Print 18 comment(s) - last by cyclosarin.. on Sep 24 at 9:16 PM

Renovations aim to streamline space operations for the Orion Project.

Plans have been set in motion to get the nation's next space exploration vehicle prepared for flight. Lockheed Martin announced this week that they have a crew on-site at NASA's Kennedy Space Center to began lean assembly path-finding operations for the Orion spacecraft.   

A full-scale Orion mock-up is being used to conduct simulated manufacturing and assembly operations to verify the tools, processes and spacecraft integration procedures.  

The finished product is expected to be fully assembled by Lockheed Martin on the grounds of the Kennedy Space Center according to a press release from the company.

"The unique benefit of this complete on-site operation is that we will build the spacecraft and then move it directly onto the launch vehicle at KSC, which saves the government transportation costs associated with tests and checkout prior to launch,” said Lockheed Martin Orion Deputy Program Manager for production operations Richard Harris. “This capability also facilitates the KSC workforce transition efforts by providing new job opportunities for those employees completing their shuttle program assignments."

To help support NASA's next generation spacecraft fleet, Lockheed Martin and NASA worked together in a two-year effort on renovations for the Operations & Checkout Facility at the Kennedy Space Center.  

The collaboration produced a new and improved "O&C".  Paperless workstations, a portable clean room system, portable tooling stations, and air-bearing floor space were some of the upgrades that resulted in the state-of-the-art complex being dubbed the “the spacecraft factory of the future”.  

Lockheed Martin
 is currently the prime contractor to NASA for the Orion Project.

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I'm sorry...
By MrBlastman on 9/23/2010 9:31:23 AM , Rating: 5
But this makes me want to puke.

Next generation space exploration vehicle my ass, pardon my french (and I normally don't use cliche often). This is such a joke, I feel sorry for our future generations. What a giant leap backwards.

This is 1960's technology coupled with modern computers. Where is the big leap here?

Next generation propulsion technology--fail
More room for experiments--fail
Extra mobility--fail
Extended mission duration and capability--fail

About the only thing they might succeed on here is cost--the overall mission cost will be reduced by a fair amount. When you think about it though, sometimes you have to decide if the cost savings are worth the lack of technological aplomb.

I feel sorry for those working at NASA. It used to be a prestigious place where bright minds wanted to come to work, now wrought with layoffs and downsizing and a President that doesn't give a rats ass about getting us off this rock--the ONE and ONLY thing that NASA should truly be trying to help us do.

Mankind is doomed to die off on Earth if we never make the leap to the stars. Our President and others argue it is a waste of money to be trying to do so, when, in reality, all the small jumps made to propel us in this direction lead to distinct, technological advancements in society that we all benefit from. Going back to space capsules does not help us do this.

RE: I'm sorry...
By rlandess on 9/23/2010 10:05:05 AM , Rating: 2
I'd agree that the decline in our space program is saddening. But I think your wrong about how this reflects on the current administration. I think the current president is very interested in the development of technology that will allow us to get off our little rock. The problem is that we spend a lot of money to do it right now, and right now money is tight. The vision for the future space program is to be driven by the private sector which is arguably the best way to drive down costs and make space travel a more regular thing for the private sector. To achieve this though there has to be a profit generating goal out there. There is not profit on mars, probably not on the moon. But maybe there could be on asteroids which have a relatively low cost to explore since you don't need to haul a lot of fuel in order to return. I think it's likely that is the reason we've changed the goal from a manned mission to mars to a manned mission to an asteroid.

But maybe manned exploration is unnecessary. Look at the mars rovers. Unmanned exploration has been the great achievement for NASA in the last couple decades. They've been able to a lot more for less $.

RE: I'm sorry...
By Callmeaslut on 9/23/2010 10:18:21 AM , Rating: 2
But I think your wrong about how this reflects on the current administration. I think the current president is very interested in the development of technology that will allow us to get off our little rock. The problem is that we spend a lot of money to do it right now, and right now money is tight. The vision for the future space program is to be driven by the private sector which is arguably the best way to drive down costs and make space travel a more regular thing for the private sector.

Baloney. You sound like a spokesperson for the Obama administration. This IS 1960's technology. It's a tin can with an ablative shield on the bottom. Oh, and it holds more astronauts. Still fail.

In the scheme of things, a few more billion dollars for the space program will pay off in spades - with or without private carriers.

Speaking of private carriers, have you seen their offerings? - pitiful. Take a few private citizens to the edge of space to free fall again?

