Author Topic: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip  (Read 6140 times)

Offline Chris Bergin

Another interesting article by Philip Sloss with - of course - cool L2 renders from Nathan Koga :)

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/06/nasa-letter-congress-em-1-slip/

And no, this thread is not for anyone to post "OMG, give it all to SpaceX cause they never slip launch dates" ;)

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #1 on: 06/21/2017 07:50 PM »
Another interesting article by Philip Sloss with - of course - cool L2 renders from Nathan Koga :)

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/06/nasa-letter-congress-em-1-slip/

And no, this thread is not for anyone to post "OMG, give it all to SpaceX cause they never slip launch dates" ;)
No, but I think a decent case for skipping Block 1 all together could be made at this point while spinning em-1 into an EFT flight on delta or falcon heavy.

Offline woods170

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #2 on: 06/21/2017 08:48 PM »
Another interesting article by Philip Sloss with - of course - cool L2 renders from Nathan Koga :)

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/06/nasa-letter-congress-em-1-slip/

And no, this thread is not for anyone to post "OMG, give it all to SpaceX cause they never slip launch dates" ;)
No, but I think a decent case for skipping Block 1 all together could be made at this point while spinning em-1 into an EFT flight on delta or falcon heavy.
Apart from being a red-tape nightmare NASA is also well trained in keeping all it's options open. So, it should not come as a surprise to hear that NASA is in fact looking into exactly what you propose: turn EM-1 into an EFT-2 on Delta IV Heavy with the first flight SLS being a Block 1B (thus skipping Block 1).

Offline whitelancer64

That decision should have been made years ago, but c'est la vie.

And it's kind of a shame, since the ICPS is the only part of the SLS that's complete and more or less ready to go right now.

Presumably it would still be used if EFT-2 is assigned to a Delta IV Heavy?
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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #4 on: 06/21/2017 08:56 PM »
... and, if they want to avoid an EFT-3, they should find a means to allow it to become briefly crewed (and not just dummies).

There's mission complexity added for sure, but never underestimate the value of actual humans in the vehicle on orbit, for even just a day.

(And I know they think they've got all the bases covered w/o this. But they've thought that multiple times before, and it's best that they don't end up being "dummies" once again.)

Offline Khadgars

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #5 on: 06/21/2017 10:31 PM »
Another interesting article by Philip Sloss with - of course - cool L2 renders from Nathan Koga :)

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/06/nasa-letter-congress-em-1-slip/

And no, this thread is not for anyone to post "OMG, give it all to SpaceX cause they never slip launch dates" ;)
No, but I think a decent case for skipping Block 1 all together could be made at this point while spinning em-1 into an EFT flight on delta or falcon heavy.
Apart from being a red-tape nightmare NASA is also well trained in keeping all it's options open. So, it should not come as a surprise to hear that NASA is in fact looking into exactly what you propose: turn EM-1 into an EFT-2 on Delta IV Heavy with the first flight SLS being a Block 1B (thus skipping Block 1).

Are they really considering this?  Interesting change of events, though I still expect to see Block 1 fly in 2019.

Offline Rocket Science

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« Last Edit: 06/21/2017 11:13 PM by Rocket Science »
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Offline woods170

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #7 on: 06/22/2017 07:02 AM »
Another interesting article by Philip Sloss with - of course - cool L2 renders from Nathan Koga :)

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/06/nasa-letter-congress-em-1-slip/

And no, this thread is not for anyone to post "OMG, give it all to SpaceX cause they never slip launch dates" ;)
No, but I think a decent case for skipping Block 1 all together could be made at this point while spinning em-1 into an EFT flight on delta or falcon heavy.
Apart from being a red-tape nightmare NASA is also well trained in keeping all it's options open. So, it should not come as a surprise to hear that NASA is in fact looking into exactly what you propose: turn EM-1 into an EFT-2 on Delta IV Heavy with the first flight SLS being a Block 1B (thus skipping Block 1).

Are they really considering this?  Interesting change of events, though I still expect to see Block 1 fly in 2019.
"Considering" and "looking into the possibility" are two vastly different things. The former is usually done only after the latter has resulted in some sort of report.

Offline woods170

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #8 on: 06/22/2017 07:09 AM »
Presumably it would still be used if EFT-2 is assigned to a Delta IV Heavy?
Unlikely. The iCPS is a stretched version of the Delta IV Heavy upper stage (there is an 18 inch stretch in the LH2 tank). To use it on a Delta IV Heavy would require substantial one-use-only modifications of the Delta IV launch umbilical tower and other GSE systems. That would be both impractible and expensive.
« Last Edit: 06/22/2017 08:17 AM by woods170 »

Offline Proponent

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #9 on: 06/22/2017 08:22 AM »
To use [ICPS] ... would require substantial one-use-only modifications of the ... launch umbilical tower and other GSE systems. That would be both impractible and expensive.

I don't disagree, but it's ironic that this is exactly the plan with respect to flying ICPS on SLS.

Offline woods170

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #10 on: 06/22/2017 10:37 AM »
To use [ICPS] ... would require substantial one-use-only modifications of the ... launch umbilical tower and other GSE systems. That would be both impractible and expensive.

I don't disagree, but it's ironic that this is exactly the plan with respect to flying ICPS on SLS.
Yeah, a very expensive set of iCPS specific hardware and testing is implemented for a stage that will likely fly just once on SLS (if ever).  It was originally supposed to be 2 flights before EM-2 was promoted to EUS.

