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Ares Manager Steve Cook Resigns From NASA

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the but-it's-a-revolving-door-in-space dept.

NASA 153

FleaPlus writes "Steve Cook, project manager for the Ares I-X, Ares I, and Ares V rockets, announced that he will resign from NASA MSFC after 19 years at the agency, leaving for an executive position at Dynetics, Inc. This raises doubts about the future of the Ares program, which has been plagued with development problems and massive cost/schedule overruns since its inception. Steve Cook also oversaw the (since discredited) 2005 ESAS study which scrapped NASA's prior plans to adapt already-existing commercial rockets for human/beyond-LEO exploration in favor of internally developing the Ares rockets."

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oh dont you (-1, Offtopic)

gmermnstinsmermwords (1627107) | more than 4 years ago | (#29247677)

are you accusing me of throwing accusitions?

sweet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29247699)

I know how to use MS Project - I'm qualified! I'll send my resume. First, I'll have to get aquainted with some Congresscritters so they can order NASA to hire me!

I need ajob.

Back to plan A? (1)

Zen Hash (1619759) | more than 4 years ago | (#29247727)

Sounds like there's going to be new disappointing information coming out in the near future about the Ares program.

Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29247831)

Out of the notable space agencies (in Japan, the European Union, Russia, and the USA), only NASA utilizes affirmative action. Highly unqualified African-American or Hispanic graduates from shockingly horrible universities like Texas Southern University are hired before any European-American or Asian-American holding a graduate degree from Caltech.

The problems at NASA coincided with the rise of affirmative action, starting in the mid 1970s. Note that the missions to the moon were all done prior to the onset of affirmative action.

Even the Russian space engineers -- hampered by budget cuts and an authoritarian society -- design more reliable spacecraft than the American engineers.

To understand the direness of the problem, note the infamous problem that arose when some NASA departments failed to convert between metric units and English units. This utter stupidity completely wrecked an important mission to Mars [cnn.com] .

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29247849)

What's funny is that people will actually believe this tripe.

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29249133)

What's even funnier is how many people will deny it, no matter how much supporting evidence accumulates.

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (4, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#29247957)

What's really interesting is that much Russian space technology hasn't changed from the 70s as a result of limited funding. As a result, they've pretty much got all the bugs out of their craft and it's very reliable. I think it's impressive that the American space hardware is just as reliable considering equally strenuous time constraints and stupid management in the US. Just imagine what could be accomplished if these space agencies were globally integrated, well-funded and properly managed. Spaceflight continues to be the crowning achievement of humanity; something we can all be proud of, no matter where we're from.

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (5, Interesting)

rpj1288 (698823) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248389)

Really reliable except for a series of Soyuz spacecraft that nearly burned up on reentry, due to the thrust unit not being released properly. They still have no idea what is causing it. See for example: http://www.universetoday.com/2008/04/20/soyuz-crew-safe-after-a-violent-re-entry-and-landing-400km-off-target/ [universetoday.com]

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (-1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248483)

That's what happens when you keep using the same system for 40 years, you never try anything new so you keep getting the same old problems. And frankly, what the hell is wrong with these people? Never heard of explosive bolts? I first year engineering student could fix this problem. Of course, people could say the same thing about the tiles on the shuttle.

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (1)

rpj1288 (698823) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248993)

Actually, the issue with detaching the thrust unit is that one of a number of bolts didn't fire. The unit ended up tearing itself off due to aerodynamic drag, but there's evidence this issue has been around since the first Soyuz missions. There was a pretty good article on it in the June 2009 AIAA magazine. PDF here: http://www.aiaa.org/Aerospace/images/articleimages/pdf/Soyuz_JUN2009.pdf [aiaa.org]

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (2)

johannesg (664142) | more than 4 years ago | (#29249639)

Really reliable except for a series of Soyuz spacecraft that nearly burned up on reentry, due to the thrust unit not being released properly. They still have no idea what is causing it. See for example: http://www.universetoday.com/2008/04/20/soyuz-crew-safe-after-a-violent-re-entry-and-landing-400km-off-target/ [universetoday.com]

Any landing you can walk away from is a success, and the crew survived, didn't they? How would a shuttle deal with this sort of punishment, you think?

If given a choice to travel on either a Soyuz or a shuttle, I'd fly on a Soyuz in a heartbeat. Not that anyone will ever ask me of course...

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (3, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 4 years ago | (#29249737)

If Soyuz has a severe problem during landing, it ends up in another country.

If the Shuttle has a severe problem during landing, it blows up. There is literally no room for error.

