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  1. #144
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    April-May 2018

    Russia throws in the towel
    .
    Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who Putin had placed in charge of Russia’s space effort, today said in a television interview that it makes no sense for them to try to compete with SpaceX in the launch market.

    “The share of launch vehicles is as small as 4% percent of the overall market of space services. The 4% stake isn’t worth the effort to try to elbow Musk and China aside,” Rogozin said in an interview on the RBC-TV channel on Tuesday.

    He estimates the real market of space services at approximately $350 billion, with the creation of payloads, and not the launch of these payloads in space, accounting for the bulk of the sum. “Payloads manufacturing is where good money can be made,” he said.

    Translation: We can’t figure out how to cut our costs and build better and cheaper rockets without eliminating many government jobs, so we have decided not to try. And we are going to make believe this failure is a good decision.

    In response to the competitive threat from SpaceX, Putin’s government decided to consolidate their entire space industry into a single government corporation, run by their space agency Roscosmos. This reorganization however has failed entirely. Rather than encourage innovation and a lowering of costs, it served to make Russia’s entire aerospace industry a servant of politicians, who are more interested in distributing pork than building an efficient and competitive business.

    Rogozin is thus essentially admitting here that Russia has lost its international commercial space business, and is therefore rationalizing that loss by claiming they never really wanted it in the first place.

    This story confirms that Russia will be launching far fewer rockets in the coming years. Their dominance as one of the world’s launch leaders is now fading.

    A comment below the article:
    .
    “Rather than encourage innovation and a lowering of costs, it served to make Russia’s entire aerospace industry a servant of politicians, who are more interested in distributing pork than building an efficient and competitive business.”

    We can describe the US healthcare industry in the same way.

    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-th...-in-the-towel/


    SpaceX cargo launches may soon cost 50% more — but it's still an offer NASA can't refuse
    .
    A new NASA report has revealed that SpaceX, the rocket company founded by Elon Musk, is raising the price it charges the agency to launch cargo into space by roughly 50%.

    Auditors at NASA's Office of Inspector General have posted a 55-page report about a program that pays private companies like SpaceX to ship supplies to the International Space Station. As Ars Technica reported, the analysis focuses on the costs and risks of a second round of contracted missions for NASA's Commercial Resupply Services program, known as CRS.

    Its conclusion is blunt: NASA may pay 14% more per pound to launch food, water, and experiments on commercial spaceships for this second round of missions (from 2020 through 2024) than it did for the first round of CRS missions that occurred between 2012 and 2019. It ascribes most of that increase to SpaceX's price hike.

    But Musk isn't reneging on his promise to lower the crushing cost of access to space. Instead, the auditors pinned much of the blame on NASA for the increase. They also emphasized that the program still seems like a good deal for lowering launch costs.

    NASA's rising costs

    Auditors cited NASA for missing opportunities to cut redundancies and bargain on pricing, and noted that the agency forced SpaceX to (expensively) redesign its Dragon spaceship from the bottom up.

    The report did hint, however, that SpaceX has done some reckoning as the startup has matured.

    "[SpaceX] also indicated that their CRS-2 pricing reflected a better understanding of the costs involved after several years of experience with cargo resupply missions," the auditors wrote. (A SpaceX representative declined to comment on the report.)

    Despite the cost increases, the report ultimately called the CRS contracts with private companies "positive steps" for NASA — especially since the agency could find discounts by launching cargo on used SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket boosters.

    "NASA's continued commitment to the commercial space industry also helps spur innovations in the commercial launch vehicle market," the auditors said.

    Why NASA pays companies billions for cargo and taxi services


    Space shuttle Atlantis sits at Launchpad 39A in Cape Canaveral, Fla., before its final flight in July 2011. Dave Mosher

    When the government decided to retire NASA's space shuttles, the agency had to figure out a way to continue sending astronauts to the space station.

    So NASA's administrators started funding independent aerospace research and development. Getting private companies to design, build, and launch new rockets and spaceships, the thinking went, would be faster and cheaper than any bureaucratic government program.

    NASA set up its first competitions for contracts in 2006 — years before the shuttle program's retirement in 2011. The agency wanted companies to essentially build space taxis and trucks. Industry titans like Boeing and Lockheed Martin balked over the relatively small pool of money ($500 million over 5 years), giving SpaceX an opening to develop its Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets, as well as its Dragon and Crew Dragon spaceships.

