Author Topic: Constellation Program Lessons Learned  (Read 12615 times)

Offline rdale

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Constellation Program Lessons Learned
« on: 10/03/2011 08:23 PM »
I think when this originally came out only the executive summary was available... Here's the entire document.

These lessons learned are part of a suite of hardware, software, test results, designs, knowledge base, and documentation that comprises the legacy of the Constellation Program. The context, summary information, and lessons learned are presented in a factual format, as known and described at the time. While our opinions might be discernable in the context, we have avoided all but factually sustainable statements. Statements should not be viewed as being either positive or negative; their value lies in what we did and what we learned that is worthy of passing on. The lessons include both "dos" and "don ts." In many cases, one person s "do" can be viewed as another person s "don t"; therefore, we have attempted to capture both perspectives when applicable and useful. While Volume I summarizes the views of those who managed the program, this Volume II encompasses the views at the working level, describing how the program challenges manifested in day-to-day activities. Here we see themes that were perhaps hinted at, but not completely addressed, in Volume I: unintended consequences of policies that worked well at higher levels but lacked proper implementation at the working level; long-term effects of the "generation gap" in human space flight development, the need to demonstrate early successes at the expense of thorough planning, and the consequences of problems and challenges not yet addressed because other problems and challenges were more immediate or manifest. Not all lessons learned have the benefit of being operationally vetted, since the program was cancelled shortly after Preliminary Design Review. We avoid making statements about operational consequences (with the exception of testing and test flights that did occur), but we do attempt to provide insight into how operational thinking influenced design and testing. The lessons have been formatted with a description, along with supporting information, a succinct statement of the lesson learned, and recommendations for future programs and projects that may be placed in similar circumstances.


Offline Dasun

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Re: Constellation Program Lessons Learned
« Reply #1 on: 10/04/2011 11:42 AM »
This is an excellent read with a number of interesting points.  Does anyone know if the SLS programme office has heeded these hard one lessons?
I am vendor neutral, I just want to see spacecraft fly.

Offline Chris Bergin

Re: Constellation Program Lessons Learned
« Reply #2 on: 10/04/2011 12:10 PM »
Does anyone know if the SLS programme office has heeded these hard one lessons?

Clearly - and the above is only a very short version. Reminds me to write up the massive ones on L2.

Offline RyanC

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Re: Constellation Program Lessons Learned
« Reply #3 on: 10/06/2011 11:41 PM »
I like how they planned to get around the limitations of the existing fleet of Super Guppies for moving the Altair lander around for qualifications -- via Barge, just like good old S-IC and S-II.

Offline Jim

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Re: Constellation Program Lessons Learned
« Reply #4 on: 10/06/2011 11:55 PM »
I like how they planned to get around the limitations of the existing fleet of Super Guppies for moving the Altair lander around for qualifications -- via Barge, just like good old S-IC and S-II.

Only feasible if the Altair contractor is need a waterway

Offline Lars_J

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Re: Constellation Program Lessons Learned
« Reply #5 on: 10/07/2011 12:56 AM »
The most interesting "lesson learned" was:

3.2 Schedule Creep and the Fixed Base — The Law of Diminishing Returns
 - Basically how a large organization such as NASA that is intent on maintaining its "base" reaches a point were no money can be saved by pushing the schedule to the right - no matter how far it is pushed.

I just hope the *right* lesson is learned. (i.e not just "we need more funds")
« Last Edit: 10/07/2011 12:57 AM by Lars_J »

Offline madscientist197

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Re: Constellation Program Lessons Learned
« Reply #6 on: 10/07/2011 09:26 AM »
Wow. No wonder everything costs so much.

On overspecification/overregulation:
Quote
• NASA STD 8739.3, Soldered Electrical Connections – a 93-page document with 391 “shall” statements inclusive of room temperature/relative humidity and 1077 lumens of light per square meter or 100 foot candles on the work surface.
• NASA STD 8739.4, Crimping/Cables/Harnesses/Wiring – a 66-page document containing 391 “shall” statements requiring (a) a Snell far-vision chart 20/50; (b) a near-vision Jaeger1 at 355.6mm; and (c) reduced Snell 20/20 or equivalent. Requires color vision testing and specifies temperature/humidity and lighting.
• NASA STD 8719.9, Standard for Lifting Devices – a 126-page document containing 996 “shall” statements covering the use of overhead devices as well as powered and motorized devices; approves the use of manufacturer’s procedures and instructs on how to set the parking brakes on mobile and motorized units.
...And the contractors have to actively prove that they are meeting all these standards.
Quote
Contractors must verify every requirement, and the program must ensure that every requirement is auditable

I can understand having standards for soldering, but I can't understand why it would take more than one to two pages. Sounds like there's a bit of redundancy in these regulations as well. It also doesn't help when each centre has it's own conflicting regulations:
Quote
Each NASA center has a standard for this [lifting hardware], and the various standards are not identical. This necessitates a contractor dealing with multiple centers to, depending on the locale, know, understand, train, and staff to implement multiple ways of lifting hardware

It's amusing that the document suggests the creation of a standard for the creation and evaluation of standards.  ::)  Oh man...

On ten healthy centres:
Quote
When everybody is responsible for everything, no-one is responsible for anything.

