Author Topic: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded  (Read 8672 times)

Offline jadebenn

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Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« on: 06/25/2019 09:35 pm »
Linky link

According to the press release, the cost-plus-award-fee end item contract was awarded to Bechtel National, Inc., and has a value of $383M.

Offline whitelancer64

Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #1 on: 06/25/2019 09:55 pm »
Brand New ML for SLS Block 1B!

Coming Soon (2023).


June 25, 2019
CONTRACT RELEASE C19-013
NASA Awards Contract for Second Mobile Launcher at Kennedy Space Center
NASA has selected Bechtel National, Inc., of Reston, Virginia, to design and build a second mobile launcher, known as Mobile Launcher 2 or ML2, for Exploration Ground Systems at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The cost-plus-award-fee end item contract has a total value of approximately $383 million. Bechtel National will complete the design, build, test, and commissioning of the mobile launcher within a 44-month period beginning July 1.

ML2 is the ground structure that will be used to assemble, process, and launch NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Block 1B rocket and Orion spacecraft from Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy for missions under NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.

It will consist of a base structure, the platform for SLS, and a tower equipped with a number of connection lines called umbilicals, as well as launch accessories that will provide SLS and Orion with power, communications, coolant, fuel, and stabilization prior to launch.
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Offline Proponent

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Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #2 on: 06/25/2019 10:37 pm »
Why, exactly, is this cost-plus?

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #3 on: 06/26/2019 12:17 am »
Why, exactly, is this cost-plus?

Yes, this doesn't seem like the kind of contract that should be cost-plus, since there should be very detailed specifications for this mobile launcher, and there shouldn't be any question as to how it should be built.

Why isn't it a fixed-price contract?
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 dglow

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Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #4 on: 06/26/2019 12:26 am »
And why is it being awarded when EUS is in limbo?

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #5 on: 06/26/2019 12:43 am »
And why is it being awarded when EUS is in limbo?
SLS isn't LV so much as jobs program.

Offline ncb1397

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Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #6 on: 06/26/2019 01:27 am »
And why is it being awarded when EUS is in limbo?

That was a proposal for FY 2019 that was rejected by Congress. It was also a proposal in FY 2020 budget request but all indicators I have seen is that it will be rejected again. See the House CJS draft bill:

Quote
That of the amounts provided for SLS, not less than $200,000,000 shall be for Exploration Upper
25 Stage development: Provided further, That $592,800,000 shall be for Exploration Ground Systems, including
 $50,000,000 for a second mobile launch platform and associated SLS activities:
https://docs.house.gov/meetings/AP/AP00/20190522/109552/BILLS-116--AP--AP00-FY2020_CJS_Bill.pdf
« Last Edit: 06/26/2019 01:28 am by ncb1397 »

Offline jadebenn

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Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #7 on: 06/26/2019 03:01 am »
And why is it being awarded when EUS is in limbo?
Didn't the Trump administration make an about-face on that once they started the whole "Moon by 2024" thing?

Even if they haven't, Congress wouldn't approve of killing the EUS.

Offline Lar

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Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #8 on: 06/26/2019 04:46 am »
And why is it being awarded when EUS is in limbo?
Didn't the Trump administration make an about-face on that once they started the whole "Moon by 2024" thing?

Even if they haven't, Congress wouldn't approve of killing the EUS.
While the above is an important question, the bigger one is why isn't this fixed price. 380+ million for this and there might be overruns on top of that?

And people wonder why some of us despise SLS so very much.

Think about how much ECLSS, habs, rovers, suits, or ISRU we could have gotten for that money.
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Offline AnalogMan

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Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #9 on: 06/26/2019 10:32 am »
Why, exactly, is this cost-plus?

Yes, this doesn't seem like the kind of contract that should be cost-plus, since there should be very detailed specifications for this mobile launcher, and there shouldn't be any question as to how it should be built.

Why isn't it a fixed-price contract?

The original solicitation had provision to allow the contract to be converted from cost-plus to firm fixed price if advantageous to the government.  Contractor to provide a firm fixed price proposal at the 90% design stage.