    The millions of dollars in contract awards helped fuel the rise of Musk's company, which now increasingly out-competes familiar aerospace industry players on price, capacity, frequency, and capability.

    SpaceX has rocketed 14 cargo missions since 2012. And in a related program, SpaceX and Boeing plan to launch astronauts within a year — potentially ending NASA's increasingly costly reliance on Russia for space taxi service.

    So far, the average costs of launching cargo remain on par with the space shuttle at about $30,000 per lb. (The space shuttle cost about $1.5 billion per mission, including development, and could carry up to 50,000 lbs of cargo.)

    The issues NASA auditors found


    Dream Chaser spacecraft Business Insider/Julie Bort

    NASA awarded CRS2 contracts to three companies in 2016: SpaceX, Orbital ATK, and Sierra Nevada Corp. Each had a minimum of six launches.

    Together, the awards are worth up to $14 billion through 2024, depending on how many milestones each company hits and the missions they successfully launch.

    To see if NASA was on the right track, auditors dug into the mistakes of CRS1 and the potential problems with CRS2.

    The report found that CRS2 will cost $400 million more than CRS1, even though it'll deliver 13,200 lbs less cargo to space. Part of the reason for the price increase, auditors said, was NASA's decision to pick three contractors. Although the move protects NASA if any one system fails, the policy increases the overall cost of the program. (Fewer companies doing more missions would make launches more efficient and lower-cost.)

    How the three NASA contractors stack up

    The auditors noted that one company, Sierra Nevada, only has one of its Dream Chaser spaceplanes so far, and that it's not even a flight-proven spacecraft yet.

    Orbital ATK, it said, has essentially cut its per-pound launch costs with Cygnus by about 15%, though primarily in response to launch-price competition from SpaceX.

    The audit had the most to say about SpaceX.

    The company's per-pound launch costs may rise by 50%, it said, primarily because NASA wanted more cargo space and capability from SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft.

    Though more pricey, SpaceX's new-and-improved Dragon 2 cargo spaceship has 30% more volume for cargo, can pull off much longer missions in space, and will help scientists get their experiments back to Earth and into a lab for analysis more quickly.

    SpaceX is currently the only company able to bring things back from space — Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft burns up on reentry to Earth, and the Dream Chaser has yet to prove it can safely fly to and from space. But the auditors didn't consider that added value in their analysis.

    They did, however, recommend that NASA look into booking launches with SpaceX's reusable Falcon 9 boosters, which could earn the government a discount of millions of dollars.

    The next NASA-funded mission to resupply the space station is a SpaceX launch that's currently scheduled for June 28. It's the company's 17th Dragon launch and its 15th resupply mission, and is expected to deliver 7,310 lbs of cargo to astronauts.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/spac...ns-2020-2018-4


    House committee boosts NASA budget while micromanaging its projects
    .
    A NASA budget proposal released earlier this week by the House Appropriations Committee boosts NASA’s budget to $21.5 billion, while also micro-managing some of NASA’s planetary projects.

    The bill, though, does specify funding for some programs. It calls for spending $545 million on the Europa Clipper mission and $195 million for a follow-on lander. NASA requested only $264.7 million for Europa Clipper and nothing for the lander.

    NASA said in the budget proposal it was seeking to launch Europa Clipper in 2025 on a commercial vehicle, while the bill calls for the use of the Space Launch System and a launch by 2022. In its budget proposal, NASA estimated needing $565 million in 2019 to keep Europa Clipper on track for a 2022 launch but warned of “potential impacts to the rest of the Science portfolio” if funded at that level.

    The bill also included $3.5 billion for SLS/Orion, continuing that boondoggle as it continues to fall behind schedule and go over budget. Also in the bill was a half billion dollars for LOP-G, confirming Congress’s desire to get this new boondoggle running, even though the rocket and capsule necessary to fly it, SLS/Orion, hasn’t even come close to completion after almost two decades of work and almost $40 billion so far in spending.

