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SLS / Orion / Beyond-LEO HSF - Constellation => Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (HLV/SLS) => Topic started by: FutureSpaceTourist on 10/10/2018 02:53 pm

Title: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 10/10/2018 02:53 pm
https://twitter.com/nasaoig/status/1050030656795959296

https://twitter.com/lorengrush/status/1050031856673071104

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1050032566428790785
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 10/10/2018 02:56 pm
https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1050032740593217536

https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1050032873095528448

Edit to add:

https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1050035868025712640
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: JDTractorGuy on 10/10/2018 03:09 pm
This is incredibly disappointing.  Programs run by NASA like SLS and Orion are what got me so excited and interested in spaceflight during High School.  Of course at that time it was still projected to launch in 2017...

Reading the report makes it sound like its *mostly* Boeing's fault, since they failed to accurately estimate the cost of the project.  However, NASA seems to have over-evaluated their performance, giving them way more money than they should have received.  I'd be willing to bet this caused a snowball effect that had Boeing decrease performance further and so on...

I've always been a fan of SLS and any NASA rocket in particular.  Sadly, with all the other, cheaper alternatives that commercial companies are coming up with, and the constant delays and cost overruns like we see here, its becoming harder and harder for me to support this vehicle.

Edit:  Added thoughts based on the full article, not just the tweets.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: grythumn on 10/10/2018 03:10 pm
Quote
Based on Boeing’s current expenditure rate, NASA will need to increase the contract value by approximately $800 million to complete the first Core Stage for delivery to the Kennedy Space Center in December 2019. If the EM-1 launch takes place in June 2020, more than $400 million—for a total of $1.2 billion—would need to be added to the contract.  This amount would only ensure delivery of Core Stage 1 and would not include the billions more required to complete work
on Core Stage 2 and the EUS.

Quote
[...]contracting officers approved contract modifications and issued task orders to several contracts without proper authority, exposing NASA to $321.7 million in unauthorized commitments, most of which will require follow-up contract ratification.

Quote
[...]the Agency’s plans are on hold for acquiring additional Core Stages.  Given that NASA officials estimate needing 52 months of lead time from issuing a contract to delivery, the earliest a third Core Stage can be produced is 2023, jeopardizing planned launch dates for future missions that require the rocket, including EM-2 and potentially a science mission to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, in 2022.

Quote
To its credit, the SLS Program has taken positive steps to address management and procurement issues related to the Boeing Stages contract, including making key leadership changes; requesting reviews of Boeing’s management, financial, and estimating systems; adding routine, in-depth performance reviews; and changing the procurement process to improve internal controls.  However, the impact of these actions on improving Boeing’s future contract performance is uncertain.

-R C 
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: speedevil on 10/10/2018 03:15 pm
Page 19 is interesting.
Boeing  has received $323M, 90% of the maximum possible in performance bonus fees.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 10/10/2018 03:17 pm
Wow

https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1050040145431449600 (https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1050040145431449600)

This could be first significant test for Bridenstine, but I guess that’ll depend on how much congress takes notice. But whatever happens politically EM-1 in 2020 not looking good.

Edit to add:

https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1050042103017947136
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: speedevil on 10/10/2018 03:20 pm
Quote
From 2009 to 2016, a contracting officer exceeded his $2.5 million warrant by making multiple
unauthorized commitments in the amount of $318 million for contracts for Michoud operations,

Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage production, and advanced booster development. This
individual was also the primary contracting officer for the Boeing Stages contract. An issue with
exceeding warrants was initially discovered in December 2016 during an internal annual
self-assessment reviewed and signed by the Marshall procurement manager. However, this
situation was not acted upon or timely disclosed to NASA OIG as prescribed by the NASA FAR
Supplement.46 Based on an August 2017 referral from the Marshall Acquisition Integrity
Program, NASA OIG initiated an investigation and provided its findings to Marshall management
in October 2017.47 As a result, Marshall officials terminated the contracting officer’s warrant
and reassigned him pending final outcome of an inquiry into his actions and follow-up
negotiations to ratify the contractual actions committed over his warrant authority. As of
August 2018, Center management has not taken disciplinary action against the
contracting officer.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: grythumn on 10/10/2018 03:24 pm
Quote
Although management concurred with Recommendation 1, we do not find their comments fully responsive.  Finally, NASA management did not concur with Recommendation 6.  Accordingly, recommendations 1 and 6 will remain unresolved pending further discussions with Agency officials.

(This bit is a photo; there may be some typos from me retyping it):
Quote
Recommendation 1: Develop a corrective action plan for completing the two Core Stages and EUS and brief that plan to Boeing and senior NASA officials to gain their approval.
Management's Response: NASA concurs with this recommendation. As stated in the "Positive Steps Taken to Address Procurement and Management Issues" section of the OIG's report, NASA apprised Boeing of the existing performance challenges in early 2018 and directed Boeing to develop a corrective action plan to address systemic issues to better control cost and schedule. This recommendation will be satisfied by the completion of a current study that demonstrates the manufacturing facility capability to meet applicable schedules

So the OIG told NASA to come with a plan to fix things, and their plan is to tell Boeing that they need to make a plan.

-R C
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: grythumn on 10/10/2018 03:32 pm
Quote
NASA attempted to obtain a lower cost for the SLS by removing reporting requirements such as not having EUS cost to be separately reported. The annual award fee, instead of every 6 months, was another attempt to reduce cost. The observed contractor performance showed that this approach, although it reduced contract value, did not allow the insight needed into contractor performance. If the contractor performance would have been better, this approach would have reduced cost to the Government.

-R C
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/10/2018 03:43 pm
This could be first significant test for Bridenstine, but I guess that’ll depend on how much congress takes notice.

Prediction:  Congress won't take notice.

With the exception of a bit of grumbling sotto voce from retiring congressmen, past delays and overruns have generated no complaints.  Logically, Congress would complain loudly if its principal purpose for funding SLS were space exploration, but that does not appear to be the case.

Once again, the much derided Booz Allen Hamilton report (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38021.msg1432605#msg1432605) of 2011 is proven prophetic.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 10/10/2018 03:44 pm
Boeing response reported

https://twitter.com/spacebrendan/status/1050048925342810112
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/10/2018 03:47 pm
Boeing response reported ....

Boeing refers to SLS as an "unprecedented rocket program," but the whole point of a Shuttle-derived design was that it was to reduce costs by the use of hardware precedents.  On top of that, SLS's performance specs are not too different from those of a decades-old rocket, the Saturn 5.  Oh, and Boeing, which absorbed Rockwell International some years ago, was the prime contractor for the Shuttle and much of the Saturn 5.  The SLS program is very much "precedented."

EDIT:  'V' -> '5' in penultimate sentence, for consistency.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Rocket Science on 10/10/2018 04:00 pm
Boeing response reported

https://twitter.com/spacebrendan/status/1050048925342810112
Typical smug response... 5 years from now they'll give the same one...
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: envy887 on 10/10/2018 04:14 pm
Boeing response reported

https://twitter.com/spacebrendan/status/1050048925342810112
Typical smug response... 5 years from now they'll give the same one...

Boeing is entirely correct that NASA's poor management of Boeing's poor performance is an internal NASA problem...

But they are totally handwaving away their own poor performance which is the cause of the whole issue.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/10/2018 04:29 pm
This could be first significant test for Bridenstine, but I guess that’ll depend on how much congress takes notice.

Prediction:  Congress won't take notice....

Oh, and another reason Congress won't complain:  there's an election underway.  This is not the time that politicians want to be seen threatening people's cash cows.  By the time the election is over, the OIG's report will have been forgotten.  I'd say that, from Boeing's point of view, the timing of the report is ideal.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Lars-J on 10/10/2018 04:42 pm
Page 19 is interesting.
Boeing  has received $323M, 90% of the maximum possible in performance bonus fees.

That's just stunning. Can we stop pretending that they (Boeing and NASA SLS management) have any competence?
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: AncientU on 10/10/2018 04:47 pm
Quote
...we recommended the Agency (7) implement, by October 2018, an acquisition strategy for building additional Core Stages beyond Core Stage 2 that includes consideration for awarding the contract as a fixed-price, end-item deliverable contract with each Core Stage separated into unique task orders.

That would allow us to finally see the real cost of this rocket.  I suspect it would be a 'bit' higher than the advertised $500M.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: AncientU on 10/10/2018 04:56 pm
Quote
And that's fair. It is hard and technically complex. But what's left unsaid in the report, but will be said here, is that maybe NASA just isn't as good as others right now at building big rockets. It's been 40 years since they developed the space shuttle.

https://twitter.com/SciGuySpace/status/1050065008078540816
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/10/2018 05:12 pm
Quote from: Introduction to the OIG's report
... due to continued production delays with the SLS Core Stage and upcoming critical testing and integration activities, current NASA schedules indicate launch dates of mid-2020 and mid-2022, respectively.

[Emphasis added.]

So the core stage has yet not passed through integration, which is when major stuff is really likely to hit the fan.  Things are probably going to get worse.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: edkyle99 on 10/10/2018 05:22 pm
Boeing response reported ....

Boeing refers to SLS as an "unprecedented rocket program," but the whole point of a Shuttle-derived design was that it was to reduce costs by the use of hardware precedents.  On top of that, SLS's performance specs are not too different from those of a decades-old rocket, the Saturn 5.  Oh, and Boeing, which absorbed Rockwell International some years ago, was the prime contractor for the Shuttle and much of the Saturn 5.  The SLS program is very much "precedented."

EDIT:  'V' -> '5' in penultimate sentence, for consistency.
The SLS Core Stage, Boeing's part of this rocket, is unprecedented.  No liquid hydrogen stage has ever been this big, this long, this heavy, or produced this much thrust.  Boeing's (North American Aviation) Saturn V S-II stage was about 40% as much rocket as SLS Core.  An entire Delta 4 Heavy stack, including upper stage, only weighs 67% as much as SLS Core.  Etc.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: cferreir on 10/10/2018 05:22 pm
We have a billionaire worth 100+ billion investing his own money to build a heavy lift vehicle, we have a successful private space company investing it's own money to build another..... Why in God's green earth is the US government building one??? Stop now, give 1 billion to Blue Origin and 1 billion to SpaceX and focus on science and research! The  final straw is that this SLS thing is using STS tech!!! Stuff that was developed in the 80's....... Argh...but alas...I know I'm just screaming into my pillow...
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: AncientU on 10/10/2018 05:36 pm
Boeing response reported ....

Boeing refers to SLS as an "unprecedented rocket program," but the whole point of a Shuttle-derived design was that it was to reduce costs by the use of hardware precedents.  On top of that, SLS's performance specs are not too different from those of a decades-old rocket, the Saturn 5.  Oh, and Boeing, which absorbed Rockwell International some years ago, was the prime contractor for the Shuttle and much of the Saturn 5.  The SLS program is very much "precedented."

EDIT:  'V' -> '5' in penultimate sentence, for consistency.
The SLS Core Stage, Boeing's part of this rocket, is unprecedented.  No liquid hydrogen stage has ever been this big, this long, this heavy, or produced this much thrust.  Boeing's (North American Aviation) Saturn V S-II stage was about 40% as much rocket as SLS Core.  An entire Delta 4 Heavy stack, including upper stage, only weighs 67% as much as SLS Core.  Etc.

 - Ed Kyle

There might possibly be something wrong with 'this big, this long, this heavy' for a rocket stage.  And the core stage produces about the thrust of a F9, using ungodly expensive engines developed in the 1970s.  Boosters are ancient tech, nothing to marvel at as you do.

So, what should we marvel at?  A $12B, BIG-A$$ aluminum tank.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: niwax on 10/10/2018 05:59 pm

So, what should we marvel at?  A $12B, BIG-A$$ aluminum tank.

And right now private companies are having to put up their own money to develop proprietary cryogenic carbon fiber tanks because the government-funded research agency is busy devising new ways to build obsolete foam-clad aluminium tanks. No one outside of NASA contractors will ever profit or learn from the work being done here.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: edkyle99 on 10/10/2018 06:03 pm
The SLS Core Stage, Boeing's part of this rocket, is unprecedented.  No liquid hydrogen stage has ever been this big, this long, this heavy, or produced this much thrust.  Boeing's (North American Aviation) Saturn V S-II stage was about 40% as much rocket as SLS Core.  An entire Delta 4 Heavy stack, including upper stage, only weighs 67% as much as SLS Core.  Etc.

 - Ed Kyle

There might possibly be something wrong with 'this big, this long, this heavy' for a rocket stage.  And the core stage produces about the thrust of a F9, using ungodly expensive engines developed in the 1970s.  Boosters are ancient tech, nothing to marvel at as you do.
Thrust is an invalid metric for comparing hydrocarbon versus liquid hydrogen stages.  SLS Core characteristic velocity is half again higher and is part of a rocket designed to lift four or more times as much payload.

I marvel at it all, including that Hawthorne-built stage.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Cremalera on 10/10/2018 06:09 pm
Page 19 is interesting.
Boeing  has received $323M, 90% of the maximum possible in performance bonus fees.

That's just stunning. Can we stop pretending that they (Boeing and NASA SLS management) have any competence?
Competence?It's hard to imagine a more competent company than Boeing.if such thing would have happened in my country-I would suggest a criminal scheme.,with a probability of 99%.Although, I do not think that Mr. Rogozin had already  negative influence on Jim Bridenstine.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: AncientU on 10/10/2018 06:13 pm
The SLS Core Stage, Boeing's part of this rocket, is unprecedented.  No liquid hydrogen stage has ever been this big, this long, this heavy, or produced this much thrust.  Boeing's (North American Aviation) Saturn V S-II stage was about 40% as much rocket as SLS Core.  An entire Delta 4 Heavy stack, including upper stage, only weighs 67% as much as SLS Core.  Etc.

 - Ed Kyle

There might possibly be something wrong with 'this big, this long, this heavy' for a rocket stage.  And the core stage produces about the thrust of a F9, using ungodly expensive engines developed in the 1970s.  Boosters are ancient tech, nothing to marvel at as you do.
Thrust is an invalid metric for comparing hydrocarbon versus liquid hydrogen stages.  SLS Core characteristic velocity is half again higher and is part of a rocket designed to lift four or more times as much payload.

I marvel at it all, including that Hawthorne-built stage.

 - Ed Kyle

Designed to lift... so what.  It isn't lifting even its own mass.  That is exactly the point of this OIG slapdown.  I prefer to marvel at something that actually works, lifting its measly mass plus a payload 20 times per year -- at the cost of one reusable disposable RS-25 engine -- and then returning for another payload.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: freddo411 on 10/10/2018 06:16 pm
Boeing response reported ....

Boeing refers to SLS as an "unprecedented rocket program," but the whole point of a Shuttle-derived design was that it was to reduce costs by the use of hardware precedents.  On top of that, SLS's performance specs are not too different from those of a decades-old rocket, the Saturn 5.  Oh, and Boeing, which absorbed Rockwell International some years ago, was the prime contractor for the Shuttle and much of the Saturn 5.  The SLS program is very much "precedented."

EDIT:  'V' -> '5' in penultimate sentence, for consistency.
The SLS Core Stage, Boeing's part of this rocket, is unprecedented .  No liquid hydrogen stage has ever been this big, this long, this heavy, or produced this much thrust.  Boeing's (North American Aviation) Saturn V S-II stage was about 40% as much rocket as SLS Core.  An entire Delta 4 Heavy stack, including upper stage, only weighs 67% as much as SLS Core.  Etc.

 - Ed Kyle

Yes, the SLS stage is bigger than stages built previously.  Does anyone serious believe that engineering a rocket stage to be larger is a great technical challenge for an experienced organization?   I would argue that it is well within established engineering know how.   Building cylindrical Al tanks for boosters has been repeatably solved. 

I also don't believe that problems welding are a great technical challenge either.
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/05/sls-core-stage-recovering-weld-pin-change/

I don't think that enormous expense of SLS is explained due to unique technological development.

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Lars-J on 10/10/2018 06:17 pm
The SLS Core Stage, Boeing's part of this rocket, is unprecedented.  No liquid hydrogen stage has ever been this big, this long, this heavy, or produced this much thrust.  Boeing's (North American Aviation) Saturn V S-II stage was about 40% as much rocket as SLS Core.  An entire Delta 4 Heavy stack, including upper stage, only weighs 67% as much as SLS Core.  Etc.

 - Ed Kyle

There might possibly be something wrong with 'this big, this long, this heavy' for a rocket stage.  And the core stage produces about the thrust of a F9, using ungodly expensive engines developed in the 1970s.  Boosters are ancient tech, nothing to marvel at as you do.
Thrust is an invalid metric for comparing hydrocarbon versus liquid hydrogen stages.
Then size is an equally invalid metric for comparing them.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: edkyle99 on 10/10/2018 06:20 pm
Designed to lift... so what.  It isn't lifting even its own mass.  That is exactly the point of this OIG slapdown.  I prefer to marvel at something that actually works, lifting its measly mass plus a payload 20 times per year -- at the cost of one reusable disposable RS-25 engine -- and then returning for another payload.
SLS Core is a sustainer stage, not a booster.  It lifts its own mass after staging, like Ariane 5 and CZ-5 cores, like STS ET/Orbiter, and like the old Atlas sustainer stage. 

OIG was talking about dollars, not the rocket equation.  At any rate, what is the point of comparing a Medium class rocket with an HLLV?

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: edkyle99 on 10/10/2018 06:24 pm
I don't think that enormous expense of SLS is explained due to unique technological development.
A big part of the schedule slip was due to problems setting up the giant ("world's largest" it was called) core welding machine. 
https://spacenews.com/fix-in-the-works-for-giant-sls-welding-machine/

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: edkyle99 on 10/10/2018 06:26 pm
Then size is an equally invalid metric for comparing them.
I'm not the one who was comparing them.  My original response was about the "unprecedented" bit.

 - Ed Kyle


Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/10/2018 06:27 pm
Boeing refers to SLS as an "unprecedented rocket program," but the whole point of a Shuttle-derived design was that it was to reduce costs by the use of hardware precedents....

The SLS Core Stage, Boeing's part of this rocket, is unprecedented.  No liquid hydrogen stage has ever been this big, this long, this heavy, or produced this much thrust.  Boeing's (North American Aviation) Saturn V S-II stage was about 40% as much rocket as SLS Core.  An entire Delta 4 Heavy stack, including upper stage, only weighs 67% as much as SLS Core.  Etc.

If the unprecedented aspects of SLS's design are causing this much trouble, then they destroy the rationale for basing it on the Shuttle precedent.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/10/2018 06:33 pm
Actually, I've just reviewed passage in the 2010 Authorization Act that created SLS.

Quote from: Para. 302(a)(1) of the NASA 2010 Authorization Act
MODIFICATION OF CURRENT CONTRACTS .—In order to limit NASA’s termination liability costs and support critical capabilities, the Administrator shall, to the extent practicable, extend or modify existing vehicle development and associated contracts necessary to meet the requirements in paragraph (1), including contracts for ground testing of solid rocket motors, if necessary, to ensure their availability for development of the Space Launch System.

The explicitly stated objective is the minimization of termination costs, not development costs.  It's commonly assumed in this forum that minimization of development costs is an objective, but I see no evidence for that in the Authorization Act.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: AncientU on 10/10/2018 06:36 pm
Designed to lift... so what.  It isn't lifting even its own mass.  That is exactly the point of this OIG slapdown.  I prefer to marvel at something that actually works, lifting its measly mass plus a payload 20 times per year -- at the cost of one reusable disposable RS-25 engine -- and then returning for another payload.
SLS Core is a sustainer stage, not a booster.  It lifts its own mass after staging, like Ariane 5 and CZ-5 cores, like STS ET/Orbiter, and like the old Atlas sustainer stage. 

OIG was talking about dollars, not the rocket equation.  At any rate, what is the point of comparing a Medium class rocket with an HLLV?

 - Ed Kyle

The comparison is between something that is actually flying and affordable, and something that isn't either.
More, it is the comparison between a NASA/industry* team effort and something that is proven much more capable.  The OIG is questioning the team's productivity and fiscal responsibility and NASA's ability to mange it, not the 'marvelous' hardware.

* Industry Team now includes 4 major members of the military-industrial complex, but primarily Boeing in this report.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: edkyle99 on 10/10/2018 06:36 pm
If the unprecedented aspects of SLS's design are causing this much trouble, then they destroy the rationale for basing it on the Shuttle precedent.
That rationale went out the window in 2010, when they dropped the "4/3" idea in favor of a common core design for all "Blocks".  They had to have a bigger core to eventually get to the 130 ton Congressional criteria.  This choice only pays off if they ever get to Block 1B and beyond.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Lars-J on 10/10/2018 06:37 pm
Then size is an equally invalid metric for comparing them.
I'm not the one who was comparing them.  My original response was about the "unprecedented" bit.

 - Ed Kyle

Wha..? You just wrote.. (and I quoted it): "No liquid hydrogen stage has ever been this big, this long, this heavy, or produced this much thrust. "  So what aspect of what you write *is* a valid metric?
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: AncientU on 10/10/2018 06:50 pm
This all comes down to what are we going to do about SLS/Orion/NASA/etc. -- just accepting business as usual doesn't seem rational.  Tweaking BAU around the edges won't do it.

I've suggested several times over the last couple years that we give the industrial team the entire kit and caboodle and let them finish it/bid it on their own dime.  Lord knows they've profited enough from it already...

Any other ideas?
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: rockets4life97 on 10/10/2018 06:53 pm
I've suggested several times over the last couple years that we give the industrial team the entire kit and caboodle and let them finish it/bid it on their own dime.  Lord knows they've profited enough from it already...

Any other ideas?

I like this idea. Let the market decide. Seems very... what's the word... conservative.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: AncientU on 10/10/2018 07:02 pm
Quote
There’s a new report on SLS rocket management, and it’s pretty brutal

Quote
It is not clear what will happen next. In the past, Congress has largely ignored criticism of the SLS rocket, even from official sources. After all, the vehicle has 1,100 contractors in 43 states, covering a lot of legislative districts.

However, there are a few critics close to the White House who have been whispering concerns and criticisms about the big, expensive rocket to Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the National Space Council. To be clear, the vice president has been publicly supportive of the SLS rocket to date. But this report will at the very least add fuel to the fire of the criticisms he is hearing.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/10/theres-a-new-report-on-sls-rocket-management-and-its-pretty-brutal/
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Tulse on 10/10/2018 07:07 pm
What the heck is wrong with Boeing?  This situation is similar to the KC-46 tanker plane -- a project also based on pre-existing hardware, namely Boeing's own plane, that is massively over budget and over deadline.

What is the point of using a Shuttle-derived design if this is the result?
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: edkyle99 on 10/10/2018 07:10 pm
Then size is an equally invalid metric for comparing them.
I'm not the one who was comparing them.  My original response was about the "unprecedented" bit.

 - Ed Kyle
Wha..? You just wrote.. (and I quoted it): "No liquid hydrogen stage has ever been this big, this long, this heavy, or produced this much thrust. "  So what aspect of what you write *is* a valid metric?
I wasn't the one comparing Core stage with Falcon 9 first stage.  That was someone else.  My initial post was a response to someone complaining about Boeing's tweet that talked about the "unprecedented" nature of its SLS work.  As I pointed out, Boeing's stage is unprecedented - the biggest, etc., of its type ever.  Can we get on to something else now?

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: eeergo on 10/10/2018 07:29 pm
Quote
From 2009 to 2016, a contracting officer exceeded his $2.5 million warrant by making multiple
unauthorized commitments in the amount of $318 million for contracts for Michoud operations,

Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage production, and advanced booster development. This
individual was also the primary contracting officer for the Boeing Stages contract. An issue with
exceeding warrants was initially discovered in December 2016 during an internal annual
self-assessment reviewed and signed by the Marshall procurement manager. However, this
situation was not acted upon or timely disclosed to NASA OIG as prescribed by the NASA FAR
Supplement.46 Based on an August 2017 referral from the Marshall Acquisition Integrity
Program, NASA OIG initiated an investigation and provided its findings to Marshall management
in October 2017.47 As a result, Marshall officials terminated the contracting officer’s warrant
and reassigned him pending final outcome of an inquiry into his actions and follow-up
negotiations to ratify the contractual actions committed over his warrant authority. As of
August 2018, Center management has not taken disciplinary action against the
contracting officer.

Why isn't this criminal embezzlement of funds (approximately the cost of a Discovery-class mission), which I very much doubt hasn't profited this individual directly, causing said individual to be put in jail and Boeing's profits from NASA's contract curtailed by the same amount?

This clearly isn't incompetence or has anything to do with rockets.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/10/2018 07:30 pm
What the heck is wrong with Boeing?  This situation is similar to the KC-46 tanker plane -- a project also based on pre-existing hardware, namely Boeing's own plane, that is massively over budget and over deadline.

How is this a problem for Boeing?  While I'm sure many honest, hard-working Boeing employees would like to see their handiwork fly, Boeing is a corporation with a responsibility to its shareholders to make as much money as possible.  Boeing has no competition for SLS.  Everything is going well from a corporate point of view.  There will be a minor PR flap about the OIG's report, but that's a tempest in a teapot.

If things get so bad that SLS is cancelled, that's another matter.  But Congress has continued to love SLS over the years despite delays and overruns.  Even if the reaction is different this time (highly unlikely, IMO (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=46535.msg1865739#msg1865739)), actual cancellation is many quarters away.

Quote
What is the point of using a Shuttle-derived design if this is the result?[

Exactly.  If the thread discussing ultimate names for SLS were still open, I might, on the strength of the OIG's report, suggest some flightless birds.  Perhaps, in particular, one that many Americans will be consuming late next month.

EDIT:  "there" -> "their" in second sentence.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: eeergo on 10/10/2018 07:44 pm

How is this a problem for Boeing?  While I'm sure many honest, hard-working Boeing employees would like to see there handiwork fly, Boeing is a corporation with a responsibility to its shareholders to make as much money as possible.  Boeing has no competition for SLS.  Everything is going well from a corporate point of view.  There will be a minor PR flap about the OIG's report, but that's a tempest in a teapot.

If things get so bad that SLS is cancelled, that's another matter.  But Congress has continued to love SLS over the years despite delays and overruns.  Even if the reaction is different this time (highly unlikely, IMO (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=46535.msg1865739#msg1865739)), actual cancellation is many quarters away.

