Congress, NASA

More reactions to impending NASA planetary science cuts

“The Mars program is one of the crown jewels of NASA. In what irrational, Homer Simpson world would we single it out for disproportionate cuts?” So asks Ed Weiler, who retired from NASA last year after serving as the agency’s associate administrator for science, in an interview with ScienceInsider. Weiler said he decided to leave NASA after tiring of “debilitating” fights with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) about the budget. According to Weiler, OMB had targeted the ExoMars program—the joint program with Europe for orbiters and landers—for cuts even when NASA proposed alternatives, such as smaller across-the-board cuts in the planetary program. “I was dealing with officials in OMB who were three, four grade levels below me who did not have any technical background,” he complained. Weiler is now in retirement in Florida, “a thousand miles away from the irrationality zone.” (Others have argued that Weiler is not exactly free of blame for the current situation, since he ran NASA’s science program as the James Webb Space Telescope’s costs grew, causing budget pressures that led to the current situation.)

Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), whose district includes JPL, said Thursday he will also fight the proposed budget cut to NASA’s planetary program. Schiff, who serves on the appropriations subcommittee whose jurisdiction includes NASA, told the Pasadena Star-News that he had a “tense” meeting Thursday with NASA administrator Charles Bolden. “What I’m hearing that they’re proposing will be absolutely devastating to planetary science and the Mars program,” Schiff said. “If this is what they have in mind, I’m going to be fighting them tooth and nail.” He said he anticipates working with another subcommittee member, Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), who has also spoken out against the proposed cuts, to fight the cut.

43 comments to More reactions to impending NASA planetary science cuts

  • NASA Fan

    JPL is already hurting, so look for a big fight. Indeed, focusing cuts on one such program, vs. spreading the pain, ensures a fight by JPL lobbyist/Congress critters that they may actually win.

    Breaking an international partnership with ESA on Exo Planets is not the first such broken agreement with them. There were two flagship missions in the X Ray and Gravity Wave arenas that were to be partnerships that were also abandoned last year. If I were ESA, I”d partner with the Chinese before I get in bed with NASA again.

    Weiler is accurate in his complaint about dealing with underlings at OMB. Years ago I met the GS 14′s whose job it was to interface/negotiate with NASA Associate Administrators over budget matters. These guys don’t know squat about the NASA programs they ‘manage’ other than the dollar amounts. They take marching orders and execute. This goes on all over the federal government of course, so its not unique to NASA. And its a dumb way to do business IMHO

    It will interesting to see how this plays out in Congress this fall, when we have the certain continuing resolutions over the budget, while MSL is landing on MARS. I wonder if restoring money to the MARS program will hinge on the success or failure of that landing!

  • NASA Fan

    …breaking an international agreement with ESA on ExoMars…not Exo Planets,,,my bad

  • amightywind

    “If this is what they have in mind, I’m going to be fighting them tooth and nail.

    Who would expect less? In an environment of budget cuts no one goes quietly. Wait until we slash Social Security and Medicare. Best I can tell we lose ExoMars, and I say good riddance. Any other info on what the proposed cuts are? Mars sample return is not a priority! In situ-exploration is much cheaper and more productive. Heck, we just developed highly capable rovers. Use them, in large numbers.

  • Scott Bass

    Wish this as out already….. Intersted to see how SLS funding is worded

  • SpaceColonizer

    @Scott

    Me too… but if they’re forcing themselves to raid funding from an international project and potentially piss off our partners, I’m assuming they haven’t been raiding any from SLS.

  • This is all about who controls the pork.

    The GOP house tried last year to kill the JWST because of cost overruns, but when it got to the Senate Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) saved it because it brings pork to her state. She’s chair of the Senate space subcommittee so JWST will be around until she’s no longer on that subcommittee.

    SLS, similarly, has its patrons in Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Kay Bailey Hutcheson (R-TX).

    Future Mars missions have no patrons, at least any in a position of power enough to prevent the cuts. There are 50 members of the House Appropriations Committee, and Schiff is a low-ranking member of the minority party.

  • MrEarl

    Weiler is like the child who murders his parents then throws himself on the mercy of the court claiming he’s an orphan.
    I love this line; “I was dealing with officials in OMB who were three, four grade levels below me who did not have any technical background,” This is exactly the same type of arrogant mentality Griffin brought to his job.
    Weiler may be a fine technician, I don’t know, but the obvious fiscal mess he left both MSL and the Webb, should have gotten him flushed long ago! He’s living proof of the old adage that you are promoted to your level of incompetency.

