NASA OIG to Congress: Here’s What Your CR is Costing Taxpayers

Source: Constellation Program Managers

* NASA officials noted that even if they had complete freedom to stop spending on these aspects of the Constellation Program, they still would need to expend some amount of money for infrastructure and personnel costs to maintain program readiness. The officials did not provide a breakdown of these costs.

The NASA Office of Inspector General sent a letter to Congress today outlining how the space agency must spend money on programs it is canceling due to the inability of the legislature to pass a budget on time. NASA is operating under a continuing resolution (CR) until Congress passes its appropriations bill in March.

Utah Congressional Delegation Tells Bolden, Garver: Don’t Frak Over ATK!

Nov. 18, 2010

Members of the Utah congressional delegation met today with NASA officials at Sen. Orrin Hatch’s office to press the space agency to fully implement the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.

Hatch, Sen. Bob Bennett and Reps. Rob Bishop and Jim Matheson met with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver to ensure that they are on board with complying with the law, which outlines payload requirements for a heavy-lift space system that, experts agree, can only be realistically met by solid rocket motors like the ones ATK manufactures in northern Utah.


ATK: Ares Solid Rocket Motor Ready for Flight Testing


Data from the second successful five segment Development Motor (DM-2) test conducted by ATK and NASA show that the new motor performed precisely as designed, providing substantially higher performance and reliability than the heritage space shuttle solid rocket booster at a lower cost.

“These extensive test results confirm the ATK five segment Solid Rocket Motor (SRM) is ready for flight testing,” said Charlie Precourt, vice president and general manager of Space Launch Systems, ATK Aerospace Systems.  “The five-segment first stage design was based on more than 30 years of safety-driven improvements on the shuttle program. The result is a higher performing, more reliable solid rocket motor, which equates to increased safety for crew and mission success for cargo.”


Frustration in Utah as House Delays NASA Funding Vote

No ATK vote upsets Bishop / Lawmaker: Congress needs to get moving to save jobs
Standard Examiner

A frustrated Rep. Rob Bishop left Washington, D.C., for Utah on Friday afternoon, taking time only to call the Standard-Examiner from the airport and lambaste House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not holding a vote on a bill he thinks is the best compromise yet to save jobs at ATK Space Systems.


Aerojet Continues Work on Orion Jettison Motor

NASA's Orion spacecraft


Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, announced today that it successfully conducted a static firing of the third nozzle risk reduction motor in support of the Orion jettison motor, a critical component of the launch abort system (LAS) for NASA’s Orion crew exploration vehicle. This successful test firing validates several nozzle design changes implemented to enhance the safety and reliability of the jettison motor.


Gas Generator Tests Completed on NASA J-2X Engine

A white-hot flame surrounded by red hot exhaust shoots from a recent test of the J-2X engine 'workhorse' gas generator at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala. The workhorse gas generator simulates the flow path inside the actual J-2X gas generator that powers the engine's turbo machinery. Credit: NASA


Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne successfully completed the latest round of tests on the workhorse gas generator for NASA’s J-2X rocket engine. With the first NASA J-2X engine far along in development, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is on track to begin testing in 2011 at Stennis Space Center. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) company.

As Fate Hangs in the Balance, Lockheed Martin Continues Work on Orion

A production assembly crew lowers a full-scale Orion mockup onto the crew module holding structure during an assembly pathfinding maneuver at the Operations & Checkout Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image Credit: NASA


Preparations for Orion’s first mission in 2013 are well under way as a Lockheed Martin-led crew begins lean assembly pathfinding operations for the spacecraft. The crew is conducting simulated manufacturing and assembly operations with a full-scale Orion mockup to verify the tools, processes and spacecraft integration procedures work as expected.


NASA Continues Orion Capsule Tests Amid Uncertainty

NASA's Orion spacecraft

Constellation Program Proceeds with Orion Capsule EVA Testing

With the fate of the Constellation Program at this juncture of time all but a certainty, Program officials are, nonetheless, pressing ahead with testing of the Orion crew capsule design. Specifically, current testing on Orion’s design is geared toward EVA egress/ingress procedures and mechanics for the four person capsule that was supposed to serve as a replacement, later this decade, for the retiring Shuttle fleet.

Tumlinson: Drug-Crazed Congressional Puppets Feeding Carnivorous Constellation Monster

Ares I-X lifts off from the Cape.