    Overall, this NASA budget proposal illustrates once again why we have Trump. Congress is corrupt, is only interested in distributing money to its corporate buddies, and doesn’t care if that cash ever produces anything. In fact, it appears they prefer that nothing ever get built, as a real space effort would carry risk, and we can’t have that!

    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-th...-its-projects/


    Schedule for First SLS Core Stage Still Sliding
    .
    A recent assessment of the completion date for the first Space Launch System (SLS) Core Stage now puts it at the end of May, 2019, close to the middle of next year. The date indicates that production and assembly schedules are still sliding and is reducing confidence in meeting the June, 2020 date that was at the late end of NASA’s schedule forecast for the Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) launch.

    https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018...stage-sliding/


    ^Another delay for SLS
    .
    This really isn’t news: Work on the core stage for the first SLS rocket launch appears to face another three month delay, threatening the scheduled June 2020 launch date.

    The article outlines in great detail the work being done on the SLS core stage, and where the delays might be coming from, while also being vague about what exactly is causing the delay.

    It is unknown if the additional time for completion of final assembly of the whole rocket stage is based on the engine section, the other four elements, or continuing refinement of forward work. Most of the hardware and systems that will fly on EM-1 are being built for the first time and the procedures to connect the five pieces of the Core Stage together will also be attempted for the first time.

    Of the five elements, the most recent news had the Forward Skirt near completion of its individual work by the end of the month. Work to cover the liquid oxygen tank with its Thermal Protection System (TPS) foam was in final phases, with the liquid hydrogen tank to follow behind it. The engine section and intertank elements continue to be outfitted with propellant lines, pressure tanks, avionics boxes, wiring, and other equipment.

    Once complete, the elements will be assembled vertically in two stacks before a horizontal join of the halves of the rocket kicks off final assembly.

    In fact, reading the article’s detailed description of the testing and assembly of SLS’s core stage struck me as incredibly slow-paced, so slow paced that it actually filled me with a sense of ennui. In the time they seem to need to only do an equipment review, SpaceX appears to have upgraded and flown a new version of its Falcon 9 first stage, while also redesigning a new core stage for its Falcon Heavy.

    See the comments:
    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-th...delay-for-sls/
    Vacuum Technology:
    CRUD = Contamination Resulting in Undesirable Deposits.
    CRAPP = Contamination Resulting in Additional Partial Pressure.

    Change your vacuum pump oil now.

    Test. Testing, 1,2,3.

  2. #145
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    May 2018

    Contamination found in SLS engine tubing
    .
    WASHINGTON — NASA is dealing with a contamination problem with tubing in part of the core stage of the first Space Launch System vehicle, an issue that could contribute to further delays for its launch.

    At a May 17 meeting of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, panel member Don McErlean said the committee had been briefed on a “late development” with the core stage, being constructed at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

    A “routine quality assurance inspection” of the core stage, he said, discovered contamination in tubing in the engine section of the core stage, which hosts the vehicle’s four RS-25 main engines and associated systems. That contamination turned out to be paraffin wax, which is used to keep the tubes from crimping while being manufactured but is supposed to be cleaned out before shipment.

    "The prime contractor determined the vendor was not fully cleaning the tubes and it was leaving residue in the tubes,” McErlean said. “This was retained as a requirement in the prime contractor’s spec, but it was not properly carried out.” Boeing is the prime contractor for the SLS core stage, but he did not disclose the vendor who provided the contaminated tubing.

    The contamination was initially found in a single tube, he said, but later checks found similar residue in other tubes. All the tubing in the core stage is now being inspected and cleaned, a process he said is not straightforward because of the “mass of tubing” in the engine section and also because cleaning is a “non-trivial process.”

    https://spacenews.com/contamination-...engine-tubing/


    Contamination found in shuttle engines to be used by SLS
    .
    Some obvious questions immediately arise:

    1. These engines were previously flown on the space shuttles, numerous times. How did the paraffin wax, used “to keep the tubes from crimping while being manufactured,” remain in the tubes during all those shuttle flights?

    2. Assuming the tubes were a new addition or replacement during the refurbishing process, it still seems astonishing that a subcontractor could be so lax. Did they really believe the wax did not need to be thoroughly cleaned?

    3. While they have admitted that they will likely have to delay the launch because of issues with the core stage, why do they deny this contamination problem is the cause? More important, how much is it costing to fix? And how much time are they actually losing to fix it?

