Author Topic: How could winning the HLS second contract change the Blue company?  (Read 20153 times)

Offline Tywin

If, in June, Blue manages to win its first major NASA contract, and enter fully into the Artemis program, how might this milestone change Blue?

« Last Edit: 01/20/2023 04:01 pm by Tywin »
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Offline trimeta

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It wouldn't. Blue Origin's "National Team" plan is exactly what one would expect from an ossified Old Space company, which is what Blue Origin has become, so executing on that plan wouldn't change anything about them.

Best-case scenario, they could become as successful at executing on spaceflight projects as Boeing has been recently.

Offline AlexP

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I would worry more that it would cause it not to change, and they would think that putting up maps showing how many states your program covers is the way to win. Maybe by losing they could realise their approach needs a big rethink, starting at the top.

Offline deadman1204

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It wouldn't. Blue Origin's "National Team" plan is exactly what one would expect from an ossified Old Space company, which is what Blue Origin has become, so executing on that plan wouldn't change anything about them.

Best-case scenario, they could become as successful at executing on spaceflight projects as Boeing has been recently.
This. Blue is just the new old space company.

Offline edzieba

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I would worry more that it would cause it not to change, and they would think that putting up maps showing how many states your program covers is the way to win. Maybe by losing they could realise their approach needs a big rethink, starting at the top.
That didn't work with the first HLS competition.

Offline woods170

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I would worry more that it would cause it not to change, and they would think that putting up maps showing how many states your program covers is the way to win. Maybe by losing they could realise their approach needs a big rethink, starting at the top.
That didn't work with the first HLS competition.

Winning the second HLS competition won't change things either IMO. Blue remains ossified, stuck in a mindset where everything has to be kept a secret for as long as possible. For some reason they seem to think that even the tiniest amount of transparency is bad.

As long as Blue puts most of its publicity in the wrong kind of publicity (see how they reacted publically when they lost the first HLS competition), people will keep ridiculing them, which will just result in more of what we have seen over the past 10 years: a whole lotta nothing.

And before people jump on me, I'll explain why I just made that comment. Back in 2018 Blue was awarded a $500 milion contract when they entered Phase 1 LSA of the new NSSL competition. It was their chance to enter NSSL, compete, win a contract in Phase 2 and start earning big money on launching stuff to space. But to do so, they had to perform.

Guess what happened: niets, nichts, nakkes, niente, nothing. Blue's performance on the contract was dismal. By the time the Phase 2 contracts were awarded (to ULA and SpaceX) 3 years later, Blue had completed barely half of the Phase 1 milestones. That resulted in their Phase 1 contract being terminated early by the USAF, and Blue receiving only half of the payments.

If half a billion US government dollars is not enough to entice Blue into some speedy action, then why should people expect that Blue will act differently in case of winning the second HLS contract?
« Last Edit: 01/23/2023 11:47 am by woods170 »

Offline AlexP

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I would worry more that it would cause it not to change, and they would think that putting up maps showing how many states your program covers is the way to win. Maybe by losing they could realise their approach needs a big rethink, starting at the top.
That didn't work with the first HLS competition.

Winning the second HLS competition won't change things either IMO. Blue remains ossified, stuck in a mindset where everything has to be kept a secret for as long as possible. For some reason they seem to think that even the tiniest amount of transparency is bad.

As long as Blue puts most of its publicity in the wrong kind of publicity (see how they reacted publically when they lost the first HLS competition), people will keep ridiculing them, which will just result in more of what we have seen over the past 10 years: a whole lotta nothing.

And before people jump on me, I'll explain why I just made that comment. Back in 2018 Blue was awarded a $500 milion contract when they entered Phase 1 LSA of the new NSSL competition. It was their chance to enter NSSL, compete, win a contract in Phase 2 and start earning big money on launching stuff to space. But to do so, they had to perform.

Guess what happened: niets, nichts, nakkes, niente, nothing. Blue's performance on the contract was dismal. By the time the Phase 2 contracts were awarded (to ULA and SpaceX) 3 years later, Blue had completed barely half of the Phase 1 milestones. That resulted in their Phase 1 contract being terminated early by the USAF, and Blue receiving only half of the payments.

