Author Topic: Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision  (Read 114678 times)

Offline Todd Martin

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Re: Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision
« Reply #20 on: 09/26/2014 11:25 PM »
Glad to hear SNC is filed protest over the CCtCap downselect.  Each of the CCDev participants went through elaborate lengths to show that their designs were safe and sufficient to meet NASA needs.  The primary criteria left to evaluate CCtCap should have been price & schedule.  While we don't yet know the details of the SNC bid, it is entirely reasonable to expect that their bid was significantly cheaper than Boeing and included an earlier first flight.

NASA needs Commercial Crew flights to be cheap since there is significant risk of Congressional cost cutting.  Without Commercial Crew, the entire ISS program is at risk.  While many people decry ISS as uneconomical or lacking in valuable scientific research projects, it provides international collaboration, an engineering testbed, a LEO market, and a basis for growth in manned space-flight.  We should continue ISS indefinitely and replace parts as needed while working to reduce the cost to operate.

Commercial crew needs to be cheap to allow for other manned LEO missions to be economically viable.  If we ever want to do orbital assembly for space based solar power, orbital tourism, or orbital manufacturing, or asteroid mining, we need companies like SNC to be allowed to compete on price.

If the  NASA procurement officer made the decision because Boeing was a 1 in 10,000 LOC risk versus SNC 1 in 9,999 LOC risk, then clearly the will of Congress and the people were ignored.


Offline Req

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Re: Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision
« Reply #21 on: 09/26/2014 11:27 PM »
This is a complete waste of time, unless SNC believes that NASA will endorse funding all 3 and then congress will actually do it.

It doesn't matter how this review turns out, because on the Hill, their constituents would castrate them for dropping SpaceX and their benefactors would castrate them for dropping Boeing.  This doesn't pass go(funding-wise) if either of those get downselected.

This always seemed plainly obvious at least in my opinion, I had assumed it would be all 3 or SpaceX/Boeing.
« Last Edit: 09/26/2014 11:30 PM by Req »

Offline rcoppola

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Re: Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision
« Reply #22 on: 09/26/2014 11:27 PM »
I think it's fairly clear and something many observers have been uneasy about since the announcement.

SNC is saying they scored essentially as well as Boeing. Give or take a few points. BUT, that "price" was supposed to be double weighted and that they came in $900Million "below" Boeing's bid and yet were not selected. It also seems, they have not been given a reasonable explanation as to how they could score almost equal points, bid almost a Billion dollars less than Boeing and yet, still not be selected.

Seems a reasonable response to me. One NASA new was coming. Whether they are truly prepared to answer remains an open question.
« Last Edit: 09/26/2014 11:33 PM by rcoppola »
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Offline robertross

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Re: Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision
« Reply #23 on: 09/26/2014 11:28 PM »
I'm seriously torn on this.

I love the Dream Chaser concept and its unique capabilities. In my 'opinion', there were likely 'inconsistencies' (tampering, political interference) with the selection process. But first and foremost I am 100% for the most expeditious way to get US domestic (or alternative crew access) to the ISS.

This protest seriously hampers a timely commercial crew capability. The whole point of this process was to get a commercial crew capability up and going FAST, and now this delays the whole thing.

I don't know. I suppose the 'blame' is in the handling of the whole situation more than anything. They were considered a winner, but then got nothing.  I guess sometimes 'transparency' can be a good thing.

Part of me wants to see them get an award, but I also understand the many excellent points made on this site about engine changes (definitely concerning), and more recently some L2 stuff I had read, and noted in Chris' article on workforce losses. Most, if not all, of the public members on here have not seen the source selection document, so we are only guessing as to its content. However, if SNC feels it has a legitimate case, we have to ensure there truly was fairness across the board.

I guess in the end all I can say is: let's hope Russia can still help Americans get to and from the station, (and safely).
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Offline RocketmanUS

If all three are believed they could meet the 2017 first crew flight and offer crew service to ISS after that then they all should have been given further funding.

