Author Topic: ASAP want NASA to avoid "going native" with CCP partners – SpaceX Latest  (Read 34396 times)

Offline Chris Bergin

Two articles in one. As explained on the SpaceX thread, I'm being very careful with the C2/C3 status - refer to the specific thread.

The other part of this is per ASAP meeting notes on commercial:
http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/09/asap-nasa-teams-avoid-going-native-commercial-spacex-latest/

Offline HIP2BSQRE

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Great article...

Online docmordrid

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Yes, a very good article. I guess ASAP is confirming the 'subversive' nature of the commercial environments ;)
« Last Edit: 09/27/2011 05:30 am by docmordrid »
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Offline Lars_J

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Somehow I'm not surprised to see that some elements of NASA are treating these new commercial contractors as the "enemy".

I can only assume that NASA has the same concerns over fraternizing with "oldspace" contractors like LockMart and Boeing...  Right?
« Last Edit: 09/27/2011 06:17 am by Lars_J »

Online docmordrid

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I wouldn't bet on it :P
« Last Edit: 09/27/2011 05:59 am by docmordrid »
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Offline AS-503

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During Apollo and STS NASA had some seriously talented "folks" to oversee some of the contractors.

Bill Tindell was sent to MIT and lit a fire under their a** for software and hardware issues with the CM/LM flight (guidance) computers.

Sam Phillips roasted (see Sam Phillips Report) North American for not only the Apollo 1 fire but also the presumed ball-dropping of the Saturn second stage with regard to manufacturing and design.

Joe Shea and Rocco Patrone took turns virtually bullying Grumman over issues with the LM.

According to the book "Rocketdyne: Powering Humans Into Space", Rocco Petrone forced manangement "changes" (head rolling) at Rocketdyne several times during the development of the SSME.

As a side note Petrone's man-handling of the contractors during STS development *may* have played a role in the lack of transparency of the NASA safety culture that eventually led to January of 1986..... 

While I agree that NASA oversight has it's place, the historical pattern listed above does not imply "going native" on the part of the NASA personell with regard to the contractor.

Have things changed so much since the Cold War space days that these historical references have no current relevance?

Given how long we flew STS these historical references are actually the closest thing we have to compare with NASA/HSF/LV development, as STS and Saturn represent the last two vehicles we flew with crew.

Does NASA oversight really mean "oversight" or does it mean busting-balls?

If it is literally oversight, I could see the going-native complacency issue. But if oversight means busting-balls (like Saturn and STS) there will be no going-native on the part of the NASA overseer.
 

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Just my $0.02:

I'm put in mind of the alleged 'WWED' tee-shirts being worn by some NASA contractors and staff.  If NASA personnel are looking to the 'newspace' companies for inspiration, then there is a very real human risk that those responsible for ensuring safety standards are met will be looking at things through rose-coloured spectacles.

To take AS-503's stories into context, back during Apollo/Saturn and STS, there was a clear NASA-centric goal that could focus the mind and stop oversight staff from becoming too ensnared in the contractors' corporate culture, 'going native'.  Now, there is no big project and the real focus, in HSF terms, is on programs like CRS and CCDev.  There is thus no central goal that can keep the oversight staff focussed on NASA's requirements rather than the contractor's.
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Offline Jim

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During Apollo and STS NASA had some seriously talented "folks" to oversee some of the contractors.

Bill Tindell was sent to MIT and lit a fire under their a** for software and hardware issues with the CM/LM flight (guidance) computers.

Sam Phillips roasted (see Sam Phillips Report) North American for not only the Apollo 1 fire but also the presumed ball-dropping of the Saturn second stage with regard to manufacturing and design.

Joe Shea and Rocco Patrone took turns virtually bullying Grumman over issues with the LM.

According to the book "Rocketdyne: Powering Humans Into Space", Rocco Petrone forced manangement "changes" (head rolling) at Rocketdyne several times during the development of the SSME.

As a side note Petrone's man-handling of the contractors during STS development *may* have played a role in the lack of transparency of the NASA safety culture that eventually led to January of 1986..... 

While I agree that NASA oversight has it's place, the historical pattern listed above does not imply "going native" on the part of the NASA personell with regard to the contractor.

Have things changed so much since the Cold War space days that these historical references have no current relevance?

Given how long we flew STS these historical references are actually the closest thing we have to compare with NASA/HSF/LV development, as STS and Saturn represent the last two vehicles we flew with crew.

Does NASA oversight really mean "oversight" or does it mean busting-balls?

If it is literally oversight, I could see the going-native complacency issue. But if oversight means busting-balls (like Saturn and STS) there will be no going-native on the part of the NASA overseer.
 

Quit living in the past.  Apollo was different.  Money was not an issue and NASA owned the hardware.  There are just as many talented people since working contracts on many large programs.  There just hasn't been books written about them.  Also, the people you mention were the higher ups and not the line workers which this topic is about.
« Last Edit: 09/27/2011 01:49 pm by Jim »

Offline AS-503

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Thanks for the perspective Jim.

I was thinking just that as I typed my original post. That's why I added the comment/question about relevance today.

You've got an exellent point about good (current) talent and the fact that there are no books about those people.


Offline mmeijeri

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I can only assume that NASA has the same concerns over fraternizing with "oldspace" contractors like LockMart and Boeing...  Right?

Good question.
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Offline Jim

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Anyways, this is a big to do about nothing.  NASA and the DOD have resident offices at most of their contractors.

LSP has presence at Decatur, Denver, Hawthorne, Dulles, Chandler, and VAFB.

In the late 90's/early 00's, ISS, STS, X-37, and LSP had resident offices in Huntington Beach.

JSC has an Orion resident office in Denver.

Back in Apollo days, NASA had resident offices in Canoga Park, Downey, Bethpage, Seal Beach, Michoud, Huntington Beach, etc

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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The info from the article gave me the impression that ASAP had as much “concern” aimed at NASA itself as it did for commercial in that the two represent two part of the same problem: HSF Certification Requirements implementation. Commercial is advancing development rapidly and NASA’s writing of the requirements is behind. If this condition continues commercial will have complete vehicles before NASA figures out what it wants “Certification Requirements”. They would then be faced with writing waivers for their requirements or paying through the nose for a new design and waiting a few more years for the hardware to be built. In that case unless it’s a major safety issue they would do waivers, making a good deal of the HSF Certification Requirements more of a like-to-have than a must-have.

Offline mmeijeri

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Anyways, this is a big to do about nothing.  NASA and the DOD have resident offices at most of their contractors.

I think the fuss was about rotating the NASA people and doing so only for CCP, and not for SLS + MPCV.
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Anyways, this is a big to do about nothing.  NASA and the DOD have resident offices at most of their contractors.

I think the fuss was about rotating the NASA people and doing so only for CCP, and not for SLS + MPCV.

