Author Topic: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification  (Read 16736 times)

Online Chris Bergin

Second article for the site from Yves-A. Grondin - and it's another great one!

Lots of informative information in this:

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2013/05/mcalister-discusses-commercial-crew-certification/

Offline BrightLight

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #1 on: 05/16/2013 04:05 pm »
Nice article, well done Mr. Grondin.

Offline yg1968

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #2 on: 05/16/2013 04:10 pm »
Here are the slides that went with McAlister's NAC presentation. But most of the information that he gave were verbal (and thus not actually on the slides) but are in the article:

http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/742926main_20130419_heoc_mcalisiter%20=TAGGED.pdf
http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/library/nac/index.html

See also the Booz-Allen report on the evaluation of the costs of commercial crew:
http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/741617main_CCP-ICA-DRD-2e-Public-Releaseable-Final-Report-3-5-13-508.pdf
« Last Edit: 05/16/2013 04:37 pm by yg1968 »

Offline Jason Davies

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #3 on: 05/16/2013 04:29 pm »
Interesting article. Seems like a lot paperwork to get these companies flying.

Offline BrightLight

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #4 on: 05/16/2013 04:47 pm »
Thanks YG for the citations, The Booz-Allen report is very insightful, its a shame no numbers are associated with it.

Offline Lurker Steve

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #5 on: 05/16/2013 05:41 pm »
It seems to me that NASA should be deciding on whether the Taxi or Rental model works better for them, rather than leaving that to the vendors.

It just seems like these guys are running the program by the seat of their pants, without much of a long term vision on how it's all supposed to work.

Offline bulkmail

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #6 on: 05/16/2013 06:03 pm »
Every two months a "60 day report" appears at the CCiCap website http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/document_library.html

10.18.12
12.13.12
02.25.13

April 2013 passed, any idea why there is no new report? Did they change the website or what?

Offline butters

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #7 on: 05/16/2013 07:42 pm »
It just seems like these guys are running the program by the seat of their pants, without much of a long term vision on how it's all supposed to work.

Sounds like every project I've ever done for a single customer.

Offline deltaV

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #8 on: 05/16/2013 08:07 pm »
It seems to me that NASA should be deciding on whether the Taxi or Rental model works better for them, rather than leaving that to the vendors.

It just seems like these guys are running the program by the seat of their pants, without much of a long term vision on how it's all supposed to work.

Would the taxi driver be one of the four crew-members (per launch) or a fifth? If the latter do the ISS environmental control systems have enough capacity to handle the extra crew-member? Are there enough ISS tasks that don't require much training to give the taxi driver something useful to do on orbit?

Offline Lurker Steve

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #9 on: 05/16/2013 09:03 pm »
It seems to me that NASA should be deciding on whether the Taxi or Rental model works better for them, rather than leaving that to the vendors.

It just seems like these guys are running the program by the seat of their pants, without much of a long term vision on how it's all supposed to work.

Would the taxi driver be one of the four crew-members (per launch) or a fifth? If the latter do the ISS environmental control systems have enough capacity to handle the extra crew-member? Are there enough ISS tasks that don't require much training to give the taxi driver something useful to do on orbit?

A "taxi" doesn't stick around after it drops off it's fare.
I don't see howthe taxi model is compatible with the requirement to also serve as a lifeboat, unless NASA intends a separate purchase of a lifeboat craft, which seems crazy to me.

The only thing these guys know for sure, is it's going to cost lots of money, they don't want to down-select, and there is no guaranteed need after 2020. but, if they don't get their 4.8 Billion dollars, commerical crew might not be ready until after 2020...

Offline Lar

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #10 on: 05/16/2013 09:38 pm »
It seems to me that NASA should be deciding on whether the Taxi or Rental model works better for them, rather than leaving that to the vendors.

It just seems like these guys are running the program by the seat of their pants, without much of a long term vision on how it's all supposed to work.

"Wow, this project is well managed, our long term vision is clear, and we know how everything is supposed to work... also we're on time and on budget" 
    -- said no project manager EVER.


A "taxi" doesn't stick around after it drops off it's fare.
I don't see howthe taxi model is compatible with the requirement to also serve as a lifeboat, unless NASA intends a separate purchase of a lifeboat craft, which seems crazy to me.

The only thing these guys know for sure, is it's going to cost lots of money, they don't want to down-select, and there is no guaranteed need after 2020. but, if they don't get their 4.8 Billion dollars, commerical crew might not be ready until after 2020...

Doesn't seem crazy to me to buy a lifeboat separately. Especially if the craft can be automated, or you do some clever rotations to get started. The problem is lack of places to dock.

They laid out a pretty good case for not downselecting, IMHO, and if there ever was a program that needed to be fully funded, it's this one. Cut SLS or something if you have to. (never happen)
« Last Edit: 05/16/2013 09:39 pm by Lar »
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Offline darkenfast

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #11 on: 05/16/2013 09:40 pm »
Nice article! I'll hazard a guess and say that both Boeing and SpaceX will offer the "rental" model for their vehicles. I believe that it will be fairly easy to teach astronauts who already know the mechanics of spaceflight and operate things like the robotic arms to manage a modern capsule. I'm not as sure about SNC's offering because of its runway landings, but many of the NASA astronauts are pilots. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

Offline rcoppola

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #12 on: 05/16/2013 09:53 pm »
I would think SpaceX would offer Taxi Vs Rental based on the prices associated with each option as well as future non-NASA mission planning.

