Major General Charles F. Bolden, USMC (Ret.)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
300 E. Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20546-0002
Dear General Bolden:
We are writing to express our support of your announcement that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has decided to continue with the Orion as the reference vehicle for the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV).
We are especially supportive, given your remarks during the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science hearing on NASA on April 11, 2011. As was mentioned during the hearing, NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) has been leading the work on the Orion Service Module, and that this work directly translates to the future work with the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV). When asked in what specific way NASA planned on utilizing NASA Glenn's heritage and proven expertise in the new MPCV program, you stated: "Any work that Glenn was doing with Orion will be the same work that Glenn continues to do with the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle." We encourage you to follow through with this intent.
In addition, by basing the MPCV on Orion, NASA will be flying the same spacecraft for which the Space Power Facility (SPF) at NASA GRC's Plum Brook Station was specifically upgraded. The environmental tests that will be run at Plum Brook Station will provide thorough testing for any spacecraft that NASA chooses to fly, but it is specifically designed to accommodate a full testing regime for MPCV. An independent study performed in 2001 found that less than 10 percent of spacecraft that complied with the MIL-STD-1540B qualification test program suffered failures, while greater than 60 percent failed when only half of the qualification tests were performed. NASA and the United States require a safe, robust spacecraft on which to fly our crew, and the best way to guarantee that safety is to perform environmental qualification testing. We look forward to the opportunity to perform the environmental qualification testing for the MPCV at Plum Brook Station.
We consider the announcement to continue with the Orion as the reference vehicle for the MPCV to be positive for NASA GRC. For generations, NASA has relied on the engineers and scientists at NASA Glenn to perform critical spaceflight work. We are encouraged that NASA will continue to depend on them by further utilizing their talents with this extremely important mission. The people of NASA Glenn Research Center, through their leadership with Orion, already have the background and expertise to make the MPCV a continued success.