The difference is that ASAP is applying the contractor built but NASA operated historical problems about quality and safety onto the commercial built and commercial operated scenario. If you are the operator you are going to have more concern over quality and safety. There is no historical data for this new scenario as to what the quality and safety levels will be, so ASAP is applying what has happened in the past like on Apollo where designs sometimes outpaced safety requirements and the only defense against unsafe designs were the PIT personnel expressing concerns to the contractors at the contractors informal design workgroup meetings.

Offline Chris Bergin

Thanks Hip and Doc! :)

Yeah, it's ASAP and we know they like to be negative cats, but I can actually say I've seen it, in a very small way, where guys have become involved with new companies and have become very defensive over them over time.

So as much as I've still got my bottom lip sticking out over ASAP's Shuttle stance (and that'll be part of another article), this does seem like a reasonable suggestion.

The valid point brought up is why just CCP. And would it actually be a problem to rotate someone who may have just got a very good hold on how they are doing, only for a new guy to join mid-stream.

Offline mmeijeri

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BTW, ASAP is a really unfortunate acronym for a safety panel...
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Offline D_Dom

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If this condition continues commercial will have complete vehicles before NASA figures out what it wants ... making a good deal of the HSF Certification Requirements more of a like-to-have than a must-have.

Pardon me for taking liberties with your quote, hopefully the point was not lost. I know this will be a challenge moving forward, flight hardware transitioning from development to production status yet we still do not have HSF Certification Requirements.

Space is not merely a matter of life or death, it is considerably more important than that!

Offline D_Dom

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would it actually be a problem to rotate someone who may have just got a very good hold on how they are doing, only for a new guy to join mid-stream.

Requires a delicate balancing act indeed. Excellent communications between PIT members is essential. Having been on both sides of the fence, so to speak, I can tell you that consistent application of the contract is most important. Sufficient detail must be present in the contract so that both sides are working from the same sheet of paper. NASA and the contractors will interpret the contractual language through their own eyes, rose colored spectacles or not.
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Offline D_Dom

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LSP has presence at Decatur, Denver, Hawthorne, Dulles, Chandler, and VAFB.

In the late 90's/early 00's, ISS, STS, X-37, and LSP had resident offices in Huntington Beach.

JSC has an Orion resident office in Denver.

Back in Apollo days, NASA had resident offices in Canoga Park, Downey, Bethpage, Seal Beach, Michoud, Huntington Beach, etc

Wish I wasn't claiming ignorance on such a public forum but can you expand the acronym "LSP" for me?

I remember the Huntington Beach offices in the late nineties and had some interaction with NASA at that time. Seems to me they traveled quite a bit back and forth, Space Station was designed, built and tested in so many different facilities. Was it a program decision to rotate or a response to the demands of schedule?
Space is not merely a matter of life or death, it is considerably more important than that!

Offline Jim

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Offline D_Dom

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ASAP is sometimes (in my mind) "as soon as practical" and sometimes "as soon as possible". It has never been "drop everything else immediately". I guess what I am saying is I initially flinched at the choice of acronym but thinking it through, a safety program focused on what is practical and possible may not be a bad thing.
Space is not merely a matter of life or death, it is considerably more important than that!

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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If this condition continues commercial will have complete vehicles before NASA figures out what it wants ... making a good deal of the HSF Certification Requirements more of a like-to-have than a must-have.

Pardon me for taking liberties with your quote, hopefully the point was not lost. I know this will be a challenge moving forward, flight hardware transitioning from development to production status yet we still do not have HSF Certification Requirements.



Yes, that is the underlying reason behind the concern on the PIT embedded personnel “going-native” since their judgment will be more heavily relied upon in this environment compared to the tradition straight jacket requirements contracting method.

Online docmordrid

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Having seen oversight embedding myself, we always noticed no small degree of what's called in these parts 'washboarding'; oversight teams coming in need to catch up with the realtime progress, often slowing it until they get up to steam. No sooner do they than some bureaucrat moves people and it starts over again.  Maddening.
« Last Edit: 09/27/2011 06:15 pm by docmordrid »
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Offline Prober

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If this condition continues commercial will have complete vehicles before NASA figures out what it wants ... making a good deal of the HSF Certification Requirements more of a like-to-have than a must-have.

Pardon me for taking liberties with your quote, hopefully the point was not lost. I know this will be a challenge moving forward, flight hardware transitioning from development to production status yet we still do not have HSF Certification Requirements.



Yes, that is the underlying reason behind the concern on the PIT embedded personnel “going-native” since their judgment will be more heavily relied upon in this environment compared to the tradition straight jacket requirements contracting method.

Objectivity is a good thing.
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Offline butters

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It seems to me that fixing the problem wherein NASA has not set clear safety requirements for CCP must take immediate priority over fixing any potential problem with embedded regulators "going native". After all, if there are no clear safety regulations, then what are the regulators supposed to regulate? They'll be much more likely to sympathize with the views of the CCP partner regardless of their degree of "nativity" because the requirements are ultimately subjective until clarified.

ASAP is putting the cart before the horse. Nobody seems to know how to define "safe" in the context or HSF, and no amount of obsessing over the merits of particular organizational structures can remedy this lack of regulatory content. Right now we have companies developing full speed ahead in the hope that their solutions will be deemed sufficiently safe. Anybody assigned to a CCP partner working under these conditions is likely to sympathize with their plight within weeks, not years.

Offline sdsds

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Great article, though I was a bit taken aback by the assertion that, "SpaceX [...] are by far the best known commercial company in the public arena."

Boeing?
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Offline sdsds

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It seems to me that fixing the problem wherein NASA has not set clear safety requirements for CCP must take immediate priority over fixing any potential problem with embedded regulators "going native".

Perhaps the solution is an obvious reversal:  embed some CCP partner employees within ASAP.  ;)
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Offline Namechange User

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ASAP is worthless.  I point to what they said about shuttle as reference so nobody should get that worked up.
Enjoying viewing the forum a little better now by filtering certain users.

Offline peter-b

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It seems to me that fixing the problem wherein NASA has not set clear safety requirements for CCP must take immediate priority over fixing any potential problem with embedded regulators "going native".

Perhaps the solution is an obvious reversal:  embed some CCP partner employees within ASAP.  ;)

That's actually... not a terrible idea.  :o
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Offline mlorrey

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Looks to me like the russians are trying to gum up the works in a bit of anti-competitiveness.
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Offline Lars_J

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Looks to me like the russians are trying to gum up the works in a bit of anti-competitiveness.
What does ASAP have to do with the Russians?

Offline yg1968

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Chris' article has 2 topics. One of them is ASAP. The other one is the combination of the SpaceXS C2 and C3 flights.
« Last Edit: 09/28/2011 02:32 am by yg1968 »

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Great article, though I was a bit taken aback by the assertion that, "SpaceX [...] are by far the best known commercial company in the public arena."

