Orion test flight: 2013

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Boris_Badenov

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It's good to see the Big Boys put a little "Skin in the Game."
 
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vulture4

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Lockheed has no skin in the game. This is strictly dependent on taxpayer dollars, which may not materialize with all the newly elected legislators demanding tax cuts to be named later. Orion has no private customer, nor any possibility of getting one.
 
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steve82

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LM has a great deal of skin in the game. Several hundred million of their own cash was on the table prior to the invocation of the contract termination liability canard. Several of the manufacturing facilities and test labs to support POR were being built on LM's dime. Presumably that money is likely going toward the OFT-1 effort now.
 
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Boris_Badenov

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vulture4":32xrseba said:
Lockheed has no skin in the game.
From the article.

[snip]

“If we’re going to meet the 2016 flight date specified in the authorization bill, we have to have a test flight in 2013,” he told Space News Nov. 23, referring to language in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 that U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law Oct. 11. “So we’ve put our money down on this so we can reserve the launch slot for a 2013 test, because that’s what’s required to meet the 2016 date that Congress has set.”
Stevens declined to say how much money Lockheed Martin put down to begin formal negotiations with ULA, the Denver-based launch services provider jointly owned by Lockheed Martin and Chicago-based Boeing Co. He said until NASA approves funding for the demo, “any monies we put down as a deposit are at risk.”

[snip]

“That’s part of the new paradigm — we’re supposed to have skin in the game,” he said. “We are running at risk, to a limited extent, hopefully, but then again, that’s what doing this in a quasi-commercial fashion means.”
 
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stevekk

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How much risk is this really for LM ?

Even if Congress decides that it wants to cancel / postpone this Orion launch, LM just has a reservation for a Delta 4 Heavy. They just need to find another customer for that rocket, right ? While there isn't that much demand for Heavy launchers, I bet the NRO or another DOD customer would find a way to take their slot.

Of course, this isn't anywhere as much a waste of funds as those 5-segment booster tests that ATK is proceeding with.
 
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Yuri_Armstrong

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This is great news. I'm glad to see that they're going somewhere with Orion. It looks like a great vehicle to me and hopefully they can meet the 2016 deadline in case the private companies we are relying on right now can't come through with their crew vehicles. It was a really bad idea to have to wait 6 years for NASA to have a new vehicle ready after the shuttle, but we will have to do the best with the poor decisions that those from the past made to score some cheap political points at the cost of our space program's superiority in space.
 
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rcsplinters

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Yuri, it is an impressive looking craft. I've seen a full size mock-up of it and the old Apollo command module. Its got a good bit more room and from what I understand the avionics are supposed to be impressive. Of course, its engineering and not looks that are the true measure. That said, I too would like to see it fly.

As far as risk to Lockheed, I don't think its overwhelming. They speak the truth in that 2016 is right around the corner when you consider there are no discrete plans for a booster, capsule, launch service facilty, etc. The past year has crippled NASA beyond comprehension as it regards their HS program. If they are ever to recover from this disaster by 2016, somebody better start throwing something uphill in the 2013 time frame at least in an unmanned configuration.
 
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vulture4

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"Stevens declined to say how much money Lockheed Martin put down to begin formal negotiations with ULA, the Denver-based launch services provider jointly owned by Lockheed Martin and Chicago-based Boeing Co."

I withdraw my comment; apparently Lockheed is investing something. But reserving a launch slot from a company in which Lockheed is itself the senior partner isn't exactly a high risk, and unless Congress actually appropriates money for the launch it's hard to see how it could take place. As to the past year crippling NASA, I cannot agree. Constellation crippled NASA human spaceflight. The decision was made five years ago, when the Shuttle and ISS programs were ordered canceled.
 
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rcsplinters

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Of course we're all entitiled to our opinion. I stand by my comment that Lockheed was correct in their reasoning that Orion was going to need flight time in the 2013 time frame if 2016 dates were going to be realized. As it stands right now, NASA doesn't even have a power point solution and the cost cutters are slavering over commercial HSF subsidy. In my book that's sufficient apply labels such as "chaos" to the current situation. Six months may see some clarity on the future of US HSF, as both engineers and appropriators perform their work. At this moment, however, the solution for HSF is in shambles. To recover from this I suspect we'll see more moves similar to Lockheed's as NASA and the country try to cobble some sort of capability together.

