NASA 3rd Space Exploration Conference blog

by | Feb 26, 2008 | Seradata News | 0 comments

After all that there is wifi here in the plenary session room. But sadly it hasn’t always worked so for the second and third sessions for this first day I had to write it up and am posting it now, hours later

Due to other commitments I missed comments by the panel moderator and the first speaker for the third and last session of the day, held from 1600h to 1730h and called Constellation Lunar Capability. I arrived at about 1640h to listen to John “Phil” Sumrall, who first joined NASA in 1962 – read his comments at the bottom of this sessions notes; so the last speaker, question answered, is below the following session and panel descriptions

Moderated by Kent Joosten, Deputy Program Systems Engineer for Architecture, NASA JSC, the session was described as; “The Constellation Program Lunar Capability builds on the Initial Capabilities (the Orion spacecraft and Ares I launch vehicle), adding elements necessary for Lunar Exploration: the recently named lunar lander, Altair; the Ares V heavy lift launch vehicle, advanced space suits, lunar surface systems, and the advanced technologies to support them.”

Mr. John P. Sumrall, Manager, Advanced Planning, Exploration Launch Projects Office, NASA
Mr. Clint Dorris, Deputy Manager, Altair Project, NASA JSC
Mr. Glenn C. Lutz, Manager, EVA Systems Project, NASA JSC
Ms. Linda Ham, Manager for Technology Integration, NASA JSC
Mr. Chris Culbert, Manager, Lunar Surface System Project, NASA JSCQ what In-situ Resource utilisation for the Moon?
Culbert: At the moment we haven’t baseline ISRU as it has an impact on what engines transportation uses

Q how do EVA suits differ to Apollo
Lutz: they have to operate for a lot longer

Q why use liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, instead of LOX/kerosene for the Ares V core stage and why can’t the EDS do the LOI burn?
Sumrall: We did in ESAS look at LOX/Kerosene for first stage, although it has high thrust, it has lower ISP and we could not find configuration that did not need a third stage core and that drove up costs
Very first ESAS architecture EDS stage did LOI, that did not work well at all and would not work with the concept today. You have to take most of this empty stage, having done TLI and you have to capture that empty stage in lunar orbit

Q will NASA dictate outer mold line of lander?
Dorris: We don’t plan to dictate anything. Right now we’re focusing on a foundation for a design that supports the architecture. We have found ourselves “walking in the footsteps of what the Apollo guys did”

Q how will NASA work with industry?
Ham: Probably do an industry technical conference again in a year’s time. Industry may have comms and fuel cell that is applicable, we do not want to reinvent the wheel

Chris Culbert
Surface systems
LAT team to have a review in June
Last two to three years putting together concepts and ideas based on considerations of transportation systems and surface requirements. Still all at high conceptual level
We want rovers to last for years without any repair. Habitation to have common airlock with lander. 2012 and 2013 surface requirements will settle down as NASA links in with international agencies and industry

Glenn Lutz
EVA systems project office
Have contingency extra-vehicular activities transfer from Orion to Altair in case of depressurisation issue. Got two extra-vehicular activities of four hours each. Currently have umbilical EVA considered. Suit contract to be placed later this year

Kent Joosten: We’re using surface requirements to inform our vehicles

Clint Dorris
Altair project office deputy manager
Study in December 2006 decided that programme could not afford development so is “pursuing a different approach”. Want to try a different approach for a lower cost phase a, b process later on. In fiscal year 2009 have a requirements review and baseline requirements. Between 2009 and 2011 build hardware test beds. We took the Constellation CARD and took five elements maybe and used those as bounding factors for our [minimal functionality] design. We have a 9 to 10 cubic metre interior, space for four people standing and avionics. Right now we’re close to fitting [the lander] in that 45,000kg box. Contract award mid-March this year for collaboration and maximum individual awards at $350,000 for 210 day duration. We had over 30 responses to the broad agency announcement [for lander collaboration]