Boeing?

How public profile is CST-100? Not being a US native, I'm not up-to-speed on what the media over there is saying but I know that the Boeing entrant isn't mentioned over here in the UK, only MPCV and Dragon.
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Offline erioladastra

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Great article, though I was a bit taken aback by the assertion that, "SpaceX [...] are by far the best known commercial company in the public arena."

Boeing?

How public profile is CST-100? Not being a US native, I'm not up-to-speed on what the media over there is saying but I know that the Boeing entrant isn't mentioned over here in the UK, only MPCV and Dragon.

Somewhat public but getting more.  SpaceX gets most of the news here as they face of commercial crew.  The fact that he was a huge contributor to Obama's campaign who has given him special face time is probably a factor too.

Offline Diagoras

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Great article, though I was a bit taken aback by the assertion that, "SpaceX [...] are by far the best known commercial company in the public arena."

Boeing?

How public profile is CST-100? Not being a US native, I'm not up-to-speed on what the media over there is saying but I know that the Boeing entrant isn't mentioned over here in the UK, only MPCV and Dragon.

Somewhat public but getting more.  SpaceX gets most of the news here as they face of commercial crew.  The fact that he was a huge contributor to Obama's campaign who has given him special face time is probably a factor too.

Didn't he contribute just as much to the McCain campaign?
"It’s the typical binary world of 'NASA is great' or 'cancel the space program,' with no nuance or understanding of the underlying issues and pathologies of the space industrial complex."

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For the record-

In 2008 Musk gave Hillary Clinton $2,300, Obama $2,300, Richardson $2,300 etc. and $28,500 to the Republican Congressional Committee, $25,000 to the Republican Senatorial Committee, $1,000 to the Democrat Senatorial Committee, and $1,000 to the Democrat Congressional Committee. Other donations to Dems in California, Florida and other key states and 2 Republicans.
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Offline vulture4

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Quote
The fact that he was a huge contributor to Obama's campaign who has given him special face time is probably a factor too.
The tendency to view everything in political terms is causing a lot of damage at NASA even though (or perhaps because) it is rarely discussed. I was actually told by a high-ranking civil servant that "Obama is using SpaceX and the Unions to destroy NASA".

Objectively, SpaceX is nonunion while the SLS/Orion contractors have unions. Objectively, Obama is applying Republican principles of private industry and competition in CCP while the Bush-initiated Constellation/SLS/Orion program is a classic example of government micromanagement. Objectively, SpaceX is competing for business while the SLS/Orion contractors have gamed the system (i.e. when Congress required the use of Shuttle SRBs made by ATK). Objectively, SpaceX is succeeding because of the extraordinary determination and vision of Elon Musk. Consider the other COTS competitors.  RpK could not even get the resources to fulfill the contract. Orbital, a company with considerable experience, is dependent on Russian hardware and unable to move to human spaceflight.

But when we see everything in political terms, there is no room for objectivity. And when we see the space program as just another arena for political battles, we have little chance of even agreeing on a goal, let alone of achieving it.

To return to the topic, the SAA approach has worked amazingly well. NASA sets general goals and the contractors have a lot of freedom in how to meet them. In contrast to Apollo, today there are few people on the NASA side who have ever designed flight hardware or even put their hands on it, and little evidence detailed NASA requirements are adding anything other than cost. I just do not agree with the ASAP on this.
« Last Edit: 07/15/2012 08:32 pm by vulture4 »

Offline QuantumG

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The tendency to view everything in political terms is causing a lot of damage at NASA

NASA is a government department.. how else are they supposed to see everything?

It's like saying the tendency to view everything in ice cream terms is causing a lot of damage at Ben & Jerry's.

Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline kkattula

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The tendency to view everything in political terms is causing a lot of damage at NASA

NASA is a government department.. how else are they supposed to see everything?

It's like saying the tendency to view everything in ice cream terms is causing a lot of damage at Ben & Jerry's.



There's a difference between politics and bureaucracy...

Offline QuantumG

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The tendency to view everything in political terms is causing a lot of damage at NASA

NASA is a government department.. how else are they supposed to see everything?

It's like saying the tendency to view everything in ice cream terms is causing a lot of damage at Ben & Jerry's.



There's a difference between politics and bureaucracy...

Yes there is, what's that got to do with what you said? If NASA doesn't think in political terms they quickly discover the politicians are cutting their budget or talking about downsizing some centers.

Government departments serve political interests or they soon no longer exist.
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline vulture4

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I would hope government agencies serve primarily national interests rather than political interests. Otherwise we may find the nation itself falling behind.

If NASA proposes and consistently performs research and development with practical value to America, that may help to avoid the tendency for each administration to change its course based on political interests. My admittedly limited experience with other federal R&D programs is that they are less affected than NASA by changes in the administration and more likely to propose and maintain their own priorities and goals rather than waiting for the more political and less technical administration officials to decide their course.

Offline QuantumG

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I would hope government agencies serve primarily national interests rather than political interests. Otherwise we may find the nation itself falling behind.

The "national interest" is decided by politics.

Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline Go4TLI

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I would hope government agencies serve primarily national interests rather than political interests. Otherwise we may find the nation itself falling behind.

If NASA proposes and consistently performs research and development with practical value to America, that may help to avoid the tendency for each administration to change its course based on political interests. My admittedly limited experience with other federal R&D programs is that they are less affected than NASA by changes in the administration and more likely to propose and maintain their own priorities and goals rather than waiting for the more political and less technical administration officials to decide their course.

NASA does a significant amount of R&D.  Simple research would indicate that. 

An "all R&D agency and only R&D" would end the significant operational programs for which this agency is known best and relegate it to the fringe and status of the NSF and others.  Very few off the street can say anything about them. 

It would also mean no ISS and therefore no visiting vehicles under development and people would no longer have anything to moan about here.  On second thought, maybe an all-R&D agency is not such a bad thing.... :)

Offline DDG40

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The SLS program has 0 union workers. Orion has 10.

Offline kkattula

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The tendency to view everything in political terms is causing a lot of damage at NASA

NASA is a government department.. how else are they supposed to see everything?

It's like saying the tendency to view everything in ice cream terms is causing a lot of damage at Ben & Jerry's.



There's a difference between politics and bureaucracy...

Yes there is, what's that got to do with what you said? If NASA doesn't think in political terms they quickly discover the politicians are cutting their budget or talking about downsizing some centers.

Government departments serve political interests or they soon no longer exist.


Bureaucracies tend primarily to serve their own interests, seeking budget growth or at least stability. External politics is a serious factor, and one that promotes instability.

They try to mitigate poltical interference by engaging with external stakeholders who have political influence, (e.g. aerospace contractors), but it's a delicate balancing act. With CxP they got it badly wrong and the politicians won. 
« Last Edit: 07/18/2012 03:50 am by kkattula »

Offline pathfinder_01

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is a serious factor, and one that promotes instability.