If half a billion US government dollars is not enough to entice Blue into some speedy action, then why should people expect that Blue will act differently in case of winning the second HLS contract?
Obviously New Glenn's development is a mess, but is that really a fair description of what happened?

"The purpose of the agreements was to help Phase 2 competitors pay for launch vehicle development and infrastructure. Blue Origin received $500 million; Northrop Grumman $792 million and ULA $967 million. The funds were to be spread out through 2024, and the Air Force from the beginning said the LSAs would be terminated with those companies that did not win a Phase 2 procurement contract."
https://spacenews.com/air-force-to-end-agreements-with-blue-origin-and-northrop-grumman-prepares-for-launch-contract-protests/
[edit - this isn't yet taking into account the decreased award amount, just posting it for the info about early termination]

So: the funds were supposed to be spread out until 2024, and failing to win phase 2 contracts was always going to lead to early termination. Maybe there's extra information out there that I don't have access to regarding particular missed deadlines?

And yeah, it's obviously possible, even probable, that losing the HLS contract again will also lead to no change, at which point we can firmly say Bob Smith probably has a job for life and adjust our ever-dimming hopes accordingly.

edit - for clarification
« Last Edit: 01/23/2023 12:29 pm by AlexP »

Online DanClemmensen

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I would worry more that it would cause it not to change, and they would think that putting up maps showing how many states your program covers is the way to win. Maybe by losing they could realise their approach needs a big rethink, starting at the top.
That didn't work with the first HLS competition.
In theory, you learn more from losing than you do from winning. Losing tends to focus you, unless you are too arrogant to learn. Therefore it is possible that BO learned from the loss of the first HLS contract. At the very least, we can hope they learned that $4 Billion is too high a bid.

I am generally negative about BO, mostly because of the protest and lawsuit, but maybe they will do better this time.

Offline deadman1204

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SNIP


Obviously New Glenn's development is a mess, but is that really a fair description of what happened?

"The purpose of the agreements was to help Phase 2 competitors pay for launch vehicle development and infrastructure. Blue Origin received $500 million; Northrop Grumman $792 million and ULA $967 million. The funds were to be spread out through 2024, and the Air Force from the beginning said the LSAs would be terminated with those companies that did not win a Phase 2 procurement contract."
https://spacenews.com/air-force-to-end-agreements-with-blue-origin-and-northrop-grumman-prepares-for-launch-contract-protests/
[edit - this isn't yet taking into account the decreased award amount, just posting it for the info about early termination]

So: the funds were supposed to be spread out until 2024, and failing to win phase 2 contracts was always going to lead to early termination. Maybe there's extra information out there that I don't have access to regarding particular missed deadlines?

And yeah, it's obviously possible, even probable, that losing the HLS contract again will also lead to no change, at which point we can firmly say Bob Smith probably has a job for life and adjust our ever-dimming hopes accordingly.

edit - for clarification
The AirForce gave the award expecting timely completion of the milestones. The fact that Blue performed soo slowly/poorly they terminated the contract means exactly that. That the airforce expected a certain speed of progress, which blue was completely unable to produce.

Offline Starshipdown

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Quote from: woods170
Guess what happened: niets, nichts, nakkes, niente, nothing. Blue's performance on the contract was dismal. By the time the Phase 2 contracts were awarded (to ULA and SpaceX) 3 years later, Blue had completed barely half of the Phase 1 milestones. That resulted in their Phase 1 contract being terminated early by the USAF, and Blue receiving only half of the payments.

How was it dismal? They received the lowest of the NSSL-2 competition funding, nearly $300 million less than Northrop Grumman, and almost $500 million less than ULA. That money was not spent all at once nor payed out all at once. If they were the only competitor who lost NSSL, then you might have a kind of reasonable point. But instead we do have another, that was Northrop Grumman (NG), who also lost out, despite being arguably far better off than Blue Origin in terms of being vastly better funded, and was farther along than either Blue or ULA in terms of OmegA's progress towards first launch.