John “Phil” Sumrall
Core stage length determined by the solid rocket booster length
Core stage leads to hydrogen and oxygen tank sizes to match the 6:1 propellant mix ratio required for the RS-68. Working towards four days to loiter in orbit
Orion might get to orbit either before or after Ares V does.
Six engines on core stage an option
Expendable composite cases for SRB and can design them for higher internal operating pressure. Ares I has 1016psi, would really like to have 1300psi for Ares V using composite cases.
Add a spacer to SRB, one half segment casing, to extend core stage length, about 13.3ft, and that would allow for more propellant.
We have recently made the change for a uniform diameter so EDS has same diameter as core stage and no need to flair out for payload
We are doing concept development and will do programme formulation for proper start in 2011 and have Ares V-Y, counterpart for Ares-X, could have a active upper stage in 2018.
*The text immediately above this was when I reached the plenary sessons at about 1640h*

The first of these two sessions was from 1345h to 1515h and it was the plenary panel, Constellation Initial Capabilities: From ISS to Lunar Missions – scroll to the bottom for the first points made by panel moderator and Constellation programme manager Jeff Hanley and the text immediately below the panelist list was the last answer to the last question for that session.

Mr. Steve Cook, Ares Program Manager, NASA MSFC
Mr. Mark Geyer, Orion Program Manager, NASA JSC
Mr. Jim Chilton, Vice President/Program Manager, Exploration Launch Systems, The Boeing Company
Mr. Steve Bouley, General Manager, California Sites, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne
Mr. Mike Kahn, Vice President, Space Launch Systems, ATK
Mr. John Karas, Vice President & General Manager, Human Space Flight, Lockheed Martin

Q what is the plan for extra design margin for extra performance on rockets
Cook – Ares I, if add peformance needed we have [options]
Nozzle extension for first stage, wrapping a 2ft longer nozzle for the first-stage that picks up 1300lb for LEO, straight forward addition
For block 2, for lunar performance, the Ares I barrel section thickness are all the same on cyrogenic tanks, we could tailor them for an extra several hundred pounds of performance
Options, do we leave recovery system off the flight, adds significant mass capability

Q Ares I-X, how well a test flight for Ares?
Steve Cook – outer mold and most of the protuberances are same
Launch abort system is different it is previous configuration
It is to validate our models going into critical design review
Upper stage goes into the atlantic ocean
Test recovery of five segment system
Have significant amount of sensors in aft skirt for thermal conditions
Are splashdown loads what we predicted?
Go through practical aspects of handling, such as divers recovering
Working with similitude document, what is same, what is different between four and five segment
All that data nine months before critical design review is helpful
The five segment, if you ballast it properly, bending loads are, for first 60-70s of flight, the loads are very much the same as it flies through max q, as the four-segment

Jim Chilton, Boeing
It will be good to know about any surprises that come out of Ares I-X, for software

Geyer and Karas spoke blandly about MAF transition from Shuttle to Constellation
Cook, MAF is unique facility for Ares V needs. We’ve started first manufacturing shop at Marshall to check manufacturing processes impact on design

Chilton – we’ve designed production flow, we’ll start ramping up a team and start tooling middle of this year

Q is it land or water landing?
I’m the bad guy who sets the mass targets at the programme level
Every lb we take to moon is precious

Mark Geyer
I expect mass will all be something we have to make tough choices on
We have reserve
We are looking at our threats and opportunities through to PDR
On the choice for monoprop for Orion, you get several hundred pounds mass saving and a smaller volume and its a simpler system so its more reliable
we need an extra 1,500lb to make land landing work
We have to look at how to keep crew safe in off-nominal land landing
What does water landing do to our reusability. what can we do in recovery that can keep costs down?

