Wednesday, 24 September 2008

What She Said

Carolyn Porco on what we should be doing regarding space exploration.

One can argue that Jupiter / DIRECT or even existing boosters may be a better bet than Ares V, but basically, what she said.

And meanwhile, the more I see of Ares I, the more I'm convinced that the project will fail. I've never seen a project of any kind with so many "marginal"s in its preliminary design review, and with essentially no budget for unforeseen circumstances. The Constellation program, consisting of the Orion spacecraft, the Ares I booster to carry it, and the Ares V heavy lift vehicle, is failing, and mainly because Ares I is a dog.

What started out as a simple concept using existing parts has mutated until it's something quite new.

From Transterrestrial Musings :
This past week, Constellation patted itself on the back for getting Ares I through its first preliminary design review (PDR) but glossed over the fact that Ares I still has to conduct a second PDR next summer to address the unresolved mitigation systems for the first stage thrust oscillation issue, with unknown consequences for the rest of the design.
More worrisome than the PDR slips are the grades that Ares I received in this partial PDR. The pre-board used a green, yellow/green, yellow, yellow/red, and red grading scheme, which can also be depicted as the more familiar A (4.0), B (3.0), C (2.0), D (1.0), and F (0.0) grading scheme. The pre-board provided ten grades against ten different success criteria from NASA's program management handbook. The ten grades had the following distribution:

One "Green" (A, 4.0) grade
Two "Yellow/Green" (B, 3.0) grades
Four "Yellow" (C, 2.0) grades
Three "Yellow/Red" (D, 1.0) grades
No "Red" (F, 0.0) grades

So seven of Ares I's ten grades were a C or a D. Ares I is NASA's planned primary means of crew launch over the next couple of decades and should define technical excellence. But instead, the project earned a grade point average of 2.1, barely a "gentleman's C" (or a "gentleman's yellow").
Can it be bailed out by more time, and more money? Not without mending it with a new one, and the budget is more likely to be axed than tripled.

Which will leave the USA with no crew launch capability from 2010 to at least 2020.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

...unless of course, the private sector gets going with crew launches, which may very well happen.