Do you see where I'm going here? There were likely some gross oversights that led to the incident you linked to -- however, by virtue of the fact that Soyuz is both simple and mature, the craft is able to survive the statistical fluke of a faulty explosive bolt.

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (5, Funny)

amilo100 (1345883) | more than 4 years ago | (#29250525)

If Soyuz has a severe problem during landing, it ends up in another country.

If the Shuttle has a severe problem during landing, it ends up in different countries.

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (1)

rumith (983060) | more than 4 years ago | (#29250665)

If Soyuz has a severe problem during landing, it ends up in another country.

Usually it ends up in another region of Russia, just due to the size of the latter.

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (3, Informative)

barath_s (609997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29249831)

That's really uninformed and outdated scare mongering. The soyuz spacecraft did NOT nearly burn up, it entered in a ballistic trajectory (i.e.without lift). This is uncomfortable, and undesirable as it is a backup emagency mode, which causes brief periods of high G and causes the craft to land off-course but is still safe. The problem was investigated, fixes determined, and recent soyuz launches work fine. Cites : http://www.spaceflightnow.com/station/exp16/080422descent.html [spaceflightnow.com] http://www.universetoday.com/2008/04/24/soyuz-hard-landing-the-facts/ [universetoday.com] http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/09/23/nasa_says_soyuz_all_fixed_now/ [theregister.co.uk] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soyuz_TMA-13 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29250597)

When it comes to dying in a fireball, I'll take a nearly over a really any day.

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (4, Funny)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248581)

Just imagine what could be accomplished if these space agencies were globally integrated, well-funded and properly managed.

That's like asking for dehydrated water.

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (1)

krenshala (178676) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248903)

Or efficient bureacracy. :/

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29248591)

Spaceflight continues to be the crowning achievement of humanity; something we can all be proud of, no matter where we're from.

Let me guess: you're from the US? Spaceflight is just another technological achievement. Something great for propaganda but FAR behind things like industrialisation, automotives, ships, trains and so on.

Ascending into beings of pure energy, that could be a crowning moment. Propelling something into space is just another result of plain old technological progress.

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (1)

cyn1c77 (928549) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248851)

Just imagine what could be accomplished if these space agencies were globally integrated, well-funded and properly managed.

Forget space... Just imagine what humanity could do as a race if our governments were globally integrated, well-funded and properly managed. Too bad we will never see it in our lifetime.

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (2, Interesting)

Trahloc (842734) | more than 4 years ago | (#29249375)

Space is more important than that. There will always be dissidents and those folks need a place to go. One of the reasons the US grew to such power was we were the release valve for so many other countries. Anyone unhappy with their homeland could go to the 'new world' and if they didn't like how things went there they could just 'go west' until they didn't have to even see another settler much less a government agent. Sadly that is gone in todays world. There is no where for those of us who disagree with how things are, no where for us to go and live without having someone tell us what to do. All the land is taken, it may not be in use but someone has claimed it and if you build it into a viable home they'll come and tell you that at gunpoint. This is why I consider space so vitally important. A one world government is meaningless in comparison to that sort of freedom. Even if you personally don't take it up you'll benefit that those who strongly disagree with how things are done since they can just leave and go knowing they'll never have to deal with those problems again. Both sides benefit.

As for seeing it in our life times... well ... that is why cryonics is a better choice than being buried in the ground for worms or burned to ash... there is at least a chance. Not like you can take your money with you when you die anyways, the kids should have paid attention on how to make their own fortune and not rely on inheritance, I haven't, neither did my dad.

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (2)

cbraescu1 (180267) | more than 4 years ago | (#29250043)

... and run by the UN. Or Saddam Hussein. Or insert our favorite strongman name here.

If it were to exist a greater integration between governments, it won't be a safe bet to count on Western-style democracy to rule.

I don't know about you, but I am quite happy with the lack of such "global integration".

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29250135)

This is exactly the world we would be living in if Germany won WWII.

And, if you think about it, all the Soviet and US space technology were "hand me downs" from the German military effort.

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (2, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29250511)

Neil Armstrong got to the moon first because the American German scientists were better than the Russian German scientists.

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (1)

rumith (983060) | more than 4 years ago | (#29250697)

And that's exactly the same reason America launched the a satellite and manned spacecraft to orbit first!
Oh. Wait.

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (4, Insightful)

Quothz (683368) | more than 4 years ago | (#29249201)

Spaceflight continues to be the crowning achievement of humanity

I agreed with everything you said up to this point. What about the elimination of smallpox? The Internet? Sanitation? Prenatal genetic testing? I won't argue that space flight has been a terrific triumph of engineering, but I'd hesitate to say it's the most important and impressive thing humans've ever done. Say it again when we have a permanent settlement on another planet and maybe I'll change my mind, but for now I'd rank it not quite at the top. Certainly very, very high on the list, tho'.

