Author Topic: The National Team (Blue Origin etc) lunar lander for HLS SLD (App P)  (Read 19025 times)

Offline yg1968

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If for example NASA would select Northrop-Grumman for the SLD award, then it is given that we will see another round of protests with GAO, followed by the inevitable lawsuits once GAO rejects the protest. One of the points will be that "Blue offers much more value for money" (translation: "Look Ma! Jobs in all 50 States!")

Quite possibly, but they would lose again unless such ‘diversity of sourcing’ was a high enough priority evaluation criterion. I haven’t looked at NASA’s RFP docs to know for this contract whether that is a key criterion?

It isn't. There is some incentives for using small businesses as contractors but jobs in key districts doesn't give you bonus points.

Offline yg1968

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As pointed out by Alex, if you click on Colorado, you see that Sierra Space is a partner on the National Team but they don't seem to be a major partner.

https://www.blueorigin.com/blue-moon/sld-national-team/
« Last Edit: 12/07/2022 01:44 pm by yg1968 »

Offline deadman1204

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As a US citizen, I'm embarrassed by this team's bid. Also frakked off at it
Looking at the website, the ONLY content is how many congressional districts and subcontractors it touches. Its NOTHING about going to the moon, their ideas, their tech, cool things that they will try and do. There isn't even a throw away rendering of what it might look like.
Its 100% congressional pork.


I don't think Blue has changed in the slightest. I fully expect lawsuits and temper tantrums if they fail to win the bid.
« Last Edit: 12/07/2022 02:18 pm by deadman1204 »

Offline yg1968

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I am guessing that the National Team's lander will resemble the prior version of their lander. If that is the case, I am a little disappointed. Hopefully, Blue/National Team and Dynetics have found ways to reduce the price of their lander.

Offline primer_black

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While the immediate information available from Blue contains a lot of 'companies in these districts' flavor, it's also important to remember the intense secrecy that all of the primes have been working App-N  and App-P under for the last year.

App-P is considered a must-win by pretty much every member of every prime team, and every last piece of information that constitutes any sort of competitive edge (whether technical, business case, schedule, etc) has been jealously guarded. Even the *teaming* arrangements were considered competition-sensitive info--see how we just now today received confirmation that NG is working with Dynetics.

This is why there has been complete radio silence from Blue NT, Dynetics, and all of the others for quite a while on the technical side. When the final submission deadline has passed and everyone has submitted proposals, we can likely expect to see a lot more info about the various architecture changes for all of the primes since App-H. And there are a lot of them.

So, right now the only thing Blue has for release is congress-feeding charts. But the technical info will be hot on the heals of pencils-down by all the competitors.

Offline AU1.52

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If for example NASA would select Northrop-Grumman for the SLD award, then it is given that we will see another round of protests with GAO, followed by the inevitable lawsuits once GAO rejects the protest. One of the points will be that "Blue offers much more value for money" (translation: "Look Ma! Jobs in all 50 States!")

Quite possibly, but they would lose again unless such ‘diversity of sourcing’ was a high enough priority evaluation criterion. I haven’t looked at NASA’s RFP docs to know for this contract whether that is a key criterion?

It isn't. There is some incentives for using small businesses as contractors but jobs in key districts doesn't give you bonus points.


Well I think they have a great name for their jobs program I mean lander - Footprint.

Online TheRadicalModerate

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This sounds a bit like somebody has stealth-cancelled the BE-7, or at least back-burnered it.
probably more the case that more contractors means better chance at winning with congress

A note from recent history:  NASA made the source selection for Option A.  Congress screamed bloody murder, but NASA had the statutory authority to make the selection, not Congress.

I'm sure that a lot of Bill's buddies have pulled him aside for a quiet word, and he in turn has had a quiet word with the relevant deputies, but last time this was done, the Administrator wasn't on the source selection committee.  App. P lays out essentially the same selection scoring and criteria as Option A did, and "ability to optimally disburse pork" isn't on the list.

I'm not naive; there will be political pressure.  But NASA has to live with what they select.  If it strokes the right districts but can't do the mission at an affordable price, it's probably not going to be selected.