    NASA can still create and do great things and is filled with highly skilled technicians; but they also have to realize that the best technicians often make the worse managers.
    Good riddance Ed!!

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ February 10th, 2012 at 10:12 am

    “He’s living proof of the old adage that you are promoted to your level of incompetency.”

    Finally some hope!

    Are you finally coming to the realization that this is possible? Even for Constellation/SLS/MPCV? Or just JWST?

    Just askin’

    ;)

  • vulture4

    Sounds like he just got burned out. How much blame he bears for specific cost overruns is hard to say; JWST went off course many years ago though the problems were glossed over until now. No system of prioritization is perfect. Peer review or management assessment can produce poor decisions. But the current situation, in which NASA priorities are decided solely by legislators promoting federal spending in their districts, seems guaranteed to be ineffective. And when it comes to waste, even JWST pales by comparison with SLS/Orion; we can’t build a wall between science and human spaceflight.

  • Without the SLS/Orion, NASA is out of the manned spaceflight business.

    SLS/Orion is only costing NASA about $4 billion a year. The Shuttle program combined with the Constellation program was costing NASA about $6.4 billion a year.

    Its the $3 billion a year LEO on steroids ISS program that’s sucking the life out of NASA.

    Marcel F. Williams

  • GeeSpace

    If the United States does not fund international projects in 2016 and 2018, how can the United States have any creditability in implementing the Global Exploration Roadmap? Answer, it probably can’t. So we are left, with possible commercial space companies doing “trucking” missions to ISS until perhaps the United States sells its portion of ISS to another country. It’s a good way to pay off some of our federal debt.

  • MrEarl

    @ CS:
    I don’t think my stance has changed much since 2005. I was very against Griffin even when his name was just being mentioned. I said then that NASA doesn’t need another technician, it has plenty of those, it needs a good manager with political ties to get things done. Say what you want about O’Keefe but he was a good manager who had the trust of congress and it was Webb’s management and political connections that was a major reason why Apollo was not shut down after the Apollo 1 fire.
    Constellation could have worked with some decent management to keep costs down and the project on schedule. SLS and MPCV management seems to have learned the lessons of the Constellation failure. The place where I differ from most on this blog, besides my support for SLS and MPCV, is that if the schedule starts pushing to the right and costs start growing, I’ll be calling for the heads of the managers of those projects not for the projects to be canceled.
    It’s attitudes like Griffen’s and Weiler’s , “I know better than you so give me the money I want and I’ll decide what you get and when. “, that is keeping the US from doing exploration.

  • Coastal Ron

    vulture4 wrote @ February 10th, 2012 at 11:21 am

    How much blame he bears for specific cost overruns is hard to say; JWST went off course many years ago though the problems were glossed over until now.

    I think it was a group effort – kind of like lemmings running off of a cliff. The previous NASA Administrators didn’t step in to right the boat, and Congress kept signing off on the budget increases.

    Weiler may have had a major responsibility for some of the messes, but he was enabled along the way by many above him. For all the criticisms of Bolden, he is putting fiscal and programmatic discipline back into NASA, and if that is his only legacy, it will be a good one.

  • amightywind

    Looks like the Euros will be looking to the Russians to collaborate on ExoGrunt. Good luck with that. It will be interesting to see what a Mars exploration re-plan will yield.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ February 10th, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    I believe I always said good things about O’Keefe. I know it is odd from a scientist to say good things about an accountant but scientists are good at science, generally, and accountant well you know at accounting, generally. Problems occur when they don’t listen to one another but it is a different story.

    Now I would have agreed with you about firing management back in 2006. Unfortunately so much damage has been done that SLS/MPCV is not salvageable. And unlike JWST there is no, like zero, need for SLS/MPCV. Their only purpose is to keep jobs which might be good but then I can see plenty of things these people could do rather than assembling an STS tank with 2 SRBs (been there done that ;) )

    Now how about this third party? By the time the elections come by we might agree on every thing! Go figure.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “SLS and MPCV management seems to have learned the lessons of the Constellation failure”

    NASA management learned the lessons, but Congress didn’t allow NASA management to apply those lessons. Otherwise, the agency would have terminated Orion and deferred the heavy lift decision a half-decade as it wanted to.

    “if the schedule starts pushing to the right and costs start growing”

    The MPCV and SLS schedules have been pushing to the right for a year now.