The latest solicitation document is not available publicly, but here is the text from the original:

1.5  Contract Characteristics and Award Fee Provisions. The Government intends to award
        a single design-build, end-item Cost-Plus-Award-Fee (CPAF) contract in accordance with NASA
        FAR Supplement (NFS) 1852.216-77.  This contract will include a provision permitting
        conversion to Firm-Fixed-Price (FFP) if it becomes advantageous to the Government during the
        project. The contract will require the Contractor to provide an FFP proposal at approximately the
        90% design stage. The Government anticipates the contract period of performance to be no longer
        than 44 months. The Government will provide further details, including a draft Award Fee Plan,
        in the Phase 2 RFP.

https://www.fbo.gov/utils/view?id=37e01c3d614207892c77b7113d1f6dcb

Offline dglow

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Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #10 on: 06/26/2019 11:15 am »
Perhaps the fact that EUS details remain in question (e.g. rumors of swapping out Boeing and RL-10s for Blue and BE-3s) is why the price cannot be fixed at this time.

Offline BrianNH

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Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #11 on: 06/26/2019 12:22 pm »
The new ML is for Block 1B, which includes the EUS.  Before the EUS was indefinitely postponed, they were tasked with going back to the drawing board and looking at the options for what an EUS could look like, meaning that it's not fully nailed down what size it will be, what propellants it will use, where those connections will be placed.   How do you build a ML to service an upper stage that could be radically redesigned when it is funded again?

Offline dglow

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Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #12 on: 06/26/2019 01:01 pm »
How do you build a ML to service an upper stage that could be radically redesigned when it is funded again?

Apparently you start with with a cost-plus contract.

Offline jaxon9182

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Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #13 on: 06/26/2019 02:23 pm »
How do you build a ML to service an upper stage that could be radically redesigned when it is funded again?

You make a decision on EUS soon. They are undoubtedly aware of the EUS issue and will likely begin work on the components of the ML that won't be (greatly) effected by a change in the EUS. I wish I knew more about what will happen with EUS, a cheap Blue Origin version sounds great, but I could see them sticking with ARJD and that would probably be wise from a safety standpoint 

Offline jadebenn

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Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #14 on: 06/26/2019 05:15 pm »
I don't know where people are getting the idea that work on the EUS has been halted. I've heard straight from several workers at MSFC that it's still being worked-on.

I'm not going to take a side as far as the "cost-plus or not" debate goes. I don't think I have the knowledge to stake a position either way.

I will say this, though: the work with ML-1 is only broad-strokes applicable to ML-2. If you build a clone of ML-1, with all the hacks used to convert it from Ares I to SLS, you're going to run into the same issues. ML-2 needs to be designed for SLS Block 1B from the outset, otherwise there's no point in building it.

Offline whitelancer64

Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #15 on: 06/26/2019 05:32 pm »
*snip*

Think about how much ECLSS, habs, rovers, suits, or ISRU we could have gotten for that money.

None.

If that money hadn't been allocated to the ML-2, then NASA wouldn't have had any of that money.

The Federal "budget" isn't like a household budget, where if money is not spent on Item A, then it can then be spent on Item B. It's the other way around in the government, funding isn't distributed from a pile of money, the allocated funding creates the pile of money, which is then labeled a "budget."
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Offline BrianNH

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Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #16 on: 06/26/2019 05:36 pm »
I had thought that the EUS had been issued a stop-work order.   Perhaps that was wrong or there was a follow up that I missed?

Offline jadebenn

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Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #17 on: 06/26/2019 06:06 pm »
I had thought that the EUS had been issued a stop-work order.   Perhaps that was wrong or there was a follow up that I missed?
Some groups did receive a stop-work order, but as far as I've heard, progress still continues. It's just not the top priority now that ML-2 is a thing and Block 1 will be used until the mid-2020s.

There was some chatter recently about how the EUS is being tweaked to maximize payload to TLI at the expense of some its interplanetary payload now that EC would be flying on a Block 1 if the SLS route is chosen.
« Last Edit: 06/26/2019 06:07 pm by jadebenn »

Offline su27k

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Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #18 on: 06/27/2019 06:59 am »

Offline Lar

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Re: Mobile Launcher 2 Contract Awarded
« Reply #19 on: 06/27/2019 03:34 pm »
*snip*

Think about how much ECLSS, habs, rovers, suits, or ISRU we could have gotten for that money.

None.

If that money hadn't been allocated to the ML-2, then NASA wouldn't have had any of that money.

The Federal "budget" isn't like a household budget, where if money is not spent on Item A, then it can then be spent on Item B. It's the other way around in the government, funding isn't distributed from a pile of money, the allocated funding creates the pile of money, which is then labeled a "budget."
You are correct. And yet not, because you missed the point.

How about this instead:

Think about how much ECLSS, habs, rovers, suits, or ISRU we could have gotten for that money, if that money had been budgeted for useful things instead of pork?

Better?
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

 

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