Online TheRadicalModerate

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I've made this point on other threads, but it bears repeating in this context:  If Starship works even a little bit, methalox to NRHO is about to become at least 10x cheaper than it is currently.  Any architecture that de-features itself in order to minimize propellant costs is making a terrible mistake.

From what's been made public about Blue's offering, I see no evidence that they haven't made this exact mistake.

Offline woods170

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This sounds a bit like somebody has stealth-cancelled the BE-7, or at least back-burnered it.
probably more the case that more contractors means better chance at winning with congress

A note from recent history:  NASA made the source selection for Option A.  Congress screamed bloody murder, but NASA had the statutory authority to make the selection, not Congress.

I'm sure that a lot of Bill's buddies have pulled him aside for a quiet word, and he in turn has had a quiet word with the relevant deputies, but last time this was done, the Administrator wasn't on the source selection committee.  App. P lays out essentially the same selection scoring and criteria as Option A did, and "ability to optimally disburse pork" isn't on the list.

I'm not naive; there will be political pressure.  But NASA has to live with what they select.  If it strokes the right districts but can't do the mission at an affordable price, it's probably not going to be selected.

Emphasis mine.

IMO the reason that US Congress was in no position to directly/indirectly influence the decision for HLS Option A, was because Option A was awarded during the limbo period in-between two NASA administrators. It was the interim NASA management, in between the stints of Jim Bridenstine and Bill Nelson, who awarded Option A to SpaceX. Jim Bridenstine was no longer in office, and Bill Nelson was not yet in office. That is a great time to get crucial decisions made, without unwanted intervention/influencing by folks like Shelby, Cantwell, Wicker, etc. Such influence is mostly exerted thru the politically appointed NASA administrators.

Fine example: how senator Shelby shot down Bridenstine's efforts, to get Orion flying on another launcher. It took just one phone call.
 
Another example: how any talk at NASA, about using depots in the "return to Moon" efforts, was shot down by Shelby. It took just one phone call in which Shelby threatened to defund an entire NASA program, if they didn't clam up about depots.

Third example: it was efforts by senators Cantwell and Wicker that led to NASA now solliciting for a second HLS provider. But had it been up to NASA, no second lander was needed. Their own reporting said that there is no market to sustain a second HLS provider in the long run, unlike for example the situation at CCP.
« Last Edit: 02/11/2023 07:23 pm by woods170 »

Offline TrevorMonty

I've made this point on other threads, but it bears repeating in this context:  If Starship works even a little bit, methalox to NRHO is about to become at least 10x cheaper than it is currently.  Any architecture that de-features itself in order to minimize propellant costs is making a terrible mistake.

From what's been made public about Blue's offering, I see no evidence that they haven't made this exact mistake.
LOX makes up bulk of fuel mass for Hydrolox lander so National Team will benefit from lower fuel costs from SS tankers.


Offline yg1968

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This sounds a bit like somebody has stealth-cancelled the BE-7, or at least back-burnered it.
probably more the case that more contractors means better chance at winning with congress

A note from recent history:  NASA made the source selection for Option A.  Congress screamed bloody murder, but NASA had the statutory authority to make the selection, not Congress.

I'm sure that a lot of Bill's buddies have pulled him aside for a quiet word, and he in turn has had a quiet word with the relevant deputies, but last time this was done, the Administrator wasn't on the source selection committee.  App. P lays out essentially the same selection scoring and criteria as Option A did, and "ability to optimally disburse pork" isn't on the list.

I'm not naive; there will be political pressure.  But NASA has to live with what they select.  If it strokes the right districts but can't do the mission at an affordable price, it's probably not going to be selected.

Emphasis mine.

IMO the reason that US Congress was in no position to directly/indirectly influence the decision for HLS Option A, was because Option A was awarded during the limbo period in-between two NASA administrators. It was the interim NASA management, in between the stints of Jim Bridenstine and Bill Nelson, who awarded Option A to SpaceX. Jim Bridenstine was no longer in office, and Bill Nelson was not yet in office. That is a great time to get crucial decisions made, without unwanted intervention/influencing by folks like Shelby, Cantwell, Wicker, etc. Such influence is mostly exerted thru the politically appointed NASA administrators.

