Congress, NASA

More calls in Senate for investigation of Hanley reassignment

On Wednesday, hours after word came out that NASA was reassigning Constellation program manager Jeff Hanley to a new position at JSC, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) questioned the move, saying she was “deeply troubled” by it and called for an investigation by NASA’s Inspector General. On Thursday Hutchison, the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, was joined in that request by the committee’s chairman, Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV). The two released a joint letter to NASA IG Paul Martin, asking him to conduct such an investigation, including “whether his removal as program manager was related to Mr. Hanley’s well-publicized efforts to preserve the Constellation Program, consistent with Congressional enactments, notwithstanding the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 Budget request calling for elimination of the program.”

Separately, Sen. George LeMieux (R-FL) is also calling for an investigation into Hanley’s transfer. “This is yet another example of NASA taking actions to cancel the Constellation Program, and that is a violation of law,” claimed LeMieux to the Orlando Sentinel.

104 comments to More calls in Senate for investigation of Hanley reassignment

  • sc220

    Congressional members should realize that they are not making the lives of Hanley or any other Constellation huggers easier with this sort of micromanagement. Even if they are successful in reinstating Cx at its full complement, the Administration and NASA have ways of making any sort of real progress virtually impossible. In fact, it would be very easy to permanently hobble Cx using means far beyond the control of Congress.

  • Doug Lassiter

    The micromanaging being done here by Hutchison and Rockefeller is uncomfortable. Does this mean that we can look forward to Congress weighing in with IG, if not GAO, about management of specific agency programs? Irrespective of the wisdom of Hanley’s reassignment, this isn’t how congressional oversight is supposed to work. If Congress sees survival of Constellation (as per the termination clause in legislation) as dependent on a particular manager and a personnel issue, that program is in much worse shape than I thought.

    Even if the decision to reassign Hanley were revoked, his managerial authority in the Constellation project is toast. Surely his congressional defenders understand that.

  • amightywind

    Of course they should investigate a politically motivated hit job. The current NASA junta will do anything to hobble Constellation, even though it is illegal. That is because Obamaspace has fails to stand on its own merits. This NASA junta is not long for this world.

  • Zzzzz … The Congresscritters can’t mandate that NASA conduct an investigation. If they were really interested, they’d hold their own investigation, which of course they’re not doing.

    As an aside, it’s quite telling that not one of the Congresscritters squawking about saving Constellation has actually proposed adding one penny to the NASA budget to build Constellation on time. Everyone agrees Constellation has been underfunded yet even its most ardent supporters won’t propose spending more money to finish it.

    Which suggests to me that Obama will get what he wants.

  • It’s quite amusing how not one of the Constellation huggers has yet to address the criticisms in the August 2009 GAO report:

    http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09844.pdf

    Since you refuse to even read it, let me post the conclusion for you:

    NASA is still struggling to develop a solid business case—including firm requirements, mature technologies, a knowledge-based acquisition strategy, a realistic cost estimate, and sufficient funding and time—needed to justify moving the Constellation program forward into the implementation phase. Gaps in the business case include

    • significant technical and design challenges for the Orion and Ares I vehicles, such as limiting vibration during launch, eliminating the risk of hitting the launch tower during lift off, and reducing the mass of the Orion vehicle, represent considerable hurdles that must be overcome in order to meet safety and performance requirements; and

    • a poorly phased funding plan that runs the risk of funding shortfalls in fiscal years 2009 through 2012, resulting in planned work not being completed to support schedules and milestones. This approach has limited NASA’s ability to mitigate technical risks early in development and precludes the orderly ramp up of workforce and developmental activities.

    In response to these gaps, NASA delayed the date of its first crewed-flight and changed its acquisition strategy for the Orion project. NASA acknowledges that funding shortfalls reduce the agency’s flexibility in resolving technical challenges. The program’s risk management system warned of planned work not being completed to support schedules and milestones. Consequently, NASA is now focused on providing the capability to service the International Space Station and has deferred the capabilities needed for flights to the moon. Though these changes to the overarching requirements are likely to increase the confidence level associated with a March 2015 first crewed flight, these actions do not guarantee that the program will successfully meet that deadline. Nevertheless, NASA estimates that Ares I and Orion represent up to $49 billion of the over $97 billion estimated to be spent on the Constellation program through 2020. While the agency has already obligated more than $10 billion in contracts, at this point NASA does not know how much Ares I and Orion will ultimately cost, and will not know until technical and design challenges have been addressed.

  • Major Tom

    “Of course they should investigate a politically motivated hit job.”

    How is a personnel decision by two civil servant managers — Doug Cooke, Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems, and Mike Coats, Johnson Space Center Director — a “politically motivated hit job”?

    “The current NASA junta will do anything to hobble Constellation, even though it is illegal.”

    You’re talking about two of the top NASA managers who have been responsible for overseeing Constellation execution for the past five or so years (and continue to be responsible for its execution).

    Don’t make idiotic statements that slander the very Constellation managers you’re trying to support.

    Ugh…

  • amightywind

    “• significant technical and design challenges for the Orion and Ares I vehicles, such as limiting vibration during launch, eliminating the risk of hitting the launch tower during lift off, and reducing the mass of the Orion vehicle, represent considerable hurdles that must be overcome in order to meet safety and performance requirements; and”

    All refuted completely by the successful launch of Ares I-X. The tilt manoeuvre worked perfectly at launch (just like the olde Saturn V). Pogo suppression worked as planned. Orion weight reduction is proceeding nicely (just like Apollo). All normal in the development of new systems. As a technology developer I have always laughed at bean counters and lawyers ‘concerns’ about engineering. They should stick to what they know, which isn’t much. Mike Griffin knew this.

    Remember what Kennedy said, “We do this things because they are hard.” Ignore what Obama implies, “We choose not to go.” Stick to the plan.

  • Robert G. Oler

    This is a YAWN designed to impress the weak of mind Constellation supporters …

    the program continues to unwind

    Robert G. Oler

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Even if the NASA IG balks or does a white wash, next year the GOP will likely be in the position to run their own Congressional investigation. Then the folks who are running NASA will wind up living on Capitol Hill.

  • Pogo suppression worked as planned.

    There was no pogo suppression, because there was no pogo, or concern about it. Please stop flaunting your ignorance.

  • Oler calling someone “weak-minded” now there’s a huge LAUGH seeing it comes from the most narrow-minded, myopic Obama boot-licker on the entire internet.

    When all of this is done, the Congress is gonna stick a few Ares I’s up your Oler… better go get yourself a funnel so you can find the opening.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ May 28th, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Even if the NASA IG balks or does a white wash, next year the GOP will likely be in the position to run their own Congressional investigation. …

    what a HOOT.

    anyway the GOP wont be doing any investigations if they have as agood a night as they did in PA-12.

    LOL

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ May 28th, 2010 at 9:59 am

    All refuted completely by the successful launch of Ares I-X….

    I suspect it was impressive to you…since you went all weak kneed over Bush on the Babe.

    easily impressed? Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Max Peck wrote @ May 28th, 2010 at 11:14 am

    When all of this is done, the Congress is gonna stick a few Ares I’s up …

    more laughter. Ares 1X the 1/2 billion dollar fizzile that couldnt even do as well as the Redstone!

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “All refuted completely by the successful launch of Ares I-X.”

    Ares I-X didn’t resolve thrust oscillation concerns. It used a four-segment first-stage with the old propellant geometry and grain, not a five-segment first-stage with the new propellant geometry and grain.

