Author Topic: ASAP want NASA to avoid "going native" with CCP partners SpaceX Latest  (Read 34382 times)

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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