SpaceX “Unscheduled rapid disassembly”. It’s not rocket science. Literally.

April 21, 2023

A spokesman for SpaceX said an “unscheduled rapid disassembly” is SpaceX code word for “It blew up”.

After 14 years of exploding vehicles, SpaceX blew up another one yesterday. At least this one didn’t have a crew and it didn’t blow up the launch site. There comes a point when you have to ask if there is a systemic problem associated with all of these failures. It’s not rocket science. NASA has been flying for over 60 years. They know what works and what doesn’t, and how to avoid them in the future.

It’s easy to say after a failure, and SpaceX did, that this was a successful flight (up until it blew up). Science includes learning from your mistakes, miscalculations, poor designs, and reckless development. In the early days of space flight there were accidents, the most notable, Apollo 1, which took the lives of three astronauts. It took 1.5 years to get back to flying after a complete analysis and modifications to the vehicle to prevent another similar accident. That was 60 ago.

Yes human space flight is risky. We know that. We’ve known it for over 60 years. It’s nothing new. Repeating the mistakes of the past is not science. Unfortunately NASA will not be in charge of the Root Cause Analysis and the mistakes and lessons learned will not be made public like the reports from NASA failures.

Would NASA pull Elon Musk’s contracts for SpaceX?

November 2, 2022

I worked in software at NASA. One of my last assignments required monitoring a conference call with Boeing and SpaceX concerning software testing. I was never comfortable with the attitude towards software by SpaceX, but that is for another post.

Yesterday Elon Musk, after taking control of Twitter, posted a conspiracy theory concerning the attack on Speaker Pelosi’s husband. Twitter has quickly becoming a cesspool of misinformation and Musk, a billionaire with time on his idle hands, is twitting with the best of them. I would bet Musk is going to tweet something else, maybe something near racist, or homophobic, or antisemitic. He will push the envelope on misinformation, conspiracy theories, and civility and when he does NASA should consider pulling their contracts from SpaceX.

In August SpaceX won a $1.4 Billion contract to shuttle astronauts to the International Space Station. The total so far that has been awarded to SpaceX is over $5 Billion. If Musk would ever dive head first into the Twitter cesspool NASA should seriously consider pulling their contracts with him. From NPR:

Musk himself inflamed those concerns on Sunday when he tweeted a link to unfounded, homophobic allegations about the violent attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Replying to a tweet from Hillary Clinton about the attack, Musk wrote: “there is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye.” He included a link to an article from the Santa Monica Observer, a fringe website with a history of publishing false stories, which makes lurid claims about the attack without evidence.

NPR Twitter Owner Elon Musk shares conspiracy theory about Pelosi

What kind of human being makes fun of an 82 year old who was viciously attacked with a hammer? What kind of human beings gives this man a $1.4 Billion contract?

Returning to the Moon, safely, is not an option.

July 12, 2019

I have a theory about this

William Gerstenmaier, the longtime associate administrator for human exploration at NASA, has been reassigned to a new role as special adviser to NASA’s deputy administrator. The move signifies something of a demotion for Gerstenmaier at the agency. As head of the human exploration division, Gerstenmaier has overseen many of NASA’s biggest projects for human spaceflight, such as the operations on the International Space Station; the development of NASA’s next big rocket, the Space Launch System; and the Commercial Crew program, an initiative to launch astronauts to the ISS using commercial spacecraft.

Going from managing billions in project assets and hundreds of employees to an “advisor” means something wasn’t right. Gerstenmaier was the modern day “Right Stuff”. He knew what he was doing and was well respected. And he probably told the truth about a trip to the Moon by 2024.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), who chairs the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee said it very well

The Trump Administration’s ill-defined crash program to land astronauts on the Moon in 2024 was going to be challenging enough to achieve under the best of circumstances. Removing experienced engineering leadership from that effort and the rest of the nation’s human spaceflight programs at such a crucial point in time seems misguided at best. 

I will be more blunt. Going to the Moon by 2024 is not safe. We do not have a lander. We do not have a heavy lift vehicle. We do not have a service module. We don’t even have a completed Command Module. Going to the Moon with that schedule and the current resources means cutting corners and it’s not safe.

Gerstenmaier has been replaced with a yes man. That isn’t safe either. Returning to the moon safely is not an option. It is the mission.

Dear NASA, SpaceX blew up.

May 23, 2019

I’m surprised there hasn’t been more reporting on this.