    And it added new concerns about stage separation, first-stage recoverability, operational costs, and trend tracking for flight safety.

    “Pogo suppression worked as planned.”

    You have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Pogo is a phenomenon specific to liquid rockets. It’s caused by a positive feedback cycle between engine pressure and fuel line pressure. It can be easily solved by adding simple dampers to one or both fuel lines.

    Solid rockets experience thrust oscillation. It’s caused by changes in exhaust pressure coupling to the structure of the vehicle itself. Unlike pogo, thrust oscillation can’t be fixed in the engine (unless you completely redesign the engine). It can only be countered by changing the vehicle’s structure and/or adding additional countermeasure systems.

    “Orion weight reduction is proceeding nicely”

    Well, no duh. Orion is now a crew return vehicle and it doesn’t need an LAS, a big service module, a toilet, etc.

    Think before you post.

    “As a technology developer”

    A “technology developer”? Really?

    You don’t even know the difference between thrust oscillation and pogo.

    Don’t make stuff up, especially about yourself.

    Bleah…

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ May 28th, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Orion weight reduction is proceeding nicely (just like Apollo). …

    yes before long the crew of 6 will be down to 3 or maybe 2 and they will be midgets (or small people) or here is a theory, they can be the robot that JSC wants to develop…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “Even if the NASA IG balks or does a white wash, next year the GOP will likely be in the position to run their own Congressional investigation.”

    Republican candidates are running on a platform of spending control and deficit reduction. If/when they regain control of the House or Congress, do you really think that the new leadership is going to put an investigation into the reassignment of a NASA civil servant — who was heading a program that the GAO, CBO, an independnet blue ribbon panel, and now the CAGW have all criticized for tens of billions of dollars of cost growth and years of schedule slippage — on their to-do list?

    When one of their top campaign priorities and promises will be getting federal spending under control?

    Really?

    Please stop taking hallucinogens before you post.

    Lawdy…

  • amightywind

    Minor Tom:

    Mindless pedants like you and Simberg make me laugh. How many ways can either of you describe ‘pogo’?

    “do you really think that the new leadership is going to put an investigation into the reassignment of a NASA civil servant”

    To right leftist injustice, as my heroine Sarah Palin says, “You betcha!”

    Max Peck. It is not sufficient for proponents of Ares to force it on the minority if detractors. We must endeavour to make them like it.

  • “abreakingwind” flatulated:

    How many ways can either of you describe ‘pogo’?

    We only describe it one way — the correct way, which has nothing to do with Ares, because solid motors don’t and can’t suffer from pogo. So stop trying to use big words you don’t understand.

  • Major Tom

    “Minor Tom:”

    Again? Really? Don’t you have anything original?

    And you still havn’t caught on that your screenname is a flatulence joke from a mockumentary?

    “Mindless pedants like you and Simberg make me laugh. How many ways can either of you describe ‘pogo’?”

    I described it once. Can’t you count that high?

    Lawdy…

  • The President’s budget proposals for NASA have not been passed yet by Congress, nor have they been endorsed in principal by Congress. So why is the President making enemies– even with members of his own party– on an issue that he obviously has very little interest in? Is this all about ego???

    If Obama is trying to become the ‘New Nixon’ on this issue, he’s doing a pretty darn good job at it!

  • Major Tom, with respect: Stop educating the trolls they don’t like it!
    Also one other aspect of Ares -1X ‘test’ often missed: http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2009/10/pad-39b-suffers-substantial-damage-ares-i-x-parachute-update/ complete with pictures.

  • @ MT and Rand

    Didn’t your mothers teach you not to be mean to dumb animals? LOL

    To right leftist injustice, as my heroine Sarah Palin says, “You betcha!”

    Sez it all for me.

    JSCs Plan M; http://robonaut.jsc.nasa.gov/m-whitepaper.asp

  • amightywind

    brobof wrote:

    “Also one other aspect of Ares -1X ‘test’ often missed:”

    Yeah. If your eyes are closed and mind asleep. Old news.

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/constellation/ares/parachute_results.html

    Complete with pictures. Test, fix, perfect. It is the Constellation way. Talk, talk, talk. That is the Obama way.

  • richardb

    What is of note is Rockefeller, a Democrat very friendly to Obama, joining in the call for an investigation. This Administration hates internal investigations as much as any.
    All across the committees charged with Nasa’s fate is growing bipartisan criticism of ObamaSpace. Rockefeller has been at least lukewarm to ObamaSpace yet he is now asserting Congressional privilege against the Executive branch.

    This fight is evolving from one about the merits of ObamaSpace vs Constellation to one of a food fight of Congressional power vs Executive power. Obama wasn’t content to fight this out on the merits, he had to cut corners and flaunt Congressional mandates to rid us of Constellation. This is arrogant and creating enmity in Congress even within his own party.

    The political mismanagement of Obama’s team in transitioning from Constellation is as clear as a shuttle launch on a cloudless, dark night.
    Those who think this congressional call for an investigation is a snoozer haven’t been students of prior wars between Congress and the Executive even when controlled by the same party. Throw in a mid term disaster for the Dems and this has all the makings of a blood feud.

  • Eric Sterner

    I think from a Congressional perspective, Hanley isn’t the issue. His removal is an opportunity to demonstrate hypersensitivity and a willingness to try and inflict some retaliatory pain on the admin when it comes to compliance with Congressional intent. It may well be a perogative issue as much as it’s a Constellation issue. If that’s the goal, then a personnel action is as good as any other opportunity to put down another marker. It’s not micromanagement to do so, since Congress isn’t reversing a personnel decision by asking for an investigation. (Statutory language that prohibited NASA from reassigning personnel would be micromanagement from where I sit.) It’s also a reasonable political signal to send to the workforce: “someone on the hill cares about you and is paying attention. Keep leaking to us so we can keep fighting.”

    That said, NASA is well within its rights to reassign personnel and I suspect any investigator looking at the issue will conclude so, assuming the civil service protections to which Jeff is entitled were followed. (IIRC, Jeff is SES, so his rights are more limited.) In any event, NASA may have concluded it had more running room to make a personnel move AFTER the GAO concluded it was complying with the law. So, the folks in Congress need to be careful what they wish for. If you ask for an investigation and the investigators come back and find no “fouls,” then all you’ve demonstrated is how truly small your ability to inflict pain is and your ability to deter the exec branch from screwing you again drops.

    I’m more interested in how this squares with Bolden’s comments earlier this month that Jeff was doing exactly what he wanted Hanley to do. By asserting he was in charge, Bolden also had to assert that Hanley was doing his bidding. If that’s the case, a sudden reassignment gets really hard to explain and undermines your long-term credibility. Some of the folks in Congress might have been better served by staying silent publicly, weighing in privately that they expected Hanley to be treated fairly, and then looking for alternative hostages to take if they felt NASA was playing too many games with them.

    Just a thought.

  • Major Tom

    “Yeah. If your eyes are closed and mind asleep. Old news.”

    If you’re trying to argue in favor of Constellation, then you really shouldn’t refer to press releases that point out the negative effects of Ares I thrust oscillation.

    “During the Ares I-X suborbital flight, the packed parachutes shook and shimmied inside the vehicle.. This movement, which was greater than expected, is the likely cause of the premature tug of the lanyard linked to the reefing line cutter.”

    Gee, I wonder what phenomenon could have caused “greater than expected” shaking of components inside Ares I-X?