    4. Finally, this is only one of many similar problems that we have seen with this entire project. Boeing and NASA have gotten so far about $40 billion to build this rocket, and have been working on it since 2006, more than a dozen years ago. Furthermore, they supposedly are building it using shuttle equipment in a Saturn rocket-type design in order to save money and time. Instead, they have wasted billions and taken more than three times longer than it took us to win World War II to get to a point where the program still has not flown.

    Does anyone really believe this project is anything but a huge boondoggle? And if so, can they please tell me how it will be possible for the United States to really explore the heavens with a project run this incompetently?

    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-th...e-used-by-sls/


    Payload for 2022 SLS Launch Still Up in the Air
    .

    Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft on Pad 39B. (Credit: NASA)

    NASA has set mid-2022 for the second flight of the Space Launch System (SLS), but it’s not yet known what the massive booster will actually launch.

    “Determination as to whether this launch will be SLS/Orion crewed mission (EM-2) or the SLS/Europa Clipper mission will be made based on risk and readiness of the Europa Clipper project,” according to a decision memo signed on Friday by William C. Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development.

    http://parabolicarc.com/2018/05/20/p...ls-launch-air/


    Ariane chief seems frustrated with SpaceX for driving down launch costs
    “I cannot tell my teams: 'Goodbye, see you next year!'”
    .
    The France-based Ariane Group is the primary contractor for the Ariane 5 launch vehicle, and it has also begun developing the Ariane 6 rocket. The firm has a reliable record—indeed, NASA chose the Ariane 5 booster to fly its multi-billion dollar James Webb Space Telescope—but it also faces an uncertain future in an increasingly competitive launch market.

    Like Russia and the US-based United Launch Alliance, the Ariane Group faces pricing pressure from SpaceX, which offers launch prices as low as $62 million for its Falcon 9 rocket. It has specifically developed the Ariane 6 rocket to compete with the Falcon 9 booster.

    But there are a couple of problems with this. Despite efforts to cut costs, the two variants of the Ariane 6 will still cost at least 25 percent more than SpaceX's present-day prices. Moreover, the Ariane 6 will not fly until 2020 at the earliest, by which time Falcon 9 could offer significantly cheaper prices on used Falcon 9 boosters if it needed to. (The Ariane 6 rocket is entirely expendable).

    With this background in mind, the chief executive of Ariane Group, Alain Charmeau, gave an interview to the German publication Der Spiegel. The interview was published in German, but a credible translation can be found here. During the interview, Charmeau expressed frustration with SpaceX and attributed its success to subsidized launches for the US government.

    $100 million launches

    When pressed on the price pressure that SpaceX has introduced into the launch market, Charmeau's central argument is that this has only been possible because, "SpaceX is charging the US government 100 million dollar per launch, but launches for European customers are much cheaper." Essentially, he says, launches for the US military and NASA are subsidizing SpaceX's commercial launch business.

    However, the pay-for-service prices that SpaceX offers to the US Department of Defense for spy satellites and cargo and crew launches for NASA are below those of what other launch companies charge. And while $100 million or more for a military launch is significantly higher than a $62 million commercial launch, government contracts come with extra restrictions, reviews, and requirements that drive up this price.

    Even as Charmeau decries what he calls subsidies for SpaceX from the US government, he admits that Ariane cannot exist without guaranteed contracts purchased by European governments. To make the Ariane 6 vehicle viable, Charmeau said Ariane needs five launches in total for 2021 and eight guaranteed launches for 2022.

    No reusability

    During the interview, Charmeau also addressed reusability when the interviewer raised this as a possibility for lowering the cost of launch. In response, Charmeau asserts that the interviewer cannot know whether re-flying boosters is less expensive, as SpaceX claims. "How do you know that?" Charmeau asks. "Do you know their real cost structure?"

    We do not, of course, as SpaceX is privately held. And it is highly probable that SpaceX has lost money so far on its effort to develop a reusable first stage. But now that it has begun flying the Block 5 variant of the Falcon 9 rocket, the company seems well positioned both to lower its prices as well as take profits from this research-and-development effort.