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 4 years ago | (#29250383)

I think it's impressive that the American space hardware is just as reliable considering equally strenuous time constraints and stupid management in the US.

300,000 pieces, all built by the cheapest bidder.

Re:Back out of Plan Affirmative-Action (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#29250611)

Apollo 1 quote from discovery channel interview:
Astronaut: "That wiring is pretty bad."
Flight Controller: "I can't say anything about it or I'll lose my job".
After that disaster there was a period of very good management focusing on ability instead of political connections, but then it crept back in years later, another disaster, now creeping back in again.
NASA is pretty well a global organisation anyway. Some of my education is Australia was paid for by NASA simply because I went to classes in the same building as a hypersonic shock tunnel. The trick would be finding a way to subcontract to the Russians without politics creeping in

Dianetics... WTF? (5, Funny)

marciot (598356) | more than 4 years ago | (#29247743)

He is leaving NASA to become a scientologist? This is a sad loss for science.

Re:Dianetics... WTF? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29247911)

"Dynetics", ISBN 0-8173-5341-0, is a book, he is leaving NASA to manage a book.

Re:Dianetics... WTF? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29247947)

No, no, no -- Its all the sweet foods (the freeze dried ice cream and such) in the NASA cafeteria. It's playing hell with his blood sugar.

Re:Dianetics... WTF? (0)

NSN A392-99-964-5927 (1559367) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248231)

I am afraid you misread Dynetics for Dianetics. There is a difference even though it might sound the same to you.

Re:Dianetics... WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29248469)

are you sure? their the same. even tho they sound different to you.

Re:Dianetics... WTF? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29248605)

Did you hear that giant woooosh sound when it went over your head?

Re:Dianetics... WTF? (2, Funny)

budgenator (254554) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248751)

nope his escape rocket didn't have enough oomph to get out of the fiery debris field.

Re:Dianetics... WTF? (3, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248243)

He is leaving NASA to become a scientologist? This is a sad loss for science.

Don't blame him. He had to switch private sector. He couldn't use public funds to build a battle cruiser to exact revenge upon Lord Xenu!!!

Re:Dianetics... WTF? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29248717)

Wait I'm not OT XII I can't kno... BOOM

Re:Dianetics... WTF? (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248319)

Dianetics junior much better than Krishna. Dianetics junior much better, indeed.

tough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29247843)

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going (out the door).

BTW, who thought solid propellant primary propulsion was a good idea (no rocket scientist but you got zero control of the burn).

One Person is not a Program (4, Insightful)

El Torico (732160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29247903)

Why would the departure of Steve Cook raise doubts about the future of an entire program? If that is the case, then NASA really needs to work on hiring and/or training more Program Managers.

Re:One Person is not a Program (4, Insightful)

Paradoks (711398) | more than 4 years ago | (#29247985)

The summary of the article mentioned that his previous work included overseeing a discredited study, and until now he had been overseeing a program that seems to not be doing terribly well.

This departure would seem a net positive.

Unless, of course, Timothy and fleaplus have led me astray with that summary of Steve Cook's nineteen years at NASA.

Re:One Person is not a Program (2, Informative)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248371)

He was also responsible for the X-33; he's been in charge of a big budget program that was shut down before. I'm guessing he can see the writing on the wall.

Re:One Person is not a Program (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248451)

Discredited by a bunch of nobodies.

Re:One Person is not a Program (1)

krenshala (178676) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248909)

... and that makes it better somehow?

Re:One Person is not a Program (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29247991)

If that is the case, then NASA really needs to work on hiring and/or training more Program Managers.

One person is not a program?

Tell that to Robert H. Goddard, Werner von Braun, and Freeman Dyson.

How about less emphasis on "managers" of "programs" and more emphasis on "visionaries" leading "engineers". (grumble, grumble, as cool as it is, we're building the wrong spacecraft-named-Orion, get off my lawn...)

Re:One Person is not a Program (1)

krenshala (178676) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248915)

I'm with the AC on this one. If its named "Orion" it needs to use nukes to get off the ground [wikipedia.org] !