NASA’s Constellation Hallucination and the Congressional Money Drug
by Rick Tumlinson
The Huffington Post

In the coming weeks some in Congress will try to kill America’s future in space as they desperately work to prop up the tax sucking, pork eating dreamslaying monster known as the Constellation rocket program. Right now a bought and paid for cabal of hypocritical puppets in the House and Senate are trying to prop up this corpse of a dead end plan to go to the Moon and Mars that not only failed to deliver on President Bush’s promise of a permanent U.S. presence in space, but continues to eat the budgets of the very exploration it was meant to support.


Griffin and Pace Criticize Obama’s Plan for NASA, Support House Bill

Space shuttle Atlantis lands on runway 33 at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility concluding the STS-129 mission. Photo credit: NASA Jack Pfaller

The Space Transportation Association conducted a panel discussion yesterday during which some quite divergent views were expressed over the future of NASA and the Obama Administration’s commercial focus.


Aerojet Tests Orion Main Engine

Testing firing of Orion's main engine. (Credit: Aerojet)


Aerojet, a GenCorp company, under contract to Lockheed Martin, has successfully completed more than 20 injector tests for the 7500-pound thrust Orion main engine (OME) for NASA’s Orion crew exploration vehicle. The tests are a combination of checkout, development, and qualification that will anchor models and satisfy combustion stability qualification requirements. The OME is a pressure-fed, regeneratively cooled, storable bi-propellant engine that is a technically advanced, increased performance version of Aerojet’s flight-proven 6000-pound thrust space shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System Engine (OMS-E).


ATK and NASA to Test Ares Solid Rocket Motor


Alliant Techsystems (NYSE:ATK – News) and NASA will test the second fully developed Ares five-segment solid rocket motor, known as Development Motor-2 (DM-2). The five-segment rocket motor is an upgraded version of the Shuttle’s 4-segment booster, and has also been identified as a key element of NASA’s future Heavy Lift Launch vehicle.

What: Horizontal ground test firing of Ares DM-2

Date: Tuesday August 31, 2010

Time: 9:05 a.m. MDT

Where: ATK Aerospace Systems facility in Promontory, Utah

Test Objectives/Background:

  • * A total of 53 design objectives will be measured through more than 760 instruments.
  • DM-2 is a “cold motor” test. The motor will be cooled to 40 degrees F to measure solid rocket motor performance at low temperature, as well as to verify design requirements of new materials in the motor joints. These new materials will allow for the elimination of joint heaters that were necessary in the original 4-segment motor design. This will save significant weight, further reduce system complexity and simplify launch operations, while simultaneously delivering increased operating margins at lower ambient temperatures.
  • Other objectives include data gathering on vital motor upgrades such as the new insulation and motor case liner and the redesigned nozzle which increase the robustness of the design.
  • When fired, the motor will produce a maximum thrust 3.6 million pounds, or 22 million horsepower.
  • The cases have all previously flown on the space shuttle, collectively launching on 57 missions.
  • A public viewing area is available along State Road 83 North approximately 20 miles west of Corinne, Utah.

ATK Not Pleased With NASA Move to End Constellation Program

Alliant Techsystems Cries Foul as NASA Moves To Curb Constellation
Space News

Alliant Techsystems (ATK) says NASA is selectively applying a rarely used contracting rule in an effort to halt work on key elements of the agency’s Constellation program, a 5-year-old effort to replace the space shuttle with new hardware optimized for lunar missions that the White House has proposed canceling next year.

NASA asserts the Constellation program is facing a potential $1 billion funding shortfall in the remaining four months of the current budget year because contractors have not accurately accounted for termination liability costs they could incur as a result of having to cancel orders, vacate leases and pink-slip employees if the program is shut down. But Magna, Utah-based ATK Aerospace, prime contractor on the first stage of the Ares 1 rocket — a key Constellation program element — says that historically, termination liability funds have not been included in contractor costs.


Constellation’s Congressional Supporters Not Amused By Obama’s Latest Attempt to Kill the Program

Ares 1-X

As you might have expected, the Obama Administration’s decision to invoke the Anti-Deficiency Act in order to shut down the Constellation program has not gone over real well with Congressional supporters of NASA’s human spaceflight effort. I’ll let the senior Senator from the Lone Star State explain it all:

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today said NASA leadership was skirting the law to shut down the Constellation program after NASA leadership publicly announced a decision to reprioritize work on the program. NASA’s stated justification for these actions is the Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA), which prohibits spending funds beyond levels that are appropriated in a given year, or obligating the government to pay money before funds have been appropriated. There are a number of unanswered questions on whether the ADA would apply in this situation, and if it did, the recently passed Defense Supplemental legislation clarifies that regardless of any provision of law, work must continue on the Constellation program.