Monoprop is in unpressurised system so it is separated [from the pressurised system] and it’s not a threat to the crew

Q are EELV a backup recovery plan or foreign launch vehicles?
Cook – no. We did an extensive amount of analysis in ESAS that kicked off three years and we compared EELV and shuttle derived and we came out with the architecture we have. EELV does not get us to the lunar goal.

John Karas
We put the whole service and crew modules on a diet
Service module no longer a straight 5m cylinder, now down to 3.5m cylinder
Launch abort test, end of this year at white sands
Solid attitude control system fires, as LAS fires, will re-orientate the vehicle for descent, the separation motor
Will use stabilisation chutes, ejected before drogue and then main chutes

Mike Kahn
Ares I stage 1
compared to Shuttle SRB;
3.5 million lb max thrust
Will be some modifications to aft skirt for thrust vector control jets
Aft exit cone a foot longer
Case hardware is basically the same
Throat couple of inches bigger
Forward end has biggest shape change with 11 fins to 12
The rest is a 4ft wide tunnel
1-2% oxidiser difference in solid fuel
Aft end insulation has to be a little thicker
Igniter same as shuttle
April cluster chute test
Have completed first nozzle, from material to tooling design, normally done in 36 months, done it in 22 months
We’re also doing launch abort motor, supporting Orbital and Lockheed
Subscale firings with exhaust gas coming out of a manifold, carried out to check manifold designs
One of the challenges, how do we streamline Ares requirements after a generation with shuttle
Ares I first-stage PDR is in June
Summer 2008 Ares I-X delivery
Ares I first-stage DM-1 ground test April 2009

Tracy Lamm
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne
J-2X engine
Powerpack tests should end in April 2008
“We are under budget, under schedule”

Jim Chilton, Boeing
Talked about contract structure
Embedded ourselves with NASA’s design team and we do produceability analysis
Simulations are very valuable early, virtual assembly analysis, ergonomic assembly simulation
Do virtual design reviews by taking CAD models and look for issues [with manufacturing engineering]
We design production system and then work with NASA and they agree to production system and consider that in design development and Boeing can go to its supply chain

Mark Geyer
Orion project manager, was previously with ISS
LAS a fairly complicated system by itself
Showed Apollo, Orion comparison
They are putting in lightening tower foundations at KSC
Expect to fly Orion for a generation
“Block upgrades to capability as experienced gained – first major upgrade for lunar capability”
Learning through ISS phase and doing a block upgrade [for the Moon]
Design for low life cycle cost
ISS will one day want ORUs delivered to it
Mass savings and volume savings, they were big savings for us to go from [methane to monoprop]

Steve Cook
Ares launch status update

Has set out procurement decisions made over last 12 months
mentioned a 70-75t throw capability for Ares V
Attacked “myths of Ares”
“not enough power” – claimed 4,400lb performance margin over and above lunar requirement and 3,000lb over Orion’s maximum mass
“Oscillation issue” – well known, variation in pressure on shuttle srb is one of the quietest out there
“Will not be controllable” – due to it being too long and thin; up to 4200h of wind tunnel tests and not even PDR yet. Want to fully characterise flight performance. Thrust vector control is heritage equipment
“Ares not on schedule” – we have hit all out and are on track to hit PDR milestone in August 2008. We won’t go into a review unless we’re ready

Have built up first full scale nozzle, to verify production techniques
Getting ready for a cluster chute test, will be on tax day
Upper stage – have installed friction weld machine
Have pulled components off of Saturn IVB to see how it has been done before
Now done 34s firing get up to main stage test with J2X powerpack
Ares will be able to send 40% more mass to the Moon than Apollo/Saturn did
From today: 414-days top Ares I-X flight

