Griffin's Plan/Hutchison Bill Conflict - another take

Written by Bob McCormick on 10/31/2005 10:18:00 AM

This item was reported several weeks back by NASAwatch as being a conflict between Sen. Hutchinson's desire to finish ISS construction, and NASA's projected capability to finish Shuttle usage & the gap of getting on with CEV capability.

The last parts of ISS assembly (depending on what stays within Shuttle launch capability)focus on getting the International Partners (mainly Europe and Japan, which have been part of the Program longer than Russia) installed on the vehicle, while completing the very-tricky buildout of the truss sections of ISS.

My real fear is that the 2010 ISS assembly complete fixation will cause us to emphasize schedule over everything else. ISS assembly, and the Shuttle flights it is dependent on, have been continually redesigned/resequenced over two decades. There is a fragile interdependence of one flight on the next. I fear that that interdependency, and the looming 2010 deadline, will be difficult. The 2010 fixation also reminds me of the critique that the Columbia Accident Investigation Board had of the Node 2 launch date fixation, and makes me worry that NASA's falling into the same trap. I'll be happy to be proven wrong.

NASA Administrator speaks with his "outer voice" on Shuttle and ISS

Written by Bob McCormick on 10/31/2005 10:16:00 AM

It's unfortunate that NASA Administrator Michael Griffin got caught using his "outer voice" here . I imagine his Public Affairs people were scrambling to do damage control, which explains his subsequent announcements.
Some folks at work were upset by his USA Today interview - I wasn't. The Shuttle and ISS are good vehicles, and there's good people working in both programs that have overcome enormous obstacles to keep both vehicles operating as they are. However, neither vehicle has lived up to their original billing (due to a lot of geo-governmental politics), which leads to the major drawbacks for both vehicles. Griffin's comments reflect most "techie's" assessment of the situation.
The reality is that we need both vehicles to fly in the near term (at least to 2010, to finish ISS assembly), and then we need a healthy US aerospace industry NASA can contract out to on a flight-by-flight basis, to buy upmass/down mass logistics capability.

My own hurricane timeline

Written by Bob McCormick on 9/26/2005 03:31:00 AM

I saw this done "post-partum" w.r.t. Katrina, so I thought I'd do it w.r.t. Rita ...

9/20, 8:20AM Local

National newsies (ABC, Good Morning America) covered the New Orleans angle on Hurricane Rita, even though weather trackers have plotted Rita's path away from NO. Apparently the emergency that's coming in the 4th largest city in America isn't as important as covering weakened NO levees which may see no rain at all. This doesn't really surprise me - both NO & Houston are west of the Appalachian mountains & not in California, so it doesn't surprise me that the nat'l news can't distinguish between the two - we're all in the "flyover country".
I check my work e-mail - I don't get the expected evac orders, but our overnight controller sent an e-mail to our group that JSC will shut down @ 2:30. It woulda been nice if JSC authorities had sent that e-mail.

I'm not going in to work today. Turns out, the household CEO went out for water at the local Walmart & is now operating on 4 hrs of sleep. So there's too much to do around the house.

My "To do" list reads as follows (not in this order):
1. Tape windows (we don't have plywood and even if we did, I need material to secure it to the house ... needed masonry screws etc.
2. Roll up area carpets
3. Pack items: Computer, Momentos, Coin collection, Saxophone, B&W TV, PS2, All medicines
4. Bring in all items from backyard into front porch (at least)
5. Shred old bank & credit statements (or pack them)
6.Pack 5-7 days worth of clothes & toiletries
7. Wtihdraw more cash
Well, that's it for now. More blogging as I can.

9/21 1:30 PM

Found out that JSC is shutting down computers etc. @ 11:30, with an evac @ 2:30 PM. (Came in an e-mail just a little after my last post.) I let my supervisor know I wasn't coming in at about 9:15 or so.

We've brought everything outside into the house, or at least the covered porch. All of us are packed. I taped the windows - which is more of a prayer than a practical defense. I coulda run around & gotten plywood but would have also needed concrete screws - too much to as for, given the run on the Home Depots etc. We'll see if I get lucky with my lack of planning - we have no choice now. We have snapped shots of the entire house, so that will help if the storm turns the house into a splinter pile a la Katrina & the folks in Mississippi.

It was good to see that the local authorities are taking this seriously. Everyone in Galveston Co & most of Harris Co (east of the Beltway) will have some sort of evac order waiting for them. The folks on the Island who don't have transportation are already being bussed out (including the hospitals).

We've seen the new landing predicts taking Rita's course to the eastern part of Matagorda Bay. If that holds, that will be good for us - less storm surge our way. If the predicts dirft into easter Matagorda Bay, we may not need to leave at all. But we can't bank on it - too much unpredictability in the plot. So we will still bug out.

