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NASA Orion Space Capsule Has Surprising Brain
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David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
7/24/2014 | 5:25:50 PM
GAO questions whether rocket booster for NASA's Orion is on track
The General Accountability Office is questioning whether NASA's Space Launch System, the booster assembly that's supposed to be mated with Orion, will materialize on schedule for a planned 2017 trip to the Moon (preparatory for deeper space voyages). The December test flight I talk more about in this story uses an existing booster, sufficient to get the vehicle into space for an automated test flight and reentry (test of the new heat shield). If Orion is flashback to the Apollo capsule, SLS is the new Saturn V, so without that Orion won't be going very far. You can read the GAO report here.

Space Launch System: Resources Need to be Matched to Requirements to Decrease Risk and Support Long Term Affordability

It does strike me that the GAO is faulting the program for lack of long-term planning for what the SLS/Orion missions will be, which is kind of a Catch 22 for NASA. Grander, more detailed plans for deep space exploration tend to get shot down because the price tag runs too high. Orion and SLS are part of a more incremental approach to developing the capabilities for deep space travel. Once they prove they can shoot big payloads farther and faster into space than ever before, there will be more room to get serious about specific missions to the asteroids or Mars.

Instead of planning a grand expedition, they're starting with baby steps. If the GAO was a parent, it would be telling the baby, "It's great that you've learned to crawl and pull yourself up on the coach, but until you know where you're going to go in 20 years I'm not sure you should try to walk across the room."

Or maybe I'm just trying too hard to believe that NASA is going to get back into the business of flying manned spacecraft somewhere beyond low Earth orbit.
tekedge
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tekedge,
User Rank: Moderator
7/22/2014 | 4:32:01 PM
NASA Orion Space Capsule
Interesting read. It is commendable how fast technology is changing to accomodate even space travels....
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
7/22/2014 | 10:09:35 AM
What do you think of NASA's computer budget savvy?
Interesting to see the agency stepping carefully away from custom-designed computing for flight systems. The time when the agency had to invent everything that flies aboard a spacecraft is past.


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