31 thoughts on “SLS and Nicole”

  1. So Coming!! The BIG EVENT! Be there launch side for the rumble and the tumble! The biggie across the Banana! See these heavyweights go at it in The Warring of the Waiiiiiveeeeers!

    Lateral Load Waiver vs SRB Stacking Waiver!

    See it live! Wednesday November 16th, 1:04AM EST (when nobody else is watching!)

    1. Have I reached Peak Cynicism™ by wondering if they secretly want it to lift off and have a “range failure” command abort …so the next SLS can start being assembled?

  2. “There is no ability to X-ray structures inside the rocket ”
    Seriously, WTF! Calling for NDI inspections on aircraft is routine when you have any kind of limit exceeded. Why does NASA have no way to do this, and why knowing this they didn’t just roll it back inside?

      1. At this point, it’s a program to be third back to the moon, after SpaceX and the Chinese. So having range safety blow it up would almost be a relief. If they continue after something like that, then it really is just a jobs program.

    1. In addition to a time limit on the stacked SRBs, there has to be a transportation limit. There’s only so many times one can road-transport a massive vertical solid propellant rocket motor without risk of propellant/liner debonds,* which would lead to catastrophic failure. I think the rollback would have been worse than any damage the storm could have produced to the vehicle – but the mobile launch platform is another beast. It has been so fraught with problems that leaving it out in the weather versus rolling it back to the VAB might just have been a risk tossup.

      *In the current market environment, debonds are probably less risky than destocks.

      1. There’s only so many times one can road-transport a massive vertical solid propellant rocket motor without risk of propellant/liner debonds,* which would lead to catastrophic failure.

        How about rail-transport of those rocket motors to the launch site in the first place? Seems weird to be so concerned about a 1 MPH crawler, but maybe it shakes a lot?

        1. It’s the field joints that are the problem. That’s why monolithic solid fuel ICBMs can sit in their silos for years on end. The segmented solid boosted are shipped in separate pieces. Which is where we get the term “field joints.’

    2. How long did it take them to replace a LRU valve, that corroded after being exposed to salt atmosphere for months?

  3. I think the optimum outcome would be hidden damage from Nicole resulting in a catastrophic structural failure at Max-Q. Far enough up and out to avoid GSE damage or any dry land debris footprint.

    That would open the way for an all-SpaceX lunar program – Polaris 3, Dear Moon, then a combined Polaris 4-Artemis mission to the surface.

  4. They’re already over a year limit on the stacking of the SRBs — this before Nicole. *sigh* It’ll be a really nice big boom when it happens. And it will.

    1. Has anyone still there actually ever launched anything? It’s been over 11 years since the last Shuttle launch, and everything since has been commercial, no?

      11 years is a long time for institutional knowledge to fade, move on, and retire away.

      1. Hey now, it hasn’t been 11 years. They launched Orion EFT-1. Here is NASA celebrating the 5-year anniversary of the event, back in 2019. You know the next flight of Orion is Artemis 1. That’s a flight rate of once every 8 years or every 11 Dragon-2 crew flights.

        Wait, by crew flights, I don’t mean crewed flights. I’m referring to the version of Dragon-2 for crew, sort of like Orion is designed for crew. If I didn’t specify crew, then I could count the Dragon-2 cargo flights. If I specified only crewed, then I couldn’t count any Orion flights.

        1. Even EFT-1 was launched on a commercial rocket (D-IV-H), so they can claim the capsule, but they weren’t responsible for the launch vehicle – which is the part they seem to be struggling with now.

  5. FWIW, it does look like Berger’s article was based on incomplete information, and the wind limits may not have been exceeded after all. Close, though. We’ll see, I guess. 5 more days?

  6. Berger speculates they gambled that the winds would be low but has anyone considered they gambled that the winds would be high? NASA can’t just leave it out in high winds when there is a good chance of high winds, that would be too obvious. They would have to leave it out when there is a lower chance of high winds and then the excuse, “Oops, no one saw that coming…” is more believable.

  7. Basically, Berger’s numbers are cherry picked. There is a table that shows wind tolderances for different points on the rocket. The article compares to lowest number (60 ft level) to the highest wind gust number recorded anywhere. According to NASA statement, no wind tolerance was exceeded from that table. On top of that, the wind tolderances are the greatest lower bound of a range, calculated to be 25% below the 1.4x margin for the rocket.

    They did say today they would have preferred to roll it back, had the final forecast been available sooner, but it was too late by the time it was. It’s important to remember this is a supersonic vehicle (at MaxQ) that is bolted to the pad, and attached by arms to the tower. In addition, and unlike Starship, or Saturn V, those solid rocket boosters are fully fuelled at represent a lot of mass to the cross section. The wind tolerance (plus 25% margin) is probably what the orange spray on insuation will take.

  8. The launch date draws close.

    When Obama approved SLS in 2010, it was supposed to be operational before the end of Obama’s second term. I supposed some suspected the launch date might slip into Biden’s first term, but they probably didn’t think it would slip into the second half of Biden’s first term. Still, it’s not too bad if you ignore Trump’s existence.

  9. I just can’t believe this. Not too much damage, a few tiles and stuff, we’re checking… This is insane.

  10. Perhaps we’re all looking at this the wrong way regarding waivers (SRB time limits, leaving the rocket out in a hurricane, etc).

    Look at it from a management (not engineering) point of view; if they suspect that SLS will RUD on launch, it’s better to have it do so with some nice, convenient possible causes already in the mix, especially “unforeseeable” ones like the hurricane? It’d be a lot less damaging (professionally) to them for it to be blamed on that, or even an SRB waiver, than an engineering fault, especially an obvious one.

    It is, after all, far easier to conduct a RUD investigation if you’re already per-arranged some plausible scapegoats for the cause. This is well-suited to a program like SLS, where actual flight is a trivial and minor program goal.

    1. And if they play their cards correctly, if they can delay long enough for Artemis to take the crew burden, Orion can be re-tasked for supplying cargo to the toll-booth only. Then RUDs really don’t matter. At that point it’s all chalked up to learning curve.

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