Author Topic: Commercial Crew providers making "significant progress" toward first flights  (Read 11085 times)

Offline rayleighscatter

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“The other provider has placed a value on agility and rapid problem solving with beneficial results.  They are also showing signs of evolving to reconcile their approach with the benefits and need for discipline and control.

“However, they need to ensure that the evolution reflects an inherent desire to adopt the tenets of systems engineering.”

Uh, yeh.  I'm glad that SpaceX is never going to adopt the "tenets of systems engineering" while Musk is in charge.

And that is why they had and will have more failures
ULA will too.

I would suggest you don't get in a ULA commercial crew vehicle then.

Offline envy887

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The attitude at NASA seems to be "Failure is not an option". ISTM that attitude stifles the kind of creativity needed to really advance. The Spacex attitude seems to be "Failure is an option, quitting is not".

Too broad.

Sometimes failure is an option. Sometimes it isn't, but it happens anyway. This applies to everyone in the business. NASA is not immune to failure, and SpaceX is not inviting it.

Offline whitelancer64

MMOD damage to the heatshields of vehicles that still have their trunks or service modules attached should be non-existent. Therefore this should not be a factor in calculating LOC numbers.

That's not what I gather from:
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2015/05/eft-1-orion-inspections-vital-mmod-information/
and
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2016/08/nasa-mmod-primary-threat-crew-vehicles/

Backshell TPS is also at risk. I could be misinterpreting those though.

There have been 50 Soyuz missions to ISS and 30 Soyuz missions to Mir. These missions typically last about 5 to 6 months. How many of them were severely damaged by MMOD? AFAIK, none. It doesn't look like ASAP is using any of that data.

Just because there hasn't been a loss of a Soyuz from MMOD doesn't mean there is no risk.

Also the debris environment around the ISS / LEO in general is worse now than it ever has been, which is a part of the issue. There are MMOD models that output different risk factors depending on assumptions made about the amount and location of debris hazards. For example, fine debris from the Chinese ASAT test is slowly coming closer to Earth, but exactly where it is, how big the particles are, and how fast the orbital decay rate for the debris is a matter of some guesswork. How you model those parameters can change the risk level.

Who said it was no risk? The point - unless I am misunderstanding - was merely that after ~100 flights we starting to have a decent sample to give us data to see if the cited danger is as dangerous as claimed.

Which it is, since a hit to a critical system will kill the crew. The fact that it hasn't happened yet doesn't make it any less hazardous, just ask the crew of the Columbia.

You completely ignore the other point, that the debris environment is getting worse.
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Offline guckyfan

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One of the witnesses today talked about NASA being too risk averse. Failure must be an option again. People will die.

Offline AbuSimbel

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“The other provider has placed a value on agility and rapid problem solving with beneficial results.  They are also showing signs of evolving to reconcile their approach with the benefits and need for discipline and control.

“However, they need to ensure that the evolution reflects an inherent desire to adopt the tenets of systems engineering.”

Uh, yeh.  I'm glad that SpaceX is never going to adopt the "tenets of systems engineering" while Musk is in charge.

And that is why they had and will have more failures
ULA will too.

I would suggest you don't get in a ULA commercial crew vehicle then.
Ohh trust me I would, and I would also take a ride on a Dragon. I would go knowing that failure is possible, even for ULA. Some here seem to imply that's not the case.

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Well shucks, buttercup. If there's the slightest chance that someone might get hurt by riding one of these things then maybe we should just skip this and go fishing instead. Be careful of that there hook young fella. It's got a sharp pointy end on it that could hurt if you stuck yourself with it. Come to think about it, let's just forget about fishing and go take a nap. What could go wrong with that?  ::)
Could get trapped and suffocated by the blankets.
Particularly if you put baby face down...
With Folded Hands...
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« Last Edit: 07/13/2017 04:30 PM by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline Lars-J

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Who said it was no risk? The point - unless I am misunderstanding - was merely that after ~100 flights we starting to have a decent sample to give us data to see if the cited danger is as dangerous as claimed.

Which it is, since a hit to a critical system will kill the crew. The fact that it hasn't happened yet doesn't make it any less hazardous, just ask the crew of the Columbia.

If course there is risk, even if it hasn't happened yet. I am under no illusion it won't happen. At some point some crews *will* die from MMOD, no matter what recommendations from ASAP are followed.