Is it more future assuring to have their own Dragonaut pilots?
Can they up-charge enough to make the Taxi more optimum to the bottom line? Does the Taxi option save them on any requirements and/or development costs?

As for the Life-boat requirement. That doesn't work with the Taxi option.

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Offline Lar

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #13 on: 05/16/2013 09:54 pm »
Nice article! I'll hazard a guess and say that both Boeing and SpaceX will offer the "rental" model for their vehicles. I believe that it will be fairly easy to teach astronauts who already know the mechanics of spaceflight and operate things like the robotic arms to manage a modern capsule. I'm not as sure about SNC's offering because of its runway landings, but many of the NASA astronauts are pilots. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

I'd love to see the "security deposit" required :) More seriously, WOULD there be such a clause, if a NASA astronaut caused a crackup, would NASA be liable?

As for the Life-boat requirement. That doesn't work with the Taxi option.

Without clever staging and multiple vehicles.

T=0    - Flight 1, pilot only. Stays a few days. Vehicle is the lifeboat
T=5    - Flight 2, pilot and passengers. Vehicle returns with pilots, passengers stay behind
T=180 - Flight 3, pilot and passengers, Flight 2 passengers and flight 3 pilot return in flight 1 vehicle, flight 3 vehicle the new lifeboat
T=360 - Flight 4, pilot and passengers. Flight 3 passengers and flight 4 pilot return in flight 3 vehicle, flight 4 vehicle is the new lifeboat

And so on (T is in days)

Needs two docking ports though...
« Last Edit: 05/16/2013 09:58 pm by Lar »
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline john smith 19

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #14 on: 05/16/2013 11:34 pm »
"He mentioned that NASA has not yet decided whether it will extend the Crew Resupply Service (CRS) contract to Orbital and SpaceX after 2016, or if it will allow new entrants such as SNC or Boeing to compete for new cargo contracts after the current CRS expires in 2016."

This I find very intriguing.

It's a way for the other CCiCAP vendors other than Spacex to spread their costs (which was an obvious tactic from day 1 IMHO) and potentially lowers costs. This is probably more important to Boeing as their "other business" plan was IIRC described as "weak" in a NASA assessment and they have given something of an impression that "If we don't get picked we'll pick up our marbles and go home."

I'm guessing that NASA would be planning to do some kind of "learning curve" on what they would be prepared to pay assuming existing vendors are more familiar with their operations (and their costs) than when they bid with no hardware built. Likewise I'd hope they'd aim for any new entrants to meet the lower price target (otherwise what would be the point of having them?).

I think it's pretty clear that competition has been a key part of getting here as quickly as the providers have. Cetainly some in NASA get that idea. Time will tell if it's a widespread notion.

I think it's also clear that continued funding limitations are slowing them down a lot.

One interesting question. They talk of a public/private partnership. A lot of work is done under cost plus and FAR25 but what other options exist under Fed Acquisition Regs?

I hope the ultimate result does stay Firm Fixed Price.


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Offline yg1968

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #15 on: 05/17/2013 02:50 am »
Thanks YG for the citations, The Booz-Allen report is very insightful, its a shame no numbers are associated with it.

Thanks Brightlight, Jason Davis and Chris B. for the compliments. The numbers were purposely omitted from the report because they are considered proprietary.
« Last Edit: 05/17/2013 02:51 am by yg1968 »

Offline QuantumG

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #16 on: 05/17/2013 03:05 am »
Not that this is new news, but it bares repeating:

The commercial crew program as we know it (Space Act Agreements, NASA mostly hands off, etc) ends after May 2014. Although "optional milestones" could be exercised by NASA, it's more than likely they won't be. In any case, the only optional milestones that the public has been allowed to know about (all the rest were redacted) are test flights, which we've been told cannot be funded under SAAs.

Unlike the commercial cargo program, which stuck to SAAs all the way up to actual cargo delivery (SpaceX delivered cargo under an SAA, Orbital Sciences is still operating under SAA), the commercial crew program will switch to a FAR-based contract before actual services begin.

This is such a fundamental change in the program that it's absurd to keep calling it the same name.

Quote from: Phil McAlister
We want the philosophy to remain the same. We still want industry to own (their crew transportation system). We still want some form of fixed price arrangement.

Famous last words.

Time will tell.
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #17 on: 05/17/2013 05:22 am »
...what is the real reason that Congress wants the switch to FAR, when SAA worked quite well for commercial cargo?
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Offline QuantumG

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #18 on: 05/17/2013 05:31 am »
It's the commercial crew office that wants to switch to FAR. I believe they're responding to the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel claim that SAAs don't provide NASA with sufficient insight (or was it oversight?) to ensure safety.

I figured that after the last attempt to switch to FAR resulted in an outright mutiny that they'd learn the lesson and reserve that for the "acquisition" - like COTS/CRS - but it seems the pressure is still there to give NASA more control in the development process (than SAAs can provide).
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline pathfinder_01

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Re: McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification
« Reply #19 on: 05/17/2013 07:54 am »


As for the Life-boat requirement. That doesn't work with the Taxi option.



You can also just dock one craft and leave in another with the taxi model..the only limit is that such operation isn't friendly to having multiple types of craft.  i.e. Not a problem for a pilot to arrive and leave on an dream chaser....problem if you need to arrive or leave with a different craft.

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