Author Topic: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?  (Read 16037 times)

Offline yg1968

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #40 on: 08/15/2017 02:38 PM »
Bear in mind that Space's comments were made 5 years ago before CCtCap when commercial crew was still under SAAs.

Remember Musk's recent comments about NASA's oversight being difficult for his employees. He qualified it by saying it that it is necessary for commercial crew but there was clearly some frustration in his tone over how cumbersome the oversight has become under CCtCap.

My own view is that this cumbersome oversight doesn't make commercial crew any safer just more expensive. Insight is important for commercial crew but oversight should be minimized.

NASA oversight discovered people sitting on installed COPV's

I didn't know that. After the COPV accident or before?
« Last Edit: 08/15/2017 02:38 PM by yg1968 »

Offline Jim

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #41 on: 08/15/2017 02:39 PM »
Bear in mind that Space's comments were made 5 years ago before CCtCap when commercial crew was still under SAAs.

Remember Musk's recent comments about NASA's oversight being difficult for his employees. He qualified it by saying it that it is necessary for commercial crew but there was clearly some frustration in his tone over how cumbersome the oversight has become under CCtCap.

My own view is that this cumbersome oversight doesn't make commercial crew any safer just more expensive. Insight is important for commercial crew but oversight should be minimized.

NASA oversight discovered people sitting on installed COPV's

After the COPV accident or before?

after, see the reports on the incident.  That is why there was some question on the actual cause.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #42 on: 08/15/2017 03:55 PM »
After reading the article I looked up Dr. Pace and saw that he doesn't have any "operational experience" in space transportation, just academic interest and policy level type stuff. Maybe that doesn't matter, but it seemed to put him more in the category of pundit

He started out as an engineer at Rockwell on the shuttle program.

Interesting that is not listed on his NASA biography, though I'm not sure that makes any particular case for whether he has "operational experience". Still you'd think if he thought it was important that he would have listed it.

However based on his age, and that he graduated from college with a B.S. in Physics in 1980, and then a Masters in Aeronautics & Astronautics and Technology & Policy from MIT by 1982, any work he did on the Shuttle at Rockwell would have been on the back end of the program (i.e. Columbia 1st flew in 1981).

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But since you opened up the issue of credentials: this is the policy section, what are your credentials to comment on policy?

As I state often because so many are rocket engineers on NSF, my background is in manufacturing operations, and for government programs I was usually the equivalent of the program manager for the manufacturing of government products. As such I interfaced with Program Managers, engineering, quality, and whoever else could affect the production and test of "my" products, from contract award to shipping the last unit. Plus I also did production status reviews for our customers, who could be the government.

In short, I have as much policy experience as rocket engineers do...  ;)
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Danderman

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #43 on: 08/15/2017 08:58 PM »

You guys read these articles and draw your conclusions, but you lack the context and the knowledge of what is really being discussed. Government procurement isn't simply a signed piece of paper for a contract. There's a lot more going on. There's a whole level of involvement by the customer (i.e. the government) in the development, and that's what Dr. Pace was referring to.



This was the argument against procurement of commercial launch services Back in the Day when the government was responsible for civil launches; the "conventional wisdom" was that only the government had the expertise to safely conduct space launches. That assumption took a hit in 1986. At the time, the story was that NASA would not launch a rocket until the paperwork weighed as much as the rocket.

After 1990, when NASA began to procure launch services commercially, an amazing thing happened - the cost to the taxpayer per launch dropped, and the success rate remained unchanged, if not better.

So, we have heard the "commercial is dangerous" message before, and it turned out to be false.

Note: I am not suggesting that all government oversight over space launches disappeared after 1990, only that the "involvement" of NASA significantly diminished at that point.
« Last Edit: 08/15/2017 08:59 PM by Danderman »

Offline Proponent

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #44 on: 08/16/2017 10:02 AM »

I'm sure you weren't implying that Eric Berger is not a "reasonably minded person"...   ;)

In this particular instance I don't think Mr. Berger was being reasonably minded, hence my statement on the article being a bit unfair towards Mr. Pace.


That's fine, but where is Pace's skepticism about NASA?
 