    (Here’s a hint — it’s not pogo.)

    “Test, fix, perfect. It is the Constellation way.”

    No, it’s not. Before the program was set for termination, Constellation was removing multiple ground and flight tests from the program in an attempt to restore schedule and budget:

    nasaspaceflight.com/2008/10/constellation-deleting-ares-test/

    FWIW…

  • Vladislaw

    amightywind wrote:

    ‘All refuted completely by the successful launch of Ares I-X. The tilt manoeuvre worked perfectly at launch”

    Yes, perfect except for the damage to the launch pad. But I guess having to rebuild the pad after every launch is a small price to pay. Just add another 50 million to each launch, at one billion per launch what is 50 million.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rdui3vLhP-U

  • Major Tom

    RB: “Obama wasn’t content to fight this out on the merits, he had to cut corners and flaunt Congressional mandates to rid us of Constellation.”

    There was no cutting “corners” or flaunting “mandates” by the President in Hanley’s reassignment. The White House didn’t reassign Hanley. Doug Cooke, Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems, and Mike Coats, Johnson Space Center Director, reassigned Hanley.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    ES: “I’m more interested in how this squares with Bolden’s comments earlier this month that Jeff was doing exactly what he wanted Hanley to do. By asserting he was in charge, Bolden also had to assert that Hanley was doing his bidding. If that’s the case, a sudden reassignment gets really hard to explain and undermines your long-term credibility.”

    Why? Bolden stated in testimony that Hanley’s reassignment was Cooke and Coats’ decision. Hanley is responsible to Cooke and Coats for Constellation, and Cooke and Coats are responsible Bolden for Constellation. Cooke and Coats either wanted Hanley off Constellation to better meet their commitments to Bolden or they wanted someone new on the program so they could better meet their commitments to Bolden. Per Bolden’s testimony, Cooke and Coats told Bolden of their decision and he concurred.

    Do people not understand NASA’s chain-of-command?

    Or are the blind and deaf when reading or hearing sworn testimony in a congressional hearing?

    Enough with the goofy conspiracy theories.

  • Eric Sterner

    @Major Tom

    If your argument is accurate, why did Bolden state at an earlier hearing that Hanley was doing what he, Bolden, wanted Hanley to do? He should have instead said that he had confidence in Doug and trusted Cooke’s management of Hanley. Either they weren’t keeping Bolden in the loop about Hanley’s performance, or he was fudging his testimony.

    I don’t know Coats very well, but I do know Doug to be a straight shooter. So, yes, it is possible that the public story is the true story. I’m prepared to believe it, but I’m not sure that I do. Constellation is so high profile that I doubt the A suite was indifferent to what ESMD and JSC were doing. Besides, you don’t just wake up one day and transfer the manager of your biggest bone of contention with Congress for the heck of it. There’s a back story that they haven’t copped to, nor should they have to. But, it’s hardly a conspiracy theory to observe that there is one.

    As for NASA’a management structure, you’ve got to be kidding. NASA has so many free-lancing, outside-the-tent, program and policy entrepreneurs in it that it makes the Senate look like a heirarchical organization. If anything, Bolden’s revised management practice, in which he has indicated he plans to strengthen the center directors and let them decide which skillsets to keep, is only going to exacerbate the problem.

  • Al Fansome

    Eric,

    Any thoughts on why Chairman Rockefeller joined with Hutchison in requesting the IG investigation? By joining the request, how does that impact what happens?

    Rockefeller has been supportive of the Administration’s proposed changes at NASA.

    FWIW,

    – Al

  • Al Fansome

    STERNER: If your argument is accurate, why did Bolden state at an earlier hearing that Hanley was doing what he, Bolden, wanted Hanley to do?

    Eric,

    This is speculation, but Bolden has shown a tendency to say things, particularly when speaking off the cuff, that he later regrets. He then has to go back and clarify what he meant. (Think “Plan B”)

    When Bolden defended Hanley, he was defending a member of his team. But Bolden also expects that members of the team start acting as team players.

    Hanley probably said some things that went BEYOND what Bolden asked Hanley to do, and over into undercutting Administration policy. For example, if Hanley really did tell people to wait out the current administration, to get to the next administration … that certainly classifies as something that goes BEYOND what Bolden asked him to do.

    That is how I reconcile the two issues.

    FWIW,

    - Al

  • richardb

    As usual Major Tom you dumpster dive for trivia in your hunt for the pointless. But I’ll throw you a bone while you’re busy with your quest.

    Congress has been accusing the Obama Admin of subverting the intent of last years legislation mandating that Congress approve of any cancellation of Constellation. Moving Hanley feeds their suspicions.

    But that was too tough a connection for you to make.

    It never occurred to you that having the ranking Democrat join with the ranking Republican was significant and illustrates the unforced errors Obama is making in his quest to kill Constellation.

  • amightywind

    Vladislaw wrote:

    “Here is a great source for what’s wrong with constellation:”

    The article sites independent analysis from the GAO and the CBO. Both entities are wholly politicised and profoundly corrupt. After abetting the swindle of the American people during the Obamacare debate by providing the liberals with a cost fig leaf figures before the vote, you should be embarrassed to cite them as a source.

  • Major Tom

    “Either they weren’t keeping Bolden in the loop about Hanley’s performance, or he was fudging his testimony… There’s a back story that they haven’t copped to…”

    Or, at the time of Bolden’s earlier testimony, Hanley was doing what Bolden wanted him to do, as transmitted by Cooke and Coats. But since then, Cooke and Coats have become dissatisfied with Hanley’s performance.

    Or Cooke and Coats really do want Hanley working strategic workforce issues during this critical realigment.

    Or Cooke and Coats simply want someone else running Constellation during its shutdown.

    Call it whatever you want — backstory, conspiracy, etc. But why the rush to innuendo and fingerpointing when there’s so many obvious explanations (some of which have already been provided)?

    “As for NASA’a management structure, you’ve got to be kidding. NASA has so many free-lancing, outside-the-tent, program and policy entrepreneurs…”

    Not with respect to management of the agency’s biggest programs, especially in human space flight. And we’re only three layers down the chain of command here, after all.

    FWIW…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Eric Sterner wrote @ May 28th, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    @Major Tom

    If your argument is accurate, why did Bolden state at an earlier hearing that Hanley was doing what he, Bolden, wanted Hanley to do? …

    that is so easy.

    NEVER as a senior acknowledge insubordination on the part of a subordinate…NEVER it is never good to look “impotent” to look as if somehow ones employees are getting away with not doing what you want done.

    This is typical Marine Corps doctrine of command…and if you knew a thing about how Bolden operated at the USNA when he went in to clean that place up or how he operated at his Air Wing…you would know this is typical.

    Plus when you fire a subordinate, one way down the chain never acknowledge doing it yourself…This is to trivialize the insubordination of the person who is being canned.

    Bolden gave Hanley every opportunity to get on board. The last straw was some of Hanley’s “next administration” stuff. Hanley was careless with some of the conversations he was sending to GOP staffers on the side.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “As usual Major Tom you dumpster dive for trivia in your hunt for the pointless.”

    I quoted directly from your earlier post. Are you claiming that your post was trivial and pointless?

    “Congress has been accusing the Obama Admin of subverting the intent of last years legislation mandating that Congress approve of any cancellation of Constellation. Moving Hanley feeds their suspicions.”

