Author Topic: GAO Report: Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission  (Read 3008 times)

Offline RocketEconomist327

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Quote from: GAO
With less than 2 years until the planned November 2018 launch date for its first exploration mission (EM-1), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) three human exploration programs—Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion), Space Launch System (SLS), and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS)— are making progress on their respective systems, but the EM-1 launch date is likely unachievable as technical challenges continue to cause schedule delays.  All three programs face unique challenges in completing development, and each has little to no schedule reserve remaining between now and the EM-1 date, meaning they will have to complete all remaining work with little margin for error for unexpected challenges that may arise.

https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-414

We all saw this coming in 2011 - the chickens are now coming home to roost.

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 woods170

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Re: GAO Report: Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission
« Reply #1 on: 04/28/2017 08:57 AM »
Quote from: GAO
With less than 2 years until the planned November 2018 launch date for its first exploration mission (EM-1), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) three human exploration programs—Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion), Space Launch System (SLS), and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS)— are making progress on their respective systems, but the EM-1 launch date is likely unachievable as technical challenges continue to cause schedule delays.  All three programs face unique challenges in completing development, and each has little to no schedule reserve remaining between now and the EM-1 date, meaning they will have to complete all remaining work with little margin for error for unexpected challenges that may arise.

https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-414

We all saw this coming in 2011 - the chickens are now coming home to roost.

VR
RE327


And the write-up by Jeff Foust: http://spacenews.com/nasa-plans-to-delay-first-slsorion-mission-to-2019/

IMO, this is what you get when you combine two thing:
1. Thrusting a certain design for a BFR onto the executing agency, without having that agencies prior consent (Obama and Bolden never wanted SLS in the first place)
2. Penciling hard operational-by dates into law, without providing the executing agency with the money needed (same underfunding mistake that eventually led to the cancellation of CxP).

Ultimately though IMO, those continued delays will not spell doom for SLS and Orion. But the current efforts of Bezos, Musk and ULA ultimately will IMO.
« Last Edit: 04/28/2017 08:57 AM by woods170 »

Offline tdperk

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Re: GAO Report: Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission
« Reply #2 on: 04/28/2017 02:53 PM »
Quote from: GAO
With less than 2 years until the planned November 2018 launch date for its first exploration mission (EM-1), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) three human exploration programs—Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion), Space Launch System (SLS), and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS)— are making progress on their respective systems, but the EM-1 launch date is likely unachievable as technical challenges continue to cause schedule delays.  All three programs face unique challenges in completing development, and each has little to no schedule reserve remaining between now and the EM-1 date, meaning they will have to complete all remaining work with little margin for error for unexpected challenges that may arise.

https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-414

We all saw this coming in 2011 - the chickens are now coming home to roost.

VR
RE327


And the write-up by Jeff Foust: http://spacenews.com/nasa-plans-to-delay-first-slsorion-mission-to-2019/

IMO, this is what you get when you combine two thing:
1. Thrusting a certain design for a BFR onto the executing agency, without having that agencies prior consent (Obama and Bolden never wanted SLS in the first place)
2. Penciling hard operational-by dates into law, without providing the executing agency with the money needed (same underfunding mistake that eventually led to the cancellation of CxP).

Ultimately though IMO, those continued delays will not spell doom for SLS and Orion. But the current efforts of Bezos, Musk and ULA ultimately will IMO.

Congress does set the priorities for spending government money, and it does that with legislation.  The job of a President if they will not veto is ultimately to shut up and soldier--or risk impeachment if they refuse to obey the law.  That's how it works.

There is no conceivable BFR effort in the realm of the capacity of the SLS, where 10 to 15 billion is not sufficient--presuming competence of course.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: GAO Report: Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission
« Reply #3 on: 04/28/2017 03:26 PM »
There is no conceivable BFR effort in the realm of the capacity of the SLS, where 10 to 15 billion is not sufficient--presuming competence of course.

You are making the same mistake that Congress did, which is that you are forcing a solution, not asking for one.