As I said earlier, there is no clear direction. And a lack of funding. We are going nowhere very slowly...

RE: I'm sorry...
By Jeffk464 on 9/23/2010 11:03:05 AM , Rating: 2
His statement is not Baloney, we are learning way way more about the universe from NASA's and Europe's unmanned programs.

RE: I'm sorry...
By Jeffk464 on 9/23/2010 11:10:33 AM , Rating: 5
P.S. I too am a little pissed off that Obama would rather spend money on welfare queens than on NASA. We get zero payback on the welfare queen budget, unless you count the future gangbangers they produce.

RE: I'm sorry...
By CarbonJoe on 9/24/2010 12:35:35 PM , Rating: 2
We get zero payback on the welfare queen budget, unless you count the future Democratic voters they produce.

Fixed that for ya.

RE: I'm sorry...
By ekv on 9/24/2010 3:04:40 AM , Rating: 2
The vision for the future space program is to be driven by the private sector which is arguably the best way to drive down costs and make space travel a more regular thing for the private sector.
Wait a sec. If you want to go private, ok. If you want to go public, though I disagree, for the sake of argument I'll say ok. But here is the "current administration" that spent their total freaking wad on the stimulus package, then wasted their reputation and the reputation of Congress (what little was left) by shoving the Health Care debacle down the taxpayers throat. Private for NASA. Public for Health. BS to everybody else.

How about some consistency. NASA actually makes stuff and the spin-offs are so positively staggering as to be difficult to enumerate. The Health Care pain starts now and will not get better. I'm not going to haul out the soap-box so I'll stop with that.

Your asteroid example is one huge reason the US ought to start now. But not simply for the sake of going to visit. We ought to look into the possibility of establishing mining and/or manufacturing operations in space. There is money to be made and the US ought to show some leadership. All for the fraction of the cost of either Stimulus or Health Care.

RE: I'm sorry...
By Jeffk464 on 9/23/2010 10:53:22 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure its a step backward. The goal of the new Orion project is to get astronauts into space cheaply and safely. The capsule idea seems like the best way to do it at the moment. Remember the Space Shuttle program was designed to drop the cost of putting cargo and astronauts into orbit, to make it "routine" -- Massive FAIL
It was also a massive fail on safety. From what I have heard scientists are pretty upset with the Space Shuttle program taking up such a huge portion of NASA's budget. Most of the real science is being done by unmanned stuff.

It seams to me the cheapest way of handling cargo and people is to keep them separate. Standard unmanned rockets to put cargo into space which is much cheaper because the rockets don't have to be built to the same safety level as manned rockets.

Of course once the space station is retired, which there is talk about it happening before scheduled, what is the point of putting so many astronauts up in such a small capsule?

RE: I'm sorry...
By cyclosarin on 9/23/2010 1:01:32 PM , Rating: 4
The STS is anchored to LEO. It literally can not escape LEO. Constellation is readily capable of going back to the moon and establishing the baseline for manned spaceflight further into the solar system. Yet you somehow think that the STS is the technically superior space exploration platform.

Why? Explain exactly why STS is a more capable and functional space exploration platform or what amazing super technology you've developed in your back yard that clearly we should use instead.

Next generation propulsion technology--fail

They use the exact same propulsion technology. The only one that works for getting anything into orbit. The only other possible alternative is nuclear thermal propulsion. However you would need to completely neuter the public's capability to have any input at all into the project. Aside from that the Orbiter is basically the least efficient way to put anything into space. It has to carry a significant amount of dead weight into space that does absolutely nothing to help get it there.

More room for experiments--fail

STS can put 25k lb of cargo into LEO. Ares V can put 188k lb of cargo into LEO.

Extra mobility--fail

The Orbiter is altogether inferior for spaceflight. The added mass of everything that allows the Orbiter it's gimicky landing is dead useless weight in space. Given the fact that Constellation would be capable of TLI it most assuredly wins the 'mobility' debate.

Extended mission duration and capability--fail

Constellation was designed to put people on the moon. That would be extended mission capability. The mission to the moon would likely take longer than any Orbiter flight, though regardless if we wanted to just send Ares V up and have people chill in LEO, they would likely be capable of staying up for a year or more at a time. Skylab being launched off of the Saturn V already disproves this point.

