The Right Kind of Crazy
A True Story of Teamwork, Leadership, and High-Stakes Innovation
Adam Steltzner with William Patrick, 2016, Beaverton 629.46 STE
A fascinating but uneven book. Chapters 1 and 2 are intensely biographical, and suck you right in. After that, the chapters have a bit of plodding sameness to them; Dr. Steltzer is developing as a leader, and he is frank about his shortcomings, but the lessons seem muted to protect the reputations of most colleagues. The technologies are described incompletely; we learn there are issues, but not in gory engineering detail. That said, the book is decently written, and more informative about the engineering process than most books of this genre. If I were to make changes, I would gloss over parts of the steady climb and dive deeper into the examples, educating as well as describing.
- Adam Steltzner, EDL (entry descent landing) engineering manager
- Gentry Lee, JPL "senior sage"
Miguel San Martin, EDL systems team lead, chief engineer for Guidance, Navigation, and Control
1997 Mars Pathfinder navigation and control
- Dara Sabahi, mechanical systems lead for Pathfinder EDL, Azerbaijani Turk from Tehran
- p001-2 MSL final cruise and landing, 2012 August 5, 8pm JPL mission control. 2400 kg entry vehicle, 900 kg rover.
p003 Sinatra "All or Nothing at All"; Launch November 2011, $300M Atlas V-51 rocket
- p005 5.8 km/s entry, at 11 km down to 450 m/s, supersonic parachute, 24 seconds later release heat shield, 1.6 km release parachute, rockets down to 60 feet, lower skycrane and descend to surface on 8 meters of cable at 1 m/s.
- p006 VSTB vehicle system test bed, Mars Yard tennis-court-sized area, MSB mission system test bed, FSTS flight software test set
- p007 150 microgee centifugal acceleration error, IMU 3-axis description, data entry error, 8 cm off.
- p012 staff cautious, Steltzner says upload fix, top managers say go ahead, uploaded 36 hours before entry
- p013 Human judgement and appreciation of limits of your understanding are paramount.
- p014 Problems too complicated for equations only. Great works are team efforts
- p018 Father depressed heir to Schilling spice fortune, mother hotel bar manager in Sierras.
- p018 Sausalito, young Adam reckless, 32 broken bones
p020 Mill Valley health food store, College of Marin for astronomy, ended up in "physics for poets" course, Stephen Prata instructor, graduated 1987
- UC Davis mechanical engineering 1990, Caltech MSME 1991,
- U Wisc. PhD 1997 Inverse structural response problem, calculate from results to the forces that cause them
- p032 Hold on to the doubt: listen to all the problem has to say, not making assumptions until the deepest truth presents itself
- p034 Analyst in the Spacecraft Structures and Dynamics group, boss Frank Tillman
- p038 Cassini, Galileo (slip rings)
- p041 cognizant engineer Cog E
- p055 leadership is a service function, a gift to the group
- p071 Mars Exploration Rover, told to use Mars Pathfinder EDL, "this is just a reflight" ... no
- MER = Spirit and Opportunity
- p089 Parachute exploded in test, during fill, stresses opposite of filled design
- p091 polyester and nylon and 48 kevlar suspension threads
- p092 test chutes at NASA Ames wind tunnel squidding, partial inflation and swimming pattern
- p098 team of 25 "Lunch with Enrico" (Fermi) EDL lunches at Nicole's in South Pasadena
- first reactor test at U Chicago, Fermi stops the test for lunch
- p101 Rumsfeld Unknown unknowns, things you think you know and do not
- p106 probe swings beneath parachute, firing rockets on a wide swing adds horizontal drift
- TIRS (transverse impulse rocket system) used DIMES (Descent Image Motion Estimation System) to track swing and time the rocket firing
- p110 NASA donated spare Pathfinder airbags to Smithsonian, JPL borrowed them back for testing (they blew up on sharp rocks)
- added internal airbag, retained gas when outer bag was punctured
- p116 Jan 3 2004 Spirit landing on Mars
- p132 MSL started with two arms and two RTGs, extras stripped to allow for likely mass overruns
- p135 lifted-guided reentry like Apollo, center of mass different from center of lift
- a trim tab can move center of lift, but did not work
- p140 sky crane
- p142 descent 0.75 m/s, 7.5 meters apart
- p162 trim tab fatal flaw, lets friction heating into spacecraft
- p163 OODA loop: observe, orient, decide, act. react more quickly, get inside the other's OODA loop
- p164 Kevin Johnson: "radiative heating problem" from exhaust near wheels. Ignored, cost six months.
- p167 Mike Griffith, from JHAPL space department to NASA administrator, respected within the ranks
- p172 MG: "it might be crazy enough to work. It might just be the right kind of crazy"
- p179 "Sometimes to express the essence of a thing, you have to ... do violence to the fact of it" Convey the underlying truth
- p188 TPS Thermal protection system, originally SLA-561V, which evaporated in arc jet tests at Arnold Engineering Development Complex in Ohio
- p191 changed to PICA tiles (caulking between can be a problem) Fiber Materials in Plymouth, Maine
- p196 "Michael" withheld information about software test bed. p204 replaced by Ann Devereaux after much time wasted
- EDL team crashes press conference