But heck, we have US Congress to thank for this mess. They were the ones ordering a launcher that could grow from 70 mT to LEO to 130 mT to LEO.

But with regards to iCPS flying on Delta IV Heavy: it would be worse than just making the one-use-only mods. After the mission is flown the one-use-mods would have to be reversed, given that iCPS is not the baseline upper stage of Delta IV Heavy. So, flying iCPS on a Delta IV Heavy would incurr the cost of changing the ground systems TWICE. IMO it is for this reason that any further missions of Orion on Delta IV Heavy will use the standard DCSS.
« Last Edit: 06/22/2017 10:41 AM by woods170 »

Offline TaurusLittrow

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #11 on: 06/22/2017 11:09 AM »
The bureaucratic waste and glacial pace of SLS/Orion are really very tiresome. So are NASA's excuses (the tornado ate my homework...) for delays.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/03/new-report-nasa-spends-72-cents-of-every-sls-dollar-on-overhead-costs/

For goodness sake, a lot of the hardware, at least, is derived from STS and the RS-25 engines are even "flight proven." I get it that modifications are needed to take the RS-25s as an example (inlet pressure and temp, etc.).

But after tens of billions of dollars spent and the better part of a decade, is this any way to run a railroad?

Offline jtrame

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #12 on: 06/22/2017 11:35 AM »
The bureaucratic waste and glacial pace of SLS/Orion are really very tiresome. So are NASA's excuses (the tornado ate my homework...) for delays.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/03/new-report-nasa-spends-72-cents-of-every-sls-dollar-on-overhead-costs/

For goodness sake, a lot of the hardware, at least, is derived from STS and the RS-25 engines are even "flight proven." I get it that modifications are needed to take the RS-25s as an example (inlet pressure and temp, etc.).

But after tens of billions of dollars spent and the better part of a decade, is this any way to run a railroad?

What it says to me is there is nothing inherently wrong with the contracted hardware or the contractors, it's the bureaucratic behemoth that has sucked up the vast majority of the funds.  Since we can't go back and unspend money already spent then the cost of NASA going forward is where we should make the changes.  It only matters going forward.   If no changes are made, then more of the same.  Congress should separate out the funds going to the contractors and the funds going to NASA.  Cut the latter.

Offline JohnF

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #13 on: 06/22/2017 11:39 AM »
I'm sure all of the above is in all phases true, however these workers need jobs too, so of course it's gonna slip, getting paychecks is a good thing.

Offline woods170

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #14 on: 06/22/2017 01:24 PM »
The current NASA POR is a prime example of this:

Quote from: Phillip Swarts
If the United States is going to stay a preeminent world power, it’s going to require failure, said Gen. John Hyten, the head of U.S. Strategic Command. “We’ve lost the ability to go fast, test, and fail,” Hyten said. “We tie the hands of our engineers and acquisition folk because we expect every test to work and if it doesn’t work it’s on the front page of the newspaper. We have got to get back to where we accept risk.”

and this:

Quote from: Phillip Swarts
Between 1959 and 1964, with $17 billion in current-year dollars, the military created the Minuteman nuclear missile, delivering  “800 missiles deployed in five different bases across America, 160 launch holes, all the missile alert facilities, all the launch control centers, all the command and control,” Hyten said.
Now, building the next-generation GBSD is estimated to cost $84 billion for 400 missiles and isn’t set to be completed until 2029.
“How did we get to the point where it used to be that we could deliver 800 three-stage solid rocket motors…and now it takes us 12 to 17 years, so in other words, four times as long, four times as expensive, for half the capability?” Hyten said.

Quotes are from here: http://spacenews.com/if-america-wants-to-succeed-it-needs-to-learn-to-fail-top-general-says/

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #15 on: 06/22/2017 01:43 PM »
To use [ICPS] ... would require substantial one-use-only modifications of the ... launch umbilical tower and other GSE systems. That would be both impractible and expensive.

I don't disagree, but it's ironic that this is exactly the plan with respect to flying ICPS on SLS.
Yeah, a very expensive set of iCPS specific hardware and testing is implemented for a stage that will likely fly just once on SLS (if ever).  It was originally supposed to be 2 flights before EM-2 was promoted to EUS.

But heck, we have US Congress to thank for this mess. They were the ones ordering a launcher that could grow from 70 mT to LEO to 130 mT to LEO.

But with regards to iCPS flying on Delta IV Heavy: it would be worse than just making the one-use-only mods. After the mission is flown the one-use-mods would have to be reversed, given that iCPS is not the baseline upper stage of Delta IV Heavy. So, flying iCPS on a Delta IV Heavy would incurr the cost of changing the ground systems TWICE. IMO it is for this reason that any further missions of Orion on Delta IV Heavy will use the standard DCSS.

You don't seriously believe Congress 'invented' the 70-130t progression, do you?
It most likely was handed to Senator Shelby's staff by a contractor lobbyist.
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Offline UltraViolet9

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #16 on: 06/22/2017 02:08 PM »

It's hard to see how EM-1 will make a 2019 launch date given that there are:

Quote
...issues with all three programs separately and with integrating hardware and software between them...

L2 notes say that currently the areas most critical to the schedule are the SLS Core Stage, Orion’s European Service Module (ESM), construction and activation of GSDO’s Mobile Launcher, and software development across the board.

I'm sure that individually each program element has a delay of less than a year and that in theory they could be integrated and ready for launch in less than a year.

