Monday, June 22, 2009

The Daily Blotter, Take 1

Just about every small town newspaper publishes an official summary, usually covering a short duration, of the crimes committed in their surrounding service areas. Similarly, the minions get to read about questionable behaviors in their weekly newsletters and in the executive summaries from published studies (especially after the supporting appendices vanish).

The seemingly endless story of one former spacey traveler managing to avoid influence peddling laws surfaced again last week. You'll recall him leaving E Street one day as the government lead of an architecture advisory group only to return the following day selling a rocket to meet the very requirements he helped to formulate. Months later, he came back to lead the development of these same exploration systems only to leave again to indirectly promote the products of companies building or evaluating those same systems.

Now, despite or in spite of ITAR, representatives from International Business Wales (IBW) are going to get an up close look at various NASA technologies during a visit tomorrow at the Langley Research Center. They will get a series of briefings about partnerships, procurement, and current research and development opportunities. Wind tunnels, structural test facilities and exploration hardware are also on the tour agenda.

We wonder how many of those soon-to-be-collector-item Ares 1 models of will be sitting on shelves in Wales next month?


N. Cider said...

Yeah I always wondered about the ethics of how a former NASA astronaut guy, leaves NASA and gets an executive position with ATK, then leaves ATK and goes back to NASA, at HQ, to pick a "shuttle derived" ATK-solid-based launcher concept. Then leaves NASA after the first-stage solid rocket motor contract is awarded to ATK, (to spend more time with his family, or course). It looks like someone was tasked with bringing home the ATK bacon--job well done, but a huge conflict of interest and a terrible choice of a rocket too.

There was a TVA dam-builder who transferred over to NASA back when TVA was downsizing, and somehow he became a shuttle project manager, which also oversees the SRB contract (ATK). He was a rudy sort of fellow with no curiousity or imagination that never knew much about dams, and knew even less about rockets.

So he retired and left NASA to become an executive for ATK. But not directly, he could honestly say, because they made him the Director of Engineering at MSFC for the minimum time required to not violate the letter of the ethics law before he left, but not before he gutted the engineering labs and sold for scrap the propulsion research laboratory equipment. Looks like another job well done for ATK--it worked to get rid of the competition, because nobody at MSFC understands or has the equipment to investigate new rocket engines.

But hey that little 19" long (0.05% scale) model used in the wind tunnel to determine the AresI aerodynamic force and moment coefficients would be a really nice desk (or hood) ornament for somebody.

It's hard to believe that the multi-degreed wonder didn't know, didn't understand, or chose to ignore the aero data. Evidently nobody at HQ or at MSFC understands the significance of positive-sloped coefficients either. It will all be revealed when the aero data becomes publicly available--what a non-starter and a 5-year waste of time Ares has been!

But will the commision get to the bottom of this mess and expose it for the sham that it is? Sad to say, probably not. The military-industrial-complexity disorder rules our country and affects our lives as bad or worse than all the ADHD-idiots-texting-while-driving ever will.

Anonymous said...

The fact is that Doc and the Emperor conspired to steal the agency. The two of them drew up the failed plan for Constellation on a cocktail napkin at one of the Admiral's meetings. The "technical reasons" for this malfeasance were fabricated after the fact.

Now it's gone completely Looney Tunes. Every time we ask "what's up Doc?", the IG bumbles around like Elmer Fudd. Where is the transparency promised in the new administration? Is nobody minding the store?

So while the strains of Tom Jones welcome the Welsh delegation, it's time to eject the rocket weenies who stole Langley. One need not look further than the husband/wife team who run the center to find the rotten smell.

Anonymous said...

"Evidently nobody at HQ or at MSFC understands the significance of positive-sloped coefficients either. "

active steering can handle a CMa, CMb,

but, as flimsy as the Ares 1 is, it means
some really wild lashing trying to steer a hotdog
from the rear.