Not such a big issue if, as gossiping tongues whisper, the whole thing is privatized after spending as close as possible to 100% of the allowed funds (or new appropriations), Boeing finishes development "by itself", with part of the funds already in its pocket (the ones that didn't go to profit) and with a bit of luck gets paid for "providing" every mission to NASA.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: AncientU on 10/10/2018 07:48 pm

How is this a problem for Boeing?  While I'm sure many honest, hard-working Boeing employees would like to see there handiwork fly, Boeing is a corporation with a responsibility to its shareholders to make as much money as possible.  Boeing has no competition for SLS.  Everything is going well from a corporate point of view.  There will be a minor PR flap about the OIG's report, but that's a tempest in a teapot.

If things get so bad that SLS is cancelled, that's another matter.  But Congress has continued to love SLS over the years despite delays and overruns.  Even if the reaction is different this time (highly unlikely, IMO (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=46535.msg1865739#msg1865739)), actual cancellation is many quarters away.

Not such a big issue if, as gossiping tongues whisper, the whole thing is privatized after spending as close as possible to 100% of the allowed funds (or new appropriations), Boeing finishes development "by itself", with part of the funds already in its pocket (the ones that didn't go to profit) and with a bit of luck gets paid for "providing" every mission to NASA.

Fine.  $500M per mission, all included.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Lar on 10/10/2018 07:51 pm
(mod) General bashing of NASA, Boeing, Congress, or whoever....
(fan) however warranted,
(mod) is probably not appropriate. Not here. Stick to dissecting specific facts and take pillow crying to FB, Twitter, or your blog,

Thank you.  This was more of a preemptive message than a specific callout of specific people.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Tulse on 10/10/2018 07:52 pm
Boeing finishes development "by itself", with part of the funds already in its pocket (the ones that didn't go to profit) and with a bit of luck gets paid for "providing" every mission to NASA.
The last thing Boeing wants is to use SLS to compete on the open market for launch services.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: eeergo on 10/10/2018 07:57 pm
Boeing finishes development "by itself", with part of the funds already in its pocket (the ones that didn't go to profit) and with a bit of luck gets paid for "providing" every mission to NASA.
The last thing Boeing wants is to use SLS to compete on the open market for launch services.

Unless the market isn't open because there are no other such vehicles in the immediate timeframe considered.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Endeavour_01 on 10/10/2018 07:58 pm
Incredibly disappointing to say the least but as one of the few SLS fans on this site I see at least one silver lining.

Quote from: OIG
"Cost increases and schedule delays of Core Stage development can be traced largely to management, technical, and infrastructure issues driven by Boeing’s poor performance."

I have long believed that a change in management practices from NASA and Boeing would go a long way to curbing the delays and cost overruns the SLS program has been experiencing. In other words building the rocket itself isn't really the main problem, its how the program is being run. This report seems to confirm my beliefs.

What is needed here is a firm hand at the tiller. It remains to be seen if Bridenstine et. al are able to change the management culture of the program. If better management is not forthcoming the SLS program is in serious danger of cancellation.

Edited to add: One of the things that should happen as a result of this report is a reassignment of the EUS to another company (like BO) as a consequence of Boeing's poor performance.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Coastal Ron on 10/10/2018 08:01 pm
Why isn't this criminal embezzlement of funds (approximately the cost of a Discovery-class mission)...

Large government contractors like Boeing have employees that are professionals in the realm of how to extract - in legal ways - the maximum value from a government customer. Again, IN LEGAL WAYS.

Quote
...which I very much doubt hasn't profited this individual directly, causing said individual to be put in jail and Boeing's profits from NASA's contract curtailed by the same amount?

It will be interesting to see if someone finally opens an investigation into the government employee (and their superiors) concerning them exceeding their contract authority. There are supposed to be checks and balances for that type of stuff, and clearly they didn't work.

And if Boeing was found to be in cahoots with the employee, they could be found liable for a lot of money.

Quote
This clearly isn't incompetence or has anything to do with rockets.

Some is, but let's not forget that important parts of the design of the SLS was mandated by Congress - and Congress has been happy in funding the SLS so far, so this may not be a problem for Congress. And if you don't like that - if that type of behavior is appalling to you - then research who you should and should not have representing you in Congress this November and VOTE!

Assuming you are an American who can...  ;)
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: envy887 on 10/10/2018 08:03 pm
If the unprecedented aspects of SLS's design are causing this much trouble, then they destroy the rationale for basing it on the Shuttle precedent.
That rationale went out the window in 2010, when they dropped the "4/3" idea in favor of a common core design for all "Blocks".  They had to have a bigger core to eventually get to the 130 ton Congressional criteria.  This choice only pays off if they ever get to Block 1B and beyond.

 - Ed Kyle

Bigger boosters could also reach 130 t with a smaller core. They need bigger boosters anyway, they will will never get to 130 t with this core and boosters.

So at best, it only partially pays off by saving some (but not all) of booster development costs down the road.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Tulse on 10/10/2018 08:07 pm
The last thing Boeing wants is to use SLS to compete on the open market for launch services.

Unless the market isn't open because there are no other such vehicles in the immediate timeframe considered.
The timeframe that an actually flying SLS would have no competition will be very short indeed, and that's presuming that it doesn't actually get beaten to flight.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/10/2018 08:19 pm
One of the things that should happen as a result of this report is a reassignment of the EUS to another company (like BO) as a consequence of Boeing's poor performance.

That might even be possible, given that BO has taken the politically astute step of setting up shop in Alabama.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: envy887 on 10/10/2018 08:22 pm
The last thing Boeing wants is to use SLS to compete on the open market for launch services.

Unless the market isn't open because there are no other such vehicles in the immediate timeframe considered.
The timeframe that an actually flying SLS would have no competition will be very short indeed, and that's presuming that it doesn't actually get beaten to flight.

It's already past, despite what some claim.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Lar on 10/10/2018 08:30 pm
One of the things that should happen as a result of this report is a reassignment of the EUS to another company (like BO) as a consequence of Boeing's poor performance.

That might even be possible, given that BO has taken the politically astute step of setting up shop in Alabama.
Lucky guess,  prescient, or based on non public prior negotiations for EUS that have been going longer than we realized? Who knows... but astute is certainly a good summation.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: rst on 10/10/2018 08:55 pm
That might even be possible, given that BO has taken the politically astute step of setting up shop in Alabama.
Lucky guess,  prescient, or based on non public prior negotiations for EUS that have been going longer than we realized? Who knows... but astute is certainly a good summation.

Alabama businesses are working a whole lot of government contracts which Blue might want to muscle in on, while still keeping the work in the districts of its very active Congressional sponsors. SLS work might be on the list, but probably not near the top.

(Edit: rearranged to get quoting right)
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Coastal Ron on 10/10/2018 08:57 pm
Edited to add: One of the things that should happen as a result of this report is a reassignment of the EUS to another company (like BO) as a consequence of Boeing's poor performance.

First NASA would have to agree with this report, and there would have to be a finding of some sort beyond the OIG report that Boeing has performed so badly that they either A) need to be punished financially, or B) are not perceived as being competent enough to build the EUS.

I don't see either of those happening.

In fact I don't think anything substantial will happen to Boeing from this report - the contracts they have will stay, and Congress will keep shoveling money to the SLS program regardless of how poorly the money is being spent, or the lack of need for it's capabilities.

There will eventually be a trigger event that will inspire a real review of the SLS program, but I doubt this is it...
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: speedevil on 10/10/2018 09:11 pm
There will eventually be a trigger event that will inspire a real review of the SLS program, but I doubt this is it...
Quite.
It's bad, but not in ways which make it meaningfully more expensive - paradoxically - because the capability is so low and the assumed price of any payloads is so high that going from a billion to a billion and a half dollars per launch (or whatever) makes little difference to the overall mission cost, which is often ill-defined anyway.

Mere 'normal' expense and delays are not going to get this thing grounded. The delays and overruns and problems are more-or-less comparable with JWST, for example.

I have no confidence that re-competing the EUS will do much.
It needs to die. (or become at least three times cheaper)

But I would be extremely surprised to see it cancelled before the dozenth flight of BFS (or NA).

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: butters on 10/10/2018 09:11 pm
I have long believed that a change in management practices from NASA and Boeing would go a long way to curbing the delays and cost overruns the SLS program has been experiencing. In other words building the rocket itself isn't really the main problem, its how the program is being run. This report seems to confirm my beliefs.

What is needed here is a firm hand at the tiller. It remains to be seen if Bridenstine et. al are able to change the management culture of the program. If better management is not forthcoming the SLS program is in serious danger of cancellation.

Edited to add: One of the things that should happen as a result of this report is a reassignment of the EUS to another company (like BO) as a consequence of Boeing's poor performance.

Bill Gerstenmaier's defensive response is not promising. If Gerst cannot lead a change in NASA HSF management culture, then who can?

Anybody other than Boeing might find it difficult to adapt their upper stage avionics to control the SLS core stage and solid boosters. I suspect this might be a problem for Blue Origin delivering an upper stage for SLS, but maybe I'm overestimating the dependence of the SLS stack on the upper stage avionics?
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/10/2018 10:03 pm
In fact I don't think anything substantial will happen to Boeing from this report - the contracts they have will stay, and Congress will keep shoveling money to the SLS program regardless of how poorly the money is being spent, or the lack of need for it's capabilities.

Indeed, consider JWST, the performance of which is perhaps even worse that SLS's to date.  The prime contractor's CEO was hauled in front of Congress recently (https://spacenews.com/northrop-ceo-offers-to-link-jwst-profit-to-mission-success/).  I'm sure there are plenty of ways the CEO would have preferred to spend his morning, but to my knowledge Northrup Grumman has not suffered any harm.

The OIG's report on SLS is just the latest of series of reports identifying problems with SLS, beginning with the prophetic Booz Allen Hamilton report (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38021.msg1432605#msg1432605) issued before SLS was formally begun.  Previous reports have not even registered with Congress.  Even if Congress's reaction to this report is ten times stronger than to any previous report, Boeing's SLS contract is in no particular danger.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: docmordrid on 10/10/2018 10:32 pm
>
There might possibly be something wrong with 'this big, this long, this heavy' for a rocket stage.  And the [SLS] core stage produces about the thrust of a F9, using ungodly expensive engines developed in the 1970s. 
>

Just needed to see that by itself, to fully appreciate the enormity of its irrationality.

Disgusting. Just plain disgusting.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Rocket Science on 10/11/2018 01:25 am
Is this the first test for Jimmy B? Charlie B. is probably going to watch this out of curiosity...
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: edkyle99 on 10/11/2018 02:49 am
>
There might possibly be something wrong with 'this big, this long, this heavy' for a rocket stage.  And the [SLS] core stage produces about the thrust of a F9, using ungodly expensive engines developed in the 1970s. 
>

Just needed to see that by itself, to fully appreciate the enormity of its irrationality.

Disgusting. Just plain disgusting.
Thrust is higher for hydrocarbon because the engines burn denser propellant.  They have to make more thrust because the propellant weighs more than LH2/LOX for the same energy.  Thus, you can't make comparison claims between RP/LOX and LH2/LOX based on thrust alone.  Total impulse is a better comparison.  I believe SLS core would make three or more times more total impulse than Falcon 9 first stage.  Doesn't everyone on this high quality space tech forum know this stuff? 

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: edkyle99 on 10/11/2018 02:53 am
One of the things that should happen as a result of this report is a reassignment of the EUS to another company (like BO) as a consequence of Boeing's poor performance.

That might even be possible, given that BO has taken the politically astute step of setting up shop in Alabama.
Lucky guess,  prescient, or based on non public prior negotiations for EUS that have been going longer than we realized? Who knows... but astute is certainly a good summation.
We've noted for awhile on these forums that the New Glenn second stage is an almost perfect match for the basic EUS requirements, at least in terms of propellant load and thrust.  It remains to be seen if a share like this is possible.  I'm for it.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: meekGee on 10/11/2018 02:57 am
>
There might possibly be something wrong with 'this big, this long, this heavy' for a rocket stage.  And the [SLS] core stage produces about the thrust of a F9, using ungodly expensive engines developed in the 1970s. 
>

Just needed to see that by itself, to fully appreciate the enormity of its irrationality.

Disgusting. Just plain disgusting.
Until 10 years ago, this was normal.

The system that supports this money machine is a self licking ice cream cone and will not go away easily and certainly not soon.

Billions are wasted by the government routinely on much less useful (and sometimes downright destructive) things, so this doesn't really change the picture much. Those Billions would not have gone into your favorite cause... Instead, they would have ended up in a different, non-aerospace pork project.

So we should chill, even when the project is absurd.

The only near term goal should be to make sure it doesn't actively ruin current efforts... Let it be, and let it eventually die of old age or of embarrasment.






-----
ABCD: Always Be Counting Down

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: envy887 on 10/11/2018 04:40 am
>
There might possibly be something wrong with 'this big, this long, this heavy' for a rocket stage.  And the [SLS] core stage produces about the thrust of a F9, using ungodly expensive engines developed in the 1970s. 
>

Just needed to see that by itself, to fully appreciate the enormity of its irrationality.

Disgusting. Just plain disgusting.
Thrust is higher for hydrocarbon because the engines burn denser propellant.  They have to make more thrust because the propellant weighs more than LH2/LOX for the same energy.  Thus, you can't make comparison claims between RP/LOX and LH2/LOX based on thrust alone.  Total impulse is a better comparison.  I believe SLS core would make three or more times more total impulse than Falcon 9 first stage.  Doesn't everyone on this high quality space tech forum know this stuff? 

 - Ed Kyle

Total impulse is not an ideal comparison metric as it does not account for final dry mass. A LH2 stage with the same total impulse will have less delta-v with the same payload, or less payload through the same delta-v, compared to a RP-1 stage.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: docmordrid on 10/11/2018 04:45 am


>
There might possibly be something wrong with 'this big, this long, this heavy' for a rocket stage.  And the [SLS] core stage produces about the thrust of a F9, using ungodly expensive engines developed in the 1970s. 
>

Just needed to see that by itself, to fully appreciate the enormity of its irrationality.

Disgusting. Just plain disgusting.
>
Doesn't everyone on this high quality space tech forum know this stuff? 

 - Ed Kyle

/sigh...

Except that wasn't my point, which was they designed it with too few engines. Underpowered. Which is why the  discussion about the SLS core stage actually needing 6 engines.

Title: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Lars-J on 10/11/2018 04:59 am
Thrust is higher for hydrocarbon because the engines burn denser propellant.  They have to make more thrust because the propellant weighs more than LH2/LOX for the same energy.  Thus, you can't make comparison claims between RP/LOX and LH2/LOX based on thrust alone.  Total impulse is a better comparison.  I believe SLS core would make three or more times more total impulse than Falcon 9 first stage.  Doesn't everyone on this high quality space tech forum know this stuff? 

 - Ed Kyle

Total impulse is not an ideal comparison metric as it does not account for final dry mass. A LH2 stage with the same total impulse will have less delta-v with the same payload, or less payload through the same delta-v, compared to a RP-1 stage.

Total impulse is also not an ideal metric for a booster stage, due to gravity losses. But don’t worry, I’m sure we can come up with some metric where the SLS core stage is the best ever thus justifying the expense somehow. (If not we can fall back on “but... but... it’s hydrogen!” last line of defense) ;-)

Doing a SHLV the “shuttle derived” way (weak but efficient sustainer stage with boosters) is perfectly valid, but not the only or necessarily the best way. Let’s not pretend it was chosen for that reason, it was chosen to make as much use of Shuttle contractors as possible.

Sadly out of the major SLS contractors, the only one that seems to have their stuff under control is NGIS. Boeing is floundering and AJR seems to be content with getting paid while doing as close to nothing as possible. (Unless you count the occasional test firing of existing RS-25s as a lot of work)
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Oli on 10/11/2018 05:14 am
Those numbers are insane. Boeing will milk SLS until it drops dead.
Title: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Star One on 10/11/2018 07:13 am
In fact I don't think anything substantial will happen to Boeing from this report - the contracts they have will stay, and Congress will keep shoveling money to the SLS program regardless of how poorly the money is being spent, or the lack of need for it's capabilities.

Indeed, consider JWST, the performance of which is perhaps even worse that SLS's to date.  The prime contractor's CEO was hauled in front of Congress recently (https://spacenews.com/northrop-ceo-offers-to-link-jwst-profit-to-mission-success/).  I'm sure there are plenty of ways the CEO would have preferred to spend his morning, but to my knowledge Northrup Grumman has not suffered any harm.

The OIG's report on SLS is just the latest of series of reports identifying problems with SLS, beginning with the prophetic Booz Allen Hamilton report (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38021.msg1432605#msg1432605) issued before SLS was formally begun.  Previous reports have not even registered with Congress.  Even if Congress's reaction to this report is ten times stronger than to any previous report, Boeing's SLS contract is in no particular danger.

My prediction was correct in that someone always tries to drag JWST into the SLS mess even though they are very dissimilar. Mainly because it is a truly unprecedented technological project which I suspect is not necessarily a description that could be applied to SLS.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: woods170 on 10/11/2018 08:10 am
I don't think that enormous expense of SLS is explained due to unique technological development.
A big part of the schedule slip was due to problems setting up the giant ("world's largest" it was called) core welding machine. 
https://spacenews.com/fix-in-the-works-for-giant-sls-welding-machine/

 - Ed Kyle

Being the "world's largest" wasn't the problem in this case. What was the problem was that the lead-contractor (Boeing as it happens) neglected to issue sufficient requirements regarding the flatness and levelness of the foundation for this machine.

The result was that the machine was installed on a flawed foundation. It leaned just enough to make it completely unsuited for the task it was supposed to do.

And that resulted in the machine being torn down with the foundation being re-done. This time to much improved requirements.

It was a Boeing f*ck-up. And a big one. Expensive as well. And it cost nearly a year to fix.
This mistake, and many, many others made by Boeing is the reason why OIG is so harsh on Boeing.

But with all this said it is amazing that Boeing screwed this one up in the first place. Their aircraft division regularly issues requirements for foundations for heavy machinery that requires extreme limits for flatness and levelness.
Why is it that a company that has the required expertise managed to completely overlook that expertise and make such a blunder?
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Zed_Noir on 10/11/2018 08:54 am
<snip>
Anybody other than Boeing might find it difficult to adapt their upper stage avionics to control the SLS core stage and solid boosters. I suspect this might be a problem for Blue Origin delivering an upper stage for SLS, but maybe I'm overestimating the dependence of the SLS stack on the upper stage avionics?

Why would that be a big issue. One of Bezos's business is AWS (Amazon Web Service). All he have to do is developed the avionic software with AWS. Which is more capable than SpaceX in developing software due to the almost unlimited resources available in hardware and human resources.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ncb1397 on 10/11/2018 09:05 am
Quote
To minimize delays tied to Core Stage availability for future missions and to obtain the best value to NASA, we recommended the Agency (7) implement, by October 2018, an acquisition strategy for building additional Core Stages beyond Core Stage 2 that includes consideration for awarding the contract as a fixed-price, end-item deliverable contract with each Core Stage separated into unique task orders.  NASA management concurred with six of our seven recommendations.We consider management’s comments to Recommendations 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 responsive;
https://oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-19-001.pdf

Sounds like NASA is close to procuring more core stages and it is transitioning from cost plus award fee development to fixed price production.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: speedevil on 10/11/2018 09:29 am
<snip>

My prediction was correct in that someone always tries to drag JWST into the SLS mess even though they are very dissimilar. Mainly because it is a truly unprecedented technological project which I suspect is not necessarily a description that could be applied to SLS.
JWST is comparable because it is viewed as comparable by congress.
The fine details of actual reality of claims of unprecedented technologies is not something they are interested in understanding unless absolutely forced to.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Zed_Noir on 10/11/2018 11:21 am
<snip>
But with all this said it is amazing that Boeing screwed this one up in the first place. Their aircraft division regularly issues requirements for foundations for heavy machinery that requires extreme limits for flatness and levelness.
Why is it that a company that has the required expertise managed to completely overlook that expertise and make such a blunder?

As the now vacationing @tripleseven stated repeatedly. Paraphrasing "The Boeing Commercial Airplanes division and the Boeing Defense, Space & Security division are really 2 separate companies."
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/11/2018 01:36 pm
<snip>

My prediction was correct in that someone always tries to drag JWST into the SLS mess even though they are very dissimilar. Mainly because it is a truly unprecedented technological project which I suspect is not necessarily a description that could be applied to SLS.
JWST is comparable because it is viewed as comparable by congress.
The fine details of actual reality of claims of unprecedented technologies is not something they are interested in understanding unless absolutely forced to.

Yes.  To amplify speeddevil's point, I recognize that the two programs' problems differ in nature.  My point is that even if Congress gets as upset about SLS as about JWST (and I don't think it will), Boeing probably isn't in any serious danger.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Jim on 10/11/2018 01:38 pm
Indeed, consider JWST, the performance of which is perhaps even worse that SLS's to date.  The prime contractor's CEO was hauled in front of Congress recently (https://spacenews.com/northrop-ceo-offers-to-link-jwst-profit-to-mission-success/).  I'm sure there are plenty of ways the CEO would have preferred to spend his morning, but to my knowledge Northrup Grumman has not suffered any harm.


NG is not really the "prime" contractor of JWST.  They just make the sunshield and spacecraft.  The telescope was made inhouse at GSFC.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Jim on 10/11/2018 01:43 pm
>
There might possibly be something wrong with 'this big, this long, this heavy' for a rocket stage.  And the [SLS] core stage produces about the thrust of a F9, using ungodly expensive engines developed in the 1970s. 
>

Just needed to see that by itself, to fully appreciate the enormity of its irrationality.

Disgusting. Just plain disgusting.

That is a stupid comparison.

The SLS core is a sustainer.  I. E. almost an upper stage.  Hence, ISP is more important than thrust.  Replacing RS-25 with Merlins would not work. The core would have to carry more propellant mass to lift the same payload.

Bash the SLS all you want, it deserves it and I agree it needs to go away, but do the right way with meaningful comparisons.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Jim on 10/11/2018 01:45 pm
>
There might possibly be something wrong with 'this big, this long, this heavy' for a rocket stage.  And the [SLS] core stage produces about the thrust of a F9, using ungodly expensive engines developed in the 1970s. 
>

Just needed to see that by itself, to fully appreciate the enormity of its irrationality.

Disgusting. Just plain disgusting.
Thrust is higher for hydrocarbon because the engines burn denser propellant.  They have to make more thrust because the propellant weighs more than LH2/LOX for the same energy.  Thus, you can't make comparison claims between RP/LOX and LH2/LOX based on thrust alone.  Total impulse is a better comparison.  I believe SLS core would make three or more times more total impulse than Falcon 9 first stage. 

Doesn't everyone on this high quality space tech forum know this stuff? 



Exactly.  They are making fools of themselves.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/11/2018 04:35 pm
Indeed, consider JWST, the performance of which is perhaps even worse that SLS's to date.  The prime contractor's CEO was hauled in front of Congress recently (https://spacenews.com/northrop-ceo-offers-to-link-jwst-profit-to-mission-success/).  I'm sure there are plenty of ways the CEO would have preferred to spend his morning, but to my knowledge Northrup Grumman has not suffered any harm.

NG has put their entire award fee at risk contingent on JWST mission success.

It would be encouraging if Boeing management did something similar for SLS, putting past and future award fee at risk depending on SLS schedule, cost, and technical performance going forward.

It would be even more encouraging if NASA management applied some pressure on Boeing to accept such an arrangement.

Bill Gerstenmaier's defensive response is not promising. If Gerst cannot lead a change in NASA HSF management culture, then who can?

I don't know.  There's no obvious candidate among the choir of deputies and center directors.  They all sing from the same hymnal that's causing these problems.

And Bridenstine is not going to effect change.  His big move in HSF is entertaining the idea of commercial endorsements that comes around every decade or two.  He's not addressing the program's real issues.

I respect Gerst's management of ISS deployment and operation, but HSF leadership and institution are clearly lacking in development experience.

Similarly, I respect Shannon's career as an operational manager on STS and ISS.  But development is a different beast that requires different skills and knowledge.  (I also question putting the guy who advocated a simpler sidemount solution in charge of a much more complex inline solution, but that's another discussion.)

Someone could be brought in from outside, such as from Aerospace Corp or the military.  But the institutional and political reaction to change tends to eat them alive.  Witness what happened to Steidle.

Change is needed at the top and at other levels, but there's no easy or even workable alternative.

Being the "world's largest" wasn't the problem in this case. What was the problem was that the lead-contractor (Boeing as it happens) neglected to issue sufficient requirements regarding the flatness and levelness of the foundation for this machine.

As the now vacationing @tripleseven stated repeatedly. Paraphrasing "The Boeing Commercial Airplanes division and the Boeing Defense, Space & Security division are really 2 separate companies."

Yes, the fundamental problem of NASA working with Boeing is that Boeing's A-team is not in their government division and that Boeing's B-team is working the military side of their government division.

That leaves NASA with a C-team or worse that generate programmatic mistakes like the foundation for the weld machine that have nothing to do with aerospace engineering.

I witnessed this myself during ISS reviews at JSC in the early 2000s.  Boeing was not sending their best and brightest by a longshot.

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: SWGlassPit on 10/11/2018 04:48 pm
I respect Gerst's management of ISS deployment and operation, but HSF leadership and institution are clearly lacking in development experience.

Similarly, I respect Shannon's career as an astronaut and operational manager on STS and ISS.  But development is a different beast that requires different skills and knowledge.

Shannon was a flight director, not an astronaut.

That aside, the lack of major development experience is industry-wide.  The last major HSF development project was ISS, which was started in the 1980s.  The last major HSF launch vehicle development project in NASA's domain was shuttle, more than 40 years ago.

Quote
Yes, the fundamental problem of NASA working with Boeing is that Boeing's A-team is not in their government division and that Boeing's B-team is working the military side of their government division.

That leaves NASA with the C-team or worse.  I witnessed this myself during ISS reviews at JSC.  Boeing was not sending their best and brightest by a longshot.

You do realize you are making unfavorable generalizations about people who are members of this forum, right?
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/11/2018 05:50 pm
Shannon was a flight director...

Corrected.

Quote
That aside, the lack of major development experience is industry-wide.  The last major HSF development project was ISS, which was started in the 1980s.  The last major HSF launch vehicle development project in NASA's domain was shuttle, more than 40 years ago.

It depends on how we define the "industry".  There is plenty of recent development experience in the space sector and in aerospace generally.  There is burgeoning development experience in commercial human space flight.

But we are in violent agreement that there is little development experience in NASA HSF.  The question is how can competent experience be brought in from the outside and spread through the organization given the institutional and political opposition to change?