    Charmeau said the Ariane rocket does not launch often enough to justify the investment into reusability. (It would need about 30 launches a year to justify these costs, he said). And then Charmeau said something telling about why reusability doesn't make sense to a government-backed rocket company—jobs.

    "Let us say we had ten guaranteed launches per year in Europe and we had a rocket which we can use ten times—we would build exactly one rocket per year," he said. "That makes no sense. I cannot tell my teams: 'Goodbye, see you next year!'"

    This seems a moment of real irony. Whereas earlier in the interview Charmeau accuses the US government of subsidizing SpaceX, a few minutes later he says the Ariane Group can't make a reusable rocket because it would be too efficient. For Europe, a difficult decision now looms. It can either keep subsidizing its own launch business in order to maintain an independent capability, or it can give in to Elon Musk and SpaceX, and Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin. Charmeau seems to have a clear view of where he thinks the continent should go.

    "It is about future business," Charmeau said. "Why do all the billionaires invest in space? Why does Jeff Bezos come to Germany and declare that the country should not go to space? He makes money with your personal data. Today he knows your Amazon orders, tomorrow he drives your car."

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2018...-launch-costs/


    ArianeGroup chief admits they can’t compete
    See the comments.
    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-th...-cant-compete/
    Vacuum Technology:
    CRUD = Contamination Resulting in Undesirable Deposits.
    CRAPP = Contamination Resulting in Additional Partial Pressure.

    Change your vacuum pump oil now.

    Test. Testing, 1,2,3.

  3. #146
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    May-June 2018

    NASA digging into SLS Block 1 revival plans after getting second Mobile Launcher money
    .
    NASA has started updating plans and schedules for additional SLS Block 1 launches in the early 2020s after Washington added federal budget money for a second Mobile Launcher (ML) platform and umbilical tower in late March.

    Construction of a new Mobile Launcher frees the first ML from a three-year long downtime for teardown and reassembly after the first SLS launch of Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), currently projected for mid-2020. Instead of being retired after one launch, the Block 1 configuration could fly multiple times.

    The first two candidates to fly on the second SLS launch are the first crewed Orion on a Lunar swingby flight test or the Europa Clipper interplanetary flagship that will repeatedly overfly Jupiter’s moon exploring for signs of habitability. The space agency formally re-assigned both missions to Block 1 last week and will decide in the future which one gets priority.

    Both missions will need Block 1’s Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS), a modified Delta 4 upper stage, and NASA is now looking at purchasing more stages and human-rating the design for Orion missions.

    Read the rest:
    https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018...auncher-money/


    NASA reconfiguring future SLS planning
    .
    With two mobile launches (costing almost a billion to build), NASA has more flexibility (assuming it gets full funding). It can now fly both the smaller Block 1 configuration of SLS multiple times without delaying the first launch of the planned more powerful Block 2 version expected to come later.

    The article discusses in great detail the possible variations in design and scheduling for the first unmanned mission, the Europa mission, the first manned mission, and possible missions beyond, all of which are based on Congress’s continued blank check support for this very expensive and very questionable program.

    Sadly, it increasingly appears that Congress is going to throw a lot of money at this program. SLS looks like it is going to fly several times, and maybe more. It will likely send Europa Clipper to Jupiter, and later astronauts on a stunt mission around the Moon. Later, the Washington cartel of big aerospace companies, NASA, Congress, and our international partners in Europe and Russia are gearing up to get LOP-G funded as well, with SLS the vehicle to launch and supply it.

    All of this will cost a lot, take forever, and not make the future exploration of the solar system possible in the slightest. None of that matters however. Congress wants it, and Congress being corrupt and irresponsible is going to get it.

    See the comments:
    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-th...-sls-planning/


    Reuseability lowers SpaceX launch price to $50 million
    .
    Capitalism in space: Reuseability lowers SpaceX launch price to $50 million.

    The article is mostly about tonight’s commercial launch of an SES communications satellite. In it however it notes this comment by Musk:

    SpaceX is in the process of flying and discarding older, less advanced Block 4 first stages to clear inventory – the company will likely fly just one more before moving its entire manifest to the Block 5 iteration, which CEO Elon Musk says can fly up to 10 times with minimal refurbishment between missions. Beyond that, the boosters could launch up to 100 times with moderate inspections and changes.