But the likelihood that all three program elements will execute to the revised schedule without cascading impacts on integration pushing launch into 2020 or later must be vanishingly small.

There's also this issue, per Bill Hill:

Quote
“We will try our best to launch [in daylight] but there’s only a few months out of the year where you get enough daylight, both in the early morning and late at night — and of course we’re looking at two different coasts here.  There’s only about three or four months where we could possibly get both.  We’re going to trade one against the other.”

If SLS/Orion can only launch crewed a few summer months out of each year, then the likelihood that all three program elements can be integrated by summer 2019 for EM-1 is even smaller.

I'm guessing that a realistic launch date with 50%-80% confidence for EM-1 is summer 2020 at the earliest.

I hope the agency is honest with the Administration about this.  It's concerning that the GAO warned of these slips before NASA HEOMD did.
« Last Edit: 06/22/2017 06:48 PM by UltraViolet9 »

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #17 on: 06/22/2017 02:33 PM »
Quote
“We will try our best to launch [in daylight] but there’s only a few months out of the year where you get enough daylight, both in the early morning and late at night — and of course we’re looking at two different coasts here.  There’s only about three or four months where we could possibly get both.  We’re going to trade one against the other.”

If SLS/Orion can only launch crewed a few summer months out of each year, then the likelihood that all three program elements can be integrated by summer 2019 for EM-1 is even smaller.

I'm guessing that a realistic launch date with 50%-80% confidence for EM-1 is summer 2020 at the earliest.

I hope the agency is honest with the Administration about this.

It says optimal conditions with daylight launch and landing for this particular mission is a few months of the summer.  It also says they don't have to launch in daylight.  That's a preferred time of year to launch, not a requirement.

Offline RonM

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #18 on: 06/22/2017 03:29 PM »
What I don't understand is why NASA had to spend a fortune building new tooling using bleeding edge technology to make the tanks. What was wrong with the tooling used to build the Shuttle tanks? Might have needed some modifications, but not replacement with experimental equipment.

Offline okan170

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #19 on: 06/22/2017 03:57 PM »
Since we can't go back and unspend money already spent then the cost of NASA going forward is where we should make the changes.  It only matters going forward.   If no changes are made, then more of the same.  Congress should separate out the funds going to the contractors and the funds going to NASA.  Cut the latter.

Thats right, lets get that nasty nasty government out of the way of those poor noble companies and just make it a money-hose directly to them since they will always make the right choices!

Sometimes this forum's reaction to any SLS news is incredibly predictable.

Online Lars-J

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #20 on: 06/22/2017 04:17 PM »
Since we can't go back and unspend money already spent then the cost of NASA going forward is where we should make the changes.  It only matters going forward.   If no changes are made, then more of the same.  Congress should separate out the funds going to the contractors and the funds going to NASA.  Cut the latter.

Thats right, lets get that nasty nasty government out of the way of those poor noble companies and just make it a money-hose directly to them since they will always make the right choices!

Sometimes this forum's reaction to any SLS news is incredibly predictable.

No, this forum's reaction to BAD SLS news is predictable. There just hasn't been any good news, for a long time. So you really expect positive reactions to further delays?  ???

Offline Jason Davies

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #21 on: 06/22/2017 04:56 PM »
Since we can't go back and unspend money already spent then the cost of NASA going forward is where we should make the changes.  It only matters going forward.   If no changes are made, then more of the same.  Congress should separate out the funds going to the contractors and the funds going to NASA.  Cut the latter.

Thats right, lets get that nasty nasty government out of the way of those poor noble companies and just make it a money-hose directly to them since they will always make the right choices!

Sometimes this forum's reaction to any SLS news is incredibly predictable.

Any interenet forum. fraks me off when people claim "this" forum. "This" forum is probably the most understanding of SLS' challenges and gives it objective coverage.

I assume you don't say this on other sites where it's wall to wall negativity? I assume you think Eric Berger, the best space flight journalist there is, is a problem because he reports nothing but bad news for SLS? Or the comment section of 101 other sites? Or are you comparing it to "random science. com" where no one knows anything and finds #journeytomars to be a convincing argument everything's fine and dandy.

Just because FOUR, and it really is about FOUR people are boring and monotonous in their anti-SLS stance, and are again on this thread, doesn't warrant you to say "THIS FORUM". It's as bad as saying "ALL MUSLIMS ARE BAD" because a handful blow themselves up.

Personally I learn to skip past a handful of people's comments and trust the excellent journalism here and find my own opinion from the variety of comment, rathern than complaining someone else on the internet doesn't have the same opinion.
« Last Edit: 06/22/2017 04:58 PM by Jason Davies »

Offline Paul Howard

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #22 on: 06/22/2017 05:07 PM »
Okan is right though. It is the usual reaction, but you're also right, it's the usual people with the reaction. I do think this site is the fairest towards SLS by a long way however.

No way should some reactions be classed as "this" entire place.

Offline UltraViolet9

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #23 on: 06/22/2017 06:39 PM »
It says optimal conditions with daylight launch and landing for this particular mission is a few months of the summer.  It also says they don't have to launch in daylight.  That's a preferred time of year to launch, not a requirement.

Hill said daytime launch was "highly desirable" and that they would trade it.

From my experience, I doubt they will trade daytime launch away.  Especially on a first launch, you want visuals to help trace through the fault tree in the event of a mishap.  Even more so for such an expensive launcher and with the second launch some years away.