    The first unmanned MPCV test flight on a Delta IV (called EFT-1) has slipped nearly a full year — from July 2013 to October 2013 and then again from October 2013 to a TBD date in the second quarter of 2014. Per NASAspaceflight.com:

    “The mission was initially targeting for July, 2013 – before slipping to October, 2013… The latest launch date now appears to be Q2 (Second Quarter) or Spring, 2014.”

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/01/eft-1-spring-2014-launch-date-contract-negotiations/

    The first, unmanned, SLS flight slipped a year right out of the gate, from 2016 as “required” in legislation to 2017. (I put “required” in quotes since Congress is obviously looking the other way on SLS slippage for the sake of jobs in their districts/states.) Per Space News:

    “Bolden also said that the rocket may not be able to fly its first unmanned test flight until 2017. Congress, in legislation signed last October, said that the rocket must launch no later than Dec. 31, 2016.”

    http://www.spacenews.com/civil/110713-bolden-says-sls-decision-might-slip-beyond-summer.html

    MPCV and SLS were rolled out in 2011. It’s now 2012 and their first test flights have both slipped a year. This is the same rate of slippage — year for year — that Constellation experienced.

    “I’ll be calling for the heads of the managers of those projects not for the projects to be canceled.”

    You should be calling for the heads of the congressmen that ordered NASA to continue executing failing programs that the agency did not want. NASA managers are to blame for other continued program failures like JWST, but they tried to get out of these two.

  • E.P. Grondine

    When Grffin and Weiler colluded in not carrying out the instructions of the George Brown Jr amendment both of them should have been fired.

    Ed Weiler is an astro-physicist, thus his bias in setting priorities and his obliviousness to the cost over-runs.

    Somewhere between 750 and 1,750 meters of Comet 73P is now lost, but known to be headed our way in 2022. Tp put this in persective, the Tunguska impactor was about 60 meters across.

    Thus my immediate priorities are simple: I want all of the Hubble observation time until this debris stream is located and mapped.

    Anyone who objects I want to see “relieved” as quickly as possible, much faster than the 6 years it took for Weiler.

    And whoever goes in in their place should be capable of not making this kind of mistake again.

  • MrEarl

    Well Dark, you can chalk up the one year push to the right for SLA and MPCV to the battle between the administration and congress and within NASA itself. When it was finally unvailed in Sept of 2011 the inital launch was set for 2017. That was based on what NASA said it could reasonably do, not what Congress mandated. I’ll hold them to the 2017 timeframe.
    Since then, on the SLS side at least, the schedule is slipping to the left with the second flight being eyed for 2018 or 19 instead of 2021.
    In the future there may be legitament delays but not many.

    NASA was also divided on the question of HLV’s. The majority of NASA was for a SD HLV. Most of the “wait 5 years crowd” was hired by the present administration.

    It’s missguided to say, “the programs were failing. “. The programs were not failing, the management of the programs were failing letting personal preference, arrogance and a stubern obsession to be “right” cloud their judgment. They should have been flushed.

    As for congress, I haven’t voted for my congressman in over 10 years but as you know incumbants are almost impossible to beat.
    Yesterday I saw a report that congress has a 10% approval rating. I think being slowly killed by impaling has a 12% approval rating by those to be impaled! I bet if you dig deeper you’ll also find that it’s the other congressmen that are the problem and that constituents like their congressman. That’s why nothing ever changes.
    It still comes down to this, congress, for whatever reason you want to attribute to them, want an SD HLV. That’s what they’ll pay for and as they demondstrated last year their willing to deeply cut Commercial Crew to get it. The best thing we can do now is to optimize the investment by making sure it comes in on time, on budget and is affordable to operate. It can be done if we hold management resposible and continue to change the old mindset.

  • DCSCA

    My God… look at who keeps surfacing in the national discource on space operatrions…. Ed Weiler, Newt Gingrich and Mike Griffin…. no wonder America’s space program is in free drift.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ February 10th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Since then, on the SLS side at least, the schedule is slipping to the left with the second flight being eyed for 2018 or 19 instead of 2021.

    I’ve already pointed this out on another thread, but it bears repeating here. Regardless what people think of Bolden, he is bringing fiscal and programmatic discipline back to NASA. While it remains to be seen whether they can actually stick to the earlier schedules (the SLS is an ugly design), if Griffin would have been in charge, they would have been slipping the dates to the right, not the left.