Fine example: how senator Shelby shot down Bridenstine's efforts, to get Orion flying on another launcher. It took just one phone call.
 
Another example: how any talk at NASA, about using depots in the "return to Moon" efforts, was shot down by Shelby. It took just one phone call in which Shelby threatened to defund an entire NASA program, if they didn't clam up about depots.

Third example: it was efforts by senators Cantwell and Wicker that led to NASA now solliciting for a second HLS provider. But had it been up to NASA, than no second lander was needed. Their own reporting said that there is no market to sustain a second HLS provider in the long run, unlike for example the situation at CCP.

I think that the same decision would have been made under Bridenstine. Both Lueders (the HEO Director at the time and the selection officer for Option A) and Jurczyk (previously an Associate Director and the Acting Administrator at that time) were named by Bridenstine. It's hard to say what would have happened for Option A under Nelson. Nelson replaced Lueders with Jim Free and Jurczyk retired (and was replaced by Associate Administrator Bob Cabana).

NASA always wanted 2 providers, the decision to go with one provider was made given the funding that was available. LETS (the precursor to Appendix P) was announced on the same day that the Option A award was made. In any event, we may end up with the same decision with Appendix P and Option B that would have been made had 2 providers been selected for Option A.
« Last Edit: 12/08/2022 02:03 pm by yg1968 »

Offline deadman1204

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This sounds a bit like somebody has stealth-cancelled the BE-7, or at least back-burnered it.
probably more the case that more contractors means better chance at winning with congress

A note from recent history:  NASA made the source selection for Option A.  Congress screamed bloody murder, but NASA had the statutory authority to make the selection, not Congress.

I'm sure that a lot of Bill's buddies have pulled him aside for a quiet word, and he in turn has had a quiet word with the relevant deputies, but last time this was done, the Administrator wasn't on the source selection committee.  App. P lays out essentially the same selection scoring and criteria as Option A did, and "ability to optimally disburse pork" isn't on the list.

I'm not naive; there will be political pressure.  But NASA has to live with what they select.  If it strokes the right districts but can't do the mission at an affordable price, it's probably not going to be selected.

Emphasis mine.

IMO the reason that US Congress was in no position to directly/indirectly influence the decision for HLS Option A, was because Option A was awarded during the limbo period in-between two NASA administrators. It was the interim NASA management, in between the stints of Jim Bridenstine and Bill Nelson, who awarded Option A to SpaceX. Jim Bridenstine was no longer in office, and Bill Nelson was not yet in office. That is a great time to get crucial decisions made, without unwanted intervention/influencing by folks like Shelby, Cantwell, Wicker, etc. Such influence is mostly exerted thru the politically appointed NASA administrators.

Fine example: how senator Shelby shot down Bridenstine's efforts, to get Orion flying on another launcher. It took just one phone call.
 
Another example: how any talk at NASA, about using depots in the "return to Moon" efforts, was shot down by Shelby. It took just one phone call in which Shelby threatened to defund an entire NASA program, if they didn't clam up about depots.

Third example: it was efforts by senators Cantwell and Wicker that led to NASA now solliciting for a second HLS provider. But had it been up to NASA, than no second lander was needed. Their own reporting said that there is no market to sustain a second HLS provider in the long run, unlike for example the situation at CCP.

I think that the same decision would have been made under Bridenstine. Both Lueders (HEO Director at the time and the selection officer for Option A) and Jurczyk (Associate Director and Acting Administrator at that time) were named by Bridenstine. It's hard to say what would have happened for Option A under Nelson. Nelson replaced Lueders with Jim Free and Jurczyk retired (and was replaced by Associate Administrator Bob Cabana).