Quote
You do realize you are making unfavorable generalizations about people who are members of this forum, right?

Fair enough.  There are always exceptional individuals and underperformers in any organization.

But I would still argue that Boeing's track record with NASA HSF shows that the agency doesn't get the company's best development teams.  And that jives with my personal observations.

In recent history, DARPA made a big deal about getting A-teams on XS-1 bids.  NASA HSF should do the same.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: envy887 on 10/11/2018 05:57 pm
...
The SLS core is a sustainer.  I. E. almost an upper stage.  Hence, ISP is more important than thrust.  Replacing RS-25 with Merlins would not work. The core would have to carry more propellant mass to lift the same payload.

It would work fine, given a sufficiently large number of Merlins :D

That number isn't actually that large. Lower than the number that FH has.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ThereIWas3 on 10/11/2018 06:10 pm
The question is how can competent experience be brought in from the outside and spread through the organization given the institutional and political opposition to change?

The question to me is, should NASA even need development experience in launchers these days?  The chief engineers on propulsion etc at SpaceX and BO are hardly brought in off the street - they have experience gained at other places.  SpaceX's manufacturing and operational experience is pretty well demonstrated every month.

There are particular centers at NASA that have demonstrated their ability to get things done, and I think there is no question that JPL is among them.  As for everything else (and I mean everything else), they need to be seriously looked at for opportunities for cost saving and merging of centers, closing some of them down, selling them off to industry or universities, etc.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/11/2018 08:34 pm
The question to me is, should NASA even need development experience in launchers these days?

Even if the agency gets out of the business of designing and building launchers, NASA HSF will always need some development expertise for program and contract formulation and oversight.

But otherwise, you're right.  A discussion is long overdue at the White House or NSC level about the roles and responsibilities of an increasingly fragile NASA HSF enterprise relative to a changing industry landscape.

We are throwing a lot of human and taxpayer resources at duplicative capabilities and forgoing those things that only the government will invest in if we want to do more than pay lip service to the Moon, Mars, or other deep space targets.

Quote
There are particular centers at NASA that have demonstrated their ability to get things done, and I think there is no question that JPL is among them. As for everything else (and I mean everything else), they need to be seriously looked at for opportunities for cost saving and merging of centers, closing some of them down, selling them off to industry or universities, etc.

JPL is unique in two ways:

1) Aside from the occasional APL planetary mission, no one else does what JPL does. 

2) As an FFRDC, JPL has hire and fire flexibilities that the rest of NASA lacks.

A BRAC or other major consolidation of NASA's HSF centers is not in the political cards.  But an argument could be made to Congress that NASA must realign its work at these centers away from ETO systems that poorly duplicate multiple industry efforts and towards the deep space capabilities that no one else is pursuing in any significant way.  This argument would be relatively easy if NASA HSF got its arms around its human resources and could provide Congress with certain guarantees about employment levels after it completed such a transition.  It would also be made easier if the White House provided consistent political support through the transition.

Similarly, although the suggestion comes around every decade, an FFRDC-ization or UARC-ization of NASA's HSF centers is not in the political cards.  But an argument could be made to Congress that NASA must have better hire and fire flexibilities than, say, the Social Security Administration.  Again, White House support would be important.

But getting back to the OIG report, none of this matters much if NASA HSF does not have senior managers and leadership with development experience.  No sane development manager would wrap the EUS and Core budgets into a single line-item as the SLS program has apparently been doing for years.  But that's exactly the kind of budgeting you see in operations like STS and ISS to flexibly manage ever-changing launch dates, manifests, accidents, work-arounds, etc.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ThereIWas3 on 10/11/2018 09:02 pm
I did not mean just those NASA centers having to do with human spaceflight should be looked at.  I meant all of them.
Perhaps the fact that JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology instead of by NASA directly is relevant.  In fact, JPL started out as a CalTech project.  Take a look at the book "Rise of the Rocket Girls".  It is kind of like "Hidden Figures" but is specific to the early years at JPL.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Markstark on 10/11/2018 09:14 pm
I did not mean just those NASA centers having to do with human spaceflight should be looked at.  I meant all of them.
Perhaps the fact that JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology instead of by NASA directly is relevant.  In fact, JPL started out as a CalTech project.  Take a look at the book "Rise of the Rocket Girls".  It is kind of like "Hidden Figures" but is specific to the early years at JPL.
Here’s a link to a thread on that exact topic. https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=45888
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Kabloona on 10/11/2018 10:49 pm
I don't think that enormous expense of SLS is explained due to unique technological development.
A big part of the schedule slip was due to problems setting up the giant ("world's largest" it was called) core welding machine. 
https://spacenews.com/fix-in-the-works-for-giant-sls-welding-machine/

 - Ed Kyle

Being the "world's largest" wasn't the problem in this case. What was the problem was that the lead-contractor (Boeing as it happens) neglected to issue sufficient requirements regarding the flatness and levelness of the foundation for this machine.

The result was that the machine was installed on a flawed foundation. It leaned just enough to make it completely unsuited for the task it was supposed to do.

And that resulted in the machine being torn down with the foundation being re-done. This time to much improved requirements.

It was a Boeing f*ck-up. And a big one. Expensive as well. And it cost nearly a year to fix.
This mistake, and many, many others made by Boeing is the reason why OIG is so harsh on Boeing.

But with all this said it is amazing that Boeing screwed this one up in the first place. Their aircraft division regularly issues requirements for foundations for heavy machinery that requires extreme limits for flatness and levelness.
Why is it that a company that has the required expertise managed to completely overlook that expertise and make such a blunder?

For the record, it wasn't a foundation problem. That was the initial report, which was later corrected by the author. Turns out it was an ESAB Welding subcontractor who "didn't get the memo" about the VAC base plate flatness specification, and the error was built into the VAC base plate itself.

Yes, it was a screw-up, but several levels down the food chain, and not quite as basic as screwing up a concrete foundation.

See author's comment below his own article correcting his misstatement about the foundation.

https://spacenews.com/fix-in-the-works-for-giant-sls-welding-machine/

Still, you *would* think that when starting to set an alignment-critical fixture like that, someone would have checked the base with a laser level/transit and figured out it was out of spec before installing the entire Tower of Pisa on top of it.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Oli on 10/12/2018 01:52 am
Even if the agency gets out of the business of designing and building launchers, NASA HSF will always need some development expertise for program and contract formulation and oversight.

But otherwise, you're right.  A discussion is long overdue at the White House or NSC level about the roles and responsibilities of an increasingly fragile NASA HSF enterprise relative to a changing industry landscape.

We are throwing a lot of human and taxpayer resources at duplicative capabilities and forgoing those things that only the government will invest in if we want to do more than pay lip service to the Moon, Mars, or other deep space targets.

What NASA needs is more autonomy and less interference by politics. What bargaining power does NASA have with SLS contractors when they're untouchable for political reasons?
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Kabloona on 10/12/2018 02:43 am

What NASA needs is more autonomy and less interference by politics. What bargaining power does NASA have with SLS contractors when they're untouchable for political reasons?

Well, for starters, there's the $300+ million in performance bonuses that NASA could/should have withheld.

And then there's basic contract writing that NASA screwed up by not having separate line items for cost accounting of the core stages and EUS.

Quote
"NASA does not require Boeing to report detailed information on development costs for the two Core Stages and EUS, making it difficult for the Agency to determine if the contractor is meeting cost and schedule commitments."

That's not politics, just bad contract writing and management.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Coastal Ron on 10/12/2018 03:25 am
Quote
"NASA does not require Boeing to report detailed information on development costs for the two Core Stages and EUS, making it difficult for the Agency to determine if the contractor is meeting cost and schedule commitments."

That's not politics, just bad contract writing and management.

I hadn't seen that. Absent illegal activity (which I'm not implying at all), all I can think of is that the government had their most junior contracts people negotiating that part with Boeing, and Boeing had their most senior contracts people.

Still, this should have been caught in review, which is by senior government contracts personnel.

Baffling...
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Kabloona on 10/12/2018 03:54 am
Quote
"NASA does not require Boeing to report detailed information on development costs for the two Core Stages and EUS, making it difficult for the Agency to determine if the contractor is meeting cost and schedule commitments."

That's not politics, just bad contract writing and management.

I hadn't seen that. Absent illegal activity (which I'm not implying at all), all I can think of is that the government had their most junior contracts people negotiating that part with Boeing, and Boeing had their most senior contracts people.

Still, this should have been caught in review, which is by senior government contracts personnel.

Baffling...

Yes, I think you're right about the Boeing contracts people. They apparently gave NASA a song and dance about saving money on cost reporting.

Quote
While Boeing procurement officials told us that using one CLIN for the two Core Stages and
EUS streamlines reporting and therefore reduces costs
, in our judgment, this approach jeopardizes
accurate reporting and obscures contract costs compared to the Agency’s official cost commitments.

Ironically, the report goes on to say that Boeing does track costs for the individual core stages and EUS separately, so they already have the segregated cost data. They just don't have to report it to NASA.  ::)
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Oli on 10/12/2018 10:35 am
Quote
"NASA does not require Boeing to report detailed information on development costs for the two Core Stages and EUS, making it difficult for the Agency to determine if the contractor is meeting cost and schedule commitments."

That's not politics, just bad contract writing and management.

Maybe, but Boeing still exploited it. I bet Boeing doesn't behave like that towards customers who can easily replace them with the competition.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: woods170 on 10/12/2018 10:55 am
Quote
"NASA does not require Boeing to report detailed information on development costs for the two Core Stages and EUS, making it difficult for the Agency to determine if the contractor is meeting cost and schedule commitments."

That's not politics, just bad contract writing and management.

Maybe, but Boeing still exploited it. I bet Boeing doesn't behave like that towards customers who can easily replace them with the competition.

NASA could in fact easily have replaced Boeing for some other company, had it not been for politics. It was written into law that NASA was to re-purpose existing CxP contracts.

Which means that NASA had no choice but to come up with a vehicle that again used the ATK solids, the Aerojet-Rocketdyne SSME (RS-25) and Boeing stage structures, with Boeing acting as the prime contractor.

So, it all comes down to politics.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ncb1397 on 10/12/2018 11:29 am

Which means that NASA had no choice but to come up with a vehicle that again used the ATK solids, the Aerojet-Rocketdyne SSME (RS-25) and Boeing stage structures, with Boeing acting as the prime contractor.

RS-25 had nothing to do with Constellation at cancellation. If anything, they would have been forced to use the J-2X, but they didn't.  Weird.

NASA made 3 choices in favor of Boeing
1) They gave the Ares 1 upper stage contract to Boeing
2) They significantly expanded the scope and value of the Ares 1 upper stage contract when they promoted Boeing to prime for the SLS core stage
3.) They significantly expanded the scope and value of the Boeing stages contract again by adding the SLS exploration upper stage.

They could have alternatively did the following:
1.)Given the core stage to a new contractor with the core stage designed to launch alone without boosters optionally
2.)Let the upper stage Boeing contract run out of scope, to be replaced by a new contractor for the EUS.
3.)Eventually drop the boosters as well when that contract scope runs out.

You then would have ended up with a clean sheet design from whatever contractor you want just as SLS Block II is effectively clean sheet - new boosters, new upper stage, new core stage. The core stage was the only thing that mattered as it was the core of the vehicle with everything else in limbo and that was completely up for grabs.

For whatever reason, inconceivable I know, government contracting officers pick Boeing for large contracts. They recently landed 3 major victories in aerospace: UH-1N replacement($2.4 billion), MQ-25s($.8 -$13 billion) and T-X trainer (<$9.2 billion).
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Kabloona on 10/12/2018 01:03 pm
Quote
"NASA does not require Boeing to report detailed information on development costs for the two Core Stages and EUS, making it difficult for the Agency to determine if the contractor is meeting cost and schedule commitments."

That's not politics, just bad contract writing and management.

Maybe, but Boeing still exploited it. I bet Boeing doesn't behave like that towards customers who can easily replace them with the competition.

NASA could in fact easily have replaced Boeing for some other company, had it not been for politics. It was written into law that NASA was to re-purpose existing CxP contracts.

Which means that NASA had no choice but to come up with a vehicle that again used the ATK solids, the Aerojet-Rocketdyne SSME (RS-25) and Boeing stage structures, with Boeing acting as the prime contractor.

So, it all comes down to politics.

I think we all realize that SLS is politically-mandated rocket. But the problems with NASA contract writing and management identified in the OIG report are the fault of NASA, not the politicians who mandated SLS.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: envy887 on 10/12/2018 01:03 pm

Which means that NASA had no choice but to come up with a vehicle that again used the ATK solids, the Aerojet-Rocketdyne SSME (RS-25) and Boeing stage structures, with Boeing acting as the prime contractor.

RS-25 had nothing to do with Constellation at cancellation. If anything, they would have been forced to use the J-2X, but they didn't.  Weird.

NASA made 3 choices in favor of Boeing
1) They gave the Ares 1 upper stage contract to Boeing
2) They significantly expanded the scope and value of the Ares 1 upper stage contract when they promoted Boeing to prime for the SLS core stage
3.) They significantly expanded the scope and value of the Boeing stages contract again by adding the SLS exploration upper stage.

They could have alternatively did the following:
1.)Given the core stage to a new contractor with the core stage designed to launch alone without boosters optionally
2.)Let the upper stage Boeing contract run out of scope, to be replaced by a new contractor for the EUS.
3.)Eventually drop the boosters as well when that contract scope runs out.

You then would have ended up with a clean sheet design from whatever contractor you want just as SLS Block II is effectively clean sheet - new boosters, new upper stage, new core stage. The core stage was the only thing that mattered as it was the core of the vehicle with everything else in limbo and that was completely up for grabs.

For whatever reason, inconceivable I know, government contracting officers pick Boeing for large contracts. They recently landed 3 major victories in aerospace: UH-1N replacement($2.4 billion), MQ-25s($.8 -$13 billion) and T-X trainer (<$9.2 billion).

They had to reuse the same contracts, but not contract for the same items. Thus why the Ares 1 contract was modified for Boeing to build the core stage and EUS.

IIRC the J2-X contract was modified to restart RS-25 production and requal the existing engines.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: woods170 on 10/12/2018 01:06 pm

Which means that NASA had no choice but to come up with a vehicle that again used the ATK solids, the Aerojet-Rocketdyne SSME (RS-25) and Boeing stage structures, with Boeing acting as the prime contractor.

RS-25 had nothing to do with Constellation at cancellation. If anything, they would have been forced to use the J-2X, but they didn't.  Weird.

NASA made 3 choices in favor of Boeing
1) They gave the Ares 1 upper stage contract to Boeing
2) They significantly expanded the scope and value of the Ares 1 upper stage contract when they promoted Boeing to prime for the SLS core stage
3.) They significantly expanded the scope and value of the Boeing stages contract again by adding the SLS exploration upper stage.

They could have alternatively did the following:
1.)Given the core stage to a new contractor with the core stage designed to launch alone without boosters optionally
2.)Let the upper stage Boeing contract run out of scope, to be replaced by a new contractor for the EUS.
3.)Eventually drop the boosters as well when that contract scope runs out.

As to your points:

1. The Ares 1 upper stage contract was competed under CxP. US Congress wrote into law that this contract be altered for use in the POR (SLS/Orion).

2. To meet, as closely as possible, the Congressionally mandated, first flight date of SLS NASA had to cut corners with regards to the upper stage. There was simply no time, and (most importantly) no money to develop a new one. So, NASA chose to use the existing Delta IV H upper stage.
That left the (upper) stage contract with Boeing dangling. The logical thing to do was to convert it into the core stage contract.
Letting the original contract run out of scope was out of the question, given that US Congress wrote into law that the existing CxP contracts had to be repurposed for use in the POR (SLS/Orion).

3. Leting the booster contract runs out of scope was also out of the question, given that US Congress wrote into law that the existing CxP contracts had to be repurposed for use in the POR (SLS/Orion).

Your solution (letting contracts run out of scope) was not allowed by US Congress. As such, NASA had no choice but to follow the law.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ncb1397 on 10/12/2018 01:52 pm
Your solution (letting contracts run out of scope) was not allowed by US Congress. As such, NASA had no choice but to follow the law.

Quote
MODIFICATION OF CURRENT CONTRACTS.—In order to limit NASA’s termination liability costs and support critical capabilities, the Administrator shall, to the extent practicable, extend or modify existing vehicle development and associated contracts necessary to meet the requirements in paragraph (1), including contracts for ground testing of solid rocket motors, if necessary, to ensure their availability for development of the Space Launch System.
https://www.nasa.gov/pdf/649377main_PL_111-267.pdf

As long as you support critical capabilities and don't run up termination liability, you are golden. That is how you let contracts run out of scope, like the J-2X contract was not continued indefinitely. RS-25 production was a new sole source contract. That is how you can quit using solids and switch to liquid boosters if that is the path taken.

Quote
2. To meet, as closely as possible, the Congressionally mandated, first flight date of SLS NASA had to cut corners with regards to the upper stage. There was simply no time, and (most importantly) no money to develop a new one. So, NASA chose to use the existing Delta IV H upper stage.

So, you use an existing stage for the upper stage and have boeing develop the unique upper stage. In fact, the act basically says that you should develop the core and upper stage in parallel. You didn't have to give them the core stage. And you definately didn't have to give them the EUS and the Ares 1 upper stage contract.
Given those were free choices, perhaps you should admit they wanted to give Boeing the SLS core stage as well. I know it makes absolutely no sense to you, but neither would the other 2 actions.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Jim on 10/12/2018 02:16 pm

What NASA needs is more autonomy and less interference by politics. What bargaining power does NASA have with SLS contractors when they're untouchable for political reasons?

They aren't untouchable.  The project is but not the contractor.   It didn't have to be Boeing.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ZachF on 10/12/2018 02:59 pm
This could be first significant test for Bridenstine, but I guess that’ll depend on how much congress takes notice.

Prediction:  Congress won't take notice.

With the exception of a bit of grumbling sotto voce from retiring congressmen, past delays and overruns have generated no complaints.  Logically, Congress would complain loudly if its principal purpose for funding SLS were space exploration, but that does not appear to be the case.

Once again, the much derided Booz Allen Hamilton report (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38021.msg1432605#msg1432605) of 2011 is proven prophetic.

The SLS program is a wild success, you're just looking at the objective wrong.

It's been wildly successful at distributing tax dollars to select congressional districts and campaign contributors... The actual launch vehicle is just a possible side effect.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Doesitfloat on 10/12/2018 08:53 pm
This could be first significant test for Bridenstine, but I guess that’ll depend on how much congress takes notice.

Prediction:  Congress won't take notice.

With the exception of a bit of grumbling sotto voce from retiring congressmen, past delays and overruns have generated no complaints.  Logically, Congress would complain loudly if its principal purpose for funding SLS were space exploration, but that does not appear to be the case.

Once again, the much derided Booz Allen Hamilton report (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38021.msg1432605#msg1432605) of 2011 is proven prophetic.

The SLS program is a wild success, you're just looking at the objective wrong.

It's been wildly successful at distributing tax dollars to select congressional districts and campaign contributors... The actual launch vehicle is just a possible side effect.
I was thinking the same thing. The goal of SLS is to spend money.
They have delivered twice what they promised and found a way to spend money they weren't even allocated.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Nydoc on 10/13/2018 07:07 am
For what it's worth, here is Loren Thompson's rebuttal to the OIG report:

Inspector General Attack On NASA Super-Rocket Marred By Mistakes, Omissions (http://"https://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2018/10/11/epic-fail-inspector-general-attack-on-nasa-super-rocket-marred-by-mistakes-omissions/#1e280d2c6070")
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: FinalFrontier on 10/13/2018 07:19 am
This could be first significant test for Bridenstine, but I guess that’ll depend on how much congress takes notice.

Prediction:  Congress won't take notice.

With the exception of a bit of grumbling sotto voce from retiring congressmen, past delays and overruns have generated no complaints.  Logically, Congress would complain loudly if its principal purpose for funding SLS were space exploration, but that does not appear to be the case.

Once again, the much derided Booz Allen Hamilton report (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38021.msg1432605#msg1432605) of 2011 is proven prophetic.

The SLS program is a wild success, you're just looking at the objective wrong.

It's been wildly successful at distributing tax dollars to select congressional districts and campaign contributors... The actual launch vehicle is just a possible side effect.
Meanwhile in the 'real world' a crazy man that built his own rocket company and Amazon.com are going to Mars on their own vehicles.

Sometimes you wonder if this is real life or a movie, because you cannot make this stuff up.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/13/2018 02:48 pm
This could be first significant test for Bridenstine, but I guess that’ll depend on how much congress takes notice.

Prediction:  Congress won't take notice.

With the exception of a bit of grumbling sotto voce from retiring congressmen, past delays and overruns have generated no complaints.  Logically, Congress would complain loudly if its principal purpose for funding SLS were space exploration, but that does not appear to be the case.

Once again, the much derided Booz Allen Hamilton report (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38021.msg1432605#msg1432605) of 2011 is proven prophetic.

The SLS program is a wild success, you're just looking at the objective wrong.

We're in agreement:  that's what I meant by "Congress would complain loudly if its principal purpose for funding SLS were space exploration."
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: edkyle99 on 10/13/2018 03:27 pm
Meanwhile in the 'real world' a crazy man that built his own rocket company and Amazon.com are going to Mars on their own vehicles.
Those examples are no more real than SLS/Orion, and no more guaranteed to keep to their budgets and schedules.  New Glenn is being built to launch satellites, not to go to Mars.  BFR is years away if it ever gets built.  It just lost out on EELV-2 funding to New Glenn, Omega, and Vulcan.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: tdperk on 10/13/2018 03:37 pm
BFR is years away if it ever gets built.

"If" ?

If a guy says he's going to build a brick house and has bought land, bricks, and has foundation and several courses laid, and has people throwing money at him to wards building a wing of the building, you don't generally say "if" he builds it.

I know of no reason to be sure SpaceX tendered the BFR towards EELV-2.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Hauerg on 10/13/2018 04:27 pm
I think SpaceX made it clear enough in the last weeks that theay are keeping away from government money for BFR because of the lessons learnt during the Crew Dragon project.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/13/2018 05:33 pm
BFR is years away if it ever gets built.  It just lost out on EELV-2 funding to New Glenn, Omega, and Vulcan.

This is misleading.

No one outside USAF and SX knows what SX bid.  But it almost certainly was not BFR, which does not match USAF requirements.

Moreover, In the prior rounds, USAF had SX work on an upper-stage Raptor engine for F9/FH.  SX last received $40M in 2017 for mods to take the upper-stage Raptor through ground testing.

If SX did bid, it was most likely to complete the Raptor upper stage.  Or SX did not bid in favor of focusing on FH certification for USAF and/or BFR.

Since F9/FH already meet all USAF orbits, it makes sense for USAF to forgo the Raptor upper-stage or for SX not to bid it.

However, to bring this back to the thread, it would make a lot of sense for NASA to pick up that Raptor upper-stage for FH, either as a back-up or replacement for SLS.  Much less expensive and potentially faster route to a capability that approximates Block I.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: jak Kennedy on 10/13/2018 07:48 pm
This could be first significant test for Bridenstine, but I guess that’ll depend on how much congress takes notice.

Prediction:  Congress won't take notice.

With the exception of a bit of grumbling sotto voce from retiring congressmen, past delays and overruns have generated no complaints.  Logically, Congress would complain loudly if its principal purpose for funding SLS were space exploration, but that does not appear to be the case.

Once again, the much derided Booz Allen Hamilton report (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38021.msg1432605#msg1432605) of 2011 is proven prophetic.

The SLS program is a wild success, you're just looking at the objective wrong.

We're in agreement:  that's what I meant by "Congress would complain loudly if its principal purpose for funding SLS were space exploration."

Sadly the money wasted on SLS could have just as easily been spent on exploration and research and still have supported jobs.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: HIP2BSQRE on 10/13/2018 08:00 pm
BFR is years away if it ever gets built.  It just lost out on EELV-2 funding to New Glenn, Omega, and Vulcan.

This is misleading.

No one outside USAF and SX knows what SX bid.  But it almost certainly was not BFR, which does not match USAF requirements.

Moreover, In the prior rounds, USAF had SX work on an upper-stage Raptor engine for F9/FH.  SX last received $40M in 2017 for mods to take the upper-stage Raptor through ground testing.

If SX did bid, it was most likely to complete the Raptor upper stage.  Or SX did not bid in favor of focusing on FH certification for USAF and/or BFR.

Since F9/FH already meet all USAF orbits, it makes sense for USAF to forgo the Raptor upper-stage or for SX not to bid it.

However, to bring this back to the thread, it would make a lot of sense for NASA to pick up that Raptor upper-stage for FH, either as a back-up or replacement for SLS.  Much less expensive and potentially faster route to a capability that approximates Block I.


How is the relevant to SLS?  Can we keep it to the subject.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/13/2018 08:44 pm
How is the relevant to SLS?  Can we keep it to the subject.

The other poster brought up USAF competition and SX.

I corrected their assertions and brought it back to SLS in the last paragraph.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/13/2018 08:46 pm
Boeing response reported ....

Boeing refers to SLS as an "unprecedented rocket program," but the whole point of a Shuttle-derived design was that it was to reduce costs by the use of hardware precedents.  On top of that, SLS's performance specs are not too different from those of a decades-old rocket, the Saturn 5.  Oh, and Boeing, which absorbed Rockwell International some years ago, was the prime contractor for the Shuttle and much of the Saturn 5.  The SLS program is very much "precedented."

EDIT:  'V' -> '5' in penultimate sentence, for consistency.
The SLS Core Stage, Boeing's part of this rocket, is unprecedented.  No liquid hydrogen stage has ever been this big, this long, this heavy, or produced this much thrust.  Boeing's (North American Aviation) Saturn V S-II stage was about 40% as much rocket as SLS Core.  An entire Delta 4 Heavy stack, including upper stage, only weighs 67% as much as SLS Core.  Etc.

Lots of other programs have built bigger versions of existing things.  So there's a precedent for doing so.  "It's bigger" isn't an excuse for "we gave you one cost number to get the contract and now we're charging you much, much more".
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: woods170 on 10/13/2018 08:55 pm
Meanwhile in the 'real world' a crazy man that built his own rocket company and Amazon.com are going to Mars on their own vehicles.
Those examples are no more real than SLS/Orion, and no more guaranteed to keep to their budgets and schedules.  New Glenn is being built to launch satellites, not to go to Mars.  BFR is years away if it ever gets built.  It just lost out on EELV-2 funding to New Glenn, Omega, and Vulcan.