    The majority of NASA was for a SD HLV.

    I doubt that. Maybe the two centers that were competing to be the lead on the SLS, but the rest probably would have preferred some of the budget the SLS is sucking away without any science return.

    Most of the “wait 5 years crowd” was hired by the present administration.

    So the NASA lifers are OK with more pork, but the new blood coming into NASA is not. Hmmm, very enlightening… ;-)

  • Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    With a little bit of luck the russians can provide cheap launch services as well as more experiments.

    @ amightywind:

    “Mars sample return is not a priority! In situ-exploration is much cheaper and more productive.”

    Not if you look at fossils from extinct prokaryote life or most signs of extant life, you need some large instruments and expensive scientists for that. This is what we want when we start drilling, as the biosphere can start a few cm below the surface in or below the found water ice et cetera.

    “Looks like the Euros will be looking to the Russians to collaborate”.

    Well, when you can’t get the Dollars to work.

    We are europeans, ESA has 19 european member states with Canada as associated member (perhaps because NASA/US sucks at cooperation?), euro is the currency of 17 european states, there is no connection between these.

    @ Marcel F. Williams:

    “Without the SLS/Orion, NASA is out of the manned spaceflight business.”

    They can by that from others as today, or commercial soon. Orion doesn’t depend on SLS, and so on.

    “Its the $3 billion a year LEO on steroids ISS program that’s sucking the life out of NASA.”

    It is an international lab and development platform like LHC. (LHC provides inputs for the next generation accelerator experiments.) If you don’t go international you pay more for the same service.

  • if the schedule starts pushing to the right and costs start growing, I’ll be calling for the heads of the managers of those projects not for the projects to be canceled.

    It wouldn’t occur to you to wonder if the projects are intrinsically unmanageable under the constraints imposed by Congress?

  • Mr Earl

    @ Rand:
    “It wouldn’t occur to you to wonder if the projects are intrinsically unmanageable under the constraints imposed by Congress?”

    No Rand and I’ll tell you why.
    Congress ordered the “constraints” in Oct. 2011as part of the 2012 budget. NASA studied them for months and came up with a proposal that modifies some constraints, (first launch in 2017 instead of the end of 2016, competitively bid advanced boosters) and gave a cost estimate that was audited by Booze Allen and found to be sound for at least the first 5 years and congress accepted the modifications and the costs.
    If costs start to soar or the schedule slips it’s one of two things. Either the people who made the proposals were incompetent or the project managers are.

    The only way congress would be responsible for these things would be if they failed to properly fund the projects or changed the constraints halfway through, which is not unheard of.

  • Mr Earl

    Ahhhh Ron, still taking things out of context and picking nits I see. ;-)
    When I said a majority of NASA I meant the rocket scientists. We all know the individual centers have been trying to eat each others lunch for decades now.
    As for the people hired by this administration, I meant that they were hired to be “yes men” not for their talent.
    And just because I’m curious, why is SLS “an ugly design”?

  • DCSCA

    NASA Fan wrote @ February 10th, 2012 at 7:38 am

    “JPL is already hurting.”

    Who isn’t. But then ‘hurting’ in suburbs of stylish Pasadena, California isn’t quite the same as ‘hurting’ in the neighborhoods of Detroit, Michigan, is it. No tears for JPL. Those CalTech boys and girls will survive just fine.

  • DCSCA

    @vulture4 wrote @ February 10th, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Sounds like he just got burned out.

    Lest we forget. Best memory of Ed Weiler on the job is the atupified look on his face at the presser when they announced they screwed up the mirror specs on Hubble.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Well Dark, you can chalk up the one year push to the right for SLA and MPCV to the battle between the administration and congress…”

    No, we can’t. No doubt there was an extended debate, but it was settled by the passage of the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, which the Administration signed onto within days of congressional passage. There was no year-long delay between passage of the Act and the President signing it into law. And that Act requires SLS to fly in 2016, not 2017.

    Moreover, FY11 appropriations for SLS exceeded the FY11 mark in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act by $169M ($1,800M versus $1,631M). So in its first year, SLS received ~10% more funding than what was needed to meet its 2016 first flight goal and the program still slipped a year.

    And even if we give a pass to SLS for whatever reason we want to make up, MPCV is also slipping year-for-year.

    SLS/MPCV are fundamentally unexecutable on the schedule and budget provided by Congress. They’re jobs programs, not flight hardware development projects.