NASA always wanted 2 providers, the decision to go with one provider was made given the funding that was available. LETS (the precursor to Appendix P) was announced on the same day that the Option A award was made. In any event, we may end up with the same decision with Appendix P and Option B that would have been made had 2 providers been selected for Option A.
This 2 providers is a myth created by blue origin. NASA never "always wanted" two. They said it would be nice to get 2. After only spaceX one and blue started spending tons of money in congress, the tune changed to "wanted 2" and then "always wanted 2" because that statement played nice with all the pressure from congress.

Offline yg1968

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This sounds a bit like somebody has stealth-cancelled the BE-7, or at least back-burnered it.
probably more the case that more contractors means better chance at winning with congress

A note from recent history:  NASA made the source selection for Option A.  Congress screamed bloody murder, but NASA had the statutory authority to make the selection, not Congress.

I'm sure that a lot of Bill's buddies have pulled him aside for a quiet word, and he in turn has had a quiet word with the relevant deputies, but last time this was done, the Administrator wasn't on the source selection committee.  App. P lays out essentially the same selection scoring and criteria as Option A did, and "ability to optimally disburse pork" isn't on the list.

I'm not naive; there will be political pressure.  But NASA has to live with what they select.  If it strokes the right districts but can't do the mission at an affordable price, it's probably not going to be selected.

Emphasis mine.

IMO the reason that US Congress was in no position to directly/indirectly influence the decision for HLS Option A, was because Option A was awarded during the limbo period in-between two NASA administrators. It was the interim NASA management, in between the stints of Jim Bridenstine and Bill Nelson, who awarded Option A to SpaceX. Jim Bridenstine was no longer in office, and Bill Nelson was not yet in office. That is a great time to get crucial decisions made, without unwanted intervention/influencing by folks like Shelby, Cantwell, Wicker, etc. Such influence is mostly exerted thru the politically appointed NASA administrators.

Fine example: how senator Shelby shot down Bridenstine's efforts, to get Orion flying on another launcher. It took just one phone call.
 
Another example: how any talk at NASA, about using depots in the "return to Moon" efforts, was shot down by Shelby. It took just one phone call in which Shelby threatened to defund an entire NASA program, if they didn't clam up about depots.

Third example: it was efforts by senators Cantwell and Wicker that led to NASA now solliciting for a second HLS provider. But had it been up to NASA, than no second lander was needed. Their own reporting said that there is no market to sustain a second HLS provider in the long run, unlike for example the situation at CCP.

I think that the same decision would have been made under Bridenstine. Both Lueders (HEO Director at the time and the selection officer for Option A) and Jurczyk (Associate Director and Acting Administrator at that time) were named by Bridenstine. It's hard to say what would have happened for Option A under Nelson. Nelson replaced Lueders with Jim Free and Jurczyk retired (and was replaced by Associate Administrator Bob Cabana).

NASA always wanted 2 providers, the decision to go with one provider was made given the funding that was available. LETS (the precursor to Appendix P) was announced on the same day that the Option A award was made. In any event, we may end up with the same decision with Appendix P and Option B that would have been made had 2 providers been selected for Option A.
This 2 providers is a myth created by blue origin. NASA never "always wanted" two. They said it would be nice to get 2. After only spaceX one and blue started spending tons of money in congress, the tune changed to "wanted 2" and then "always wanted 2" because that statement played nice with all the pressure from congress.

NASA always said that they had a preference for 2. They said so verbally on a number of occasions. One was a possibility but it wasn't their preference. The BAA reflects that too (see below). The base period could have up to 4 providers but Options A and B had a maximum of 2. It's possible that Appendix P will have no awards if the bids are too high or if Congress doesn't provide enough funding for HLS. Incidentally, Option B and Appendix P have a lot of optional CLINs which makes it possible for NASA to drop a provider if they are unhappy with their performance.

Quote from: page 8 of the BAA
While NASA reserves the right to change its HLS acquisition strategy at any time, NASA is currently planning to award Base Contract Line Item Numbers (CLINs) to up to four contractors; exercise Option A CLINs for up to two of those contractors; and later exercise Option B CLINs for either one or two Option A contractors.