 - Ed Kyle

One: We have never seen any hard evidence that SpaceX actually bid for the LSA. Not even Jeff Foust is sure of this, per his recent tweets.
Two: We have definitely never seen any evidence that SpaceX bid BFR/BFS for the LSA.

As usual you are assuming things. I suggest you stop doing that as that behaviour is to "bite you in the *ss" some day.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: su27k on 10/14/2018 02:31 am
Those examples are no more real than SLS/Orion, and no more guaranteed to keep to their budgets and schedules. 

Of course there is more guarantee, the private efforts have much more incentive to keep to their budgets and schedules. Incentive matters, a lot, and the IG report shows whatever pathetic incentive provided by cost plus contract, it's not working with Boeing, since they got awarded no matter what they do.

Quote
New Glenn is being built to launch satellites, not to go to Mars.

Blue Moon is going to the moon.

Quote
BFR is years away if it ever gets built.  It just lost out on EELV-2 funding to New Glenn, Omega, and Vulcan.

And it just got a billionaire as customer.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Rocket Science on 10/14/2018 04:21 pm
This could be first significant test for Bridenstine, but I guess that’ll depend on how much congress takes notice.

Prediction:  Congress won't take notice.

With the exception of a bit of grumbling sotto voce from retiring congressmen, past delays and overruns have generated no complaints.  Logically, Congress would complain loudly if its principal purpose for funding SLS were space exploration, but that does not appear to be the case.

Once again, the much derided Booz Allen Hamilton report (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38021.msg1432605#msg1432605) of 2011 is proven prophetic.

The SLS program is a wild success, you're just looking at the objective wrong.

It's been wildly successful at distributing tax dollars to select congressional districts and campaign contributors... The actual launch vehicle is just a possible side effect.
Meanwhile in the 'real world' a crazy man that built his own rocket company and Amazon.com are going to Mars on their own vehicles.

Sometimes you wonder if this is real life or a movie, because you cannot make this stuff up.
Welcome to the matrix....
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: speedevil on 10/14/2018 04:32 pm
Meanwhile in the 'real world' a crazy man that built his own rocket company and Amazon.com are going to Mars on their own vehicles.

Sometimes you wonder if this is real life or a movie, because you cannot make this stuff up.
Welcome to the matrix....
The largest cash reserve I could find around the Apollo era was GM, at $2.5B in 63 - about $25B in todays money.
Apple alone has ten times this.
If companies beyond launch focussed companies decide there is money to be made there, it would dwarf potential involvement with NASA, without even considering questions of efficiency.
The next OIG report into SLS may be more revealing.

Edit/Lar: fixed quotes
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Jim on 10/15/2018 02:29 pm
However, to bring this back to the thread, it would make a lot of sense for NASA to pick up that Raptor upper-stage for FH, either as a back-up or replacement for SLS.  Much less expensive and potentially faster route to a capability that approximates Block I.


Raptor upper-stage for FH makes no sense and that has been proven over and over.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/15/2018 04:36 pm
Raptor upper-stage for FH makes no sense and that has been proven over and over.

Compared to F9/FH for national security and commercial payloads, of course.

Compared to BFR/ITS, if it ever works, of course.

Compared to SLS for NASA HSF super-heavy lift?  No.

A new Falcon upper stage and redoing the pad infrastructure for a second propellant will take less time and money than finishing SLS, and it will be more affordable per launch and sustain a higher flight rate than SLS.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 10/15/2018 05:23 pm
OK so what does a underfunding of $800M for SLS core #1 mean for the schedule. The spending rate at current budget is $200M / month. The current NET is May 2020. That moves the date 4 months unless Congress increases the budget in 2019 and 2020 by about 18℅. If no further ding increase then the date would be NET Oct 2020. But this causes a waterfall effect on all other scheduled activities by same amount because of funds not spent when expected. So everything moves right at least 4 months.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Jim on 10/15/2018 05:49 pm

A new Falcon upper stage and redoing the pad infrastructure for a second propellant will take less time and money than finishing SLS, and it will be more affordable per launch and sustain a higher flight rate than SLS.


No, that still makes no sense, because it makes the pad useless for F9/FH.  And there are not enough SLS class missions for it.  It makes the vehicle too expensive for SpaceX needs too.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: HarryM on 10/15/2018 05:51 pm
SpaceX has said it is not going to make significant changes to Falcon 9/FH except to fix defects. All dev work is on BFR/BFS. They now need to fly the heck out of F9 to get as much money as possible for BFR/BFS since they have a window of opportunity while the competition is still developing their launchers.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: bob the martian on 10/15/2018 06:23 pm
<snip>
But with all this said it is amazing that Boeing screwed this one up in the first place. Their aircraft division regularly issues requirements for foundations for heavy machinery that requires extreme limits for flatness and levelness.
Why is it that a company that has the required expertise managed to completely overlook that expertise and make such a blunder?

As the now vacationing @tripleseven stated repeatedly. Paraphrasing "The Boeing Commercial Airplanes division and the Boeing Defense, Space & Security division are really 2 separate companies."

I (or rather the company I worked for at the time) subbed for Boeing's defense side on a tiny sliver of a large non-aerospace project I know everyone here has heard of, and the experience was ... enlightening. 

I get that project and program management are hard, but it seemed like Boeing had a harder time of it than
most.  PMs would get rotated out every six months or so - just as they were getting into the groove, they'd be
yanked and a new person starting from square 1 would be put in place.  Months went by without critical
decisions being made.  SMEs were ignored.  Technical decisions were made based on political concerns without taking any time or effort to see if they'd actually work.  Requirements were incomplete or contradictory, and written such that the subs had to do all of the heavy lifting. 

It was a solid hot mess all the way around.  Even though I got laid off as a result, I was happy when that project was finally axed - as a taxpayer it just made me fume. 

The commercial aviation side has the occasional hiccup such as the teething issues on the 787, but you never hear stories that come close to what's in this report.  Boeing is an awesome organization when they have their own skin in the game.  When they don't, it can be a horrorshow. 
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/15/2018 06:57 pm
No, that still makes no sense, because it makes the pad useless for F9/FH...  It makes the vehicle too expensive for SpaceX needs too.

Meh.  NASA could pay for a second pad and separate upper stage line and still come out way ahead versus SLS.

Quote
And there are not enough SLS class missions for it.

There could be if the agency wasn't paying for SLS.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: kevinof on 10/15/2018 07:21 pm
You don't seem to understand. F9 Block 5 is end of the road for that rocket. SpaceX are not putting any more resources into it.  It does not fit with their plans and direction. End of.


No, that still makes no sense, because it makes the pad useless for F9/FH...  It makes the vehicle too expensive for SpaceX needs too.

Meh.  NASA could pay for a second pad and separate upper stage line and still come out way ahead versus SLS.

Quote
And there are not enough SLS class missions for it.

There could be if the agency wasn't paying for SLS.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Jim on 10/15/2018 07:52 pm

Meh.  NASA could pay for a second pad and separate upper stage line and still come out way ahead versus SLS.

There could be if the agency wasn't paying for SLS.


That is the most intelligent response you could come up with?  Something much like a grunt?  Plus the actual term is not appropriate response.  I didn't ask you question. 

NASA isn't going to pay for another pad. (and there isn't another pad available.)  It doesn't matter if would come ahead.

And no, the money "saved" would still not be available for more missions.

Political realities are just as hard to overcome as physical laws.

I am not defending SLS.  I just know what is plausible.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: speedevil on 10/15/2018 09:12 pm
SpaceX has said it is not going to make significant changes to Falcon 9/FH except to fix defects. All dev work is on BFR/BFS. They now need to fly the heck out of F9 to get as much money as possible for BFR/BFS since they have a window of opportunity while the competition is still developing their launchers.
Some statements rolled back slightly on this.
Post FH launch, mention has been made of efforts to get it fully reusable '2-3 years out, $5-6M' and that stretching the second stage or enlarging the fairing is 'easy'.
Raptor upper stage, or developments to directly compete with SLS numbers absent market or other desire - there have been no public statements on.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/15/2018 11:50 pm
That is the most intelligent response you could come up with?  Something much like a grunt?  Plus the actual term is not appropriate response.  I didn't ask you question. 

I wasn't responding to a question.

While not trivial, I simply don't think these issues are the showstoppers you portray them as.

I lightheartedly typed "meh" to express that opinion.

Quote
and there isn't another pad available

Terminating SLS frees up 39B.  (Although Omega may use if selected, IIRC.)

DIVH retirement will free up 37B.  (IIRC, Vulcan will use 41 and NG will use 36.)

KSC's Master Plan recommends an LC-49 complex north of 39B for medium and heavy lift, including a Site Evaluation Study and EIS as recently as 2007.  (NA is negotiating for some of this, IIRC.)

There is obviously a lot of other underutilized real estate at the Cape.

Quote
NASA isn't going to pay for another pad. (.)  It doesn't matter if would come ahead.

And no, the money "saved" would still not be available for more missions.

It's not necessarily NASA's decision.  These decisions are ultimately made by the WH and Congress.

I covered NASA for the Clinton and Bush II Administrations.  We set aside outyear budget decision wedges when the agency wasn't getting its act together on pressing issues.  They were powerful motivators outside the immediate control of Congress and the fiscal year it was working on.

That's just one tactic.  But there's no reason a motivated and competent WH could not hold the outyear SLS/Orion budget hostage and direct NASA to develop a plan that gets a human lunar (or pick your target) campaign going sooner on existing/developing launchers while also preserving the workforce for Congress.

(This is what the Obama Administration should have done.)

Quote
Political realities are just as hard to overcome as physical laws.

The political reality is that the HSF center workforce has to be retained (for the most part).

What specific systems that workforce works on, what those systems launch on, and where those launchers launch from are all negotiable with the right threat.

Even more so as SLS/Orion budget and schedule woes mount and their safety and capability issues become more apparent.

Quote
I am not defending SLS.

Sure.  But be careful that well-earned pessimism does not cause you to unwittingly buy into some of those arguments.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: woods170 on 10/16/2018 07:47 am
However, to bring this back to the thread, it would make a lot of sense for NASA to pick up that Raptor upper-stage for FH, either as a back-up or replacement for SLS.  Much less expensive and potentially faster route to a capability that approximates Block I.


Raptor upper-stage for FH makes no sense and that has been proven over and over.

Wrong. Whether a Raptor upper stage makes sense or not is not the issue here.

There simply is no evidence that  SpaceX is working on a Raptor upper stage for F9 and/or FH.

I suggest you don't give the idea (Raptor upper stage) any more attention/credit than it deserves.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Jim on 10/16/2018 01:07 pm

The political reality is that the HSF center workforce has to be retained (for the most part).


That means a MSFC developed vehicles and not buying launch services.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/16/2018 01:41 pm
There simply is no evidence that  SpaceX is working on a Raptor upper stage

Just for the record, I, for one, was not arguing that there was.

That means a MSFC developed vehicles and not buying launch services.

If the nation's leadership is serious about deep human space flight, then MSFC's expertise is arguably needed more on other rocket-powered vehicles than launchers.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Chris Bergin on 10/16/2018 01:44 pm
ARTICLE: NASA moves to maintain SLS Core Stage work tempo, address schedule concerns in OIG report -
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018/10/nasa-maintain-sls-work-tempo-schedule-concerns-oig/ …

- By Philip Sloss speaking to NASA on the forward plan after the OIG report.

I'll start a new thread as I think some people would prefer that than wading through this wake of a thread ;)

https://twitter.com/NASASpaceflight/status/1052193121981751296
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Jim on 10/16/2018 02:22 pm

If the nation's leadership is serious about deep human space flight, then MSFC's expertise is arguably needed more on other rocket-powered vehicles than launchers.


They have no expertise outside of launchers
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/16/2018 03:37 pm
They have no expertise outside of launchers

The core competency is in liquid propulsion.  That can be applied to a range of vehicles, not just launchers.  I'd argue that MSFC should be managing a transit stage and contributing to a lander, not building SLS.

In HSF, MSFC has competencies in mission planning and ops (ISS POIC, SpaceLab), regenerative life support systems (WRS, OGS), payloads (EXPRESS), and various environmental testing facilities.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ncb1397 on 10/16/2018 04:43 pm
What is the point of them starting another project if your instinct is to cancel their work ~1 year from scheduled launch? They at least need feedback for their engineering process before they start their next project. If nothing they build ever flies, there is no way to know if they are simply building dysfunctional amalgamations of metal and plastic. Would be good to know that before you build a lander using the same engineering practices and the same team.

And besides, the argument of "SpaceX!!!" that is used against SLS will be used against anything else included a transfer stage, space station, lander, etc. There is no point in cancelling one project for another under a thought process that would dictate that you cancel that as well.

They have no expertise outside of launchers

I'd argue that MSFC should be managing a transit stage....

Any "stage" can be contracted under the SLS program and SLS account. It is simply a management decision to direct the available funds to it or not. If management wanted to, they could direct hundreds of millions of dollars a year into a 300 KW electric upper stage for Mars out of the SLS account. How they spend these funds is almost entirely up to NASA and the engineering choices they are making(other than $300 million per year for the EUS), but you all want to take it out of their hands with a political decision.



Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: theonlyspace on 10/16/2018 04:52 pm
I wonder since the first two SLS core stages are ending up costing a lot more than the contracted amount  NASA has given will Boeing stop work until they are paid a lot of additional money?  Also when a new contract is finally agreed upon for additional SLS core stages will Boeing demand a lot more money more than the orginal amount for the first 2 cores to build each new stage Core 3, Core4, Core5, possibly a Core 6?
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/16/2018 06:49 pm
What is the point of them starting another project...

Flight Safety -- Per the 2014 ASAP report, SLS/Orion has worse projected LOC figures than STS for similar, simple missions.  That leaves little to no margin for the riskier elements of more complex missions.  And statistically, it will kill astronauts at a higher rate that STS, a system that two Administrations decided to terminate because it killed astronauts at an unacceptably high rate.  Spaceflight is never without risk, but in the absence of much improved safety figures, a decision to continue down this technical path is both immoral and dumb.  It should be stopped now on this issue alone.

Capability -- A low launch rate means that SLS can't support the Mars DRMs that the agency has spent decades refining.  So for Mars, the agency has had to abandon those carefully crafted plans and assume the development of an uncertain electric stage at unproven power levels.  For the Moon, SLS can support only half the tempo of the Apollo program, a step backwards from the 1960s.  And Orion can't support landers from LLO, forcing an expensive, decade or longer detour to a station in a higher lunar orbit.  Without unproven and expensive contortions elsewhere, SLS and Orion can't sustain the long-established, basic exploration missions they're supposed to support.  They should be stopped now on this issue alone, too.

Government Role -- Between BFR, F9H, NG, NA, and VH, the nation has five different heavy launch systems in operation or development, spread among three different contractors.  It makes no sense for the government to finish a sixth.  The civil human space sector should focus its limited budget and human resources on those things that the private sector is not doing or cannot do.  Heavy launch is not one of them.  Again, SLS should be stopped now on this issue alone.

Political Relevance -- With the delay revealed by the OIG, SLS/Orion will struggle to get its first crewed test flight off before the end of the current Administration's second term (assuming it has a second term), forget a lunar landing or even crewing a lunar station.  Despite this Administration inheriting a six-year head start on SLS/Orion development.  This abysmally slow pace of progress renders the program almost irrelevant domestically and geopolitically for a WH.  If the program doesn't serve a national purpose greater than local employment, it should be stopped.

Even if SLS/Orion were executing perfectly on schedule and budget (and they're not), it's still a very poorly formulated program more than deserving of cancellation.

Quote
if your instinct is to cancel their work ~1 year from scheduled launch?

Maybe if the remaining cost to get to that launch was much smaller.

But it's not.  It's $3-4B+ per year and we're conservatively at least a couple years from that launch according to the OIG.

The taxpayer can't be expected to foot a multi-billion dollar bill just to find out if MSFC and HSF leadership can get their collective act together.  That's unconscionable.

If we need to exercise MSFC muscles and put HSF leadership to the test, we can do that more quickly and for much less treasure on smaller and less expensive projects.

Quote
And besides, the argument of "SpaceX!!!" that is used against SLS will be used against anything else included a transfer stage, space station, lander, etc.

Others may make that argument, but I did not.

We should not bet the future of the civil human space flight program on BFR/ITS working out.

Industry has heavy launcher operation and development in hand.  It's time for the civil side to move out on the other elements of a human space exploration architecture.

Quote
but you all want to take it out of their hands with a political decision.

I proposed that a WH direct NASA come up with a better plan if it wants to keep the outyear funding currently going to SLS/Orion.

That's budgetary hardball, but it's not taking a technical decision and turning it into a political one.  The technical details of that plan would still be up to NASA.

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/16/2018 07:00 pm
NASA has given will Boeing stop work until they are paid a lot of additional money?

No, per the latest article on this site, they're going to an undefinitized contract on the core.

Quote
“NASA has already taken measures to assure that there is not a stoppage of work on the SLS Stages,” NASA spokesperson Kathryn Hambleton added in an email. “These measures include issuance of an Undefinitized Contract Action (UCA) to continue performance until we can get a new delivery schedule negotiated and definitized.”

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018/10/nasa-maintain-sls-work-tempo-schedule-concerns-oig/ (https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018/10/nasa-maintain-sls-work-tempo-schedule-concerns-oig/)

It's a necessary evil to keep the money flowing.  But part of the reason the program is in trouble is because it took two years to definitize the original contracts in the first place.

If NASA is really going to cough up a billions more dollars for core completion, and worse, do so on an undefinitized contract, then Boeing's past and future profit through EM-2 should be held in abeyance pending technical, cost, and schedule performance from here on.  (As NG is doing on JWST.)

The buck needs to stop somewhere, and the agency needs to get some leverage.

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/16/2018 07:43 pm
No, per the latest article on this site, they're going to an undefinitized contract on the core.

For the ignorant, such as myself, could you please explain exactly what this means.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Scylla on 10/16/2018 07:59 pm
No, per the latest article on this site, they're going to an undefinitized contract on the core.


For the ignorant, such as myself, could you please explain exactly what this means.
undefinitized contractual action
(1)The term “undefinitized contractual action” means a new procurement action entered into by the head of an agency for which the contractual terms, specifications, or price are not agreed upon before performance is begun under the action. Such term does not include contractual actions with respect to the following: (A)Purchases in an amount not in excess of the amount of the simplified acquisition threshold. (B)Special access programs. (C)Congressionally mandated long-lead procurement contracts.
Source
10 USC § 2326(j)(1)
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/2326
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/16/2018 08:03 pm
For the ignorant, such as myself, could you please explain exactly what this means.

It means that the contract terms, specs, and price are undefined.  It's akin to handing a contractor a blank check.  You only do it if you really have to in order to get (or keep) work underway.

Undefinitized contracts are supposed to be used sparingly and for no more than six months.  But the SLS program used them across the board for a couple years at the program's outset.  That should never have happened.  See p. 17-20 in this GAO report on SLS for more:

https://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664969.pdf

The program has little choice, but it's a big step backwards on SLS cost and schedule control to return to an undefinitized contract for the core.  NASA leadership, WH, and Congress need to keep an eye on how long it's taking to get Boeing back on a regular contract and move to terminate the undefinitized contract if it's not happening.  Without a defined baseline in contract, it's very hard to judge whether the program is on the mend or not.

And again, as part of the deal to move to an undefinitized contract in the first place, someone should have a come-to-Jesus meeting with Boeing management and ask them to agree to put their past and future profit through EM-2 in abeyance pending technical, cost, and schedule performance from here on as defined in the new contract.  If Boeing won't agree, then don't start a new contract, undefinitized or otherwise.  If the contractor refuses to cooperate after a period of poor performance, then let the program die on the vine.

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Tulse on 10/16/2018 08:26 pm
So, in layperson's terms, because Boeing's work is so delayed and so over budget, NASA is going to give them a blank check in order to catch up?  Jesus.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Lars-J on 10/16/2018 08:50 pm
This program is going exactly as Boeing planned.
They succeed? They get paid.
They fail? They get paid.

What's not to like? It is perfectly understandable why Boeing or a Boeing employee would like this.

When are other SLS supporters going to understand that their interests (space exploration) do not overlap at all with Boeing's interests?
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Coastal Ron on 10/16/2018 09:24 pm
What is the point of them starting another project if your instinct is to cancel their work ~1 year from scheduled launch?

It should not be assumed that just because Congress is funding something that it has a future potential use. And we know in the case of the SLS that NASA (i.e. President Obama) was not proposing any future requirements that mandated the use of a government HLLV.

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They at least need feedback for their engineering process before they start their next project.

Nope. The government cancels programs all the time. People and companies get paid for their time, they don't need to know if something was going to work in the end.

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If nothing they build ever flies, there is no way to know if they are simply building dysfunctional amalgamations of metal and plastic. Would be good to know that before you build a lander using the same engineering practices and the same team.

That is not true. Our aerospace industry is very large and experienced, so no one should be doubting that Boeing et al. can build a safe SLS. I certainly am not. The only question that matters is whether the SLS is needed, and what to do with the NASA workforce if it isn't needed. That is what UltraViolet9 was addressing.

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And besides, the argument of "SpaceX!!!" that is used against SLS...

Nope. The SLS is a government-only asset, so it doesn't compete with anything. It stands or fall on it's own merits, which are whether the U.S. Government really needs it's capability for the next few decades.

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There is no point in cancelling one project for another under a thought process that would dictate that you cancel that as well.

So far we don't have a well thought out plan for U.S. Government HSF plans. NASA should be allowed to bring in industry and academia to identify the opportunities that should are available and identify the different ways they can be exploited. Only then should contracts be awarded and money spent. This did not happen with the SLS and Orion, and look where we are today...

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Any "stage" can be contracted under the SLS program and SLS account. It is simply a management decision to direct the available funds to it or not. If management wanted to, they could direct hundreds of millions of dollars a year into a 300 KW electric upper stage for Mars out of the SLS account.

Only if they want to be dragged in front of Congress. There are very specific limits to the spending authority Congress puts in their legislation, and NASA does not have a free hand in determining what they are - Congress defines them.

The type of action you suggest would end up being a topic of investigation in a future NASA OIG report...  ;)
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/16/2018 10:13 pm
So, in layperson's terms, because Boeing's work is so delayed and so over budget, NASA is going to give them a blank check in order to catch up?

The undefinitized contract doesn't help the program catch up.  It's just keeps the army marching until a new baseline is defined and enshrined in a new contract or contract mod.

Completing the core under the new baseline will take longer and more money than the old one.  (Otherwise Boeing would have met the old baseline.)  So the contractor never catches up.

The question is whether the contractor can stick to the new baseline, and that's really a function of whether they're incentivized to put a good team and management attention on the program.

At a minimum, the incentive structure should be realigned and renegotiated such that:

1) NASA's grades reflect Boeing's actual program performance (per the OIG),

2) Boeing puts managers with proven development (not operational) experience in charge of the program,

3) Boeing shares fully, completely, and clearly all budget and performance data on the program with NASA (no more mixing core and EUS figures),

4) Boeing negotiates expeditiously and in good faith to get off the undefinitized contract ASAP,

5) Boeing's past and future profit is held in abeyance pending Boeing's performance under the new baseline through EM-2, and

6) The current contract is terminated or run out if 2) thru 5) are not met.

NASA also needs to do 2) on its side of the fence.

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ncb1397 on 10/17/2018 12:26 am
NA

What the hell is NA? Seriously, apparently you don't even need powerpoint vaporware for government to stop work on major projects. It can just be a trademark.

BFR

You say later that you can't count on BFR

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F9H

Contractor says they want to shut down this program. Might as well list Delta IV Heavy. Government won't have any say in the matter whether that happens or not.

VH

Pretty small lift capacity. Good for LEO HSF/satellites/probes.

But it's not.  It's $3-4B+ per year and we're conservatively at least a couple years from that launch according to the OIG.

As opposed to spending $3-$4 billion dollars a year endlessly circling the earth a few miles out for what...the 4th decade? 4/5ths of Apollo is superior to that.

But it's not.  It's $3-4B+ per year and we're conservatively at least a couple years from that launch according to the OIG.

Not sure how you got that from language in the OIG report. You are conflating Eric Berger commentary on the OIG report with the OIG report.

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However, due to continued production delays with the SLS Core Stage and upcoming critical testing and integration activities, current NASA schedules indicate launch dates of mid2020 and mid-2022, respectively.   

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If the EM-1 launch is delayed to June 2020, NASA will need to add $1.2 billion to the contract based on the Project’s current expenditure rate
https://oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-19-001.pdf
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: envy887 on 10/17/2018 01:11 am
BFR

You say later that you can't count on BFR

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F9H

Contractor says they want to shut down this program. Might as well list Delta IV Heavy. Government won't have any say in the matter whether that happens or not.

Huh? It's logically inconsistent to discount BFR and then say SpaceX is going to shut down FH. FH isn't going away until BFR is more capable than FH. There is zero reason to expect any regression in capability: they will either have FH, or something better.

And the government certainly has a say in whether a commercial heavy lift capability exists, since that capability primarily exists to serve government customers. The government is the only reason DIVH exists, it's the only reason Vulcan and Omega are being built. DIVH is not going away without replacement, in fact it's being replaced by 4 lower cost commercial options (FH, Vulcan, Omega XL, New Glenn).

Vulcan ACES with DL would be more effective than SLS for some missions, e.g. putting Orion in LLO.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/17/2018 01:37 am
What the hell is NA?

New Armstrong

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Seriously, apparently you don't even need powerpoint vaporware for government to stop work on major projects. It can just be a trademark.

Regardless of the industry landscape, there are multiple, internal reasons relating to safety, capability, and relevance to terminate SLS now.  I went through them up thread.   

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You say later that you can't count on BFR

No, I wrote that we should not risk the civil human space flight program on BFR.

But given that there are five separate domestic heavy lift systems in operation or development -- of which BFR is just one -- it makes no sense for the government to build a sixth.

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Contractor says they want to shut down this program.

No, Shotwell has repeatedly stated they'll phase out F9/FH only if/when BFR comes online.

SX has contracts for FH launches with four customers, and they signed a fifth today.

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Might as well list Delta IV Heavy.

No, DIVH has a set launch schedule through retirement and no availability before then (AFAIK).

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Pretty small lift capacity. Good for LEO HSF/satellites/probes.

VH approaches 40t to GTO (38t IIRC) circa 2025 (2024 IIRC).