Also found out (via my Aunt) that my Dad collapsed & was taken to ER. I called my Mom, who was probably too busy with the emergency to call out - he was just being checked out of the hospital. We think his blood pressure was low & he got up too quickly. I'll probably ask more questions later, but I need to keep packing.

This is the last post from me in Seabrook for now - gotta pack the computer. I'll try to post next time when I get to the in-laws.

9/22, 12:50 PM

Made it to the in-laws ~9:15 last nite. We left about 2:30 yesterday afternoon (in both cars) & went up SH 146 to Baytown. About halfway through town, we ran into traffic - and I realized that the traffic would stay with us as long as we were on SH 146. So we u-turned & went down SH 330 back towards Houston, until it hit I-10 ... then we went east on I-10. I realized that if we got back on SH 146, we'd hit the traffic again, so I turned off on Garth Rd & meandered on it through Barbers Hill. My son & I watched our Key map & made it up to Hwy 90, which didn't have a lot of traffic on it.

We got to Dayton & met up with the SH 146 traffic again, but didn't think we would be in it long since we really wanted to get onto SH 321. We got through Dayton & onto SH321, & made it about 1/2 way to Cleveland before our traffic luck ran out. It was a slow-moving parking lot from that point all the way to Cleveland (via SH 105) - it was about 7:30 at that point. We then headed south on the loop around Cleveland & got onto US 59, which was surprisingly flowing well. We got back on SH 105. Once we were past US 59, it was pretty smooth sailing to where we were going (just south of Huntsville). We also gassed up there, anticipating gas shortages.
My sister in law & her husband made it in at about 11:30. They live in Kemah & had left about 1:30 before we did, but stayed on SH 146 much longer than we had. My brother in law left @ 2 in the morning - as of 1:00 PM he hasn't made it yet.

I have probably not secured my house well enough to ride out this storm. I suppose I will see if I have a pile of splinters for a house on Monday or so.

9/22, 10 AM

Went out for a lame reason - I didn't have contact lens solution. Looked in New Waverly and Huntsville. They weren't letting cars onto I-45 in New Waverly or Huntsville. The gas station we gassed up in was out of gas & lotsa cars around those stations. Stopped into the HEB & found what I wanted - but couldn't find milk. Canned goods & other items were flying off the shelves, & there were long lines in general. Time to get back to the inlaws.

9/22, 1 PM

Still no brother in law. Last heard he had made it through Tomball.

9/22, 11 PM (stated in past tense because I didn't have computer access)

Brother in law & wife's cousin's family came in as well, on low gas (both in their cars and physically as well). My wife's cousin had been on the road for 13 hours. Between my in law's camper, my sister in law's camper, and all the people here, we have 16 people, 3 dogs, a rabbit, and a guinea pig in the 2 campers and a small 2 bedroom house. But we do have a generator, if we lose power, and plenty of food that all the different families evacuated with.

Can't get to the internet because too many folks are calling in on my in laws' line.

Predicted track looked like it was going to plow straight into Galveston & up I-45 ... as force 4. We'll probably see hurricane winds even in Huntsville.

I started to wonder if I'd return to a pile of rubble.


Not much going on. Things cooled down a bit, since the weather is overcast, and the Rita breezes started reaching us. Amazed to see the NO levees broke (a little bit) again, probably enough to set them back a few weeks ... made me bad to write the snarky stuff earlier.
Still seeing TONS of people out on the road. "Authorities" and newsies now telling them to shelter as close as possible to where they are (particularly since they are running out of gas). Incredible that they did not open up the opposite side of the Interstates to traffic (until relatively late).
Track plotted to go over to Beaumont & intensity to be force 3. Began to realize that we might just make it through this.


Hurricane definitely hit overnight. We had secured everything overnight. We amazingly still had power, but lost it at about 11 AM (although most of the bad weather was behind us). Most of my in laws decide not to leave until tomorrow at the earliest. However, with this many people in one place with no power (particularly A/C - the Texas heat was returning with a vengance), my hunch was that we were going to get on each others nerves.

9/24, afternoon

We have another outdoors BBQ & everyone goes to sleep relatively early, since there's no power for lighting. (We set up one light in the kitchen, and enough power for the refrigerators, all via the generator). Time to sleep things off the best we can.


We start to get on each other's nerves. People start getting shorter with each other. During lunch, I decide that we can make it back, if we take the back roads similar to the way we made it up here (no Interstates). My brother in law & I plot out a way to get back via "FM: (Farm to Market) routes.