They try to mitigate poltical interference by engaging with external stakeholders who have political influence, (e.g. aerospace contractors), but it's a delicate balancing act. With CxP they got it badly wrong and the politicians won. 


Politicians also have interests in seeing that whatever function that the bureaucracies do is being handled reasonably well or at least not generating bad press. CXP devolved into let’s throw out the ISS, send a small capsule into orbit for five years while we wait on the HLV, then wait some more time while we develop a lander.

Extending the shuttle also had no good reason by 2008(i.e. it would take 2 years to make a new tank at least not to mention any other problems with parts availability (like recertifying suppliers). Not to mention this does not solve the it needs replacement problem.

I am a space fan, and the former doesn’t sound like a well functioning space program to me and the latter was the best you could do without a big budget increase.

Offline Lobo

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Extending the shuttle also had no good reason by 2008(i.e. it would take 2 years to make a new tank at least not to mention any other problems with parts availability (like recertifying suppliers). Not to mention this does not solve the it needs replacement problem.


I believe there were/are a few extra ET's either built or partially built at MAF.  I think there was an older style LWT that never got used before the switch to the SLWT, and Direct wanted to use it for J-130 and convert it to a core, becuase the J-130 didn't need wall strengthening from the ET like the J-246 did. 

From Wikipedia, if this is accurate:

"Unflown hardware:
ET-94 (older version LWT), currently in storage at Michoud Assembly Facility, will be used for development and tests of in-line Shuttle-Derived Launch Vehicle, the Space Launch System.[17]
Three other external tanks were in preparation, when the manufacturing stopped. ET-139 is at advanced stage of manufacturing; ET-140 and ET-141 are in early stages of manufacturing."

Which means, at least as far as the ET goes, STS could have been pretty easily extended for at least one more launch with ET-94, although it's paylaod capacity would be a little less.  That probably wouldn't be a big deal as it would just like be an ISS resupply and crew rotation mission. 
If ET-139 is at advanced stage of manufacturing, it could likely be easily  finished by the time it would be needed to fly (maybe a year after STS-135, doing one launch every 6 months).  Which would put out ET-140 or ET-141 needing to be ready about 6 months after that, with the remaining tank 6 months after that.  I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be a problem is the extension was announce prior to STS-135.  I'll assume they could have been finished if MAF had 1.5-2 years to work on them. 
So just that hardware could have extended STS for 4 more flights, so into mid 2013 assuming one launch every 6 months for ISS crew rotation and resupply.  And if they'd ordered a few new tanks to be built at the same time they announced the extension, then they'd probably be ready by late 2013/early 2014 when an "STS-140" would have been needed to fly.

Now, that's not to say there wouldn't have been other supply problems in extending the shuttle, like 4-seg booster availability (although could have it flown with 5-1 seg boosters?), just that there were enough ET's to keep flying.  With the problems with CxP and later cancellation, I always thought President Obama -should- have extended STS in 2010 when he cancelled CxP, as well as to have -NOT- cancelled Orion, but continuted that as NASA's BLEO capable spacecraft.  At that time President Obama could have introduced a replacement program for CxP to carry Orion somewhere BLEO to be done while cutting back STS to the bare minimum needed to keep US access to the ISS.  Perhaps retire one Shuttle and store it for parts, and just kept 2 shuttles flying at a rate of about every 6 months or so.  So there’s a backup in case one is grounded for some reason.  The replacement program could have been Direct, or AJAX, or Evolved-EELV like Atlas V-Phase 2/3a.  Granted, they must be paid for along with STS, so the transition might have taken a little longer, but the gap could have been eliminated.  Evolved EELV would have the most cost sharing with DoD, but I think AJAX flying with standard Atlas V CCB’s would do a good job of that too.  AJAX should have been a little cheaper to develop than SLS because it was using existing boosters, and might have been able to nix some of the J2X and 5-seg development costs by cancelling those programs a few years ago (maybe anyway).  And the STS workforce could have been more gradually transitioned into AJAX (as would have been with Direct)  And Evolved-EELV could have been an incremental approach, without much big up front costs to compete with STS operation funding.  Start with man-rating Atlas, then start flying Orion on AVH for testing and to the ISS.  If it could be made ready before commercial crew ( if Orion wasn’t in limbo for a year or so after it was cancelled)  Then STS could be retired at that time, and Orion does crew rotation until commercial crew was ready to take that over.  (Commercial cargo will/should already be flying by that time).   Once STS was retired, those funds would go to developing AVP2 and AVP3a, and missions and hardware to fly on it, hopefully ready by the 2020’s.

Anyway, I’d have much rather a plan like that come down from the White House in early 2010 (or sooner)  than the way things happened.
but I digress… ;-)

I guess my point is they could have extended the shuttle out for longer from an ET point of view.  And made a few better decisions along the way.  But that's neither here nor there any more  :-)

Offline Downix

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Extending the shuttle also had no good reason by 2008(i.e. it would take 2 years to make a new tank at least not to mention any other problems with parts availability (like recertifying suppliers). Not to mention this does not solve the it needs replacement problem.


I believe there were/are a few extra ET's either built or partially built at MAF.  I think there was an older style LWT that never got used before the switch to the SLWT, and Direct wanted to use it for J-130 and convert it to a core, becuase the J-130 didn't need wall strengthening from the ET like the J-246 did. 

From Wikipedia, if this is accurate:

"Unflown hardware:
ET-94 (older version LWT), currently in storage at Michoud Assembly Facility, will be used for development and tests of in-line Shuttle-Derived Launch Vehicle, the Space Launch System.[17]
Three other external tanks were in preparation, when the manufacturing stopped. ET-139 is at advanced stage of manufacturing; ET-140 and ET-141 are in early stages of manufacturing."

Which means, at least as far as the ET goes, STS could have been pretty easily extended for at least one more launch with ET-94, although it's paylaod capacity would be a little less.  That probably wouldn't be a big deal as it would just like be an ISS resupply and crew rotation mission. 
If ET-139 is at advanced stage of manufacturing, it could likely be easily  finished by the time it would be needed to fly (maybe a year after STS-135, doing one launch every 6 months).  Which would put out ET-140 or ET-141 needing to be ready about 6 months after that, with the remaining tank 6 months after that.  I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be a problem is the extension was announce prior to STS-135.  I'll assume they could have been finished if MAF had 1.5-2 years to work on them. 
So just that hardware could have extended STS for 4 more flights, so into mid 2013 assuming one launch every 6 months for ISS crew rotation and resupply.  And if they'd ordered a few new tanks to be built at the same time they announced the extension, then they'd probably be ready by late 2013/early 2014 when an "STS-140" would have been needed to fly.

