Congress, NASA

Bolden discusses NASA’s budget, China trip, and blogs he doesn’t read

While NASA administrator Charles Bolden has been putting in his share of appearances, he hasn’t said much, nor made himself available to the media: the last speech by Bolden on NASA’s web site (as opposed to a short statement) is from early September. Space News, though, scored a coup when it obtained a transcript of an all-hands meeting by Bolden at NASA Marshall on Tuesday, a meeting that was open to NASA employees but closed to the media and general public. A Space News article summarizes some of the highlights of Bolden’s talk, which covered a wide range of topics. Some other items of interest:

• On the budget, Bolden sounded skeptical that a final FY11 appropriations bill would be completed during the current lame-duck session. That bill “we are hoping will come as soon as possible, in all likelihood not before the new Congress comes in, but that’s not an impossibility,” he said. He added that while the change in party control of the House is a “wild card”, he’s talked with “almost every” newly-elected member of Congress though last weekend and found bipartisan support for the agency. (He cited an unnamed candidate in Florida “who campaigned against the incumbent because the incumbent supported wasteful NASA spending”, but that candidate, who apparently won, now “wants to support wasteful NASA spending”.) “So I am cautiously optimistic that we will be okay once the appropriations bill is signed into law,” he said.

Bolden, asked about what the best and worst cases the agency could expect for its budget, said the best case would have been having the administration’s original proposal passed, but that it “could be a best case” if appropriators end up funding the agency at the levels in the authorization act. The worst case, he said, would be if Congress decided to roll back the budget to 2008 levels, as House GOP leaders proposed earlier this fall. “It would not be devastating,” Bolden said, but “there will be
some programs that might go away.”

In the meantime NASA is operating under a continuing resolution (CR) at funds the agency at 2010 levels through December 3; that’s likely to be extended, perhaps into February. Bolden noted that one decision the agency made during this time was to smooth out the funding for Constellation since the authorization bill “significantly” reduced the requested funds for closing out the program: “[W]e didn’t want to make an abrupt change right away and end up having more people out of work.”

• On a related issue, Bolden downplayed the recommendation by the co-chairs of the deficit reduction commission to cut support for commercial crew development in the NASA budget, as part of a much larger package of cuts aimed at reducing the overall federal budget deficit. “My advice is don’t worry about it,” Bolden said, because it’s only a proposal by the committee chairs at this stage. He added that “commercial crew and cargo are essential for us” and that “we are critically dependent upon the success of the commercial entities.” However, he also pressed for funding the additional shuttle mission included in the authorization act “to bite on the risk” of delays in commercial cargo development by the two COTS and CRS awardees, Orbital Sciences and SpaceX. Flying the STS-135 mission “would give us an opportunity to put additional supplies and parts and pieces on board station that would take us out and give the commercial guys an opportunity to experience delays as we anticipate they will, because everybody does.”

• Bolden also downplayed the work by NASA’s Human Exploration Framework Team (HEFT), which came out with a phase 1 report in September. “HEFT is just a nursery, if you will, for ideas. It is not a program. It is not an office. They don’t make decisions,” Bolden said. “They just feed information to me and the rest of the leadership team.”

• Bolden provided some details about his trip to China last month. “We got an opportunity to see everything. Everything that we asked for plus some more,” he said. That apparently included a trip to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, the spaceport used for China’s human spaceflight missions and rarely visited by Westerners. He said he presented “three principles” that were essential for any future cooperation with the US on spaceflight: transparency in all their actions, willingness to exercise reciprocity, and performing mutually beneficial activities. “If we didn’t get anything out of it, we weren’t interested,” Bolden said. He mentioned that on the last night there he met with a three-star general who runs both China’s human spaceflight program and its anti-satellite program (“An odd mix of responsibility,” he noted) who said that China didn’t need to cooperate with the US, and vice versa, but “the potential, if we choose to work together, is incredible.”

• Bolden also mentioned a couple of times what he reads—or, more accurately, what he doesn’t. “I don’t read the blogs,” he said. “You know all they do is just upset my day so I don’t read them, and you read them if you want.” He later cited as one example of why he doesn’t read blogs the criticism he got for remaining in Prague during the International Astronautical Congress at the end of September while the House was taking up the NASA authorization bill. “I was on the phone with everybody, you know, all of our committee members,” he said, adding that NASA center directors were also talking with members and answering their questions; in the end, the bill passed by a wide margin. “So if you want to go read somebody who’s going to be critical of you everyday, have at it. I don’t recommend it.”

90 comments to Bolden discusses NASA’s budget, China trip, and blogs he doesn’t read

  • Robert G. Oler

    One really has to admire the work Charlie is doing and sort of stand in awe of the floundering of the folks on both sides of the space policy issue who are calling for his head.

    Bolden, (Like BTW Obama in general in the government) inherited an agency that was in all respects (at least in human spaceflight) a failure. Its signature program Cx was going in all the wrong directions…and yet it was the legacy of how the agency works.

    Even a modestly objective look at the stupefying incompetence of people like Hanley (or even John Shannon on the shuttle), makes one wonder how the agency got this far. Cx was going the wrong directions in time and money. No one today could come close to even estimating how much money or in what time span that the program would return to the Moon…and really no one could justify what it would do once it got there….

    all the while however it was the teat at which the entire “advocacy” group of the agency sucked at. The 15000 people on the shuttle who were looking for “the next job”…the pork barrel politics of groups like ATK (see a few thread back)…the mentality of “I dont care what we do but we have to keep our jobs”…all under management that just seemed adrift.

    (why for instance is the shuttle ET flying with cracks on the intertank? Why is this tolerated? Is this more “flying out of specs but in family” There is no aviation organization that would tolerate cracks in a structure carrying system, double them, and then not repeat test to see if the doublers crack…)

    Bolden recognizes a bad hand (in fact takes the job on that condition) and has recieved nothing but flack from people who had no problems dealing with the endless cost overruns or schedule delays by his predecessor…

    all in a political environment where the very folks who want to cut federal spending also want to keep their federal jobs program.

    These are difficult times and yet Charlie has managed to chart a course for the agency that will, if (and I think it will be ) followed will turn it from being simple federal jobs program…to doing something useful.

    Robert G. Oler

  • vulture4

    Agree in general. Oddly, the Constellation architecture is still in place (except, I assume, for Ares I) yet the Moon has been eliminated as a destination and repaced with an asteroid to be named later. This is absurd. The Constellation architecture should be thrown out. Affordable flight to LEO should be the first goal, followed by affordable flight to GEO and then, logically, to the moon. The “been there, done that” argument is insane. We need practical work in space, not entertainment.

  • amightywind

    China didn’t need to cooperate with the US, and vice versa, but “the potential, if we choose to work together, is incredible.

    I hope the GOP challenges this bilge. What ‘incredible’ things have been achieved through our cooperation with Russia? Nothing. We have an ISS in a bad orbit that sucks the life out of the NASA budget. As with Russia, cooperation with China will only result in the transfer of technology to recalcitrant enemy. Russia and China both occupy territory of our allies, with further expansionist designs. Both are notorious nuclear proliferators.

    It looks like Constellation will survive this round of budgeting. Once the GOP takes power hopefully the program can be put back on proper footing. I have a suggestion for those who obsess on seeing Constellation cancelled. Lets rename the program ‘Zodiac’ to get rid of the painful reminder of its reconstitution.

  • Robert, why does Ed Weiler still have his job?

  • Fake NASA

    why does Ed Weiler still have his job?

    Because NASA rewards failure, perhaps?

    Why does Doug Cooke still have his job?

  • Mike Snyder

    Robert G. Oler,

    Again, you tear people down and suggest that you can somehow speak to the motives of thousands of people. Goofy.