Also, since the SpaceNews article was linked to, I'll just quote a key passage as to why the funding was being cut off from both NG and Blue. Hint: it has nothing to do with failing to make their milestones!

"Roper said a key reason why the LSAs could not continue for all three companies is that the Air Force doesn’t have enough money in the budget."

But there's also something that people are missing, which distinguishes Blue from NG in this case: NG chose to throw away all their OmegA R&D as well as infrastructure work and quit instead of pursuing it to a first launch and fielding it commercially. Blue is still pressing towards finishing and launching New Glenn, come hell or high water.
« Last Edit: 01/23/2023 10:04 pm by Starshipdown »

Offline Starshipdown

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SNIP


Obviously New Glenn's development is a mess, but is that really a fair description of what happened?

"The purpose of the agreements was to help Phase 2 competitors pay for launch vehicle development and infrastructure. Blue Origin received $500 million; Northrop Grumman $792 million and ULA $967 million. The funds were to be spread out through 2024, and the Air Force from the beginning said the LSAs would be terminated with those companies that did not win a Phase 2 procurement contract."
https://spacenews.com/air-force-to-end-agreements-with-blue-origin-and-northrop-grumman-prepares-for-launch-contract-protests/
[edit - this isn't yet taking into account the decreased award amount, just posting it for the info about early termination]

So: the funds were supposed to be spread out until 2024, and failing to win phase 2 contracts was always going to lead to early termination. Maybe there's extra information out there that I don't have access to regarding particular missed deadlines?

And yeah, it's obviously possible, even probable, that losing the HLS contract again will also lead to no change, at which point we can firmly say Bob Smith probably has a job for life and adjust our ever-dimming hopes accordingly.

edit - for clarification
The AirForce gave the award expecting timely completion of the milestones. The fact that Blue performed soo slowly/poorly they terminated the contract means exactly that. That the airforce expected a certain speed of progress, which blue was completely unable to produce.

Do you or woods170 have anything to back that statement up with? The SN article is pretty explicit and provides much better information here than either of you two have. Nothing was stated about either Blue or Northrop Grumman having their LSA-1 awards terminated because they were failing to meet their milestones or anything else punitive like that. And keep in mind that NG was way further along towards launch in many ways than either ULA or Blue at that point.
« Last Edit: 01/23/2023 03:59 pm by Starshipdown »

Offline AlexP

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SNIP


Obviously New Glenn's development is a mess, but is that really a fair description of what happened?

"The purpose of the agreements was to help Phase 2 competitors pay for launch vehicle development and infrastructure. Blue Origin received $500 million; Northrop Grumman $792 million and ULA $967 million. The funds were to be spread out through 2024, and the Air Force from the beginning said the LSAs would be terminated with those companies that did not win a Phase 2 procurement contract."
https://spacenews.com/air-force-to-end-agreements-with-blue-origin-and-northrop-grumman-prepares-for-launch-contract-protests/
[edit - this isn't yet taking into account the decreased award amount, just posting it for the info about early termination]

So: the funds were supposed to be spread out until 2024, and failing to win phase 2 contracts was always going to lead to early termination. Maybe there's extra information out there that I don't have access to regarding particular missed deadlines?

And yeah, it's obviously possible, even probable, that losing the HLS contract again will also lead to no change, at which point we can firmly say Bob Smith probably has a job for life and adjust our ever-dimming hopes accordingly.

edit - for clarification
The AirForce gave the award expecting timely completion of the milestones. The fact that Blue performed soo slowly/poorly they terminated the contract means exactly that. That the airforce expected a certain speed of progress, which blue was completely unable to produce.
Well, that's not what the quote I provided says, on either front. Given you also insisted in multiple posts recently that they were paid 2.5bn by the Air Force, I'll need you to provide a source for what you're saying here.

Offline deadman1204

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SNIP


Obviously New Glenn's development is a mess, but is that really a fair description of what happened?