Regarding their risk, I seriously doubt that they would take any significant risk which rides on the fickle backs of the legislature. Sure they may have some cash outlay but if everything falls through, it'll show up as a one time charge against the bottom line plus they'll likely find a customer for the booster and end up making money in the end. These guys didn't end up where they are by making stupid business decisions. Somewhere along the line, the risk of not making 2016 (probably in lost renvenue) for them was deemed greater than an unmanned launch in 2013 which could lose funding. The exit strategy for the launch in 2013 is much easier to accommodate.
 
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vulture4

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I agree HSF is in a shambles, but I do not think Orion is the way out. It will cost many billions. What will it produce that we can use for any practical purpose?

We are in a shambles because we cannot even access LEO. Orion is not designed for ISS support. It is as expensive as Shuttle to fly despite carrying much less. The CAIB said that Shuttle could continue to fly safely until a replacement was operational, and that the replacement should be designed for access to LEO only. The CAIB report stated that any attempt to design a shuttle replacement for a BEO mission would fail. It appears they were correct. Both Dragon and CST-100 are more appropriate for this mission. They are lighter, can carry more. The heavy Orion service module is unneeded and limits landing sites due to uncontrolled entry.

Anyone can propose a route, but for HSF I would propose:

1. LEO is our foothold in space, we must maintain the ISS.
2. We were wrong to cancel shuttle. At this point we should provide NASA R&D funds for both Dragon/Falcon and CST-100/EELV for interim human LEO flight. NASA must not micromanage or cost will grow and program will collapse; this includes not imposing arbitrary human rating requirements. Abandon Orion; it is redundant and unaffordable. Abandon VAB/Crawlers/LC-39. They are obsolete and very expensive to maintain.
3. For longer term, restart the RLV program. Work has already started on re-activating the X-34. NASA should buy back into the X-37 as well. R&D funds for SpaceX, Masten and others to prototype a reusable first stage for RTLS/runway landing.
4. Lunar robotic landers until the RLV pathway is ready, then we should begin lunar human flight with a reusable LEO-to-lunar shuttle.
 
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stevekk

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vulture4":13sjwj5w said:
Abandon Orion; it is redundant and unaffordable. Abandon VAB/Crawlers/LC-39. They are obsolete and very expensive to maintain.
I believe ULA actually had a proposal to use LC-39 and the VAB for additional EELV flights. If the CST-100 and Dreamchaser are going to fly on Atlas, I can see them using the additional capacity.
 
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rcsplinters

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I respect that we all have our preferences on how HSF should progress. Its a common topic amongst a small circle of my friends and I can tell you that we're all well educated with various science and engineering backgrounds, but not one of us agree completely and all of us have varying degress of similarity in our approach. Its the old straight line and circle thing where 100 different engineers will draw at least 100 different pictures. Its fun to consider the view on our own napkins. However, at some point, we're forced to ponder the likely outcome given the politics, law and engineering that will be brought to bear. Our napkins are irrelevent when it comes to actual decision making. The decision makers have their own napkins and those will be most likely the adopted designs.

My interest in this case is specifically what NASA will do to meet the legislative mandate. Regardless of what we might think or want, it is very likely that Orion or something very Orion like is going to be part of that solution, essentially as the law demands. Lockheed's announcement gives some small insight as to how that might occur. Do not forget, that legally, HSF mission is not limited to LEO and where NASA is concerned, LEO and HSF may not even make sense in the same sentence.

I do appreciate the conversation on this though as it has triggered another thought as it regards Lockheed's perception of funding and risk of their decision to pursue the Delta IV. Some group or individual in their management considers funding of current mandates along with the inclusion of Orion a fairly likely outcome, else why would they accept even a small risk. Total speculation on my part, but interesting if they are of such a mind given their inside knowledge of NASA leanings is likely greater than anything we'll read in the press for some months to come.
 
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