Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dress Rehearsals

The Italian Waiter is pacing now. A bead of sweat on his brow. Some of the finest E Street Theater auditions ever are transpiring before him. Competing theater troupes are also showing off their talents. Karaoke at the Olive Garden was never this stressful.

He watches ULA's Michael Gass effectively poke holes in the oft-stated claim that EELVs can't do the job of launching Orion sooner, simpler, and safer. He sees fellow minion John Shannon show an alternative shuttle-based evolution that could do the job for not much more than half the cost of his precious Ares. And he spies the Direct folks, and only a couple of the Direct folks, just before they pull off a very professional presentation. The rest remain in hiding, fearful of retribution for trying to do the right thing.

Next week the Augustine roadshow goes off Broadway to Huntsville, AL. And it's clear that the usual stay-the-course, all-is-well, just-send-MORE-money production will look timeworn against a backdrop of new talent. If there is something the rotund one is good at, its spending money on fancy graphics, movies so real they must be, and beloved power point charts. He knows that he'll wow the crowd with the make believe stuff. He's revised the story, errr, we mean told the story a thousand times now. But he is very worried about the deeper questions that might arise from the panel conducting the auditions.

"We need to practice in front of a mock panel! We need to learn to defuse every issue they might raise! We need to be crisp with our answers! Assemble the list of questions they might ask! Get me a Sally Ride look-alike and have her ask questions that Sally would ask!"

And, no, long time readers, this time we are not writing allegorically.


Anonymous said...

The Force is strong with the rebels...

Dave said...

Direct 3.0

Doing the right thing. At last.

Anonymous said...

The Direct people are rumored to have requested anonymity from the commission, to protect themselves from NASA retribution.

No good deed goes unpunished. Hard to fault them their concern, when Griffin allegedly called up the head of the Atlas V program (an employee of a private company) and threatened future business if he didn't keep his yap shut and keep his employees' yaps shut on man-rating EELVs.

Talk about your "inconvenient truths".

Anonymous said...

Direct 3.0

Making the same mistakes again.

Anonymous said...

And the audience has received it's behavior warning from management. Essentially, the Augustine meeting is mandatory; you will at least pretend to pay attention; when the cue cards are held up do what it says - Oooo, Ahhh, clap vigorously and perhaps an 'amen' might be a nice touch. Oh, if asked any questions, give the party line or call your manager over to approve your comment. Otherwise, keep your hands in your pockets and your mouths shut. Do not make eye contact, remember you are not important in this equation - minions never are.

If that wasn't enough, the leaders of the Lazy B let it be known that about half of the local minions will be gone before the new fiscal year arrives. Wonder what their selection criteria will be?

You can bet your hat and your house cat that the Augustine commission is going to get a real earfull when the notices are given to those who chose to tell the truth and stand up for what is right, wind up getting layoff notices!

Martijn Meijering said...

Cooke may have been sweating, but I think he gave a masterful performance. He was calm and professional and he even managed to make his presentation boring and to portray his project as coming along smoothly. That's quite a feat for a project that going down in flames.

And I don't think he had anything to fear from Shannon. Shannon’s presentation on Not-Shuttle-C appeared to me to be a very subtle, calculated and brilliantly executed attack on DIRECT, without even mentioning it by name. He undermined the credibility of DIRECT’s claims J-130 can help close the gap by showing Not-Shuttle-C is more direct than DIRECT itself and still cannot close the gap. He also suggested that anything less than Ares V (in particular Not-Shuttle-C, but including Jupiter by extension) would lead to a less capable lunar architecture. This invites the conclusion that if you are willing to wait longer for an inline SDLV you might as well go for Ares V.

The attack also appears to have been closely coordinated with Cooke and company. Take a look at the only backup slide in his presentation: it’s a chart that suggests Not-Shuttle-C is much simpler than both Ares and DIRECT, whereas DIRECT is about as complex as Ares. This is very misleading, DIRECT is more like halfway between Not-Shuttle-C and Ares. I cannot help but think this was done deliberately. The claim that Not-Shuttle-C would require a smaller lander is false by the way.

And with DIRECT shooting themselves in the foot with their office logistics (they sent in a confrontational earlier draft of their presentation instead of the more polished and professional later version that removed some of the harsh language) and the Q&A session (there were snorts of derision from the panel), Cooke and Shannon can look back on a very good day on the DIRECT vs Ares front.

All highly regrettable, but that's how I see it.

kT said...

The attack also appears to have been closely coordinated with Cooke and company.

Indeed, they come from a long line of incompetent managers and engineers.

"Reusability is a myth".

Classic incompetence.

Made my day.

Anonymous said...

What he said was that reusability is a myth with respect to cost savings for the SSME. NASA did not buy SSME's and shut down the production line, they kept the manufacturing facilities and personnel available at Canoga Park and West Palm Beach while also paying for the "reuse" assets at KSC. The manufacturing line is required for spare parts and design mods. This infrequent buying of parts is prohibitively expensive. For SSME's it is much more cost effective to build a simpler expendable version and then concentrate on optimizing the costs of a steady production process through well known industrial technology methods. The thought that we save money through reusing main engines is what is wrong.

kT said...

What he said was that reusability is a myth with respect to cost savings for the SSME.

I guess he missed the point that a dozen of them exist right now, with spares available for dozens of flights. I'm sure the incompetents of NASA can screw up a second generation engine development program during the time and money that dozens of cargo carrying developmental rocket flights to low earth orbit (the ISS) can buy them.

The lack of critical thinking skills among the American public, the representatives they elect, and the administrators and engineers they employ is nothing less than ASTONISHING. It's almost as if you people are PROUD to be stupid.

Expendable shuttle derived heavy lift launch vehicles are off the table, it's time that you deal with reality, because reality has done bit you hicks right in the ass.

Anonymous said...

Dozen's?? There are nozzles for 14 SSME's. Including test stand assets. There are quite a few more powerheads and pumps, but not having a nozzle can really impact your performance :-)

kT said...

Dozen's?? There are nozzles for 14 SSME's.

Reread the post, I said 'dozens of flights'. Add critical reading skills to the list of apparent deficiencies of space enthusiasts.

Rocket man himself has stated on this very blog that there are critical spares for SSME 'engine flights' of upwards of thirty remaining flights. If the A-team does anything, it will be to preserve these critical assets from the scrap yard or the trash bin.

Anonymous said...

Of all the parts the nozzle is the easiest to get back in production.

Rocket Man said...

For the record, we've said no such thing. We said that spares for tanks are available.