Author Topic: GAO 2021-07-30 "waived a requirement of the announcement" what does this mean?  (Read 7369 times)

Offline SouthCoastOptimist

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Most of the GAO decision is clear and straight forward

But I am flummoxed by this paragraph

Quote
Finally, GAO agreed with the protesters that in one limited instance NASA waived a requirement of the announcement for SpaceX. Despite this finding, the decision also concludes that the protesters could not establish any reasonable possibility of competitive prejudice arising from this limited discrepancy in the evaluation.

Could someone please explain what this means?

Is this about the restructured payments or does it reference some minor detail of the protocol for announcing the HLS result?

Thank you

My first post, just subscribed to L2, is this is on the wrong forum or badly posted please let me know :)

Online Rebel44

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Most of the GAO decision is clear and straight forward

But I am flummoxed by this paragraph

Quote
Finally, GAO agreed with the protesters that in one limited instance NASA waived a requirement of the announcement for SpaceX. Despite this finding, the decision also concludes that the protesters could not establish any reasonable possibility of competitive prejudice arising from this limited discrepancy in the evaluation.

Could someone please explain what this means?

Is this about the restructured payments or does it reference some minor detail of the protocol for announcing the HLS result?

Thank you

My first post, just subscribed to L2, is this is on the wrong forum or badly posted please let me know :)

Welcome to NSF :)

Edit: I was mistaken and tssp_art has a good explanation.

btw.: usually the best place to ask such questions would be in the thread about the HLS program (and it is possible someone already answered it there) but it is likely not a big deal that you posted here since that GAO protest is relevant to Blue Origin.

Here is the main HLS thread https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=46645.2360

« Last Edit: 07/31/2021 11:25 pm by Rebel44 »

Offline SimonFD

I would imagine the answer will be in the public report due out once the private report has been edited to remove proprietary information.
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Offline tssp_art

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Most of the GAO decision is clear and straight forward

But I am flummoxed by this paragraph

Quote
Finally, GAO agreed with the protesters that in one limited instance NASA waived a requirement of the announcement for SpaceX. Despite this finding, the decision also concludes that the protesters could not establish any reasonable possibility of competitive prejudice arising from this limited discrepancy in the evaluation.

Could someone please explain what this means?

Is this about the restructured payments or does it reference some minor detail of the protocol for announcing the HLS result?

Thank you

My first post, just subscribed to L2, is this is on the wrong forum or badly posted please let me know :)

Welcome to NSF :)

To me, it sounds like SpaceX was supposed to announce (or not announce) some info and they didn't. It seems like a very minor paperwork issue.

btw.: usually the best place to ask such questions would be in the thread about the HLS program (and it is possible someone already answered it there) but it is likely not a big deal that you posted here since that GAO protest is relevant to Blue Origin.

Here is the main HLS thread https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=46645.2360

Actually, the "announcement" they are referring to is the solicitation itself - it was released as a Broad Agency Announcement or BAA. The BAA contains all of the requirements that the bidders have to agree to meet. Apparently, one of those requirements was waived for SpaceX. The most likely reason is that the SpaceX offering was so far outside what they were expecting that a particular requirement did not apply. But I don't know what it was and I posed the same question in another thread.

Offline tbellman

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Actually, the "announcement" they are referring to is the solicitation itself - it was released as a Broad Agency Announcement or BAA. The BAA contains all of the requirements that the bidders have to agree to meet. Apparently, one of those requirements was waived for SpaceX. The most likely reason is that the SpaceX offering was so far outside what they were expecting that a particular requirement did not apply. But I don't know what it was and I posed the same question in another thread.

Ah, now I managed to parse GAO's statement.  Thanks!  I also couldn't understand it.

So, I skimmed an old version of the HLS Requirements Document (HLS-RQMT-001, from 2019-09-27; it's the only one I have saved) to try to find some requirement that might not be applicable due to Starship's design.  The only thing I could find, is a requirement that the cabin be able to operate at air pressures all the way down to vacuum.  The rationale for that requirement is that "EVAs will require open hatch HLS operations on the lunar surface. Therefore, the HLS must be able to operate at all cabin pressures between space vacuum and 14.7 psia, nominal [...]".  But Starship is going to have airlocks, and would not need to depressurize the entire cabin for EVA.  Thus, at least the stated reason for needing the cabin to be able to operate in vacuum, does not apply.

But this is of course just my guess. 

Offline SouthCoastOptimist

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Actually, the "announcement" they are referring to is the solicitation itself - it was released as a Broad Agency Announcement or BAA. The BAA contains all of the requirements that the bidders have to agree to meet.

Thank you so much, this explains the wording !

