defense, with some sacrificial modifications to the current solution. Think of it as a going-in, get-ahead, response.
Witness the first chess move made today by Viceroy Cooke. Huntsville Danny (Boy) is returning to the Theater on E Street, now starring in the role of deputy Viceroy, just four or so years after he was sent packing back to the Tennessee River for failing to develop an executable systems engineering plan for Constellation. Apparently his previous experience on E Street as the Space Shuttle Main Engine Program representative is better remembered?
SSME, you see, is the source of the smoldering smoke that is about to rise like a Phoenix from the ruins of the Emperor's former domain.
The latest script being reviewed on the seventh and ninth floors tells the story of a pony-tailed engineer, led astray by the Chief Engineer of the Universe, to develop a safe new rocket quickly and simply. The Viceroys will concede that the current five-segment SRB, J2x-powered ARES 1 rocket is technically feasible, but will take longer to develop than another configuration originally considered, but dismissed as too expensive to operate in the long-run.
Norm '09 clearly stated last week, that if we set a goal we cannot afford, then what good is the goal? The E Street cast is turning that around now to suit their purposes. If you can not afford to wait for a rocket that is inexpensive to operate, then what good is that PARTICULAR rocket?
Especially, if you have something else to offer. Something that allows the President to put his hand-stamp on things. Something that might cost a little more in the long-run, but could be available sooner. Something that will keep more jobs around longer until it is really too late to turn back. Something with which to build a plausible smokescreen while all this comes to pass. Something that brings the SSME program rep back to E Street?
Consider a stock four segment shuttle SRB. No thrust oscillation, no grain changes, no nozzle improvements. Already human-rated (unlike EELV's that will need new structures to meet the margins required for human-rating, right?). Not a lot of new testing required, so it's cheap, too (as long as you do not think about the roll control system keeping this shorter piece of spaghetti going straight uphill, but that is a detail). Bye-bye ARES-1Y?
The Italian Waiter and the pony-tailed engineer dismissed such a starting point at the time as under performing, requiring a SSME-powered upper stage to meet the performance objectives set for Orion. SSME's are expensive. Who knows if they can be air-started (The minions do not. That is why they wanted to do development testing, then deemed too expensive and introducing time delays not required in the J2-X "update.")? But, if you are in a hurry, and want to use an off-the-shelf solution to pull in schedule, reduce the amount of expensive systems testing required, and allow the White House to claim victory with it's own answers, then SSME may be just the ticket to sell to Norm now.
Are you seeing the smoke yet?