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As opposed to spending $3-$4 billion dollars a year endlessly circling the earth a few miles out for what...the 4th decade?

I didn't propose another ISS program.

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Not sure how you got that from language in the OIG report.

From the report: "Consequently, in light of the Project’s development delays, we have concluded NASA will be unable to meet its EM-1 launch window currently scheduled between December 2019 and June 2020."

It's 10/18.  7/20 is 22 months away, or two years rounding up.  The program is nearly two years from launch, at least, not one year.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ncb1397 on 10/17/2018 02:22 am
BFR

You say later that you can't count on BFR

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F9H

Contractor says they want to shut down this program. Might as well list Delta IV Heavy. Government won't have any say in the matter whether that happens or not.

Huh? It's logically inconsistent to discount BFR and then say SpaceX is going to shut down FH. FH isn't going away until BFR is more capable than FH. There is zero reason to expect any regression in capability: they will either have FH, or something better.


There is regression in capability all the time. Saturn V -> Shuttle. Shuttle - > Soyuz. Soyuz -> nothing at the moment. And FH production might go away far before BFR is proven. That means flying a bunch of expendable FHs may be using up a dwindling supply of cores. Delta IV production was shut down before Vulcan proves itself. Shuttle was shut down before Commercial crew proves itself.

What the hell is NA?

New Armstrong


I know what it stands for. You say this is a technically superior product which is why SLS isn't in your list of heavy lift options and this is. Why is it a technically superior product? The only thing you can go on is it has a better name (technically speaking).

No, Shotwell has repeatedly stated they'll phase out F9/FH only if/when BFR comes online.

Their plans change all the time. And come online is defined by them, not the government. This could mean it flies once. Equivalent to cancelling Saturn V after STS-1 (yes, it was done way before that), not knowing all the other technical issues that will pop up. Besides, Falcon Heavy supports a LAS. BFR doesn't. So, depending on your criteria, it is a regression of capability/safety. The government's determination that it is "better" or "worse" could be completely different than Elon Musk's.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Lar on 10/17/2018 03:51 am
Let's remain collegial and excellent to each other, please. Thank you.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/17/2018 04:00 am
You say this is a technically superior product which is why SLS isn't in your list of heavy lift options and this is. Why is it a technically superior product?

I never wrote that VH is a "technically superior product".

The point is _not_ whether SLS is technically superior to any particular heavy lifter that exists or is coming online.

The point is that there are _multiple_ heavy launchers existing and coming online from _multiple_ providers.  If the government doesn't like the specs or performer on one, it can choose another.

And in such an environment, it makes no sense for the government to pursue its own, in-house heavy launcher.

That said, I would not be surprised if all of these heavy lifters have better reliability and higher flight rates than SLS given its abysmal figures for both.

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Their plans change all the time. And come online is defined by them, not the government. This could mean it flies once.

Hyperbole.  FH has contracts from USAF, Intelsat, Inmarsat, Arabsat, and now Ovzon.

And money talks.  _If_ BFR gets going and _if_ SX starts moving away from FH and _if_ there is no alternative among BFR, NA, NG, and VH for NASA's HSF missions (an unlikely scenario), then the government can pay SX (or whomever) to keep FH (or whatever launcher) around longer.

There's nothing wrong with paying for some insurance -- either contractually or in-house -- that certain ETO capabilities will be available in certain timeframes.  But as insurance, it can't consume practically the entire human space exploration budget as SLS/Orion is doing.

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So, depending on your criteria, it is a regression of capability/safety. The government's determination that it is "better" or "worse" could be completely different than Elon Musk's.

There's no fuzz here.

Two Administrations terminated STS for killing astronauts at an unacceptably high rate.  SLS/Orion is projected to kill astronauts at a higher rate than STS for similar missions.   SLS/Orion should be terminated.

NASA has long-established DRMs for Mars.  Apollo maintained two lunar landings per year over multiple years.  SLS/Orion can support neither.   SLS/Orion should be terminated.

Even if there were no industry alternatives, it is morally wrong and programmatically dumb to continue down this path.

And with so many existing and emerging industry alternatives, it is also stupid policy.

And on top of all that, with Boeing's awful contract performance and NASA's awful oversight of that contract, continuing to reward the actors and managers in this program with billions more dollars and more undefinitized contracts is indefensible to the taxpayer and to principles of good governance.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ReturnTrajectory on 10/17/2018 05:15 am
Two Administrations terminated STS for killing astronauts at an unacceptably high rate.  SLS/Orion is projected to kill astronauts at a higher rate than STS for similar missions.   SLS/Orion should be terminated.

NASA has long-established DRMs for Mars.  Apollo maintained two lunar landings per year over multiple years.  SLS/Orion can support neither.   SLS/Orion should be terminated.

Even if there were no industry alternatives, it is morally wrong and programmatically dumb to continue down this path.

And with so many existing and emerging industry alternatives, it is also stupid policy.

And on top of all that, with Boeing's awful contract performance and NASA's awful oversight of that contract, continuing to reward the actors and managers in this program with billions more dollars and more undefinitized contracts is indefensible to the taxpayer and to principles of good governance.

Good lord.  Get a grip. 

All this arm-waving by internet forum members has become soooo tiresome. 

Yeah, you don't like Orion/sSLS....yawn. 

A few years back, this same forum was filled with anti-SLS folks claiming heavy lift was not, and never would be necessary.  That everything we ever wanted to do could be done forever in space with the existing class of launch vehicles. 

Now, as expected, the fandom and the beliefs have changed because industry has decided heavy-lift is a viable option.  So, accordingly, the fandom's opinion has changed and the line of attack has changed.

The thing is.... I expect you know nothing about the past and most certainly were not a player in it, or anything current, based on these blanket, and ignorant, comments.   

So let's cut to the chase.  Cancel everything.  Give that money to SpaceX, Blue, etc.  What you might not realize is this the EXACT same argument arm-chair forum warriors have been making for years, the "where" it is appropriated has just changed based on the latest fandom "shiny object".

Here is reality.  With NASA/govt money comes NASA/govt oversight.  While I'm sure you have no idea what that means, it translates to cost over-runs and schedule slips.  And with that comes the same scrutiny as when BFR/BFS kills someone, and it will, because that is the nature of advancement and exploration. 

You CANNOT have it both ways.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: freddo411 on 10/17/2018 05:53 am
Two Administrations terminated STS for killing astronauts at an unacceptably high rate.  SLS/Orion is projected to kill astronauts at a higher rate than STS for similar missions.   SLS/Orion should be terminated.

NASA has long-established DRMs for Mars.  Apollo maintained two lunar landings per year over multiple years.  SLS/Orion can support neither.   SLS/Orion should be terminated.

Even if there were no industry alternatives, it is morally wrong and programmatically dumb to continue down this path.

And with so many existing and emerging industry alternatives, it is also stupid policy.

And on top of all that, with Boeing's awful contract performance and NASA's awful oversight of that contract, continuing to reward the actors and managers in this program with billions more dollars and more undefinitized contracts is indefensible to the taxpayer and to principles of good governance.

...
Here is reality.  With NASA/govt money comes NASA/govt oversight.  While I'm sure you have no idea what that means, it translates to cost over-runs and schedule slips. 

...


I'd argue that commercial crews contracts were and are an existence proof that NASA can acquire launch and other services from the private sector effectively and economically.   Note, this is true EVEN IF one of the providers is old space.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ncb1397 on 10/17/2018 05:58 am

Two Administrations terminated STS for killing astronauts at an unacceptably high rate.  SLS/Orion is projected to kill astronauts at a higher rate than STS for similar missions.   SLS/Orion should be terminated.


1.)You referenced the 2014 ASAP report. Here is the report: https://oiir.hq.nasa.gov/asap/documents/2014_ASAP_Annual_Report.pdf
On page 19, 1/75 is the maximum projected LOC rate, not the projected LOC rate. It is threshold over which they won't proceed.

2.)This is equivalent risk of LOC of a few short jaunts to the space station and back on Commercial Crew. As such, it would also be morally wrong to risk that on flights that don't expand human capacity for space travel nearly as much. Flights to LEO have been done ad nauseum and killed ~5x as many astronauts as the Apollo program. Another one nearly was killed in a launch failure just in the last few days. Before that, an astronaut almost drowned doing maintenance on the aging ISS.

3.)They aren't "similar missions"

4.)No HSF space vehicle has ever actually done better than 1/75. Shuttle is 1/67. Soyuz is 1/70. If SLS/Orion really had 1 accident in 75 missions, it would be better than everything up to now while flying a more demanding profile than most of them. It would be about 6 times better than the only other example of a BEO transportation system.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: pathfinder_01 on 10/17/2018 06:05 am


Here is reality.  With NASA/govt money comes NASA/govt oversight.  While I'm sure you have no idea what that means, it translates to cost over-runs and schedule slips.  And with that comes the same scrutiny as when BFR/BFS kills someone, and it will, because that is the nature of advancement and exploration. 

You CANNOT have it both ways.

Oversight does not mean the same thing  as actually running things. Oversight in some respects can be a good thing but the problem with SLS vs.  FH,BFR or any commercial alternative is that the commercial alternatives can share their cost over more than just NASA HSF and thus present both a cheaper and a possibly safer alternative.
Every Vulcan launch will test it's systems where as SLS will only  launch 90% of the time with people on board. F9 can make the 6 non chanaged flights within a year, How long before SLS would take to do the same if held to the same standard(and NO, I don't buy the B.S. about NASA having more knowledge about SLS than F9...the way you often find problems is by testing and using the thing not sitting on the ground theorizing)


Their plans change all the time. And come online is defined by them, not the government. This could mean it flies once. Equivalent to cancelling Saturn V after STS-1 (yes, it was done way before that), not knowing all the other technical issues that will pop up. Besides, Falcon Heavy supports a LAS. BFR doesn't. So, depending on your criteria, it is a regression of capability/safety. The government's determination that it is "better" or "worse" could be completely different than Elon Musk's.

Err no. It depends on contracts. Elon can not cancel FH without cost and bad name if there are contracts for it's service. He can only try to convince the customers to move over to the newer system. And that is a weak argument as the crew could be boarded by mean of Dragon or CST-100 or whatever is flying with a LAS system. What  ULA did when they stated that they would be canceling Delta V heavy was seek guidance from government and other customers(i.e. if you have any payloads that need it book it now!) so that they could implement a business decision (getting rid of overlapping systems(Atlas and Delta) in a world where the FH would be competing) .
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/17/2018 06:35 am
Here is reality.  With NASA/govt money comes NASA/govt oversight.

The evidence shows that there is little to no NASA oversight on the SLS core contract.

By NASA's own FAR addenda, undefinitized contracts are supposed to be rare and limited to 6 months or less.
Yet NASA allowed multiple SLS contracts worth billions of dollars to run undefinitized for years. 

NASA let Boeing comingle core and EUS figures in the same budget reporting line, making it impossible to track spending on each, for years.  No one at NASA apparently cared to know what each element was costing, for years.

NASA awarded Boeing 90% of its fee on the core contract, despite the fact that the core is years behind schedule and slipping, doubling in cost, and running out of budget on the current contract.

I've worked on NASA programs with actual oversight.  This is not NASA oversight.  It may be some other off-color words that don't belong on this forum, but it is not oversight.

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The thing is.... I expect you know nothing about the past and most certainly were not a player in it

Your expectations would be wrong.  I have a couple decades in the sector, covered NASA for two White Houses, did two tours at HQ, staffed the VSE, and staffed COTS, among other roles.

My experience aside, even if a commenter has zero expertise, their arguments should stand or fall based on the evidence and logic behind those arguments.

There is a forum rule here against king-of-the-internet attitudes like yours.  Debate the argument, not the person.

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A few years back, this same forum was filled with anti-SLS folks claiming heavy lift...

Now, as expected, the fandom and the beliefs have changed...

the EXACT same argument arm-chair forum warriors...

If you have problems with the comments of other posters, then please respond to their posts, not mine.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/17/2018 06:44 am
This program is going exactly as Boeing planned.
They succeed? They get paid.
They fail? They get paid.

What's not to like? It is perfectly understandable why Boeing or a Boeing employee would like this.
In fact that's exactly the same for any contractor on a cost plus (or perhaps in this case a cost++) contract.

I've only ever heard of one company outside a government (or govt agency) work on a cost plus contract. They supplied warehousing and logistics services, mostly to mobile phone operators.

I'd be interested to see what the OIG has to say about the LM Orion contract as well.

And let me remind people of a few things.

A salvo launch of all of the USA's large operational LV's could put at least 135 tonnes into LEO within slightly more than 1 week, with the biggest single piece being greater than 50 tonnes. ULA has looked at the aerodynamics of fairings equal to 1.89x the diameter of the LV. that's a 9.45m fairing for a 5m dia LV. Is there anything that could only be done with a 10m fairing that could not be done within a 9.45m fairing?

For any chemically propelled mission propellant is going to be the biggest single mass. It is also the simplest to divide and improved propellant management (per Robert Braun's presentation) gives the biggest reduction in the mass you need to get to orbit to go to Mars (or probably anywhere else in the Solar System)

Outside of Orion there is no budget for payloads for SLS.Presumably its supporters expect to cannibalize the ISS budget for this as well.

Outside of Congressional order the only way to require SLS to be used is for indivisible payloads in its weight class. The only ones I could find are
a) Very large telescopes (I think the history of JWST shows how tricky they can be) and
b) An ocean cargo ship sized nuclear reactor like that on the NSS "Savannah. " 1 complete power package. No assembly required (although landing it may be quite challenging).

No budget exists for any projects in either area.

IRL this project will continue regardless of wheather it is in the best interests of the US taxpayer or US goals in space but in line with the blatant self interest of the relevant legislators who sit on the committees that (in theory) oversee this work.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ncb1397 on 10/17/2018 07:10 am
Outside of Orion there is no budget for payloads for SLS.Presumably its supporters expect to cannibalize the ISS budget for this as well.

Europa Lander, Europa Clipper, Orion and DSG (in every version of 2019 appropriations). ISS budget isn't cannabalized. Well, to be precise, Russian payments stop for ISS, so, yes - payments to the Kremlin are cannabalized. Pretty smart to call this cannabalizing the ISS budget rather than cannabalizing funding for Russia's military industrial complex.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/17/2018 07:15 am
On page 19, 1/75 is the maximum projected LOC rate, not the projected LOC rate. It is threshold over which they won't proceed.

Actual LOCs are always below the projected LOCs.  Per the same report:

"...the mature Space Shuttle system’s PRA was 1 in 90 at the end of the program... It is important to note that the actual performance of the Space Shuttle over 135 flights was 1 in 67, which reflects the higher actual risk early in the program due to the unknown failure modes and design weaknesses (as noted in the previous section). This comparison is exemplified in a disturbing phrase that the Panel has heard NASA use recently: that the safety of SLS/Orion should be 'no worse than Shuttle.' While these thresholds represent a 'worst case' beyond which NASA would terminate the Program, and the Program has established more conservative goals, the Panel is nonetheless concerned that more conservative thresholds could not be supported."

In short, the ASAP doesn't believe the higher LOC goals for SLS/Orion based on history.  In fact, they don't even include those figures in this report.

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3.)They aren't "similar missions"

Per the ASAP, they are similar:

"In comparison, the mature Space Shuttle system’s PRA was 1 in 90 at the end of the program for a different, but not totally dissimilar, LEO mission."

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2.)This is equivalent risk of LOC of a few short jaunts to the space station and back on Commercial Crew. As such, it would also be morally wrong to risk that on flights that don't expand human capacity for space travel nearly as much.

Spaceflight is not without risk.  But there are smart risks and dumb risks.

The ASAP is pointing out that the SLS/Orion thresholds inflict STS-level risks on astronauts for STS-type missions.  That's a dumb risk, and two Administrations have judged so based on their decisions to initiate and finish STS termination.  SLS/Orion should have better flight safety thresholds than STS for its least challenging and least rewarding missions, like lunar flyby.

If we had to accept STS-level risks for more challenging and more rewarding missions, like a lunar surface mission, that would be a smarter risk worth taking.  Put another way, risks should match rewards.

The corollary that the ASAP does not discuss is that the low SLS/Orion thresholds leave little or no flight safety margin in the overall architecture for the riskier elements of more challenging exploration missions, like rendezvous, extended transits, descents/ascents, and surface ops.

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4.)No HSF space vehicle has ever actually done better than 1/75.

As the ASAP argues, this is an unacceptably low figure:

"The Panel was less pleased that these thresholds were not significantly safer than the actual historical performance of the Space Shuttle. It was the ASAP’s hope that the inherently safer architecture of the SLS and Orion as compared to the Space Shuttle, including full abort capability, separation of energetics from the crew module, and parachute reentry instead of aerodynamic, would greatly improve inherent safety."

Per the ASAP, SLS/Orion should have substantially better flight safety thresholds than the system that preceded it.  It does not.

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ncb1397 on 10/17/2018 07:18 am

Per the ASAP, they are similar:

"In comparison, the mature Space Shuttle system’s PRA was 1 in 90 at the end of the program for a different, but not totally dissimilar, LEO mission."

not totally dissimilar = similar... I feel like I am living in Animal Farm/1984.

You haven't demonstrated what the projected LOC rates are. You demonstrated what NASA considered the maximum acceptable rates were - 4 years ago.

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Actual LOCs are always below the projected LOCs.  Per the same report:

If this were true, it would apply to everything - the end of life Shuttle number of 1 in 90, the CC number of 1/200-270, and the Orion/SLS numbers. And all that says is that Shuttle was 1/67 over its lifetime. It doesn't disprove 1/90 at end of mission. That could be the case, it could be better, it could be worse. We will never know any facts on that. Considering that isn't much better than the lifetime vehicle numbers including early "teething issues", you shouldn't discount that the actual number wouldn't be better than 1/90.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/17/2018 07:37 am
not totally dissimilar = similar... I feel like I am living in Animal Farm/1984.

We can nitpick vocabulary, but ASAP made the comparison.  They believe it's valid.

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You haven't demonstrated what the projected LOC rates are. You demonstrated what NASA considered the maximum acceptable rates were

I've reiterated ASAP's disappointment that the threshold LOCs for SLS/Orion are too low and should be substantially higher.

These programs have set safety minimums that are worse or little better than the projected and actual safety performance of the vehicle they are replacing, which was terminated because two Administrations judged its safety performance as too poor.

It's morally wrong and programmatically dumb to continue down this path.  These programs should be stopped now.  We can and should do better, especially in flight safety.

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If this were true, it would apply to everything - the end of life Shuttle number of 1 in 90, the CC number of 1/200-270, and the Orion/SLS numbers.  And all that says is that Shuttle was 1/67 over its lifetime. It doesn't disprove 1/90 at end of mission. That could be the case, it could be better, it could be worse. We will never know any facts on that. Considering that isn't much better than the lifetime vehicle numbers including early "teething issues", you shouldn't discount that the actual number wouldn't be better than 1/90.

Re-analysis has shown that early STS LOCs of 1:200 were wildly optimistic and the vehicle was closer to 1:12.

STS was 1:67, not 1:90 or other, higher LOCs from through in the program. 

Even before their vehicles fly, CC is having difficulty meeting its 1:250 figure. 

Based on history, we should not expect that STS/Orion actual LOCs to exceed projected LOCs.

Per the ASAPs comments, we should expect STS/Orion actual LOCs to come in around the thresholds.

Europa Lander, Europa Clipper

Clipper is not assigned, SMD can't afford an SLS launch on their own, and per the OIG, the latest core slippage puts SLS's ability to support Clipper in question:

"Finally, as NASA and Boeing struggle with completing the first two SLS Core Stages, the Agency’s plans are on hold for acquiring additional Core Stages. Given that NASA officials estimate needing 52 months of lead time from issuing a contract to delivery, the earliest a third Core Stage can be produced is 2023, jeopardizing planned launch dates for future missions that require the rocket, including EM-2 and potentially a science mission to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, in 2022."

Lander is not supported by the decadal, it's timing relative to Clipper is in question, it relies on Culberson staying in office, and it's unclear he can continue increasing that earmark to the levels needed if he does win reelection.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ncb1397 on 10/17/2018 07:51 am

Clipper is not assigned

Considering it is illegal to pick anything other than SLS...

Quote
SMD can't afford an SLS launch on their own

This is like saying that Orion can't afford an SLS. SLS has its own line item. The funding for the launch of Orion comes out of the SLS budget, not the Orion budget. Otherwise, what is SLS paying for if not launch vehicles...

This is not unusual. SMD gets free rides on ISS all the time. Yes, it is true they can't afford the ISS. It would be more than 65% of their budget. It would be about 100% of the budget of Astrophysics, Heliophysics and Earth Science which are the divisions of SMD that utilize ISS.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/17/2018 12:45 pm
Europa Lander, Europa Clipper, Orion and DSG (in every version of 2019 appropriations). ISS budget isn't cannabalized.

The ISS budget is being canabalized to support SLS's raison d'etre, Orion, in that ESA has been relieved of its obligation to resupply ISS in excahnge for building Orion's ESM.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/17/2018 12:51 pm
A few years back, this same forum was filled with anti-SLS folks claiming heavy lift was not, and never would be necessary.  That everything we ever wanted to do could be done forever in space with the existing class of launch vehicles.

Now, as expected, the fandom and the beliefs have changed because industry has decided heavy-lift is a viable option.  So, accordingly, the fandom's opinion has changed and the line of attack has changed.

Boeing never would have developed the 747 if demand for jumbo-jet service had totaled, say, one flight a day.  It made sense only because the airlines were able to fill many 747's every day.

If you're Elon Musk and you plan to send thousands of people to Mars annually, it's not surprising that it would make sense to develop the 747 of space.  If you're NASA and you hope to someday launch a few people per year, it's hard to see how building a big, dedicated rocket makes sense from any of the perspectives of cost, safety or scheduling.

NASA hasn't shown that it needs a big rocket for what it wants to do (if you kn ow otherwise, please show me where).  For all purposes aside from launching crews into deep space, when the US government wants to put something in space, buys launch services from an outside party (ULA, SpaceX, the Russians, etc.).  How can it not make sense to at least consider that possibility for HEOMD's needs?
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ncb1397 on 10/17/2018 01:19 pm
Europa Lander, Europa Clipper, Orion and DSG (in every version of 2019 appropriations). ISS budget isn't cannabalized.

The ISS budget is being canabalized to support SLS's raison d'etre, Orion, in that ESA has been relieved of its obligation to resupply ISS in excahnge for building Orion's ESM.

How can we remedy this? Deliver 20,000 kg of supplies and one crew rotation on a single SLS/Orion flight? That is equivalent to half a year of crew rotation and a full year of cargo (from all ISS resupply craft). Surely that would offset the $700 million taken out of the ISS budget which is the cost of 4 months of ISS logistics.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/17/2018 01:23 pm
SMD gets free rides on ISS all the time.

And they've also been charged, from marginal to full cost.

Quote
Considering it is illegal to pick anything other than SLS...

No one will be thrown in jail over a launch vehicle selection.

But if the only way that a launch vehicle can get payloads is through legislative fiat and threats...
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ncb1397 on 10/17/2018 01:53 pm

But if the only way that a launch vehicle can get payloads is through legislative fiat and threats...

The main way ISS has research payloads is because half a billion dollars annually in government research dollars are illegal to spend anywhere else - i.e. legislative fiat and threats. They are worried about utilization of and return on government investment. Apparently it doesn't make sense to scrap it, and it doesn't make sense to maintain it and not use it...you should intuitively understand the dilemma.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/17/2018 02:10 pm
The main way ISS has research payloads is because half a billion dollars annually in government research dollars are illegal to spend anywhere else - i.e. legislative fiat and threats.

Research payloads go to ISS because there is no alternative to ISS.  (Maybe there should be, but that's a different discussion.)

The situation is different in launch, where there are alternatives.

There is no need for Congress to try to force SLS or any other launch solution for any particular payload like Clipper in legislation.

Congress should let NASA decide Clipper's launcher on the technical, cost, and schedule merits.

The fact that Congress has to tip the scales in legislation does not speak well of SLS's suitability or competitiveness for these missions.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ncb1397 on 10/17/2018 02:27 pm
Congress should let NASA decide Clipper's launcher on the technical, cost, and schedule merits.

Surely you mean OMB and the White House, because that is the only alternative. A Europa mission wasn't rejected by NASA (cough...OMB and the White House...cough) based on the technical and programmatic merits as evidenced by its inclusion within the Planetary decadal recommendations . It was rejected based on OMB/ White House refusing to pay for it.

Quote
Research payloads go to ISS because there is no alternative to ISS.  (Maybe there should be, but that's a different discussion.)

Federal research funds that aren't forced onto ISS have other outlets. IF they didn't, 100% of research dollars would go to the ISS, which is obviously not the case. The fact that you have to block off money for payloads on a specific space vehicle like ISS is equivalent to blocking off Europa Clipper for SLS.

Let's apply this equally. Don't require Europa Clipper to fly on SLS, but require it to do a direct trajectory. And de-fund the ISS research account - NIH, DoD, DoE, EPA, Universities, SMD, STMD, etc. should all be lining up with payloads. Right? If ISS is under-subscribed because of cubesats/X37-B/New Shephard/ground research winning on the technical merits, so be it.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/17/2018 02:55 pm
It was rejected based on OMB/ White House refusing to pay for it.

OMB/WH agreed to fund Clipper.  They put it in the President's five-year budgets.

Quote
Federal research funds that aren't forced onto ISS have other outlets.

Hyperbole.  There are no other long-duration, microgravity facilities.

Quote
Let's apply this equally. Don't require Europa Clipper to fly on SLS, but require it to do a direct trajectory.

Why are we now dictating trajectories?  Let the agency make mission planning and launch vehicle decisions.

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ncb1397 on 10/17/2018 03:04 pm

OMB/WH agreed to fund Clipper.  They put it in the President's five-year budgets.


They didn't have a choice, but given a choice, they wouldn't have funded it. OMB was pulling the strings. They can hide behind NASA, but I think most people see through it. As such, you shouldn't expect NASA if Congress exerts no control, to be free from political interference in selecting a launch vehicle either. And besides, our system of government is based on political decision making. If it wasn't, elections would mean nothing, the agencies would run themselves on autopilot and no elected politician would make any changes to the outcome of their internal process.