Maybe not, but I suspect this constraint will help push EM-1 into 2020+.
« Last Edit: 06/22/2017 06:50 PM by UltraViolet9 »

Offline woods170

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #24 on: 06/22/2017 07:08 PM »
To use [ICPS] ... would require substantial one-use-only modifications of the ... launch umbilical tower and other GSE systems. That would be both impractible and expensive.

I don't disagree, but it's ironic that this is exactly the plan with respect to flying ICPS on SLS.
Yeah, a very expensive set of iCPS specific hardware and testing is implemented for a stage that will likely fly just once on SLS (if ever).  It was originally supposed to be 2 flights before EM-2 was promoted to EUS.

But heck, we have US Congress to thank for this mess. They were the ones ordering a launcher that could grow from 70 mT to LEO to 130 mT to LEO.

But with regards to iCPS flying on Delta IV Heavy: it would be worse than just making the one-use-only mods. After the mission is flown the one-use-mods would have to be reversed, given that iCPS is not the baseline upper stage of Delta IV Heavy. So, flying iCPS on a Delta IV Heavy would incurr the cost of changing the ground systems TWICE. IMO it is for this reason that any further missions of Orion on Delta IV Heavy will use the standard DCSS.

You don't seriously believe Congress 'invented' the 70-130t progression, do you?
It most likely was handed to Senator Shelby's staff by a contractor lobbyist.
That doesn't matter. NASA did not want the grow path at all. Heck, NASA did not want SLS. US Congress was aware of it, yet thrust SLS upon NASA anyway. So, who's to blame for the mess NASA is in right now? That's right: US Congress. Because the folks at the hill could have listened to NASA and have said no to Shelby et al. But they didn't.

Online Space Ghost 1962

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #25 on: 06/22/2017 07:38 PM »
One try at this.

Govt vehicles are financed by fiat, "commercial vehicles' by corporate "cost recovery" (of some kind).

Advantage of govt fiat  is you don't have to wait for "cost recovery".

Disadvantage is that political need of the moment (aka "will of the Congress") means they are exceedingly reckless in the use of fiat. What was desirable at one point is the boondoggle at the next point. And they compound.

And sometimes they can be used as a weapon, to favor a direction. Such as turn a 70t LV into a 130t one (in theory) so to prevent a "cost recovery" of a vehicle that might match a 70+t LV (perhaps in theory made out of 5 recoverable first stage boosters rather than three), by abuse of fiat, a form of protectionism.

Having thus muddied the waters, it also makes less clear the economics of closure of the govt LV, while the commercial side gradually powers through the attempted disruption. Nor has it benefited more commercial vendors, who have their own "political crosses to bear".

Now, if you want to use govt fiat to achieve things "quickly", "efficiently", and "successfully", one must abandon the anti-competitive "monkey wrenching" approach. As was done well with mid/late ICBM development, because they were scared to death of screwing up and being left defenseless. Sure, there was duplicative effort, but the "belt and suspenders" led to a comprehensive, durable aerospace industry - instead of a dilatory fewest/slowest approach that likely would have cost more.

You can pay for competition to get solutions, or you can pay for control/favoritism to get a solution,  but you're never going to pay any less. Because - fiat requires excessive "pay" to begin with.

And that's the simple answer to why CxP/SLS "simple" (  ::) ) ... disappoints here in the above posts.

The structure of how you use govt fiat requires it to work that way. Irrespective of everything else. Duh.

Offline mulp

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #26 on: 06/22/2017 07:44 PM »
What I don't understand is why NASA had to spend a fortune building new tooling using bleeding edge technology to make the tanks. What was wrong with the tooling used to build the Shuttle tanks? Might have needed some modifications, but not replacement with experimental equipment.
Maybe the same reason SpaceX invented and paid for new tooling to make tanks?

NASA development funds helped Elon develop better welding tech for Tesla vehicle manufacture by way of SpaceX. That plus NASA employee inventor Jeff Ding and his supporting NASA coworkers, based on issued patents. Over two decades, so a 25+ career at NASA.

Obviously wasted government spending because who needs better and cheaper welding than gas or electric melt fusion welding. Vacuum tubes were just fine. The Soviets won the space race when they stuck to tubes. Transistors were just not needed, because you just make the rocket motors and fuel tanks bigger.

Offline RonM

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #27 on: 06/22/2017 08:48 PM »
What I don't understand is why NASA had to spend a fortune building new tooling using bleeding edge technology to make the tanks. What was wrong with the tooling used to build the Shuttle tanks? Might have needed some modifications, but not replacement with experimental equipment.
Maybe the same reason SpaceX invented and paid for new tooling to make tanks?

NASA development funds helped Elon develop better welding tech for Tesla vehicle manufacture by way of SpaceX. That plus NASA employee inventor Jeff Ding and his supporting NASA coworkers, based on issued patents. Over two decades, so a 25+ career at NASA.

Obviously wasted government spending because who needs better and cheaper welding than gas or electric melt fusion welding. Vacuum tubes were just fine. The Soviets won the space race when they stuck to tubes. Transistors were just not needed, because you just make the rocket motors and fuel tanks bigger.

If the goal was to support innovation, then why build a new rocket based on decades old Shuttle technology? By the time SLS is operational both Blue Origin and SpaceX will have superior rockets. If SLS was really Shuttle derived as advertized, it would have met the 2016 first flight deadline. Could have been money available for payloads and NASA would be back in the human spaceflight business today. Instead, we have yet another delay and more money wasted.