Now, that's not to say there wouldn't have been other supply problems in extending the shuttle, like 4-seg booster availability (although could have it flown with 5-1 seg boosters?), just that there were enough ET's to keep flying.  With the problems with CxP and later cancellation, I always thought President Obama -should- have extended STS in 2010 when he cancelled CxP, as well as to have -NOT- cancelled Orion, but continuted that as NASA's BLEO capable spacecraft.  At that time President Obama could have introduced a replacement program for CxP to carry Orion somewhere BLEO to be done while cutting back STS to the bare minimum needed to keep US access to the ISS.  Perhaps retire one Shuttle and store it for parts, and just kept 2 shuttles flying at a rate of about every 6 months or so.  So there’s a backup in case one is grounded for some reason.  The replacement program could have been Direct, or AJAX, or Evolved-EELV like Atlas V-Phase 2/3a.  Granted, they must be paid for along with STS, so the transition might have taken a little longer, but the gap could have been eliminated.  Evolved EELV would have the most cost sharing with DoD, but I think AJAX flying with standard Atlas V CCB’s would do a good job of that too.  AJAX should have been a little cheaper to develop than SLS because it was using existing boosters, and might have been able to nix some of the J2X and 5-seg development costs by cancelling those programs a few years ago (maybe anyway).  And the STS workforce could have been more gradually transitioned into AJAX (as would have been with Direct)  And Evolved-EELV could have been an incremental approach, without much big up front costs to compete with STS operation funding.  Start with man-rating Atlas, then start flying Orion on AVH for testing and to the ISS.  If it could be made ready before commercial crew ( if Orion wasn’t in limbo for a year or so after it was cancelled)  Then STS could be retired at that time, and Orion does crew rotation until commercial crew was ready to take that over.  (Commercial cargo will/should already be flying by that time).   Once STS was retired, those funds would go to developing AVP2 and AVP3a, and missions and hardware to fly on it, hopefully ready by the 2020’s.

Anyway, I’d have much rather a plan like that come down from the White House in early 2010 (or sooner)  than the way things happened.
but I digress… ;-)

I guess my point is they could have extended the shuttle out for longer from an ET point of view.  And made a few better decisions along the way.  But that's neither here nor there any more  :-)

ET-94 was the twin of the tank which cost us Columbia, not safe for shuttle ops due to the foam impact issue.

Neither Discovery nor Atlantis were space worthy after their last flights. Each one had major systems which needed to be replaced, and no replacements were available.

You could not launch the last remaining shuttle without an on-pad backup, and there was none. So.... extending the Shuttle would require ignoring the Congressional edict for SLS and Orion, requiring the scrapping of both as well as other programs in order to re-establish the capability to produce the necessary bits for the Shuttle. It would be cheaper to build all new Shuttles, frankly.
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Online DaveS

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ET-94 was the twin of the tank which cost us Columbia, not safe for shuttle ops due to the foam impact issue.
ET-94 was just as safe as the SLWTs. Remember, all ETs have sported bipod foam ramps as well as the LOX/LH2 PAL ramps. Removal of those elements as well as other modifications came only after the Columbia accident: http://www.nasa.gov/news/highlights/extank_media.html
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Offline Lobo

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ET-94 was the twin of the tank which cost us Columbia, not safe for shuttle ops due to the foam impact issue.

Neither Discovery nor Atlantis were space worthy after their last flights. Each one had major systems which needed to be replaced, and no replacements were available.

 

I can't speak for what Discovery or Atlantis would need to keep them space worthy, as I don't know.  If what you say is true, then obviously that would be a problem.  How many flights could Endevour have flown and remained Space Worthy?  Perhaps they could have done enough to one of them so it could have acted as a backup, but only in case of emergency for a reasonable price and effort?  Not sure what needed to be replaced or why.
Then just Flown Endevour as the PoR shuttle for however many more flights were needed until Orion could fly on an AVH to the ISS.  I will assume (although I don't know) that if it hadn't been cancelled by the President early 2010, and hung out in Limbo for a year, that maybe at least a LEO version (Block 0 or something I think it would have been) could have been ready to fly to the ISS by 2013-2014?
Maybe that’s optimistic, but I believe ULA says they could do an AVH 30 months form order, which is less than 3 years.  Depends if the man-rating process could be done concurrently with that so a man rated AVH would be ready in 2013-2014.

Maybe of ET-94 and the three partially built tanks, one could be allocated for the backup mission (if Discovery or Atlantis could be made to be back-up flight worthy), and then Endevour could have flown 3 more flights after STS-135 using the other three ET’s, at a rate of once a year.  We’d still need to probably buy some seats on Soyuz to go with that, but at least we’d still have some capabilities. 

ET-94 was the twin of the tank which cost us Columbia, not safe for shuttle ops due to the foam impact issue.

You could not launch the last remaining shuttle without an on-pad backup, and there was none. So.... extending the Shuttle would require ignoring the Congressional edict for SLS and Orion, requiring the scrapping of both as well as other programs in order to re-establish the capability to produce the necessary bits for the Shuttle. It would be cheaper to build all new Shuttles, frankly.

Ummm…I said if President Obama had come out with such a plan instead of the one he did in February of 2010 (or even came out with it earlier), so that there never would have been a need for a Congressional Edict later in 2010 in NAA2010.  –Before- there was such an edict. 

However, if there were parts other than the ET’s that would be needed to start production of again to make a backup Shuttle available, and if doing so was cost prohibitive, than you are correct, STS-135 was the last mission that could have flown.  But again, rewinding time back to early 2010, or even further to mid or late 2009, and reorganized the remaining manifest to extend out the launches, it might have opened up some other possibilities.
There were 3 shuttle launches in the latter half of 2009, with one before that in May 2009.  There were also 3 launches in 2010 (would have been 4 if STS-133 hadn’t had issues).  And 3 launches in 2011.
That’s 9 launches right there. 
So, let’s discount STS-125 on May 11, 2009 as that was the Hubble mission, the ISS mission prior to that was STS-119 on March 15, 2009.  The next ISS mission was STS-127 in July 15, 2009.  That could have been moved out to September 2009, 6 months after STS-119.  (This decision could have been made by the Administration while the Augustine Commission was mulling over the various alternatives to CxP in the summer of 2009.  A tentative plan could have been made to move out the remaining flights at 6 month intervals, pending the findings of the Augustine commission, and a real plan by the Administration to follow for either Direct-like, AJAX-like, or evolved-EELV.  Then reevaluated depending on the projected time for Orion/LV or commercial crew to be ready to service the ISS.  ).
 STS-128 Could have then been moved from August 2009, to March 2010.  STS-129 could have then been moved to September 2010. STS-130 to March 2011.  STS-131 to September 2011.  STS-132 to March 2012.  STS-133 to September 2012 (and then Discovery would be retired with much deserved fanfare). STS-134 then moved to March of 2013.  Then STS-135 would not fly with Atlantis, but Atlantis would be parked and she’d be held in reserve as backup to Endevour.  STS-135 would fly with Endevour in September 2013.  By allocating 3 of the 4 remaining tanks to STS-136, STS-137, and STS-138 (finishing the 3 partially built ones).  Endevour would fly STS-136 and STS-137 in March 2014 and September 2014.  STS-137 would be her last scheduled launch, so that could have all of the “retirement” fanfare.  But then she’d be held in reserve until Atlantis flew her last flight STS-138 on March 2015, where she’d be retired with her fanfare, like she was on STS-135. 
One ET would still be left unflown if the rescue mission was never needed.
That would have given NASA until September 2015 (6 months later) to either have Orion ready to fly crews on AVH, or a commercial crew provider ready.  I think that would be doable.   STS is then completely retired and resources are then shifted completely to finish whatever system would be replacing her, Direct, AJAX, or Evolved-EELV’s. 