Government has not learned from the past. They are offering to big of an award at this time. They should have offered enough for six months of funding and then give out another award. They have bet the farm on two when neither maybe able to be ready by 2017. And the flight to ISS for crew should have been awarded after the provider had a proven flight with crew. They never know a non government funded provider might just have a working crew taxi before the government funded companies do.
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Offline rcoppola

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Re: Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision
« Reply #25 on: 09/26/2014 11:37 PM »
If SNC prevails with their law suit, what would that mean for Space X? (Assuming Boeing is untouchable in all this)
Although SNC had to protest the entirety of the award, they are really aiming directly at Boeing's selection.

I would say SpaceX is fine no matter what happens. They have the lowest bid along with an extremely viable DV2 program. (not that the other 2 programs are not viable, they just don't have the lowest bid as well.)
« Last Edit: 09/26/2014 11:39 PM by rcoppola »
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Online Lars-J

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Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision
« Reply #26 on: 09/26/2014 11:42 PM »
If SNC prevails with their law suit, what would that mean for Space X? (Assuming Boeing is untouchable in all this)

Boeing is not untouchable in this. Nor are they unassailable, as another poster claimed.
« Last Edit: 09/26/2014 11:44 PM by Lars-J »

Offline robertross

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Re: Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision
« Reply #27 on: 09/26/2014 11:53 PM »
http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2014/09/dream-chaser-fight-snc-protest-cctcap-decision/

First version. SNC say more is coming on this shortly.


Very good article Chris. Their presser added some very important details in addition to the startling L2 info.
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Offline Halidon

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Re: Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision
« Reply #28 on: 09/26/2014 11:54 PM »
I would say SpaceX is fine no matter what happens. They have the lowest bid along with an extremely viable DV2 program. (not that the other 2 programs are not viable, they just don't have the lowest bid as well.)
"fine" in that they may survive to eventually be one of the providers as they were in the initial pick, but the money is still withheld until the protest is resolved.

Offline daveklingler

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Re: Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision
« Reply #29 on: 09/26/2014 11:55 PM »
I'm happy to hear that SNC came in $900M below Boeing's proposal, and I hope that information percolates through to the general public.  Given that both vehicles use the same launcher, there's no reason that CST-100 should cost so much more than the other two proposals.

In view of that cost difference, and SNC's stellar performance, I don't see a reason Boeing should have won a spot.  I'll be pretty interested in the facts that come out of this protest, and frankly, I'm rooting for SNC.  I have nothing against Boeing except that I wish they had brought in a more competitive proposal.  I saw the political machinations going on, but the difference between the SpaceX and Boeing awards was extraordinary.

I've been put in mind of Boeing's protest over the Air Force tanker award a few years back, and its subsequent re-award to Boeing.  Good luck to SNC.

Offline Paul Adams

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Re: Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision
« Reply #30 on: 09/26/2014 11:57 PM »
Give Boeing the same funding as SpaceX, and the remainder from the original Boeing award to SNC.
It's all in the data.

Offline daveklingler

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Re: Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision
« Reply #31 on: 09/26/2014 11:58 PM »
I would say SpaceX is fine no matter what happens. They have the lowest bid along with an extremely viable DV2 program. (not that the other 2 programs are not viable, they just don't have the lowest bid as well.)
"fine" in that they may survive to eventually be one of the providers as they were in the initial pick, but the money is still withheld until the protest is resolved.

Is that a given?  SNC did not protest SpaceX's award.

Offline Darkseraph

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Re: Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision
« Reply #32 on: 09/27/2014 12:05 AM »
So I take this means their proposal was a good bit over $3 billion?
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Offline obi-wan

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Re: Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision
« Reply #33 on: 09/27/2014 12:29 AM »

There goes 2017.  We'll be lucky to hit 2018 now.

Quote
It was almost universally expected that NASA would select Dream Chaser alongside SpaceXís Dragon V2...

Universally expected?  No.  Not even close.  It was expected only by casual observers.  Aerospace professionals expected Boeing and SpaceX (in that order) with Sierra Nevada a very distant third.