Maybe a U.S. Government BFR can be built for $10-15B, but the point that woods170 was making is that NASA was never asked how to do that.  Instead Congress dictated the design and dictated a need date without a detailed analysis that showed that either doable.  Good, Cheap, Fast - at most you get two, but as we're seeing with the SLS sometimes you only get one (my "Good" assumption is that Boeing can build a safe, workable rocket).

Plus, regarding money, Congress never set a money limit for the SLS, only a spending rate.  There is a difference.
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 tdperk

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Re: GAO Report: Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission
« Reply #4 on: 04/28/2017 06:17 PM »
There is no conceivable BFR effort in the realm of the capacity of the SLS, where 10 to 15 billion is not sufficient--presuming competence of course.

You are making the same mistake that Congress did, which is that you are forcing a solution, not asking for one.

Maybe a U.S. Government BFR can be built for $10-15B, but the point that woods170 was making is that NASA was never asked how to do that.  Instead Congress dictated the design and dictated a need date without a detailed analysis that showed that either doable.  Good, Cheap, Fast - at most you get two, but as we're seeing with the SLS sometimes you only get one (my "Good" assumption is that Boeing can build a safe, workable rocket).

Plus, regarding money, Congress never set a money limit for the SLS, only a spending rate.  There is a difference.

Not at all.  How do you pretend I have specified hardware?  Let alone mandated the use of solid boosters made in Utah?

Such a booster as the SLS can be made for that money, and for far less.  I did not claim NASA was told to make that rocket, so woods170 is making a point I have not disputed.  "Good, Cheap, Fast - at most you get two ", taking in the Eon Time Dilation factor and comparing SpaceX's progress to NASA's, it seems you can get all three for certain relative values of fast.

As for the supposed difference between a rate and an overall limit, when rate and a time limit are given, the overall limit is the rate times the elapsed time.  Or don't you believe in multiplication?

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: GAO Report: Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission
« Reply #5 on: 04/28/2017 07:43 PM »
Not at all.  How do you pretend I have specified hardware?  Let alone mandated the use of solid boosters made in Utah?

I never mentioned hardware.

Quote
Such a booster as the SLS can be made for that money, and for far less.

Congress specified the capacity of the SLS, the need date, the components to be used, as well as the contractors for the SLS.  NASA had no input.

So my point was that Congress was not asking for a BFR to be built for $10-15B, or really any total amount.

Quote
"Good, Cheap, Fast - at most you get two ", taking in the Eon Time Dilation factor and comparing SpaceX's progress to NASA's, it seems you can get all three for certain relative values of fast.

SpaceX is bound by the same constraints, but it looks like they are better at balancing them.  Keep in mind though that we don't know what their internal goals are, only what Musk announces publicly, so we can only guess about "Good, Cheap, & Fast".

Quote
As for the supposed difference between a rate and an overall limit, when rate and a time limit are given, the overall limit is the rate times the elapsed time.  Or don't you believe in multiplication?

Congress has not defined an overall upper limit to the amount of spending on the SLS, only a rate of spending.  Which means you can't get an actual number from multiplying Rate X Time, since Time is undefined.  At least not a number that an accountant could use...  ;)
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 tdperk

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Re: GAO Report: Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission
« Reply #6 on: 04/28/2017 10:43 PM »
Not at all.  How do you pretend I have specified hardware?  Let alone mandated the use of solid boosters made in Utah?

I never mentioned hardware.

Quote
Such a booster as the SLS can be made for that money, and for far less.

Congress specified the capacity of the SLS, the need date, the components to be used, as well as the contractors for the SLS.  NASA had no input.

So my point was that Congress was not asking for a BFR to be built for $10-15B, or really any total amount.

Quote
"Good, Cheap, Fast - at most you get two ", taking in the Eon Time Dilation factor and comparing SpaceX's progress to NASA's, it seems you can get all three for certain relative values of fast.

SpaceX is bound by the same constraints, but it looks like they are better at balancing them.  Keep in mind though that we don't know what their internal goals are, only what Musk announces publicly, so we can only guess about "Good, Cheap, & Fast".

