Author Topic: OIG Report: NASA’S PLANS FOR HUMAN EXPLORATION BEYOND LEO - April 13,2017  (Read 1398 times)

Offline RocketEconomist327

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Quote from: NASA OIG
NASA faces a host of formidable challenges as it develops plans for human exploration of Mars. The technical challenges are unprecedented and the costs enormous with even austere budget estimates totaling more than $400 billion by the time a second visit to the Martian surface is completed in the 2040s.

We believe NASA has developed a sound framework for its Journey to Mars. To its credit, the Agency has made affordability and sustainability key components of its deep space ambitions, adopting an incremental approach under which space flight systems are developed when needed and planning for reuse of some systems. Moreover, NASA is examining its acquisition strategies to determine whether it can lower costs by using fixed-price contracts once system development has ended and production begins.

That said, we offer several observations about NASA’s deep space exploration efforts. First, the Agency’s first exploration missions – EM-1 and EM-2 – have little schedule margin and low reserves and are not likely to launch by 2018 or 2021, respectively. In addition, NASA’s integration plans for EM-2 are incomplete, making it more difficult for both Agency officials and external stakeholders to gain a full understanding of the costs of that mission or to assess the validity of the Agency’s launch date assumptions. Moreover, the Agency is still working to overcome technical challenges in the SLS, Orion, and GSDO programs, and development of many critical systems needed for the Journey to Mars has not begun. Finally, one of the keys to executing NASA’s Journey to Mars plan on the timetable the Agency has set will be developing and building needed space systems in the 2020s. However, NASA has not identified the requirements or costs for missions beyond the mid-2020s and its decision regarding ISS operations beyond 2024 may impact the funds available for its deep space exploration efforts.

A very interesting read sending mixed signals.  Not as pretty as a picture as some would like. 

https://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY17/IG-17-017.pdf

VR
RE327
You can talk about all the great things you can do, or want to do, in space; but unless the rocket scientists get a sound understanding of economics (and quickly), the US space program will never achieve the greatness it should.

Putting my money where my mouth is.

Offline Blackstar

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Without having read this particular report, I'd caution that IG reports have limitations and issues. They can at times be unfair. An IG report several years ago criticized the Planetary Science Division for not doing something that would have been stupid to do, and they would not listen to the explanation about why that was stupid, they just dinged PSD for not doing it. Also, they represent a snapshot in time, and when they are released some of the things they discuss may have already been fixed (this is true for GAO reports as well).

Quite often they evaluate a subject according to a rigid set of criteria and don't consider whether those are actually the proper criteria to use. It's like criticizing Picasso because his paintings did not stay between the lines.


Offline RocketEconomist327

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It is not doom and gloom but simply detecting the most certain storm on the horizon.  Lengthy, this is one of the reports you need to read from front to back.

VR
RE327
You can talk about all the great things you can do, or want to do, in space; but unless the rocket scientists get a sound understanding of economics (and quickly), the US space program will never achieve the greatness it should.

Putting my money where my mouth is.

Offline Coastal Ron

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From the "WHAT WE RECOMMENDED" section:

"To increase the fidelity, accountability, and transparency of NASA’s human exploration goals beyond low Earth orbit, we recommended the Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations;

(1) complete an integrated master schedule for the SLS, Orion, and GSDO programs for the EM-2 mission;

(2) establish more rigorous cost and schedule estimates for the SLS and associated GSDO infrastructure for EM-2;

(3) establish objectives, need-by dates for key systems, and phase transition mission dates to flesh out its Journey to Mars framework; and

(4) include cost as a factor in NASA’s Journey to Mars feasibility studies when assessing various potential missions and systems. To improve cost savings efforts, we recommended the Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations

(5) design a strategy for collaborating with international space agencies in their cislunar space exploration efforts with a focus on advancing key systems and capabilities needed for Mars exploration, and

(6) incorporate into analyses of space flight system architectures the potential for utilization of private launch vehicles for transportation of payloads.

We provided a draft of this report to NASA management who concurred or partially concurred with our recommendations and described planned corrective actions. We consider the proposed actions responsive to all but recommendation 2, and therefore will close those recommendations upon verification and completion of the actions. For the remaining open recommendation, we will continue to work with the Agency to resolve our concerns regarding establishing more rigorous cost and schedule estimates for the SLS and associated GSDO infrastructure for EM-2.
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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 woods170

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Online AncientU

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Quote from: NASA OIG
NASA faces a host of formidable challenges as it develops plans for human exploration of Mars. The technical challenges are unprecedented and the costs enormous with even austere budget estimates totaling more than $400 billion by the time a second visit to the Martian surface is completed in the 2040s.

We believe NASA has developed a sound framework for its Journey to Mars. To its credit, the Agency has made affordability and sustainability key components of its deep space ambitions, adopting an incremental approach under which space flight systems are developed when needed and planning for reuse of some systems. Moreover, NASA is examining its acquisition strategies to determine whether it can lower costs by using fixed-price contracts once system development has ended and production begins.

That said, we offer several observations about NASA’s deep space exploration efforts. First, the Agency’s first exploration missions – EM-1 and EM-2 – have little schedule margin and low reserves and are not likely to launch by 2018 or 2021, respectively. In addition, NASA’s integration plans for EM-2 are incomplete, making it more difficult for both Agency officials and external stakeholders to gain a full understanding of the costs of that mission or to assess the validity of the Agency’s launch date assumptions. Moreover, the Agency is still working to overcome technical challenges in the SLS, Orion, and GSDO programs, and development of many critical systems needed for the Journey to Mars has not begun. Finally, one of the keys to executing NASA’s Journey to Mars plan on the timetable the Agency has set will be developing and building needed space systems in the 2020s. However, NASA has not identified the requirements or costs for missions beyond the mid-2020s and its decision regarding ISS operations beyond 2024 may impact the funds available for its deep space exploration efforts.

A very interesting read sending mixed signals.  Not as pretty as a picture as some would like. 

https://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY17/IG-17-017.pdf

VR
RE327

Sounds like Management 101

If anything, OIG tip-toed around the issues.  One month schedule reserve remaining for EM-1 is not the issue -- both SLS and Orion will not be ready anywhere near 2018 is the issue.  The 2018 'schedule' is a distortion of reality. (Maybe this is why Blackstar made the Picasso reference.)

EM-1 and 2 with SLS and Orion are the easy parts of the $400B (? -- pick a number...) #JourneytoMars.  They tell us a great deal about the feasibility of the rest. #NotGonnaHappen
« Last Edit: 04/14/2017 08:59 AM by AncientU »
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Offline jgoldader

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I liked how they didn't include money spent on SLS/Orion before 2012,  though surely (IMHO) money spent from 2010-2012 and some CxP money should be counted.
« Last Edit: 04/14/2017 02:33 PM by jgoldader »
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