    Perhaps as a “consultant to the CAIB” and with all the contacts and access you consistently claim to have, you would be interested in sharing these opinions, thoughts and questions about the ET and competence of the people you call out specifically and generally above. Again, my offer still stands for you to place your money where your mouth is and stop being a disgruntled old man on one website.

  • DCSCA

    “[Bolden] said he presented “three principles” that were essential for any future cooperation with the US on spaceflight: transparency in all their actions, willingness to exercise reciprocity, and performing mutually beneficial activities.”

    Yeah, that pitch works well when it is enunciated by the Presdient and the Secretary of the Treasury, doesn’t it. This guy’s outside the area of his competence.

    “Bolden also mentioned a couple of times what he reads—or, more accurately, what he doesn’t. “I don’t read the blogs,” he said. “You know all they do is just upset my day so I don’t read them, and you read them if you want.”

    Maybe he should start so he gets an idea of how the struggling citizens who pay the taxes to a government that borrows 40 cents of every dollar to pay his salary feel about his capacity to administrate a leaderless space agency thet clearly has lost support and relevence with the Americans of 2010. For God’s sake, Charlie, STS-133 slipped its scheduled launch date, as usual, has cracks in its ET and hydrogen leaks in a system displaying problems which should have been cleared up years ago given shuttle has been operating for three decades.

    Expect Bolden to be gone by October 31, 2011.

  • Some of the blogs are being very hard on Charlie. His remarks about Muslim outreach were blown completely out of proportion and context. The same folks then attack him endlessly for adopting a low profile. I’ve been critical of Bolden’s performance, but I think I’ve been pretty fair. I don’t others have been.

    Bolden is probably doing a better job than he’s being given credit for. The authorization did make it through Congress despite all the crap that was thrown at it. Given the terrible economic conditions and the difficulty of changing a hidebound organization, that wasn’t too bad.

    Bolden has his weaknesses and flaws, but I’m not sure Obama would do better if he tried to replace him. Not with the possibility of only serving two years. Might not get many people eager to take on that risk.

    A possible replacement could be Garver. I like her, but she’s a policy wonk without the sort of flight and command experience that Bolden has. Those types of judgments are crucial as we go into commercial spaceflight and we’re figuring out exactly what human rating should be.

    If you read the OIG report on the biofuels controversy, you see that dynamic going on. Garver and Pete Worden got all excited about this great alternative fuel project, but others were more skeptical about its commercial prospects and appropriateness for NASA. Bolden had some knowledge of the area and was skeptical. Consulting Marathon on it was a bit questionable, but his skepticism on the merits of the project might have been well founded.

    Garver does fine as a number 2 with a focus on commercial space and policy matters, but you would want someone at the top with some flight experience. Would also be worried that Garver would be less effective if burdened down with the additional administrative duties of administrator.

  • R2K

    For a guy named Bolden…

  • CharlesHouston

    I have worked with Charlie – of course no one can say they “know” someone like him unless they share some of the background they have. Charlie is an amazing, incredibly smart, guy that really cares about people. When you see him cry about stuff that he really cares about, you realize that he is not a guy that edits his thoughts before they come out. To see a combat fighter pilot, Shuttle commander, Marine General cry in public is an impressive sight.

    He has been asked to help get his team through a tough time and that appears to be what he has focussed on. It was tough for him to come to jSC and have his team ask if he fought for them.

    He probably does not feel the need to justify himself to someone who has not been through what he has been through. I think he could recognize the need to explain his actions better to the press – perhaps he still lives in the rarefied air of a Shuttle commander and General officer.

    He does not financially need all of this hardship.

    I do wonder what he says when he relinquishes the role of Administrator – he is deeply loyal and will certainly not trash talk people. But his relationship with Lori Garver must be very strained. He must see her as a political animal (that he is not) and as someone who cannot understand what it means to ride out to the Shuttle, strap in, and lead your friends on a very dangerous mission.

  • DCSCA

    @CharlesHouston wrote @ November 20th, 2010 at 7:08 pm
    “To see a combat fighter pilot, Shuttle commander, Marine General cry in public is an impressive sight.”

    Rubbish. There’s nothing impressive about a weepy Federal employee with good healthcare and a secure pension paid for by a government that has to borrow 40 cents of every dollar it spends to pay for it.

    To witness a family cry as their home is foreclosed; to see a father try to explain to his children why, with 25 years service at a private firm forced to close, he looses his job because of foreign competition; to watch an elderly person weep because they must choose between buying their medication or a meal; to see kids scrounge and take supplies to their classes because their schools cannot afford them– that’s something to weep over in the United States of 2010. Not a well-pensioned government bureaucrat. No sir.

  • DCSCA

    D. Messier wrote @ November 20th, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    “A possible replacement could be Garver.” She’s useless. A lobbyist, no more, no less. It’s a safe bet she’s already got a news gig lined up with a contractor. Garver’s savvy enough to read the writing on the wall as far as the bleak future of NASA goes.

    “Consulting Marathon on it was a bit questionable…”

    Had a late family member who was in the top tiers of managment at Marathon Oil for 25 years. Know how that business works. What Bolden did was just plain wrong. He should have been fired.

  • amightywind

    A possible replacement could be Garver. I like her, but she’s a policy wonk without the sort of flight and command experience that Bolden has.

    Even Obama isn’t that foolish. What purpose would it serve him to antagonize GOP NASA hawks any more than he has? Obamaspace was rejected by his own congress. Why would he appoint its architect? I would say Lori Garver is one of the top 12 most controversial appointments Obama has made, along with Eric Holder, John Holdren, Carol Browner, Donald Berwick, Katherine Sebelius… None of these folks have much of a political life left.

    To see a combat fighter pilot, Shuttle commander, Marine General cry in public is an impressive sight.

    Are you serious?

  • E.P. Grondine

    Sometimes people hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest.

    There have been repeated comments here and elsewhere about the new BEO architecture and how it came into being. It uses L2, which Bolden mentioned, as a basing point for all BEO goals. It is the result of 10 years of studies of orbital mechanics by the nation’s best specialists in that field, none of which Garver was involved in.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mike Snyder wrote @ November 20th, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    it is a binomial solution set.

    Either the Ai Li tank is designed to have “cracks” and there are procedures set up to deal with them…or the system is not designed to have cracks and the folks at shuttle ops are once again flying “out of spec”.

    I am quite sure that it is the later…and while I cannot guarantee that something will go wrong out of this, nor can the good folks who are trying to come up with a “flight rationale” so they can go fly.

    Cracks that require doublers are bad. there is no airplane in the US, no technical operation in the US that would allow this to occur and the vehicle keep flying. The thunderheads in the shuttle program have no idea what the cracks or the doublers look like after an ascent to orbit…

    they are doing what they do best…playing Russian roulette and making a mockery of the term “safety”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ November 20th, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Robert, why does Ed Weiler still have his job?..

    Rand…because mediocrity and bad management are tolerated even to this date. The problems with Webb are all traceable to his watch…and why he has not been shown the door is beyond me.

    Cowing and I dont agree on a lot, but KC has nailed the issue here.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ November 20th, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    “Rubbish. There’s nothing impressive about a weepy Federal employee with good healthcare and a secure pension paid for by a government that has to borrow 40 cents of every dollar it spends to pay for it. ”

    and the pensions have almost no effect/affect on that 40 cents and the folks who have those pensions have earned every bit of it. Particularly Charlie Bolden.

    Robert G. Oler

  • CharlesHouston

    Caveat: I am a guy that was recently laid off in Houston due to the bumbling of the Federal government. After working for many years in the aerospace biz I am now meeting all of my pals at the Texas Workforce Commission.

    Still, when people criticize Charlie with unfair words such as (by DCSCA) Rubbish. There’s nothing impressive about a weepy Federal employee with good healthcare and a secure pension paid for by a government I will rise to his defense. He did not spend a career inventorying shoes – he flew fighters into combat. No one should dismiss that as being a “government bureaucrat”. He stood on the Shuttle pad and looked up at that great, breathing beast and had the courage to climb onboard. I have seen Shuttles on the pad and they are scary even when you are gonna go home and sleep safe in your hotel that night.

