27 thoughts on “Orion”

  1. Nine months, eh? About the only way I can see it taking that long is if they remove bolts and fasteners one by one, with a committee of observers watching, then examining the component visually, then filling forms attesting that the component has been removed, then taking it to the imaging room for X-rays and a few tests, then more paperwork to attest that the thread has not been stripped, then moving the component to a labelled storage facility off-site (to be safe), then having a three-hour meeting to review the process. Repeat for the next bolt.

    Of course, that way is slower, but no one can be blamed if something goes wrong later, no one will lose their pension, and really, that’s what’s important, no? (The extra cost-plus money is a nice bonus, too.)

  2. On a fat, senator-protected, cost-plus project, delays are a feature, not a bug. It doesn’t surprise me that Lockheed designed it to be so difficult to repair. Making something that can be easily maintained requires the engineers to give a damn. Still, this is ridiculous.

    1. Speaking of careless engineering, are any modern cars actually designed to be maintained? My arms don’t have as many degrees of freedom as GM seems to think they do.

      1. Part of that is due to government regulations about the amount of space between the hood and engine.

      2. Depends what you mean by modern.

        My newest vehicle is a 1999 model.

        That said, anything 1996 or later has the OBD-II port, so it really depends on how much you want to spend on a scan tool. Scotty Kilmer has YouTube videos talking about the range of offerings.

        Once you know the problem, what part are you trying to change? Spark plugs? O2 sensor? Radiator hoses? Brake pads?

        Sometimes it is a question of buying the right tool, and given the cost of auto repairs that factor in a lot of shop overhead, one auto repair can easily justify a specialty tool for a specific job.

        Sometimes it is creative use of tools you have. The Erwin Vice-Grip is amazing in its multiple uses. Sometimes it just takes patience and Zen – especially with O2 sensors tucked into crevices under the car and getting their electric connectors to release by pushing on their release tab with a long-bladed screwdriver.

        I had an EGR vacuum solenoid go bad on a 1997 Camry, it “threw a code”, and guys on the Internet were on top of this that the solenoid is the problem and don’t let the Toyota Dealer throw hundreds of dollars of parts at this problem. Even though 4-cylinder engines are much more accessible, this part was on the side of the engine up against the firewall. I got it changed with a lot of feeling around, use of an inspection mirror, and just a lot of time. If I had jack stands and a hydraulic jack back then, I should have just lifted to car, took off the passenger-front wheel and accessed this part from underneath.

        1. My last car, a Kia Sedona, had a V6 engine. To change the spark plugs you have to remove the intake manifold, because the back bank of cylinders is up against the firewall and otherwise unreachable.

          But the car’s 1″ shorter and 4 pounds lighter, no doubt.

          1. A guy I worked with, who had a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering who starting out working as a research lab electronics person and ended up as a hospital sysadmin, had the universal phrase to use in any form of tech support.

            If someone came for help with the lab electronics and said something like, “Do you think I should put the subject’s chair on one of those static mats”, the response was, “Yeah, that’s your problem, right there!”

            He is a very helpful person and I don’t think he said that to any of the students working there — I just pose this as an example. In setting up computers, he and I had frequent brushes and brush-offs from tech support, I am talking about the 1980’s here before go-look-it-up-on-the-Web, and “Yeah, that’s your problem, right there!” was used by us to describe a techie eager to “close a ticket” and make you go away.

            So you say a Sedona? That is a minivan, and even Honda and Toyota minivans have their share of problems? It is a V6, because that is what they stuff into a minivan these days so it has enough power to get out of its own way, not like the original Chrysler minivan with that pathetic 2.2 L 4 cylinder, or European minivans with sewing-machine sized diesels in them?

            And you said it is a Kia? Well, that’s your problem, right there!

            By the way, the manual claims you can get enough of the cabin air cowling off to get at the back plugs on my 96 Taurus (V6, of course). Da guys on da Web tell you to unbolt the upper intake manifold, no big deal except there is stuff bolted to it that you can’t see how it is screwed on. I changed the spark plugs once by faith-and-feel.

            The short engine compartment of a minivan may be another story.

  3. C’mon man! Without Orion/SLS how will the USA be able to transport NASA astronauts to the SpaceX lunar base? Get real….

    1. Poorly Designed and Unserviceable?
      Particularly Delicate to Unassemble?
      Pain Down Under?
      Pay Dirt for ULA?

  4. For the last couple years it’s been Boeing and SLS that’ve shouldered the entire burden of finding reasons for new delays. LockMart and Orion have been shirking. But now they’re making up for it.

    1. Back in 1986, I was a new 2Lt awaiting training to control satellites at Falcon AFS, CO (now Schriever AFB). My training was delayed over a year because Falcon just wasn’t going to be ready on time. In the meantime, I did scut staff work including attending progress meetings. Month after month, everyone said they’d be ready on time. Everyone was lying. Finally, the people in charge of wideband communications admitted they weren’t going to be ready. Bad comms! Bad, bad comms! Only after comms got blamed for everything did all of the others (facilities, computers, software, etc) admit they were not going to be ready on time, either. It was all a big game of chicken and comms blinked first. I suspect SLS is like that.

  5. If the PDU is so critical (and it sounds like it is), then IMHO we have a major design flaw if it’s so hard to get to.

    And speaking of safety issues, it looks like Orion is *still* scheduled to fly EM-1 incomplete; no life support system (resulting in the first use of the life support system in space being during a manned lunar mission). Bear in mind that the original excuse for this was that there wasn’t time to build it before the EM-1 launch. What the new excuse is I have no clue.

    1. And come to think of it, even if we take Orion price and delays out of the equation, what is Orion, really? A space capsule for beyond earth orbit that’s far too massive for going beyond earth orbit, and has inadequate volume to be used as a hab for long duration missions.

      What would make far more sense is a combination of a lightweight hab (such as some of the Bigelow designs) plus a soyuz-style bare-bones small reentry vehicle.

  6. Should Biden be made President, Jim Bridenstine will step down as NASA Administrator; he has already said that he will not serve in a Biden Administration, even if asked.

    Biden has already said that under him, NASA will not focus on manned lunar or Mars exploration, but more on “climate change.” So no matter who takes the Administrator position, Artemis is unlikely to happen for the next four years – or I should say, it is less likely to happen for the next four years as it was unlikely to happen under Jim Bridenstine.

  7. The only way they’ll make their timeline is if they put Orion in the cargo bay of Starship and fly that.

  8. 9 months to detach and reattach an assembly that is designed to be jettisoned (which one would think would mean few connection points).

  9. I keep pointing out the SuperHeavy/Starkicker (expendable upper stage) version of Starship will be able to put Orion + National Team HLS through TLI, with room for a backup Orion in case the first one fails…

Comments are closed.