    Regardless of whether it feeds suspicions or not, the President (or the White House) didn’t reassign Hanley. Why do you keep arguing otherwise?

    “It never occurred to you that having the ranking Democrat join with the ranking Republican was significant…”

    First, he’s not the “ranking Democrat”. He’s the chairman.

    And yes, it may be significant. But I never argued that it wasn’t.

    Don’t make things up.

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wu1X0jPtlXs

    this is for all the Constellation groupies who leap on every little tidbit of news to imagine that their program is going to be saved.

    The best one this thread is Whittington who thinks a GOP congress would open investigations…LOL

    Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw

    amightywind wrote:

    “The article sites independent analysis from the GAO and the CBO. Both entities are wholly politicised and profoundly corrupt.”

    Like NASA isn’t politicised? A Congressional pork machine for a few member’s district.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “It’s not micromanagement to do so, since Congress isn’t reversing a personnel decision by asking for an investigation. ”

    Eric, that’s a good call. I’ll grant you that it isn’t a managerial act to ask for an investigation, and hence could well not be considered micromanagement. That being the case, this request for an investigation is about Bolden and Cooke. It’s not about Hanley! (Which is exactly what you said.) That is, Hutchison and Rockefeller have no intention of trying to reverse the decision because, as I said, Hanley is already toast managerially. Hanley’s Constellation team now knows that his bosses aren’t happy with him being their manager. So I can well imagine that, as you say, it’s just about inflicting retaliatory pain on the administration, as represented by upper HQ management.

    It’s also reasonable that this would happen after the GAO decided in favor of NASA. If the GAO decided that NASA was violating the Constellation no-termination clause, removing Hanley would have been pretty stupid.

    As to Bolden’s earlier endorsement of Hanley, well, it was probably unnecessary to say that, and might well even have been true at the time. As per comment by MT, the dynamics of the situation are pretty fluid, and it’s quite likely that things just changed. Could well be that Hanley’s response to the GAO decision might well have led to a mutual decision that it was time for him to leave.

  • Low Earth Orbit: We’ve been there already!!!! There’s NO need to ever go back there again!!

  • Vladislaw

    There is no need for NASA to develop systems to goto LEO anymore, you are correct. NASA should focus on space based, reusable, gas & go, systems for beyond earth orbit.

  • Gary Church

    “(POGO) It can be easily solved by adding simple dampers to one or both fuel lines.”

    “Solid rockets experience thrust oscillation. It’s caused by changes in exhaust pressure coupling to the structure of the vehicle itself. Unlike pogo, thrust oscillation can’t be fixed in the engine (unless you completely redesign the engine).”

    Don’t make stuff up Major Tom- stop lying with your technobabble BS.

    POGO is not “easy” to solve. It has been a problem whenever you change anything on a vehicle like payload, engine thrust etc. And to fix it you basically do redesign the fuel system which is a major part of the engine.

    I do not like defending almighty but….Major Tom is a pain in the…..

  • Gary Church

    “Low Earth Orbit: We’ve been there already!!! Let’s never ever go back there again!!”

    I agree.
    High polar orbit is the only place you can detonate atomic bombs at the right angle so the fallout does not get sucked into the magnetosphere and eventually contaminate the atmosphere. Nuclear pulse propulsion could easily be tested within a decade. The biggest problem is getting the oralloy into orbit safely- and a man-rated capsule with an escape tower is the best method. ISP; about 40,000, which makes “gas n go” and “fuel depots” a pretty pathetic plan in comparison. Not many gas stations out there but we have plenty of bombs.

  • Hanley was not the right person to shut down the mission.

    To the White House, Constellation is already dead and Congress today is just dancing on the grave of a child they wouldn’t feed.

  • Amightywind: “Pogo suppression worked as planned.”

    Yep, it’s called sticking with the 4-Segment SRB, good move. The only Ares-1 element ‘actually’ tested on the Ares-1x ‘test’ flight was the parachute recovery system. How did that part of the test go again? We’re not flying we’re crashing with style….and at great expense I might add. Makes one better appreciate the working recovery system on the 4-Segment SRB doesn’t it?

    The thrust oscillation problem is specific to the 5-Segment SRB because this additional length moves the resonance frequency into the natural frequency of everything above it, bad idea. This problem is specific to the 5-Segment SRB and was warned about in ESAS Appendix 6. A point Doug Stanley made during his presentations before mine before Congress on Nov 2, 2009. Apparently the all knowing Mike didn’t read that part of ESAS.

    Amightywind: “Orion weight reduction is proceeding nicely”

    Yah so well that now we are now down to single fault tolerance on most they key systems resulting a 50% chance that we will likely kill the crew on a Lunar mission. Yah great progress, where only 50% away from killing them out right. Oh and hopefully the ‘fix’ that prevents the 5-Segment SRB from literally bursting the Astronauts bladders or rendering them brain dead by repeatedly ramming their brains against their skulls (bad way to start out any mission in space Lunar or LEO) won’t weigh so much that we won’t be able to carry the TEI propellant we need to return from the Moon thereby making any trip to the Moon a one way trip. All right we made it to being 100% fatal, congratulations. Yes ATK, giving the Shaft to America.

    Oh and then there is the little issue that the high dynamic pressure of the Ares-1 ascent means that the as design LAS won’t be able to get the crew far enough way from the burning debris zone of the 5-Segment SRB. So for sixty seconds of the ascent the crew is just as toast on the Ares-1 as they are on the Shuttle. We could solve this little problem by doubling the capability of the LAS but then we would have to leave the service module behind. So Ares-1 would really be a mission to know where, too late for ISS, too incapable for the Moon.

    I don’t know which is extreme is worse Almightywind’s blind faith in Mike Griffin or Rand’s blind faith in Elon. Let me assure you neither of these individuals walks on water and are 100% dead wrong in some areas largely do to their egos.

    In the real engineering world you need to check your ego at the door. It takes a well lead, talented and organized team with open and honest lines of communication to pull off something as complicated and multi-displined as Space exploration and development. Space will never suffer fools or big egos gladly. As Tom Young said at the hearing on Wednesday its a one strike and you’re out business. Being right 99% is not enough for success.

  • Gary Church

    “In the real engineering world you need to check your ego at the door. It takes a well lead, talented and organized team with open and honest lines of communication to pull off something as complicated and multi-displined as Space exploration and development. Space will never suffer fools or big egos gladly. As Tom Young said at the hearing on Wednesday its a one strike and you’re out business. Being right 99% is not enough for success.”

    Well said, it should be read a couple times by everyone posting here. Too bad about Ares. It looked really good flying.

  • POGO is not “easy” to solve. It has been a problem whenever you change anything on a vehicle like payload, engine thrust etc. And to fix it you basically do redesign the fuel system which is a major part of the engine.

    Solids don’t have fuel systems. Solids don’t have pogo.

    I don’t know which is extreme is worse Almightywind’s blind faith in Mike Griffin or Rand’s blind faith in Elon.

    I have no faith, blind or otherwise, in Elon. That’s why we have ULA, even though everyone wants to continue to ignore them and pretend that SpaceX is going to win commercial crew.

    As Tom Young said at the hearing on Wednesday its a one strike and you’re out business.

    Tom Young has no human spaceflight experience. I don’t know why they keep calling him to testify.

  • Gary Church

    “Solids don’t have fuel systems. Solids don’t have pogo.”

    You wish I was talking about solids- I was not. Stop making things up.