During a static test of SpaceX Crewed Vehicle, Dragon, the vehicle exploded. A leaked video and commentary was posted on the web before SpaceX could stop it. The media referred to the explosion as an “anomaly”. You can watch the video below.

This was suppose to have tested the abort system on the crewed vehicle. SpaceX was scheduled to put humans into this vehicle for their first manned trip to the Space Station in late 2019. I can only hope the root cause of this “anomaly” will be found, corrected, and re-tested before any human being puts a foot into it. They have successfully launched the crewed vehicle without a crew and docked with the Space Station earlier in the year.
This is not the first vehicle that blew up on the pad for SpaceX. In 2016 an unmanned vehicle was destroyed along with the payload. In 2015 they had another “anomaly” which destroyed the payload and vehicle. Payloads can be replaced. Humans cannot. This isn’t pushing the envelope technology. Escape systems were developed over 50 years ago. “Anomalies” like this should concern everyone. Especially the crew.
BTW. NASA successfully tested the Launch Abort System for the Orion Crewed Vehicle being developed by Lockheed back in 2010. 

Ted Cruz is right. There are pirates at NASA

May 17, 2019
From SpaceRef

During a Senate hearing our Texas sized idiot, Ted Cruz, said the following concerning NASA and the Space Force:

“Pirates threaten the open seas, and the same is possible in space.

“In this same way, I believe we too must now recognise the necessity of a Space Force. To defend the nation, and to protect space commerce and civil space exploration.”

Yes. He said that out loud. Beside the fact there is no space commerce and there will never be any space commerce, there are no pirates in space. Never has been. Never will be. Trump’s Space Force is a Farce. It’s another reason to sink more money into the military budget. It also gives a good reason to make a fool out of yourself. Ted Cruz did just  that.

But….there was once a group of pirates at Johnson Space Center back in the 90’s working on a rescue

Ted Wolverine Cruz

vehicle called X-38. They adopted the skull and bones flag and called themselves pirates, getting the job done, ignoring bureaucracy and the NASA model historically used for vehicles that would carry crew members. They were free spirited led by someone who enjoyed the spotlight, standing on tables in the conference room during meetings, yelling for his staff from the opposite side of the building, and removing technical people from his project when they would question the technical decisions being made. NASA management and the legal office never liked the pirate label. It gave the appearance that they were pirating software or breaking established rules and federal laws as well as safety regulations.

The X-38 was eventually cancelled by Bush Jr. and the pirate vehicle was sent to Nebraska for display. Yes. Nebraska.

Republicans at NASA instructed to clean the bathrooms

January 25, 2019

It’s hard to make up shit like this. Literally. From The Hill:

A NASA manager posted on Twitter on Thursday a sign hanging outside the bathroom asking staff to volunteer to clean the bathrooms once per week amid the ongoing partial government shutdown, as reported by The Houston Chronicle.

Texas Congressman Brian Babin on NASA. Lost in space.

October 16, 2018

Texas Congressman Brian Babin has finally realized he is in a race to keep his job. He started a twitter account and he is posting on Facebook, even though he is factually incorrect. From his latest concerning NASA:

With the Russian Soyuz spacecraft grounded indefinitely and no other options available, American astronauts now have no way to get to the ISS.

And/Or DUH! Babin has been lost in space ever since being elected to Congress. He has neglected the agency until this year, touring NASA/JSC with others afraid of losing their jobs, like Ted Cruz. He has spent less time working for NASA than John Culberson whose district is in Katy. Under Babin’s watch NASA/JSC lost a Shuttle as a museum piece. Major integration and test facilities were sent to other states. He has been working hard to take NASA’s money and distribute it to others, others as in non-Texans.

The retirement of the Shuttle was under his party’s watch. George Bush signed the bill, authored by then Republican Senator from Texas Kay Bailey Hutchinson. The agreement to ride with the Russians was their idea. Babin has supported it ever since. 
Until he found himself in a race for his job. As with all mishaps, the cause of the problem with the Russian vehicle must be found and corrected before another flight. Space flight is dangerous and should never be rushed. We knew those risks when President Bush signed the bill.
Besides shooting his mouth off, Babin has a $1 Trillion deficit to deal with. One that his party created. We really have no extra money for Space exploration.

Left with Egg on his face Texas Congressman Pete Olson

October 15, 2018

Texas Congressman Pete Olson CD22 isn’t as conservative as one might think. Just because you have an R behind your name doesn’t mean you are a Conservative. In the case of Pete Olson it means Conspiracy. Even the Houston Chronicle stated:

He has pandered to bizarre conspiracy theories on talk radio and inaccurately claimed that Pakistan was responsible for the terrorist attacks on 9/11 — it wasn’t.