Great, I am in your debt :)

Have a great Sunday

Offline SouthCoastOptimist

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So, I skimmed an old version of the HLS Requirements Document (HLS-RQMT-001, from 2019-09-27; it's the only one I have saved) to try to find some requirement that might not be applicable due to Starship's design.  The only thing I could find, is a requirement that the cabin be able to operate at air pressures all the way down to vacuum.  The rationale for that requirement is that "EVAs will require open hatch HLS operations on the lunar surface. Therefore, the HLS must be able to operate at all cabin pressures between space vacuum and 14.7 psia, nominal [...]".  But Starship is going to have airlocks, and would not need to depressurize the entire cabin for EVA.  Thus, at least the stated reason for needing the cabin to be able to operate in vacuum, does not apply.

But this is of course just my guess.

Thank you for your expert reading of the HLS requirements, that would certainly fit with the wording of the GAO press release (and why the GAO considered this non-compliance of SpaceX to be unimportant)

Enjoy your Sunday

Offline high road

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Wait, what? The requirement that was waived was about the requirement to prepare an FRR for each launch. NASA waived it by interpreting the meaning as one FRR required per unique design that gets launched. As SpaceX planned for 14 refuel launches, that saves them 13 identical FRR's.

Offline deadman1204

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Don't read it at face value. If you read the full GAO response, basically everything Blue says is either a lie, or twists the facts to make stuff sound WAY worse than it is.

Basically, when reading what Blue says, imagine a spiteful teenager pouting because they didn't get their way. That should help put things into context.

Offline trimeta

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Wait, what? The requirement that was waived was about the requirement to prepare an FRR for each launch. NASA waived it by interpreting the meaning as one FRR required per unique design that gets launched. As SpaceX planned for 14 refuel launches, that saves them 13 identical FRR's.

The rest of this thread was speculation before the full GAO report came out and made it clear that the requirement in question was "one FRR per launch." As it turns out, that speculation was inaccurate.

Offline Redclaws

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Wait, what? The requirement that was waived was about the requirement to prepare an FRR for each launch. NASA waived it by interpreting the meaning as one FRR required per unique design that gets launched. As SpaceX planned for 14 refuel launches, that saves them 13 identical FRR's.

The rest of this thread was speculation before the full GAO report came out and made it clear that the requirement in question was "one FRR per launch." As it turns out, that speculation was inaccurate.

Can you provide a reference in the GAO report for this?  (And if you have it, a link to the full report - I havenít seen that link yet)

Offline trimeta

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Wait, what? The requirement that was waived was about the requirement to prepare an FRR for each launch. NASA waived it by interpreting the meaning as one FRR required per unique design that gets launched. As SpaceX planned for 14 refuel launches, that saves them 13 identical FRR's.

The rest of this thread was speculation before the full GAO report came out and made it clear that the requirement in question was "one FRR per launch." As it turns out, that speculation was inaccurate.

Can you provide a reference in the GAO report for this?  (And if you have it, a link to the full report - I havenít seen that link yet)

The full GAO report can be found at https://www.gao.gov/assets/b-419783.pdf. Regarding waived requirements, while the manner in which they were waived is touched upon on pages 8-10 and 27, the substantive discussion (under a section header labeled "NASAís Waiver of a Requirement for SpaceX") begins on page 71. The TL;DR is that the solicitation requested one FRR per launch, SpaceX's proposal had a single FRR total, and during post-selection discussions NASA decided to reinterpret their requirement as "one FRR per physical ship," so if SpaceX launches a single tanker Starship/Super Heavy 14 times in six months, they just need a single FRR at the beginning. The GAO said "yeah, that isn't just a different interpretation, it's waiving a requirement," but also concluded that this did not create competitive prejudice: the other offerors would not have produced substantively different proposals (or substantively lower price tags) had they known this were an option, and so SpaceX still would have won.

Offline edzieba

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Wait, what? The requirement that was waived was about the requirement to prepare an FRR for each launch. NASA waived it by interpreting the meaning as one FRR required per unique design that gets launched. As SpaceX planned for 14 refuel launches, that saves them 13 identical FRR's.

The rest of this thread was speculation before the full GAO report came out and made it clear that the requirement in question was "one FRR per launch." As it turns out, that speculation was inaccurate.

Can you provide a reference in the GAO report for this?  (And if you have it, a link to the full report - I havenít seen that link yet)

The full GAO report can be found at https://www.gao.gov/assets/b-419783.pdf. Regarding waived requirements, while the manner in which they were waived is touched upon on pages 8-10 and 27, the substantive discussion (under a section header labeled "NASAís Waiver of a Requirement for SpaceX") begins on page 71. The TL;DR is that the solicitation requested one FRR per launch, SpaceX's proposal had a single FRR total, and during post-selection discussions NASA decided to reinterpret their requirement as "one FRR per physical ship," so if SpaceX launches a single tanker Starship/Super Heavy 14 times in six months, they just need a single FRR at the beginning. The GAO said "yeah, that isn't just a different interpretation, it's waiving a requirement," but also concluded that this did not create competitive prejudice: the other offerors would not have produced substantively different proposals (or substantively lower price tags) had they known this were an option, and so SpaceX still would have won.
Minor nitpick: it wasn't one one FRR per ship, it was one FRR per mission type. i.e. one FRR for launch of the [DELETED] totally-not-a-depot, one FRR for the sequence of tankers with the same configuration flying the same trajectory to the same orbit, and one FRR for the HLS lander itself.