    “It still comes down to this, congress, for whatever reason you want to attribute to them, want an SD HLV.”

    Congress doesn’t want an SDHLV. They want SD jobs. If they actually wanted something productive out of the project, they would have provided a rationale budget profile that supported the 2016 first flight date. Or pursued a less expensive alternative to putting lots of mass in orbit.

    “The best thing we can do now is to optimize the investment by making sure it comes in on time, on budget and is affordable to operate.”

    SLS and MPCV are both failing your first objective by at least a year (with more likely to come). And if we use the budget in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, SLS has also exceeded its budget by ~10% already (with more likely to come).

    “It can be done if we hold management resposible and continue to change the old mindset.”

    It’s not about management. These projects are fundamentally unexecutable for the dollars and time provided. Congress has to double their budget (per the $3B increase in the Augustine report), await their implosion a few years down the road (most likely, per Constellation history), or choose a different and affordable path.

    “NASA was also divided on the question of HLV’s. The majority of NASA was for a SD HLV.”

    Based on what evidence?

    “Most of the ‘wait 5 years crowd’ was hired by the present administration.”

    Not from where I sat/sit.

    “It’s missguided to say, ‘the programs were failing.’ The programs were not failing, the management of the programs were failing…”

    In Constellation’s case, it was the same thing. Idiotic senior management set Constellation up for failure, the same way congressmen who care more about jobs than executable programs have set SLS/MPCV up for failure.

  • E.P. Grondine

    DCSA –

    “My God… look at who keeps surfacing in the national discource on space operatrions…. Ed Weiler, Newt Gingrich and Mike Griffin…. no wonder America’s space program is in free drift.”

    Griffin and Weiler tried their best to lock in their “visions’ for the future of NASA before they left. While they understood political forces, neither of them were particularly good at channeling those forces into “productive” (efficient) projects.

    Neither of them had good answers to the “Why?” question, and thus they were confused about the “How”.

    PS – Given the radiation loads, the search zone for life on Mars likely needs to be a meter or more below the surface. At this time, a long range rover going up Valles Marinaris might be more “efficient”, but then for me the search for life on Mars is far less important than keeping people living on the Earth.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    DCSCA wrote @ February 10th, 2012 at 3:35 pm
    “My God… look at who keeps surfacing in the national discource on space operatrions…. Ed Weiler, Newt Gingrich and Mike Griffin…. no wonder America’s space program is in free drift.”

    It is sort of funny that these are the demons who hide under ones bed. Maybe they’re down there with a disintegrating comet?

  • me

    “SLS and MPCV management seems to have learned the lessons of the Constellation failure.’

    An unfounded assertion

  • me

    “The majority of NASA was for a SD HLV. ”

    Another unproven assertion, actually an untrue assertion

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi HM –

    “It is sort of funny that these are the demons who hide under one’s bed.”

    If only that were hiding under my bed. The problem is that they aren’t under my bed, but out in the public media carrying out ATK’s agenda, which is to try to ensure that as few changes are made to their “plan” (market share) as possible.

    “Maybe they’re down there with a disintegrating comet?”

    Most of 73P is “lost”, not under my bed. It is known that it will be in Earth’s vicinity in 2022, but just exactly where and in what form are not known now.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ February 10th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    “It’s missguided to say, “the programs were failing. “. The programs were not failing, the management of the programs were failing letting personal preference, arrogance and a stubern obsession to be “right” cloud their judgment. They should have been flushed.”

    As ADM A. Burke said during his time in the “big chair”…”ships dont fail people do” so the claim that the managers in SLS are the problem is of course on its face correct.

    The problem however seems to be that the structural design of the program ie deficiencies in ship design or a mismatch between design and capabilities/requirements is so bad in SLS that I am not for sure any manager can come close to making the program work…if by “work” one means develop something near time near budget that is affordable.

    The program starts with a simple but rather catastrophic conclusion…that the vehicle must be made from significant parts of the old shuttle system…all of which was getting more not less expensive to run…cobbled together with new parts that start out far more expensive.

    One of the least heralded but most successful “fixes” In space history was the Ranger program. Ranger at any program level was an enormously complicated piece of equipment made even more so by the immaturity of the notion of spaceflight period…ie maturing a new spacecraft and a new upper stage…but the spacecraft was itself enormously (for the time) complicated.

