ZooNamedGames

[New] Space Launch System / Orion Discussion Thread

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Sadly earlier today, @_Augustus_ closed his previous thread about SLS/Orion so I've created a new one.

The Space Launch System (SLS) is an in development super heavy launch vehicle in development by NASA.  Which will carry the Orion Crew Capsule. The Space Launch System being derived from the Ares V, Jupiter launch systems. Initially designed around a Space Shuttle Derived Launch System intending to reuse parts and equipment from the Space Shuttle. Initially developed under the Constellation program which was later cancelled to make way for Commercial Space Development which made way for SpaceX, ULA and Blue Origin to enter the launch market and help fund their developments. Recently Jim Bridenstine created the Artemis Space Program which will utilize the SLS launch vehicle carrying the Orion crew vehicle.

The aim of Artemis being to land a man on the moon by 2024. With the planned architecture being to launch the SLS and Orion on an unmanned test flight during Artemis 1 around the moon, with a launch date slated for 2021. Meanwhile Maxar Systems is developing the Power Propulsion Element (PPE) for the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOPG) which will have the Utilization Module which will allow the crew to dock and egress into LOP-G with the planned intent being to transfer to a future lunar landing concept which will be delivered on an earlier mission. Artemis 2 will be the first manned launch of SLS/Orion slated for 2023 with a launch of Artemis 3 carrying the first crew to return to the lunar surface in 2024.

Yes this is bland but I've been writing a lot today and I'll spice this up over the course of the week. This is just makeshift until I have more time.

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Posted (edited)

The Orion capsule and ESM are now in one piece.

Edited by jadebenn
Photo won't embed in this post.

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Anything that successfully go to space, and anything in preparation for that, is a progress I guess.

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Posted (edited)

@_Augustus_'s thread should simply be cleaned a little, frankly (assuming he wants that).

 

 

That said:

So some parts are in Huntsville for a testing campaign. Only after this testing campaign is done will those move to Stennis for Green Run---assuming what SLS itself calls "liquid oxygen tank test article" in the above tweet is actually the flight tank, and not a test article that will never fly.

Also:

That was from several months ago, and the NASA SLS official twitter says the structural testing the precedes Green Run is about half done, so maybe they get ready to ship the parts to Stennis in September? Once every part arrives at Stennis, the 6-8 month clock starts ticking (estimate of Green Run testing campaign based on published NASA schedules from a few years ago (you know, a few years ago when it was supposed to have flown already)). That schedule of course turned out to be optimistic by 4-5 years, so what should we multiply the 6-8 months by?

 

Marcia Smith:

https://spacepolicyonline.com/news/senators-press-nasa-on-green-run-test-artemis-cost-estimate

Quote

Despite the rhetoric, however, according to Bridenstine’s testimony today, 2021 is now the baseline for Artemis-1.  Artemis-2, which had been expected in 2022, now will be in “2022, 2023.” 

2021 might be what they are aiming for (assuming no CR in January, but a real budget), but in that same testimony Bridenstine said that 2021 "might be achievable" which in plain English means a 2021 Artemis-1 flight at the moment is unlikely (and 2020 was entirely off the table as even possible once they decided to not skip Green Run).

 

Edited by tater

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I’m more curious what hardware presently exists for A-2. I’ve seen that there’s a heat shield for A-2 but what else needs to be produced for the first manned (and womanned) flight of SLS.

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Posted (edited)

A little over 2 years ago, NASA was saying that SLS would fly THIS YEAR, a delay from late 2018 (that was during the "should EM-1 be a crew flight" debate). If in May 2017 they thought they were flying in 1.5 years, how is it they can think they are flying in about 1.5 years now, and that is somehow a better date? They must have known 1.5 years ahead of a proposed launch date that they were on schedule, right? So now they know they are on schedule for mid-2021 (2 years from now), and they are somehow better at scheduling? I suppose that's why William Hill got canned, since as the point person at NASA on SLS, he was the one feeding  out the schedule milestones (all invariably missed in a not even close way).

I'll be pleasantly surprised if Artemis-1 flies in early 2022, and sorta stunned if Artemis-2 manages to fly before 2025 (since all the ECLSS aspects need a full testing regime, and I expect they learn something from Art-1 that requires changes).

Edited by tater

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1 hour ago, tater said:

so maybe they get ready to ship the parts to Stennis in September

That was a guess based on not reading enough.

Apparently the plan is to not even have the core stage fully assembled until the end of this year.

So Core Stage assembled by the end of the year (and as a change, it is to be done horizontally). It then gets shipped to Stennis, then the Green Run campaign starts, which runs 6-8 months. The earliest possible date for completion of those tests is then summer 2020. Final assembly/mating, etc is also likely multiple months, hence zero probability of 2020.

The fact that Bridenstine has also made 2021 look dubious means that my guesses above must be grossly optimistic, so maybe Green Run in fact doesn't start until mid 2020?