Offline trimeta

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The full GAO report can be found at https://www.gao.gov/assets/b-419783.pdf. Regarding waived requirements, while the manner in which they were waived is touched upon on pages 8-10 and 27, the substantive discussion (under a section header labeled "NASAís Waiver of a Requirement for SpaceX") begins on page 71. The TL;DR is that the solicitation requested one FRR per launch, SpaceX's proposal had a single FRR total, and during post-selection discussions NASA decided to reinterpret their requirement as "one FRR per physical ship," so if SpaceX launches a single tanker Starship/Super Heavy 14 times in six months, they just need a single FRR at the beginning. The GAO said "yeah, that isn't just a different interpretation, it's waiving a requirement," but also concluded that this did not create competitive prejudice: the other offerors would not have produced substantively different proposals (or substantively lower price tags) had they known this were an option, and so SpaceX still would have won.
Minor nitpick: it wasn't one one FRR per ship, it was one FRR per mission type. i.e. one FRR for launch of the [DELETED] totally-not-a-depot, one FRR for the sequence of tankers with the same configuration flying the same trajectory to the same orbit, and one FRR for the HLS lander itself.

I guess that's probably a more consistent interpretation; this section (referring to the "Tanker Starship Supporting Spacecraft") makes it kind of sound like a single physical ship, but could just mean that design.
Quote
A single comprehensive Tanker Starship Supporting Spacecraft FRR no later than two weeks prior to the first launch of the Tanker Starship Supporting Spacecraft that will address flight readiness for the entire Tanker Starship Supporting Spacecraft launch campaign

Offline tbellman

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I guess that's probably a more consistent interpretation; this section (referring to the "Tanker Starship Supporting Spacecraft") makes it kind of sound like a single physical ship, but could just mean that design.
Quote
A single comprehensive Tanker Starship Supporting Spacecraft FRR no later than two weeks prior to the first launch of the Tanker Starship Supporting Spacecraft that will address flight readiness for the entire Tanker Starship Supporting Spacecraft launch campaign

There are a couple of other places that are more explicitly mentioning each type, not each individual physical ship.  For example in the second paragraph on page 73:

Quote from: GAO decision page 73
Thus, where the Option A BAA required an FRR before each launch of each HLS element, SpaceX's three proposed FRRs--or one for each type of HLS element--were insufficient when SpaceX's concept of operations will require 16 total launches.

Also the paragraph before that, and the second to last paragraph on page 71.

Offline Robotbeat

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Yeah, a big advantage of refueling is the launches are low-risk. You're just risking a cheap tanker, not human-rated deep space hardware. It's almost like arguing that SpaceX should have to do a FRR for every fueling truck on the ground. It's just propellant, not human-rated space hardware. And since propellant is identical, you can treat a tanker launch failure as just eating into margin. That'd be one argument for 14 launches: that gives you margin in case of a launch failure.
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Offline baldusi

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Yeah, a big advantage of refueling is the launches are low-risk. You're just risking a cheap tanker, not human-rated deep space hardware. It's almost like arguing that SpaceX should have to do a FRR for every fueling truck on the ground. It's just propellant, not human-rated space hardware. And since propellant is identical, you can treat a tanker launch failure as just eating into margin. That'd be one argument for 14 launches: that gives you margin in case of a launch failure.

Any Starship failure means a fleet stand down. A tanker pad failure has some serious pad leveling potential. And as quick as SpaceX can turn Starships, they will will always state that they can't do GSE that fast.

Offline trimeta

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Yeah, a big advantage of refueling is the launches are low-risk. You're just risking a cheap tanker, not human-rated deep space hardware. It's almost like arguing that SpaceX should have to do a FRR for every fueling truck on the ground. It's just propellant, not human-rated space hardware. And since propellant is identical, you can treat a tanker launch failure as just eating into margin. That'd be one argument for 14 launches: that gives you margin in case of a launch failure.

Any Starship failure means a fleet stand down. A tanker pad failure has some serious pad leveling potential. And as quick as SpaceX can turn Starships, they will will always state that they can't do GSE that fast.

There's a reason Starbase will have two launchpads...but yes, after a failure, they'd stand down until they understood the cause well enough to be confident the failure wouldn't recur.

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