On data management:
Quote
Due to the late start of the program relative to the start of the projects, incompatible data systems were the norm, so the program had to use a mostly manual approach to integrate data. This often involved use of non-authoritative copies of data, which resulted in decisions being made using out-of-date and inaccurate information
« Last Edit: 10/07/2011 10:20 AM by madscientist197 »
John

Offline dks13827

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Re: Constellation Program Lessons Learned
« Reply #7 on: 10/08/2011 03:56 AM »
Obviously, the goal is not necessarily to fly.  Now, I don't know what the goal is.....    not sure that anyone working amongst those regulations could answer, either. 

Interestingly,  Tom Kelly told a story about Grumman lifting the first LM out of the fixture.  The Nasa guy said, let's see the hoist lift a test weight first.
It failed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    They were lucky they didnt destroy the first LM by dropping it !!!
The Nasa rule was, test the hoist every time before you risk the spacecraft.  And a good rule, I think.
« Last Edit: 10/17/2011 10:11 PM by dks13827 »

Offline simpl simon

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Re: Constellation Program Lessons Learned
« Reply #8 on: 10/13/2011 01:31 AM »
Obviously, the goal is not necessarily to fly.  Now, I don't know what the goal is.....    not sure that anyone working amongst those regulations could answer, either. 

Interestingly,  Tom Kelly told a story about Grumman lifting the first LM out of the fixture.  The Nasa guy said, let's see the hoist lift a test weight first.
It failed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    They were lucky they didnt destroy the first LM by dropping it !!!
So the hoist was not previously subjected to an acceptance test, lifting something 1.5 - 2 times its expected normal load?
Oh, it was only a story.

Offline vulture4

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Re: Constellation Program Lessons Learned
« Reply #9 on: 07/21/2014 10:39 PM »
This is a really interesting thread. I didn't know about the "lessons learned" report. Wonder if there is one for Shuttle? Nevertheless, some of the insights in the report may be unintended. For example, the authors quote the CAIB report when explaining the rationale for Constellation:

"The CAIB concluded that it should be possible, using past and future investments in technology, to develop the basis for a system “significantly improved over one designed 40 years earlier, for carrying humans to orbit and enabling their work in space.” "

But the CAIB actually said that the Shuttle replacement should be designed solely for the task of taking humans into LEO and returning them too earth, because the resources the nation was willing to commit at the present time were not sufficient to safely accomplish a more ambitious goal. In fact the CAIB assumed the Shuttle replacement would take the form of the Orbital Space Plane, similar to today's Commercial Crew concepts. One wonders if the authors of this report actually read the one they quote.

Offline Downix

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Re: Constellation Program Lessons Learned
« Reply #10 on: 08/06/2014 02:38 AM »
This is a really interesting thread. I didn't know about the "lessons learned" report. Wonder if there is one for Shuttle? Nevertheless, some of the insights in the report may be unintended. For example, the authors quote the CAIB report when explaining the rationale for Constellation:

"The CAIB concluded that it should be possible, using past and future investments in technology, to develop the basis for a system “significantly improved over one designed 40 years earlier, for carrying humans to orbit and enabling their work in space.” "

But the CAIB actually said that the Shuttle replacement should be designed solely for the task of taking humans into LEO and returning them too earth, because the resources the nation was willing to commit at the present time were not sufficient to safely accomplish a more ambitious goal. In fact the CAIB assumed the Shuttle replacement would take the form of the Orbital Space Plane, similar to today's Commercial Crew concepts. One wonders if the authors of this report actually read the one they quote.
This is not the only case where the cited report does not match the claims. The ESAS stated that a report claimed the SSME would be easy to make air-startable, when that report stated that to make an air-startable version would in effect be, and I am quoting, "equal to, or even greater than, designing an all new engine"
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Offline FinalFrontier

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Re: Constellation Program Lessons Learned
« Reply #11 on: 11/14/2014 05:15 AM »
Number one Lesson:

Do not let politics trump common sense. Or you end up with hardware you cannot afford. And the whole things goes up in flames.
3-30-2017: The start of a great future
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Constellation Program Lessons Learned
« Reply #12 on: 11/14/2014 06:20 AM »
Looking at one example isn't a very good way to learn lessons, because it's hard to know what would have happened if different choices had been made.

I think better lessons are learned by contrasting two different examples.  Contrasting Constellation with commercial cargo and crew seems like the most obvious comparison to make.

Offline kfsorensen

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Re: Constellation Program Lessons Learned
« Reply #13 on: 11/14/2014 11:47 AM »
Lesson learned: NASA is not, and never was, and never will be, in the business of trying to save the taxpayer some money trying to accomplish things in space.

Lesson learned: every NASA program begins with an exercise in political optimization.  Engineering optimization rarely follows political optimization (aka zipcode engineering).

Offline simonbp

Re: Constellation Program Lessons Learned
« Reply #14 on: 11/18/2014 03:04 PM »
That assumes all NASA programs are large engineering efforts. NASA is vastly efficient and effective at pure research programs, where pretty much all the money is spent at universities and research institutes who had to compete with each other on the weight of their scientific/engineering merit.
« Last Edit: 11/18/2014 03:05 PM by simonbp »

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