Quote
Culberson is one of the most vocal proponents of a NASA mission to explore Jupiter's moon Europa, previously helping to provide tens of millions of dollars for crucial pre-project design studies. NASA, under pressure from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), has hesitated in requesting official status for a major Europa mission after slashing hundreds of millions of dollars from the Planetary Science Division.
http://www.planetary.org/blogs/casey-dreier/2014/1120-a-mission-to-europa-just-got-got-more-likely.html
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: FinalFrontier on 10/17/2018 03:58 pm
There is a very simple solution for all this, or at least the foundation of one. It goes something like this.

1. Admit SLS has failed due to contractor and management issues and that industry developed vehicles are exceeding it's capacity and efficeincy. Ultraviolet has mentioned the new vehicles.
2. Cancel SLS as of the 2020 budget.
3. In the same way that the CXP contracts were redirected, redirect the SLS contracts to:
4. A new planetary exploration program. NASA centers and contractors invovled in SLS will now build surface modules, deep space propulsion stages, deep space stack modules, ISRU plant units, and any depots tugs or other components needed. Direct to NASA that the new national policy shall be to establish first a national and later an international base on the surafce of the moon, with a follow on base for the surface of Mars at the same time. Direct that both should be manned permanently like the ISS and that the Mars base should gradually be expanded into a colony per commercial efforts and later sales of tickets. Further direct that after those are done it shall be the duty of NASA to conduct similar operations and development of stations or bases in the outer planets such as the moons of Jupiter.
5. If accountability is desired after this is done direct the DOJ to investigate foul play by the boeing/NASA contractor officers involved in the cost overrus noted in the oig report. If no accountability is desired skip this.
6. Direct that NASA shall use CRS and commercial crew style bidding and contracting for all launch services needed using existing launchers or launchers that each company devlops or expands on a crs style basis, similar to Antares and falcon 9. As previously stated there are 5 vehicle families on the horizon all of them can be used competitively or at the same time if there is enough tonnage.
7. Direct NASA to avoid "down selecting" as much as possible. Instead they will by law share costs and tonnage across as many companies and launch vehicles as practically possible within program architecture. This avoids delays and expenses that we have seen with commercial crew.

If you do this and do it soon you solve almost all the major problems and get a working program out of it. NASA's political lobby would be preserved and get what they want jobs and more of them than with SLS. We get a working program. Commercial providers get to use their vehicles for a national BEO program. International partners get a real follow up for ISS instead of the joke that is lopg.

This is what should be done. It's not perfect but it would work.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/17/2018 04:16 pm
Europa Lander, Europa Clipper, Orion and DSG (in every version of 2019 appropriations). ISS budget isn't cannabalized.

The ISS budget is being canabalized to support SLS's raison d'etre, Orion, in that ESA has been relieved of its obligation to resupply ISS in excahnge for building Orion's ESM.

How can we remedy this? Deliver 20,000 kg of supplies and one crew rotation on a single SLS/Orion flight? That is equivalent to half a year of crew rotation and a full year of cargo (from all ISS resupply craft). Surely that would offset the $700 million taken out of the ISS budget which is the cost of 4 months of ISS logistics.

I think the cure is worse than the disease.  I don't know that ISS can cope with 20,000 kg of cargo delivered all at once.  Doing so would require development of some kind of cargo module for SLS, which would add to the cost.  Orion won't be able to fly to ISS until 202x, by which time the total funds siphoned from ISS to Orion will be in the multiple billions.  An annual SLS launch to ISS would probably require spending money to increase SLS's (and Orion's) production rate -- when Boeing is struggling terribly even to produce the first SLS.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: FinalFrontier on 10/17/2018 04:18 pm
Quote
As the ASAP argues, this is an unacceptably low figure:

"The Panel was less pleased that these thresholds were not significantly safer than the actual historical performance of the Space Shuttle. It was the ASAP’s hope that the inherently safer architecture of the SLS and Orion as compared to the Space Shuttle, including full abort capability, separation of energetics from the crew module, and parachute reentry instead of aerodynamic, would greatly improve inherent safety."

Per the ASAP, SLS/Orion should have substantially better flight safety thresholds than the system that preceded it.  It does not.

While I agree with you we are forgetting something here. The "system that preceded" SLS was the stick aka Ares 1. Which according to ASAP was and still is the safest launch vehicle ever designed. Except it was actually the most dangerous launch vehicle ever designed in reality.
What ASAP says with regard to LOC figures is a joke and I don't think it should be taken seriously. With that said if SLS cannot improve on STS figures despite being less complex by far than the orbiter I would consider it a failure on the safety front. But not because ASAP said so.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: FinalFrontier on 10/17/2018 04:20 pm
Europa Lander, Europa Clipper, Orion and DSG (in every version of 2019 appropriations). ISS budget isn't cannabalized.

The ISS budget is being canabalized to support SLS's raison d'etre, Orion, in that ESA has been relieved of its obligation to resupply ISS in excahnge for building Orion's ESM.

How can we remedy this? Deliver 20,000 kg of supplies and one crew rotation on a single SLS/Orion flight? That is equivalent to half a year of crew rotation and a full year of cargo (from all ISS resupply craft). Surely that would offset the $700 million taken out of the ISS budget which is the cost of 4 months of ISS logistics.

I think the cure is worse than the disease.  I don't know that ISS can cope with 20,000 kg of cargo delivered all at once.  Doing so would require development of some kind of cargo module for SLS, which would add to the cost.  Orion won't be able to fly to ISS until 202x, by which time the total funds siphoned from ISS to Orion will be in the multiple billions.  An annual SLS launch to ISS would probably require spending money to increase SLS's (and Orion's) production rate -- when Boeing is struggling terribly even to produce the first SLS.
The cure is to have the NASA centers and existing contractors build surface and base modules and colony related hardware instead of rockets and then have NASA launch them to a destination based on which out of 5 commercial vehicles gives them the cheapest launch cost.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Jim on 10/17/2018 04:24 pm

No, DIVH has a set launch schedule through retirement and no availability before then (AFAIK).


It is still available
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: envy887 on 10/17/2018 04:49 pm
Europa Lander, Europa Clipper, Orion and DSG (in every version of 2019 appropriations). ISS budget isn't cannabalized.

The ISS budget is being canabalized to support SLS's raison d'etre, Orion, in that ESA has been relieved of its obligation to resupply ISS in excahnge for building Orion's ESM.

How can we remedy this? Deliver 20,000 kg of supplies and one crew rotation on a single SLS/Orion flight? That is equivalent to half a year of crew rotation and a full year of cargo (from all ISS resupply craft). Surely that would offset the $700 million taken out of the ISS budget which is the cost of 4 months of ISS logistics.

So you would build a cargo module twice the size of a MPLM that can both berth and dock (so Orion can dock to it and drag it to ISS to be berthed by the arm)?

Or a free-flying co-manifested cargo module of that size, that can get to ISS independently of Orion?

Neither of those options sounds cheaper than commercial cargo and crew.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ncb1397 on 10/18/2018 12:14 am
Europa Lander, Europa Clipper, Orion and DSG (in every version of 2019 appropriations). ISS budget isn't cannabalized.

The ISS budget is being canabalized to support SLS's raison d'etre, Orion, in that ESA has been relieved of its obligation to resupply ISS in excahnge for building Orion's ESM.

How can we remedy this? Deliver 20,000 kg of supplies and one crew rotation on a single SLS/Orion flight? That is equivalent to half a year of crew rotation and a full year of cargo (from all ISS resupply craft). Surely that would offset the $700 million taken out of the ISS budget which is the cost of 4 months of ISS logistics.

I think the cure is worse than the disease.  I don't know that ISS can cope with 20,000 kg of cargo delivered all at once. 

On November 14th 2008, an MPLM was launched carrying 12,748 kg of cargo. On November 26th, 2008, 12 days later, Progress M-01M was launched carrying  2,423 kg of cargo. So, it can handle 15,171 kg in a very short time frame. 33% more shouldn't be a problem, and if it is, this program is meant to challenge the country and the space program and come up with operational and technological solutions to problems encountered.

Quote
Orion won't be able to fly to ISS until 202x, by which time the total funds siphoned from ISS to Orion will be in the multiple billions.

The first service module cost $450-$525 million dollars depending on what time period you use for the exchange rate. The second service module cost $230 million dollars. Multiple billions of dollars (more than $2 billion) would mean that 7-8 service modules were procured through barter with ISS rather than seats on Orion or direct expenditure from the Orion account. That is not assured, or even likely.

Quote
An annual SLS launch to ISS would probably require spending money to increase SLS's (and Orion's) production rate -- when Boeing is struggling terribly even to produce the first SLS.

It wouldn't be an annual launch.

Quote
Doing so would require development of some kind of cargo module for SLS, which would add to the cost.

For Orion to be a long duration spacecraft, it needs an orbital module equivalent to the Soyuz orbital module anyway.

Quote
So you would build a cargo module twice the size of a MPLM that can both berth and dock (so Orion can dock to it and drag it to ISS to be berthed by the arm)?

It would be more like 50% bigger.


Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/18/2018 06:48 am
Boeing is entirely correct that NASA's poor management of Boeing's poor performance is an internal NASA problem...

But they are totally handwaving away their own poor performance which is the cause of the whole issue.
To the contrary. The Boeing SLS management team have delivered a great deal less result for a great deal more money (to Boeing), leaving a great deal more for Boeing to do (which they will be paid for).

I think there's only one word to describe such performance, and I know the person to say it.

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/18/2018 07:08 am
If my PoV seems less than sympathetic consider the following.

It doesn't take an MBA graduate to figure out how to game the cost plus contracting system. Having the customer waive data collection obligations, so they can't dig into the details behind the bills you're presenting them(rendering them effectively blind) is just a bonus in this case.

It doesn't take a profound knowledge of human nature (or a high score on the PCL-R) to know why you would want to do it.

And one person racking up $312m in payments when their warrant is $2.5m (total?). Without being noticed or disciplined. What ??? 1/3 of a $Billion.  Matt Damons reaction on being told he's riding to Mars orbit "in a convertible" in The Martian comes to mind.

And let's not forget that while SLS is all about making some large rockets it is a service contract, so Boeing can keep every cent they've been given (I don't think "earned" is really the right adjective in this situation).

Reading between the lines I'd say this looks like a fine example of the "Good ol' boy" culture of NASA at work where the people who are supposed to be supervising the work stop thinking of the contractor as someone they are monitoring but as a friend, whose lapses, mistakes and errors of judgement are excused, regretted and (ultimately) covered up.

The comment (from Wikipedia) that MSFC is "NASA's largest center" suggests a case of tail wagging the dog. Why (other than historical accident) is it the largest center? Johnson does most of the work in HSF (and seems to have been most active in Commercial Crew). In contrast Marshall has done what (other than sink North of $10Bn on CxP and SLS over the last 14 years with 1 actual flight to show for it)?
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/18/2018 12:56 pm
They didn't have a choice, but given a choice, they wouldn't have funded it. OMB was pulling the strings. They can hide behind NASA, but I think most people see through it.

Administration budget deliberations and communications are embargoed until after the release of the President's Budget.  Until an historian delves into an archive or a President's library some years after the fact, we have no idea what positions were taken by NASA, OMB, or the WH.

Congress and certain NASA Administrators like to blame OMB, but the explanations for these things are usually mundane.  My guess from experience is that OMB delayed putting Clipper in the budget queue for better cost estimates and/or to maintain constraints on the planetary budget, probably as the funding curve for Mars 2020 worked its way through the budget.

But absent a mole in the budget briefings, there's no way to know.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: envy887 on 10/18/2018 01:00 pm
If my PoV seems less than sympathetic consider the following.

It doesn't take an MBA graduate to figure out how to game the cost plus contracting system. Having the customer waive data collection obligations, so they can't dig into the details behind the bills you're presenting them(rendering them effectively blind) is just a bonus in this case.

It doesn't take a profound knowledge of human nature (or a high score on the PCL-R) to know why you would want to do it.

And one person racking up $312m in payments when their warrant is $2.5m (total?). Without being noticed or disciplined. What ??? 1/3 of a $Billion.  Matt Damons reaction on being told he's riding to Mars orbit "in a convertible" in The Martian comes to mind.

And let's not forget that while SLS is all about making some large rockets it is a service contract, so Boeing can keep every cent they've been given (I don't think "earned" is really the right adjective in this situation).

Reading between the lines I'd say this looks like a fine example of the "Good ol' boy" culture of NASA at work where the people who are supposed to be supervising the work stop thinking of the contractor as someone they are monitoring but as a friend, whose lapses, mistakes and errors of judgement are excused, regretted and (ultimately) covered up.

The comment (from Wikipedia) that MSFC is "NASA's largest center" suggests a case of tail wagging the dog. Why (other than historical accident) is it the largest center? Johnson does most of the work in HSF (and seems to have been most active in Commercial Crew). In contrast Marshall has done what (other than sink North of $10Bn on CxP and SLS over the last 14 years with 1 actual flight to show for it)?

You're being far to kind. They have 0 flights to show for it. Don't credit them with a flight just for throwing the worlds largest sounding rocket into the Atlantic.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/18/2018 09:38 pm
You're being far to kind. They have 0 flights to show for it. Don't credit them with a flight just for throwing the worlds largest sounding rocket into the Atlantic.
I can understand that PoV but in a programme about building big rockets A1-x is the only actual vehicle (so far) that has flown since 2004. Fairness demands it be given a mention.

And TBF it is possible that some (most?) of its problems were down to how little it resembled the full design (Dummy segment, dummy US etc).

But as others have pointed out wasn't the whole idea of using "Heritage" hardware to reduce the odds of surprises?

Marshalls track record post Shuttle has not been very impressive. I keep thinking  of them "What is it you do exactly?"

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ncb1397 on 10/19/2018 06:39 am

The comment (from Wikipedia) that MSFC is "NASA's largest center" suggests ...

By what measurement?

The FY 2019 budget request has an interesting table with the breakdown of expenditures by center

Johnson Space Center (JSC) Total 5,161.1
NASA Headquarters (HQ) and Inspector General (IG) Total 3,555.3
Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) Total 2,810.4
Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) Total 2,777.7
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Total 1,684.2
Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Total 1,402.2
Langley Research Center (LaRC) Total 730.1
Glenn Research Center (GRC) Total 711.5
Ames Research Center (ARC) Total 635.1
Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) Total 292.1
Stennis Space Center (SSC) Total 132.6

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/fy19_nasa_budget_estimates.pdf

I'm pretty sure they just mean acreage. Johnson is 1620 acres and Marshall is ~2000 acres. But even that isn't accurate as Kennedy Space Center is bigger than that. But who really cares?
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Jim on 10/19/2018 02:12 pm

The comment (from Wikipedia) that MSFC is "NASA's largest center" suggests ...

By what measurement?

The FY 2019 budget request has an interesting table with the breakdown of expenditures by center

Johnson Space Center (JSC) Total 5,161.1
NASA Headquarters (HQ) and Inspector General (IG) Total 3,555.3
Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) Total 2,810.4
Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) Total 2,777.7
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Total 1,684.2
Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Total 1,402.2
Langley Research Center (LaRC) Total 730.1
Glenn Research Center (GRC) Total 711.5
Ames Research Center (ARC) Total 635.1
Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) Total 292.1
Stennis Space Center (SSC) Total 132.6

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/fy19_nasa_budget_estimates.pdf

I'm pretty sure they just mean acreage. Johnson is 1620 acres and Marshall is ~2000 acres. But even that isn't accurate as Kennedy Space Center is bigger than that. But who really cares?


it is by people
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ncb1397 on 10/19/2018 02:21 pm

The comment (from Wikipedia) that MSFC is "NASA's largest center" suggests ...

By what measurement?

The FY 2019 budget request has an interesting table with the breakdown of expenditures by center

Johnson Space Center (JSC) Total 5,161.1
NASA Headquarters (HQ) and Inspector General (IG) Total 3,555.3
Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) Total 2,810.4
Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) Total 2,777.7
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Total 1,684.2
Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Total 1,402.2
Langley Research Center (LaRC) Total 730.1
Glenn Research Center (GRC) Total 711.5
Ames Research Center (ARC) Total 635.1
Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) Total 292.1
Stennis Space Center (SSC) Total 132.6

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/fy19_nasa_budget_estimates.pdf

I'm pretty sure they just mean acreage. Johnson is 1620 acres and Marshall is ~2000 acres. But even that isn't accurate as Kennedy Space Center is bigger than that. But who really cares?


it is by people

Quote
JSC Jobs
The JSC civil service workforce consists of about 3,000 employees, the majority of whom are professional engineers and scientists. Of these, approximately 110 are astronauts.
+ View the website

Contractor Jobs
About 50 companies provide contractor personnel to JSC. More than 12,000 contractors work onsite or in nearby office buildings and other facilities.
https://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/business/jobs.html

Quote
One of NASA’s largest field centers, Marshall has
more than 2,300 civil service employees, a total
workforce of nearly 6,000 and an annual budget
of approximately $2 billion.
https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/msfcfactsheet11032016.pdf
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: incoming on 10/19/2018 06:59 pm
Administration budget deliberations and communications are embargoed until after the release of the President's Budget.  Until an historian delves into an archive or a President's library some years after the fact, we have no idea what positions were taken by NASA, OMB, or the WH.

Congress and certain NASA Administrators like to blame OMB, but the explanations for these things are usually mundane.  My guess from experience is that OMB delayed putting Clipper in the budget queue for better cost estimates and/or to maintain constraints on the planetary budget, probably as the funding curve for Mars 2020 worked its way through the budget.

But absent a mole in the budget briefings, there's no way to know.

Congress and NASA administrators like to blame OMB because they DO often have insight into those deliberations.  Despite the "embargo" much of the internal discussions get related to policy makers either directly or through lobbyists. It sounds like you worked for OMB at one point so that's probably not news to you.

Your explanation of clipper above is illustrative of exactly the kinds of games OMB plays and accordingly gets blamed for - manipulating budgets in order to achieve a policy or management outcome - or in other words, "pulling the strings" or "exerting control."

OMB people view this as "just doing their jobs." People affected by it view it very differently. Numerous historical accounts of the type you mention have shown OMB has had a tremendous role in shaping space policy and programs going back basically to the beginning, and they share at least as much credit/blame as congress and the various administrations for the outcomes.

I think the truth of it is that OMB is often put in impossible situations. I'm sure they (at least the working level folks) mean well but they use the budget as a tool to try to "manage" NASA (and other agencies) where the agencies (and many in congress) think their role should be more like an accounting department. Right now they are probably trying to figure out how they can produce a budget that is responsive to the space council's ambitious plans, deal with the reality of the struggles the programs at NASA are having, and oh by the way an across the board 5% budget cut.  I don't envy them. But it's disingenuous to write-off OMB's influence on major space policy decisions as "mundane."

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: FinalFrontier on 10/19/2018 07:06 pm
The longer this saga progresses the more I feel like an absolute idiot for ever having advocated and lobbied for SDHLV. Given the context of the time it was hard to know how things would turn out, but this is just ridiculous. Even if commercial had not panned out as it has, flexible path would still have been a better option given how badly this is turning out.

If we get a new POTUS in 2020 maybe they will cancel it. Although that won't really mean anything since Congress has already shown they can bring rockets back from the dead.

Quote
I think the truth of it is that OMB is often put in impossible situations. I'm sure they (at least the working level folks) mean well but they use the budget as a tool to try to "manage" NASA (and other agencies) where the agencies (and many in congress) think their role should be more like an accounting department. Right now they are probably trying to figure out how they can produce a budget that is responsive to the space council's ambitious plans, deal with the reality of the struggles the programs at NASA are having, and oh by the way an across the board 5% budget cut.  I don't envy them. But it's disingenuous to write-off OMB's influence on major space policy decisions as "mundane."

NASA would not need to be "managed" if they followed the law and delivered things on time and on schedule. They have literally failed to do so on every major project since Apollo. And the failures have gotten worse and more egregious with time not better, with the latest being venture star, cxp, and now sls. OMB and others only get this aggressive because of the fact that the agency and it's contractors consistently fail at everything so spectacularly. If they could deliver on time and under budget just once on one of these major programs this wouldn't happen, and then OMB wouldn't have a leg to stand on. I still remember Griffin and friends sitting there spitting on Congress from their offices after OMB said the post ESAS architecture was not workable and could not be built. And then they proceeded to spit on them again prior to Aug Com after follow up reports found the same thing years later. And then they tried spitting on Aug Com and we know how that turned out don't we.

Less arrogance and corruption on the part of NASA's internal management would mean less interference by outside agencies like OMB. This is a much deeper and longer problem than just SLS and it's going to have to get solved soon, one way or another.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/20/2018 03:44 am
But it's disingenuous to write-off OMB's influence on major space policy decisions as "mundane."

OMB's impact is not mundane.  No multi-year, multi-hundred million to multi-billion dollar decision in a capital-intensive agency like NASA is mundane.

Rather, I was offering that the reasons behind many decisions at OMB and the WH are mundane and not the nefarious intent of evil bureaucrats as some on the outside like to portray OMB for their own purposes.

Clipper didn't enter the budget as fast as some would have liked for a decadal flagship priority.  But that's probably because OMB wanted better mission definition or cost estimates and that work takes time.  Or there wasn't a big enough funding wedge within the planetary budget to get the mission started right, maybe especially while Mars 2020 costs ate their way forward.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/20/2018 08:51 am
Less arrogance and corruption on the part of NASA's internal management would mean less interference by outside agencies like OMB. This is a much deeper and longer problem than just SLS and it's going to have to get solved soon, one way or another.
I'd agree it's not just confined to SLS, but I'm doubtful it will be solved anytime soon.

I usually find that when a bad situation persists, and everyone agrees they are bad, it usually turns out that there is a groups of people who find it convenient (and profitable) that the situation remain that way.

And they have no plans to change it and no plans to allow reform any time soon.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: incoming on 10/22/2018 02:48 pm
But it's disingenuous to write-off OMB's influence on major space policy decisions as "mundane."
OMB's impact is not mundane.  No multi-year, multi-hundred million to multi-billion dollar decision in a capital-intensive agency like NASA is mundane.

Rather, I was offering that the reasons behind many decisions at OMB and the WH are mundane and not the nefarious intent of evil bureaucrats as some on the outside like to portray OMB for their own purposes.

Fair enough. But to bring this back closer to the topic at hand - my point is that OMB shares responsibility for the current situation, as much as NASA, congress, the contractors, and the executive branch political leadership. 

Setting aside all of the botched programs and false starts leading up to the current generation - many of the woes of the SLS program were born out of the chaos that the program emerged from, and I think the IG report fails to adequately highlight those factors.

From 2008 to 2010 the constellation program continued development in an environment where, depending on who they listened to (both within and external to the agency), they were either cancelled and going away, or legally required to continue their work. The post-augustine plan that emerged from the administration appeared to be sufficiently unresponsive to the commission's recommendations that an overwhelming number of very influential people in the space policy arena, both within the agency and outside, got involved and lobbied congress to specify a a plan in far more detail than had been done in past legislation. Certainly the congressmen with companies in their district played a big role, but when Neil Armstrong engaged along with Cernan, Stafford, and others, and heck even Neil DeGrasse Tyson was criticizing the Obama admin plan, it got the attention of a lot of members who normally wouldn't really care.

Then congress and the administration appeared to reach agreement on a compromise, but for the rest of the obama administration, many working on the program observed the administration and some factions within NASA leadership as openly hostile to the program and seeking to undermine/kill it. As confirmation of their fears the budget that came out of OMB bared no resemblance to the funding profile the programs needed and submitted (of course the real numbers always made it to congress one way or the other). And as a result congress didn't believe anything coming out of the administration (which ended up costing the commercial crew program dearly).   

Of course congress gets and deserves plenty of blame, if for no other reason, because the government was operating on CRs for large parts of every year.  Which meant the programs were stuck carrying two sets of books and at least three plans for the years they were already into executing - one plan to the administration's budget, another to the numbers they knew they needed, and a third set of plans for numbers they were expecting to get from congress.  And it wasn't just the numbers - the content was uncertain as well.  OMB was telling NASA to not plan for EUS until the late 2020's, and wouldn't approve any specific SLS missions past EM-2 with the exception of the vaguely defined Asteroid Retrieval Mission. Obviously no one in NASA thought that was a credible plan so once again the community went to congress and complained. Congress told NASA to fly EUS early and often.

None of this excuses a lot of the problems highlighted by the IG - the weld stand problems, the contamination in the prop system tubing, etc.  But can you imagine trying to effectively manage a program in the policy environment from the past decade or so?  While it doesn't excuse it, it certainly helps explain situations like the mutli-year undefinitized contract for the core stage.  I can just see the program manager throwing up his arms and saying "which plan should I put on contract?" "What's my budget?"

There's plenty of blame to go around - NASA and contractor program mismanagement, the white house, OMB, congress, etc.  But the IG report sorely missed some of the "big picture" factors that contributed to the mess, and many messes before it. 
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: spacetraveler on 10/22/2018 11:56 pm
This is incredibly disappointing.  Programs run by NASA like SLS and Orion are what got me so excited and interested in spaceflight during High School.  Of course at that time it was still projected to launch in 2017...

Reading the report makes it sound like its *mostly* Boeing's fault, since they failed to accurately estimate the cost of the project.  However, NASA seems to have over-evaluated their performance, giving them way more money than they should have received.  I'd be willing to bet this caused a snowball effect that had Boeing decrease performance further and so on...

I've always been a fan of SLS and any NASA rocket in particular.  Sadly, with all the other, cheaper alternatives that commercial companies are coming up with, and the constant delays and cost overruns like we see here, its becoming harder and harder for me to support this vehicle.

Edit:  Added thoughts based on the full article, not just the tweets.

This is nothing new though. It's the way cost plus has always worked.

The contractor will delay and milk it for as long as they can. No sense of urgency or pressure to meet deadlines. They know there is no competition for the contract and they know Congress is unlikely to cancel it this far into development.

So there really is little downside to slow walking it and maximizing their profit.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Coastal Ron on 10/23/2018 05:11 am
There's plenty of blame to go around - NASA and contractor program mismanagement, the white house, OMB, congress, etc.  But the IG report sorely missed some of the "big picture" factors that contributed to the mess, and many messes before it.

The OIG's portfolio is solely focused on NASA - what NASA does right or wrong given authority from Congress. The OIG is not authorized to investigate Congress or the office of the President.

Let's have realistic expectations here.

And regardless why a program gets funded, or whether it's a good or bad idea, NASA still has legal responsibilities for the proper management of taxpayer money. And what the OIG found is that NASA hasn't been doing a very good job on the SLS program...
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: incoming on 10/23/2018 05:05 pm
There's plenty of blame to go around - NASA and contractor program mismanagement, the white house, OMB, congress, etc.  But the IG report sorely missed some of the "big picture" factors that contributed to the mess, and many messes before it.

