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hello NASA, using the old junk box?

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Jan Panteltje, Jul 14, 2005.

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  1. From NY times today:

    Workers also replaced the suspect part of the chain of electronics between
    controllers and the sensor, known as the point sensor box. The component,
    like many parts of the shuttle, is based on 1980's technology and still
    uses components like transistors soldered onto circuit boards. (Today,
    semiconductor technology places millions of transistors within a single

    Some of the transistors, which are made by Fairchild Semiconductor, came
    from a lot that was suspected of having manufacturing problems, said Steve
    Poulos, the manager of NASA's vehicle engineering office.

    Really, man with a budget like that you'd expect them to have somebody
    redesign those units.
    That would only cost a couple of thousand, and less then the travel expenses
    of all the people involved discussing it.

    I am not sure I take NASA seriously anymore.
    You must be REALLY of your rocker to use 'reject' parts after all that happened
    and with that much money available.
    Where did the money REALLY go!

    THIS requires an investigation!
  2. Guest

    Wow! Even in the old days, our meetings cost more that :).
    Most of our managers were engineers and didn't have to be
    retaught the basics of AC/DC at each setting.


    Subtract a hundred and four for e-mail.
  3. Ken Taylor

    Ken Taylor Guest

    "A couple of thousand......." Um, yeah. Like you have a clue about it.

  4. Yep I do, I am electronic designer.
    And that is kids stuff.
    But maybe NASA fired all E designers long ago, and replaced with 'managers' or
    idiots like you?
    Complete morons to save on a 12 cent part.
    From a billion $$ project.
    Same guys who spend 51 billion on an aniti missile system that does not work?
    **** off.
  5. Guest

    Obviously not a professional one. Or maybe you just work out of the
    side of a van selling breadboarded products.

    Redesigning any of the consumer products I work with to, say, change
    one transistor type, is a minimum cost of six to nine months and
    $100,000 of direct costs in engineering, QA testing, FCC
    recertification, perhaps also UL relisting (that is an instant ~$35,000
    cost for our type of product), and more.

    That's merely to meet ISO900x, FCC and AHJ requirements. NASA's
    application also has to meet aviation safety standards. Even if the
    change is as trivial as just switching to a different transistor
    vendor, I'd be willing to bet the costs START at $250,000 and a year's
    engineering and qual time - and that's probably a conservative
  6. Pooh Bear

    Pooh Bear Guest

    Which is why they continue to use junk parts. Too expensive to replace with
    something that works reliably on account of the paperwork.

    That's why light aviation aircraft still use carburettors with their
    attendant intake icing and falling out of the sky problems when a simple
    replacement with fuel injection would fix the problem. It's too expensive to
    certify the safer solution often.

  7. Not really. You forgot the organization. This is
    not a backyard-bang-together, or is it ?
    A redesign of a controller board controlling
    whatever (say 3 transistors for a gaz valve) costs :

    -some hours to justify replacement, some calculations : 2k$
    -some meetings to propagate the projects up the ladder : 1k$
    -a new board, with parts : 2k$
    -a new test procedure, including meetings : 10k$
    -a new test setup, with calibrations : 50k$
    -setup production to have a few on stock : 10k$
    -documentation for the various levels of insight : 10k$

    Even with arbitrary numbers, 100k$ are quickly reached
    in a sufficiently big organization.

  8. On 14 Jul 2005 03:04:30 -0700, in
    That is just so depressing

  9. I'm not sure, but don't light aircraft engines have to run without battery

    Graham H
  10. Martin

    Martin Guest

    Obviously not a very good one if you can come out with crap like you posted.
    *sigh* it's not the cost of the part. Just how many FMEACAs and
    certification processes have you been through?

    How expensive would it be to put an IC through a full FMEACA? It'd take
    years. I use to be a design engineer working on Safety Critical System
    (Level 4), it's damned expensive to just replace a part
    Says he who is talking out of his arse
  11. I am guessing a $1000 redesign will probably take 10 years and
    millions of dollars to test and certify .... Well it would if you use
    the software testers I used to work with....
  12. ------------------------^^^^^^^
    Not only is that bull, NASA space shuttle and related stuff is no consumer
    For example (consumer) changing a transistor type will likely need no
    In INDUSTRIAL design it will not even need a discussion on a lever higher
    then the local technician (looking it up in a equivalent list).
    In an organization that only builds specific EXPERIMENTAL stuff it could
    be considered part of the design improvements, as as such come under different
    And as AERONAUTICS replacing a transistors with parts from a unit that
    is known to be defective is a crime.
    Yea, the world has come to an end, for the US and NASA at least.
  13. LOL, so we should reduce size and communication lines a bit...
    MNASA (Micro NASA)?

    Look at a company like scale composites.
    Look at their budget.
    If indeed (as others suggested here) the paperwork (cost)
    PREVENTS improvements (to safety for example), then for sure we
    can prove in front of congress that paperwork needs to go?
    No, bad idea, won't work.
    Then the US has come to an end... But we already knew that.
    The Chinese will be first with a manned mars mission ;-)

  14. Peter Webb

    Peter Webb Guest

    Wouldn't it also have to be specifically space certified, and hence tested
    against long term radiation exposure? Also, I would have thought that the
    repeated acceleration (G force) testing of a space certified part would be
    have to be far more extensive. $250k as a conservative starting point looks
    about right.
  15. So they fired you, OK, too expensive ;-)
  16. Guest

    Obviously not a professional one. Or maybe you just work out of the
    Bullshit. Change of frequency-determining component, requires FCC
    recert and attendant lab testing time. Depending on application it may
    also require UL recert. The products we make typically cost $35K for UL

    Then we have internal QA time to verify the device still performs
    nominally over V and T range, ESD immunity tests, EMI immunity tests,
    shipping and storage (vibration, T shock) tests, etc.

    I guess you work in an industry where reliability isn't an issue and
    there are no consequences if your product fails. That's nice but you
    need to lose this illusion that your quality "standards" have any
    relationship to real engineering work.

    And you're also trying to tell me that avionics is less tightly
    regulated than the industry I work in, which is unmitigated balls,
    bullshit and poppycock.

    If you don't want to look like the fool you are, then keep your mouth
  17. Guest

    Redesigning any of the consumer products I work with to, say, change
    I'm sure NASA's stuff has to be - I don't work in aerospace, though.
    Our shipping and storage tests don't involve twenty Gs of acceleration

    I was merely pointing out that the OP was spouting utter bullshit.
  18. You did not happen to design the one with one transistor
    in my old Nissan?
    It fell apart in 2 pieces, likely because of vibraton,
    as the pieces were 2 PC boards at 90 degrees held
    together by solder...
    That broke the circuit, so the gaz was cut.....
    I am talking about LPG (liquid natural gas).
    If it had stayed open, and the car was parked in a parking
    lot under a big gov building, it would have been terrosism.
    I did not see anything in the circuit as a second safety
    against for example a shorted transistor (driving the relay).
    Normally it is supposed to open the valve ONLY when pulses from
    the ignition are available (motor turning).
    Oh well.... It was certified I am sure ;-)
  19. Figure $100/hr/person as a starting point. "Some meetings" get to be
    quite short ones if only $1K is budgeted. ;-)
    Managers? AC/DC? Well, I suppose...
  20. Go ahead then, build a couple - although I would wager that getting the
    qualified parts *samples* for QA would be "a couple of thousands" and that
    is before you even started on the real units.
    I am sure that NASA does not worry about that!
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