Online envy887

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #28 on: 06/22/2017 11:07 PM »
What I don't understand is why NASA had to spend a fortune building new tooling using bleeding edge technology to make the tanks. What was wrong with the tooling used to build the Shuttle tanks? Might have needed some modifications, but not replacement with experimental equipment.
Because NASA misinterpreted 70 short tons as 70 metric tons, possibly intentionally. That meant they HAD to use a bigger tank with 5-seg boosters. Bigger tank meant thicker walls than the shuttle tank, which meant new tooling.

Offline woods170

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #29 on: 06/23/2017 08:56 AM »
What I don't understand is why NASA had to spend a fortune building new tooling using bleeding edge technology to make the tanks. What was wrong with the tooling used to build the Shuttle tanks? Might have needed some modifications, but not replacement with experimental equipment.
Because NASA misinterpreted 70 short tons as 70 metric tons, possibly intentionally. That meant they HAD to use a bigger tank with 5-seg boosters. Bigger tank meant thicker walls than the shuttle tank, which meant new tooling.
No. It was the growth path. It was clear from the onset that the core tankage would have to be suitable for the 130 (m)T version as well. And that meant thicker walls than the shuttle tank from the onset. It had nothing to do with mistaking 70 short tons for 70 metric tons.

Offline jtrame

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #30 on: 06/23/2017 10:45 AM »
Since we can't go back and unspend money already spent then the cost of NASA going forward is where we should make the changes.  It only matters going forward.   If no changes are made, then more of the same.  Congress should separate out the funds going to the contractors and the funds going to NASA.  Cut the latter.

Thats right, lets get that nasty nasty government out of the way of those poor noble companies and just make it a money-hose directly to them since they will always make the right choices!

Sometimes this forum's reaction to any SLS news is incredibly predictable.

No, my conclusion from the data given.  How do you cut the overhead and still have a lean and mean NASA still calling the shots.  How do you redesign NASA going forward to save money without cutting the money to the hardware.  I just didn't state it very well.
« Last Edit: 06/23/2017 10:58 AM by jtrame »

Offline Proponent

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #31 on: 06/23/2017 11:41 AM »
Surely the loads on the Shuttle's ET and on SLS's core stage are so different that substantial redesign of the ET would have been required regardless of whether the spec was for 70 tons or 70 tonnes and regardless of whether payload growth was required.

Offline Proponent

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #32 on: 06/23/2017 11:52 AM »
Disadvantage is that political need of the moment (aka "will of the Congress") means they are exceedingly reckless in the use of fiat. What was desirable at one point is the boondoggle at the next point.

I tend to agree but would add the caveat that there will be less arbitrary political interference if the program is seen as nationally important.  Apollo/Saturn was important and urgent, and the government let the engineers select and design the hardware.  There was political review (e.g., the choice of LOR was reviewed by the White House in late 1962), and I'm sure there was a lot of politics in choosing the sites of new facilities, but for the most part the politicians just let the engineers and administrators get on with the job.

With Orion/SLS, there is no urgency, and it gets blown about by the winds of politics.  In Apollo it was

1. Government sets goal (go to the moon),
2. Engineers, after lengthy analysis and argument, choose the architecture (LOR rather than EOR or direct), and
3. Engineers specify the hardware needed to implement the architecture.

In Orion/SLS it's more or less backward:

1. Politicians specify hardware.
2. Engineers try come up with something to do with the hardware.

Online jgoldader

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #33 on: 06/23/2017 12:37 PM »
No, my conclusion from the data given.  How do you cut the overhead and still have a lean and mean NASA still calling the shots.  How do you redesign NASA going forward to save money without cutting the money to the hardware.  I just didn't state it very well.

I'll bite.  IANARS (or politician) but it seems to me that the biggest problem with the implementation of SLS is that the fixed costs take up so much of the annual appropriation.  In this (possibly straw man) scenario, you can pay people, but not afford to do much testing and actual building of hardware.  This stretches out the program so that tens of billions of dollars will be spent before the first flight.

Since a big portion of those fixed costs ended up as salaries, I suppose the most obvious solution would have been for NASA to reduce fixed costs by laying off lots of people at MSFC and Johnson the way they did at KSC, with the layoffs going down the line to contractors like ATK, LM, etc.  But that's not a popular view here, and it was not a politically acceptable solution, either.

I wonder if there was a possible alternate history where SLS annual appropriations were much larger at program inception, in such a way that EM-1 moved way to the left on the calendar.  The total cost of the program might have been the same, but we'd be on EM-5 or such by now and be talking about the almost-finished Gateway.

There's a hell of a book waiting to be written about the politics behind CxP and SLS, and the eventual success or failure of SLS.  I do hope somebody out there is working on it.
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Online envy887

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #34 on: 06/23/2017 02:56 PM »
What I don't understand is why NASA had to spend a fortune building new tooling using bleeding edge technology to make the tanks. What was wrong with the tooling used to build the Shuttle tanks? Might have needed some modifications, but not replacement with experimental equipment.
Because NASA misinterpreted 70 short tons as 70 metric tons, possibly intentionally. That meant they HAD to use a bigger tank with 5-seg boosters. Bigger tank meant thicker walls than the shuttle tank, which meant new tooling.
No. It was the growth path. It was clear from the onset that the core tankage would have to be suitable for the 130 (m)T version as well. And that meant thicker walls than the shuttle tank from the onset. It had nothing to do with mistaking 70 short tons for 70 metric tons.
No, the growth path was J-2X. A large J-2X upper stage would have enabled a 130 short ton booster with Shuttle ET volume core and 4-seg SRBs. Dropping J-2X for RL-10 (and keeping the 5-seg SRBs from Constellation) drove the need for a large core. The large core limits the potential upgrade paths due to VAB height... now they CAN'T make a large J2-X stage without raising the VAB roof, which limits growth paths even more than a ET-sized core with 4-seg boosters would.