But we take risks every day. Every time we walk across the street or get in a car we roll the dice, whether we are aware of it or not. You can either be A) ignorant of it (not recommended), B) accept it and take basic precautions (the mature response) or C) wrap yourself in bubblewrap and blankets (the absurd response), or D) never leave your home (but even that poses risk)

The points is to be aware of the risks and take reasonable precautions. The people here who are dissing ASAP are not unaware of the risks... We (or at least I) wish they would be more practical in their recommendations.

You completely ignore the other point, that the debris environment is getting worse.

Assuming you are correct - what is your response to that? How safe do you feel is necessary?

Offline abaddon

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The points is to be aware of the risks and take reasonable precautions. The people here who are dissing ASAP are not unaware of the risks... We (or at least I) wish they would be more practical in their recommendations.
As long as they are and remain only recommendations, I'm glad that they are asking for an unreasonably high standard.  According to Kathy Lueders, both providers have made what everyone believes to be unqualified improvements to safety while pursuing the admittedly unrealistic LOC goals.  When push comes to shove, if everyone signs off that both providers went above and beyond and that the systems can be considered safe as they can reasonably be made, what's to dislike?

I understand that some schedule slippage might be attributed to this, but it's unclear to me how much insight we have to be able to blame schedule slip on this part of the process specifically.  And, honestly, if we can make our systems safer, some schedule slippage seems a reasonable sacrifice to me.

Just my two cents and change...
« Last Edit: 07/13/2017 05:27 PM by abaddon »

Offline woods170

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“The other provider has placed a value on agility and rapid problem solving with beneficial results.  They are also showing signs of evolving to reconcile their approach with the benefits and need for discipline and control.

“However, they need to ensure that the evolution reflects an inherent desire to adopt the tenets of systems engineering.”

Uh, yeh.  I'm glad that SpaceX is never going to adopt the "tenets of systems engineering" while Musk is in charge.

And that is why they had and will have more failures
Failure IS an option if your MO is agile. And guess what SpaceX does.
The only way to continue to advance (human) spaceflight is to make mistakes and learn from them. Some of those mistakes could mean LOM or even LOC. Even risk-adverse NASA is aware of the fact that (manned) spaceflight inevitably comes with failures. That is why the Apollo program did not get cancelled after Apollo 204 and that is why after Challenger and Columbia NASA is still in the business of manned spaceflight.
I'm just glad as h*ll that ASAP is an advisory panel. If they were calling the shots US manned spaceflight would have ended after Challenger.

Offline meberbs

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Who said it was no risk? The point - unless I am misunderstanding - was merely that after ~100 flights we starting to have a decent sample to give us data to see if the cited danger is as dangerous as claimed.

Which it is, since a hit to a critical system will kill the crew. The fact that it hasn't happened yet doesn't make it any less hazardous, just ask the crew of the Columbia.

You completely ignore the other point, that the debris environment is getting worse.
I think terminology has to be clarified here. Risk is formally defined as consequence times probability. The consequence is obviously very high. The data should be able to tell us probability, which seems like it shouldn't be too high. What is really being discussed here is the probability, and "hasn't happened yet" does tell us something about that.

Offline envy887

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Who said it was no risk? The point - unless I am misunderstanding - was merely that after ~100 flights we starting to have a decent sample to give us data to see if the cited danger is as dangerous as claimed.

Which it is, since a hit to a critical system will kill the crew. The fact that it hasn't happened yet doesn't make it any less hazardous, just ask the crew of the Columbia.

You completely ignore the other point, that the debris environment is getting worse.
I think terminology has to be clarified here. Risk is formally defined as consequence times probability. The consequence is obviously very high. The data should be able to tell us probability, which seems like it shouldn't be too high. What is really being discussed here is the probability, and "hasn't happened yet" does tell us something about that.

In risk analysis "hazardous" and "consequence" (as you used it) are really the same thing. The hazard is independent of the probability of occurrence, and to reach the same risk level a more severe hazard requires a lower occurrence rate.

Offline Ronsmytheiii

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One of the witnesses today talked about NASA being too risk averse. Failure must be an option again. People will die.

And that cavalier attitude will get the commercial program killed much faster than any extra requirements from NASA.

Offline Robotbeat

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One of the witnesses today talked about NASA being too risk averse. Failure must be an option again. People will die.