I wouldn't call the large amount of people I know as "casual observers" so you're inaccurate to make such a representation.

I'm trying to be polite while differentiating between aerospace engineers and the general public.  It's at least as accurate as "...almost universally expected..."

Talking to other aerospace engineers throughout the industry, one phrase regarding SpaceX and Sierra Nevada kept coming up regarding Commercial Crew, "They don't know what they don't know."  SpaceX earned the second spot with cargo Dragon.  Sierra Nevada has flown nothing remotely comparable.


As an aging aerospace engineer who has worked at NASA, and Boeing, and new space, and built and flown shuttle payloads, I really hate the smug attitude in our field of "we're the only people who have flown, so we're the only people capable of flying, so anybody else is a newbie worthy only of contempt." The fact that Company X has a history of successful flights shows that they know _a_ feasible method of design, development, and operations; it does not mean that that is the only method that can possibly work. If the legacy of Commercial Crew is that we send a couple dozen traditional NASA astronauts into low Earth orbit each year in traditional vehicles at traditional prices, I see no point in the program. I'd rather give the money to companies trying to break the mold and revolutionize space access, even if I knew from the outset they would both fail occasionally. When they ultimately succeed, it would be the game changer I've spent my whole career waiting for (and hopefully working towards...)

Offline Nindalf

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Re: Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision
« Reply #34 on: 09/27/2014 12:42 AM »
the official NASA solicitation for the CCtCap contract prioritized price as the primary evaluation criteria for the proposals, setting it equal to the combined value of the other two primary evaluation criteria: mission suitability and past performance.  SNCís Dream Chaser proposal was the second lowest priced proposal in the CCtCap competition. SNCís proposal also achieved mission suitability scores comparable to the other two proposals.  In fact, out of a possible 1,000 total points, the highest ranked and lowest ranked offerors were separated by a minor amount of total points and other factors were equally comparable.
Persuasive, but also vague in places I don't like.  How many is a minor amount out of 1,000?

Does this mean SNC was last place on both mission suitability and past performance?  If price, mission suitability, and past performance are the primary evaluation criteria, where does the we-think-you-can-actually-do-it factor fit in?

Was "price" supposed to mean simply "maximum contract value", "new vehicle price", or "mature system price"?  My understanding is that, though all three vehicles were designed to be at least partly reusable, Dream Chaser was the only one bid based on reuse.  If they're depending on reuse to start with, they're basically out of room to reduce costs in the mature system.

Boeing's approach may have:
- more potential for incremental upgrades, for instance toward Dragon's method of landing and highly-reusable heat shield, and production of special-purpose variants
- the potential to launch uncrewed, in lifeboat or beyond-LEO excursion craft delivery mode, saving money by entirely omitting the heavy and expensive LAS and using a smaller cargo-class launch vehicle
- the potential of replacing a damaged heat shield in orbit (perhaps with spares sent up on a lifeboat launch, in place of the LAS), and thereby saving the costly craft
- a lower per-flight price if reusability is achieved
- a faster and more consistent turnaround of the reusable vehicle
- a higher development and initial tooling cost, but a lower unit price thereafter

I'd rather see Dream Chaser fly, but I see a great deal of potential in the CST-100 as well (particularly as a lifeboat), and I'm inclined to give NASA the benefit of the doubt that they made a fair and rational decision until more information comes out.

If all three are believed they could meet the 2017 first crew flight and offer crew service to ISS after that then they all should have been given further funding.
I agree with this 100%.  I did not want to see this downselect.  Better to spend a little, see what happens, spend a little more.  Don't make the candidates stake their funding on a guess of whether they think it will make sense to do reuse in the first half-dozen working missions.  I strongly dislike that NASA made them choose to bid one way or the other.

Offline Lee Jay

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Re: Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision
« Reply #35 on: 09/27/2014 12:48 AM »
Thanks! I have to say, I was very happy to see this happen.

"Dissimilar redundancy".

You know, this is so blatantly obvious to me that I'm wondering if I just don't get it because I'm an outsider.