Obviously the core would need to strengthened over the ET walls, but not nearly to the extent that the current SLS core is.

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #35 on: 06/23/2017 03:42 PM »
The most troubling item in the EM-1 schedule is the continued delay in having at least a combined working software set which is needed to start the training/procedures development/errors and bug detection fixes done over a period of 18 months. The current state of the software puts that ready to test combined set and use in training is no earlier than Jan 2018 and could more likely be mid 2018. Putting the new launch date late 2019 and even as bad as early 2020.

Without that 18 month of software usage where it is put through various scenarios with the live controllers many many bugs will not be found which can cause significant delays in launching when a software bug hangs up the processing for launch and must be fixed and tested prior to trying to launch again and even a LOM event after launch to occur that could have been prevented. Thus the likely hood of a launch by the planned date would be <50%. Most likely it could incur up to  a year delay while software is fixed and tested. That would put the launch into mid 2020 anyway at a much later date than if more time was taken upfront to properly integrate and test the combined software set.

Added: The reason why this combined integrated software set is being so troublesome to achieve is the lack of "tight" communication you get between coders of all the elements when all the software is developed in one location by a small (20 or less people) group. The more coders and greater complexity in how the coders can communicate with each other (especially between companies if individual software elements are being developed by separate companies/organizations), the number of coders and the time it takes to develop the software grows exponentially. Ideally you want a single organization to do all the coding for the stack and ground systems at a single location so that the coders can literally yell or walk over to who they need to ask a question about how an interface is defined and its exact responses to certain data events.
« Last Edit: 06/23/2017 03:52 PM by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Offline clongton

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #36 on: 06/23/2017 04:49 PM »
Way back in 2011 we predicted that this was turning into a slow train wreck. But 6 years on and still watching the same train wreck continue at a glacial pace is excruciatingly painful in the extreme.
« Last Edit: 06/23/2017 04:50 PM by clongton »
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Offline RonM

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #37 on: 06/23/2017 06:00 PM »
Way back in 2011 we predicted that this was turning into a slow train wreck. But 6 years on and still watching the same train wreck continue at a glacial pace is excruciatingly painful in the extreme.

Especially since Jupiter would be flying today.

Online Lars-J

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #38 on: 06/23/2017 06:14 PM »
Way back in 2011 we predicted that this was turning into a slow train wreck. But 6 years on and still watching the same train wreck continue at a glacial pace is excruciatingly painful in the extreme.

Especially since Jupiter would be flying today.

Would it, though? With the same cooks in the kitchen, how can you be sure of a different outcome?

Offline RonM

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #39 on: 06/23/2017 06:37 PM »
Way back in 2011 we predicted that this was turning into a slow train wreck. But 6 years on and still watching the same train wreck continue at a glacial pace is excruciatingly painful in the extreme.

Especially since Jupiter would be flying today.

Would it, though? With the same cooks in the kitchen, how can you be sure of a different outcome?

Confident since less modifications would be needed, but it's possible the bureaucrats would have screwed it up too.

Offline clongton

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #40 on: 06/23/2017 06:38 PM »
Way back in 2011 we predicted that this was turning into a slow train wreck. But 6 years on and still watching the same train wreck continue at a glacial pace is excruciatingly painful in the extreme.

Especially since Jupiter would be flying today.

Sorry Ron but Lars is right. Same cooks - same result. That's why we said we were watching a slow train wreck.
They adopted our design, promptly turned it into the original Ares-V and called it SLS (EUS replaces our EDS).
But there was a problem. With 5 RS-25's it didn't need the 5-segment SRB, so they cut the count to 4 - problem solved. ATK was happy.

Nobody with any pull in Congress is interested in spaceflight in the slightest. They are only interested in keeping the jobs going as long as possible at the centers and contractors. That gets votes for the next election campaign. It oughta be a crime - but it isn't. Sad - so very sad.
« Last Edit: 06/23/2017 06:59 PM by clongton »
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Offline okan170

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #41 on: 06/30/2017 05:15 PM »

Nobody with any pull in Congress is interested in spaceflight in the slightest. They are only interested in keeping the jobs going as long as possible at the centers and contractors. That gets votes for the next election campaign. It oughta be a crime - but it isn't. Sad - so very sad.

Yes, Congressmen and women should work against the interests of their constituents!  If only the world worked logically like this!

Online Lars-J

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #42 on: 06/30/2017 05:19 PM »

Nobody with any pull in Congress is interested in spaceflight in the slightest. They are only interested in keeping the jobs going as long as possible at the centers and contractors. That gets votes for the next election campaign. It oughta be a crime - but it isn't. Sad - so very sad.

Yes, Congressmen and women should work against the interests of their constituents!  If only the world worked logically like this!

I believe this is called a straw man argument, okan170.  ::) You can do better. Note the "only" part of his text. Nowhere was a claim made that they should *never* work for the constituents direct interests.

Offline gospacex

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #43 on: 06/30/2017 05:43 PM »
Since we can't go back and unspend money already spent then the cost of NASA going forward is where we should make the changes.  It only matters going forward.   If no changes are made, then more of the same.  Congress should separate out the funds going to the contractors and the funds going to NASA.  Cut the latter.