To be fair NASA has been launching humans into space since the 1960s. I don't think anyone should be "skeptical" about NASA's ability to launch humans. Let's also be clear here that Pace's skepticism about commercial crew was/is pretty mild. In the 2012 interview he made a point about not letting launch fever override safety. Additionally he pointed out how many successful launches are needed for commercial and government customers to feel good about putting their payloads on a commercial rocket. I don't see any indication that he was saying, "commercial crew is too dangerous" or "it will never work."

Edited to add: Personally I don't think anyone should be "skeptical" of SpaceX's (or Boeing's) ability to launch people into space either. Skeptical of timelines and other various promises? Sure, but not their ability. It is true though that this type of structure (commercial companies owning the LVs and the spacecraft) is new and doesn't have as much of a track record as previous NASA programs.

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Given his skepticism of commercial crew, why would he not be concerned about the risks of putting a crew even on EM-2

He might say that a rocket and spacecraft designed mainly for human spaceflight differs from a rocket whose primary role is commercial and cutting costs. I don't know. Maybe Mr. Berger should have asked him. 

Dragon 2 will only have one test flight before crew is put on it, just like Orion. I haven't heard Mr. Pace criticize either policy so I don't think he is being unfair to the commercial side. 

It's true that Pace's discussion of crew safety is focused principally on the launch-vehicle aspect of it.  Because he is a prominent figure in space policy, we have many sources of information about his views aside from Berger's article.  In particular, Pace has suggested (see 13:37:47 and following) that a launch vehicle should not carry a really valuable payload until it has at least seven successful launches under its belt.  Atlas V easily satisfies that criterion, and will rack up further flights before it first carries a Starliner with crew.  Falcon 9 should too, before it carries a Dragon 2 with crew (I hedge a bit only because I don't know how many F9 Block 5 flights will have occurred, but F9 family heritage counts for something too).

SLS, in contrast, will fly once before it carries a crew, and Pace is on record (see attachment) advocating sending a crew past Mars on its very first flight.  SLS's Shuttle heritage counts for something, but under the scenario Pace advocated, it would have been ten years since NASA itself had launched anything.  How does that square with the once-per-year cadence we've been told is needed for safe operations? 

Considering the fact that NASA has not brought a new launch vehicle to flight since the 1980s and has not developed a launch vehicle that met its major design goals since the 1960s, how could anybody have more confidence in NASA's ability to get a new launch vehicle right on the very first flight than in SpaceX's ability to get it right after dozens of flights or ULA's after a hundred or so?  I think Pace applies inconsistent standards for NASA and commercial crew launch.
« Last Edit: 08/16/2017 10:08 AM by Proponent »

Offline woods170

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #45 on: 08/16/2017 10:09 AM »
It's true that Pace's discussion of crew safety is focused principally on the launch-vehicle aspect of it.  Because he is a prominent figure in space policy, we have many sources of information about his views aside from Berger's article.  In particular, Pace has suggested (see 13:37:47 and following) that a launch vehicle should not carry a really valuable payload until it has at least seven successful launches under its belt.  Atlas V easily satisfies that criterion, and will rack up further flights before it first carries a Starliner with crew.  Falcon 9 should too, before it carries a Dragon 2 with crew (I hedge a bit only because I don't know how many F9 Block 5 flights will have occurred, but F9 family heritage counts for something too).

SLS, in contrast, will fly once before it carries a crew, and Pace is on record (see attachment) advocating sending a crew past Mars on its very first flight.  SLS's Shuttle heritage counts for something, but under the scenario Pace advocated, it would have been ten years since NASA itself had launched anything.  How does that square with the once-per-year cadence we've been told is needed for safe operations? 

Considering the fact that NASA has not brought a new launch vehicle to flight since the 1980s and has not developed a launch vehicle that met its major design goals since the 1960s, how could anybody have more confidence in NASA's ability to get a new launch vehicle right on the very first flight than in SpaceX's ability to get it right after dozens of flights or ULA's after a hundred or so?  I think Pace has demonstrated grossly inconsistent standards for NASA and commercial crew launch.
The inconsistent standards will be justified by NASA by means of the magic words "Insight" and "Oversight".

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #46 on: 08/16/2017 01:47 PM »
This was the argument against procurement of commercial launch services Back in the Day when the government was responsible for civil launches; the "conventional wisdom" was that only the government had the expertise to safely conduct space launches. That assumption took a hit in 1986. At the time, the story was that NASA would not launch a rocket until the paperwork weighed as much as the rocket.