    The next-generation vehicles feature improved reusability, upgraded thrust, retractable black landing legs that can reduce time between launches, a new black interstage and a slightly larger payload fairing, to name a few. It will also help SpaceX reduce costs from $60 million to about $50 million per launch, Musk said in May. (https://www.floridatoday.com/story/t...ses/663729002/ )

    This price is about a third less than what both Arianespace and ULA have estimated they will charge for their new rockets, Ariane 6 and Vulcan respectively. This is also about half the price that the Russians had been charging for their Proton, which used to be the lowest price in town.

    I’ll make a prediction: The drop in prices has only just begun.

    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-th...to-50-million/


    NASA's Big Mistake - The X-33 VentureStar Replacement Shuttle

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeNytM7JdYY
    Vacuum Technology:
    CRUD = Contamination Resulting in Undesirable Deposits.
    CRAPP = Contamination Resulting in Additional Partial Pressure.

    Change your vacuum pump oil now.

    Test. Testing, 1,2,3.

  4. #147
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    April-July 2018

    The dying Russian space program
    .
    Three articles today illustrate starkly the sad state of the Russian space program.

    • Russia’s Luna-Glob faces technical, political and ballistic issues
    • Russia’s Proton rocket, which predates Apollo, will finally stop flying
    • Russia’s new spaceport in Far East to switch to monthly launches no sooner than 2020

    Read the rest:
    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-th...space-program/


    NASA to pay more for less cargo delivery to the space station
    .
    A new analysis finds that NASA will pay significantly more for commercial cargo delivery to the International Space Station in the 2020s rather than enjoying cost savings from maturing systems. According to a report by the space agency’s inspector general, Paul Martin, NASA will likely pay $400 million more for its second round of delivery contracts from 2020 to 2024 even though the agency will be moving six fewer tons of cargo. On a cost per kilogram basis, this represents a 14-percent increase.

    Read the rest:
    https://arstechnica.com/science/2018...space-station/


    AUDIT OF COMMERCIAL RESUPPLY SERVICES TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION
    https://oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-18-016.pdf


    SpaceX cargo launches may soon cost 50% more — but it's still an offer NASA can't refuse
    .
    • Government auditors published a new report about NASA's commercial spaceflight program that focuses in part on SpaceX, the rocket company founded by Elon Musk.
    • The report says sending cargo to and from the International Space Station may soon cost NASA about 14% more per kilogram.
    • It also said that SpaceX will increase its price about 50%, due to new NASA requirements that forced the company to redesign its Dragon cargo spaceship.
    • But SpaceX missions will still be cheaper than its competitors' and do things other companies can't.
    • The report pins most of the blame on NASA for the cost increase.

    Read the rest:
    https://www.businessinsider.com/spac...ns-2020-2018-4


    Dragon cargo fees to rise, due to NASA demands
    A government audit has found that the fees that SpaceX charges for its Dragon cargo missions to ISS will rise as much as 50%, and the cause of that price rise is almost entirely due to NASA redesign demands.
    ...
    None of this is a surprise. There are factions in NASA that have been working for the past decade to stymie or defeat the arrival of privately built and owned spacecraft like Dragon, as it makes the NASA-built spacecraft like Orion look bad. By demanding redesigns that raise the cost for Dragon, these factions gain ammunition to attack it. I guarantee we will see op-eds doing exactly that in the next year.

    No matter. In the end the private market still does it better and cheaper than the government, as the audit found.

    See the comments.
    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-th...-nasa-demands/


    Internally, NASA believes Boeing ahead of SpaceX in commercial crew
    .
    One of the biggest rivalries in the modern aerospace industry is between Boeing and SpaceX. Despite their radically different cultures, the aerospace giant and the smaller upstart compete for many different kinds of contracts, and perhaps nowhere has the competition been more keen than for NASA funds.

    In 2014, both Boeing and SpaceX received multibillion awards (Boeing asked for, and got, 50 percent more funding for the same task) to finalize development of spacecraft to carry astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the commercial crew program. Since then, both companies have been locked in a race to the launchpad, not just to free NASA from its reliance on Russia to reach space but also for the considerable esteem that will accompany becoming the first private company in the world to fly humans into orbit.