Thats right, lets get that nasty nasty government out of the way of those poor noble companies and just make it a money-hose directly to them since they will always make the right choices!

As a person who lived in both systems of society, one where everything is done by government, and the other where most things are done by "evil greedy capitalists", I'm telling you: "evil capitalists" work better. Not ideal, but WAY, WAY better. Not because they are noble, but because those which underperform eventually go bankrupt.

I know that many people in the West are very much not appreciating this fact, because they never tasted the alternative.

Offline Lar

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #44 on: 06/30/2017 06:41 PM »
This isn't space policy .. .let's not veer too far in that direction. Thanks.
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Offline tea monster

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #45 on: 06/30/2017 07:54 PM »
Yes, Congressmen and women should work against the interests of their constituents!  If only the world worked logically like this!

Ignoring the obvious sarcasm for a moment, if they had flown Shuttle C, then all the usual suspects apart from the shuttle refurb crew would have continued to be happily employed and there would even be some development work to be shared out.

Apart from that, we would most likely be flying by now, not in the Monty Python position we are in at the moment of cancelling Ares V, renaming it SLS, designing it again, and then waiting till 2019 to fly the thing. That, with the expectation that it will soon be cancelled yet again, and we will have another five to ten year wait while they come to yet another design that they may or may not actually fly.

I'd like to ask a real question here. I've followed various rocket programs since the early 90s (mid 80's if you want to count Shuttle II). In each and every case, the program has been cancelled, sometimes during flight testing (CRV). Why can't this country get it's act together? Why have their been so many? Why are they all cancelled before they fly? Why has it taken this long to get nowhere? When Obama shelved the shuttle, there should have been at least one replacement already flying.

Online Lars-J

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #46 on: 06/30/2017 08:28 PM »
I'd like to ask a real question here. I've followed various rocket programs since the early 90s (mid 80's if you want to count Shuttle II). In each and every case, the program has been cancelled, sometimes during flight testing (CRV). Why can't this country get it's act together? Why have their been so many? Why are they all cancelled before they fly? Why has it taken this long to get nowhere? When Obama shelved the shuttle, there should have been at least one replacement already flying.

Two reasons, IMO, both budget related:
1. Early development is always cheap, but at some point you have to spend real $$$ to bring a project to completion. This is where most are cancelled.
2. Tribalism within NASA/Congress. While shuttle was flying, there was never in a million years a chance that another crew transport would be completed. Shuttle consumed a large part of the HSF budget, and any other vehicle was viewed by some as a lethal risk to the Shuttle program budget. The CRV being a great example - had it been completed there would have been studies for launching it directly on an EELV, thus providing cheaper access to ISS than Shuttle. So due to the risk of this to the Shuttle budget, this could not (IMO) be tolerated.

The current climate with multiple commercial vehicles in development was only possible because
A) Shuttle was cancelled, and
B) Orion was tied to Ares/SLS

A fortuitous set of circumstance, IMO.
« Last Edit: 06/30/2017 08:49 PM by Lars-J »

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #47 on: 06/30/2017 08:45 PM »
Yes, Congressmen and women should work against the interests of their constituents!  If only the world worked logically like this!

Ignoring the obvious sarcasm for a moment, if they had flown Shuttle C, then all the usual suspects apart from the shuttle refurb crew would have continued to be happily employed and there would even be some development work to be shared out.

Apart from that, we would most likely be flying by now, not in the Monty Python position we are in at the moment of cancelling Ares V, renaming it SLS, designing it again, and then waiting till 2019 to fly the thing. That, with the expectation that it will soon be cancelled yet again, and we will have another five to ten year wait while they come to yet another design that they may or may not actually fly.

I'd like to ask a real question here. I've followed various rocket programs since the early 90s (mid 80's if you want to count Shuttle II). In each and every case, the program has been cancelled, sometimes during flight testing (CRV). Why can't this country get it's act together? Why have their been so many? Why are they all cancelled before they fly? Why has it taken this long to get nowhere? When Obama shelved the shuttle, there should have been at least one replacement already flying.
Ending the Shuttle program was under the orders of George Bush closing down the supply chains needed. We were lucky to get an extra flight to orbit during the Obama years...
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #48 on: 06/30/2017 09:38 PM »
I'd like to ask a real question here. I've followed various rocket programs since the early 90s (mid 80's if you want to count Shuttle II). In each and every case, the program has been cancelled, sometimes during flight testing (CRV). Why can't this country get it's act together? Why have their been so many? Why are they all cancelled before they fly? Why has it taken this long to get nowhere? When Obama shelved the shuttle, there should have been at least one replacement already flying.

When Boeing built the 747 it was because the current generation of aircraft and airports had reached a temporary limit as to how many passengers they could carry. So the 747 addressed a growing market limitation, and it was built with input from potential customers.

The Shuttle was an attempt by the U.S. Government to create a space transportation system that everyone would use. Kind of a space railroad or subway. Which at that point in our history was probably a good idea at conception, but reality turned out to be different than what was envisioned - for many reasons.

So even though the Shuttle made it to operational status it had many advantages going for it that other "from scratch" transportation systems didn't, like a soon-to-be-idled Apollo workforce and no competition.

But I think what ultimately doomed those canceled transportation programs is what the SLS is currently struggling with - the lack of a real market need. Remember the 747 example above, where it was a market need that drove the need for a "super-heavy" passenger aircraft. But the SLS was not created to satisfy a comparable need.