    He might have laid me off but he is a way impressive guy. He earned his pension. I disagree with some of the things he has done and said but I respect him for his accomplishments as should we all.

    That said, I still would like to know he really feels about what President Obama has tasked him to do – basically dismantle the organization that he served so loyally.

  • D. Messier

    The algae project continued despite doubts and raiding a limited research budget. Its something where garver and worden might be wrong. Its a risk on a new tech, which is not in itself bad.time will tell. some things work and others dont. This is any area i understand.

  • Mike Snyder

    Robert G. Oler,

    Obviously you can have an opinion, even if it is mis-informed. Yet, you cannot say anything without totally insulting many people by hitting below the belt and just getting a lot of things plain wrong. It is completely unnecessary in your execution.

    As a “consultant to the CAIB” who claims he was begged to be on the board (yet not important enough to be mentioned or credited in the report appendix), for one who claims to still have “access” and “contacts”, you only post here becoming a “thunderhead” yourself by touting your “resume” on one website but ignoring your greater responsibility if you really believe there to be an issue and one you can back with data. Goofy.

    So Mr. Oler, why do you not use your “access” and “contacts”, to do something about it? Or is it that you are a fake and you find it easier to wallow in your bitterness and just cut everyone down?

  • Robert G. Oler

    CharlesHouston wrote @ November 20th, 2010 at 11:54 pm


    That said, I still would like to know he really feels about what President Obama has tasked him to do – basically dismantle the organization that he served so loyally.

    I have not talked to Charlie about this…but my guess is that he is “good with it”.

    Charlie doesnt need the work. And he could easily find it outside of the G job and make far more money at it anyway.

    What I think upsets Bolden is what upsets me about the changes in the space program…and the world in general…is the people who are being screwed.

    Most of these people did nothing but work hard. That is the story of almost everyone I know who is unemployed and as you phrase it (sort of) “getting acquainted with the Texas Workforce Commission”.

    AS the economic policies of the last administration come home, who is getting hosed are not the folks who made all the cash or who even made the thunderhead policies…who is getting screwed are the “little people” that the “rising tide” was suppose to lift. The trick is that during the last 8-10 years they were simply unable to affect the larger policies. All they could do is work hard at whatever “sandwich” they were served and try and make it into something useful…and for the most part it has, through no fault of their own, worked.

    This is why I find support here for people like Mike Griffin so bizarre. Griffin had to know that as the gap between shuttle and whatever came next grew, the workforce that was associated with shuttle was not going to make the transition. Griffin could see the economic picture darken as the last two years of the Bush administration droned on, and yet he seemed helpless to react to those…sort of living in a world of denial…”no one is going to cut here”.

    Yet here he is like one of the bankers who got every break possible in the last 10 years and made every work decision possible and he (and the bankers) are fine…its the “middle class person” who is suppose to be the recipient of all the GOP’s economic policies…that is getting the shaft.

    Thats sad. What is also sad is the folks who on any given day would beat up on any other federal program (“Its taking my money”) and yet are happy to argue some bizzare sort of logic that this particular federal program (NASA) should continue (well I guess it is the same argument “they are taking my money’!)

    Bolden is trying to do what few in the federal government are trying to do right now (and I include The POTUS in the larger cluless category) ….he is trying to transition the agency toward something that will save it…and he gets upset at the human cost.

    Welcome to the world of the GOP. The base “loves” this or that…but when the fight really comes their buns are home in front of their bible banging religious programs…not on the gun line in Anbar (or wherever) feeling the brunt of the policies the right wing bible bangers so love.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    I am quite sure that it is the later…and while I cannot guarantee that something will go wrong out of this, nor can the good folks who are trying to come up with a “flight rationale” so they can go fl

    I wrote the above.

    it should be

    I am quite sure that it is the later…and while I cannot guarantee that something will go wrong out of this, nor can the good folks who are trying to come up with a flight rationale” so they can go fly guarantee that things will go right…and until they can they have not “pounded flat” anything but their own rhetoric. They are flying “out of specs”…

    and that is what caused Challenger and Columbia to go “bang”.

    then the rest of it. sorry

    Robert

  • Martijn Meijering

    Griffin had to know that as the gap between shuttle and whatever came next grew, the workforce that was associated with shuttle was not going to make the transition.

    Griffin probably didn’t want a gap, but he did want to reduce the workforce by as much as possible without giving up the ability to run an SDLV, thus freeing up the maximum amount of money for new development. Apart from the SDLV (which was a political constraint) it wasn’t a crazy strategy. Of course, overlooking the political constraint is a pretty big caveat.

  • amightywind

    and the pensions have almost no effect/affect on that 40 cents and the folks who have those pensions have earned every bit of it. Particularly Charlie Bolden.

    A classic, pathetic argument for anyone involved in a skim. They haven’t earned anything. If only the payout were limited to contributions + interest, (like the people who pay their salaries) we’d have no problem. That’s not how it works. The taxpayers must support these freeloaders in perpetuity. The only people in the federal government who merit a pension are those in the military, and only the ones who put their a$$ on the line. No interest of society is served by enriching government bureaucrats. Federal pay and pension reform are a vital component of government spending cuts.

    From the looks of it NASA had stringer ‘doublers’ ready to install on the ET intertank, suggesting that these are not the first stringers to crack. Anyone know it this is the case? I say, “let’s fix our little problem and light this candle!”

  • Rand…because mediocrity and bad management are tolerated even to this date. The problems with Webb are all traceable to his watch…and why he has not been shown the door is beyond me.

    Then I guess Charlie Bolden isn’t the great leader and ass kicker you proclaim him to be, is he?

  • Why would he appoint its architect?

    He wouldn’t have to appoint her. All he has to do is ask for Bolden’s resignation, not replace him, and she’d be acting administrator indefinitely (at least through early 2013, and perhaps longer, if by some second unfortunate bout of insanity among the electorate, he’s reelected).

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mike Snyder wrote @ November 21st, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Robert G. Oler,

    Obviously you can have an opinion, even if it is mis-informed. ..

    so how is it misinformed?

    there is a third option between flying with a systems whose specs allow/call for a doubler plate whenever cracks occur or they are flying out of specification?

    tell me what the third option is. Flying in family? BTW greetings from NOLA…getting my own peek at the foam thingy!

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ November 21st, 2010 at 10:57 am

    The only people in the federal government who merit a pension are those in the military, and only the ones who put their a$$ on the line..

    ah what an adorable metric…so Border Patrol agents dont merit a pension?

    goofy

    Robert G. Oler

  • Kirill Storch

    This is rather sad. I would have liked him to comment on the fact that American astronauts now depend on Russian, private space companies to get them up there. This is a fact.

    It’s one of the techniques they are using to ease the budget shortfall.

    Reagan would be turning in his grave. I think if the Russians are doing it, NASA should completely privatize. It’s obviously more effective.

    Lastly, if NASA is so important- why don’t we ease the budget rollover regulations, and allow NASA to invest a portion of its budget each year so that they can create their own economic buffer, rather than waiting on Congress each year to allocate them what meager portions of the budget are left after military expenditures?

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ November 20th, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Rubbish. It’s gotta be paid for and 40 cents of every dollar has to be borrowed to cover funds spend by the government. Stop making excuses for over paid, underperforming bureaucrats.

  • DCSCA

    Charlie doesnt need the work. And he could easily find it outside of the G job and make far more money at it anyway.

    Great. Then he can forfeit his government pension.

  • DCSCA

    “He stood on the Shuttle pad and looked up at that great, breathing beast and had the courage to climb onboard.” <— It's a dinosaur.