Looking back over the shuttle manifest, I see several cases where the same shuttle was flown twice within 6 months, so flying Endevour every 6 months on STS-135, 136, and 137 wouldn’t be a problem I wouldn’t think.  It would have delayed the last few pieces and parts of the ISS over another few years, but all of the big parts were already there by STS-119 in March 2009 except the JEM EF, and Node3/Coupola. 

I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of important details here…but just saying with a different plan earlier on, the gap could have been all or at least mostly avoided.

Offline Downix

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ET-94 was the twin of the tank which cost us Columbia, not safe for shuttle ops due to the foam impact issue.

Neither Discovery nor Atlantis were space worthy after their last flights. Each one had major systems which needed to be replaced, and no replacements were available.

 

I can't speak for what Discovery or Atlantis would need to keep them space worthy, as I don't know.  If what you say is true, then obviously that would be a problem.  How many flights could Endevour have flown and remained Space Worthy?  Perhaps they could have done enough to one of them so it could have acted as a backup, but only in case of emergency for a reasonable price and effort?  Not sure what needed to be replaced or why.
Then just Flown Endevour as the PoR shuttle for however many more flights were needed until Orion could fly on an AVH to the ISS.  I will assume (although I don't know) that if it hadn't been cancelled by the President early 2010, and hung out in Limbo for a year, that maybe at least a LEO version (Block 0 or something I think it would have been) could have been ready to fly to the ISS by 2013-2014?
Maybe that’s optimistic, but I believe ULA says they could do an AVH 30 months form order, which is less than 3 years.  Depends if the man-rating process could be done concurrently with that so a man rated AVH would be ready in 2013-2014.

Maybe of ET-94 and the three partially built tanks, one could be allocated for the backup mission (if Discovery or Atlantis could be made to be back-up flight worthy), and then Endevour could have flown 3 more flights after STS-135 using the other three ET’s, at a rate of once a year.  We’d still need to probably buy some seats on Soyuz to go with that, but at least we’d still have some capabilities. 

ET-94 was the twin of the tank which cost us Columbia, not safe for shuttle ops due to the foam impact issue.

You could not launch the last remaining shuttle without an on-pad backup, and there was none. So.... extending the Shuttle would require ignoring the Congressional edict for SLS and Orion, requiring the scrapping of both as well as other programs in order to re-establish the capability to produce the necessary bits for the Shuttle. It would be cheaper to build all new Shuttles, frankly.

Ummm…I said if President Obama had come out with such a plan instead of the one he did in February of 2010 (or even came out with it earlier), so that there never would have been a need for a Congressional Edict later in 2010 in NAA2010.  –Before- there was such an edict. 

However, if there were parts other than the ET’s that would be needed to start production of again to make a backup Shuttle available, and if doing so was cost prohibitive, than you are correct, STS-135 was the last mission that could have flown.  But again, rewinding time back to early 2010, or even further to mid or late 2009, and reorganized the remaining manifest to extend out the launches, it might have opened up some other possibilities.
There were 3 shuttle launches in the latter half of 2009, with one before that in May 2009.  There were also 3 launches in 2010 (would have been 4 if STS-133 hadn’t had issues).  And 3 launches in 2011.
That’s 9 launches right there. 
So, let’s discount STS-125 on May 11, 2009 as that was the Hubble mission, the ISS mission prior to that was STS-119 on March 15, 2009.  The next ISS mission was STS-127 in July 15, 2009.  That could have been moved out to September 2009, 6 months after STS-119.  (This decision could have been made by the Administration while the Augustine Commission was mulling over the various alternatives to CxP in the summer of 2009.  A tentative plan could have been made to move out the remaining flights at 6 month intervals, pending the findings of the Augustine commission, and a real plan by the Administration to follow for either Direct-like, AJAX-like, or evolved-EELV.  Then reevaluated depending on the projected time for Orion/LV or commercial crew to be ready to service the ISS.  ).
 STS-128 Could have then been moved from August 2009, to March 2010.  STS-129 could have then been moved to September 2010. STS-130 to March 2011.  STS-131 to September 2011.  STS-132 to March 2012.  STS-133 to September 2012 (and then Discovery would be retired with much deserved fanfare). STS-134 then moved to March of 2013.  Then STS-135 would not fly with Atlantis, but Atlantis would be parked and she’d be held in reserve as backup to Endevour.  STS-135 would fly with Endevour in September 2013.  By allocating 3 of the 4 remaining tanks to STS-136, STS-137, and STS-138 (finishing the 3 partially built ones).  Endevour would fly STS-136 and STS-137 in March 2014 and September 2014.  STS-137 would be her last scheduled launch, so that could have all of the “retirement” fanfare.  But then she’d be held in reserve until Atlantis flew her last flight STS-138 on March 2015, where she’d be retired with her fanfare, like she was on STS-135. 
One ET would still be left unflown if the rescue mission was never needed.
That would have given NASA until September 2015 (6 months later) to either have Orion ready to fly crews on AVH, or a commercial crew provider ready.  I think that would be doable.   STS is then completely retired and resources are then shifted completely to finish whatever system would be replacing her, Direct, AJAX, or Evolved-EELV’s. 

Looking back over the shuttle manifest, I see several cases where the same shuttle was flown twice within 6 months, so flying Endevour every 6 months on STS-135, 136, and 137 wouldn’t be a problem I wouldn’t think.  It would have delayed the last few pieces and parts of the ISS over another few years, but all of the big parts were already there by STS-119 in March 2009 except the JEM EF, and Node3/Coupola. 

I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of important details here…but just saying with a different plan earlier on, the gap could have been all or at least mostly avoided.

According to Wayne Hale they'd begun to destroy the tooling and support for the Shuttle as far back as 2004. By the time Obama had taken office, over 4 years of dismantling had happened.
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Offline Lobo

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According to Wayne Hale they'd begun to destroy the tooling and support for the Shuttle as far back as 2004. By the time Obama had taken office, over 4 years of dismantling had happened.