After 1990, when NASA began to procure launch services commercially, an amazing thing happened - the cost to the taxpayer per launch dropped, and the success rate remained unchanged, if not better.

So, we have heard the "commercial is dangerous" message before, and it turned out to be false.


You refer to "commercial" in the early 1990s and "commercial" today as if they are the same thing. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #47 on: 08/16/2017 01:48 PM »
The inconsistent standards will be justified by NASA by means of the magic words "Insight" and "Oversight".

Just because you don't understand what those words mean does not mean that they mean nothing to the people who actually do government procurement.

Offline woods170

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #48 on: 08/16/2017 01:58 PM »
The inconsistent standards will be justified by NASA by means of the magic words "Insight" and "Oversight".

Just because you don't understand what those words mean does not mean that they mean nothing to the people who actually do government procurement.
You parsed my post incorrectly. I very much do understand the meaning of those words and fully understand how they allow SLS to fly manned on only it's second mission while requiring multiple launches of non-NASA vehicles. "Inconsistent" is how it is perceived by the ill-informed public. As I pointed out in my post there will come a time that NASA will explain the supposed "inconsistent standards" and it is a guaranteed fact that such an explanation will contain the words insight and oversight.

Offline yg1968

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #49 on: 08/16/2017 08:51 PM »
NASA said that under commercial crew SAAs, it had insight but not oversight. So that was the excuse for Congress and NASA to mandate FAR for CCtCap.

Now that NASA has oversight under FAR, the delays and the cost of commercial crew have increased.

I am not advocating that NASA should have no oversight but it appears to be excessive under CCtCap. Hopefully, it will diminish once certification has been acheived.
« Last Edit: 08/16/2017 08:52 PM by yg1968 »

Offline Jim

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #50 on: 08/16/2017 10:07 PM »
NASA said that under commercial crew SAAs, it had insight but not oversight. So that was the excuse for Congress and NASA to mandate FAR for CCtCap.

Now that NASA has oversight under FAR, the delays and the cost of commercial crew have increased.

I am not advocating that NASA should have no oversight but it appears to be excessive under CCtCap. Hopefully, it will diminish once certification has been acheived.

The companies didnt have to take the money

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #51 on: 08/16/2017 11:02 PM »
The inconsistent standards will be justified by NASA by means of the magic words "Insight" and "Oversight".

Just because you don't understand what those words mean does not mean that they mean nothing to the people who actually do government procurement.
You parsed my post incorrectly.

No. I repeated your entire post. I didn't "parse" anything incorrectly. Go look at what you wrote--I reposted the whole thing. I think you don't understand what you're referring to.

Offline Danderman

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #52 on: 08/17/2017 01:59 AM »
The question remains:

Is manned flight on the 2nd SLS going to be "safer" than manned flight on the 8th launch of a "commercial" system?

Offline yg1968

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #53 on: 08/17/2017 02:44 AM »
NASA said that under commercial crew SAAs, it had insight but not oversight. So that was the excuse for Congress and NASA to mandate FAR for CCtCap.

Now that NASA has oversight under FAR, the delays and the cost of commercial crew have increased.

I am not advocating that NASA should have no oversight but it appears to be excessive under CCtCap. Hopefully, it will diminish once certification has been acheived.

The companies didnt have to take the money

The companies will do whatever NASA asks. But that doesn't mean that this was the best model to use. You often hear that NASA should follow the COTS model for new commercial programs but you rarely hear that NASA should follow the commercial crew model for new programs. There was a lot of political interference under the commercial crew program which lead to a FAR/more cumbersome oversight program under CCtCap. In any event, it's water under the bridge now. But I am starting to think that the COTS model will not be replicated in the future. Hopefully, it's not too late for commercial habitats (Nexstep) to avoid the same problems that commercial crew experienced. 
« Last Edit: 08/17/2017 01:38 PM by yg1968 »

Offline woods170

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #54 on: 08/17/2017 06:57 AM »
NASA said that under commercial crew SAAs, it had insight but not oversight. So that was the excuse for Congress and NASA to mandate FAR for CCtCap.

Now that NASA has oversight under FAR, the delays and the cost of commercial crew have increased.

I am not advocating that NASA should have no oversight but it appears to be excessive under CCtCap. Hopefully, it will diminish once certification has been acheived.