Constellation is no longer a paper programme, we have real contracts
Entering our third year of existence as a programme team and we have had a lot of success in the formulation stage
Moving into execution with real hardware and critical design will set a different set of demands on our [NASA/industry] team
Budgets are very tight across the portfolio in 2010, all essentially being carved out of what used to be one wedge of human spaceflight, five years ago used to be just shuttle and station
We’re going to have to be wise about timing of investments
We have scheduled RS-68 for Ares V and would have loved to have moved forward for modifications but we didn’t have the money so we pushed it out to years when we could afford it
You will hear about a launch date that is much more aggressive than the the 65% confidence level date we give
We have strong initiatives for [life cycle cost control]
Pushing commonality across architecture to keep life cycle costs low during production
Our plan this year is to get the word out
A lot more made of it [thrust oscillation] than was necessary
The engineering we have done to solve that problem is a good news story
Cooperation between Mars Science Laboratory and Orion on TPS
To me ISS and lunar outpost are like Mercury and Gemini to get us to Mars

NOTE: We were told at the end of the first session that the presentations will be posted on this NASA webpage at the end of every day and checking myself, just now, it has already been updated with Shana Dale’s presentation in pdf format and has a video – but that link didn’t work for me

I managed to photograph this slide from Richard Gilbrech’s presentation, so rather than wait till the end of the day (or maybe sooner) you can see my shaky photography, and my question is, am I the only one that thinks this slide shows PDRs for Orion and Ares in 2009?

From 1345h to 1515h the plenary panel, Constellation Initial Capabilities: From ISS to Lunar Missions takes place

Moderator: Mr. Jeff Hanley, Manager, Constellation Program, NASA

The future of NASA’s next fleet of spacecraft -the Orion crew exploration vehicle and the Ares I launch vehicle- has become a reality in three short years. NASA and it industry partners have taken what was conceptual drawings and presentation slides and turned a vision into hardware and software being tested and flown.

This panel will focus on the accomplishments and challenges that Constellation program has and must overcome in the first steps towards exploring the moon. The integration between NASA and industry is evermore important as the milestone date of initial capabilities draws near. A challenge lies ahead for NASA and industry and as we continue to communicate with one another we will achieve the exploration goals.

Mr. Steve Cook, Ares Program Manager, NASA MSFC
Mr. Mark Geyer, Orion Program Manager, NASA JSC
Mr. Jim Chilton, Vice President/Program Manager, Exploration Launch Systems, The Boeing Company
Mr. Steve Bouley, General Manager, California Sites, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne
Mr. Mike Kahn, Vice President, Space Launch Systems, ATK
Mr. John Karas, Vice President & General Manager, Human Space Flight, Lockheed Martin

1145h The directorates session has ended.

1135h Q Budget restrictions on manned Mars mission
Gilbrech says: we are not doing anything specific isolated to human landing on Mars, we are nt looking at dust issues or Mars specific propulsion system
we have just wrapped up on the Mars DRM with 07 funding

1132hQ How serious is the oscillation issue?
I am not concerned, we have a great focus team run by [NASA Marshall engineering executive director] Garry Lyles. We’ll get a briefing next month from that team.

1130h Q Will Atlantis be retired after STS-125?
Hawes said: it would seem from a schedule robustness standpoint that having that flexibility would put us in a better position to complete the missons by the 2010 milestone. We’re still looking at all the budgetary impacts. We should be making a decision fairly shortly.

1122h More questions – I’ll tidy some of his up later

Q What is the UK-US MoonLITE mission?
Hawes said: Over a year ago Griffin signed agreement with British science minister to investigate possible collaboration. Formed joint working group. All three misson directorates worked with British National Space Centre on options. Identified a moon mission. Now investigating options of comms, tech, science. The next step is a joint project team activity as “they [BNSC] flesh out their mission concepts, ideas”.

Q Can Constellation’s operating costs be lower than Shuttles?
Hawes said: Lower cost for constellation? Dr Griffin answered a NASA employee question about keeping ops costs down for constellation, he said “Yes or we are doomed”
Hawes said that that is the fundamental truth. We need to design simpler systems. We need to understand how cost of operations can be reduced.