"The purpose of the agreements was to help Phase 2 competitors pay for launch vehicle development and infrastructure. Blue Origin received $500 million; Northrop Grumman $792 million and ULA $967 million. The funds were to be spread out through 2024, and the Air Force from the beginning said the LSAs would be terminated with those companies that did not win a Phase 2 procurement contract."
https://spacenews.com/air-force-to-end-agreements-with-blue-origin-and-northrop-grumman-prepares-for-launch-contract-protests/
[edit - this isn't yet taking into account the decreased award amount, just posting it for the info about early termination]

So: the funds were supposed to be spread out until 2024, and failing to win phase 2 contracts was always going to lead to early termination. Maybe there's extra information out there that I don't have access to regarding particular missed deadlines?

And yeah, it's obviously possible, even probable, that losing the HLS contract again will also lead to no change, at which point we can firmly say Bob Smith probably has a job for life and adjust our ever-dimming hopes accordingly.

edit - for clarification
The AirForce gave the award expecting timely completion of the milestones. The fact that Blue performed soo slowly/poorly they terminated the contract means exactly that. That the airforce expected a certain speed of progress, which blue was completely unable to produce.

Do you or woods170 have anything to back that statement up with? The SN article is pretty explicit and provides much better information here than either of you two have. Nothing was stated about either Blue or Northrop Grumman having their LSA-1 awards terminated because they were failing to meet their milestones or anything else punitive like that. And keep in mind that NG was way further along towards launch in many ways than either ULA or Blue at that point.
Fact is the airforce cancelled their contract due to performance (this is an easy google). If you believe that blue's performance was adequate or higher, please prove so.
« Last Edit: 01/23/2023 04:05 pm by deadman1204 »

Offline whitelancer64

SNIP


Obviously New Glenn's development is a mess, but is that really a fair description of what happened?

"The purpose of the agreements was to help Phase 2 competitors pay for launch vehicle development and infrastructure. Blue Origin received $500 million; Northrop Grumman $792 million and ULA $967 million. The funds were to be spread out through 2024, and the Air Force from the beginning said the LSAs would be terminated with those companies that did not win a Phase 2 procurement contract."
https://spacenews.com/air-force-to-end-agreements-with-blue-origin-and-northrop-grumman-prepares-for-launch-contract-protests/
[edit - this isn't yet taking into account the decreased award amount, just posting it for the info about early termination]

So: the funds were supposed to be spread out until 2024, and failing to win phase 2 contracts was always going to lead to early termination. Maybe there's extra information out there that I don't have access to regarding particular missed deadlines?

And yeah, it's obviously possible, even probable, that losing the HLS contract again will also lead to no change, at which point we can firmly say Bob Smith probably has a job for life and adjust our ever-dimming hopes accordingly.

edit - for clarification
The AirForce gave the award expecting timely completion of the milestones. The fact that Blue performed soo slowly/poorly they terminated the contract means exactly that. That the airforce expected a certain speed of progress, which blue was completely unable to produce.

Do you or woods170 have anything to back that statement up with? The SN article is pretty explicit and provides much better information here than either of you two have. Nothing was stated about either Blue or Northrop Grumman having their LSA-1 awards terminated because they were failing to meet their milestones or anything else punitive like that. And keep in mind that NG was way further along towards launch in many ways than either ULA or Blue at that point.
Fact is the airforce cancelled their contract due to performance (this is an easy google). If you believe that blue's performance was adequate or higher, please prove so.

No, they cancelled the $500 million development contract because Blue Origin wasn't selected for the NSSL launches. They did the same thing for Northrop Grumman.

If it's easily found, then you should have no problem providing a link to a source (or two or three) to back up what you've been saying.

So far my Google searches haven't resulted in anything to back up what you're saying. There are many articles on the NSSL award but none that say Blue Origin lost out due to slow or poor performance.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline woods170

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The AirForce gave the award expecting timely completion of the milestones. The fact that Blue performed soo slowly/poorly they terminated the contract means exactly that. That the airforce expected a certain speed of progress, which blue was completely unable to produce.

Do you or woods170 have anything to back that statement up with? The SN article is pretty explicit and provides much better information here than either of you two have. Nothing was stated about either Blue or Northrop Grumman having their LSA-1 awards terminated because they were failing to meet their milestones or anything else punitive like that. And keep in mind that NG was way further along towards launch in many ways than either ULA or Blue at that point.
Fact is the airforce cancelled their contract due to performance (this is an easy google). If you believe that blue's performance was adequate or higher, please prove so.