  • amightywind wrote: The only people in the federal government who merit a pension are those in the military, and only the ones who put their a$$ on the line..

    Recall that we are speaking of a former Shuttle astronaut who is also a battle-hardened General in the Marines. I think that alone qualifies under the a$$-on-the-line criterion.

    General Borden shouldn’t be spending his time reading blogs. He knows how to delegate tasks. Whomever in NASA HQ that reads blogs and keeps track of online updates from private companies and so on acts as a filter and passes on whatever information is useful. As ad hominem isn’t useful, it gets filtered out. Something that is critical of NASA’s approach and offers a better alternative is much more constructive, and might be passed on, in one form or another.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ November 21st, 2010 at 9:46 am
    “Bolden is trying to do what few in the federal government are trying to do right now (and I include The POTUS in the larger cluless category) ….he is trying to transition the agency toward something that will save it…and he gets upset at the human cost.”

    It’s too late. There’s no strong rationale to keep funding the $20 billion/year civilian space agency around as an independent organization when the government has to borrow 40 cents of every dollar it spends to pay for the luxury of keeping it around, especially–as far as the bulk of the American people are concerned– as it no longer will be doing what they perceive it existing to do in the first place– fly humans into space. Once shuttle is gone, cash-starved Americans struggling to pay for health insurance, keep their homes and jobs won’t miss it. NASA will be absorbed/dissolved by 2020-2025.

    The only way to save any semblence of a space infrastructure for long term planners is to dissolve the civilian space agency and consolidate any assets/projects of value into a NASA/DoD division which can offer some protection from deeper cuts and outright eliminations uner the ‘cloak’ of ‘national security.’ Which also means all the current NASA consultants and contractors are gonna have to get in line with existing DoD contractors as well to peddle their services and wares.

  • DCSCA

    @CharlesHouston wrote @ November 20th, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    “That said, I still would like to know he really feels about what President Obama has tasked him to do – basically dismantle the organization that he served so loyally.”

    Are you kidding?? This speaks volumes about his weak leadership skills and inability to speak truth to power. Not a very endearing trait to see surface in a fighter pilot ot a Marine general. But quite natural enough to see in a bureaucrat.

  • Factual Evidence

    I would have liked him to comment on the fact that American astronauts now depend on Russian, private space companies to get them up there. This is a fact.

    Except for that shuttle launch coming up next month. And the fact that private companies have yet to launch a single astronaut to the ISS on their own launch vehicle.

  • Martijn Meijering

    And the fact that private companies have yet to launch a single astronaut to the ISS on their own launch vehicle.

    Because they didn’t get any funding while JSC and MSFC did.

  • Fred Willett

    It should be noted that Bolden, as head of NASA, is not a private citizen.
    He has no private opinion of the program he is given by the POTUS. He either supports it 100% or resigns.
    Ditto for the Deputy Administrator.
    They are public servants.
    They do what they’re told.
    When anybody here rubbishes Bolden they are shooting the messenger.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    This is why I find support here for people like Mike Griffin so bizarre. Griffin had to know that as the gap between shuttle and whatever came next grew, the workforce that was associated with shuttle was not going to make the transition. Griffin could see the economic picture darken as the last two years of the Bush administration droned on, and yet he seemed helpless to react to those…sort of living in a world of denial…”no one is going to cut here”.

    The thing is, it was all laid out at the time but no one was paying attention because all the space groupies heard was Moon and Mars.

    Some months back, I went to the local library in Cocoa to read through the Florida Today archives in the month following Bush’s VSE speech. All the problems with it were laid bare within a few days. There wasn’t much of a secret to it.

    It was openly acknowledged we’d have a minimum four-year gap after Shuttle retired in 2010. It was openly acknowledged we’d have to rely on Russia. People today complain about Russia charging us $51 million per astronaut, but we created that monopoly by failing to plan properly.

    As for the cost, that wasn’t a secret either. Plenty of observers said it was going to cost a lot more than claimed, and pointed out NASA’s history of cost overruns and falling behind schedule.

    The February 1, 2004 Florida Today published an opinion article by Dr. Alex Roland, a former NASA historian. Titled “Bush’s Space Plan a Political Hoax,” the article warned that the Moon-Mars program would inevitably balloon in cost as had NASA’s predecessor human flight programs, taking money away from other NASA projects such as robotic exploration and the Hubble Space Telescope. In fact, the Bush administration had just announced they would cancel the next HST servicing mission.

    Roland wrote:

    The problem, of course, is that his successor will inherit a gutted agency, with the failed detritus of the shuttle and space station visions still limping toward some unspecified denouement, and public expectations of mission impossible on the moon and Mars barely begun.

    The space program, in short, will be in a shambles.

    That will be the legacy of this cynical, political hoax.

    Roland had it right. 100% right.

    The Senate space subcommittee had a hearing about ten days after Bush’s speech. Sean O’Keefe was asked what would happen to the thousands of jobs imperiled by the retirement of Shuttle. He said, “We’ll have to work out those challenges at that time.” Again, this was January 2004.

    And then there was the infamous Vision Sand Chart which showed how they would pay for VSE. It’s very clear they intended to wipe out almost everything else NASA did to pay for VSE, without a significant increase in the NASA budget other than for inflation to pay for it.

    It was all there, in the open, more than six years ago.

    That people blame Obama for this is incredibly ignorant or incredibly deceitful.

  • amightywind

    That people blame Obama for this is incredibly ignorant or incredibly deceitful.

    Baloney. Obama inherited a NASA routinely executing the Constellation program. Instead he and his leftist supporters chose to blow up the agency. He also threw away a whole year before doing so. He deserves all of the scorn that can be heaped upon him.

  • Dennis Berube

    Wow, first you guys were blaming Griffin, now its time for Bolden bashing. Are you never satisfied? Who in your minds should be placed in charge of NASA?

  • Robert,

    I rarely agree with Rand Simberg, but I agree that Charlie Bolden is not doing a great job. For instance, back in the spring Congressional hearings concerning NASA, Bolden admitted several times to have bungled the rollout of the FY11 NASA budget. He also acknowledged not communicating with Congressional Reps and Senators, whose districts would be directly affected by new budget, beforehand. For an administration who has pledged bipartisanship and building consensus for government policy before passing legislation and implementing policy, NASA seems to be a glaring CFU.

  • That people blame Obama for this is incredibly ignorant or incredibly deceitful.

    Wow. Listen to the crickets chirping.

    That was one of the most obviously intelligent comments I’ve ever read here.

  • Mike Snyder

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ November 21st, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Your opinions about many facets of the shuttle program are mis-informed. Couple that with the way you present them and the absolute rudeness of your personal attacks makes you an extremeist and translates to me, and likely others but who is to say, as bitterness.

    As for the “third option”, there are always options. It is people’s job to make sure those options are valid and can be executed (and don’t try to take that statement on some wild tangent about STS-51L or 107). Clearly, an option would be to repair the tank if data, testing and analysis can be performed to show the tank will function as intended.

    Obviously, nothing is ever absolute and your previous posts on this subject show a polarized belief system where you are intentionally trying to stack the arguement with only two extreme conditions, as if there may be nothing inbetween. And aircraft do not fly only fly in 100% “spec” conditions as if everything is always perfect, so can the BS.

    As for the rest, ok sure. Glad to know you’re in NOLA. So if we’re going down this road, lets go down it right.

    1. What effort are you supporting for you to be there?
    2. Who is sponsoring your trip and who is fuding your travel?
    3. More specifically what sub-Team are you working and how does this flow into the overall effort?
    4. Will you be helping to generate any of the formal reports and briefings in order to determine if sufficient flight rationale exists? If so, in what capacity?
    5. What tank S/N are you looking at?
    6. What test cell is it in?
    7. What techniques are you using for your inspection that will provide insight into the condition of the STS-133 tank?

