Author Topic: Boeing's Starliner (CST-100) - Discussion Thread 6  (Read 355567 times)

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Boeing's Starliner (CST-100) - Discussion Thread 6
« Reply #1180 on: 02/09/2024 03:01 am »
You also need a new Service Module for each Starliner flight.
How many has Boeing built already - do they already have the seven they need for CFT and the six contracted Crew flights? What is Boeing's capacity to build more?
The Crew Dragon trunk is relatively simple. By contrast, the Starliner SM is a fairly complicated chunk of hardware and is therefore (I speculate) fairly expensive.  I'm not sure how this would affect the economics of a batch build versus a build-as-needed strategy.

As to how Boeing builds each Service Module, Commercial Crew is a Firm Fixed Price contract, so Boeing would likely be buying components and building assemblies based on what they have calculated is the method that yields the most potential profit.

For instance, for custom electronic components they may have made a "lifetime" buy, but they are only building electronic assemblies as needed. The structures for the Service Module are likely being built only as the launch schedule requires.

Overall, when you are only building 10 units over a period of 10 years or more, there is no "assembly line" per se, probably more like a bunch of specialized workstations. No real "economies of scale".
This is what I would guess, but I was hoping we might get some insight from someone who knows what Boeing is actually doing.

Apparently, Each SM has four specialized Rocketdyne RS-88 engines. These are unique to the SM, since only the SM version uses hyperbolics.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RS-88
I wonder if these were batch-purchased or will be built as needed. As with other SM parts, keeping this production capability alive past ISS decommissioning will be interesting.
« Last Edit: 02/09/2024 12:45 pm by DanClemmensen »

Re: Boeing's Starliner (CST-100) - Discussion Thread 6
« Reply #1181 on: 02/09/2024 11:48 am »
Did I miss it on social media? I havenít seen or heard how the follow-on drogue chute test went. Has anyone seen or heard how that went?
« Last Edit: 02/10/2024 11:07 am by spacebleachers »

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Re: Boeing's Starliner (CST-100) - Discussion Thread 6
« Reply #1182 on: 02/09/2024 02:36 pm »
Did I miss it on social media? I havenít seen or heard how the follow-on drone chute test went. Has anyone seen or heard how that went?

Successful.

https://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew/2024/01/12/starliner-parachute-system-upgrade-tested-before-crewed-flight/
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Offline clongton

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Re: Boeing's Starliner (CST-100) - Discussion Thread 6
« Reply #1183 on: 02/11/2024 01:22 pm »
Irrespective of the meaning of that phrase, would it be reasonable to say that Boeing doesn't like the experience it had with fixed price, and would rather go in the future to where they were in the past, which is cost plus?

I would say yes, based on their behavior following the failure of the first CST-100 test flight. They behaved, even though it was a fixed price contract, as if it were cost-plus, by asking NASA to pay for the redo of the test flight. They just assumed that NASA would pick up the added cost.
« Last Edit: 02/11/2024 01:23 pm by clongton »
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Offline litton4

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Re: Boeing's Starliner (CST-100) - Discussion Thread 6
« Reply #1184 on: 02/12/2024 08:56 am »
Irrespective of the meaning of that phrase, would it be reasonable to say that Boeing doesn't like the experience it had with fixed price, and would rather go in the future to where they were in the past, which is cost plus?

I would say yes, based on their behavior following the failure of the first CST-100 test flight. They behaved, even though it was a fixed price contract, as if it were cost-plus, by asking NASA to pay for the redo of the test flight. They just assumed that NASA would pick up the added cost.

Well, NASA set that expectation, didn't they?
Earlier in the contract, Boeing threatened to pull out unless more money was forthcoming.
NASA caved, thereby setting what Boeing assumed was a precedent for the future.
Big mistake.
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Offline rpapo

Re: Boeing's Starliner (CST-100) - Discussion Thread 6
« Reply #1185 on: 02/12/2024 10:21 am »
Irrespective of the meaning of that phrase, would it be reasonable to say that Boeing doesn't like the experience it had with fixed price, and would rather go in the future to where they were in the past, which is cost plus?