No, they cancelled the $500 million development contract because Blue Origin wasn't selected for the NSSL launches. They did the same thing for Northrop Grumman.

If it's easily found, then you should have no problem providing a link to a source (or two or three) to back up what you've been saying.

So far my Google searches haven't resulted in anything to back up what you're saying. There are many articles on the NSSL award but none that say Blue Origin lost out due to slow or poor performance.

What part of "The intent of the LSAs (Phase 1) was to create a more competitive environment leading into Phase 2" did you not understand?

The Phase 1 LSA was started with the intention of having more than 2 competitors for the Phase 2 NSSL competition. The USAF, when they started Phase 1 LSA, knew full well that there was already one Phase 2 NSSL contestant with fully developed vehicles: SpaceX. Which is why Phase 1 LSA gave contracts to ULA, Blue Origin and Northrop-Grumman, for developing Vulcan, New Glenn and OmegA. Purpose was to further the development of those vehicles to the point where they could compete against the vehicles offered by SpaceX. Two of Phase 1 LSA vehicles, at that time (2018), had already been in development for some time: Vulcan had been in development since early 2015 and New Glenn had been in development since 2012.

The situation in late 2018, when the Phase 1 LSA contracts were awarded, was as follows:
- Vulcan had been in development for a good 3 years since 2015
- New Glenn had been in development for a good 6 years since 2012.
- The main engine for both had been in development since 2011.
- Omega had been development for just a year, since 2017.

The size of the Phase 1 LSA awards was dependent on how much development of the vehicles had already progressed, as perceived by USAF.
That resulted in Omega gitting the biggest award (almost $1B) because it had most of development still to go.
The second biggest award (a little less than $800M) went to Vulcan, which had seen only half the development period compared to Blue Origin. And that latter fact explains why Blue Origin got the smallest award (of "just" $500M): the USAF deemed them to be furthest along in launch vehicel development.

If the intention of Phase 2 NSSL had been to go with the incumbents (ULA and SpaceX) regardless, then the entire Phase 1 LSA would not have been necessary.
Yet, USAF awarded over $2B worth of development contracts to Vulcan, New Glenn and Omega anyway. This resulted in Blue Origin going head-to-head with ULA. Both had more-or-less equal chances to become the second provider besides SpaceX.
But where ULA, under the excellent leadership of Tory Bruno, grabbed that opportunity with both hands (they accelerated Vulcan development), Blue Origin did NOT grab the opportunity. They just kept muddying along in the slow pace they had always done.

Two years later, USAF viewed the results and saw much progress in Vulcan development, with a high number of milestones completed. But they also saw way-less-than-much progress in New Glenn development, with a much lower number of milestones completed.
Which led them to award the second Phase 2 NSSL award to ULA (the first one going to SpaceX).

It is possible that Blue wrongly interpreted the projected runtime of the Phase 1 LSA. It was projected to spend funds from 2018 to 2024. BUT, USAF had stated, from the beginning, that upon awarding of the Phase 2 NSSL contract, that the losing Phase 1 contestants would see termination of their Phase 1 LSA contracts. And it had already been communicated in 2018 that the Phase 2 contracts would be awarded in late 2020.

THAT little fact should have been enough for Blue to recognize that they basically had just TWO years (between late 2018 and late 2020) to get New Glenn development firmly AHEAD of Vulcan development (where Blue Origin should have been in the first place to begin with, given that New Glenn started development a full THREE YEARS before Vulcan).

Yet Blue Origin totally screwed the pooch. They did not accelerate. They let ULA overtake them. They did not do their best to complete the majority of the milestones before the USAF was to decide on the Phase 2 NSSL contracts. In other words: their performance in the Phase 1 LSA was dismal. And exactly because their performance was dismal, they did not win a Phase 2 NSSL contract, which automatically resulted in termination of their Phase 1 contract.