    ‘I have no faith, blind or otherwise, in Elon. ”

    Ha,ha,ha, ha……..ha, ha,ha

  • Doug Lassiter: “It’s also reasonable that this would happen after the GAO decided in favor of NASA. If the GAO decided that NASA was violating the Constellation no-termination clause, removing Hanley would have been pretty stupid.”

    Actual, it is very stupid in reality and by your definition because the GAO has ‘yet’ to rule on that little issue, ETA July if I remember correctly. All they said, and I agree with them, is that it is acceptable for NASA (part of the Executive Branch) to do planning for a Presidential proposal if for no other reason than to show feasibility and define scope. The hours expended is hardly beyond what is happening almost continuously in a well managed organization trying to get ahead of potential shifts especially one this significant.

    The issue is that Congress would rather have NASA using this time in attempting to craft a transition plan from the PoR to something that can salvage the progress of the PoR but still meet the policy objectives within the budget (limit the Gap, limit workforce disruption, SDHLV, BEO etc.) they have repeatedly approved. Many of them are aware of just such a proposal that fixes the PoR and enables the objectives to be achieved.

    The question is did Hanley touch the third rail in attempting to craft a “Constellation-Lite” or what I like to call DIRECT or was he attempting to follow the law as enacted by Congress? It will be very interesting what the GAO finds either way.

    In the first scenario it will prove that executive branch isn’t interested in looking at any approach that could preserve America’s HSF future. What Congress sees as a bug they see as a feature. There is without doubt a collection of individuals at the Whitehouse that hate the whole concept of American Exceptionalism and the Space program is one of the crown jewels. Throw in a few useful idiots like Rand who sees the shinny penny of ‘commercial’ space along SpaceX hired guns like Bob Walker and bang you have “bite me” space policy drop on the door step of Congress. This would also explain why this wasn’t coordinated since it would have given Congress, or anyone who actually knows what they are talking about, way too much time to oppose it and then rally around an approach they all can get behind to push this back. This takes a lot longer than I would have hoped for but hey it’s a very diverse group. Bite me huh, be careful what you ask for. Unfortunately, time is not America’s HSF program’s friend right now and Congress can be very slow. The second scenario is illegal as defined by breaking a law enacted by the Congress and signed by the President.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure that Congress can have anyone removed from the executive branch can’t they? Is the threshold same or lower than the President though? At the same time I’m not aware of this ever happening, unless a crime is committed, oh that’s right, I guess we need to wait for the GAO.

    No question about it though, if this is a fight between the will of Congress and a few uncompromising yet powerful ideologues in the Whitehouse with the support of the President this could take awhile to sort out even if Congress wins the day as their are any number of salted Earth things that can happen at the Executive level.

  • The Man

    The I see it, Stephan, is that if Jeff Hanley was running a salvage operation over at CxP – A FAILED AND CANCELED PROGRAM, then he would be far more useful over at Strategic at JSC where they are presumably going to have better options than within CxP at Marshall. He really did get a promotion.

    The CxP patient died. It can’t be resuscitated except as a zombie or monster. And the villagers are pretty tired of the torches and pitchforks that right now.

  • Bennett

    “There is without doubt a collection of individuals at the Whitehouse that hate the whole concept of American Exceptionalism and the Space program is one of the crown jewels. “

    I personally doubt what you write is accurate, does my doubt count?

  • Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure that Congress can have anyone removed from the executive branch can’t they?

    You’re wrong. They can threaten the administration with legislation (or lack thereof), but they have no constitutional power to remove anyone, other than the president and other civil officers (i.e., cabinet members or judges), by impeachment. Hanley is just a civil servant.

  • Rand: “Tom Young has no human spaceflight experience. I don’t know why they keep calling him to testify.”

    Because he has ton of actual successful project space exploration development experience. Quite frankly some of the best product development people we have come from the DoD or the NASA unmanned programs because they have been doing it consistently for so long. After Shuttle was finished this development capability of NASA largely died. NASA HSF side is much more competent on the operations side, the very side we are destroying under the President’s plan BTW.

    Plus he is fully aware of all the various government contracting vehicles we have attempted over the years, which ones failed and why. Guess what COTS is the same contracting vehicle the failed multiple times across multiple organizations when applied to non-commercial products such as launch services, (commercial as defined by products or services that can survive with ‘no’ government purchases, ie like Airlines).

    To assume it won’t fail again is to assume that Elon is some kind-of demi-god above it all. Still Elon deserves a shot, but we need to cover our bets that’s all I’m suggesting, we are gambling the future success of the ISS after all. Let him prove cargo first. Concern ULA you obviously haven’t read what Andy Aldrin wrote about bringing the whole risk sharing ‘commercial’ idea to ULA. Once burned twice shy. With any luck Elon can sell out before the new owners figure out what ULA already did, purhaps his plan all along. Don’t worry the taxpayer will pick up the tab just as Charlie correctly stated.

    http://www.spacenews.com/civil/100402-commercial-crew-plan–hinge-risk-sharing.html

    He is spot on just like Tom Young. Gee I see a pattern here can you see it Rand?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ May 28th, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    “Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure that Congress can have anyone removed from the executive branch can’t they?”

    Stephen. One reason that you and your proposal were not taken seriously is that you seem to know as much about rocket science as well you know about other things.

    In the quoted statement you are COMPLETELY WRONG.

    Congress cannot order the President to remove anyone from the executive branch not even the people that The Senate confirms. So in other words the Senate cannot “unconfirm” Charlie Bolden.

    The sad thing for you is that there is an episode in American history where this notion was “in play”. During the Andrew Johnson administration the Senate in particular tried to interject itself into the notion that not only did the Senate confirm appointees (which is The Constitution). But also that the Executive could not remove appointed employees without Senate approval and the Senate could order the removal of employees.

    The impeachment of Andrew Johnson was cocked up along those lines (he fired the Secretary of War) and Johnson was acquited. The SCOTUS later dealt with the issue and tossed out your notion of how things are done.

    I assume that you know as much about rockets as you do politics.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ May 28th, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Because he has ton of actual successful project space exploration development experience….

    that is related to booster and space policy development how? Robert G. Oler

  • Rand, I wasn’t thinking of Hanley, OSTP and the NASA Administrators should be though. A few more salted Earth moves and they may just get angry enough.

  • Still Elon deserves a shot, but we need to cover our bets that’s all I’m suggesting

    We are covering our bets. In fact, it is Elon that we are using to cover the ULA bet. No need for any other new vehicles.

    Rand, I wasn’t thinking of Hanley, OSTP and the NASA Administrators should be though. A few more salted Earth moves and they may just get angry enough.

    If you think that Congress is going to attempt to impeach and remove a NASA administrator or science advisor over something as trivial as space policy, with all of the other things on their plate, you’re out of your political mind. No one in Congress cares about this except a few whose pork is getting redistributed.

  • Robert: “I assume that you know as much about rockets as you do politics.”

    Bad assumption. That is why I put the question mark in my question. I’m by no means an expert of politics, as written in our laws or as more importantly practiced. Which is as confusing as heck BTW, since the rules don’t seem to be written down anywhere and even when they are they are treated more like guidelines especially for those in power until someone powerful wants to come after you. With engineering the rules are not all know but the ones we do know are solid and don’t change, even for Elon.

    And for the record nobody, including Mike Griffin knows enough about rockets or any complicated subject for the matter, which definitely includes politics, to ever go it alone. Give me a good team that works together and we can out do any individual expert.