Re:One Person is not a Program (4, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248103)

Here's the problem - good program managers come from good engineers. And NASA has very, very few engineers anymore. They've got principal investigators (scientists) and contract managers. Most anybody who was left at the end of the 70s was fired by Reagan and the jobs subbed out to contractors. That way they could manage cash flow by simply increasing or decreasing manpower by manipulating the contract. Which sounds great if you're a business major, and is just death for any sort of continuity and corporate knowledge. The best and brightest go on to find steady work, the good stay around, and the dregs come on and off jobs as the contract tide rises and falls. Which, by the way, happens very little. With the contractor employees being so entwined with the remaining personnel, there's pressure to find work for everyone when the money gets tight. That's just human nature - but it foils the MBA's plans to save money, and it prevents NASA from having the in-house expertise (since it was all farmed out).

Re:One Person is not a Program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29248115)

It raise doubts because he quit mere days before the Augustine Committee is supposed to hand in its conclusions to the president. People think he quits because the report will say things like "cancel Ares"...

Re:One Person is not a Program (1)

Old97 (1341297) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248215)

Ever heard the expression "rats leaving a sinking ship"? When a program is in serious trouble, the head guy often bails just before he is fired or demoted. His departure signals the seriousness of the problems with the program. It has nothing to do with a shortage of PMs.

Re:One Person is not a Program (1)

ibbey (27873) | more than 4 years ago | (#29249523)

Either that or he got a good job offer.

Re:One Person is not a Program (1)

Old97 (1341297) | more than 4 years ago | (#29250345)

Either that or he got a good job offer.

Which he apparently has. What government contractor wouldn't jump at the chance to hire a guy with a track record of failed projects and yet who seemed to survive and prosper despite that? Clearly he knew how to "get along" in the system and cultivate important friendships. That's an invaluable skill for a government contractor.

Re:One Person is not a Program (3, Insightful)

PapayaSF (721268) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248413)

If that is the case, then NASA really needs to work on hiring and/or training more Program Managers.

Sorry, I don't think feeding the giant bureaucracy that NASA has become will get the results we want. Here's my manned space program:

  1. Take the money NASA gets for manned space and give it to Burt Rutan.
  2. Tell Burt to get people into orbit and to the Moon.
  3. Stand back.

Re:One Person is not a Program (0, Redundant)

wasted (94866) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248557)

If that is the case, then NASA really needs to work on hiring and/or training more Program Managers.

Sorry, I don't think feeding the giant bureaucracy that NASA has become will get the results we want. Here's my manned space program:

      1. Take the money NASA gets for manned space and give it to Burt Rutan.
      2. Tell Burt to get people into orbit and to the Moon.
      3. Stand back.

Burt's company is Scaled Composites . I don't think I would trust a flight to the Moon and back, and more importantly, reentry, to a composite craft. On the other hand, if Burt thinks he can do it, he could pitch it to NASA - Dryden is just a short drive from his shop.

Re:One Person is not a Program (2, Interesting)

wasted (94866) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248575)

Darn, screwed up the blockquotes.
Corrected:

If that is the case, then NASA really needs to work on hiring and/or training more Program Managers.

Sorry, I don't think feeding the giant bureaucracy that NASA has become will get the results we want. Here's my manned space program:

            1. Take the money NASA gets for manned space and give it to Burt Rutan.
            2. Tell Burt to get people into orbit and to the Moon.
            3. Stand back.

Burt's company is Scaled Composites . I don't think I would trust a flight to the Moon and back, and more importantly, reentry, to a composite craft. On the other hand, if Burt thinks he can do it, he could pitch it to NASA - Dryden is just a short drive from his shop.

Re:One Person is not a Program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29248617)

The Apollo heat shield was a composite structure made primarily from fibreglass.

Re:One Person is not a Program (2, Insightful)

Kartoffel (30238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29249261)

I would trust composites. Sure it will take some engineering to make it work, but you'd have to engineer metallic structures, too. FWIW, I develop advanced sensors and structural health systems at MSFC.

Re:One Person is not a Program (1)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 4 years ago | (#29250507)

A composite material is nothing more than a non-homogeneous material. Composite materials are engineered to take advantages of some material's properties while mitigating it's disadvantages with some other material's properties. For example, reinforced concrete [wikipedia.org] is a composite material. It is formed by concrete and rebar. Concrete is very cheap, moldable and considerably resistant to compressive forces but has a limited tensile resistance and has very limited elasticity (it suffers from fragile, even explosive rupture) and steel, although is very expensive, is extremely resistant to any sort of force (it's main failure mode isn't necessarily through achieving it's plastic limit but through buckling [wikipedia.org] ) but has a few shortcomings such as it's vulnerability to fires. So, by joining the two materials and creating reinforced concrete you gain the possibility to create a new type of material which is also considerably cheap, isn't fragile, is resistant to heat and presents elastic behaviour. It's win/win.