  • byeman

    Windy, your posts are nothing but partisan rhetoric and have nothing to do with reality.

    “Obama inherited a NASA routinely executing the Constellation program”

    If “routinely executing” means with massive cost overruns, huge schedule delays and technical show stoppers, then you are correct.

    Obama did the right thing like any other horse owner by putting the suffering Constellation beast down.

  • Martijn Meijering

    He also acknowledged not communicating with Congressional Reps and Senators, whose districts would be directly affected by new budget, beforehand.

    That was not a mistake. Had he done that, then they would have been able to mount an even more effective defense. Of course, it’s not as if Bolden had any choice in the matter because he only heard about it at the last minute himself. The WH/OMB either deliberately kept this secret until the last moment or they only made the decision at the last moment. The real mistake was not selling the new approach to the American public and letting the senators get away with obvious lies. He should never have allowed the narrative to evolve into “NASA” vs “commercial”, which is a very misleading way to describe the new policy.

  • If “routinely executing” means with massive cost overruns, huge schedule delays and technical show stoppers, then you are correct.

    Unfortunately, that is routine for NASA cost-plus programs, particularly at Marshall.

  • amightywind

    Obama did the right thing like any other horse owner by putting the suffering Constellation beast down.

    As a result Obama will have spent 2 years of Constellation funding and have nothing to show for it. Shrewd.

    Fortunately congress intervened. We now seem to have a Direct-based Constellation complete with Orion. The suffering beast is about to stomp its tormentor.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Gary Miles wrote @ November 22nd, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Robert,

    I rarely agree with Rand Simberg, but I agree that Charlie Bolden is not doing a great job. For instance, back in the spring Congressional hearings concerning NASA, Bolden admitted several times to have bungled the rollout of the FY11 NASA budget. He also acknowledged not communicating with Congressional Reps and Senators, whose districts would be directly affected by new budget, beforehand. …

    Gary.

    Those are all valid comments but I dont beat Charlie up to much for them.

    “Not communicating with…”. there was nothing to say.

    There was nothing that Charlie was going to say to Pete O. of TX 22 or Kay Bailey or Shelby or the thunderheads out in Utah or any of the NASA pork people…that would change their minds on supporting or not supporting the changes in Obama’s space politics/policy.

    None of these people could go back to the folks in their district who HAD to lose their jobs if anything was going to change…that would make them feel better or lessen the anxiety or “make the hurt go away”. Nothing. It is not just the blatant adversarial nature of today’s politics that make this true, it is the nature of constituency politics (which has existed since the start of The Republic) that make this the case…the hometown folks HAVE to stand oppossed to any changes which lose the jobs or they will lose their job.

    It is that simple.

    I think that the rollout was bungled (and I blame Garver for this, she is suppose to have the political chops in the agency)…but it was bungled not in dealing with the people who were never going to come along with the changes, but in dealing with the general essence of trying to explain the new policy and why it was important to the 95% of the American people who really dont care about HSF.

    In this NASA is no worse or better then the rest of the Obama administration whose political shop is so dull that I dont think that it could sell cocaine to Charlie Sheen or hookers to the LA senator who got reelected.

    The comments by Newt Gingrich and some others who are blatant partisans on the other side of this administration, but who have half a brain and care about space politics and policy make it clear to me that Bolden sold what he needed to sell…as does how the vote turned out.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mike Snyder wrote @ November 22nd, 2010 at 9:22 am

    As for the “third option”, there are always options….

    at NASA HSF that is a true statement. There are always rationales to fly with the O rings that didnt seat or foam coming off the vehicle or this or that problem. they can always “rationalize” or “pound flat” any objections or people who have different viewpoints, because the momenteum is not to fly safe, it is to just fly.

    At all other sound technical organizations there are only two options…have things in specifications or things are out of specs.

    From everything that is said about these cracks it is clear that they are working very hard to fly “out of specs”.

    and that is the same problem that killed 14 people and lost two shuttles.

    Shuttle management had “pounded flat” and justified/rationalized everything that went wrong on Challenger and Columbia’s last mission.

    and you cannot say otherwise.

    Old habits die hard

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    Unfortunately, that is routine for NASA cost-plus programs, particularly at Marshall.

    Can someone name a comparable large aerospace project that has ever been developed ‘on time, on schedule, and on budget’?

    Look at the Space Shuttle, 787, 777, F-22, F-35, C-17… They were ‘late’ and worked out fine. They were late because some bean counter or politician won’t deal with the reality of engineering.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ November 21st, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    yes. actually Roland was brought up by me here at the time of Bush’s speech. There was on this board a lot of cheerleading for Bush’s speech, Whittington was heralding the start of a “true space age”…My opposition was labeled “Bush hating” by many names who are now somewhat critics of the entire thing.

    The entire “strategerey” had the failings you, Roland and others point out and they were quite clear at the time…but with Bush we entered the era where rhetoric completely displaced reason and logic and one was either for the US or for the other people…so critics were not welcomed.

    My space news piece on the subject was published under “The coming Train wreck”.

    What has always surprised me about Griffin is what a klutz he was in terms of reality. It was clear pretty quickly that the budgets were going to come no where near the ones that he needed and that was under the most favorable circumstances of GOP POTUS and GOP Congress…so it has always struck me as strange that he never “rethought” the entire thing…until Bolden actually tried to change course and then I figured it out…

    Griffin might (or might not) have some real notions of space policy and politics in mind; but above all he became addicted to his job at NASA and how he maintained his job was by keeping all the political players in check and this included all the congress people and the folks like ATK who suck off the Cx Teat. If Griffin had said “change course” it strikes me that he would have encountered the same opposition that Charlie did…and the difference is that instead of the course being changed…Griffin would have been changed.

    Few people in the last administration who went against the corporate line survived. The only reason Bush changed course in Iraq was that 06 election made it clear to him that the then current course was done…if he had tried to maintain it the Dems would have brought the troops home with the people cheering.

    Griffin never faced that moment…because the program continuing was more important to all the power players then the program doing anything.

    And I said that is how it would turn out, when the policy was announced.

    I got two things really correct in the last decade… Iraq would be a fiasco and the Bush space policy would flounder.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ November 22nd, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Unfortunately, that is routine for NASA cost-plus programs, particularly at Marshall.

    Can someone name a comparable large aerospace project that has ever been developed ‘on time, on schedule, and on budget’?….

    the F-14, the F-4, the A-6, the rewing of the A-6 and the F-14D.

    The AEGIS class weapon system had some issues but never went as far over budget as say Webb has. The biggest issue with the AEGIS was that it took more to convert the Spruance hull to the Ticonderoga class size then most thought (although that made it affordable…using a Virginia hull would have been catastrophic).

    I think that Webb, the person also got the number correct for what it would cost to go to the Moon.

    Robert G. Oler

  • They were late because some bean counter or politician won’t deal with the reality of engineering.

    More likely the reality of cost-plus government contracting you mean.

    God what a partisan hack you are.

  • byeman

    Constellation was also not affordable. Its sustainment costs were too high.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    There was nothing that Charlie was going to say to Pete O. of TX 22 or Kay Bailey or Shelby or the thunderheads out in Utah or any of the NASA pork people…that would change their minds on supporting or not supporting the changes in Obama’s space politics/policy.

    For the people who think the FY11 NASA budget proposal was “bungled,” I would like to know just what they think the Administration could have done that would have resulted in a different outcome.

    The Congressional porkers are only interested in tax dollars coming to their districts. Period. The easy way out would have been to maintain the status quo. Everyone still gets their pork, and none of the pigs oink.

    If the Administration had gone in advance to critical members like Shelby with private briefings, gifts, chocolates, nylons, etc., all they would have done is run back to their districts and screamed bloody hell — the Republicans in particular, although the Democrats certainly did their kvetching.