Offline clongton

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IMO I don't think an Administrator like a James Webb would have stood for the machinations of senators like Shelby et al. He would have told him that he worked at the pleasure of the President, not the Senate and if he wanted his state to get a piece of the pie then he better find a way for his state to contribute to the program the way HE designed it. My opinion of course, but Webb had bigger gonads than any senator I've ever met, including Shelby. I sadly doubt we will ever see the likes of him again.
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Online VSECOTSPE

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Politics over design, politics over excellence, politics over accomplishment. And of course it will be expensive.

I hold out a little hope that National Team has developed something innovative this round, maybe leveraging New Glenn work, that has some promise of being operationally competitive with Lunar Starship.  But the National Team’s pork map strongly indicates otherwise.

Unless they totally stumble technically, I assume Bezos will contribute enough billions to buy the Appendix P competition for National Team.  Given that Steve Cook, one of the MSFC PowerPoint engineers who architected and led the Ares I fiasco, is running Dynetics and their bid, that may not be a bad thing.  But so far, it looks like NASA’s choices for a second lander are between bad and worse, and I’m not sure which is which, yet.  Either way, it looks like the second lander will be little more than an expensive backup (if it gets that far) to Lunar Starship.

Thpppt...

Online DanClemmensen

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I've made this point on other threads, but it bears repeating in this context:  If Starship works even a little bit, methalox to NRHO is about to become at least 10x cheaper than it is currently.  Any architecture that de-features itself in order to minimize propellant costs is making a terrible mistake.

From what's been made public about Blue's offering, I see no evidence that they haven't made this exact mistake.
To make this part of an Appendix P HLS bid, SpaceX must formally become part of the bid. BO cannot say "we will reload from a SpaceX depot" unless SpaceX agrees and is contractually committed. We also don't know yet how hard it is to implement the customer side of a depot-to-customer transfer. for all we know at this point, the customer may need to dock to a 9-meter docking ring. this also makes the viability of the Starship program a single point of failure for the Artemis program. Avoiding this is just about the only legitimate reason to have Appendix P in the first place.

Online TheRadicalModerate

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I've made this point on other threads, but it bears repeating in this context:  If Starship works even a little bit, methalox to NRHO is about to become at least 10x cheaper than it is currently.  Any architecture that de-features itself in order to minimize propellant costs is making a terrible mistake.

From what's been made public about Blue's offering, I see no evidence that they haven't made this exact mistake.
To make this part of an Appendix P HLS bid, SpaceX must formally become part of the bid. BO cannot say "we will reload from a SpaceX depot" unless SpaceX agrees and is contractually committed. We also don't know yet how hard it is to implement the customer side of a depot-to-customer transfer. for all we know at this point, the customer may need to dock to a 9-meter docking ring. this also makes the viability of the Starship program a single point of failure for the Artemis program. Avoiding this is just about the only legitimate reason to have Appendix P in the first place.

I'm not sure this is right.  BO/NT would absolutely have to state how they were getting their prop to NRHO, but it could have a third-party relationship with SpaceX as a simple subcontractor.

The overlapping sources problem is indeed the sticking point here.  However, there's a solution:  SpaceX could contract with BO/NT to deliver prop at $xx/t.  It would then have four ways, in ascending order of cost, of achieving that contract:

1) Starship tankers filling a depot, and the depot filling up the BO/NT components.
2) Starship tankers with depot-like attachments to directly fill BO/NT.
3) If Starship is grounded but the depot's on station, FHE's or FH2R's filling a depot.
4) If Starship is grounded and the depot's offline, FHE's of FH2R's directly filling the BO/NT stuff.

SpaceX can then do the actuarial jiggery-pokery to decide what their risk-adjusted cost is for all of these items, and then apply whatever markup they're going to provide.  I can't imagine that, even with the risk-adjustment, this wouldn't result in a 10x reduction in methalox costs.

Of course, if BO/NT is still planning on using the BE-7, then they need hydrolox, and that's a whole 'nother story.  But Dynetics might be interested in the same deal.