And by the way, composite materials are already extensively used in aeronautics and even space exploration. Probably you are thinking about the new organic materials that Burt Rutan likes to employ and now Boeing is trying to implement.

Re:One Person is not a Program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29249113)

Burt's company is Scaled Composites . I don't think I would trust a flight to the Moon and back, and more importantly, reentry, to a composite craft. On the other hand, if Burt thinks he can do it, he could pitch it to NASA - Dryden is just a short drive from his shop.

Funny. Composites are perfectly safe, but I don't know if I'd trust a flight to the Moon and back on hardware designed by present-day manager-hobbled NASA.

But if Rutan's team and built it, I'd pay a million for a ticket, even if it was made of duct tape and recycled tin cans.

Re:One Person is not a Program (1)

nawitus (1621237) | more than 4 years ago | (#29250427)

Why is it that people always talk about Burt Rutan as a some kind of space pioneer? His company has not developed a single rocket. If you wan't to get to Moon, either pay the Russians, or maybe SpaceX.

Re:One Person is not a Program (1)

PachmanP (881352) | more than 4 years ago | (#29249081)

Why would the departure of Steve Cook raise doubts about the future of an entire program? If that is the case, then NASA really needs to work on hiring and/or training more Program Managers.

He talked to the Augustine panel and decided to ring up a buddy for a job believing the program is not long for this world...

Constant Program Failure (1)

omb (759389) | more than 4 years ago | (#29250703)

The whole problem with NASA is it became hopelessly politicized. Thus, as has been proved with the Bush administration, planning was done in the interest of the 'good old boys', rather than scientific and engineering reality.

That is why the shuttle was not re-furbished and failing components, like the booster tank foam re-designed so it didnt fall off.

The shuttle should be re-ferbed, and more built if needed, see the F15 aircraft programs. Commercial competition should be embraced not excluded and rational program risk analyses re-instated but most of all NASA needs to be run by senior engineers not political flaks.

Rocket scientist going to work for scientolistst (1, Interesting)

The Famous Druid (89404) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248017)

Maybe he's going to build some space-ships that look like DC-8s, and fly to the Galactic Confederacy to meet Xenu.

Re:Rocket scientist going to work for scientolists (1)

Sawopox (18730) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248111)

Regardless of the reason for construction, a vehicle capable of interstellar travel is an impressive feat of engineering.

Good news? (5, Funny)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248139)

Steve Cook, project manager for the Ares .... which has been plagued with development problems and massive cost/schedule overruns since its inception. Steve Cook also oversaw the (since discredited) 2005 ESAS study...

So, has he done anything good lately? Either the summary is very unfair to the guy or this Dynetics thing is doomed.

Re:Good news? (5, Interesting)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248167)

So, has he done anything good lately? Either the summary is very unfair to the guy or this Dynetics thing is doomed.

Before making my submission I honestly tried to find examples of things which were even marginally successful, but could only find examples of management failures (X-33, X-34, Delta Clipper, ISS Propulsion Module). The only positive result I can find is that he had some pretty cool CGI videos made of his project designs, which apparently helped a lot with making sure that they got money for as long as they did.

Seriously, if anybody has examples of anything good Steve Cook did during his 19 years at NASA, please post them.

Re:Good news? (3, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248467)

Before making my submission I honestly tried to find examples of things which were even marginally successful, but could only find examples of management failures (X-33, X-34, Delta Clipper, ISS Propulsion Module).

I should add that this can potentially be attributed to big launch/propulsion projects in general at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (or at least those from the past 30 years). It's kind of tricky to separate the two though, since Steve Cook seems to have been manager for most of those projects. There were some failed launch projects though at MSFC which Steve Cook didn't manage, such as the ASRM, National Launch System, and Orbital Space Plane. No MSFC successes I've been able to find, though.

So... it's an open question if the management failures were due to Steve Cook, NASA MSFC, or NASA in general.

Re:Good news? (2, Interesting)

schnell (163007) | more than 4 years ago | (#29249585)

Seriously, if anybody has examples of anything good Steve Cook did during his 19 years at NASA, please post them.

If anybody has examples of anything good NASA did for manned spaceflight during the previous 19 years, please post them.

Of course NASA has sponsored plenty of worthwhile projects in the last 20 years, but all of them I can think of have been for unmanned spaceflight (Hubble, Mars Surveyor, etc.) Why should we be surprised when the program manager for NASA's seemingly perpetually delayed next-generation manned spaceflight program bails out? When the press description for the most recent Discovery shuttle launch - which cost tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars - was that it delivered the Stephen Colbert treadmill and some mice to the ISS, why should we continue to care about or support these efforts?