    The porkers don’t care if the destination is LEO, the Moon, Mars, an asteroid or Vulcan. All they want to know is how much in tax dollars comes to their district.

  • Look at the Space Shuttle, 787, 777, F-22, F-35, C-17… They were ‘late’ and worked out fine. They were late because some bean counter or politician won’t deal with the reality of engineering.

    They weren’t slipping more than a year per year, and they didn’t chew up ten billions dollars and waste five years with little to show for it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ November 22nd, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Look at the Space Shuttle, 787, 777, F-22, F-35, C-17… They were ‘late’ and worked out fine. They were late because some bean counter or politician won’t deal with the reality of engineering…

    thats really not accurate.

    All the programs you mention were late and somewhat over budget but all of them had different reasons for being that way.

    I’ll compare two…the Triple 7 and the F-35.

    The triple 7 was late because it was really the first fly by wire/electronic flight instrumentation airplane certified in the US for a large transport category airplane and in part it had to deal with a lot of the Airbus experience in FBW and electronic flight instrumentation.

    These are fairly normal teething problems with leap frog technology and the FAA (and Boeing) wanted to make sure that what was done, was done correctly. Hence unlike the Airbus which has suffered several hull losses from a FBW/electronic systems interface that is not well thought out…the triple seven has not.

    The F-35 is simply the F-111 replayed.

    two different issues

    Robert G. Oler

  • Mike Snyder

    Robert Oler,

    I see you are taking time away from your busy schedule at NOLA and “taking a peek at the foam thingy” to totally not answer a single question posed to you or even discussing counter points to your “arguements”. Very, very telling.

  • amightywind

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    the F-14, the F-4, the A-6, the rewing of the A-6 and the F-14D.

    You have to go back 40 years to a fighter project an order of magnitude less complex, which demonstrates my point. There is nothing simple or fast, or cheap about modern aerospace development. Can we please stop these foolish assertions, “it’s too expensive.” Even your beloved SpaceX is stepping on its crank and making a money bonfire trying to launch a 60′s vintage spacecraft.

    …These are fairly normal teething problems…

    Which is all I am saying.

    dad wrote:

    God what a partisan hack you are.

    All I am saying that well meaning government (both parties) and industry program managers routinely, embarrassingly, remarkably, consistently underestimate the cost of aerospace projects. I am sure all individually have great reasons for this. But isn’t an important part of project management about learning from past performance? The manager class never does, it seems. This is a non-partisan criticism, and very puzzling.

  • Major Tom

    “… have been achieved through our cooperation with Russia? Nothing.”

    Zvezda allowed the ISS to be occupied earlier than originally planned.

    Russian Soyuzes and Progresses maintained U.S. human access to LEO after the Columbia accident.

    Russian Soyuzes and Progresses will continue to maintain U.S. human access to LEO after Shuttle retirement and the failure of the Constellation program.

    I’m no fan of the ISS either, but it’s ignorant or idiotic to claim that NASA has gotten “nothing” from the Russian space program.

    “As with Russia, cooperation with China will only result in the transfer of technology to recalcitrant enemy.”

    What US technology has been transferred to Russian through NASA’s human space flight program? Specifically?

    The Soviets built and flew their own Salyut and Mir space stations and their own space shuttle all without any cooperation from NASA. And despite the decade and a half of cooperation since, no SSMEs, SRBs, US ISS segment designs, or other facsimile of NASA hardware has shown up on any Russian vehicles.

    “It looks like Constellation will survive this round of budgeting.”

    What exactly has survived from Constellation?

    Ares I is dead. Orion has no LV. The SLS must deliver years earlier, with a much smaller budget and a much different payload mass than Ares V. Griffin himself defunded Altair before “this round of budgeting”.

    “Lets rename the program ‘Zodiac’…”

    Why would you want to name anything in a real space program after an astrological term? You do realize that astrology is not a science, right?

    “Obamaspace was rejected by his own congress.”

    How? The 2010 NASA Authorization Act, which passed by a large margin on a bipartisan vote, kills Ares I, funds commercial crew, accelerates HLV development, and funds exploration technology and robotic precursor missions. Those were all the key human space flight elements of the Administration’s FY 2011 budget request for NASA. Even decisions about the technical base for the new HLV (SLS) are left to NASA and the Administration.

    “Why would he appoint its architect? I would say Lori Garver”

    Garver was not the architect of anything. The Augustine Committee “architected” the Administration’s options for replacing Constellation. The White House selected the option they wanted to pursue, and Obama informed Bolden in a January meeting. Garver didn’t even have a role in helping pick the Augustine option that the Administration pursued in the FY11 budget request, nevertheless “architecting” that option.

    “The only people in the federal government who merit a pension are those in the military, and only the ones who put their a$$ on the line… Federal pay and pension reform are a vital component of government spending cuts.”

    The federal government stopped new pension plans way back in 1983. Since that time, all new hires have been enrolled in the Federal Employee Retirement System, the federal equivalent of the private sector 401k.

    It’s been nearly 30 years since pensions were phased out of the federal system. Try to keep up.

    “I say, ‘let’s fix our little problem and light this candle!’”

    Launch fever… really? You still havn’t read the CAIB report? You still havn’t learned from Challenger and Columbia?

    Really?

    “Obama inherited a NASA routinely executing the Constellation program.”

    There is nothing “routine” about single-string upper stage and crew capsule designs, year-for-year schedule slips, or intermediate-lift LV development costs that have risen into the $40 billion neighborhood (more than eight times the equivalent military systems), among a handful of other show-stoppers. The program had disintegrated technically, programmatically, and budgetarily.

    “Instead he and his leftist supporters chose to blow up the agency.”

    The Administration watched Constellation self-destruct for a year before calling for an independent review. That review told the Administration that it would have to pony up a politically unrealistic increase in NASA’s budget of $3-5 billion per year just to maintain a Constellation schedule that had slipped over the horizon, with an Ares I/Orion that wouldn’t be available until after ISS was in the drink and a lunar mission that wouldn’t launch until the mid-2030s, if ever. At that point, the Administration had no choice but to kill Constellation and pursue one of the alternatives from the independent review. That became the basis of NASA’s FY11 budget request. To have done otherwise would have left NASA’s human space flight programs in an untenable position with respect to domestic ETO access, schedule sanity, and a politically realistic budget.

    In this case, the Administration did what the executive branch is suppossed to do — it managed.

    “As a result Obama will have spent 2 years of Constellation funding and have nothing to show for it. Shrewd.”

    It’s Shelby et al. who put language into NASA’s FY 2010 appropriations bills requiring NASA to continue spending on Constellation even though the Augustine Committee was in the middle of its review. The Administration has done everything legally possible to minimize and stop spending on Constellation.

    Shelby made the bad bet on Constellation, not the White House.

    “We now seem to have a Direct-based Constellation complete with Orion.”

    Based on what? The 2010 NASA Authorization Act leaves technical decisions on SLS and MPCV to NASA and the Administration.

    “Can someone name a comparable large aerospace project that has ever been developed ‘on time, on schedule, and on budget’? Look at the Space Shuttle,”

    Shuttle development actually was about on schedule and budget. It failed miserably at meeting its operational requirements and stretch goals.

    “787, 777, F-22, F-35, C-17…”

    Only one of these programs has a budget overrun that approximates what Constellation was experiencing. And none of them had schedule slippage on par with Constellation.

    “They were ‘late’ and worked out fine.”

    This is idiotic logic. Being grossly behind schedule and over budget is not a programmatic virtue. Using this thinking, we should terminate the programs that are on schedule and budget because that’s an indication that they will not “work out fine”.

    Goofy…

  • Justin Kugler

    You’re talking about yet another instance of the “normalization of error,” amightywind.

    According to PMI’s standards, we are not conducting good or ethical project and program management when we offer and accept budget and schedule plans that are so grossly inaccurate.