Quote
As for the supposed difference between a rate and an overall limit, when rate and a time limit are given, the overall limit is the rate times the elapsed time.  Or don't you believe in multiplication?

Congress has not defined an overall upper limit to the amount of spending on the SLS, only a rate of spending.  Which means you can't get an actual number from multiplying Rate X Time, since Time is undefined.  At least not a number that an accountant could use...  ;)

If you aren't pretending I specified hardware, how are you pretending I've specified a solution?  If you know of a non-hardware means of achieving the placement of terrestrial pounds into orbit, please share.

And specifying a need date, a capacity, and a yearly limit up to that date that is specifying a BFR to be built with no more money than X, where X is the per time rate times the elapsed time--where the capacity requires a BFR.

Whether they in any way hold the manufacturers to that limit is an as yet to be seen answer political question, and the answer is probably not.
« Last Edit: 04/29/2017 01:03 AM by tdperk »

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: GAO Report: Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission
« Reply #7 on: 04/29/2017 06:00 AM »
If you aren't pretending I specified hardware, how are you pretending I've specified a solution?

You stated:

"There is no conceivable BFR effort in the realm of the capacity of the SLS, where 10 to 15 billion is not sufficient..."

Your solution was an SLS type rocket for no more $10-15B.  But you never said how long to develop it, which is why I said you were making the same mistake Congress was.

Well run programs and projects know what their "what", "when" and "how much" are.  For the SLS we really only know the "what".

Quote
Whether they in any way hold the manufacturers to that limit is an as yet to be seen answer political question, and the answer is probably not.

The contractors never bid for the design they are being asked to build, Congress specified that they be used.

Not that it matters, but the only date that Congress associated with the SLS was the requirement to have an initial capability of 70-100mT to LEO by December 31, 2016.  That didn't happen (obviously), and Congress didn't decrease the funding to the SLS, which means Congress isn't concerned about the final cost of the SLS like they are for other large programs.
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 Brovane

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Re: GAO Report: Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission
« Reply #8 on: 04/29/2017 01:09 PM »


Congress does set the priorities for spending government money, and it does that with legislation.  The job of a President if they will not veto is ultimately to shut up and soldier--or risk impeachment if they refuse to obey the law.  That's how it works.

There is no conceivable BFR effort in the realm of the capacity of the SLS, where 10 to 15 billion is not sufficient--presuming competence of course.

Just use FAR Cost Plus contract and the sky is the limit for costs. 
"Look at that! If anybody ever said, "you'll be sitting in a spacecraft naked with a 134-pound backpack on your knees charging it", I'd have said "Aw, get serious". - John Young - Apollo-16

Offline tdperk

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Re: GAO Report: Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission
« Reply #9 on: 04/29/2017 06:13 PM »
Quotes are from Coastal Ron.

" Your solution was an SLS type rocket for no more $10-15B. "  <--  And you'll quote me proposing that solution exactly never, since I think the whole thing is an abomination.  You are imagining words on my behalf I have never said, written, thought, or implied.

" Not that it matters, but the only date that Congress associated with the SLS was the requirement to have an initial capability of 70-100mT to LEO by December 31, 2016.  That didn't happen (obviously), and Congress didn't decrease the funding to the SLS, which means Congress isn't concerned about the final cost of the SLS like they are for other large programs. "  <--  So you admit they set a limit, didn't mean it then, and this failure gives the government another opportunity to recover from it's stupidity and end the program.  You're making progress towards vehement agreement.
« Last Edit: 04/29/2017 06:14 PM by tdperk »

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: GAO Report: Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission
« Reply #10 on: 04/29/2017 10:36 PM »
You are imagining words on my behalf I have never said, written, thought, or implied.

I'm just going by what you said, which here is one of the statements you made:

Such a booster as the SLS can be made for that money, and for far less.

