The Latest Safety Insanity

OK, so I read this, and the steam that shot out of my ears took the fresh paint off the wall of the kitchen on both sides of the room:

His committee recommended that NASA and the other ISS partners should plan for ways to operate the station with a reduced crew if commercial crew vehicles aren’t ready to enter service by the fall of 2019.

“Given these schedule risks, we recommend the partnership pursue plans to protect for a minimum crew capability to ensure ISS viability during the flight development phase,” he said. “NASA’s biggest priority is maintaining the U.S. presence on the ISS in case the commercial crew launch dates slip.”

One option he mentioned at the meeting is “providing training to Russian crewmembers on the USOS critical systems.” That training, he said, would be provided to cosmonauts scheduled to fly to the station on Soyuz missions in September 2019 and March 2020.

So, let me get this straight: In order to avoid any risk of loss of crew (and there is no way to do that), we are going to not only make ourselves more dependent on the Russians, but further reduce, if not eliminate any actual utility we’re going to get out of a facility in which we’ve invested over a hundred billion dollars and, as a bonus, put that facility at risk.

All because “safety is the highest priority.”

This is insane.

18 thoughts on “The Latest Safety Insanity”

  1. Ye gods. Can we suspend the corruption and stupidity for a while? This is a huge opportunity.

    1. What we call corruption is the normal mode for those who must do the bidding of a Congress still dominated by LBJians. Certainly the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Richard Shelby, will not pass a NASA budget that allows one day more embarrassment for funding SLS/Orion than he can squash out of existence. That is what Stafford’s crew is trying to ignore, even as they do what he wants.

      What Bridenstine can do is minimal. Shelby retires in 2022, and any replacement from Alabama will be in a lesser position, because of low seniority. By then, Northern Alabama’s politics will have shifted attention onto whatever portion of the new “Space Force” funding that Representative Rogers(R) of Alabama can swing their way. Only then can we hope that human spacecraft outside the SLS/Orion coalition’s interest can be funded for operation without threatening NASA’s budget. Of course, by then BFR/BFS should be flying.

  2. When designed; 5 of the 7 crew members were expected to be doing maintenance. So 3 members means not enough maintenance hours and no science, unless the ISS is far more reliable than designed, which isn’t my understanding.

    1. How come – he – gets to work on science and – I – have to change the odor-control cartridge on the zero-G lav?

      1. That would be me. I have a remarkable ability to take any unique opportunity…and find something to complain about 😉

    2. 5 of the 7 crew members were expected to be doing maintenance.

      Its funny there is talk of adding wetworkshops and whatnots when they can barely keep what’s up there going. Gives credence to Rand’s suggestion of putting up extra living space to expand the crew so that more research work can be done.

    3. I recall for the final ISS design it was more like 3 crew members were expected to do maintenance. And earlier designs (when Space Station Freedom was on paper) probably had that number initially reduced to 2 (of a crew of 4).

      I find Wikipedia’s bland reporting of the bureaucratic thrashing involved to be amusing.

      various trade-offs were made in this process, balancing higher development costs against reduced long-term operating costs.

      Following this, the design was extensively “scrubbed” to remove inefficiencies; this led to a large number of subsystems being revised or removed

      post-Challenger safety concerns led to changes in the assembly plans, as well as assorted minor changes

      In September 1986, a major cost review of the program was undertaken from the post-Challenger baseline; this review was intended to ensure that NASA had a solid basis for its commitment to cost and schedule. The review found that the total development cost for the Dual-Keel configuration would cost US$18.2 billion (in FY1989 dollars), and a slip in the first-element launch (FEL) date from January 1993 to January 1994.

      At the same time, late 1986, NASA carried out a study into new configuration options to reduce development costs

      During 1986 and 1987, various other studies were carried out on the future of the U.S. space program; the results of these often impacted the Space Station, and their recommendations were folded into the revised baseline as necessary. One of the results of these was to baseline the Station program as requiring five shuttle flights a year for operations and logistics, rotating four crew at a time with the aim of extending individual stay times to 180 days.

      The Space Station Freedom design was slightly modified in late 1989 after the program’s Fiscal 1990 budget again was reduced—from $2.05 billion to $1.75 billion—when the design was found to be 23% overweight and over budget, too complicated to assemble, and providing little power for its users. Congress consequently demanded yet another redesign in October 1990, and requested further cost reductions after the fiscal 1991 budget was cut from $2.5 billion to $1.9 billion. NASA unveiled its new space station design in March 1991.

      Between 1984 and 1993 it went through seven major re-designs, losing capacity and capabilities each time. Rather than being completed in a decade, as Reagan had predicted, Freedom was never built, and no Shuttle launches were made as part of the program.

      In 1993, the Clinton administration announced the transformation of Space Station Freedom into the International Space Station (ISS). NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin supervised the addition of Russia to the project. To accommodate reduced budgets, the station design was scaled back from 508 to 353 square feet (47 to 33 m²), the crew capacity of the NASA-provided part was reduced from 7 to 3 (while the complete station is manned by 6 but may be increased to 7[3]), and the station’s functions were reduced.

      That gets us to 1993.

      1. 1993 was before my time and the final ISS design. I was going off SSP 41000 and my own recollection working on the program. Wikipedia wasn’t around back then.

  3. I propose that every NASA administrator be an infantry sergeant with combat experience. That’ll put an end to this nonsense.

  4. It’s a pity I missed seeing that. I was always amused by the Warner Bros. Tasmanian Devil’s detonation. ….. Rand suffers from what I call Stafford Derangement Syndrome.

    1. Doesn’t Ken Anthony use the Warner Bros. Marvin the Martian as his avatar?

      Whereas Tas’ talks in a kind of scream, to my ear, Marvin speaks with an affected “Mid-Atlantic” accent like many old-time movie actors. According to Wikipedia, Marvin says things like “Where’s the kaboom? There was supposed to be an Earth-shattering kaboom!”, “Isn’t that lovely?”, and “This makes me very angry, very angry indeed.”

      Where is Ken Anthony, by the way? I hope he is doing OK, especially since he disclosed that at least in the past he had serious health problems?

  5. Tom Stafford had the right stuff once but he should now be retired to an assisted living facility.
    Particularly after his bleating about loading fuel after the crew is in the spacecraft with an armed LES. I know that is the way I’d rather do it.
    Is this just political corruption and if so what is in it for Stafford?

    1. No, I think Stafford is just wedded to The Way NASA Has Always Done Things. It worked on Apollo, and it should work for SpaceX, too.

      Amazing man with an amazing career, but perhaps too limited by his own experiences.

  6. “One option he mentioned at the meeting is “providing training to Russian crewmembers on the USOS critical systems.” That training, he said, would be provided to cosmonauts scheduled to fly to the station on Soyuz missions in September 2019 and March 2020.”

    Is this like you have to have to return from summer vacation early, and you turn the keys to your time-share over to your house guest?

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