    Even if you are the Michael Jordon of your particular area you can still be beaten by five good players. Numbers count more than talent or actually being right.

    Thanks for the well written response.

    Other question, because good project developers have the social oranization skills that are key in bringing forth the technical talent. Tom Young has learned those as such he could just as well be put in charge of designing widget factory.

    Ironically some of the best project managers in history weren’t engineers at all, because they were great leaders first that surround themselves with good engineers and provided the environment they need to work together successfully. NASA has plenty of great engineers what they lack is enough great leaders.

  • Rand you may be right, it depends upon whether Congress wants the laws they passed actually adhered to by the executive branch or rather its more like thanks for the money now go to heck with the requirements that come with the money. There has certainly been a lot of that going on with the stimulus and related ‘emergency’ spending.

    Time will tell. There may never be enough of them mad enough, then again there is first time for everything. I think you also mis-judge just how united the Authorization and Appropriations are in both chambers and across party lines with regards to wanting significant modifications to the plan. Again the big debate is surrounding how to modify it not whether. Or as Nelson called it perfect it. If they muster 2/3 the President can’t do much short of continue the salted Earth campaign internal to NASA.

    Boy, I’m agreeing with Rand and thanking Robert, must be time for the long weekend :)

  • Smokey

    The US manned Space program is moribund. The next person to walk on the moon will be Chinese, or possibly Japanese. And the first person to walk on Mars will be Chinese, Japanese or possibly Indian.
    The Shuttle was the major hardware in assembling the Space Station. But with the shuttle program ending US scientists will have to get there on an old Russian bus not much bigger than a Volkswagen bug.
    How many top notch American scientists are going to be looking for jobs soon? I suppose they could get a job with with a car company or one of the big banks. They’re getting all the money now while remaining NASA sycophants try to convince us everything is just fine.
    Good work Obama.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ May 28th, 2010 at 7:19 pm ..

    Civics is all rather easy. One just has to read basic text.

    Three points.

    First off the “game” you are playing in and constantly tell us you know a lot about is civics. The essence of policy is to try and understand how the civics of The Republic are playing out. One reason I get almost everything correct about how policy is going is that I realize it is not rocket science but politics and I watch politics.

    Second, “Elon” (I assume you mean Elon Musk) is working economics as well as civics and I suspect he has some rather good talent trying to work his rocket/spacecraft science. So far he is doing a pretty good job of keeping it all balanced, although to be fair to the entire show his rocket (the 9) does have to 1) work and 2) work for the dollars he claims it can work.

    Third..NASA probably has its first great leader in oh 30 or 40 years. Bolden is trying to do something that should have been done by Reagan and his folks in the 80′s and that is moving it off the dime of one big government flop after…into something that works in space just as things work in every other sector of our economy.

    If you dont think that transition is possible then you are simply Wrong in my view and you must realize that this assumption means that nothing much more will ever be done in human spaceflight, because the country will not pay the dollars that a government oriented program takes.

    thats got us back to civics and economics

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Smokey wrote @ May 28th, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    “The US manned Space program is moribund. The next person to walk on the moon will be Chinese, or possibly Japanese. And the first person to walk on Mars will be Chinese, Japanese or possibly Indian.
    The Shuttle was the major hardware in assembling the Space Station.”

    LOL

    Robert G. Oler

  • Bennett

    Smokey wrote @ May 28th, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    How many top notch American scientists are going to be looking for jobs soon?

    From what I’ve heard, the top notch scientists within NASA are thrilled that they will be able to work without fear that some HSF boondoggle is going to steal all of their project’s funding.

    Which scientists were you talking about?

  • Vladislaw

    Gary Church wrote:

    “High polar orbit is the only place you can detonate atomic bombs at the right angle so the fallout does not get sucked into the magnetosphere and eventually contaminate the atmosphere.”

    In what century do you plan on selling this to the congress and the American people?

    “okay it’s simple we will just detonate atomic bombs in the atmosphere and …”

    “wait explode nukes WHERE?”

    You would get laughed out of the committee meeting.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Actual, it is very stupid in reality and by your definition because the GAO has ‘yet’ to rule on that little issue, ETA July if I remember correctly. ”

    No, the issue I was talking about was whether formation of study teams violated the non-termination clause by using Constellation funds to create or initiate a new NASA activity. On May 21 the GAO said it wasn’t. As a manager, Hanley would be concerned about such money being taken away from his program. The GAO decided that wasn’t happening. I’m not too concerned about whether NASA terminated or eliminated Constellation. NASA thinks it didn’t, so that can’t be their reason for reassigning Hanley. In fact, they didn’t dismantle the program. Hanley’s job was filled by someone else. That was pretty simple.

    As to your other comments, I find the basing of “American Exceptionalism” in human spaceflight to be a sad attempt to worship Apollo. Apollo is done. It’s gone. What it’s left us with are some great memories, some rusting boosters, cranky astronauts still rubbing the dust out of their eyes, and probably some flags still standing on the Moon. ISS has been remarkable in what we’ve managed to build, but not what we’ve managed to do with what we’ve built. Constellation would have not only thrown away ISS, but thrown away the expertise in in-space ops we’ve gained from it. There are some shining stars in the American HSF sky, but the last few decades of American HSF can hardly be looked at as signposts for “American Exceptionalism.” Developing any big launch architecture by the agency to put outposts on the Moon using decades old technology basically concedes our inability to make the technological advances or acquisition advances that would truly change the game. This administration dares to change the game.

  • Rand you may be right, it depends upon whether Congress wants the laws they passed actually adhered to by the executive branch or rather its more like thanks for the money now go to heck with the requirements that come with the money.

    [laughing]

    There is no violation of any law in replacing a program manager. This is nutty.

  • The next person to walk on the moon will be Chinese, or possibly Japanese.

    No, it will almost certainly be an American, unless they dramatically change their approach to space. But it probably won’t be a NASA employee.

  • Gary Church

    “okay it’s simple we will just detonate atomic bombs in the atmosphere and

    That is a lie. Stop making things up.

  • Gary Church

    “Low Earth Orbit: We’ve been there already!!! Let’s never ever go back there again!!”

    I agree.
    High polar orbit is the only place you can detonate atomic bombs at the right angle so the fallout does not get sucked into the magnetosphere and eventually contaminate the atmosphere. Nuclear pulse propulsion could easily be tested within a decade. The biggest problem is getting the oralloy into orbit safely- and a man-rated capsule with an escape tower is the best method. ISP; about 40,000, which makes “gas n go” and “fuel depots” a pretty pathetic plan in comparison. Not many gas stations out there but we have plenty of bombs.

  • Vladislaw

    Gary Church wrote:

    “okay it’s simple we will just detonate atomic bombs in the atmosphere and

    That is a lie. Stop making things up.”

    That is exactly how it would get played in the press, and no matter how much you howled about it not being correct, the anti nuclear groups would play it that way and not a dime of funding would come around.

  • Gary Church

    The anti-nuclear groups would jump all over it because it would go with Obama’s statement about reducing the nuclear arsenal. Moving the nuclear industry off earth and out into space where it belongs could become the anti-nuclear movement. No problem with nuclear waste out there; just point it toward the sun, give it a little shove, and gravity will do the rest. The moon would make a great nuclear processing site. Remember space 1999?

