Shortcuts (I Hope Nothing Terrible Happens)
by Dwayne Phillips
Recent fueling tests at NASA once again show us the peril of shortcuts.
NASA recently completed a fueling test for its Space Launch System. Good for them. Test completed.
The story in the link is a good one as it describes several things that went wrong while fueling. One of the problems meant they had to repair a valve. WHAT? Repair a valve? Was that valve tested beforehand? Were they ready to run the big test after all the little tests were completed?
Or perhaps they took a few shortcuts (like not testing all the parts before testing the system).
Then there was the minor issue of a fire in a grassy area next to the rocket. They felt that was not a problem, so they changed the software so that the fueling would continue despite the little fire.
I hope nothing terrible happens because of that shortcut. What is a little fire anyways? What could possibly go wrong? Why was there logic in the software that stopped fueling when a fire occurred? Someone at sometime thought that could be bad (or really really bad), so they put that logic in the software.
This is a great example of folks taking shortcuts. They see a problem and decide that skipping something will gain them time. As written earlier, I hope nothing terrible happens. After all, they will one day put human beings on top of that great big rocket and have a — hopefully controlled — great big explosion that hurls them to the moon.