If you decide to go and buy two cars, would you get a Toyota Corolla and a Honda Civic?  They're more-or-less the same in capabilities, so just pick one or the other, and get something different for the second car.  Maybe you need to take your two kids, and their four friends to soccer practice so you get a minivan.  Maybe you need to tow a boat or haul lumber so you get a truck.  But why get two of essentially the same thing?

Offline Jcc

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Re: Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision
« Reply #36 on: 09/27/2014 12:57 AM »
NASA can't just give the CCtCap entrants some funding and expect them to produce certified vehicles by 2017. They need to fully fund them, not only for development but for some crew flights, because the value of those crew missions are costed in to the price to help pay for development. If they cut Boeing and and SpaceX by 33% each to pay for SNC, that guarantees nothing flies. Even if they came up with an additional 3B for DC, then they have to divide the crew flights 3 ways instead of 2, making those seats cost a whole lot more than Soyuz.

Offline rcoppola

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Re: Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision
« Reply #37 on: 09/27/2014 01:26 AM »
To Nindalf:

In a few short minutes, you jotted down some possible competitive points to justify a Boeing over SNC decision. NASA has had dozens of people, with hundreds of millions of dollars over a couple years to make these determinations. I would assume they should have been able to provide a vast technical, contextual and mind numbing array of such documentation to explicitly justify why Boeing was chosen over SNC.

And yet, SNC protested. Was SNC presented with an unambiguous list of selection criteria found to be in the positive for Boeing over their proposal? I suspect not. And if not, then why exactly?

It could be that they were shown such documentation but felt that the conclusions were not properly representative of  their proposal's strengths. And in such a case, how does one illicit the the real reasoning within those weighted conclusions? Well, it seems you protest the hell out of them. And so be it...Let's see the selection committee explain, in intimate and everlasting detail how and why they came to their conclusions.

(We won't see that, unless congress decides to have a hearing after the protest)
« Last Edit: 09/27/2014 01:44 AM by rcoppola »
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Offline RocketmanUS

NASA can't just give the CCtCap entrants some funding and expect them to produce certified vehicles by 2017. They need to fully fund them, not only for development but for some crew flights, because the value of those crew missions are costed in to the price to help pay for development. If they cut Boeing and and SpaceX by 33% each to pay for SNC, that guarantees nothing flies. Even if they came up with an additional 3B for DC, then they have to divide the crew flights 3 ways instead of 2, making those seats cost a whole lot more than Soyuz.
They need to be funded in stages all the way to the final crewed test flight. But not a contract to supply crew to the station until they have proven they can do the job. If funded in stages and one or more fails a milestone then there is still one or more left. If one of them fails a milestone then they would not need to fund them on the next milestone.

At the end of the test flights then only one or two of them would get contracts to bring crew to the ISS, no all three. So there is no need for ~$3B more in funding, more like $500M till by the end of 2017.
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Offline rcoppola

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Re: Dream Chaser shows her fight - SNC protest CCtCap decision
« Reply #39 on: 09/27/2014 01:31 AM »
Thanks! I have to say, I was very happy to see this happen.

"Dissimilar redundancy".

You know, this is so blatantly obvious to me that I'm wondering if I just don't get it because I'm an outsider.

If you decide to go and buy two cars, would you get a Toyota Corolla and a Honda Civic?  They're more-or-less the same in capabilities, so just pick one or the other, and get something different for the second car.  Maybe you need to take your two kids, and their four friends to soccer practice so you get a minivan.  Maybe you need to tow a boat or haul lumber so you get a truck.  But why get two of essentially the same thing?

Because if the Toyota ends up in the shop because of a recall notice, you can still drive the Honda to work.  And vice-versa.

You buy different vehicles if you have different missions (that's why I have a minivan.  I don't pick up drywall in the Prius...)   But if the defined mission is "get up to a 4-person carpool to and from work", I might drive a Honda, and Jim might have a Toyota, and we both can execute the mission - and can both cover for each other if needed.
Yes, but then, wouldn't you expect to pay about the same for each?
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