Downix,

That's godo to know.  And I don't want to pretend like I have enough information or knowledge in this area to say anything difinitive.  I'm just pulling on a thread a little here.

However, that said, they did launch 11 Shuttle missions -after- Obama took office.  ONe of those was the Hubble mission, so setting that aside, NASA launched 10 missions to the ISS after Obama took office.  So they obviously had enough parts and supplies for at least those 10 missions.  Assuming that there's just no way any additional launches could have been made after STS-135 (are you for sure about that?  Not to question your knowledge here, just curious) those 10 missions could have been staggered out over the next 5 years.  Since the last pre-Obama ISS mission was STS-126 in November 2008, the next ISS mission, STS-119 could have been pushed back to May 2009, six months after STS-126. 
At six month intervals, STS-135 would have been flown in November 2013.  Which would have given us until May 2014 to either get Orion flying on AVH, or to have a commercial crew provider flying by then, in order to not have a gap and need the Russians.  Which could have been doable (I think) if Orion had not been in limbo for a year or so, and NASA ordered a man-rated AVH in January 2009 when Obama took office.  Now, January might be a little ambitious, as he was just barely inogurated, but even if the AVH hadn't been ordered from ULA until summer 2009 after the transition had been done, that's still 5 full years to get a man-rated AVH.  Considering a non-man-rated one has a 30 month lead time, I'm guessing that's doable.  AS well as a early block Orion if development had gone uninturrupted from Summer 2009 to May 2014, especially if NASA and LM were challenged by Obama/Bolden to have it ready by then.

Worst case scenario, we have to buy seats on Soyuz for 6 months or a year...much better than the 6 years we'll need to buy them for now.  The ISS is still completed, although a little later, and we really don't loose our space access in the interim.  And Man-rated Atlas V Heavy means commercial crew doesn't have to pay for that, and AV is now available for use for commercial crew, or an AJAX-like LV if NASA chose to go that way, or it would be a building block for AVP2 and AVP3a if NASA chose to go that way.

Offline Chris Bergin

Saaaaaaaaaaay What! :D

Back on topic after this post (no, "but but but...") On topic from now on. Thanking you.

Offline Lobo

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Saaaaaaaaaaay What! :D

Back on topic after this post (no, "but but but...") On topic from now on. Thanking you.

Whaaaaat?
What do you mean re-hashing the cancellation fo the Shuttle Program is off topic from NASA not going native with CCP partners?

That's crazy talk...

;-)

Offline JohnFornaro

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For the record-

In 2008 Musk gave Hillary Clinton $2,300...etc.

Which is not really a lot of money, considering that Mr. Obama raised some $70M and Mr. romney some $100M in the last political reporting period.  But what does that have to do with NASA "going native"?

That NASA is also a political body?

The tendency to view everything in political terms is causing a lot of damage at NASA even though (or perhaps because) it is rarely discussed. I was actually told by a high-ranking civil servant that "Obama is using SpaceX and the Unions to destroy NASA".

This doesn't sound believable.  I have no idea what Mr. Obama intends for NASA.   Plus, Mr. Obama is very pro-union.  What gives?  For this anonymous remark from the civil servant to have credibility, there would have to be a line of reasoning which rationally leads to this conclusion.  I don't see it.

But again, what does that have to do with NASA "going native"?

I would hope government agencies serve primarily national interests rather than political interests. Otherwise we may find the nation itself falling behind.

I agree, but the agencies aren't, necessarily, and the nation is.  And while there are problems in the bureacracy, the executive leadership probably should take credit for NASA not really serving the nation's interests.  What about NASA employees going native?

I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of important details here…but just saying with a different plan earlier on, the gap could have been all or at least mostly avoided.

That's all true, and has been discussed on the forum at length.  I know you know it's too late for that.  What about those natives?

Here's what I think.

If NASA's thinking about planning some sort of employee rotation, they're going to have to plan carefully, because they will lose project continuity.  But the concern is valid.  When do the NASA employees start assuming the "values" of SpaceX, and how could this damage the "values" of NASA?

I just assumed everybody's working appropriately together.  Any updates on this?  Like a followup article?
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline vulture4

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What about NASA employees going native?

That would be the best thing that could happen to them. Almost every USA contractor, all the people who had actual hands-on experience with flight hardware, were fired and dispersed. No one even asked them to record their ideas. The NASA personnel all kept their jobs, but almost none have ever designed, built or maintained actual flight hardware. They consistently take more time and spend more money just deciding on the text of a few requirements than an expereinced engineer would take to actually design and build the system. Cost is what is killing human spaceflight, and NASA is going to have to learn to act a lot more like SpaceX if cost is to be controlled, let alone reduced to a practical lavel.

Offline JohnFornaro

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An interesting take, and one which I think has some credibility.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Jim

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What about NASA employees going native?

That would be the best thing that could happen to them. Almost every USA contractor, all the people who had actual hands-on experience with flight hardware, were fired and dispersed. No one even asked them to record their ideas. The NASA personnel all kept their jobs, but almost none have ever designed, built or maintained actual flight hardware. They consistently take more time and spend more money just deciding on the text of a few requirements than an expereinced engineer would take to actually design and build the system. Cost is what is killing human spaceflight, and NASA is going to have to learn to act a lot more like SpaceX if cost is to be controlled, let alone reduced to a practical lavel.

Most of the NASA civil servants in LSP are ex contractors. 

Offline vulture4

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What about NASA employees going native?

That would be the best thing that could happen to them. Almost every USA contractor, all the people who had actual hands-on experience with flight hardware, were fired and dispersed. No one even asked them to record their ideas. The NASA personnel all kept their jobs, but almost none have ever designed, built or maintained actual flight hardware. They consistently take more time and spend more money just deciding on the text of a few requirements than an expereinced engineer would take to actually design and build the system. Cost is what is killing human spaceflight, and NASA is going to have to learn to act a lot more like SpaceX if cost is to be controlled, let alone reduced to a practical lavel.

Most of the NASA civil servants in LSP are ex contractors. 

I am not familiar with LSP and would be happy to hear your opinion on it. However the question I raised was not whether or not they had been contractors, but whether or not they had hands-on experience designing, building or maintaining flight hardware.

In the case of Shuttle, the turnover at ULA was quite low and not many seemed to end up on the NASA side.

Regarding unmanned launches, I have worked a bit with ULA people and to be honest, although they are not perfect, they seem to know their jobs pretty well and it was never clear to me exactly what value was gained by putting DOD or NASA personnel (depending on which was the customer) in a direct management role for unmanned launches. What does LSP do to make unmanned launches less expensive?
« Last Edit: 07/31/2012 11:47 am by vulture4 »

Offline Jim

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What does LSP do to make unmanned launches less expensive?

Use launch service contracts vs hardware.  Insight vs oversight.

