The Safety Of SLS

I have no difficulty whatsoever believing this:

Most troubling of all, the internal assumption at MSFC is that the first SLS flight will have a built-in risk of failure of around 8%. This risk is being “baked in” to the design of SLS in part due to decisions being made at MSFC about software and avionics – decisions that are being made so as to not surface troublesome issues that no one wants to deal with. One can imagine that safety folks at MSFC are nervous.

This is no way to build a rocket folks.

Once you understand that (unlike at SpaceX) the goal is not to build a rocket, it all makes sense.

8 thoughts on “The Safety Of SLS”

  1. This bit actually looks like the most troubling part,

    Moreover, employees who are leaving or thinking of leaving as a result of raising concerns – are being specifically blackballed – by name – by MSFC management. Potential employers are being told by NASA MSFC that they risk wining new contracts – or losing existing contracts – if they hire these individuals.

    1. Wow… That bit you quoted is, if true, beyond reprehensible. Amongst other things, it’s against the law. It’s also slimy as hell. What are they doing, taking management lessons from the Gestapo?

  2. You have to multiply the risk of a launch failure by the odds of a launch attempt. That significantly lowers the chance of an accident.

  3. The 8% risk factor for first flight seems rather dubious to me, because it’s an in house estimate, plus seems focused on only software/avionics.

    The fact of the matter is that there are plenty of other things that can go wrong on a rocket aside from software/avionics.

  4. Look, no need to worry, the safety of it is calculated to fifth decimal digit by a probabilistic risk assessment. By a group of people that haven’t actually ever designed and flown a rocket.

    I’d like to see a PRA vs a bunch of insurance lawyers calculate the odds of a successful first flight.

    1. I do think we might be overstating the risk a little.

      My take; SLS isn’t clean-sheet new design, it’s largely cobbled together from re-engineered shuttle components. In that sense, it’s somewhat similar to the SpaceX Falcon 1 (some of its tech was, if memory serves, re-engineered from older designs, such as the pintle engine), and thus SLS odds of a successful first flight are probably on par with SpaceX’s first flight.

      1. Nah its different. One thing is to use a basic design (e.g. make an airplane with a delta wing) another is to use the exact same components. I have nothing against component reuse. When it makes sense.
        As for the risk regarding the avionics there’s too much I don’t know about their system to make an estimate.

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