So yes, the termination of Blue's Phase 1 LSA contract was the direct result of a lack of adequate performance.
« Last Edit: 01/24/2023 02:26 pm by woods170 »

Offline whitelancer64

*snip*
USAF viewed the results and saw much progress in Vulcan development, with a high number of milestones completed. But they also saw way-less-than-much progress in New Glenn development, with a much lower number of milestones completed.
*snip*

Perhaps now we are getting somewhere.

How many milestones did ULA complete compared to Blue Origin? Which milestones were they? Can you provide a link with this information?

Also, when did they characterize Blue Origin's performance as poor or too slow?
« Last Edit: 01/24/2023 02:57 pm by whitelancer64 »
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline deadman1204

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*snip*
USAF viewed the results and saw much progress in Vulcan development, with a high number of milestones completed. But they also saw way-less-than-much progress in New Glenn development, with a much lower number of milestones completed.
*snip*

Perhaps now we are getting somewhere.

How many milestones did ULA complete compared to Blue Origin? Which milestones were they? Can you provide a link with this information?

Also, when did they characterize Blue Origin's performance as poor or too slow?
I'm gonna bet you are asking the impossible. That information probably isn't public.

Offline whitelancer64

*snip*
USAF viewed the results and saw much progress in Vulcan development, with a high number of milestones completed. But they also saw way-less-than-much progress in New Glenn development, with a much lower number of milestones completed.
*snip*

Perhaps now we are getting somewhere.

How many milestones did ULA complete compared to Blue Origin? Which milestones were they? Can you provide a link with this information?

Also, when did they characterize Blue Origin's performance as poor or too slow?

I'm gonna bet you are asking the impossible. That information probably isn't public.

Interesting take, particularly since it undermines your repeatedly expressed position.

I must ask, then, how does Woods know that New Glenn wasn't meeting its milestones, while Vulcan was completing a "high number" of them? In an above comment, Woods says that Blue Origin had completed just over half of their Phase 1 milestones.
« Last Edit: 01/24/2023 03:34 pm by whitelancer64 »
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline edzieba

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*snip*
USAF viewed the results and saw much progress in Vulcan development, with a high number of milestones completed. But they also saw way-less-than-much progress in New Glenn development, with a much lower number of milestones completed.
*snip*

Perhaps now we are getting somewhere.

How many milestones did ULA complete compared to Blue Origin? Which milestones were they? Can you provide a link with this information?

Also, when did they characterize Blue Origin's performance as poor or too slow?

I'm gonna bet you are asking the impossible. That information probably isn't public.

Interesting take, particularly since it undermines your repeatedly expressed position.

I must ask, then, how does Woods know that New Glenn wasn't meeting its milestones, while Vulcan was completing a "high number" of them? In an above comment, Woods says that Blue Origin had completed just over half of their Phase 1 milestones.
Well, there's a flight Vulcan sitting at the cape today starting its integration for flight. But even the most ardent BO fans would not be able to claim with a straight face that there is a finished New Glenn first stage with 7 mounted engines, a finished upper stage with engines mounted, and finished fairings, all completed and ready for integration and rollout. That's a fairly concrete milestone to compare.

Offline whitelancer64

*snip*
USAF viewed the results and saw much progress in Vulcan development, with a high number of milestones completed. But they also saw way-less-than-much progress in New Glenn development, with a much lower number of milestones completed.
*snip*

Perhaps now we are getting somewhere.

How many milestones did ULA complete compared to Blue Origin? Which milestones were they? Can you provide a link with this information?

Also, when did they characterize Blue Origin's performance as poor or too slow?

I'm gonna bet you are asking the impossible. That information probably isn't public.

Interesting take, particularly since it undermines your repeatedly expressed position.

I must ask, then, how does Woods know that New Glenn wasn't meeting its milestones, while Vulcan was completing a "high number" of them? In an above comment, Woods says that Blue Origin had completed just over half of their Phase 1 milestones.
Well, there's a flight Vulcan sitting at the cape today starting its integration for flight. But even the most ardent BO fans would not be able to claim with a straight face that there is a finished New Glenn first stage with 7 mounted engines, a finished upper stage with engines mounted, and finished fairings, all completed and ready for integration and rollout. That's a fairly concrete milestone to compare.

Completely irrelevant, thank you.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

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