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"Father of the Space Shuttle" George Mueller Dies At 97 ( 75

The Washington Post reports that long-time NASA engineer and administrator George Mueller died on October 12 of congestive heart failure, at 97. Mueller had a hand in NASA programs as Associate Administrator of the NASA Office of Manned Space Flight going back to the Apollo program, but not only as an administrator: he played a large role in the design of Skylab, and in lobbying for the Space Shuttle; this last earned him the (sometimes disputed) nickname of "Father of the Space Shuttle." During his Apollo days, Mueller became well known for his insistence on "all-up" testing, rather than incremental, per-component tests. From the Washington Post's story: As applied to the space program, [all-up testing] implied specifically such techniques as the testing of all three stages of the giant Saturn V booster rocket while they were coupled together and with a payload attached to boot. It was reported that the scheme had its doubters, among them such leading lights of rocketry as Wernher von Braun. But in time, the forceful Dr. Mueller proved persuasive enough to overcome all such reservations, and it was “all up” for the mammoth Saturn V, the launch vehicle upon which NASA pinned its hopes of sending Americans to the moon.
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"Father of the Space Shuttle" George Mueller Dies At 97

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  • and tested.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday October 17, 2015 @08:49PM (#50751621)

    At least when it came to solid boosters.

  • "He lost too many tiles"

  • by hughperkins ( 705005 ) on Saturday October 17, 2015 @10:38PM (#50751925) Homepage

    Usually, you need a mixture of approaches to get things to work. Idealism in software engineering, or in engineering, works about as well as idealism in politics, ie it doesnt really, it misses key points. But, in both areas, it's much easier to create a platform on idealism, and so people who propose one single idealistic viewpoint often do quite well.

    In practice, in software engineering, saying 'all tests must be automated, 100%', misses that some things are really hard to test automatically, but can be tested by hand quite simply. Similarly for creating test harnesses, mocking, which this article is the hardware-engineering equivalent for. Sometimes it's easier to mock, and do real 'unit-testing', and sometimes it isnt, and insisting that every project, and every part of every project, uses the exact uniform standard, might not always work as well as it looks like it will in the Powerpoint presentation :-P

    • Comments like that will make you unemployable. Today software is all about continuous integration, automated testing and 100% code coverage. If you test every line of code in your system what could possibly go wrong? No longer the drudgery of major and minor releases, today every nightly build is a releasable product. Even Microsoft has taken this on, Windows 10 will be the "last" version. Customers upgrade continuously secure in the knowledge that bugs are a thing of the past....

  • The space shuttle had a clear goal, namely to launch stuff into low orbit cheaply. There are various ways to measure the cost per Kg launched, but even if one ignores the huge research cost, the shuttle fails big time. The Russians can launch stuff using relatively simple rockets for a fraction of the cost. And a Saturn V can launch bigger payloads into *low orbit*, I would think.

    Worse, having built the wretched thing an excuse had to be found to use it, and that lead to the ISS. A huge white elephant.


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