  • Gary Church

    A heavy lift vehicle is absolutely critical to any future manned space exploration program; and so I am not accused of not having facts- I will state that this is my opinion. I will even use numbers (small numbers)

    1. There has to be an ultimate goal to any manned space program- Apollo succeeded in it’s goal. The follow-on failed without it. So I will say it; the ultimate goal is a self-sustaining off world colony. The reasons to establish this colony are the survival imperative and economic development of solar system resources. (the second part is for you Mr. Oler). Expansion into space.

    2. I will eliminate the moon and mars as colony sites because they are at the bottom of significant gravity wells, which makes even the moon expensive to travel to and from into space, and they do not have one gravity which is known to be healthy for human beings (along with sea level radiation levels). This leaves space habitats and the best design is the original 1929 hollow sphere concept of John Desmond Bernal, which we will have to build in space. Bernal Spheres.

    3. Building these structures will require energy and metal. There is certainly plenty of metal available in the asteroid belt and solar energy is also a plentiful resource that can be economically developed. The problem is utilizing them. Spaceships are needed; true spaceships that provide high speed, radiation protection, artificial gravity, and large payloads for carrying manufacturing infrastructure components. Chemical energy propulsion is completely inadequate; they will have to be nuclear powered. Atomic Spaceships.

    4. The only propulsion system that can efficiently use nuclear energy is external pulse propulsion; atomic bombs. A very large ship is necessary and that will have to be built in sections using wet workshops and reusable launch vehicle components. Wet workshops.

    5. The only way to lift the needed wet workshop payloads into orbit are with heavy launch vehicles. In addition the only acceptably safe way to transport the fissionable material into orbit is a man-rated capsule equipped with an escape tower. Man-rated heavy lift launch vehicle.

    6. These Atomic Spaceships will require massive radiation shielding and the discovery of water on the moon is a great enabler for this mass to be economically acquired.

    7. Thus we have all the pieces necessary; the technology to build extremely powerful launch vehicles with reusable monolithic solid strap ons like the AJ-260. Liquid hydrogen motors returnable from orbit with their own ablative module, and escape towers and capsules also reusable. And the empty second stage structure as a compartment in a multi-compartment nuclear powered and nuclear propelled spaceship.

    This is a reasonable plan for manned space exploration. Much better than tourists taking their girlfriends up into orbit for zero g romps in the hay.

    I will even give you a timetable; April 12, 2061 will be the day the United States welcomes it’s 51st state into the union. This state will be a Bernal sphere or several spheres as cities of the new state and it will mean we really did win the space race. I will also be 100 years old. I just might make it.

  • Ben Joshua

    Four questions, please:

    A) If a new pro-Constellation administrator had re-assigned someone who had, say, raised basic questions about Ares or Orion, would that be an outrageous abuse of power or consolidation of an effective working team?

    B) Could someone detail out (a bit) the price per pound to orbit figure given for Ares 1A? To what degree is the estimate per launch or per X launches per year, and to what degree does it amortize development costs? Apologies if this re-visits old information that I missed.

    C) Hasn’t NASA re-assigned folks as a matter of course during budget transitions from one program to another? For example, from Apollo to Shuttle, or from Shuttle to ISS?

    D) Regarding the critique of a nine engine cluster powering the Falcon 9 first stage, how did the eight engine H-1 cluster work out for the Saturn 1/1B first stage? Just less than optimal, or problematic?

  • Think about it for just a moment: Just how close could we be sending astronauts from Earth, and have where we’re sending them still be called space? What’s the bare, mimimum effort we could make, in placing them in space, minus actually going to a destination? Bingo! This is why repeat, over-and-over-again, LEO flights never end, and why the ISS is uncancellable: it’s all the bare minimum, nothing-to-it effort we can make as a nation, and still pat ourselves on the back, and tell ourselves that we are spacefarers. Astronauts floating around inside a giant aluminum canister, in zero-g: HEY LOOK!—WE’RE IN SPACE!!! Next photo-op. Really, people; don’t you all get tired & bored over viewing the SAME old thing again & again?? Mirror duplications of the Mir, Salyut, & Skylab?? Come on boys, isn’t it high time we left Low Earth Orbit, after 40 freaking years?! How close to the Earth could we possibly be, and still claim to be venturing to space??

  • Gary Church

    No one wants to face the ugly truth; you cannot go out there on chemical propulsion. Got to go nuke. No one will even go near it.

  • sc220

    To right leftist injustice, as my heroine Sarah Palin says, “You betcha!”

    Then that makes you a veritable moron. Anyone who invokes Sarah “The Mindless” Palin deserves no serious consideration in public discourse. Your opinions are BS!

  • Eviscerator

    Really, people; don’t you all get tired & bored over viewing the SAME old thing again & again??

    On a mid sized terrestrial life bearing planet awash in ice, rock, dirt and water? Is that some kind of trick question? I am getting sick and tired of looking at all the expendable crap you astronaut monkeys leave laying around on the surface, and the cr@p you cr@p into the air, water and soil.

    Your arguments are so hopelessly emotional and hysterical it’s laaaaame.

    Face it … you’re a noooooooooooooooooobie.

  • sc220

    Nuclear Pulse Propulsion is probably the best propulsion solution that relies on known physics. An excellent recent paper on the topic can be found at: http://pdf.aiaa.org/jaPreview/JPP/2002/PVJAIMP5969.pdf.

    Human space exploration using this approach becomes downright plausible. BTW, this was the approach advocated by Arthur C. Clarke in the original screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey.

  • Gary Church

    Nuclear Pulse Propulsion is probably the best propulsion solution that relies on known physics. An excellent recent paper on the topic can be found at: http://pdf.aiaa.org/jaPreview/JPP/2002/PVJAIMP5969.pdf.

    Yes, I have corresponded with Bonometti, he is a great guy. We discussed the problems with coupling the plasma cloud with the vehicle in the M2P2 concept.

  • Rhyolite

    Rand Simberg wrote @ May 28th, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    “We are covering our bets. In fact, it is Elon that we are using to cover the ULA bet. No need for any other new vehicles.”

    Amen.

    Two medium lift launch vehicles in service and a third under development is more than enough to put astronauts in orbit. I have yet to see anyone put forward a credible argument why the US should build a forth at extraordinary cost to the taxpayer.

  • Rhyolite

    “D) Regarding the critique of a nine engine cluster powering the Falcon 9 first stage, how did the eight engine H-1 cluster work out for the Saturn 1/1B first stage? Just less than optimal, or problematic?”

    19 flights, 19 successes, 0 failures.

  • Rhyolite

    “D) Regarding the critique of a nine engine cluster powering the Falcon 9 first stage, how did the eight engine H-1 cluster work out for the Saturn 1/1B first stage? Just less than optimal, or problematic?”

    Another data point is the Ariane 44L, which had 8 liquid engines:

    40 flights, 39 successes, 1 failure.

  • Smokey wrote:

    “The next person to walk on the moon will be Chinese, or possibly Japanese.”

    The Japanese have no Moon program nor any means of sending a human there. The Chinese want a space station in Earth orbit in the 2020s; they only have a study of a possible Moon program, and that involves sending robotic probes to collect samples and bring them back.

    The U.S. is currently negotiating with the Chinese to join the ISS partnership, which means the Chinese space station probably won’t happen, and the ludicrously high cost of a human Moon mission means the Chinese won’t go it alone.

    I hope you know people are laughing at your ignorance.

  • Gary Church

    Another data point is the Ariane 44L, which had 8 liquid engines:

    40 flights, 39 successes, 1 failure.