Gilbrech: Mission, crew safety, life cycle cost were priorities given to him by Griffin

Q Can COTS provide launchers to replace Boeing Delta II
May said: Realm of possibilities for cost launch vehicles to provide science mission launches
Joint meeting monthly between Alan Stern and Bill Gestenmaire on what we want to do with launch vehicles in timeframe of 2011. We have a good handle on manifest

we think there can be a broad field of competition

1110h the panel has taken the first question, about what is their biggest challenge this year

Orion challenges, pdr
Longer term problem convincing the country that this is long term programme and have to convince nation that this is a strategic capability

Shuttle transition

More launches than we can plan for

1053h Todd May from science mission directorate is speaking

Talking about the budget
Sharpened focus on the moon with robotic lunar programme
Increased funding for mission analysis
New missions, $570 million for Earth science
Internal transfers, efficiencies and “rephrasing” have helped

Talking about imminent missions, Cassini to fly by Enceladus for example

After talking about numerous missions’ hardwares’ various stages of processing May has shown a slide with robotic lunar missions including LRO and India’s Chandarayaan probe, which has NASA instruments, and shows that from 2012 there could be international agency involvement

Has shown a slide with robotic lunar missions including LRO and India’s Chandarayaan probe, which has NASA instruments, and shows that from 2012 there could be international agency involvement

In March NASA will put out call for proposals for lunar polar missions scheduled for 2014 and 2016 and by December hopes to have agreement on core instruments

1043h Michael Hawes, AA for programme integration for SOMD is speaking

He is just going through space operations responsiblities

He says they have co-located SOMD and ESMD leadership on same floor at NASA HQ

On Shuttle, Constellation transition “some issues need to be resolved now”
“The good news is that there were still a lot of question marks, now we have more certainty, but bad news is we have more arguments about them now”
But we are getting all the issues on the table.
See where facility disconnects are, see where Space Shuttle flows directly into Constellation and see where the problems are

1025h AA for ESMD, Richard Gilbrech, is speaking.

He says that one of the challenges to communicate that we are building these systems with no new money and that we all need to agree the plan we’re on is the first steps we need to take.

2009 budget
We did really well with the budget
We had some shuffling but its really in the noise
We had a challenge to restore COTS funding

Fully funds technology and human research we need

Gilbrech has just been going through previously publicised work at the NASA Centers, both technological and programmatic

Are examining Orion crew exploration vehicle radiation shielding

Also interested in one-sixth environment for astronauts

Using space station research data for Constellation human research

Talked briefly about progress for LRO and LCROSS and October launch date target

Challenges for 2008 are;
Constellation integrated programme management
Orion point of departure vehicle finalised
Ares I thrust oscillation
Ares 1-X preparation
Robotic lunar lander programme development with science mission directorate

Orion – Hope to get approval to proceed onto PDR, suggested that would follow a landing decision in March/April time frame

“We just have to executive the programme”

So here it all begins, today, tomorrow and Thursday I will be writing up in note form on this blog post, as soon as I can, what, I think, are the most interesting, significant statements, factoids, from the speakers and people I interview.

The opening keynote speech this morning, starting 0845h, is by NASA Deputy AdministratorShana Dale. I will link to the speech once it is on NASA’s website. Anybody else expecting anything ground breaking from Ms Dale?

Then from 1015h to 1145h there is the first plenary panel, “NASA Mission Directorate Updates”.

You can expect the first of the blog updates from the plenary just after noon.

“Three of the mission directorates will present the current state of their directorate. Each will discuss the major accomplishments and major milestones that will further advance exploration. A discussion of how many external factors have stimulated change, cooperation, and integration of the different organizations across NASA.”

Dr. Richard J. Gilbrech, Associate Administrator, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, NASA
Dr. Michael Hawes, Deputy Associate Administrator for Program Integration, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA
Mr. Todd May, Deputy Associate Administrator for Programs, Science Mission Directorate, NASA

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