    The “fix” in the program by new managers was to do what is almost impossible for SLS, design the spacecraft “to goal” and simplify completely the goal. Instead of a lunar science platform which took pictures…Ranger because a spacecraft that crashed into the Moon taking pictures…its only goal was to take pictures. And success came rather quickly.

    SLS cannot come to that because really it has no goal…other then to keep the various stake holders in business with their federal contract. Other then that and some vague notion of lift capability I am unaware of any single mission it has.

    RGO

  • And just because I’m curious, why is SLS “an ugly design”?

    Any grossly oversized expendable launcher that utilizes SRBs and SSMEs is intrinsically an ugly design. It will be unaffordable to both develop and operate, and any other program that relies on its existence will be very high risk.

  • DCSCA

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ February 10th, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    “Griffin and Weiler tried their best to lock in their “visions’ for the future of NASA before they left…”

    That’s not saying much.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mr Earl wrote @ February 10th, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    still taking things out of context and picking nits I see.

    I’m just responding to what you write. If you are unable to fully express your thoughts and ideas, that’s not my fault. Do you assume everyone can “read between the lines” of what you write?

    When I said a majority of NASA I meant the rocket scientists.

    Then why didn’t you write that? Instead you wrote an unqualified statement that said “The majority of NASA was for a SD HLV.” The “majority” of NASA. Learn to write better.

    It would be like me saying “your thoughts are idiotic” – do I mean one or two of the things you have said, or everything you say? Don’t be fuzzy. Write what you mean, and mean what you write.

    As for the people hired by this administration, I meant that they were hired to be “yes men” not for their talent.

    Piffle. Another unqualified statement. Not “some”, or not “most”, or even “upper management”. You are implying everyone this administration has hired into NASA – janitors, technicians, engineers, specialists – everyone. How do you know this? Are you in HR? Are you a NASA hiring manager, so you see the directives that come from above on future hires? Piffle I say.

  • Vladislaw

    “NASA is out of the manned spaceflight business.”

    NASA is not a business, they will never ever operate with the same effeciencies as a business. NASA should have never been launching in the first place. We rely on commercial companies for ALL our transportation needs. To try and depend on a disfunctial government to provide the Nation with something as crucial as transportation is insanity on a bun. How’s that AmTrac, with all it’s pork, doing versus other commercial rail?

    Let NASA handle what they are supposed to, and launching rockets isn’t it.

  • DCSCA

    One of the least heralded but most successful “fixes” In space history was the Ranger program.

    Odd way to keep score. Only 33% of the Ranger series were rated a success- 7,8 & 9 worked..

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ February 11th, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    I wrote:
    “One of the least heralded but most successful “fixes” In space history was the Ranger program.”

    you replied
    Odd way to keep score. Only 33% of the Ranger series were rated a success- 7,8 & 9 worked..

    Which of course makes my point.

    After the failure of 5 the program was halted and a big descope of the program was made with a single point focus. 6 was a “near miss” it hit the moon exactly where they wanted it (which none of the other Rangers 3-5 had done) the failure was in the surge protection system of the TV camera which they fixed on 7 and it worked like a charm. There was no need for follow on Rangers, which would have been successful, the successful three answered the question.

    The Ranger program is a story book effort of how to turn a program around, this is particularly true since “most” of the lessons including the bus frame went to Mariner and resulted in a very successful program. None of the Mariner spacecraft failed, all the failures were related to launch vehicles issues.

    If you could put fuel in Mariner IV and 9…they would likely both work today… as would 6 and7…II and V are a little more iffy there were solar heating issues. Just in case I will be listening for IV when it comes by the earth next year! RGO

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ February 12th, 2012 at 12:41 am

    Uhm, actually hailing a 33% success rate makes my point. But you know that.

  • DCSCA

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 11th, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    “Ugly” is relative. As Volkswagen said in 1969 for its VW Beetle, using an image of a LM: “It’s ugly. But it gets you there.”

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ February 13th, 2012 at 1:26 am

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ February 12th, 2012 at 12:41 am

    Uhm, actually hailing a 33% success rate makes my point. But you know that.>>

    You remind me of the lecture I attended at Sandhurst. The subject was about G. (drum roll’s) Washington’s tactics in the (our) Revolutionary war (our first civil war)…the speaker kept noting that G. (drum roll) Washington lost more battles then he won.

    so did the North Vietnamese. RGO

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ February 13th, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Which again has nothing to do w/space policy. But if you want to crow over a 33% success rate, go for it– but batting .333 only rates in baseball. Into the valley rode the 600…

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>