A necessary condition for this working is that SpaceX commit to supporting the docking and refueling interfaces as an open standard, which slows them down a bit.  But what they get in return is first-mover advantages in open-market cislunar refueling, which will be quite lucrative if Artemis is successful, and even more lucrative if the other SLT winner can make a go of its own private tourist biz.  In addition, staging NASA interplanetary missions from such a depot would be quite handy, with the reduced prop costs more than covering the extra 400ish m/s needed to get the probe into an HEEO departure orbit.

Online butters

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NASA always said that they had a preference for 2. They said so verbally on a number of occasions. One was a possibility but it wasn't their preference. The BAA reflects that too (see below). The base period could have up to 4 providers but Options A and B had a maximum of 2. It's possible that Appendix P will have no awards if the bids are too high or if Congress doesn't provide enough funding for HLS. Incidentally, Option B and Appendix P have a lot of optional CLINs which makes it possible for NASA to drop a provider if they are unhappy with their performance.
HLS wasn't even a commercial fixed-cost program at first. It seemed obvious that NASA was going to select one HLS provider, presumably an integrated lander system to launch on SLS, until they surprisingly announced that this was going to be a commercial contract. Only then did it become plausible to select two providers.

There's a ton of revisionist history on this topic. The same is true for EELV. The Air Force was going to select one provider and pay them $1.5B to support development. It was a late-breaking decision to select two providers and pay them $500M each. But to this day, the argument goes that the Air Force always wanted two providers with dissimilar redundancy. They did not. Not always at least.

Online TheRadicalModerate

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This sounds a bit like somebody has stealth-cancelled the BE-7, or at least back-burnered it.
probably more the case that more contractors means better chance at winning with congress

A note from recent history:  NASA made the source selection for Option A.  Congress screamed bloody murder, but NASA had the statutory authority to make the selection, not Congress.

I'm sure that a lot of Bill's buddies have pulled him aside for a quiet word, and he in turn has had a quiet word with the relevant deputies, but last time this was done, the Administrator wasn't on the source selection committee.  App. P lays out essentially the same selection scoring and criteria as Option A did, and "ability to optimally disburse pork" isn't on the list.

I'm not naive; there will be political pressure.  But NASA has to live with what they select.  If it strokes the right districts but can't do the mission at an affordable price, it's probably not going to be selected.

Emphasis mine.

IMO the reason that US Congress was in no position to directly/indirectly influence the decision for HLS Option A, was because Option A was awarded during the limbo period in-between two NASA administrators. It was the interim NASA management, in between the stints of Jim Bridenstine and Bill Nelson, who awarded Option A to SpaceX. Jim Bridenstine was no longer in office, and Bill Nelson was not yet in office. That is a great time to get crucial decisions made, without unwanted intervention/influencing by folks like Shelby, Cantwell, Wicker, etc. Such influence is mostly exerted thru the politically appointed NASA administrators.

Fine example: how senator Shelby shot down Bridenstine's efforts, to get Orion flying on another launcher. It took just one phone call.
 
Another example: how any talk at NASA, about using depots in the "return to Moon" efforts, was shot down by Shelby. It took just one phone call in which Shelby threatened to defund an entire NASA program, if they didn't clam up about depots.

Third example: it was efforts by senators Cantwell and Wicker that led to NASA now solliciting for a second HLS provider. But had it been up to NASA, than no second lander was needed. Their own reporting said that there is no market to sustain a second HLS provider in the long run, unlike for example the situation at CCP.

There are three different constraints here:

1) Congress appropriates NASA's budget, at varying degrees of granularity.  It is unseemly, but probably legal, for one or more congresscritters to take the administrator or one of his minions aside and say, "If you do x, then next year I'm going to cut your funding for y.  Do z instead."

2) The administrator can choose to participate in the source selection at whatever level he wants.  However...

3) Everybody at NASA has to adhere to FAR, and be seen as not only adhering to FAR but supporting the spirit as well as the letter of the regulations.