    Falcon 9 heavy, 27 engines, 27 turbopumps, 27 problems- not 8

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Rhyolite, Gary Church,

    It seems that SpaceX agrees that the number of engines on F-9H is a problem. Or, rather, they have determined that potential customers are not particularly keen on it.

    From recent comments made by their representatives, it seems that ‘Falcon-9H’ in the form we all know it probably won’t happen. They are supposedly planning to develop a large 1Mlbf+ kerolox engine to replace the Merlin-1c cluster, reducing the number of engines on the F-9H to three on the core and one on the upper stage.

    Of course, as with ULA, work on the F-9H isn’t likely to happen unless they have a customer who wants the capability.

  • Gary Church

    That sounds like a real launch vehicle! I don’t want to sound like an Apollo worshiper but why waste all that money developing and just dig up the blueprints for the F-1A; the uprated version of the Saturn V engine? Would they have to pay Rocketdyne a fortune or what?

  • Gary Church

    “I have yet to see anyone put forward a credible argument why the US should build a forth at extraordinary cost to the taxpayer.”

    Credible argument? How about medium launch is not capable of supporting a manned space program for any BEO missions?

  • Credible argument? How about medium launch is not capable of supporting a manned space program for any BEO missions?

    That’s not a credible argument. It’s not an argument at all. It’s an unsupported and ignorant assertion.

  • Rhyolite

    Gary Church wrote @ May 29th, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Did you even bother to read the question I was responding to?

    It was:

    “Regarding the critique of a nine engine cluster powering the Falcon 9 first stage, how did the eight engine H-1 cluster work out for the Saturn 1/1B first stage?”

    The answer is that there is lots of successful experience with eight engine clusters. Nine engines is not a great extrapolation. Those are the facts.

  • Ben Joshua

    As I remember reading, complete blueprints for the F-1 engine are no longer available. While this seems absurd in the digital age, back then completed or shutdown programs were not fully archived and archives not fully maintained.

    Reverse engineeering an F-1 might not be cost effective compared to developing a new engine.

    Kero-Lox engine technology has come a long way since the 1950s.

    The early F-1 design blew up at least once on the test stand, necessitating a re-siting of the center of combustion, rather than re-designing the shape, materials and weight of the engine chamber and exhaust, which would have taken much longer. The lower center of combustion site reduced maximum potential thrust. I do not know if later versions of the engine employed a fix of some sort, or a re-design.

  • As I remember reading, complete blueprints for the F-1 engine are no longer available.

    It’s not true. But if we wanted an engine in that class today, we could build one much better than the F-1.

  • Rhyolite

    Ben Russell-Gough wrote @ May 29th, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    The markets that SpaceX is going after generally don’t require a Falcon 9H class vehicle. To the degree that market already exists in the US, it is being addressed by the Delta IV. Dividing an already thin market is probably not worth their development dollars.

    I also seem to recall comments from SpaceX making comments about the desirability of a 1 Mlbf class engine. This seems to be an issue of what would be nice to have rather than what is absolutely necessary; they would use it if was available. Big engine developments are expensive and risky. The performance gain has to be substantial before it outweighs the considerable development cost. Otherwise, use what you have.

    There is precedent for starting with an engine cluster and switching when a larger engine becomes available: The S-IV stage, which was the second stage of the Saturn I use a cluster of 6 RL-10s. The S-IVB, which was the second stage of the Saturn IB and the third stage of the Saturn V, was derived from the S-IV stage with a single J-2 replacing the 6 RL-10s when it became available. This might be the path that Falcon 9 takes.

  • Ben Joshua

    Thank you for the correction, Rand Simberg. If only for historical and educational value, it’s good to know the F-1 design documentation exists, hopefully available to grad students for reference and study. I have to think there’s value in that. Appreciate the heads up.

  • Just to clarify, they are available in fiche (or were, last time I checked). I don’t think the original blueprints still exist.

  • Gary Church

    “It seems that SpaceX agrees that the number of engines on F-9H is a problem. Or, rather, they have determined that potential customers are not particularly keen on it. From recent comments made by their representatives, it seems that ‘Falcon-9H’ in the form we all know it probably won’t happen. They are supposedly planning to develop a large 1Mlbf+ kerolox engine to replace the Merlin-1c cluster, reducing the number of engines on the F-9H to three on the core and one on the upper stage.”

    Can you cluster’s last stand people read? Or are you blind to anything that does not fit into your cheaper is better BS business plan? Ignorant assertions are ones that state we can do BEO manned exploration with cheap rockets with cheap engines using substandard propellants by use of “tugs” and “fuel depots”. Considering the mind boggling numbers involved with any chemical stages that send a crew BEO, you are the one being ignorant.

  • Gary Church

    “Kero-Lox engine technology has come a long way since the 1950s.”

    No, the numbers have not changed much because you can only get so much out of the fuels and materials. A few tricks have raised efficiencies a few ISP and lowered weight a few percent.

    “The early F-1 design blew up at least once”

    No kidding? And as I stated, they finally engineered it so well they could and did set off bombs in the thrust chamber while it was running and it did not even hiccup. You want to start from scratch trying to accomplish that instead of the comparatively simple method of copying it?

  • When I say: Low Earth Orbit, we’ve been there already; I am being sarcastic. Why is it that we can’t do the Moon, “because we’ve been there”, and then carry on OVER & OVER & OVER AGAIN with LEO flights & space station stays??! Why doesn’t that gasbag Obama recite the fact that we’ve been to LEO LOTS & LOTS of times as well??!

  • common sense

    @ Chris Castro wrote @ May 30th, 2010 at 1:04 am

    You seem to really have a problem. It is not about the destination it is about what you do there. LEO requires a lot less complex system to go there develop the technologies for BEO than the Moon. Going to the Moon as it was, yes WAS, planned with Constellation would bring nothing for BEO exploration… beyond the Moon. Not even anything for ISRU as proposed by say Dennis Wingo. The overall architecture would not have permitted it, not with the predicted budget anyway. So why would you spend $100Bs to go to the Moon? Because of the Chinese??? Is that it?

  • Gary Church

    “Did you even bother to read the question I was responding to?”
    “The answer is that there is lots of successful experience with eight engine clusters. Nine engines is not a great extrapolation. Those are the facts.”

    Falcon 9H; 27 engines. Not 9. It is not just a cluster, it is a clusterf*ck.

  • Why doesn’t that gasbag Obama recite the fact that we’ve been to LEO LOTS & LOTS of times as well??!

    Because you have to go through LEO in order to get anywhere else. The moon is not necessarily on the path.

    Do you ever think?

  • Rhyolite

    Gary Church wrote @ May 30th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Sigh.

    A question was asked about the 9 engine cluster on Falcon 9. See: Ben Joshua wrote @ May 28th, 2010 at 9:12 pm. I answered it with facts.

    Both of your replies to my comments obsess on Falcon 9H, which is not germane to the original question. This just confirms my point that you didn’t read the question.

  • vulture4

    The central problem with Constellation is that it has a relatively high operating cost. It requires maintaining the VAB, MLPs, crawlers, and LC-39, and SRB recovery and refurbishment facilities, and assembly of the SRBs is hazardous and requires numerous crane operations. With all this, it’s flight rate will be only two per year initially and is unlikely ever to exceed four. Considering the amount of R&D still needed, Orion will require additional spending per flight greater than the cost of continuing to operate Shuttle even though Shuttle carries nearly twice the crew and ten times the cargo.

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