As with shuttle, as with (to some extent) Apollo, politically set timelines (and to be clear, nearly all manned spaceflight timelines set to date fall into that category) are both the greatest friends and the worst enemies of manned spaceflight. They get astronauts to space, sure, but they also occasionally imperil them.
There will be, of course, a time when we need to accept a certain amount of risk for EM-1, EM-2 and any other mission, to fly at all, before the money changes its mind. Just because we shouldn't be taking risks like the sixties in the lieu of modern aerospace technology doesn't mean we embrace can't certain amount of self-conscious audacity.
The point of having a SHLV and a dedicated BEO capsule is to do groundbreaking missions after all.
Of course, there's a distinction between working under pressure and being pressured into corner cutting. The latter seems to be ASAP's concern and it's the latter which has killed astronauts before.
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2016/04/asap-nasa-risk-orion-schedule/Not a lot more to add other than what's in the article. We tried to balance it, and the ASAP is traditionally "point fingers and frown", but there's some very interesting technical details as to the issues this time.Article is prettier thanks to Nathan's fine L2 rendering work
Is there a non-budgetary reason there isn't a crewed LEO flight on a commercial booster to prove out the ECLSS and SM systems?
Quote from: jgoldader on 04/02/2016 08:49 PMIs there a non-budgetary reason there isn't a crewed LEO flight on a commercial booster to prove out the ECLSS and SM systems?Politically there is a reason not to use commercial launchers for anything Orion related, since that detracts from the perception that the SLS is needed - even if it would be significantly less expensive to do a test using commercial launchers (whether it is or isn't is irrelevant).
Quote from: jgoldader on 04/02/2016 08:49 PMIs there a non-budgetary reason there isn't a crewed LEO flight on a commercial booster to prove out the ECLSS and SM systems?In my opinion, there's no good reason why a crewed test flight of Orion in LEO should not be performed prior to sending crew around the Moon, especially when this will be the first flight of the environmental system. You know what they say. "Test what you fly. Fly what you test." That to me means forking out the dollars to crew rate Delta IV Heavy, building a crew access tower and flying Orion to the ISS orbit and perform a practice rendezvous and docking. If something goes awry, they can either deorbit or fly to ISS, something the crew won't have the option to do near the Moon.
<snip>Let's not romanticize a hunk of hardware. The Orion is designed to do a certain range of tasks, so the most important question is whether the U.S. Government has a sustained need for what the Orion can do?The SLS and Orion programs have not had a top-down review since their inception, and I would hope the next President and Congress do one. The result will help clarify what types of needs there are, and with that knowledge, what types of risks that will be acceptable.Because again, without knowing what the potential rewards are, you can't know what the acceptable risks are.<snip>
That said, I can't help but feel that "conservative" is quite a 'conservative' word to describe the general attitude at ASAP. IMO, if it was up to them, Orion would never fly manned, simply because any manned flight will put people at risk. Manned spaceflight is, by definition, a risky business.It is most unfortunate that Challenger and Columbia have resulted in an extremely risk-averse environment.
This worries me because EM-1's raison d'etra was meant to be an uncrewed test-flight of the spacecraft. It is beginning to look like that it is going to be a partial test at best of an incomplete vessel minus several key systems.
Or it can be launched unmanned to ISS and pick up a crew there rather than a lot of costly and one time ground infrastructure and Delta-IV modifications.
... or use a "commercial crew" vehicle mission to dock and be a "hot standby"?