Let me point it out very simply to you. The wings, the lifting body design, the associated tiles to allow the lifting body to re-enter the atmosphere, the vertical stabilizer, the opening and closing cargo bay....all of the things that make the Orbiter 'cool' and seemingly 'modern' are all things that have absolutely NOTHING to do with spaceflight. Most deal with atmospheric flight. They are all a massive regression of the spaceflight program. Capsules represent the logically optimal method for spaceflight. The least amount of mass to get the job done.

Unfortunately real science isn't flashy enough for people like you.

RE: I'm sorry...
By MrBlastman on 9/23/10, Rating: 0
RE: I'm sorry...
By cyclosarin on 9/24/2010 9:16:13 PM , Rating: 2
Where on earth did I mention STS in my post? Please, tell me, where?

This is such a joke, I feel sorry for our future generations. What a giant leap backwards.

If it's a giant leap backwards, from where are we leaping back? The last SLV we had before the STS was Apollo. So please enlighten me, how are we stepping back from ANYTHING if you aren't referencing anything.

Your entire inept counter-argument seems to be you attempting to suggest that your original argument was about the Orion in a vacuum...and I can see now you were entirely unprepared for any conversation about the subject.

I'm not talking about cargo, now am I? I'm talking about room inside the vehicle! This is a small capsule. This isn't a ship, it is a capsule with no engines other than some nozzles for maneuvering on it. This is also about the closest I can to referring to the shuttle but I didn't. I want a spacecraft that is large, self-sustaining and has room inside of it far greater than a "capsule." It might have an engine behind the blast shield, but the schematics I see don't suggest one.

How is it that you manage to have the gall to even write your original post when you don't even understand the basic principles of the spacecraft or program?

The CEV is comprised of a crew module and a service module. The crew module is only ever separated for re-entry or abort.

The cargo capacity of each launch system directly relates to what and how many experiments you can take to LEO and beyond. On top of the vast difference in raw weight the Ares V has the largest shroud diameter of any rocket ever. This would allow for new payloads that could never have been launched before. Ares V can put a module into LEO that would make the Orbiter look like a sardine can.

Regarding your child-like thought process regarding chemical engines; I wonder if you think we should simply not do anything until we develop the mythical nonexistent engines you want us to use for the sake of them being anything but chemical. Nuclear thermal engines aren't going to happen any time soon due to ignorance just like yours of spaceflight. Ion thrusters are just short of useless for orbital flight and likely so for trans-lunar flight as well. They may very well be useful when developed to a larger scale and used for long distance flights such as Mars. But that's 20+ years out and we need to learn to survive on away from Earth before we go running out on a year long trip to Mars.

You want NASA to dream up some magical Starship Enterprise to fulfill your childhood fantasy. It isn't magic, it's physics. DIRECT was the only other meaningful suggestion from mostly ex-NASA people...and it still used the Orion spacecraft it simply replaced the Ares family of rockets with the Jupiter family.

Please do us all a favor and keep your uninformed opinions to yourself.

RE: I'm sorry...
By kattanna on 9/23/2010 4:25:57 PM , Rating: 2
hmm.. last i recall, the rockets themselves had been canceled and this capsule was to be used as a crew escape vehicle from the ISS.

maybe i need to wait another couple weeks for it to change, yet again??

RE: I'm sorry...
By FITCamaro on 9/24/2010 8:43:26 AM , Rating: 2
With you man. NASA has become a thing to pity.

RE: I'm sorry...
By cjc1103 on 9/24/2010 9:38:54 AM , Rating: 2
Give me a break, whwere did you get these "requirements"?
Next generation propulsion technology--fail

Wold you put your a#$ on the line with a new relatively unproven rocket? What is the "next generation", please explain.
More room for experiments--fail

The ISS wasdesigned for space experiments, the capsule is to transport astronauts
Extra mobility--fail

Extra mobilty for what?
Extended mission duration and capability--fail

Actually the Orion would have taken us to the moon in it's original configuration. If you are just going to the ISS, then you don't need extended duration.
Space travel is not easy. The space shuttle was a great idea, and allowed us to build the ISS, however it turned out to be a very expensive (and risky) way to get to space. You may say the capsule is 60's technology, but do you have a better idea? Star Wars fighters are not going to work. And traveling to another star is not going to feasible anytime soon, if at all. Even if you could get to 80-85% of the speed of light, it would take forever. The astronauts would have to procreate in space, and then their grandchildren might get to the end of the journey. That's if the radiation doesn't kill them, and if they find another earth like planet. Also those people would have lived their whole lives in zero gravity, so it would be doubtful if they would be able to adjust to living in gravity. Get real.

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