I would say yes, based on their behavior following the failure of the first CST-100 test flight. They behaved, even though it was a fixed price contract, as if it were cost-plus, by asking NASA to pay for the redo of the test flight. They just assumed that NASA would pick up the added cost.
Well, NASA set that expectation, didn't they?
Earlier in the contract, Boeing threatened to pull out unless more money was forthcoming.
NASA caved, thereby setting what Boeing assumed was a precedent for the future.
Big mistake.
To be fair, at that time NASA was not so optimistic that SpaceX would succeed (in spite of the Dragon Cargo v1 program), and they felt they needed to ensure that the "trusted supplier" would be able to make it.  Big mistake, indeed, but in 20/20 hindsight.
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Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Boeing's Starliner (CST-100) - Discussion Thread 6
« Reply #1186 on: 02/12/2024 04:44 pm »
Irrespective of the meaning of that phrase, would it be reasonable to say that Boeing doesn't like the experience it had with fixed price, and would rather go in the future to where they were in the past, which is cost plus?

I would say yes, based on their behavior following the failure of the first CST-100 test flight. They behaved, even though it was a fixed price contract, as if it were cost-plus, by asking NASA to pay for the redo of the test flight. They just assumed that NASA would pick up the added cost.
Well, NASA set that expectation, didn't they?
Earlier in the contract, Boeing threatened to pull out unless more money was forthcoming.
NASA caved, thereby setting what Boeing assumed was a precedent for the future.
Big mistake.
To be fair, at that time NASA was not so optimistic that SpaceX would succeed (in spite of the Dragon Cargo v1 program), and they felt they needed to ensure that the "trusted supplier" would be able to make it.  Big mistake, indeed, but in 20/20 hindsight.
It was not a mistake. NASA deliberately purchased an "insurance policy" from what appeared to be a competent company. They ended up not needing the insurance and the company was not competent, but it could have gone the other way. When you buy term life insurance, you usually hope you will never need it.

NASA did not compound the problem by caving in later when Boeing tried to squeeze them for yet more money. It's Boeing's fault if they thought the earlier $284M increment set a precedent.

The sweet irony is that the $284M also included a change from 2 guaranteed+4 optional missions, to 6 guaranteed. I'm not sure, but I think that precludes Boeing from renegotiating the price after the second mission.

Online yg1968

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Re: Boeing's Starliner (CST-100) - Discussion Thread 6
« Reply #1187 on: 02/15/2024 05:30 pm »
Irrespective of the meaning of that phrase, would it be reasonable to say that Boeing doesn't like the experience it had with fixed price, and would rather go in the future to where they were in the past, which is cost plus?

I would say yes, based on their behavior following the failure of the first CST-100 test flight. They behaved, even though it was a fixed price contract, as if it were cost-plus, by asking NASA to pay for the redo of the test flight. They just assumed that NASA would pick up the added cost.
Well, NASA set that expectation, didn't they?
Earlier in the contract, Boeing threatened to pull out unless more money was forthcoming.
NASA caved, thereby setting what Boeing assumed was a precedent for the future.
Big mistake.
To be fair, at that time NASA was not so optimistic that SpaceX would succeed (in spite of the Dragon Cargo v1 program), and they felt they needed to ensure that the "trusted supplier" would be able to make it.  Big mistake, indeed, but in 20/20 hindsight.
It was not a mistake. NASA deliberately purchased an "insurance policy" from what appeared to be a competent company. They ended up not needing the insurance and the company was not competent, but it could have gone the other way. When you buy term life insurance, you usually hope you will never need it.

NASA did not compound the problem by caving in later when Boeing tried to squeeze them for yet more money. It's Boeing's fault if they thought the earlier $284M increment set a precedent.

The sweet irony is that the $284M also included a change from 2 guaranteed+4 optional missions, to 6 guaranteed. I'm not sure, but I think that precludes Boeing from renegotiating the price after the second mission.

My understanding is that the prices for all six post-certification missions were offered as part of the initial CCtCap proposal, I don't think that Boeing can increase them (i.e., the 4 other post-certification missions were options to NASA at a specific price).
« Last Edit: 02/15/2024 05:43 pm by yg1968 »

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Boeing's Starliner (CST-100) - Discussion Thread 6
« Reply #1188 on: 02/15/2024 06:08 pm »
It was not a mistake. NASA deliberately purchased an "insurance policy" from what appeared to be a competent company. They ended up not needing the insurance and the company was not competent, but it could have gone the other way. When you buy term life insurance, you usually hope you will never need it.