The companies didnt have to take the money

The companies will do whatever NASA asks. But that doesn't mean that this was the best model to use. You often hear that NASA should follow the COTS model for new commercial programs but you rarely hear that NASA should follow the follow the commercial crew model for new programs. There was a lot of political interference under the commercial crew program which lead to a FAR/more cumbersome oversight program under CCtCap. In any event, it's water under the bridge now. But I am starting to think that the COTS model will not be replicated in the future. Hopefully, it's not too late for commercial habitats (Nexstep) to avoid the same problems that commercial crew experienced. 
Too late already for commercial habitats. NASA has already decided that any step beyond demonstrators will be FAR-based. This is to prevent a repeat of the early CCtCAP funding debacle.
What basically happened is that the COTS model was a little TOO successful. It showed that significant "stuff" could be done for FAR (pun intented) less money than normally (under traditional procurement procedures) could be done. The COTS final report was pretty much a slap in the face of established old-space companies like Boeing and LockMart and even a slap in the face of certain NASA centers and certain entrenched NASA management.
The success of COTS also didn't go down too well with certain folks in US Congress. It took them a while but eventually they, supported primarily by old-space, managed to "level the playing field" between SLS/Orion on the one hand and it's CCP "competition" (yes, CCP is actually perceived as "competition" to SLS/Orion) on the other hand. It all became FAR. And those same forces acting in US Congress will make d*mn sure that any future major HSF program, such as habitats, will be FAR-based.
It is, after all, about "bringing home the bacon". And COTS did far too little of that for the states with large aerospace companies.
« Last Edit: 08/17/2017 07:01 AM by woods170 »

Offline yg1968

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #55 on: 08/17/2017 01:35 PM »
I am hoping that the new NASA admistrator will change things for the future (Nextstep) rounds of habitat development. But I admit that I have the same concerns as you that they will end up following the CCtCap model for habitats and not the COTS model. My understanding is that the inside of the habitat (including ECLSS) will be governmental but the outside of the habitat module will be commercial. That seems like an odd way of dividing things.
« Last Edit: 08/17/2017 01:43 PM by yg1968 »

Offline Jim

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #56 on: 08/17/2017 02:46 PM »
But I admit that I have the same concerns as you that they will end up following the CCtCap model for habitats and not the COTS model.

COTS is a dead model.  It was unique that it was to develop capabilities not just for the government. COTS monies were used for and paid for Falcon 9 development. Commercial use of Antares has yet to happen.

Unless a capability has potential to be used by others or have a long term NASA procurement and will have the commercial partners putting in some skin, COTS is not a viable contracting mechanism. 

Also, COTS flowed into CRS contract for services, just as CCtCap is flowing into CCP services.

For habitats, COTS type procurement is a no go.
A.  COTS tested spacecraft and launch vehicles over 2-3 flights.  Is that going to happen with a habitat?
B.  The follow on to COTS was CRS.  How would COTS development of habitats flow into a procurement "habitat" services.   This is not the same as a commercial space station where NASA could by time on one or rent one.  It doesn't work when a habitat is going to be part of a station that is still managed by NASA.

Service contracts are great and NASA should be using more of them.  COTS contracts have limited applicability and there are few places that they fit in.

Offline Jim

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #57 on: 08/17/2017 02:47 PM »
I am hoping that the new NASA admistrator will change things for the future (Nextstep) rounds of habitat development.

You are wasting your wishes.

Offline notsorandom

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #58 on: 08/17/2017 03:19 PM »
COTS is a dead model.  It was unique that it was to develop capabilities not just for the government. COTS monies were used for and paid for Falcon 9 development. Commercial use of Antares has yet to happen.
Also Antares / Cygnus came only after Rocketplane Kistler failed. NASA paid $32.1 million to Rocketplane Kistler and got nothing in return. Of the three companies involved in COTS one was wildly successful, one met the minimum requirements but hasn't found any non-NASA use, and one failed.
« Last Edit: 08/17/2017 03:24 PM by notsorandom »

Offline Danderman

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Re: Is Commercial Crew Dangerous?
« Reply #59 on: 08/17/2017 04:52 PM »
Failure is part of the free Enterprise system, if no one fails, the system isn't working (in terms of non-technical risks).

As for Orbital, I seem to recall they secured a commercial customer for satellite deployment.

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