And that cavalier attitude will get the commercial program killed much faster than any extra requirements from NASA.
It wasn't cavalier. Watch the video.

And he's absolutely right.
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Offline getitdoneinspace

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One of the witnesses today talked about NASA being too risk averse. Failure must be an option again. People will die.

And that cavalier attitude will get the commercial program killed much faster than any extra requirements from NASA.
It wasn't cavalier. Watch the video.

And he's absolutely right.

One of his key points in his message was that levying a requirement “it has to be successful or else” results in the tendency of always “doing the last thing that you did that worked”. The consequence is never pushing the boundary but rather only doing small/slow incremental improvements.

Offline getitdoneinspace

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I listened to Bill Gerstenmaier recently at the AIAA Propulsion & Energy 2017 conference.

https://livestream.com/AIAAvideo/PropEnergy2017/videos/159704854

During the Q&A (47 minutes into video), he very openly wonders if the current systems engineering approach is the right approach anymore. He is thinking we should be rethinking systems engineering and perhaps emulating some of the approaches used in agile software development.

In looking at the public information available on the systems engineering process of SpaceX vs. Boeing in the commercial crew effort, one can definitely see the delta between the old systems engineering process used by Boeing vs. a modified more agile systems engineering process used by SpaceX. Very happy to see that Bill Gerstenmaier clearly recognizes the need to transform the systems engineering approach used in hardware development. I am not suggesting the SpaceX approach is perfect but, in my view, they are moving in the right direction. And maybe even more importantly, they know that the approach must be continuously improved and very open to change.

I have worked in software development for over 30 years beginning using punch cards to code. I have seen the huge benefit of the transformation allowed by new tools and approaches and most importantly a new mindset never being satisfied with the status quo. But many in my age group have resisted and resent the change taking place thinking that the old way worked let’s not change. I see many parallels here. Some organizations/people are grudgingly moving forward or at least talking the talk but maybe not really walking the walk. But other greenfield organizations/people are relooking at the problems/challenges that must be overcome and reimagining the approaches used to solve those problems/challenges while not being constrained by “doing the last thing that you did that worked”.

Change is not always easy, but very nice to see Bill is thinking that change is necessary to make significant advancements in space.

Offline AnnK

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NASA has become so "risk adverse", they will do anything to hold up US crewed flight.  I still remember the first privately funded seats to the the ISS. They called them "space tourists" and bad mouthed them. Only NASA space professionals, etc can go into space. It did not matter they had months of training as flight engineers.

We are going to lose people in space and nothing we do will avoid this fact. NASA needs to get out of the way of crewed flight. I do not see them as the solution but the problem. Congress has to get out of designing spacecraft. They can only think of providing pork for their own districts. As for Orion it should be canceled as a waste of taxpayer funds. It is obsolete before its first flight.

I see the private companies leading us into crewed missions. SpaceX will have a colony set up on Mars before the first NASA Mars flight. It is the same for the other companies. Again we will lose people but life is dangerous even if it is just driving to the supermarket.

Offline Jim

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They called them "space tourists" and bad mouthed them. Only NASA space professionals, etc can go into space. It did not matter they had months of training as flight engineers.


They were not trained as flight engineers

Offline Endeavour_01

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NASA has become so "risk adverse", they will do anything to hold up US crewed flight.

I doubt that. NASA astronauts are currently on ISS and billions are being spent on new systems to launch humans to LEO and beyond from US soil.

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They called them "space tourists"


Because they were space tourists. Nothing wrong with that.

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We are going to lose people in space and nothing we do will avoid this fact.

True. ASAP should not insist that commercial crew has to reach unrealistic LOC and LOM numbers. That said, astronauts are real people with real lives and their safety needs to be given due consideration. If you were launching on these capsules I am sure that you would insist that no corners were cut.

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NASA needs to get out of the way of crewed flight. I do not see them as the solution but the problem. I see the private companies leading us into crewed missions. SpaceX will have a colony set up on Mars before the first NASA Mars flight. It is the same for the other companies.