The OIG's portfolio is solely focused on NASA - what NASA does right or wrong given authority from Congress. The OIG is not authorized to investigate Congress or the office of the President.


The OIG is obligated by law to follow auditing standards set by GAO: https://www.gao.gov/assets/200/194261.pdf (https://www.gao.gov/assets/200/194261.pdf)

In the applicable section on performance audits, the standard states [bold emphasis mine]
Quote
a. Economy and efficiency audits include determining
(1) whether the entity is acquiring, protecting,
and using its resources (such as personnel, property,
and space) economically and efficiently,
(2) the causes of inefficiencies or uneconomical
practices
, and (3) whether the entity has complied
with laws and regulations concerning matters of
economy and efficiency.

the standard further states [again, bold emphasis mine]:
Quote
The audit report should be fair and not be misleading,
and should place the audit results in proper
perspective. This means presenting the audit results
impartially and guarding against the tendency to
exaggerate or overemphasize deficient performance.
In describing shortcomings in performance,
auditors should present the explanation of responsible
officials including the consideration of any
unusual difficulties or circumstances they faced.



I am not arguing that the IG should have investigated congress, OMB, etc.  I'm simply stating that the OIG missed a substantial and significant cause of the performance issues they noted - particularly the contract definitization issue. Perhaps they feel they met the intent of the standard by simply appending NASA's response to their recommendations, but I think especially in this case they didn't do justice to a significant causal factor.

And to repeat myself from the earlier post, in no way do those other factors excuse the numerous performance issues.  But context is still important, especially if we are ever going to learn to do better.

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Coastal Ron on 10/23/2018 07:46 pm
The OIG is obligated by law to follow auditing standards set by GAO: https://www.gao.gov/assets/200/194261.pdf (https://www.gao.gov/assets/200/194261.pdf)

In the applicable section on performance audits, the standard states [bold emphasis mine]
Quote
a. Economy and efficiency audits include determining
(1) whether the entity is acquiring, protecting,
and using its resources (such as personnel, property,
and space) economically and efficiently,
(2) the causes of inefficiencies or uneconomical
practices
, and (3) whether the entity has complied
with laws and regulations concerning matters of
economy and efficiency.

Within NASA, not outside of NASA.

Quote
I am not arguing that the IG should have investigated congress, OMB, etc.  I'm simply stating that the OIG missed a substantial and significant cause of the performance issues they noted - particularly the contract definitization issue. Perhaps they feel they met the intent of the standard by simply appending NASA's response to their recommendations, but I think especially in this case they didn't do justice to a significant causal factor.

And to repeat myself from the earlier post, in no way do those other factors excuse the numerous performance issues.  But context is still important, especially if we are ever going to learn to do better.

Blaming the NASA OIG for not investigating something outside of NASA is not helpful in my opinion - and the OIG would have to investigate outside of NASA to determine whether any blame is warranted outside of NASA. Can you imagine the ruckus they would cause by calling up Senator Shelby and telling him they want to ask him some questions about the SLS? That is outside of their warrant.

Congress has the right and ability to investigate the problems associated with the SLS program, and hasn't, so since they are the "higher authority" we should be blaming them, not the OIG, for not identifying flaws they may have introduced into the SLS program.

Let's not shoot the messengers...  ;)
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: incoming on 10/24/2018 03:04 am
The OIG is obligated by law to follow auditing standards set by GAO: https://www.gao.gov/assets/200/194261.pdf (https://www.gao.gov/assets/200/194261.pdf)

In the applicable section on performance audits, the standard states [bold emphasis mine]
Quote
a. Economy and efficiency audits include determining
(1) whether the entity is acquiring, protecting,
and using its resources (such as personnel, property,
and space) economically and efficiently,
(2) the causes of inefficiencies or uneconomical
practices
, and (3) whether the entity has complied
with laws and regulations concerning matters of
economy and efficiency.

Within NASA, not outside of NASA.


Where are you getting that from?  Seems like you’re just making that up?

I’m not saying they have authority to “investigate” congress (or the White House). But when the OIG uncovers probems, there is nothing that limits them from looking at both external [to the agency] and internal causes. That’s why I pasted in the reference from the standard about the context being important.

This isn’t about shooting the messanger. It’s about the message being incomplete.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Propylox on 10/24/2018 05:31 am
..There's plenty of blame to go around - NASA and contractor program mismanagement, the white house, OMB, congress, etc.  But the IG report sorely missed some of the "big picture" factors that contributed to the mess, and many messes before it.
.. regardless why a program gets funded, or whether it's a good or bad idea, NASA still has legal responsibilities for the proper management of taxpayer money. And what the OIG found is that NASA hasn't been doing a very good job on the SLS program.. -&- ..Congress has the right and ability to investigate the problems associated with the SLS program, and hasn't, so since they are the "higher authority" we should be blaming them, not the OIG, for not identifying flaws they may have introduced into the SLS program.
I think most would agree NASA has a problem, emanating from their culture, head and it got considerably worse over the last decade. Should we blame Congress for lax oversight, plus ridiculous mandates - when they were working on the information and system NASA presented? I'd say, "Yes". Should we blame the OMB and OIG for similarly turning a blind eye to protect and preserve NASA's and Congress' culture and heads? I'd say "Yes".
  Should we blame the contractors for gaming the system, accomplishing nothing, stealing $billions of tax dollars and impeding both science and exploration? I'd say "f#*$ Yes!" with plenty more to say.

..Less arrogance and corruption on the part of NASA's internal management would mean less interference by outside agencies like OMB. This is a much deeper and longer problem than just SLS and it's going to have to get solved soon, one way or another.
Serious question: Is it time to rescind NASA's "independent agency" status and roll it into a Department to significantly improve oversight, budget control and program management - likely along with NOAA, EPA, NSF, NREL and others? Perhaps that discussion should have it's own thread, but it's worth food for thought.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: RonM on 10/24/2018 03:13 pm
Should we blame the contractors for gaming the system, accomplishing nothing, stealing $billions of tax dollars and impeding both science and exploration? I'd say "f#*$ Yes!" with plenty more to say.

Unfortunately, this is how the system works. Problem is with the government issuing contracts that allow such billing excesses and the lobbying system that gives contractors such sweet deals. Current campaign financing laws allow politicians to effectively be bought by corporations. And it is all legal. Only hope is to get more politicians in office that will work for the people and not big money special interests. But that's hard to do without big donations.

Serious question: Is it time to rescind NASA's "independent agency" status and roll it into a Department to significantly improve oversight, budget control and program management - likely along with NOAA, EPA, NSF, NREL and others? Perhaps that discussion should have it's own thread, but it's worth food for thought.

No. This is a government wide issue.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Lar on 10/24/2018 05:06 pm
Let's not wander into Space Policy or general politics (which is off limits even for Space Policy) ok? Thanks.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: robertross on 10/24/2018 11:00 pm
The longer this saga progresses the more I feel like an absolute idiot for ever having advocated and lobbied for SDHLV.

It wouldn't really matter. Those who run the show call the shots.

We can either embrace the horror and get what we get, or shelve it all for another promise of a cheaper launch vehicle (which will just add to the total bill).

Frankly I'm disgusted at the ridiculousness of it all (especially the performance bonuses considering), but I am also not surprised. At least we do have a report from the IG. It's up to the people to vote in new politicians and push to change the system. We have the same problem here in Canada - it's not a unique issue in the world.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Lars-J on 10/24/2018 11:23 pm
We can either embrace the horror and get what we get, or shelve it all for another promise of a cheaper launch vehicle (which will just add to the total bill).

https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/173/Sunk-Cost-Fallacy

What is spent is spent, we cannot get it back. But we are not done shelving out money for SLS. Not even close.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/25/2018 06:32 am
https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/173/Sunk-Cost-Fallacy
I like that example.

The $1000 spent is the cost of discovering that investing any more in that plan is a waste of money. That money is spent, but it is well spent. If it saved a company spending $10m I'd call it peanuts. Now what to spend it on instead? That's much more open ended (and hence much harder to answer).

Quote from: Lars-J
What is spent is spent, we cannot get it back. But we are not done shelving out money for SLS. Not even close.
Correct, and it's not Government money, it's taxpayers money.

Which so far has produced remarkably little for what's been spent (I'm not sure how well it qualifies as an "investment").
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/25/2018 08:16 pm
... many of the woes of the SLS program were born out of the chaos that the program emerged from, and I think the IG report fails to adequately highlight those factors.

From 2008 to 2010 the constellation program continued development in an environment where, depending on who they listened to (both within and external to the agency), they were either cancelled and going away, or legally required to continue their work.

While well-intentioned, I don't think anyone should buy into this line of reasoning.  Constellation was broken.  NASA and its Constellation contractors were given a golden opportunity to fix that with SLS and Orion.  They've had over half a decade to do so.  And they have not.

Fool me once.  Shame on you.  Fool me twice.  Shame on me.

And to be brutally honest, this goes back further than Constellation.  Many of the same actors (JSC/MSFC, Boeing as prime, Gerst as manager, etc.) were present and running ISS during its development.  I personally lived through a $5 billion overrun on that program that they decided to pass along at the beginning of the Bush II Administration.  Not a good way to start with a new White House.  Even after we terminated the hab, centrifuge, CRV, and transhab to get the program back in the box, they didn't get the message.  I visited the program office at JSC, and they couldn't pull earned value figures on bi-weekly or even monthly basis.  Unreal.

And they still have not learned their lessons.  Based on this IG report, no one at NASA has been tracking separate costs for the Core and EUS for years.  Why isn't Gerst getting (or why isn't he demanding) at least a 30-minute briefing every couple weeks that breaks down spending trends for each major SLS component against plan?  Again, unreal.

NASA HSF needs to get some program management and leadership with proven aerospace development experience.  That doesn't mean that NASA's institutional and operational experience with HSF gets thrown out the window.  But they need some people in charge who know how things get built, not just how to fly them.

Quote
The post-augustine plan that emerged from the administration appeared to be sufficiently unresponsive to the commission's recommendations

The Augustine report basically said either change what you're doing or boost the overall NASA budget by several billion dollars per year if you want to stay the course on Constellation.

The Obama Administration chose to change what they were doing.  That did not satisfy some, but it was very responsive to the Augustine report.

Congress chose to keep the bulk of Constellation going with no budget boost.  That was not a recommendation or even an option in the Augustine report, and therefore, unresponsive to the Augustine report.

This is not unusual in Washington.  Much well-intentioned and thoughtful advice from smart experienced people, even when asked for, gets shelved and ignored.

Quote
when Neil Armstrong engaged along with Cernan, Stafford, and others, and heck even Neil DeGrasse Tyson was criticizing the Obama admin plan, it got the attention of a lot of members who normally wouldn't really care.

As much as I respect their space flight achievements, when a development program like Constellation has to rely on long-retired astronauts with little or no development management experience (and a celebrity scientist to boot) to defend itself, the problem is with the program, not those trying to right the ship.

Quote
As confirmation of their fears the budget that came out of OMB bared no resemblance to the funding profile the programs needed and submitted.

We don't know that.  Agency budget submissions to OMB are embargoed.  We don't know what budget estimates the NASA OCFO sends to OMB on behalf of the Administrator each fiscal year.

When someone claims that they know what the budget submission is, we don't know where their figures come from.  For example, a project manager or center director at a field center talking to congressional staff from his district or state doesn't have the whole picture.  He or she may submit pieces of the SLS or Orion budgets, but they don't necessarily know what deltas were made by the SLS and Orion program managers to their budget requests after the project and center submissions were made.  Similarly, moving up the chain, the SLS and Orion program managers don't necessarily know what deltas were made by the HEOMD AA after they submitted their budget requests to HQ.  And the HEOMD AA may not know what deltas the NASA Administrator made to their budget request until he or she is asked to brief OMB.

In short, anyone high enough in NASA or the Administration to have the full and accurate picture of the agency's annual budget submission to OMB is unlikely to share it with Congress.  They know better regarding budget embargo rules and understand that they exist to keep the Administration's deliberations as free of political influence (like from Congress) as possible.  And anyone who doesn't understand those rules and is foolish enough to risk their career broaching them is probably too low on the totem pole to have a full and accurate picture of NASA's annual budget submission to OMB.

All we can say for certain is that the President's annual budget submission for fiscal years 2011 thru 2013 did not match the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.  Absent other information, to blame OMB or the WH for that doesn't make a lot of sense.  First off, there is the separation of powers between executive and legislative.  The President proposes and Congress disposes, and figures from one do not represent a commitment by the other.  They are supposed to differ and compromises made or vetoes exercised as the founders envisioned.  Second, where did the figures in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act come from?  Did NASA submit an official budget to Congress that was carefully worked up the program and HQ chain and reviewed by OMB and the WH?  (Obviously not.)  Or did some industry lobbyists or center managers offer some best guesses to congressional staff off-the-record?

Without concretely knowing where Congress got its figures from, I'd be inclined to believe the figures in the President's annual budget requests over the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.  The former have been put through a level of review and rigor that the latter have not and probably represent more accurate costs for these programs had they been managed well by NASA and its contractors, which we know, from multiple GAO and OIG reports, they have not.

At the political level, could the WH have been deflating SLS and Orion figures because it was not a high budget priority for them?  Possibly, but there's no way to know, and it's within their rights and responsibilities to do so anyway.  Did OMB career staff do so?  Unlikely in my experience.  Once the decision has been made to pursue a program, staff do their best to fund it appropriately.  That's where the "M" (Management) in OMB comes in.

And on a final note, the President's budget marks for SLS and Orion have not really mattered anyway.  Congress appropriated way above those marks.  If anything, it shows that shoveling more money at NASA HSF programs does not solve their institutional management, contracting, and accounting problems.  The fat seems to just maintain or encourage more sloppiness and lack of attention.  At the very least, NASA would have had an incentive to be a lot more circumspect with Boeing's award fees had the budget been tighter.

Quote
Of course congress gets and deserves plenty of blame, if for no other reason, because the government was operating on CRs for large parts of every year.  Which meant the programs were stuck carrying two sets of books and at least three plans for the years they were already into executing - one plan to the administration's budget, another to the numbers they knew they needed, and a third set of plans for numbers they were expecting to get from congress.

This is a bigger issue in my experience.  But it's not about accounting.  Capital-intensive development projects like NASA's (or DOD's) have a natural, ideal spending curve that ramps up as the project hits peak activity and employment and then ramps down as the hardware/software comes together, employment falls off, and the project transitions out of development.  Do violence to that spending curve -- via CRs, flat funding, etc. -- and you should expect pieces of the project to be out-of-phase with each other, marching armies to stick around longer than necessary, and other problems to emerge that cost time and money and potentially capability or reliability.
 
Quote
... can you imagine trying to effectively manage a program in the policy environment from the past decade or so?  While it doesn't excuse it, it certainly helps explain situations like the mutli-year undefinitized contract for the core stage.

It doesn't explain it.  In 2010, there was a tug-of-war between the executive and legislative over the fiscal year 2011 budget.  That largely ended in mid-October when the President signed the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.  CRs probably delayed appropriations a while longer.  (I dont' recall off the top of my head.)  That means by winter 2010/spring 2011, NASA had program authority and budget to go execute SLS and MPCV (later Orion).  Yet NASA and Boeing did not sign the contract for the core until July 2014 -- over three years later.  Even if NASA and Boeing didn't spend 2010 negotiating, drafting, and getting contracts ready to go, three years is just a ridiculous amount of time to renegotiate and redraft a contract (Constellation or otherwise) and an unconscionable amount of time to leave a contract undefinitized.

Quote
There's plenty of blame to go around - NASA and contractor program mismanagement, the white house, OMB, congress, etc.  But the IG report sorely missed some of the "big picture" factors that contributed to the mess, and many messes before it.

The NASA Inspector General is appointed by the President to watch for waste, fraud, and abuse at NASA.  Even if the issues on SLS and Orion were no fault of Boeing and NASA (and they obviously are), it's not in the NASA IG's purview to go critique other government institutions.  They have their own IGs and watchdogs.

Moreover, NASA has an opportunity to respond to the findings and recommendations in an IG (or GAO) report.  If it was true that NASA had no clear program authority and budget for multiple years or that SLS received only some fraction of the budget it needed or if CRs explain the multiple years of delays on SLS, NASA management could (and should) have stated so and defended themselves and their contractor.  They did not.  That should tell us something about where the blame lies and where fixes need to be made.

Hope this helps.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Propylox on 10/26/2018 02:09 am
It wouldn't really matter. Those who run the show call the shots.
Are you talking about Boeing?
Quote
We can either embrace the horror and get what we get, or shelve it all for another promise of a cheaper launch vehicle (which will just add to the total bill). ..
I am horrified at Boeing's product and management, hope we don't "get what we get" from them, but disagree a change of course couldn't improve the situation.

My primary question is "who owns the test data" done on the 22ft barrels and welding? That's about the only thing worthwhile from the entire contract since the manufacturing building may be inadequate and even the jigs are crooked.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/26/2018 02:13 am
... they couldn't pull earned value figures on bi-weekly or even monthly basis.

For naifs such as myself, could you please explain what earned-value figures are in this context?

Quote
The Augustine report basically said either change what you're doing or boost the overall NASA budget by several billion dollars per year if you want to stay the course on Constellation.

The Obama Administration chose to change what they were doing.  That did not satisfy some, but it was very responsive to the Augustine report.

Congress chose to keep the bulk of Constellation going with no budget boost.  That was not a recommendation or even an option in the Augustine report, and therefore, unresponsive to the Augustine report.

And then Congress commissioned the NRC report, which, dutifully assuming that SLS was sacrosanct, also concluded that NASA is going nowhere without more money.  And Congress ignored that too!
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: robertross on 10/26/2018 02:33 am
It wouldn't really matter. Those who run the show call the shots.
Are you talking about Boeing?
Quote
We can either embrace the horror and get what we get, or shelve it all for another promise of a cheaper launch vehicle (which will just add to the total bill). ..
I am horrified at Boeing's product and management, hope we don't "get what we get" from them, but disagree a change of course couldn't improve the situation.

My primary question is "who owns the test data" done on the 22ft barrels and welding? That's about the only thing worthwhile from the entire contract since the manufacturing building may be inadequate and even the jigs are crooked.

No, I'm talking about the politicians, who are (essentially) bought by big business. They know of the problems, but choose to ignore them because of jobs, re-election, and power - all of which involves greasing the money machine which put them there (and keeps them there).

You go back through history and you see the same mistakes made over and over. How many IG reports have been done wrt NASA (in this respect - not talking about other departments due to thread constraints, but look at DND for more clues: F22, F35, carriers...). Those same failings have been consistently repeated. Lack of management, mismanagement of funds, schedule out of control, costs out of control. A more recent one is the IG report on JWST as a reminder how wide spread the problem is.

Anyway, such is the state of our 'industrialized' economy and (so-called) 'democracy'.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Lars-J on 10/26/2018 03:30 am
You go back through history and you see the same mistakes made over and over. How many IG reports have been done wrt NASA (in this respect - not talking about other departments due to thread constraints, but look at DND for more clues: F22, F35, carriers...). Those same failings have been consistently repeated. Lack of management, mismanagement of funds, schedule out of control, costs out of control. A more recent one is the IG report on JWST as a reminder how wide spread the problem is.

Yes, military procurement is just as broken as NASA's is. A famous president once warned about the "military industrial complex". (alternatively the space industrial complex)  If he could see how bad things have gotten, the term "spinning in his grave" would certainly apply. We are reaching the natural endpoint of such a system. We pay more and more to get less and less.

Thankfully we have several disruptors out there. But the old boys are fighting back, in all sorts of ways. Don't carry water for them.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Eric Hedman on 10/26/2018 03:53 am
You go back through history and you see the same mistakes made over and over. How many IG reports have been done wrt NASA (in this respect - not talking about other departments due to thread constraints, but look at DND for more clues: F22, F35, carriers...). Those same failings have been consistently repeated. Lack of management, mismanagement of funds, schedule out of control, costs out of control. A more recent one is the IG report on JWST as a reminder how wide spread the problem is.

Yes, military procurement is just as broken as NASA's is. A famous president once warned about the "military industrial complex". (alternatively the space industrial complex)  If he could see how bad things have gotten, the term "spinning in his grave" would certainly apply. We are reaching the natural endpoint of such a system. We pay more and more to get less and less.

Thankfully we have several disruptors out there. But the old boys are fighting back, in all sorts of ways. Don't carry water for them.
A couple of points: Eisenhower had originally intended to say "military industrial congressional complex."  He was talked out of including "congressional" in his speech.  On Aviation Week's website I remember a comment from an engineer who had worked on the F-35.  He said that a few weeks after Lockheed had won the F-35 development contract, the Air Force delivered new specs on what the variants of the aircraft were supposed to be capable of.  He said it was so different from the prototype that it was practically a new aircraft.  I suspect that the Air Force intentionally under specified what the F-35 was supposed to be able to do during the prototype through fly-off stage to get it through Congress and then changed it once the program was too far under way to cancel.  When these programs go off the rails. there are often many legitimate ways to point fingers.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Lars-J on 10/26/2018 06:35 am
A couple of points: Eisenhower had originally intended to say "military industrial congressional complex."  He was talked out of including "congressional" in his speech.
Oh certainly. Congress is a critical part of the “military-industrial complex”, that has always been my understanding, and I think most people would agree. Congress, NASA/DoD, and Contractors all benefit from their arrangement to our detriment.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/26/2018 01:35 pm
could you please explain what earned-value figures are in this context?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earned_value_management (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earned_value_management)

Earned value management (EVM) is earned value management.  There's no unique context here requiring a different application in SLS or at NASA.

The SLS and Orion program managers should be getting weekly EVM reports on each of their program's major components, and HQ should be looking over their shoulder using the same reports on a bi-weekly or monthly basis.

Those reports should contain graphs like those in that wiki article.  They're a great warning signal of cost and schedule variances that threaten to drive a program off track.

EVM alone doesn't keep a program on track.  When a cost or schedule variance is emerging, good managers will then drill down to find out where the problem lies and address it.

But a good accounting system that pulls EVM figures on a frequent and regular basis and good program managers that pay attention to and act on those figures will head off a lot of problems on development projects. 

Some technical problems are obvious without EVM (like the tilted foundation for the SLS core weld structure), but other problems affecting cost and schedule are more subtle and hard to detect without EVM.

Managing development programs is like playing whack-a-mole.  Problems crop up and the manager's team's job is to go in and push them back down.  Managing development programs without EVM is like playing whack-a-mole blindfolded.  If a manager doesn't have a system to warn them where problems are cropping up, then they can't address those problems until it is too late to save cost and schedule.  At that point, you might as well not have a program manager and just pass along the cost and schedule overruns to the stakeholders, as has regularly happened on SLS, Orion, and ISS before them.

NASA may or may not be using EVM on SLS.  (They should be, but that's almost beside the point now.)  But what boggles my mind is that no one at NASA, from Gerst on down, was asking that SLS cost data (EVM or otherwise) be broken out for major components like the core and EUS.  That's like being the head contractor for a house build and not having separate budgets for the foundation and the frame.  How the heck are you supposed to know whether you're coming in on budget or not -- and where you're running over budget -- without that kind of breakdown?

That is an unfathomable and unconscionable dereliction of management duty (and just plain common sense) on NASA's part.  George Abbey was forced out of the JSC director's chair for similar issues on ISS.  While holding Boeing's feet to the fire on fee, team, renegotiation, and performance from here on, the current Administrator and WH should be making wholesale changes in the NASA management chain and structure for SLS.

Quote
And then Congress commissioned the NRC report, which, dutifully assuming that SLS was sacrosanct, also concluded that NASA is going nowhere without more money.  And Congress ignored that too!

I've helped staff the NRC (but not during the time period of that study).

I've seen major decadal review recommendations get misinterpreted and missions started early that were supposed to be later in the decadal queue for no other reason than HQ staff couldn't read for comprehension and didn't bother to confirm their misguided interpretations.

I've then had my mid-decade study leads (who are experts from the relevant technical community volunteering their time) yelled at by the same HQ staff when those queuing errors were pointed out in a subsequent report.

Not a general indictment of NASA HQ staff (which I've also been.)  But another example that this stuff happens on independent advice reports.

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Lar on 10/26/2018 02:22 pm
I'm so glad you're here and posting UltraViolet9. I try to like every one of your posts[1]. The views on how the sausage is actually made are awesome....

I'll present one minor critique, which is that just giving the Wikipedia link for Earned Value might be asking a lot of your readers. That is a very dense article with a lot of info. If you don't already have a project management background, it might be a bit much to take on board.

I'd define earned value in the project management context as the notion that you should have some idea what tasks are in your project, and what each task is worth to you (by some set of metrics), and you should be collecting progress and completion on your tasks. Armed with this you can determine if your project is on track, not just from time, but also from budget.

It is possible for a project to be ahead (over) on value (has accomplished a lot) and behind (under) on budget (has spent less)... that's awesome, if it holds to the end you come in on time or early and under budget. This DOES happen, but it's rare.

It is possible to be ahead on value AND on budget (spent more than planned, got more done than planned)... this is something to worry about and track closely. Might still finish ok, but might not.

It's also possible to be behind on value but also behind on budget. That's not necessarily as bad as being over budget but it bodes poorly for completion on time.

It's also possible to be behind on value (less accomplished) but over budget. That's usually a really bad sign that your project is going to crater, and probably should be cancelled or extensively reorganized.

This is the situation that SLS (probably) is in... but we don't know for sure because crappy management at the PM level and at the executive level.

Feel free to correct me but that's my layman's take[2].

1 - this gets you exactly nothing except egoboo but it's worth doing. Handing out likes is free and easy

2 - I've been a project manager and even a program manager with several project managers reporting to me, I was in PMI for a while, I have a copy of the PMBOK.... but I fled back to being a techie

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Coastal Ron on 10/26/2018 04:21 pm
I'm so glad you're here and posting UltraViolet9. I try to like every one of your posts[1]. The views on how the sausage is actually made are awesome....

Completely agree. The hardware side of things is geeky, fun and important, but sometimes it's the money issues that determine the fate of a project or program.

Quote
I'll present one minor critique, which is that just giving the Wikipedia link for Earned Value might be asking a lot of your readers. That is a very dense article with a lot of info. If you don't already have a project management background, it might be a bit much to take on board.