But there is more. For instance….

No Prayers at Military Funerals
In 2011 Olson fell for the fake conspiracy concerning the National Cemetery not allowing prayers at a funeral for a veteran.  According to his press release:

“Recent media reports raising concerns with alleged censorship of certain words during funeral services at Houston National Cemetery are deeply troubling. 

Unfortunately his “media reports” came from breitbart and Michael Berry, the white wing radio host of Houston. It wasn’t true. Olson went on to file various religious freedom legislation that died on the House floor.

Health care stunt
In his only town hall meeting held in LaMarque back in 2009, Olson was taped using a woman and her son as props in a failed attempt to warn about the Affordable Care Act. He described how the private insurance industry and private hospitals and private medical doctors turned down a treatment for her son. She eventually received the care (provided by government provided healthcare) but Olson went on to claim that under the government’s Affordable Care Act, she would have been turned down.

Someone (me) with a camera yelled “THE GOVERNMENT DIDN’T TURN HER DOWN! THE PRIVATE SECTOR DID!”. Olson looked like a deer caught in the head lights of a truck. His look of stupidity earned him a spot on Keith Olberman. 

Nobel Peace Prize
Pete Olson was one of a few Congressman including conspiracy darling Louie Gohmert and Brian Babin and a dozen of The Who the Hell are You club to nominate Donald Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize for his photo op with Kim Jun Un. Even his photo op was a disaster.

Honoring James O’Keefe III
Olson was on the floor of our House introducing a resolution to honor Jame O’Keefe. O’Keefe secretly recorded actions by ACORN, an organization dedicated to helping low income people. O’Keefe’s video was later found to be heavily doctored and false. According to his press release:

Rep. Pete Olson today introduced a resolution in honor of Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe III for their diligent investigative journalism exposing the fraudulent and potentially illegal activities of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now or ACORN.

O’Keefe was eventually sued, issued an apology, and paid a settlement leaving Pete Olson with egg on his face. 

Space Shuttle
And while Olson was busy chasing conspiracy theories his district lost out on a Space Shuttle berth at Space Center Houston. If there was one place a Shuttle should have been placed as a museum piece, it was here in Houston. Once again Olson failed leaving egg on our face.

Trump proposes cuts to NASA employee benefits

May 10, 2018

Someone has to pay for the tax cuts.

These cuts have been talked about for over a year but now there is growing concern and distain for government employees that may make these cuts real. Also the great tax cut for the rich has created a huge $1Trillion deficit with no end in sight. Somebody has to pay for this and it looks like Federal employees (NASA included) may end up donating $143.5 Billion to the cause. Trump justified his cuts:

“Everyone knows government employees are lazy, some are incompetent, and we can’t fire them. They do half the work the private sector does for twice as much money. They have golden retirement pensions, months of free vacation, and free health care that we all pay for. And what do we have? Nothing. It’s a disgrace. Believe me.”

Actually he didn’t say that but he will. Believe me. In typical trump fashion he will demonize federal employees and turn the public against them to justify his cuts. The proposed cuts will affect current employees, future employees as well as those who have retired. From the Washington Post:

  • Eliminating supplements for Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) annuitants who retire before being eligible for Social Security benefits. [affects early retirees]
  • Reducing federal pensions by basing them on workers’ basic pay five-year averages instead of three years. [less pension]
  • Increasing employee retirement contributions with no increase in benefits. The plan would sharply boost the 0.8 percent of basic pay most FERS employees contribute. The letter makes the impact on federal retirees clear. “Under this proposal, FERS employee deduction rates will increase by 1 percent per year until they reach 7.25 percent of basic pay. … This proposal would require FERS employees to fund a greater portion of their retirement benefit.” [7.25 cut in pay with less pension]
  • Reducing or eliminating retirement cost-of-living adjustments. The administration plans “to reduce the cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) by one half of one percent and to eliminate COLAs under the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) for current and future retirees.” [no COLA for retirees]
So think of it as a 7.25% reduction in pay to fund the retirement system with no added benefits once retired. No cost of living increase for retirees so the pension will not increase over your retirement years which could be 20+ years. Other cuts to federal employee benefits that have been discussed include:
  • Reduction in sick leave
  • Reduction in vacation days
  • End of flex days
And yet NASA employees will continue to vote for republicans. You have to wonder how we will ever get back to the moon.

%d bloggers like this: