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.