Offline Jim

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I am not familiar with LSP and would be happy to hear your opinion on it. However the question I raised was not whether or not they had been contractors, but whether or not they had hands-on experience designing, building or maintaining flight hardware.


Most did

Offline vulture4

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I am not familiar with LSP and would be happy to hear your opinion on it. However the question I raised was not whether or not they had been contractors, but whether or not they had hands-on experience designing, building or maintaining flight hardware.


Most did

I was referring to the people responsible for managing human spaceflight, which is not under LSP. My experience was that almost none had any hands-on experience designing or maintaining actual flight hardware that people's lives depend on. Some had experience in ops. None have actually designed a spacecraft. All the actual engineering solutions to the incredibly difficult problems of flying the Shuttle came from USA. That's why we still today have people claiming they can provide precise estimates of reliability of the SLS on its first launch.  Just break it down into a block diagram, make up failure modes and reliabilities, and add them up. That's also why we have no accurate cost estimates for SLS operations. Or just put the reliability in the specs. The contractor will have to meet it, right? If these things were accurate we would still be flying the Shuttle.

Offline Jim

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I am not familiar with LSP and would be happy to hear your opinion on it. However the question I raised was not whether or not they had been contractors, but whether or not they had hands-on experience designing, building or maintaining flight hardware.


Most did

I was referring to the people responsible for managing human spaceflight, which is not under LSP. My experience was that almost none had any hands-on experience designing or maintaining actual flight hardware that people's lives depend on.

 Processes for launching a national security payload, a billion dollar one of kind science spacecraft or a payload with a nuclear power source are no different than for launching crew.  People's lives depend on those payloads getting launched successfully and safely.

Offline alexterrell

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You mean the processes are just as rigorous and just as much care and attention is given. The crew walk in and in case of a 48 hour delay tend to get out. 

Offline cleonard

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 Processes for launching a national security payload, a billion dollar one of kind science spacecraft or a payload with a nuclear power source are no different than for launching crew.  People's lives depend on those payloads getting launched successfully and safely.

That might well be true.  However, roll the calendar back to 1986.  Everyone old enough to remember can tell you about the Challenger accident.  How many remember the failure of the Titan 34D with a KH-9 on top during the same year?  The public political effect of a LOC event is just so much greater.   

Offline Jim

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 Processes for launching a national security payload, a billion dollar one of kind science spacecraft or a payload with a nuclear power source are no different than for launching crew.  People's lives depend on those payloads getting launched successfully and safely.

That might well be true.  However, roll the calendar back to 1986.  Everyone old enough to remember can tell you about the Challenger accident.  How many remember the failure of the Titan 34D with a KH-9 on top during the same year?  The public political effect of a LOC event is just so much greater.   

not a factor

Offline vulture4

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The Delta II, Atlas V, Delta IV, and Falcon 9 have major contingency rates similar to the Shuttle, despite far less NASA oversight.

Offline DaveH62

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The "going native" reminds me of the Pentagon debate at the start of the Iraq war. Leadership did not want troops going native, speaking the language, embedding with locals. It took 2-3 years to realize that going native was imperative. Would it be bad if NASA were able to acquire some of the best practices of the natives, and having some reporting structure that maintained quality and mission assurances.
If I were a commercial provider, or NASA, I would want some consistency in the business relationship and project management. Would ASAP's concern, if applied, affect ongoing project management? Would it require shifting roles every 18-24 months?

Offline Jim

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Would it be bad if NASA were able to acquire some of the best practices of the natives,

The issue isn't acquiring practices and it would be hard do to so, since it is one person on one program vs the many programs NASA has.   The issue is the person becoming friendly and sympathetic to the contractor vs being objective.  One way to do this, is to have resident offices with more than one person in them.

Offline vulture4

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Would it be bad if NASA were able to acquire some of the best practices of the natives,

The issue isn't acquiring practices and it would be hard do to so, since it is one person on one program vs the many programs NASA has.   The issue is the person becoming friendly and sympathetic to the contractor vs being objective.  One way to do this, is to have resident offices with more than one person in them.

Time and again NASA has demonstrated that it cannot establish effective strategies by drawing up lists of requirements, nor can it pick winners among contractors based on paper proposals. I've many times spent weeks (or months) in working groups while we argued over the exact wording of a few paragraphs that would magically cause the contractor to have no choice but to produce breakthrough technology. When competing proposals are evaluated "objectively", the proposal with the most unrealistic cost estimate wins, assuming the writers took the time to hit all the bullets in the RFP. Then the contractor can't meet the unrealistic demands of the contract and demands contract changes and stretchouts. But you can't really blame them because the selection board, with neither practical experience nor a real understanding of what each company can do, almost always picks the low bidder and the contracting officer, who is the one whose feet should really be held to the fire, is never called to account for making a bad choice in the award.

There is nothing that would help NASA more than encouraging all its personnel to "go native" and become part of contractor organizations, so government could understand the capabilities, costs, motivations and experience of the contractor and contractor and government efforts could at least be better coordinated and contractors could be chosen who cold actually do the work. Even better, stick to SAAs so the contractors can show what they are capable of and won't be hobbled by the limited experience of the people who write the proposals and contracts.

No generalization is always accurate, and if it doesn't apply to you please don't take it personally. I may be a little cynical. But I am also being honest, and I've been here quite a while.
« Last Edit: 08/14/2012 03:58 am by vulture4 »

Offline Jim

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Time and again NASA has demonstrated that it cannot establish effective strategies by drawing up lists of requirements, nor can it pick winners among contractors based on paper proposals. I've many times spent weeks (or months) in working groups while we argued over the exact wording of a few paragraphs that would magically cause the contractor to have no choice but to produce breakthrough technology. When competing proposals are evaluated "objectively", the proposal with the most unrealistic cost estimate wins, assuming the writers took the time to hit all the bullets in the RFP. Then the contractor can't meet the unrealistic demands of the contract and demands contract changes and stretchouts. But you can't really blame them because the selection board, with neither practical experience nor a real understanding of what each company can do, almost always picks the low bidder and the contracting officer, who is the one whose feet should really be held to the fire, is never called to account for making a bad choice in the award.

There is nothing that would help NASA more than encouraging all its personnel to "go native" and become part of contractor organizations, so government could understand the capabilities, costs, motivations and experience of the contractor and contractor and government efforts could at least be better coordinated and contractors could be chosen who cold actually do the work. Even better, stick to SAAs so the contractors can show what they are capable of and won't be hobbled by the limited experience of the people who write the proposals and contracts.

No generalization is always accurate, and if it doesn't apply to you please don't take it personally. I may be a little cynical. But I am also being honest, and I've been here quite a while.


I take it you have only worked manned spaceflight related programs then. You are making generalizations that are not applicable to the bulk of NASA's spaceflight programs.
« Last Edit: 08/14/2012 09:58 am by Jim »

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