9 PM

We pack & take off, caravan style, from New Waverly. There was still now power in New Waverly, and we did not see power until we got to Willis. Driving over I-45, we saw a TON of traffic coming back. We tried Hwy 75 (which runs parallel to I-45) - this worked until we got halfway to Willis. So we took the FM roads further to the east & ultimately made it in to the Clear Lake Area around 1:30.


Written by Bob McCormick on 9/21/2005 12:51:00 AM

Looks like the fact that I live close to the Gulf Coast has caught up with me. Current predictions (9/21, 12:40 AM) are that Hurricane Rita will make landfall somewhere between Port O'Connor and Galveston, with a possibility of Rita being a Cat 4 hurricane.

Last time I went through anything like this was in '83 with Hurricane Alicia. (Other folks that I work with try to compare with tropical storms that have hit the Houston area, because they have been slow moving & have dumped a lot of rain (Allison comes to mind) - but they are not the same.

I predict the biggest problem will be clearing folks out of Galveston & Brazoria counties ... it is a lot of people. Flooding will also be a problem due to storm surge.

I live near Seabrook, which is in Harris County but is right next to Galveston Bay. I plan on evacuating - I expect to evacuate up State Highway 146, into Baytown, and ultimately be clear of Harris County by this time tomorrow.

NASA will also likely shut down - the ISS Flight Control Team has been preparing for this & has a group of controllers that will go mobile, potentially for weeks at a time, depending on the damage to the center. My kids' school district has already shut down for the week (they were planning on taking off Friday anyway).

Hopefully I will be able to post tomorrow to let you know my status. And hopefully my house will still be standing.

NFL Week 2

Written by Bob McCormick on 9/18/2005 12:51:00 AM

The Real World

Pittsburgh 27, Houston 7

This game was more atrocious (from the Texan's perspective) than the score indicates. Houston was down by 20 at the end of the half. CBS didn't want to show it, but at the half, a lot of the Texans fans were well-disguised as empty seats.

I suspect that the honeymoon that the Texans have had with the locals (particularly with the local press) will start wearing thin now, particularly if there are more games like this. This team has existed for four years and, while they've compiled more wins each year, they honestly looked like they regressed today. Carr was getting sacked way too much (sometimes the line wasn't picking up the blitz, sometimes he just wasn't doing the right thing when they blitzed (like running into a blitzing Steeler when his lineman was blocking him to the outside).
Cincinnatti's up next & will give the Texans defense fits. I predict the Texans offense won't keep up with Cincy's.

The Fantasy World

Washington Redskins (my team) vs. BROWNS -

Redskins are currently winning, 62 -34, and I expect they'll win (unless Joe Horn goes nuts against the Giants tomorrow and nullifies everything that Terry Glenn of the Cowboys and Clinton Portis of the Redskins do). It looks like Chad Jonhson & Shawn Alexander really kicked in, and Daniel Graham & Donald Driver were nice surprises. Bulger wasn't quite as sharp, but all the positives offset that.

I did notice that Minnesota got hammered, but they were my backup defense. I've swapped them with Dallas ... we'll see how good a move that was tomorrow night. If it's good, I may put Dallas to lead next week (they play SF in SF).


Points Pos Player Opp Status Projected Actual
QB M. Bulger (StL - QB) @Ari W, 17-12 12 8
WR C. Johnson (Cin - WR) Min W, 37-8 6 12
WR D. Driver (GB - WR) Cle L, 26-24 5 11
WR T. Glenn (Dal - WR) Was Mon8:00 pm 5 0
RB S. Alexander (Sea - RB) Atl W, 21-18 9 13
RB C. Portis (Was - RB) @Dal Mon8:00 pm 6 0
TE D. Graham (NE - TE) @Car L, 27-17 4 6
K N. Kaeding (SD - K) @Den L, 20-17 8 6
DEF Tampa Bay (TB - DEF) Buf W, 19-3 7 11
Total 62 67


Points Pos Player Opp Status Projected Actual
QB K. Collins (Oak - QB) P KC L, 23-17 18 9
WR J. Horn (NO - WR) NYG Mon6:30 pm 6 0
WR Ro. Smith (Den - WR) SD W, 20-17 5 4
WR D. Branch (NE - WR) @Car L, 27-17 2 3
RB W. McGahee (Buf - RB) @TB L, 19-3 6 1
RB J. Lewis (Bal - RB) P @Ten L, 25-10 8 -1
TE B. Franks (GB - TE) Cle L, 26-24 3 0
K M. Nugent (NYJ - K) Mia W, 17-7 7 6
DEF Carolina (Car - DEF) NE W, 27-17 7 12
Total 62 34