Plus the SLS was created by Congress without NASA input, which is why the EM-1 flight is "slipping". In reality NASA was never asked how long it would take to build the SLS, nor was it asked how much it would take, so it's impossible to say that NASA is behind schedule or over budget because NASA never controlled either of those factors.

Senator Shelby had an interesting interaction with the acting NASA Administrator regarding the current Administration budget request when he asked if there would be more cost increases on the Commercial Crew program. Acting administrator Robert Lightfoot responded "I think it's a fixed price contract; I don't expect any more cost increases". Shelby didn't ask the same question about the SLS program though, since he knows the SLS contract is a cost-plus contract, and companies in his state benefit from that work. So obviously political support is required also...

My $0.02
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #49 on: 06/30/2017 09:58 PM »
This isn't space policy .. .let's not veer too far in that direction. Thanks.

Nothing has changed since I posted that.
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Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #50 on: 07/02/2017 08:01 AM »
At the risk of thread derailment; could it be argued that Falcon-9 and New Glenn represent a second attempt to create a 'railroad to space' that has learned from the technical and conceptual failures of STS? A more robust form of reusability and a clearer focus on what parts can be reused and what parts it is worthwhile making the expense and performance compromises necessary to do so.

Additionally, I would argue that such developments (dependent as they has been on NASA funding and support at several points) would never have reached fruition without the historical coincidence with the shut-down of the shuttle program. A replacement crew access and cargo launch & recovery system to the shuttle was needed so what would have otherwise been serious institutional opposition wasn't as pronounced or even absent (I'll bet that ISSP tend to view Dragon as 'their' new crew and cargo delivery and return system).

Thread relevance? Orion/SLS ("I can't believe it isn't Ares-V-Classic") doesn't have that advantage that Dragon has - The perception of being a capability needed to maintain an ongoing program (ISS, specifically). Orion/SLS is not something 'needed now' and thus can slide along at a slow, slow rate without anyone really feeling that it's threatening anything by being indefinitely postponed.

FWIW, I suspect the DIRECT team's proposal of the Orion & SSPDM (Space Shuttle payload bay-derived Payload Delivery Module)/Jupiter-130 would have probably done a lot better in being perceived as 'something needed now' and would have probably enjoyed faster development. Whether it would have been possible to develop it fast enough, even if perceived by all HSF programs at NASA as a priority, is a question for speculation; we'll never know.
« Last Edit: 07/02/2017 08:17 AM by Ben the Space Brit »
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Offline Hog

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Re: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip
« Reply #51 on: 07/03/2017 04:52 PM »
There are a few good things that NASA can report to Congress.
1) The Astronaut Transfer Van has approx. 26,500miles on it, and its maintenance schedule has not slipped. The 1983 model year modded Airstream Excella motorhome came into service back in November 1983 with STS-9-Columbia as the larger crew numbers came into use after the first few smaller crew sizes.

     "The seats are equipped with lift-out sections to accommodate the ventilator units used to circulate cool air through the astronauts' bulky orange launch-and-entry suits.

"This is the only place that they have liquid air. And liquid air is really, really good. We have this cooling garment that circulates water cooling and in the hot Florida sun it's nice to have it," explains Ferguson. "But they plug that liquid air into you and it just blows this cool air throughout your suit, and it's really nice because it actually dries you. It's like a special treat on launch day."

2) NASA barge Pegasus is standing at the ready to transport the largest rocket core stage in history from Stennis Space Center to Kennedy Space Center.  In order to accommodate the massive core stage and her 4 RS25 engines, Pegasus had a 115 foot section cut out of her which was replaced by a 165 foot section in a process referred to as "jumboisation".
(The largest ship ever to roam the seas was the Seawise Giant, later Happy Giant, Jahre Viking, Knock Nevis, Oppama, and finally Mont. She was cut into two sections and had a longer section inserted into her. Her final "jumboized" length was 458.45 m (1,504.10 ft) and displaced 81,879 long tons light ship and 646,642 long tons with a full load.  When fully loaded, her 29.8 m (97.77 ft) keel depth and 24.611 m (80.74 ft) draught made it impossible for her to use the English Channel.)

3) Crawler Transporter- Hans and Franz have been supporting space American space launches since 1965. For SLS the 6 million pound beasts have undergone retrofits allowing their capacities to be increased from 5,400,000 to 8,200,000 kg (12,000,000 to 18,000,000 lb).

To Congress: rest assured, NASA has the knowledge and the hardware, to move Astronauts and launch vehicles wherever they are needed.  Be it the 9 mile trip to from the Operations and Checkout Building to LC-39-B or  the 900 mile water voyage from Stennis to KSC. 
Please give us the funding and more importantly the DIRECTION to allow for that great 900 million km return  trip to Mars. We choose to go to Mars by the mid-point of this century, not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Empower your agencies to "Make it so!"


Looks like I need to change my hotel reservations, again.


Pic#1 Interior of Astrovan
Pic#2 Pegasus at 260ft length being towed by Freedom Star with ET-119 inside
Pic#3 Pegasus in drydock at Conrad Shipyard LLC in Morgan City, Louisiana
Pic#4 in 2017 at her full 310ft length
Pic#5 Jahre Viking fully loaded
Pic#6 Jahre Viking empty
Pic#7 Crawler Transporter having some work done on one of the trucks
Pic#8 Crawler Transporter pictured in front of the Vehicle Assembly Building
Paul

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