    We have to change our standard of practice to be honest about what things will really cost and how long it will really take. We cannot continue business-as-usual and expect to thrive.

  • amightywind

    We have to change our standard of practice to be honest about what things will really cost and how long it will really take. We cannot continue business-as-usual and expect to thrive.

    You can try all you want. PMI types try to defy nature. For most projects you simply can not have the visibility into future events to project with any accuracy. In other words your tools are insufficient for the problem you are trying to solve. The only realistic guide for timelines is to estimate based on past performance.

    Goofy…

    One pompous Robert G. Oler on this site is quite enough.

  • DCSCA

    @Major Tom wrote @ November 22nd, 2010 at 3:39 pm
    “Shuttle development actually was about on schedule and budget. It failed miserably at meeting its operational requirements and stretch goals.”

    =blink= Inaccurate. Shuttle was over budget and slipped years behind schedule- chiefly due to tile problems and engine development issues. Recall its first drop tests were in August, 1977. Expecting developmental delays is natural enough for a new vehicle with an edgy design, but it was not an ‘on time/on budget’ program at all. Suggest you dig up a CBS Reports broadcast from the summer of 1980 which lays out several of these problems to both contractors and NASA officials— and to viewers. Costs had hit over $14 billion nine months before STS-1 got off the pad.

  • Alex

    “Orion has no LV. ”

    Yeah, what exactly is the official NASA thinking with regard to Orion these days? I’ve yet to see a document or report that says upon funding of 2010 Authorization Act Orion = MPCV.

  • Even your beloved SpaceX is stepping on its crank and making a money bonfire trying to launch a 60′s vintage spacecraft.

    “Making a money bonfire”? Let’s see, SpaceX has spent about half a billion to successfully develop a launch system and a capsule. Based on those costs, it expects to spend less than that amount more to complete a life-support system and abort system. Meanwhile, Ares spent billions, and is as far from completion in time as it was when it started. If SpaceX has a bonfire, Constellation was a Dresden-scale inferno.

    And so the troll keeps trolling.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ November 22nd, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    You have to go back 40 years to a fighter project an order of magnitude less complex, which demonstrates my point. There is nothing simple or fast, or cheap about modern aerospace development….

    you are at least funny.

    but ignorance is not bliss and arrogance needs to be earned.

    The F-14 was as much of a “leap” over the F-4 as the F-4 was a leap over the technology of its predecessors or as today’s programs are leap over yesterdays. There is nothing simple about technological leapfrogging not matter the era…and to use the metric that projects of some era’s ago were easier because “today” we would have an easy time doing them is goofy…and about what I would imagine of someone who has no real technical background.

    What makes projects of any ‘era’ affordable is good management knowing how far a “leap” is “to far”.

    your contribution here is “windy”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Justin Kugler

    Given the number of examples I’ve seen in class where companies did the very things you claim are impossible, amightywind, I think you’re just making excuses.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mike Snyder wrote @ November 22nd, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    that the boys and girls in shuttle ops are flying out of spec, is obvious in their own words.

    In the real world when things start to crack, two things happen..the whole operation grinds to a halt until they can figure out why things are cracking and then they come up with a standard fix for all the things already in operation and they go back to the design board and stop cracks from forming in any future “make and models”.

    Clearly the geniuses who are coming up with a rationale to fly…have done neither.

    This is not the first time stringers have fatigued…but yet they have been unable (and havent tried all that much) to stop the thing from fatiguing…thats why the experience with doublers. Just like the foam and the O rings they are use to living with it.

    Of course this one is new in terms of when and how much the cracks happened so now they are ““At MAF and elsewhere in the system, the investigation analyses (sic) is underway to understand this failure and try to flush out the path forward and flight rationale. Stringer 7 has been back at MAF. Forensics is in work,” added Lockheed Martin on the Standup report.”

    that is a clear admission of “flying out of specs” as they have had cracks before.

    More goofiness… ““They talked about the metallurgy plan and the fractography plan, the structural analysis, the NDE underway at KSC, and the repair (adding the doublers and the BX spray). The flight rationale was discussed; there is a path through the woods but there is a lot of work ahead. The team is doing everything they need to do to get there. Even the broader community is asking a lot of good, right questions to ensure this thing is done right.”

    this is almost word for word similar to the arguments about the O rings and the (insert problems here).

    The reality is that the boys and girls in shuttle ops have no idea why the cracks continue to occur, they have no idea what the cracks with their doublers look like at the end of powered flight…they dont know if the cracks did not migrate or if they were just short of failure.

    But not to worry they will work their way through “the woods” substituting a lot of meetings that really accomplish nothing (or they would have stopped the cracks from forming) and the odds are that they will skate by…then again as John W. Young pointed out after they really did get a burn through…there are a lot of lucky people walking around.

    No other organization in the US government or civil or military aviation would work this way…and you cannot refute (or refudiate!) that.

    fortunately there are only a few flights left.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Michael Kent

    amightywind wrote:

    Can someone name a comparable large aerospace project that has ever been developed ‘on time, on schedule, and on budget’?

    F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

    Mike

  • I found the C-SPAN video of the January 28, 2004 appearance by Sean O’Keefe before the Senate Science Committee.

    Click here for the page with the video.

    This was 11 days after Bush gave his Vision for Space Exploration speech.

    Right there in the opening remarks you’ll hear skepticism expressed by the senators about the cost, about delays, about the “gap” after Shuttle retires. It was made very clear by Senators of both partisan stripes that the dollar amount proposed by the Bush Administration would fall far short of what was necessary for the proposal to succeed.

    It runs 2 hours 42 minutes, but you only need to watch the first few minutes to hear the skepticism. No less than John McCain was the committee chair and he was very skeptical.

  • Rhyolite

    “Look at the Space Shuttle, 787, 777, F-22, F-35, C-17… They were ‘late’ and worked out fine.”

    Sorry, I don’t recall the 777 actually being significantly late. In fact, Av Week recently noted that the first 777 was handed over to United in May of 1995 on almost the same day that was promised when United placed the order as the launch customer five years before.

    I also think it’s a bit premature to declare that the 787 and F-35 to be successes when they haven’t entered service yet. They are both still sliding and overrunning as we speak.

  • Major Tom

    “There is nothing simple or fast, or cheap about modern aerospace development.”

    This is an idiotic statement that conflates simple, fast, and cheap with on spec, on schedule, and on budget. They’re not the same thing. Simple, fast, and cheap projects can and do miss requirements, run behind schedule, and overrun budgets just as easily as complex, slow, and expensive projects.

    There are plenty of simple, fast, or cheap modern aerospace programs. There are plenty of on space, on schedule, and on budget modern aerospace programs.

    There are also plenty of complex, slow, and expensive modern aerospace programs. There are also plenty of off spec, behind schedule, and overrunning modern aerospace programs. Constellation was all three and grossly so.

    “Can we please stop these foolish assertions, ‘it’s too expensive.’”

    There’s expensive and then there’s foolish. It was egregiously expensive, foolish, and just plain stupid for NASA to pursue an Ares I intermediate lift launch vehicle with a projected development cost at least _eight times_ the amount that was spent developing the equivalent capability in _both_ EELVs.

    “Even your beloved SpaceX is stepping on its crank and making a money bonfire”

    NASA has spent over ~$10 _billion_ of taxpayer funds on Ares I/Orion and has yet to produce an ETO launcher or an orbital capsule. SpaceX has spent less than $300 _million_ of taxpayer funds on Falcon 9/Dragon, has produced an ETO launcher, and is days from testing an orbital capsule.

    Look in the mirror before you light “money bonfires” in your glass house.

    “trying to launch a 60′s vintage spacecraft.”

