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New Rocket Blog

Well, actually not brand new--the archives actually go back to September, but relatively new. It's called "Rockets and Such" and reads like it's written by an insider, either a NASA employee or a contractor (I'm guessing the former). Presumably, "the Emperor" (who also presumably has no clothes) is Mike Griffin. The references to pony tails are almost certainly about Doug Stanley.

There's been a lot of programmatic chaos going on in Constellation and ESAS that I haven't been commenting much on. The program remains in big trouble, both because it has weight/schedule and budget issues, and because the budget issues are getting tougher, with continuing resolutions and the like. These are all the result of bad initial choices made in the architecture, which focused on an unnecessary new launch system, instead of coming up with concepts for sustainable in-space infrastructure that could use existing commercial launchers, as recommended by some of the CE&R teams.

The latest problem is that the lander design apparently won't close, a problem exacerbated, as pointed out in comments, by its requirement to do part of the lunar orbit injection burn. This is a problem that would be greatly mitigated by an architecture employing a depot in lunar orbit or (more likely) L1, or even in LEO. The former would also enable reuse of the lander. And ultimately, after the collapse of ESAS, I hope that's the direction that the program will go, assuming it survives at all.

One other interesting point is that the J-2X engine development for Ares 1 will probably be delayed by the Shuttle ECO sensor problems, because they don't have enough test stands at Stennis. And in another bait and switch, it turns out that while based on the classic J-2, the engine is basically a completely new one, in terms of development costs and testing--very little of the original design can be used, due to escalating requirements. One more nail in the coffin for the program ultimately, I suspect.

Anyway, I'm adding it to the space blogroll--it looks like a good place to track this stuff, at least for now.

[Mid morning update]

Rob Coppinger has more on the lunar lander problems.

Posted by Rand Simberg at December 20, 2007 06:01 AM
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