Re:Good news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29250899)

Actually it costs approx 1.3 Billion dollars per launch.

Track record; case study in bad/corrupt management (4, Interesting)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248143)

This wasn't in the summary, but it's also worth noting that in his 19 years at NASA, Steve Cook was also manager of the failed X-33, X-34, and Delta Clipper (after it was transferred to NASA). I'm trying to find validation, but I think he was also manager for the failed ISS Propulsion Module project as well.

In fact, I've been earnestly looking, and I can't find a single example of a project he managed which didn't end overbudget and in utter failure. The only possible exception I can think of is the Delta Clipper, which actually started under somebody else's management, experienced some success, and was killed off so NASA could focus on the X-33 (also managed by Steve Cook).

The following post by a (now-former) NASA engineer does a great job of summarizing what Steve Cook was like as a manager, although Deger blames it more on NASA management culture than Steve Cook himself:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=18523.msg467693#msg467693 [nasaspaceflight.com]

My cut is: the story was "The stick is safe in every way". This made the program not look at problems with the stick that could have been taken care of with some careful engineering design work. Thrust Oscillation, Vibro-acoustics, and SRB disposal all have engineering design solutions, but the party line up front was "none of these are a problem". Any engineer that attempted to fix these problems was removed from the program and made into what the Japanese call a window watcher. I was one of them for trying to get the program to realize the stack was going to be not healthy after an abort and this fact needed to taken care of. I even had a simple design solution to the problem, to take care of it.

I have heard many people that tried to fix TO [thrust oscillation] were removed. I bet the same happened to the first people that recognize vibro-acoustic were an issue that need to be dealt with.

I am in the process of doing my best to design solutions to these problems. It may not be possible because there is no performance margin left.

And to this day, the requirements have not still not been defined.

Danny Deger

Edit: And none of this was caused by Mr. Cook. He did his job exactly as he was trained to do by NASA.

Re:Track record; case study in bad/corrupt managem (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29248323)

Flea, normally, we see eye to eye and agree on most everything, but you are dead wrong here. The X-33, 34, and Delta Clipper deaths can be blamed on Congress and Bush. The X-33 WAS delayed on the tanks, but Bush's admin killed it (contrary to opinion, it was NOT NASA that killed it; History is funny about that; Bush saw that many things were blamed on just about everybody else even though a number of people are now out and out saying that they were doing what Bush's admin said to do). At the time that the X-33 was killed, it was ready to test fly. The DOD tried for 5 VERY LONG YEARS to be allowed to simply launch it and test it. BUSH PERSONALLY SAID NOT A CHANCE IN HELL. They forbade it. Likewise, X-34 was killed by Bush's people. As to the Delta Clipper, that was Clinton's screw up. He should have been smart and continued funding of BOTH X-33 and the Clipper. I never thought that the clipper really made sense for cargo launch from Earth, but it was perfect for the moon, and for people. To blame Mr. Cook for having been on these projects is dead wrong. He did excellent work, but was in the wrong place at the wrong times. I think that it is a lose to NASA for his leaving. OTH, perhaps, he will be able to build real LVs.

Re:Track record; case study in bad/corrupt managem (4, Interesting)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248429)

Flea, normally, we see eye to eye and agree on most everything, but you are dead wrong here. The X-33, 34, and Delta Clipper deaths can be blamed on Congress and Bush.

Do you have any references for your claims? I'm not suggesting you're wrong of course, I'd just like to read up more on it. From what I've read, the X-33 seems to have failed largely due to the requirement of having to test many high-risk technologies in a single prototype, instead of validating the technologies individually. With the X-34, Wikipedia sez, "when the first flight vehicle was near completion, the programme died after NASA demanded sizable design changes without providing any new funding, and the contractor, Orbital Sciences, refused." The Delta Clipper I thought was progressing along nicely, although its minuscule budget was cancelled in favor of the X-33.

To blame Mr. Cook for having been on these projects is dead wrong. He did excellent work, but was in the wrong place at the wrong times.

This is actually something I've been trying to get better clarification on, without much luck: How much of the blame for NASA's failed attempts at developing new launch vehicles should be placed on Steve Cook, versus NASA MSFC, NASA in general, the executive branch, or Congress. If anybody has additional insights regarding this question, I'd love to hear.

Re:Track record; case study in bad/corrupt managem (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29248925)

Re:Track record; case study in bad/corrupt managem (2, Interesting)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29249163)

From the article you linked: "However, this was no surprise to those working on the program, with new information now showing that engineers and designers had protested at the very moment they were informed of a management decision to build a composite LH2 tank."

