Has NASA Decided to Put Crew on First SLS Flight?

If this is true, it will be only the second time in history that a crew has flown on on the first flight of a launch vehicle.

The only other time was the space shuttle — and they had to do it. There was no way to fly the space shuttle without a crew. As the book “Into the Black” shows, that mission came close to disaster during launch due to a shock wave that bounced off the pad and damaged the forward connector between the shuttle and the external tank. The force also nearly damaged the tail flap.

Yes, the Orion spacecraft will have an abort system. But still, it is very risky to put a crew on the very first flight of a brand new booster. Other human launch vehicles were tested separately and with spacecraft before any crews were placed on board.

Another concern is the Orion spacecraft, whose only flight test lacked crucial equipment such as the service module and life support.

The flight might come off just fine. But, I fear that NASA’s concern about keeping the program funded, and Donald Trump’s desire for some space spectacular to boost his re-election chances, could combine to produce something very unfortunate.

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  • Robert G. Oler

    the entire thing ie the rescue mission was a debacle waiting to happen…the pilots/crew of the rescue mission would have been bone tired just near exhaustion when they launched, ditto the launch crew and the folks at mission control… the station keeping would have been tiresome enough forget the prop issue…everything had to go “right” and thats not likely

  • Robert G. Oler

    I have friends in Clear lake or who were at the time who had the “goods” on the foam hit…but were just rebuffed at every turn trying to bring it up…just a big of high school physics told you how bad it could be

  • Robert G. Oler

    Richard…yes without a doubt that is accurate. its a completely different discussion as to why BC (bureaucratization) set in, but it was there by the time they started the shuttle

  • Robert G. Oler

    timing is everything and it will be interesting to see how this plays (if it does)

    Trump is kind of having a really rough patch of it…and this would just be seen as a sort of distraction

    If SpaceX launches their “flight around the moon” and or either 1 or 2 Red Dragon flights by 2020 then well put a stick in it…its done

  • ReSpaceAge

    Very likely SpaceX will accomplish both moon flight and Red Dragon flights at this point, I think.

    Watching for their static fire tomorrow realizing the importance their cadence is to making an impact.
    Each flight and recovery is a tiny important step.

  • ThomasLMatula

    But a lot of those managers have engineering and technical degrees.

  • ThomasLMatula

    It would take longer since there are only 4 flights between now and then. And the Block I are very different from the Block II SLS, so you probably shouldn’t count the Block I flights.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Not surprised. I had a friend who was retired at the time who helped design the Shuttle. He had argued long and hard against using the tiles because of the debris risk they poised. I recall talking to him that morning about 30 minutes after the Shuttle broke up and he told me it was probably because they had lost a critical tile or took leading edge damage. He determined that from just listening to the landing and the way the sensors were being reported as going off line and the way the pilot reported it yawing. He indicated that is exactly what he would suspect if plasma was getting into the wing.

    NASA basically played Russian Roulette with the crews since 1981 on the debris issue. Eventually the odds caught up with them on it just as with the O-Rings on the SRB.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, all organizations go through life cycles. NASA is in the maturity stage where they really are so paralyzed by procedures and bureaucracy they are not really able to go boldly in terms of HSF. Its why I have been arguing for many years on the need to create a public-private partnership independent of NASA to return to the Moon and develop it.

  • Jeff2Space

    Doesn’t matter much. When they become managers, they wear their management hat most of the time.

    I’ve always thought middle managers have it the worst. They have to keep the engineers motivated even when upper management is ramming unpopular decisions down their throats. If the decision really is made to man EM-1 I’m sure it will be a very unpopular decision with most of the engineers.