    A narrow margin

    Although both Boeing and SpaceX have established various launch dates—first in 2017, and now slipped to 2018 and 2019—NASA hasn't publicly tipped its hand on which company is actually ahead in the race. Now, however, a new report from the US Government Accountability Office has provided a window into NASA's internal thinking on commercial crew launch dates.

    Read the rest:
    https://arstechnica.com/science/2018...ead-of-spacex/


    GAO report indicates NASA forcing more delays in commercial crew
    .
    A Government Accountability Office report released today suggests that NASA’s complex certification requirements will cause further delays in first operational missions of the commercial crew capsules of Boeing and SpaceX.
    The report shows when NASA believes Boeing and SpaceX will each have completed a single non-crewed test flight, a test flight with crew, and then undergo a certification process to become ready for operational flights. This is known as the “certification milestone.”

    Based on NASA’s “schedule risk analysis” from April, the agency estimates that Boeing will reach this milestone sometime between May 1, 2019, and August 30, 2020. For SpaceX, the estimated range is August 1, 2019, and November 30, 2020. The analysis’ average certification date was December, 2019, for Boeing and January, 2020, for SpaceX.

    These are obviously razor-thin margins, but the new report also indicates that Boeing is ahead in submitting paperwork needed for approval of its various flight systems and processes. This is consistent with what independent sources have told Ars, that Boeing is more familiar with NASA and better positioned to comply with its complex certification processes.

    This does not surprise me. From the beginning of commercial crew there have been people at NASA working to slow SpaceX down so as to not embarrass Boeing as well as SLS/Orion. By using the “complex certification process,” which really has little to do with engineering and everything to do with bureaucracy and power politics, NASA has effectively succeeded in preventing SpaceX from getting off the ground. The company could have flown a manned Dragon at least a year ago, if NASA had not stood in the way and imposed numerous safety demands, some of which make no sense.

    Meanwhile, NASA’s bureaucracy and certification process has created a situation where neither company might be ready to fly when the ticketed flights on Russian Soyuz capsules end. To solve this gap the agency is actually thinking of stretching out ISS missions so it doesn’t have to fly ferry missions as much. While longer missions to ISS make sense — if your goal is to learn how to get to Mars — this isn’t why NASA is thinking of doing it. Instead, it is doing it so that it can make private space, especially SpaceX, look bad.

    All in all, NASA’s management seems entirely uninterested in real space exploration, and the risks it entails. Instead, they are focused on power politics and serving the needs of the big space contractors that they have worked with for decades, accomplishing little while spending a lot of taxpayer dollars.

    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-th...mmercial-crew/
    Last edited by Space Racer; 04-04-2019 at 08:12 PM.
    Vacuum Technology:
    CRUD = Contamination Resulting in Undesirable Deposits.
    CRAPP = Contamination Resulting in Additional Partial Pressure.

    Change your vacuum pump oil now.

    Test. Testing, 1,2,3.

  5. #148
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    This jet fighter is a disaster, but Congress keeps buying it

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ba63OVl1MHw


    Boeing finishes SLS LOX tank foam work, recovering from tube contamination issues
    .
    Prime contractor Boeing recently completed Thermal Protection System (TPS) applications on the liquid oxygen (LOX) tank for Core Stage-1 (CS-1), the first NASA Space Launch System (SLS) Core Stage. The cryogenic propellant tank was moved out of Cell N at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans on June 20, where spray-on foam insulation (SOFI) was applied to the outside of the tank.

    Work on the critical engine section element was slowed earlier this year by issues with contamination of tubing, but NASA and Boeing are continuing to move forward with work on all the elements of the rocket for the first SLS launch. In April, foam applications on the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter (LVSA) were completed at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Alabama.

    https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018...nation-issues/


    Boeing puts foam insulation on one SLS tank
    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-th...-one-sls-tank/


    Save America’s Space Program [Petition]
    .
    What’s killing America’s human access to space? Three projects: a rocket called the Space Launch System, a capsule called the Orion, and a new project called the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway.

    https://www.change.org/p/save-america-s-space-program


    ^A petition to kill SLS/Orion and LOP-G
    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-th...ion-and-lop-g/
    Vacuum Technology:
    CRUD = Contamination Resulting in Undesirable Deposits.
    CRAPP = Contamination Resulting in Additional Partial Pressure.