Do you have any idea if (X-33 manager) Scott Cook was the one who made that poor management decision, was merely a supporter of it, or if he fought it?

Re:Track record; case study in bad/corrupt managem (3, Interesting)

brennz (715237) | more than 4 years ago | (#29249507)

Disclaimer: I am an employee of NOAA

Your words on "having to test many high-risk technologies in a single prototype, instead of validating the technologies individually" are true. That is very similar to what is happening with the joint NASA/NOAA/DoD program, The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System [noaa.gov] (NPOESS).

NPOESS' gigantic cost overruns are mainly from an experimental imager named VIIRS [noaa.gov] being placed onto the constellation. The type of contract used for the acquisition doesn't help either..

HEY! Wake up call (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29250161)

Q: For just how long was Bush Emperor of America?
A: Not for a single nanosecond, the US has Presidents not Emperors.

Q: Why is the US a failed federation masquerading as a nearly failed state?
A: In order of most blame: voters (not necessarily citizens hah), citizens, Congress, Presidents, and States.

That's right, the buck stops with the US voters! Not the other way around! You have yourself to blame. The truth sucks and I bet you can't handle it.

Truth is you've had and still have better politicians than you ever deserved. Yeah they suck but you suck worse.

Re:Track record; case study in bad/corrupt managem (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248471)

Danny Deger is a dipshit. He has tried since entering NASA to get into design work but he simply isn't qualified.. that's why he's an astronaut trainer. Rather than go get the qualifications, he makes waves.. and shitty books.

Basically, if it appears on NASA Watch, it's bullshit, ignore it.

Re:Track record; case study in bad/corrupt managem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29248689)

Basically, if it appears on NASA Watch, it's bullshit, ignore it.

Sorry - not everything on NASA Watch is bullshit. Granted - being all hell-bent on whistle-blowing NASA means a lot of bullshit does surface there. But it's not all crap. The problem, of course, is separating the wheat from the chaff.

Re:Track record; case study in bad/corrupt managem (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248807)

I was about to say the same thing - Danny Deger is always 110% right but completely unappreciated by his bosses. Or so his story goes, in reality, he's an complete loon. After he was scoffed at on the sci.space.* newsgroups, I'm unsurprised to find him in bed with Kieth Cowing. (Another complete loon.)

Hmmmm. Private Enterprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29248225)

If We are to REALLY get private space off the ground, THEN WE MUST fund Bigelow. Now. The reason is that we need him to get his production line going and start building ANOTHER destination or more. The easiest and cheapest way to pull this off is to buy a sundancer from Bigelow and attach it to the ISS and use it for storage. Then buy the BA-330 and attach it as well. The BA-330 can be used for lots of scientific storage. It would have the ability to place lots of science experiments in there. Later switch to using the Sundancer for living (much much quieter than the tin cans). Also create an X-prize (like COTs) for a "tug" to do-orbit some of our old sats and put up a fuel depot. If we do this, we can clean up our space while at the same setting up private companies to be hired by other nations. But if we want to get to the moon by say 2017, then we need to push private with some incentives.

Re:Hmmmm. Private Enterprise? (1)

bsane (148894) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248439)

If its publicly funded, is it still private space travel?

Seriously- if we through 50 billion at Boeing they could build a 'private' rocket too.

Re:Hmmmm. Private Enterprise? (2, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248487)

If its publicly funded, is it still private space travel?

IMHO, what's important is that it's commercial and competitive. For example, as great as they are, if you just handed Elon Musk, Robert Bigelow, or Burt Rutan a huge pile of money and gave them a monopoly over spaceflight, you'd eventually have many of the same problems. What's key is to have many companies competing against each other to provide the best spaceflight product, with NASA, academic researchers, "tourists," and private industry as the customers.

Re:Hmmmm. Private Enterprise? (3, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248711)

Who spoke of 50 billion? Under 500 million would get us a sundance AND a ba-330 added to the ISS (that includes the LV). Likewise, the MULTIPLE tugs will come if we offer up multiple contracts to de-orbit sats. And flea has it right. We NEED mutliple companies in this game. Not just the Boeings and l-marts. We need companies like the original scaled (now owned by Northrup), SpaceX, Armadillo, Bigelow, Blue Origin, etc. Basically, we want MULTIPLE providers in each space. That also means that at some point we need multiple providers of space stations. If we start the push for private into our orbit, then the rest will come. More importantly, we will see a real drop in price so that we can afford to go to the moon AND mars AND NEO asteroids (which is probably more important to America).

