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NASA Space

Orion Spacecraft On the Path To Future Flight 135

gilgsn writes "Preparations for Orion's first mission in 2013 are well under way as a Lockheed Martin-led crew begins lean assembly pathfinding operations for the spacecraft. The crew is conducting simulated manufacturing and assembly operations with a full-scale Orion mockup to verify the tools, processes and spacecraft integration procedures work as expected."
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Orion Spacecraft On the Path To Future Flight

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  • by Martin Blank ( 154261 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @07:26PM (#33656902) Homepage Journal

    Current cars and trucks bear more than a passing resemblance to cars and trucks from the 1950s and 1960s, in part because the format works well. However, one cannot honestly say that the underlying technology has not changed dramatically. We can now carry more cargo for longer distances on less fuel with greater comfort, safety, and convenience.

    Just because it's an older concept does not mean it cannot work in the present (or near future).

  • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @11:55PM (#33658782) Homepage Journal

    Can't believe this weird mix of shuttle hardware could work out
    cheaper than a new big dumb rocket stack. I suppose the
    factories making shuttle tanks and solid rocket booster won't
    need retooling, but even so, this beasty looks much more
    complex than Ares.

    It isn't really cheaper at all. Cost is not a driver here, but rather continuing to employ people in key congressional districts so NASA can gets its appropriations bill passed.

    As for the factories making the tanks getting a retooling.... it is going to happen anyway. The external tank production line at Michoud has been shut down.... with a big New Orleans style parade with the final tank going down to the port and sailing off for Florida. The employees have been laid off and most of them have gone on to other jobs. There still is a crew left at the Michoud facility as there were other things going on besides the Shuttle contracts, but that was a major part of the work force there. They were going to be gearing up for the Constellation projects and specifically the Ares V, but I suppose that isn't working out so well either.

    As for the ATK rockets produced at Promontory, Utah, those employees have also been laid off and many have moved onto other things. ATK landed a cute little contract for the Air Force that is sucking up those employees that they didn't want to let go and were still receiving Constellation funding (the funding is still flowing the the system).

    I suppose the raw engineering has been done and there is a modest saving there, but having to bring back and train a whole new production crew from scratch sounds like an incredibly expensive proposition... especially if the funding for this is as shaky as I've ever seen any sort of project funding.

    I don't expect more than a couple of flights with this hardware, even if it makes it to flight status in the first place.

  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @12:16AM (#33658870) Journal
    How did we get into the "combined crew & cargo" paradigm?

    Why not? The only time you need to separate the crew and the cargo is during an abort. The cargo is expendable. The crew, not so much. Where the shuttle failed is that it did not have a crew abort mode.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @07:10AM (#33660328) Journal
    Omitting the mars landers and the Jupiter / Saturn flybys, as well as the out-of-system probes shows a selective memory. So does omitting Skylab, the ISS, and so on.
  • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @08:36AM (#33660728) Homepage Journal

    However, requirements for commercial crew companies under the new model haven't even been released yet.

    I find it disingenuous to be having NASA come up with commercial crew regulations when they clearly are acting as a competitor to the companies who are trying to put commercial crew vehicles into service. If that doesn't strike you as something odd, I am at a loss as to what would. I don't understand why Congress is insisting that NASA set the standards here.

    My largest concern is that the standards, if they ever get published, will be written in such a way that nobody could possibly meet those standards. It should also be noteworthy that any time NASA has established such standards, they've had to exempt their own vehicles from those standards as something even NASA couldn't meet.

    Also, while SpaceX is using the existing human spaceflight requirements as a yardstick, they fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration and not NASA... other than the fact that SpaceX is trying to get NASA as a customer and it certainly is appropriate for NASA to establish independent standards for their own astronauts. If NASA sets the bar too high in that situation, they simply will be without a launcher to send astronauts into space. Oh wait.... NASA is without a launcher capable of sending astronauts into space and they are now using Soyuz capsules made with Soviet designs manufactured in Russia. Yeah, that sounds like a step forward to me.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle