Primavera P6 is going to the moon, or Mars, or perhaps some distant asteroid. NASA uses Primavera P6 for all of its space programs and we were fortunate enough to be invited to train NASA contractors at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida earlier this month. We spent nearly two weeks training people how to use the latest versions of Primavera P6 Professional and Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management (EPPM). December in Florida is not a bad gig! The situation at NASA is certainly different these days. The Space Shuttle program defined NASA for the better part of three decades. With the cancellation of the Shuttle program in 2010, NASA will not have a comparable space program until the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle is ready for its maiden voyage in 2017. The Orion capsule will be carried by the Space Launch System (SLS). The SLS is designed to be flexible, with both crew and payload-only configuration, as seen below:
Orion will explore deep space, something that has not been done by any manned spacecraft since the Apollo days. Following my training sessions I visited the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to see a mock-up of the Orion capsule (below). My first impression was, “this thing is really big!” And it is: the Orion capsule has 2-1/2 times the volume of the Apollo capsule and will carry four astronauts as opposed to Apollo’s three.
I also had a chance to visit the SLS Mobile Launch Platform (MLP) that one of our Primavera P6 training clients, J.P. Donovan Construction, is modifying for the SLS program. This platform was initially built for the Ares space program, which was cancelled around the same time as the Shuttle program, but NASA was instructed by Congress to finish the MLP regardless.
The next photo shows the MLP from the vantage point of the VAB: Because the SLS rockets are much larger, the platform is currently being modified to handle the additional size and weight. One of the first tasks for J.P. Donovan was to offload two enormous boxes from the MLP. This required bringing in a 250 ton crane, which was just being dismantled during my visit. Both the crane and the boxes appear below:
The electrical, plumbing and other systems inside the MLP are similar to what you might expect to find in a multi-story building. But then, this structure is more than 30 stories tall and weighs several million pounds! The red piping is the fire suppression system, which is used to reduce sound waves during a launch and to protect the steel superstructure from the intense heat.
In this next photo you can see that workers are cutting apart the MLP in order to enlarge the platform. The SLS rockets require a wider flame pit, so the platform is being cut in two in order to graft on a wider section.
The last photo shows what the completed MLP will look like with the SLS vehicle attached. Note the water tower nearby. This tower provides more than a million gallons of water to the fire suppression system. All of the water in that tower will be released in less than 8 minutes (!) during a launch.
What a great experience! I am really looking forward to Orion’s first voyage in 2017. Happy Holidays to all of you!