I'd define earned value in the project management context as the notion that you should have some idea what tasks are in your project, and what each task is worth to you (by some set of metrics), and you should be collecting progress and completion on your tasks. Armed with this you can determine if your project is on track, not just from time, but also from budget.

I'll add a little more perspective on why it's a head scratcher as to why large government contractors appear to be unable to provide such detail.

Back in the late 80's and early 90's I was a Operations Program Manager, which was the program manager within the manufacturing group. My focus was on tracking everything physical within a program, which went from authorizing parts procurement to watching the final product ship to the customer.

While there were MRP systems that handled the material requirements for manufacturing, enterprise resource planning (ERP) was not yet available. We would do Gantt and PERT charts for bidding and program kickoff, but only really large programs could afford to have the staff to maintain that level of data collection to keep them up to date and producing usable data. Instead we would do quarterly ETC's, or Estimates To Complete that relied on manually collected and collated snapshots of data that would be fed to our finance department so they could calculate where the program stood financially. You can see how imprecise such systems were.

Fast forward to today and every large manufacturing company uses modern systems to manage all aspects of the engineering, procurement and manufacturing process. And you know that those companies are tracking - to the penny - what their costs are, not only for purchased material but also the accumulated value for "work in process", which is product that has had work done in manufacturing. They have a pretty much realtime picture of where the program is at.

The SLS program is not the complex compared to it's total contract value.

For instance, the largest cruise ship in the world costs ~$1.4B, and can carry and keep busy up to 6,680 passenger for 7 nights. It took 2.5 years to build, and they only build them one at a time.

The SLS is big for a rocket, but otherwise it's a pretty simple design - the majority of it's bulk during manufacturing is taken up by empty space, and compared to a cruise ship the bill of materials is not that complex either. Even engineering-wise the costs can be rolled up quite easily, since there are distinct subassemblies that can be tracked.

Boeing knows how much they are spending on the SLS. They may not know how much more they need to do, but they will always know how much time and material they have expended on a monthly basis. They can't plead ignorance, otherwise they would have to admit incompetence.

But Boeing has playbooks to go by for shaping contract negotiations, and unfortunately Congress did not give NASA any negotiating power over Boeing, since Congress mandated Boeing as the contractor and did not mandate any total program cost numbers.

So the bottom line is that without mandated program cost goals, and without any leverage over the contractor, NASA has been in a poor negotiating position to shape and enforce the SLS contract. And so far Congress has not cared...
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/26/2018 04:25 pm
I'll present one minor critique, which is that just giving the Wikipedia link for Earned Value might be asking a lot of your readers. That is a very dense article with a lot of info. If you don't already have a project management background, it might be a bit much to take on board.

No worries.  Appreciate the assist.

Quote
It's also possible to be behind on value (less accomplished) but over budget. That's usually a really bad sign that your project is going to crater, and probably should be cancelled or extensively reorganized.

This is the situation that SLS (probably) is in... but we don't know for sure because crappy management at the PM level and at the executive level.

Even without EVM data, just based on publicly available information, we now know that SLS is in this worst-of-all-worlds, being both behind on value and over budget. 

SLS is years behind schedule.  That means SLS is behind on value.

The SLS core is also running out of spending room on its current contract, forcing a return to an undefinitized contract, and renegotiation of a new contract with additional spending room.  That means SLS is over budget.

I keep refining my thinking on this, but to save SLS, I think two things need to happen:

1) The NASA side of the SLS leadership and program management chain needs to be replaced with experienced aerospace development managers.  I think this needs to start at HQ and HEOMD split into an operations directorate and a development and technology directorate.  The former would inherit ISS, CRS, and Soyuz and could still be led by Gerst.  The latter would take over SLS, Orion, CCDev, and whatever is going on with LOP-G, the small commercial lunar landers, and the current technology restructure.  This needs to flow down to the program and project management.  The current SLS managers can be retained in deputy and advisory positions so that NASA's institutional knowledge is not lost.  But proven aerospace development managers need to be brought in and put in charge of SLS.  And by put in charge, that means they report to the development and technology directorate at HQ, not to the directors of the centers where they are located.  Where necessary, these managers also need to bring in some proven procurement and accounting personnel that they can rely on.

2) The development and operations directorate, with the backing of the Administrator and WH as necessary, needs to give Boeing a choice.  Either Boeing sets aside their past and future fees (as NG offered on JWST) pending: a) acceptance of new and more detailed cost and other data reporting requirements, b) management changes at Boeing to A-team players; c) good faith contract renegotiations to get off the undefinitized contract as soon as possible, and d) technical/schedule/budget performance against the new contract from here on; or the current contracts are allowed to run out and NASA seeks other heavy lift solutions for its future needs.

Alternately, just based on the low safety thresholds for SLS (no better than STS), its incompetent launch rate, and the industrial landscape with multiple heavy lift providers existing or emerging, the Administrator and WH could make the case for termination now, one that actually could have been made years ago.  To satisfy Congress, this argument needs to include other clearly thought out projects (ideally deep space, not ETO) to keep NASA's HSF workforce occupied.

The case for termination is only stronger now that the gross mismanagement of SLS is coming into focus.  There's never been a solid case that the program was worth pursuing, but there is certainly a solid case now for cancelling it.

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Rocket Science on 10/26/2018 04:43 pm
Congress will use the old stand-by excuse of "maintaining the industrial base"...
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Lar on 10/26/2018 05:48 pm
Congress will use the old stand-by excuse of "maintaining the industrial base"...

This argument won't work with Congress but there's a path for solids available already, and the industrial base can otherwise be repurposed to do landers, habs, ECLSS, ISRU, surface equipment, etc etc....

I'll present one minor critique, which is that just giving the Wikipedia link for Earned Value might be asking a lot of your readers. That is a very dense article with a lot of info. If you don't already have a project management background, it might be a bit much to take on board.

No worries.  Appreciate the assist.
 
Happy to help. And the WP article IS a great resource. It's just a hard slog. But worth it if you have any interest in this at all...
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/26/2018 06:15 pm
Congress will use the old stand-by excuse of "maintaining the industrial base"...

There are several arguments to that:

1) The US launch industry base is thriving.  Even in the most demanding area of heavy lift, the nation has two existing operational heavy launchers from two different domestic providers, and four more heavy launchers from three different domestic providers that are in various stages of design and development.

2) If we are serious about deep space exploration with humans, then the US human space flight base needs to reorient from ETO and Earth orbit towards deep space.  JSC mission expertise is needed most on long-duration mission, lander, and surface stages, not ETO capsules.  MSFC liquid engine expertise is most needed on transfer stages, not ETO launchers.  KSC cryogenic expertise is most needed on long-duration propellant storage in space, not fueling ETO launchers.  LaRC entry and descent expertise is most needed for bigger landers at Mars, not capsules in Earth's atmosphere.  GRC at some point needs to develop and test some deep space power sources at an appropriate scale.  There are scores of things that the NASA HSF workforce and budget need to do if we're serious about deep space exploration with humans and could do if so much talent and money wasn't being expended on SLS and Orion.

3) If by "industrial base", we mean "military industrial base", that is not in NASA's charter and is a fool's errand anyway when we compare the size of NASA's budget to the DOD budget.  For example, if we need to maintain the solid rocket base for future Minuteman replacements, then DOD should give NG/ATK a contract to build Minuteman replacements, not rely on NASA to maintain that capability through the SRBs.

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Rocket Science on 10/26/2018 06:18 pm
Congress will use the old stand-by excuse of "maintaining the industrial base"...

There are several arguments to that:

1) The US launch industry base is thriving.  Even in the most demanding area of heavy lift, the nation has two existing operational heavy launchers from two different domestic providers, and four more heavy launchers from three different domestic providers that are in various stages of design and development.

2) If we are serious about deep space exploration with humans, then the US human space flight base needs to reorient from ETO and Earth orbit towards deep space.  JSC mission expertise is needed most on long-duration mission, lander, and surface stages, not ETO capsules.  MSFC liquid engine expertise is most needed on transfer stages, not ETO launchers.  KSC cryogenic expertise is most needed on long-duration propellant storage in space, not fueling ETO launchers.  LaRC entry and descent expertise is most needed for bigger landers at Mars, not capsules in Earth's atmosphere.  GRC at some point needs to develop and test some deep space power sources at an appropriate scale.  There are scores of things that the NASA HSF workforce and budget need to do if we're serious about deep space exploration with humans and could do if so much talent and money wasn't being expended on SLS and Orion.

3) If by "industrial base", we mean "military industrial base", that is not in NASA's charter and is a fool's errand anyway when we compare the size of NASA's budget to the DOD budget.  For example, if we need to maintain the solid rocket base for future Minuteman replacements, then DOD should give NG/ATK a contract to build Minuteman replacements, not rely on NASA to maintain that capability through the SRBs.
All great arguments, but that won't stop them playing the card...
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/26/2018 08:18 pm
What's the betting the the OIG's report will even get a mention in congressional hearings?  That any action will be taken as a result in, say, the next year?  That such action would be more than window dressing?
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 10/26/2018 09:51 pm
All great arguments, but that won't stop them playing the card...

Of course, but a well-informed NASA Administrator with spine can make all the difference when Congress tries to play these cards.  He's the expert.  They're not.

What's the betting the the OIG's report will even get a mention in congressional hearings?  That any action will be taken as a result in, say, the next year?

In fairness to Congress, there's an election in less than two weeks, the remaining lame duck session will last until December/January, and the new Congress won't really get rolling until February/March.

That said, this kind of reform -- management structure, who sits in what positions, contract renegotiations -- really has to come from the executive branch.  It largely can't be legislated.

Given the existing culture and what we've seen so far, I would not expect much from HEOMD on down.

But an effective Administrator and WH would be knocking heads and making changes as the Bush II Administration did after they inherited a $5B overrun on ISS.  (That's why Abbey lost his center directorship and NASA got O'Keefe for Administrator.)  Not sure we have the right leadership in the Administrator's office or WH for that now.

Shannon's op-ed on the IG report showed up on the SpaceNews site.  He talks mostly about achievements from 50 years ago and popular films (?!) featuring astronauts instead of addressing the report.  When he does address the report, Shannon speaks in generalities and sweeps specifics under the rug when he should be humbly and directly explaining how Boeing has addressed each issue in the report and what Boeing is going to do beyond the report's recommendations to put and keep the SLS program on track.  Tone deaf, in my opinion, and exactly what Boeing does not need in terms of leadership on this program at this time.

https://spacenews.com/op-ed-a-bright-future-for-sls-production/

Boeing needs an experienced and proven development A-team on this program soon, or they're eventually going to lose it.  Shannon brings operational experience and knowledge of NASA HSF that Boeing should retain.  But based on the IG report and this op-ed, he should not be calling the shots on SLS anymore.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/27/2018 05:10 am
What's the betting the the OIG's report will even get a mention in congressional hearings?  That any action will be taken as a result in, say, the next year?

In fairness to Congress, there's an election in less than two weeks, the remaining lame duck session will last until December/January, and the new Congress won't really get rolling until February/March.

That's why I give them a year (I thought it was mighty generous of me!).
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: freddo411 on 10/27/2018 05:19 am
...
Shannon's op-ed on the IG report showed up on the SpaceNews site.  He talks mostly about achievements from 50 years ago and popular films (?!) featuring astronauts instead of addressing the report.  When he does address the report, Shannon speaks in generalities and sweeps specifics under the rug when he should be humbly and directly explaining how Boeing has addressed each issue in the report and what Boeing is going to do beyond the report's recommendations to put and keep the SLS program on track.  Tone deaf, in my opinion, and exactly what Boeing does not need in terms of leadership on this program at this time.

https://spacenews.com/op-ed-a-bright-future-for-sls-production/

Boeing needs an experienced and proven development A-team on this program soon, or they're eventually going to lose it.  Shannon brings operational experience and knowledge of NASA HSF that Boeing should retain.  But based on the IG report and this op-ed, he should not be calling the shots on SLS anymore.



Shannon opines:
Quote
[SLS is] the only rocket capable of transporting astronauts and large exploration systems to deep space.

LOL.  Sounds like the author has been lost in space for a while. He's confused the already flying Falcon Heavy with the hasn't-flown-yet, after a decade of development, SLS.   Can't sweep development problems under the rug as "old news" if the rocket hasn't flown.

File this op-ed under:  COUNTER FACTUAL
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/27/2018 11:06 am

 MSFC liquid engine expertise is most needed on transfer stages, not ETO launchers. 
So that's what they do. I'd wondered.
Quote from: UltraViolet9
3) If by "industrial base", we mean "military industrial base", that is not in NASA's charter and is a fool's errand anyway when we compare the size of NASA's budget to the DOD budget.  For example, if we need to maintain the solid rocket base for future Minuteman replacements, then DOD should give NG/ATK a contract to build Minuteman replacements, not rely on NASA to maintain that capability through the SRBs.
I think it's also the Trident replacement as well.

On another thread I asked if they could just cast a bunch of SRBs and store them vertically in a set of big holes bored into the ground (SoP for ICBMS on land or sea) and was told "No, because the mix would slump over time".

I'm not sure there's any commonality between SRB and ICBM propellants and not much in their construction.

I guess it's like when Shuttle went away the price of RL10's went up because it no longer "Shared cost" with DoD programmes, despite the fact AFAIK an RL10 has never even flown on a Shuttle (although there were certainly plans to do so, and it would have been very impressive).

For an outsider a lot of the NASA decisions make no sense (SLS is a service contract? This seems to have more to do with making it impossible for NASA to recover fees paid than any actual logical reason).
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/27/2018 11:13 am
And by put in charge, that means they report to the development and technology directorate at HQ, not to the directors of the centers where they are located.  Where necessary, these managers also need to bring in some proven procurement and accounting personnel that they can rely on.
This, right here, I think is a key  reason why multiple programmes have hit trouble and SLS is hitting trouble. NASA really seems to have a problem with hearing bad news as you move further up the management chain.

Quote from: UltraViolet9
The case for termination is only stronger now that the gross mismanagement of SLS is coming into focus.  There's never been a solid case that the program was worth pursuing, but there is certainly a solid case now for cancelling it.
True, but that needs Congress to actually agree with that line of reasoning.

And since they are a major driver for its inception they won't, barring a major change in the chairmanships of the key committees that (supposedly) regulate NASA and US Space policy.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ZachF on 10/27/2018 04:16 pm
A couple of points: Eisenhower had originally intended to say "military industrial congressional complex."  He was talked out of including "congressional" in his speech.
Oh certainly. Congress is a critical part of the “military-industrial complex”, that has always been my understanding, and I think most people would agree. Congress, NASA/DoD, and Contractors all benefit from their arrangement to our detriment.

However bad you think the modern military procurement system is, it's worse. After the cold war the entire industry has consolidated itself into a bunch of monopolies and duopolies that are "too big/important to fail" and have structured themselves to maximize revenue out of this broken system (fully leveraging their monopoly/duopoly/protected status) whilst applying minimal effort. "Bloat" doesn't even begin to describe it. It's not just the contractors and congress too, Generals who preside over bidding contracts very often go on to later work for the winners afterwards as high paid "consultants" when they retire.

The space industry is a close offshoot of this, often dealing with the same usual suspects, so the fact that they exhibit the same symptoms/problems is not surprising.

 
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Proponent on 10/27/2018 08:01 pm
Does anyone know whether the OIG's report got a mention at the just-concluded 2018 von Braun Symposium (https://astronautical.org/events/vonbraun/)?  I wouldn't expect that forum to produce much overt criticism of SLS, but occasionally interesting nuggets are unintentionally revealing (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=33193.msg1151472#msg1151472).
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Propylox on 10/28/2018 01:58 am
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earned_value_management (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earned_value_management)

Earned value management (EVM) is earned value management.  There's no unique context here requiring a different application in SLS or at NASA. ..
..Even without EVM data, just based on publicly available information, we now know that SLS is in this worst-of-all-worlds, being both behind on value and over budget. 

SLS is years behind schedule.  That means SLS is behind on value. ..
Wanted to point out and thank you for these two great posts analyzing the management failure and solutions.
..
2) If we are serious about deep space exploration with humans, then the US human space flight base needs to reorient from ETO and Earth orbit towards deep space.  JSC mission expertise is needed most on long-duration mission, lander, and surface stages, not ETO capsules.  MSFC liquid engine expertise is most needed on transfer stages, not ETO launchers.  KSC cryogenic expertise is most needed on long-duration propellant storage in space, not fueling ETO launchers.  LaRC entry and descent expertise is most needed for bigger landers at Mars, not capsules in Earth's atmosphere.  GRC at some point needs to develop and test some deep space power sources at an appropriate scale.  There are scores of things that the NASA HSF workforce and budget need to do if we're serious about deep space exploration with humans and could do if so much talent and money wasn't being expended on SLS and Orion. ..
I believe this is a truth across NASA in general - excessive waste on individual projects that constricts or even eliminates funding for essential ones. The claimed solution has long been to increase NASA funding, but there's no assertion that funding will be effectively used.
I'm not suggesting terminating SLS, Orion or ISS to free budget space, but suggesting NASA's guardianship and successes in US spaceflight would be significantly enhanced if the Administration and Programs were effectively managed. Our lack of spaceflight capability or its future is the result of incompetence, not funding or infrastructure.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/28/2018 08:14 am
I'm not suggesting terminating SLS, Orion or ISS to free budget space, but suggesting NASA's guardianship and successes in US spaceflight would be significantly enhanced if the Administration and Programs were effectively managed. Our lack of spaceflight capability or its future is the result of incompetence, not funding or infrastructure.
I think your remarks need some qualification.

By "lack of spaceflight capability" you mean lack of human spaceflight capability owned, designed and operated by NASA. The US has Atlas V, F9, Antares, Pegasus and Electron (off the top of my head) to use for payload launch.

And let's keep in mind Commercial Crew has taken so much longer than Commercial Cargo because it was done as a cost plus, FAR23 programme and the US Congress has consistently funded it below requested levels (while consistently funding SLS at or above requested levels).

It's been pointed out on numerous occasions that removing budget from one NASA item does not mean it would "Freed up" for use on other items. It would simply be spent (by Congress) on something else. It could be on another NASA programme, it could just as easily be something entirely different.

Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Coastal Ron on 10/28/2018 02:47 pm
I'm not suggesting terminating SLS, Orion or ISS to free budget space, but suggesting NASA's guardianship and successes in US spaceflight would be significantly enhanced if the Administration and Programs were effectively managed.

Everything starts with the requirements for a product or service, and if the requirements are poorly defined or incomplete, then it doesn't matter whether you have your A team managing the program, there will be problems - and they may not be fixable.

I have no doubt that NASA and Boeing will eventually be able to build and fly a safe SLS rocket. But the root cause for the problems the OIG found were in the initial requirements, and people keep forgetting that. Congress designed the SLS, not NASA or Boeing, and Congress did not care what the ultimate cost or schedule of the SLS should be.

Those are horrible requirements for an expensive program to start with. Absolutely horrible.

And it wasn't just the design of the SLS that was poorly defined, but the need for it too. Because when there are questions about poorly defined requirements, the best way to know how to answer them is to look to the intended use, but so far Congress has not funded any uses for the SLS. Which is likely part of the reason why the upper stage has bounced around so much between the ICPS and the EUS - no one knew what the first needs would be.

Quote
Our lack of spaceflight capability or its future is the result of incompetence, not funding or infrastructure.

NASA and ULA have both produced studies that show we don't need an HLLV to support robust human exploration of our Moon and even Mars. All we need is commodity transport from Earth to space, and then in-space refueling capabilities - neither of which the SLS provides or supports.

So always start with what the requirements are, don't start with a solution to an unknown requirement - which is what the SLS is.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: incoming on 11/02/2018 03:17 pm
... many of the woes of the SLS program were born out of the chaos that the program emerged from, and I think the IG report fails to adequately highlight those factors.

From 2008 to 2010 the constellation program continued development in an environment where, depending on who they listened to (both within and external to the agency), they were either cancelled and going away, or legally required to continue their work.

While well-intentioned, I don't think anyone should buy into this line of reasoning.  Constellation was broken.  NASA and its Constellation contractors were given a golden opportunity to fix that with SLS and Orion.  They've had over half a decade to do so.  And they have not.

I concede the point that NASA and (at least some of) the contractors have not sufficiently fixed the core program and acquisition management issues that plagued previous programs, and that are rampant across the defense and space industry. I never intended anything to the contrary. My only intent was to point out that there was a non-trivial factor that contributed to the SLS program issues that was not addressed in the IG report, nor in any other reports I've seen by GAO, etc.   

The reason why it is important is because any future program or any change to the existing program needs can't be ignorant to massive impacts the policy and budgetary environments have on the success of the program. I realize this isn't the policy forum so I'll stop there - and if you want we can start another thread in that forum to debate that point.

The post-augustine plan that emerged from the administration appeared to be sufficiently unresponsive to the commission's recommendations

The Augustine report basically said either change what you're doing or boost the overall NASA budget by several billion dollars per year if you want to stay the course on Constellation.


No...you are trivializing the findings. Augustine said NASA needed a couple of billion dollars a year more to do ANY meaningful BLEO exploration program. The option that appeared most favored (I recognize this is a debatable point) featuring extension of ISS and a combination of commercial vehicles to service ISS and a SHLLV for deep space exploration with a variety of possible destinations. The Obama administration took the first part but punted on the SHLLV, presumably to avoid the extra few billion increase. The NASA 2010 auth added back in the SHLLV and the extra money to go with it.  Then the PBR came in low again for the exploration programs, and congress plussed it back up for the first year, largely tracking to the authorization.  Then sequestration hit, and thus my earlier part about the policy environment...

As confirmation of their fears the budget that came out of OMB bared no resemblance to the funding profile the programs needed and submitted.

We don't know that.  Agency budget submissions to OMB are embargoed.  We don't know what budget estimates the NASA OCFO sends to OMB on behalf of the Administrator each fiscal year.
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In short, anyone high enough in NASA or the Administration to have the full and accurate picture of the agency's annual budget submission to OMB is unlikely to share it with Congress. 
We may have to agree to disagree on this, especially during the previous administration when the submits from the program managers bared no resemblance to what they got in the passback from OMB. It is normal for congress to check with constituent stakeholders to attempt to get "ground truth" on what is needed to execute their priorities. But that got taken to a whole new level in the previous administration. I'm sure part if it is due to puts and takes at the directorate level, OCFO level, and at the OMB level - but at the end of the day no one could credibly defend the PBR as a realistic plan to execute the programs per the guidance and objectives stated in law. So it just became standard practice for congress to discard the PBR and try to find out as best they could what the real numbers were. And that's what puts the programs in such awkward positions and keeps them from converging on a plan until well into the year of execution - especially when they start under a CR - and that uncertainty has non-trivial impacts on the ability to execute a program efficiently, even IF the program was well managed in all other regards.

 
... can you imagine trying to effectively manage a program in the policy environment from the past decade or so?  While it doesn't excuse it, it certainly helps explain situations like the mutli-year undefinitized contract for the core stage.

It doesn't explain it.  In 2010, there was a tug-of-war between the executive and legislative over the fiscal year 2011 budget.  That largely ended in mid-October when the President signed the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.

It most certainly did not.  The "tug-of-war" continued over these programs into the Obama administration's second term.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: incoming on 11/02/2018 03:23 pm

And let's keep in mind Commercial Crew has taken so much longer than Commercial Cargo because it was done as a cost plus, FAR23 programme and the US Congress has consistently funded it below requested levels (while consistently funding SLS at or above requested levels).


No it wasn't. Commercial crew has been fixed-price since the beginning, with the exception of a few minor items (extremely minor in terms of contract value) that were done cost-plus...a few data deliverables IIRC. 
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: Jim on 11/02/2018 05:21 pm

I guess it's like when Shuttle went away the price of RL10's went up because it no longer "Shared cost" with DoD programmes, despite the fact AFAIK an RL10 has never even flown on a Shuttle (although there were certainly plans to do so, and it would have been very impressive).


No, it is not.  It has nothing do with flying on the shuttle, it has to do with sharing the overhead of hydrolox experience base.  The shuttle subsidized a lot of it.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: ncb1397 on 11/02/2018 07:55 pm

And let's keep in mind Commercial Crew has taken so much longer than Commercial Cargo because it was done as a cost plus, FAR23 programme and the US Congress has consistently funded it below requested levels (while consistently funding SLS at or above requested levels).


No it wasn't. Commercial crew has been fixed-price since the beginning, with the exception of a few minor items (extremely minor in terms of contract value) that were done cost-plus...a few data deliverables IIRC.

Kind of. The pricing for 2021 on has not be set. They can recoup any loses and take their pound of flesh profit at that point. NASA subsidizes companies, companies don't subsidize NASA.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 11/05/2018 06:25 pm
Groundhog Day (almost, I assume whole programme not ‘just’ Boeing aspects):

https://twitter.com/nasaoig/status/1059518688284626945
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: docmordrid on 11/06/2018 10:56 pm
Groundhog Day (almost, I assume whole programme not ‘just’ Boeing aspects):

https://twitter.com/nasaoig/status/1059518688284626945

@nasaoig
OIG announces an audit to assess NASA’s efforts to manage the Space Launch System program costs and contracts.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: woods170 on 11/07/2018 06:48 am
Groundhog Day (almost, I assume whole programme not ‘just’ Boeing aspects):

https://twitter.com/nasaoig/status/1059518688284626945

Let's hope so. Even if OIG will be half as harsh as they were to Boeing (in the latest report) there will be a bloodbath at NASA.

Not that it will make any difference ultimately. SLS has just too much support from US Congress.
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: john smith 19 on 11/10/2018 09:19 am
Let's hope so. Even if OIG will be half as harsh as they were to Boeing (in the latest report) there will should be a bloodbath at NASA.
FTFY
Quote from: woods170
Not that it will make any difference ultimately. SLS has just too much support from US Congress.
True.  :(
Title: Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
Post by: speedevil on 11/10/2018 01:22 pm
I was looking for when the OIG investigation in this thread was announced, to get an idea of how long it took, to see how long the recently reported investigation into NASA managment might take and found:
https://mobile.twitter.com/NASAOIG/status/986350610344808449?p=v]on twitter (http://)
Quote from: NASAOIG
OIG announces an audit assessing NASA’s management of the Space Launch System and Mobile Launcher.
On April 17th, with no similar announcements around that date.
Checking back on the OIG report of this thread, I find that on page 32, it says it began in April.

It seems this is "Part 1" - covering largely Boeing - the phrase "mobile launcher" occurs once in passing in the report.

So, the nine months or so is probably not very useful for working out if we should expect a report from the most recent announcement in summer.