And let me quote properly so that it's clear what I said (and didn't say):

Quote
Not that it matters, but the only date that Congress associated with the SLS was the requirement to have an initial capability of 70-100mT to LEO by December 31, 2016.  That didn't happen (obviously), and Congress didn't decrease the funding to the SLS, which means Congress isn't concerned about the final cost of the SLS like they are for other large programs.
So you admit they set a limit, didn't mean it then, and this failure gives the government another opportunity to recover from it's stupidity and end the program.

No, what I said was that Congress has not shown that they are concerned about the final cost.  That does not mean that there was or is a final cost that has been determined.  In fact we know that NASA has not shared any operational cost data with Congress, or at least did not share any during Obama's era, and Congress has not publicly asked for a cost estimate to finish the SLS.

If a government official is not concerned about the ROI of a government program, then that is an indication that they don't care about the ROI of that government program.  Which is fine if something is a "National Imperative", but not good for something where there isn't such a clear need.  And I think the SLS falls into the latter category.
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 tdperk

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Re: GAO Report: Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission
« Reply #11 on: 04/30/2017 05:54 PM »
You are imagining words on my behalf I have never said, written, thought, or implied.

I'm just going by what you said, which here is one of the statements you made:

Such a booster as the SLS can be made for that money, and for far less.

And let me quote properly so that it's clear what I said (and didn't say):

Quote
Not that it matters, but the only date that Congress associated with the SLS was the requirement to have an initial capability of 70-100mT to LEO by December 31, 2016.  That didn't happen (obviously), and Congress didn't decrease the funding to the SLS, which means Congress isn't concerned about the final cost of the SLS like they are for other large programs.
So you admit they set a limit, didn't mean it then, and this failure gives the government another opportunity to recover from it's stupidity and end the program.

No, what I said was that Congress has not shown that they are concerned about the final cost.  That does not mean that there was or is a final cost that has been determined.  In fact we know that NASA has not shared any operational cost data with Congress, or at least did not share any during Obama's era, and Congress has not publicly asked for a cost estimate to finish the SLS.

If a government official is not concerned about the ROI of a government program, then that is an indication that they don't care about the ROI of that government program.  Which is fine if something is a "National Imperative", but not good for something where there isn't such a clear need.  And I think the SLS falls into the latter category.

No, you are not going by what I said.  Nothing I said approves or disapproves the SLS hardware, much less mandates any solution--I merely expressed the fact it in not credible that a competent SLS type effort would cost  what the SLS has cost.  Of course, it is not competent at anything but it's real purpose which is sending Congressional money to congressional districts.

"No, what I said was that Congress has not shown that they are concerned about the final cost."

No, you disputed they put a limit on it, when you then later admitted they did.  That they have not yet enforced any limit is beside that point.

When you stop arguing with what you claim I said, we are in agreement.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: GAO Report: Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission
« Reply #12 on: 04/30/2017 11:54 PM »
No, you disputed they put a limit on it, when you then later admitted they did.

I'm a numbers guy, so in order for me to admit that they put a limit of the funding for the SLS I'd have to know what it was.  But since NO ONE knows what the limit is for funding of the SLS, then obviously I didn't say it.  You wishing that I did won't make it true.

Quote
That they have not yet enforced any limit is beside that point.

For the point I was making it did, but it's become obvious we're arguing different points.  I'm done with our conversation, so close this out if you want.

BTW there are ways to use the "Quote" feature on NSF to make it clear what you responding to, and to significantly shorten your posts.  Just an FYI.  I'd be glad to discuss via PM.
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 Mark S

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Re: GAO Report: Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission
« Reply #13 on: 05/02/2017 07:58 PM »
Quote from: GAO
With less than 2 years until the planned November 2018 launch date for its first exploration mission (EM-1), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) three human exploration programs—Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion), Space Launch System (SLS), and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS)— are making progress on their respective systems, but the EM-1 launch date is likely unachievable as technical challenges continue to cause schedule delays.  All three programs face unique challenges in completing development, and each has little to no schedule reserve remaining between now and the EM-1 date, meaning they will have to complete all remaining work with little margin for error for unexpected challenges that may arise.

https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-414

We all saw this coming in 2011 - the chickens are now coming home to roost.