As usual, it's a mess.

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1 hour ago, ZooNamedGames said:

I’m more curious what hardware presently exists for A-2. I’ve seen that there’s a heat shield for A-2 but what else needs to be produced for the first manned (and womanned) flight of SLS.

Lol, the first “womanned” flight. I wonder what genderless term we could use to talk about manned flights without it sounding weird...

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, tater said:

So now they know they are on schedule for mid-2021 (2 years from now), and they are somehow better at scheduling? 

I’m finding it’s hard to talk about SLS without bringing politics into it, but I’ll try lol... things are different now. Not that you could ever really prove it but I don’t think the goal up until recently has been to deliver the SLS and Orion in a timely fashion. IMO It’s just been a cash cow that Boeing and Lockheed (and ULA x_x...) have been able to milk for all it’s worth. The longer the better. 

But while they were resting on their laurels along came SpaceX and disrupted the industry. Now their cash cow has become a cash albatross around their neck... we are entering a new era of space exploration in which SLS does not seem like an appropriate vehicle to make the US competitive. The Artemis missions seems like something to quickly bring all these technologies to maturity and use them before they become obsolete, hence the questionable mission design. If you look at it in terms of justification of government spending. You can’t let things go to waste.

but yer anywho, I think everyone involved knows this needs to be done right now... because the US is going to find it pretty hard to sell Artemis as a point of national pride worthy of the price tag if at the same time Elon is tweeting from Mars asking people what he should name the city he just built there.

4 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

Humanned?

Hmmm, mebe XD

Edited by Dale Christopher

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GAO last month:

https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-19-377

Quote

The SLS program will not meet the June 2020 launch date for the first mission due, in part, to ongoing development issues with the core stage. For this mission, the SLS launch vehicle includes solid rocket boosters, an upper stage, and a core stage—which includes four main engines and the software necessary to command and control the vehicle. As of fall 2018, the program reported that the boosters, engines, and upper stage all had schedule reserves—time allocated to specific activities to address delays or unforeseen risks— to support a June 2020 launch. The core stage, however, did not have schedule reserves remaining as the program continues to work through development issues.

 

Here's the thing that people were debating in the other thread (bolded):

Quote

The program has no schedule margin between the end of core stage production and the start of the green run test, and is tracking risks that may delay the test schedule. For example, as the NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) found in its October 2018 report, the Stage Controller—the core stage’s command and control hardware and software needed to conduct the green run test—is 18 months behind schedule and may slip further.13 Any additional delays with the development of the core stage and stage controller will further delay the start of the green run test. In addition, the SLS program has no schedule margin between the green run test and delivery of the core stage to Kennedy Space Center for integration to address any issues that may arise during testing.

18 months behind schedule, required for green run... (report came out in June 2019, some of the data is from Q4 2018, however, so the difference in months might be subtracted).

The report has the "notional launch window" from mid-2020, through mid 2021 as of 11/2018.

No schedule margin is clearly a large issue, since the point of testing is to find things to fix (unless it's perfect from the start), any delay moves the launch since they have no margin.

Also, the full-duration test then requires refurbishing the Art-1 Core Stage and engines. This is not SpaceX doing a static fire, then launching a few days later, I can only assume that a full duration test of 4 RS-25s will require the same pulling the engines inspection/refurb as the Shuttle required every single flight. Anyone have data on this? Some Orbiters were turned around in a couple months, but I have no way of knowing if they used the same SSMEs, or if the engines were simply swapped. Bare minimum, I bet pulling and engine refurb after green run takes at least a couple months.

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4 hours ago, tater said:

So some parts are in Huntsville for a testing campaign. Only after this testing campaign is done will those move to Stennis for Green Run---assuming what SLS itself calls "liquid oxygen tank test article" in the above tweet is actually the flight tank, and not a test article that will never fly.

I need to correct you tater. That's one of the static test articles that will be tested under load (possibly until failure). The green run will use the same core stage hardware that will be used on the flight.

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, jadebenn said:

I need to correct you tater. That's one of the static test articles that will be tested under load (possibly until failure). The green run will use the same core stage hardware that will be used on the flight.

I was wondering that, which is why I specifically mentioned it. Good to know, but makes the delay on starting green run even more bizarre, since I thought the core stage tanks were already built. It's sort of amazing that we don't have a milestone chart newer than one from 2016.

Edited by tater

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3 hours ago, Dale Christopher said:

Lol, the first “womanned” flight. I wonder what genderless term we could use to talk about manned flights without it sounding weird...

I normally use ‘crewed’.

A little crude perhaps, but workable.

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5 minutes ago, KSK said:

I normally use ‘crewed’.

This is the normal usage, now.

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https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2019/05/nasa-sls-certification-schedule-changes-drive-em-1/

Quote

Boeing is targeting completion of Core Stage-1 by the end of the year, and it would then ship to Stennis.