    Change your vacuum pump oil now.

    Test. Testing, 1,2,3.

  6. #149
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Atlanta area
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    5,978
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    Thread Starter
    May-July 2018

    After 25 years, military told to move from “expendable” to “reusable” rockets
    This is a big boon for SpaceX after more than a decade of fighting.
    .
    Less than a year and a half has passed since SpaceX first flew a used first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket, but this achievement has already shaken up the glacial process of lawmaking and military budgeting. The final version of the defense budget bill for fiscal year 2019 will make both a symbolic and a significant policy change when it comes to reusable rockets.

    The conference report from the US House and Senate calls for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program of the Department of Defense, commonly known as the EELV program, to be named the "National Security Space Launch program" as of March 1, 2019. No longer will the military rely solely on expendable rockets.

    Moreover, the report says the US Air Force must consider both expendable and reusable launch vehicles as part of its solicitation for military launch contracts. And in the event that a contract is solicited for a mission that a reusable launch vehicle is not eligible to compete for, the Air Force should report back to Congress with the reason why. The US House has already agreed to the conference report, and it should be taken up in the Senate next week. After that, it will need the president's signature to become law.

    EELV history

    The new policy marks a significant change in a program that dates back about a quarter-century.

    During the 1960s and 1970s, the US military relied largely on modified intercontinental ballistic missiles....

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2018...nch-contracts/


    ASAP reviews Boeing failure, positive SpaceX success ahead of Commercial Crew announcement
    .
    As NASA prepares to provide updated launch date targets for the uncrewed and crewed Commercial Crew demonstration missions from both SpaceX and Boeing – as well as flight crew assignments for each provider – the agency’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) held its quarterly meeting last Thursday, during which they outlined a failure on Boeing’s part that could potentially lead to a redesign of a critical element of Starliner. The ASAP also outlined multiple points of positive progress on SpaceX’s part.

    Boeing suffers critical failure with Starliner:

    As was first reported by Eric Berger on Ars Technica [https://arstechnica.com/science/2018...ad-abort-test/], Boeing suffered a test stand failure of Starliner’s critical pad abort thrusters in late-June, a failure that reportedly ended with the leaking of volatile propellant from the thruster system.

    In multiple statements to numerous outlets thereafter, Boeing stated that they were “confident we found the cause and are moving forward with corrective action.”

    But that wasn’t quite the take-away from the ASAP meeting that occurred days after the company issued its statement.

    “Boeing recently conducted a hot fire test....

    https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018...-announcement/


    NASA safety panel reviews commercial crew, tries to justify its paperwork demands
    See the last two comments.
    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-th...rwork-demands/


    NASA Certifies Russia's RD-180 Rocket Engines for Manned Flights
    .
    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - NASA and the US Air Force have certified Russia's RD-180 engines for Atlas V carrier rockets to used for manned spaceflights by US astronauts, Igor Arbuzov, director general of Russia's major rocket engine manufacturer JSC NPO Energomash and the United Launch Alliance, said in an interview with Sputnik.

    https://sputniknews.com/military/201...ocket-engines/


    NASA rubberstamps Russian engines in Atlas 5 for manned flights
    .
    Surprise surprise! NASA has certified the Russian engines used in the Atlas 5 as safe for manned flights.

    NASA had been claiming that, because it cannot observe every detail in how Russia builds the engines, it cannot certify them as safe for manned flight. This is, and has been, crap. The Atlas 5, with this engine, has been one of the most reliable rockets ever built.

    In truth, what NASA’s bureaucracy was really doing was using these Russian engines as a wedge to slow down Boeing’s first manned flight, mainly because the commercial crew program is threatening NASA past monopoly on U.S. manned flight. Once privately built rockets and manned spacecraft fly, people are suddenly going to realize we don’t really need NASA.

    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-th...anned-flights/

    (^For manned missions, that is.)


    Joe Rogan - NASA Is a Part of a Corrupt System

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pva3kUU7TS4
    Vacuum Technology:
    CRUD = Contamination Resulting in Undesirable Deposits.
    CRAPP = Contamination Resulting in Additional Partial Pressure.

    Change your vacuum pump oil now.

    Test. Testing, 1,2,3.

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