VR
RE327


And the write-up by Jeff Foust: http://spacenews.com/nasa-plans-to-delay-first-slsorion-mission-to-2019/

IMO, this is what you get when you combine two thing:
1. Thrusting a certain design for a BFR onto the executing agency, without having that agencies prior consent (Obama and Bolden never wanted SLS in the first place)
2. Penciling hard operational-by dates into law, without providing the executing agency with the money needed (same underfunding mistake that eventually led to the cancellation of CxP).

Ultimately though IMO, those continued delays will not spell doom for SLS and Orion. But the current efforts of Bezos, Musk and ULA ultimately will IMO.

RE: Point 1: There is a saying, "Lead, Follow, or get out of the way." The Obama Administration was unable to lead, and was unwilling to follow or get out of the way. Whose fault is that again?

RE: Point 2: Congress appropriated more money for SLS and Orion than the Administration asked for. Every single year, if I recall correctly. And every year, Bolden would state in sworn testimony before Congress that the amount requested that year for SLS and Orion (which was always less than was eventually appropriated) would be all that was required to meet operational targets.

So if anyone is to blame for insufficient budgets and slow-walking the program, it would fall on the Administration, not Congress.  If they needed more money to meet their deadlines, then they should have asked for it, instead of papering over the shortfalls.

RE: Your final point: It remains to be seen what the current crop of commercial launch providers can manage in the realm of heavy lift. I'm glad there are ambitious people with money and resources to take those bold steps. But their successes are not assured, and they are embarking into uncharted waters.

Cheers!

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: GAO Report: Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission
« Reply #14 on: 05/02/2017 08:26 PM »
No worries, now that the republicans are in charge, the program is going to proceed at "warp-speed"...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline RocketEconomist327

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Re: GAO Report: Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission
« Reply #15 on: 05/03/2017 06:41 PM »
No worries, now that the republicans are in charge, the program is going to proceed at "warp-speed"...

Actually you are incorrect.   There is actually a lot more discussion about SLS in the halls.  While the sensationalism of Spacex is getting headlines staff are really starting to look at the cost of the capability of SLS.

You are correct the hardliners will not change but the malleable middle is getting more squishy about it.
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.

Online meberbs

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Re: GAO Report: Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission
« Reply #16 on: 05/03/2017 08:01 PM »
No worries, now that the republicans are in charge, the program is going to proceed at "warp-speed"...

Actually you are incorrect.   There is actually a lot more discussion about SLS in the halls.  While the sensationalism of Spacex is getting headlines staff are really starting to look at the cost of the capability of SLS.

You are correct the hardliners will not change but the malleable middle is getting more squishy about it.

Well its pretty visible.  You'd have to be blind to not see the PR effort the extreme commercial space folks are running to go after NASA's projects.  They even manage to coordinate opinion articles to drown out any possible good news, its a pretty tight little operation!

I am trying to follow this thread, and getting rather confused.

It seems to me that:
-Rocket Science made a sarcastic comment, based on the wording and since "warp-speed" and SLS are basically antonyms.

-RocketEconomist327 didn't see sarcasm in Rocket Science's post and corrected him that people are starting to look at SLS costs and consider whether it is worth it to continue. (Actually agreeing with Rocket Science if I understand it right)

-okan170 went off on a tangent from the reference to SpaceX and headlines, accusing commercial space of a massive news conspiracy to distract from good news about SLS. (Which as I see it misinterprets RocketEconomist's point that the re-consideration of if SLS is worthwhile is being masked by SpaceX headlines)

I have to ask okan170 what "potential good news" he thinks is being drowned out, I follow space news too closely for me to miss something like that, and he claims I'd have to be blind to miss this conspiracy that I don't see.

If I have horribly misinterpreted someone here, please clarify what I am missing.

Offline Chris Bergin

I'm totally confused. No posts have been removed by mods, but there's missing posts. I'm locking this thread as a bad idea.

After all, we all knew about the delay for ages now.

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