Author Topic: NASA preparing letter to Congress to explain EM-1 slip  (Read 6084 times)

Offline 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.

Online 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.

Offline 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.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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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.

Offline 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.

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