Now let's look at how this works in practice:

a) Congresscritters dangle various carrots and sticks in front of the administrator and his minions.

b) The administrator makes sure everybody knows what's at stake, but needs to get his minions to set objective source selection criteria, with as few of his fingerprints on them as possible, so that various Inspectors General don't show up with a colonoscope.

c) Then, because fingerprints are politically embarrassing at all levels of the process, he picks a panel to do the selection, but he stays as far away from it as possible.  The panel knows its marching orders, but also wishes to avoid contact with the aforementioned colonoscope.

So there is congressional pressure at the top of the process, but it undergoes a certain amount of head loss as it percolates down to the actual source selection.  This probably means that Congress's favorite contractor probably has an advantage, but not so much of an advantage that they'll get selected even if they screw the pooch.  Democracy:  the worst form of government, except for all the others.

I'm sure Cantwell and Wicker are pushing hard, but they have considerably less power than Shelby did, because they can't unilaterally zero out programs with a sharpie during markup.

As for Shelby getting Bridenstine to recant on the Frankenrocket:  My interpretation of that is that Jim was playing a considerably longer game than Shelby was.  The Frankenrocket was a brush-back pitch (for non-Americans, that's when a baseball pitcher throws the ball at the batter's head, to get him to stop crowding the plate), both to put Boeing on notice that they had to be somewhat less rapacious in milking cost-plus for all it was worth, and simultaneously subjecting SLS to yet another slash in a death-of-a-thousand-cuts strategy to marginalize SLS to nothing more than transit to and from NRHO.  I would judge both efforts as partially successful.

Offline deadman1204

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I've made this point on other threads, but it bears repeating in this context:  If Starship works even a little bit, methalox to NRHO is about to become at least 10x cheaper than it is currently.  Any architecture that de-features itself in order to minimize propellant costs is making a terrible mistake.

From what's been made public about Blue's offering, I see no evidence that they haven't made this exact mistake.
To make this part of an Appendix P HLS bid, SpaceX must formally become part of the bid. BO cannot say "we will reload from a SpaceX depot" unless SpaceX agrees and is contractually committed. We also don't know yet how hard it is to implement the customer side of a depot-to-customer transfer. for all we know at this point, the customer may need to dock to a 9-meter docking ring. this also makes the viability of the Starship program a single point of failure for the Artemis program. Avoiding this is just about the only legitimate reason to have Appendix P in the first place.

I'm not sure this is right.  BO/NT would absolutely have to state how they were getting their prop to NRHO, but it could have a third-party relationship with SpaceX as a simple subcontractor.

The overlapping sources problem is indeed the sticking point here.  However, there's a solution:  SpaceX could contract with BO/NT to deliver prop at $xx/t.  It would then have four ways, in ascending order of cost, of achieving that contract:

1) Starship tankers filling a depot, and the depot filling up the BO/NT components.
2) Starship tankers with depot-like attachments to directly fill BO/NT.
3) If Starship is grounded but the depot's on station, FHE's or FH2R's filling a depot.
4) If Starship is grounded and the depot's offline, FHE's of FH2R's directly filling the BO/NT stuff.

SpaceX can then do the actuarial jiggery-pokery to decide what their risk-adjusted cost is for all of these items, and then apply whatever markup they're going to provide.  I can't imagine that, even with the risk-adjustment, this wouldn't result in a 10x reduction in methalox costs.

Of course, if BO/NT is still planning on using the BE-7, then they need hydrolox, and that's a whole 'nother story.  But Dynetics might be interested in the same deal.

A necessary condition for this working is that SpaceX commit to supporting the docking and refueling interfaces as an open standard, which slows them down a bit.  But what they get in return is first-mover advantages in open-market cislunar refueling, which will be quite lucrative if Artemis is successful, and even more lucrative if the other SLT winner can make a go of its own private tourist biz.  In addition, staging NASA interplanetary missions from such a depot would be quite handy, with the reduced prop costs more than covering the extra 400ish m/s needed to get the probe into an HEEO departure orbit.
Theoretical are meaningless here. The national team simply will NOT share their money with spaceX. There is literally no world where this will happen. They will come up with some architecture which maximizes the amount of money they get paid, and also probably gets the job done.

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