Quote

“The goal is to complete green run in less than 6 months, by June of 2020, recognizing that there are schedule risk challenges and potential unknown-unknowns that could extend that date,” Hill wrote. “This activity has the potential to reduce green run test time by 4 months; if that is achieved, it would support an EM-1 launch readiness window in 2020.”

I'd expect that that quote from Hill is part of the reason he's gone (not him being quoted, but just the fact that they keep throwing out dates that turn out to be grossly wrong). I bet internally they got the news that there was simply no chance of that, and the only solution was to give him the boot. It's hard enough to run NASA (and deal with Congress) without getting bogus planning information internally that makes the Administrator look like a moron in front of the people he reports to.

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1 hour ago, tater said:

I was wondering that, which is why I specifically mentioned it. Good to know, but makes the delay on starting green run even more bizarre, since I thought the core stage tanks were already built. It's sort of amazing that we don't have a milestone chart newer than one from 2016.

I'm still not sold that there's a delay, especially one as bad as the what you've been espousing, but if there is, the only explanation I can think of is that some previously-unknown issue popped up in the critical path and is holding everything up until it's fixed.

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4 minutes ago, jadebenn said:

especially one as bad as the what you've been espousing

I'm not espousing any delay at all, my understanding is entirely based on testimony, under oath, from Administrator Bridenstine. You have to do some pretty bizarre mental gymnastics to read his words as saying anything better than (now my paraphrase): 2021 is unlikely.

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Just now, tater said:

I'm not espousing any delay at all, my understanding is entirely based on testimony, under oath, from Administrator Bridenstine. You have to do some pretty bizarre mental gymnastics to read his words as saying anything better than (now my paraphrase): 2021 is unlikely.

You've stated that you believe it's late 2021 at best, though, which is something that I feel is wholy unsupported by anything he's been saying.

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Posted (edited)

Just because Bridenstine said 2020 wasnt possible, doesnt mean it'll launch Q4 2021.

Edited by Barzon Kerman

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Posted (edited)

 

47 minutes ago, jadebenn said:

You've stated that you believe it's late 2021 at best, though, which is something that I feel is wholy unsupported by anything he's been saying.

I've said that if 2021 is "achievable" it implies (de facto) that it might not be achievable, else he'd give a date---something he said he'd not do until he has a new team in place that he trusts to give accurate numbers.

That other sources say that they are aiming for late 2021 internally is just reporting based on unnamed sources. Given SLS history, that's entirely justified to take seriously.

[snip]

I've never suggested anything of the sort WRT SpaceX and SLS. NASA could never have decided to use BFR instead of SLS, it literally wasn't even a Powerpoint thing until long after SLS started. NASA has to deal with TRLs, and they'll belive BFR when they see it, I've never said anything contrary to that at all.

[snip]

Edited by Vanamonde

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Posted (edited)

[snip]

I'm not "anti SpaceX", I just dont think SpaceX will magically make a pad for SSH by 2021, or that Starship will fly crew before at LEAST 2030, like a normal, reasonable human being.

[snip]

Edited by Barzon Kerman

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, Barzon Kerman said:

I'm not "anti SpaceX", I just dont think SpaceX will magically make a pad for SSH by 2021, or that Starship will fly crew before at LEAST 2030, like a normal, reasonable human being.

We'll see the first thing or not literally before SLS likely flies. <shrug>

It's no skin off my teeth, I'm not paying for Starship. I am paying several hundred bucks a year for SLS (based on their % of Federal spending, and the tax bill the accountant presents me with every year). As such, I have a right to care about SLS in a way I don't have a right to care about BFR. My annoyance is pegged to the skin I have in the game (now several grand).

[snip]

So far this thread I've presented information (albeit sketchy, which should not be a thing for an unclassified gov program) about SLS scheduling, and links to official government documents about the program. Have you read the GAO report? It's worse than anything I have said here.

Edited by Vanamonde

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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, tater said:

I've said that if 2021 is "achievable" it implies (de facto) that it might not be achievable, else he'd give a date---something he said he'd not do until he has a new team in place that he trusts to give accurate numbers.

That other sources say that they are aiming for late 2021 internally is just reporting based on unnamed sources. Given SLS history, that's entirely justified to take seriously.

I chat with someone who works at MSFC on another website, and he's said that in the wake of Gerst's reassignment, all of the HEOMD projects are getting their schedules re-baselined. So I don't find a slip to 2021 all that unbelievable, as I'd imagine you'd want a schedule estimate you don't constantly have to preface with, "Well, if everything goes perfectly..." Now, I haven't heard anything to this effect yet, but I wouldn't be surprised.

It's the late 2021 estimate that doesn't gel with me. As far as I can tell, that's entirely of Berger's creation.

Edited by jadebenn

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