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7 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: Revi... · 1 reply · +2 points

Aside from its trajectory, the shape of Oumuamua is unprecedented, being about 1300 ft long and 130 ft wide. I understand we have never observed a naturally occurring object shaped anything like that.

Just after it rounded the Sun its speed was estimated at about 196,000 mph.

21 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: Batt... · 0 replies · +2 points

Well, in the case of both Titan II and Titan IV the USAF was conducting what amounted to a guerilla action to get around the Shuttle-Only national policy, and the more questionable aspects of the programs largely derive from that. Doing it the usual way would have made the programs too big and thus too vulnerable.

21 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: Batt... · 0 replies · +1 points

The Titan II ICBMs were kept at Norton AFB in the same warehouses that had held the Atlas ICBM's and the 9 remaining Thor SLV-2A and LV-2D boosters. Since their skins had been soaked in the propellants for so long, at intervals air was blown through the tanks and when it exhausted was run through a very large Propane burner to get rid of the toxic gases. I conducted a review of that facility as part of the Titan II Independent Readiness Review Team and things looked to be excellent there. Of course, Norton AFB was closed during the 1990's downsizing.
A tank farm was built at CCAFS to hold the Titian II propellants removed from the ICBMs so it could be used for space launch but apparently was never used for some reason. Meanwhile, the US spent around $17 million building a facility in Russia to safely destroy Soviet ICBM storable propellants, but it was never used because the propellants were used for commercial space launches.
I think the Titan II second stages could have been useful on other boosters but I guess the highly restrictive policy on commercial utilization of such hardware discouraged that. Of course, both MDAC and LM orginally planned Delta II style upper stages fro their EELV boosters but abandoned that idea early.

21 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: Batt... · 0 replies · +4 points

I can ASSURE you that ELV reliability declined due to the emphasis on the Shuttle and I have detailed that fact in numerous Launch Failures articles published in The Space Review. I was Thor Program Manager and in the ELV program office. We lost an Atlas due to failure to spend a piddling amount of money on replacing known stress corrosion susceptible components in the fuel and oil systems. No one wanted to spend any money on even as much as wiping down stored Atlas boosters with WD-40 because all ELVs were going away anyway. The Titan 34D program lost experienced personnel because they knew their jobs were going to disappear, and that caused failures. When the Delta that was lost in May 1986 the senior MDAC engineer conducting the pre-launch review said it had the worst quality he had ever seen on a Delta and that the loss of over 80% of the engineering workforce really showed. At VAFB we were launching Atlas but for a while were unable to get our authorized personnel slots filled because the VAFB Shuttle program was manned at upwards of 200% of their allowed personnel.

As for IUS, the loss of TM on mission No.1 and the control problem on mission no.2 were evidence of not only the usual problems encountered with brand new hardware but also a basically bad idea combined with rushed development. The IUS SPO went to 6 day weeks in an attempt to fix the problems and make the schedule. For that matter, PAM-D suffered from serious problems associated with the new design features of the Star 48 motor, and that impacted the USAF use of the SGS-II for GPS missions flown on Atlas.

22 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: Batt... · 1 reply · +4 points

If I was going to do an article on "What was wrong with the Shuttle." I would certainly point out that without upper stages the Shuttle was almost useless. And NASA left that for someone else to worry about.

The One Size Fits All approach led to the USAF asserting that the IUS would handle everything, which was a even bigger mistake than the Shuttle. Getting PAM-D accepted was major problem, and post-Challenger left the USAF with a bunch of PAM-D-2 stages that could not be used on the Delta II.

I do not think the USAF intentionally destroyed anything, but just did not need it any more. This is in marked contrast to the Atlas boosters that we ran over with bulldozers.

22 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: Batt... · 1 reply · +2 points

Nope, but NASA gave up on manned space exploration in favor of endlessly repeating the Mercury program, using a bus instead of a sports car. Gemini had more apogee capability than the Shuttle. Since that time we have come to realize that manned space exploration is really the only reason for people to risk the hazards of space. We do not even put men in airplanes unless we really need to any more.

That recognition led NASA Administrator Mike Griffin to conclude that "the Shuttle was a mistake and the Space Station is in the wrong orbit."

22 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: Batt... · 0 replies · +4 points

The Space Shuttle was supposed to make manned spaceflight and the associated jobs bulletproof. Instead it damn near killed it entirely. This was a characteristic of 1960's thinking by the Denizens of DC. The F-111 was supposed to be a multi-role aircraft but it ended up only doing three roles, less than many other aircraft like the F-4.

22 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: Batt... · 0 replies · +2 points

Stayed tuned for Part 2 on the Titan II.

22 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: Batt... · 0 replies · +2 points

Yes Sir! And I recently pointed out that fact when the Air Force Association asked me for advice on who to include on their Wall of Honor at Space Systems Division. Some of the possible candidates they listed did not belong there in my opinion, but Col Whitehead and Lester Lyles certainly do.

24 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: Laun... · 0 replies · +2 points

There is not much more to be said about that Ariane. Surgical "sponge count" procedures had been common in the launch industry for decades but they somehow skipped that.

The dumbest failure I can think of was the Titan IVB IUS mission of 4 April 1999. They overwrapped the separation connector for the IUS with silicone tape. Then they took photos of the installation that clearly showed the problem and apparently no one bothered to look at them until the mishap investigation. Not only that, but study of previous launches showed they did the same thing and even had some anomalous separation data from those missions but no one had bothered to investigate at even a minimal level. But hey! AF Space Command made their schedule and did so following their favored "kick the tires and light the fires" approach; that was what was really important at the general officer level..