Re:Hmmmm. Private Enterprise? (0)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 4 years ago | (#29249273)

We really do need a public space program that can serve to expand humanities understanding of science. NASA does seem to be need more guidance from actual expert scientists on how to proceed. It has become too politicised. I do not think private space should be publicly funded at all, unless, the ships are sold to nasa for use on public programs. Private space programs will probably turn into a space tourist thing to shuttle wealthy tourists around, and just maybe very closed source proprietary science that is avialable only to those who pay a large fee. That is if they work at all. A public space program is important for the pure science missions like the satellites and robot missions. It provides scienific data for all humanity. We really should focus on those. ISS should have never been built but since it has we should keep it up there. Shuttle should be kept but flown less often until a craft that has same capabilities can be developed. Mars and moon missions are good for the ego put as far as the money spent, provide relatively little science compared to the robot missions that can provide lots of data and be done much more cheaply. We need a plan to replace hubble with new visible light telescopes. And more advanced propulsion research to find cheaper ways to do space travel.

Steve Cook as an example? (2, Insightful)

bezenek (958723) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248283)

If Steve Cook's track record is what it takes to get a cushy "executive position," where do I sign up? I can probably lead several failed engineering projects in a row, if I am willing to ignore ethics and I try hard enough.

-Todd

Re:Steve Cook as an example? (1)

ibbey (27873) | more than 4 years ago | (#29249539)

You've obviously never worked in Corporate America... Pretty standard stuff, do a good job, never get promoted. Screw up royally, be made an executive.

chandrayaan-2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29248399)

http://science.slashdot.org/story/09/08/29/2047237/Communication-Lost-With-Indian-Moon-Satellite

I heard even the Indians are taking a pass on the services of Stevo.

Thank God (3, Insightful)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248419)

Steve Cook has done more to damange the US space program than any foreign enemy government could hope for. Now that he's gone, maybe things can start to get back on track. He will /not/ be missed.

Ares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29248513)

Yep, Ares P2P network might use some improvements...

RE: R.I.P. NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29248577)

Thanks for the memories, NASA.

It's about time.

Hmm... (1)

Loopy (41728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29248585)

One might suspect that his departure would raise hopes and not doubts. Consider that if he was project manager of a project that experienced bad management results, maybe it was about damn time the helm was given to someone else.

What's in the name? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#29249029)

Ares [wikipedia.org] was a nasty god of bloodlust and slaughter. Why would anyone name a, supposedly, peaceful civilian program after him?

Re:What's in the name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29249313)

Jeff Hanley (the constellation program manager) was a flight director before he was promoted. All flight directors have a "call sign", his was Ares. Interestingly enough, Cleon Lacefield (the Lockheed Martin Orion manager) was also a flight director, and he was "Orion Flight".

Now, that's not the official reason....

Re:What's in the name? (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | more than 4 years ago | (#29249421)

Ares is supposed to help get us to Mars eventually. Get it now?

P2P (0, Troll)

BountyX (1227176) | more than 4 years ago | (#29249513)

WTF? Ares has a manager? P2P my ass! I'm using one swarm [washington.edu] for now and on...

Not a surprise (3, Informative)

Shag (3737) | more than 4 years ago | (#29249579)

We've already had the bad news - moon and mars are utterly unattainable with the current budget. Everyone's said it over the last few weeks, and I just heard it reiterated again in a dinner talk by Charles Kennel, who used to be a NASA associate administrator and is now on the Augustine Commission. So if you're Cook, you know your baby got knifed. No harm in bailing.

Kennel said he thinks it's time we suck it up and treat our international partners like actual partners, including depending on them for launch capability when we need to (after all, we already depended on Russia for a few years after Columbia) - and for really big projects like moon or mars, not go it alone when there's really nothing to gain by doing so.

Have I got this right? (2, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 4 years ago | (#29249847)

So the guy leaves a couple of turds on the rug at NASA, then slinks out the back door to work for a private company. And people think corporations do a better job of running things than the government?

NASA probably didn't know any better when they hired him. What's Dynetics' excuse?

We should cheer and applause, actually (1)

cbraescu1 (180267) | more than 4 years ago | (#29250025)

[...] Ares program, which has been plagued with development problems and massive cost/schedule overruns since its inception. Steve Cook also oversaw the (since discredited) 2005 ESAS study [...]

So, the guy's name is associated with development problems, massive cost / schedule overruns and discredited studies, yet we are supposed to care that this guys is finally out?

So long, farewell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29250393)

This is a good thing.

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