NASA did not compound the problem by caving in later when Boeing tried to squeeze them for yet more money. It's Boeing's fault if they thought the earlier $284M increment set a precedent.

The sweet irony is that the $284M also included a change from 2 guaranteed+4 optional missions, to 6 guaranteed. I'm not sure, but I think that precludes Boeing from renegotiating the price after the second mission.

My understanding is that the prices for all six post-certification missions were offered as part of the initial CCtCap proposal, I don't think that Boeing can increase them (i.e., the 4 post-certification missions were options to NASA at a specific price).
Your understanding is probably much deeper than mine, but surely there is a difference of some sort between "2+4 optional", and "6 missions"? I assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that in the earlier case Boeing could choose to decline the optional missions with no penalty, but in the "6 missions" case Boeing is obligated to perform the missions at the contract price, and there would be contractual consequences for failure to perform, such as claw-back of some of the milestone payments.

When the contract mod was signed (in 2016?), I'm sure Boeing thought they would make a profit on each mission and this situation would never arise.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Boeing's Starliner (CST-100) - Discussion Thread 6
« Reply #1189 on: 02/15/2024 06:41 pm »
...
Overall, when you are only building 10 units over a period of 10 years or more, there is no "assembly line" per se, probably more like a bunch of specialized workstations. No real "economies of scale".
This is what I would guess, but I was hoping we might get some insight from someone who knows what Boeing is actually doing.

Procurement information is VERY proprietary, so don't expect anyone from Boeing to offer up any inside info.

Quote
Apparently, Each SM has four specialized Rocketdyne RS-88 engines. These are unique to the SM, since only the SM version uses hyperbolics.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RS-88
I wonder if these were batch-purchased or will be built as needed. As with other SM parts, keeping this production capability alive past ISS decommissioning will be interesting.

The answer is "it depends", because of a number of factors that get evaluated by both contracts management and by the Boeing program management.

Ultimately Boeing is going to decide how to buy large dollar items based on a risk assessment in case they don't completely fulfill their contract, either because of reasons Boeing comes up with or reasons that NASA comes up with. Also factored into the equation is the cost of money for inventory, the risk of buying years into the future, and how the contractor will build the engines. And the contractor weighs most of the same factors in determining how they will price their different delivery scenarios.

Overall though this level of minutia is not a factor in what plans to do for Commercial Crew, as the Boeing Program Manager would have mandated how procurement should buy products that have significant costs, and that would have come from the initial bid philosophy. Changes can happen, but the Boeing Program Manager should have structured everything so that Boeing knows what its options are in case the contract is cut short.
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Online yg1968

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Re: Boeing's Starliner (CST-100) - Discussion Thread 6
« Reply #1190 on: 02/17/2024 02:46 pm »
It was not a mistake. NASA deliberately purchased an "insurance policy" from what appeared to be a competent company. They ended up not needing the insurance and the company was not competent, but it could have gone the other way. When you buy term life insurance, you usually hope you will never need it.

NASA did not compound the problem by caving in later when Boeing tried to squeeze them for yet more money. It's Boeing's fault if they thought the earlier $284M increment set a precedent.

The sweet irony is that the $284M also included a change from 2 guaranteed+4 optional missions, to 6 guaranteed. I'm not sure, but I think that precludes Boeing from renegotiating the price after the second mission.

My understanding is that the prices for all six post-certification missions were offered as part of the initial CCtCap proposal, I don't think that Boeing can increase them (i.e., the 4 post-certification missions were options to NASA at a specific price).
Your understanding is probably much deeper than mine, but surely there is a difference of some sort between "2+4 optional", and "6 missions"? I assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that in the earlier case Boeing could choose to decline the optional missions with no penalty, but in the "6 missions" case Boeing is obligated to perform the missions at the contract price, and there would be contractual consequences for failure to perform, such as claw-back of some of the milestone payments.

When the contract mod was signed (in 2016?), I'm sure Boeing thought they would make a profit on each mission and this situation would never arise.

My understanding is that it was at the option of NASA, it wasn't an option for the provider. You can read the RFP in this post:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=32412.msg1257904#msg1257904

I suppose that Boeing could have opted out of the entire contract (all of the missions, not just the 4 optional post-certification missions) but that looks bad. But it does happen sometimes, for example, Northrop opted out of its CLD contract.

 

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