    What, specifically, is “60′s [sic] vintage” about the Dragon capsule? It’s heat shield is a phenolic impregnated carbon ablator (PICA-X, specifically), the latest in operationally proven TPS materials (only recently used on the Stardust and Mars missions). It allows a Dragon to manage reentry from lunar or even Mars trajectories. The DragonEye autonomous rendezvous system employs lidar and thermal imaging systems, technologies that didn’t exist in the 60s. Dragon’s avionics are proven but all modern. Unlike the disposable tractors from the 60s, the Dragon’s crew escape system will be a more efficient pusher-type system, which can double as a land-based landing system.

    Stop making idiotic claims out of ignorance.

    “For most projects you simply can not have the visibility into future events to project with any accuracy… The only realistic guide for timelines is to estimate based on past performance.”

    This is another ignorant statement. Cost estimation has never been about “visibility into future events”. Cost estimation is always grounds up (Element A costs $X and Element B costs $Y) or parametric (analogies based on past performance). Even reserves are parametric (projects of this type and complexity historically need ZZ% reserves to deal with unknowns).

    Learn something, anything, before you post again.

    “‘Goofy…’

    One pompous… on this site is quite enough.”

    It’s not “pompous” to call out an argument as “goofy” when it is illogical. You argued that being over budget or behind schedule is a virtue and indicator of program success. It’s goofy to claim such. By that logic, we should terminate all the on budget and on schedule programs because they’re bound to fail. Goofy.

    And as far as “pompous” posters go, you’re the poster who routinely labels whole groups of people as “bean counters [sic]“, “free loaders [sic]“, and “leftists” (and that’s just this thread), often in your initial posts. If you can’t enter into a discussion without painting entire professions and political affiliations with grossly misleading and incendiary labels, then you shouldn’t bother posting. Take your ignorant, trolling, pompous slime elsewhere.

    Ugh…

  • amightywind

    Michael Kent wrote:

    F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

    (not (equal? modest-fighter-upgrade new-manned-launch-system)))

  • Mike Snyder

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ November 22nd, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    LOL, once again a lot of words to tear others down, while comepletely avoiding questions back to you regarding subjects you brought up?

    We are not “flying” out of spec. The vehicle is not “flying” at all. The problem is being worked to understand the situation. If you believe that other aerospace organizations, government or otherwise, do not conduct failure analysis, review the data, etc and then determine if it is safe and appropriate to fly, well then you are not being honest with yourself and doing it for purely dramatic effect. Don’t think for a minute that I don’t know that everything you say is for the benefit of your own ego.

    So “CAIB consultant”, will you take a crack at any of the very legite questions I have asked you or is going to be more “duck-and-cover”?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mike Snyder wrote @ November 23rd, 2010 at 11:10 am

    “We are not “flying” out of spec. The vehicle is not “flying” at all. The problem is being worked to understand the situation. I”

    that cannot be the case.

    It sounds good and I am quite sure that the genius at shuttle ops (including Shannon) think that but its babble.

    If it were accurate then the cracks would have formed the first time, the program would have stopped until the cause of the cracks were found and then that cause would have been fixed…and the cracks would not be a reoccurring issue.

    That they are is just like the O rings with Challenger and the foam with Columbia and a lot of other issues.

    What the thunderheads at JSC are trying to understand is why “this is worse”…but they are not trying to understand why they are occurring at all.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mike Snyder wrote @ November 23rd, 2010 at 11:10 am

    one more point.

    It is clear that all the meetings after well yesterday are just for show. the repair has been made, the foam sprayed and thats the fix…anything else is just a lot of meetings designed to make everyone feel good.

    this is typical NASA BS

    Robert G. Oler

  • My favorite of the transcription typos is “My opinion is [the Chinese] really want to be a member of the, what I call the society of space fearing nations.”

    But then I suppose the discussions on posts like these show that there are people who could be described as “space fearing” as a parallel to “god fearing”.

  • Michael Kent

    amightywind wrote:

    F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

    (not (equal? modest-fighter-upgrade new-manned-launch-system)))

    A “modest” fighter upgrade that included a new wing, new engines, and a new inlet (block 1); a new fuselage and a new radar (block 2); and new avionics (EA-18G).

    It was as much as an upgrade over the C/D models as the Ares I was over the SRB. You remember “Safe, Simple, Soon”, don’t you?

    Ares 1: “Safe, Simple, Soon” in only 14 years for $35 billion.

    Mike

  • Martijn Meijering

    @Ben Brockert:

    Good catch! This term deserves to catch on.

  • Martijn Meijering

    (not (equal? modest-fighter-upgrade new-manned-launch-system)))

    Lisp hackers should be able to see through a flawed argument.

  • Joy K

    I expect SpaceX to start talking about using ATK 5 seg SRB’s pretty soon. They already backed off their really stupid “heavy” design and switched their focus to heavy lift engines and hydrogen upper stages.

    You will also probably see a tower type abort system mentioned in their press releases. Their pusher system, which loads the dragon with toxic propellant is not going to work.

    Dragon has a long long way to go before any tourist goes for a ride. I would predict the company going bankrupt long before it ever carries anyone. FWIW

  • Martijn Meijering

    Their pusher system, which loads the dragon with toxic propellant is not going to work.

    Er, are you aware that Orion uses the exact same toxic propellants?

  • DCSCA

    NASA is delaying STS-133 again until December 17 to ‘study’ the cracks in the ET. Maybe Home Depot is planning a holiday sale on spackle, too. Always smart to launch shuttles in the winter months when temperatures are nice and chilly, right guys? Assuming you fixed everything succeptable to cold temperatures after Challenger. Good grief.

  • I expect SpaceX to start talking about using ATK 5 seg SRB’s pretty soon

    They may be crazy, but they’re not stupid.

    Their pusher system, which loads the dragon with toxic propellant is not going to work.

    They already have “toxic propellants” (hypergolic) in Dragon for ACS and orbit maneuvering.

    Where do you get your misinformation? And why are you compelled to spread it around?

  • Coastal Ron

    Joy K wrote @ November 24th, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    They [SpaceX] already backed off their really stupid “heavy” design and switched their focus to heavy lift engines and hydrogen upper stages.

    They have only offered glimpses into possible directions they could go for larger capacity launchers, and they have neither committed to a particular design, nor eliminated one of them. Can you substantiate your statement?

    Their pusher system, which loads the dragon with toxic propellant is not going to work.

    You make it sound like SpaceX engineers hadn’t researched pusher versus tractor designs & trade-offs before they decided to pursue the pusher design. Are YOU aware of how pusher LAS systems work, because it sounds like you’re making uninformed guesses…

    Dragon has a long long way to go before any tourist goes for a ride.

    It’s hard to tell what unit of measure you are basing this on – is “long” a year, and “long long” two?

    As far as when Dragon will start carrying crew, it’s more likely that NASA personnel will be the first passengers, and the next will be researchers going to Bigelow space stations that their countries have leased (the sovereign nation business Bigelow has LOI’s from 6 countries for).

    I don’t see tourists having a place to go in space for quite a while, so that part of your statement would probably be correct, but not for the reasons you think.

  • red

    Joy K: “I expect SpaceX to start talking about using ATK 5 seg SRB’s pretty soon.”

    Huh? Are you amightywind? This makes no sense.

  • Joy K

    “Er, are you aware that Orion uses the exact same toxic propellants?”

    Er, are you aware I am talking about an abort system? The amount of fuel needed for an abort system is a completely different animal than what is needed for maneuvering. Who are you trying to fool?

  • Martijn Meijering

    The amount of fuel needed for an abort system is a completely different animal than what is needed for maneuvering.

    No it’s not. And you’re trying to change the subject. You clearly don’t know what you’re talking about and you’re just shilling for SLS+Orion.

  • The amount of fuel needed for an abort system is a completely different animal than what is needed for maneuvering.

    No it’s not. And you’re trying to change the subject. You clearly don’t know what you’re talking about and you’re just shilling for SLS+Orion.

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