NASA Directs Contractor To Adopt Ares and Orion Launch Date Postponements

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On 16 January 2008, Constellation Program Manager Jeff Hanley issued an internal agency memo wherein he asked a lot of people to adopt a series of Ares and Orion launch date slips.

Most significantly, he said that Ares 1-Y would shifted 12 months from September 2012 to September 2013.

At the time, NASA PAO denied that there was any 12 month postponement announced even though Hanley's memo went to more than 80 people across the agency announcing these changes.

Folks at NASA HQ were furious about getting this uncoordinated email (the one that PAO was downplaying) and Hanley was eventually ordered to rescind the memo.

NASA Administrator Mike Griffin was not happy about this topic during a Space Transportation Association (STA) breakfast presentation a few days later.

All of this arm waving and denials aside, it would seem that Jeff Hanley knew what was going to happen - eventually.

NASA sent Lockheed Martin a letter on 1 July 2008 asking that the company "develop a NTE value" for the several changes. One change was to:

"Update programmatic milestone dates to the following:

  • Preliminary Design Review (PDR) Board   11/21/08
  • Critical Design Review (CDR) Board   10/08/10
  • AA-1 Test Flight*   02/26/10
  • AA-2 Test Flight*   06/28/11
  • PA-2 Test Flight   04/05/12
  • Ares 1-Y Sub-orbital Test Flight   09/01/13
  • CEV Block 1A Design Certification Review (DCR)   01/18/14
  • Orion 1 Orbital Test Fight   03/01/14
  • Orion Crewed flight to ISS, ATLAS-1 to ISS   09/01/14

*AA-3 Flight Test is deleted
*Flight Test Objectives for AA-1 and AA-2 are unchanged

Compare these changes to those contained in Hanley's earlier memo. Look familiar?

NASA Internal Memo from Constellation Program Manager Jeffrey Hanley: Update to Constellation Program (CxP) Internal Launch Dates

"Pursuant to recent analysis of program resource execution plans, the Program is adjusting the internal launch dates for the CxP Flight Manifest as follows:

  1. Ares 1-Y shifted 12 months from September 2012 to September 2013
  2. Orion 1 shifted 9 months from March 2013 to December 2013
  3. Orion 2 shifted 6 months from September 2013 to March 2014
  4. Orion 3 shifted 3 months from March 2014 to June 2014
  5. Orion 4 is not shifted and remains on September 2014"

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