Well without NASA there would be no crewed US flight, either now or in the future. Badmouth NASA all you like but without it there would be no commercial crew program. As for private companies going to Mars without any NASA support I find that extremely unlikely. Mars missions won't be cheap and it makes far more sense for private companies to collaborate with NASA than to try to do it all on their own.
I cheer for both NASA and commercial space. For SLS, Orion, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Dragon, Starliner, Cygnus and all the rest!
I was blessed to see the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-99. The launch was beyond amazing. My 8-year old mind was blown. I remember the noise and seeing the exhaust pour out of the shuttle as it lifted off. I remember staring and watching it soar while it was visible in the clear blue sky. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I will never forget it.

Offline pathfinder_01

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Well without NASA there would be no crewed US flight, either now or in the future. Badmouth NASA all you like but without it there would be no commercial crew program. As for private companies going to Mars without any NASA support I find that extremely unlikely. Mars missions won't be cheap and it makes far more sense for private companies to collaborate with NASA than to try to do it all on their own.

Yes and No. Space X has planned to send people into space before commercial crew. However it would have taken longer and been more risky(i.e. more likely not to happen). In fact it has been possible for Space X to send a man into space without much work since the Dragon 1. The way it would have happened without Commercial Crew would be Space X develops the F1 and sells some launches at a profit, gets some private Capital(and/or Government funding via Air Force or DARPA) to develop the F5 and later F9(Which is the launcher that would get him into the meat of the launch market). Elon diverts revenue from the F9 to the development of the Dragon Capsule.

With time and technological advancement it indeed will be possible for private companies to send people to Mars. And if technology is advancing then the cost should come down. Imagine how much more expensive/risky and frankly downright impossible if a company like Space X had tried to develop it's own rocket with little Government funding in the 60ies.

What NASA did with Commercial Crew(and Cargo) was share experience, and R/D(PICA, Space Capsules, Rocket engines, ect.) as well as provide legitimacy that investors might invest in Space X. (i.e. Investing in a company that promises to send people into space or Mars is insane. Investing in a company that has(or might get) a contract to send supplies or people to space for NASA isn't.) It also provided funding.

Now that Space X has technology that can land a first stage and a Capsule that in theory could make it to Mars the possibility of a Private company doing Mars missions has increased slightly. Given advances it should indeed be possible to get to Mars just the way that right now it is very possible that tourist will loop around the moon in a privately owned spacecraft. Something that sounded like Sci Fi in the 80ies. Might take longer than any of us may live but yes it will happen.
« Last Edit: 07/18/2017 06:44 AM by pathfinder_01 »

Offline Endeavour_01

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Yes and No.

When I said "now, and in the future" I was referring to ISS (now) and commercial crew/Orion (the future). I wasn't saying that US spaceflight would never occur eventually at some point in the far future without NASA. I should have made that clearer.

That said, just because something will "likely happen eventually" does not decrease the genius, credit, or impact of those who made it happen. Relativity would likely have been discovered "eventually" but we still honor Einstein's genius and acknowledge the massive impact he has made on our modern world.

NASA isn't "in the way" of crewed US flight, they are the ones enabling it.

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Space X has planned to send people into space before commercial crew. However it would have taken longer and been more risky(i.e. more likely not to happen). In fact it has been possible for Space X to send a man into space without much work since the Dragon 1. The way it would have happened without Commercial Crew would be Space X develops the F1 and sells some launches at a profit, gets some private Capital(and/or Government funding via Air Force or DARPA) to develop the F5 and later F9(Which is the launcher that would get him into the meat of the launch market). Elon diverts revenue from the F9 to the development of the Dragon Capsule.

The problem with that scenario is that SpaceX wouldn't exist at all without NASA. Elon has said that it was the NASA COTS contract that saved his company from going under. No F9, no Dragon, no FH, no Mars plans, nothing without NASA investment.

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Given advances it should indeed be possible to get to Mars just the way that right now it is very possible that tourist will loop around the moon in a privately owned spacecraft.

The capsule carrying those tourists was created with NASA funding though so it isn't a totally private effort. I believe companies like SpaceX will go to Mars but at least the initial missions will have NASA involvement and funding. Otherwise, the timetable for such missions will extend far longer into the future.
I cheer for both NASA and commercial space. For SLS, Orion, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Dragon, Starliner, Cygnus and all the rest!
I was blessed to see the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-99. The launch was beyond amazing. My 8-year old mind was blown. I remember the noise and seeing the exhaust pour out of the shuttle as it lifted off. I remember staring and watching it soar while it was visible in the clear blue sky. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I will never forget it.

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