Author Topic: Frustration grows as lawmakers continue to penny pinch commercial crew  (Read 58261 times)

Offline clongton

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Boeing is watching the funding situation extremely close and have not signed the contract because (1) they had the worst funding situation of the three companies and (2) they do not really have a business plan that works on non-NASA pure commercial business while both SpaceX and Sierra-Nevada have factored in non-NASA business to their business plan. If the funding cuts go thru I expect to see Boeing drop out of the equation. They are a pure bottom-line company dedicated to squeezing as much as possible out of federal dollars while cheaping their own funding input. That's the way they operate. They are pure "Old-Space" and that's the difference between a corporation that has built its future on the unending government teat and the ones that build their futures on what space commerce can become without the government.
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Offline Go4TLI

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Boeing is watching the funding situation extremely close and have not signed the contract because (1) they had the worst funding situation of the three companies and (2) they do not really have a business plan that works on non-NASA pure commercial business while both SpaceX and Sierra-Nevada have factored in non-NASA business to their business plan. If the funding cuts go thru I expect to see Boeing drop out of the equation. They are a pure bottom-line company dedicated to squeezing as much as possible out of federal dollars while cheaping their own funding input. That's the way they operate. They are pure "Old-Space" and that's the difference between a corporation that has built its future on the unending government teat and the ones that build their futures on what space commerce can become without the government.

I would say that is grossly inaccurate.  Boeing is a company that makes most of the worlds airlines.  Boeing knows something about sizing and determining a market. 

As for the others, we really don't know what this "non-NASA commercial business" really is.  Do we know for sure they are really out there?  Do we really know what the liklihood is of them materializing?  Do we know if they do materialize if they will be a consistent revenue stream?  Where are the contracts? 

From a strategic perspective, Boeing has said that the business case will close assuming NASA is the only customer.  That would seem to make ample sense and not relying on going to NASA and saying the vehicle and integrated program it requires now requires more money because other revenue streams did not materialize. 

And, by the way, it was Bigelow who reached out to Boeing first.....

Offline Rocket Science

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Boeing is watching the funding situation extremely close and have not signed the contract because (1) they had the worst funding situation of the three companies and (2) they do not really have a business plan that works on non-NASA pure commercial business while both SpaceX and Sierra-Nevada have factored in non-NASA business to their business plan. If the funding cuts go thru I expect to see Boeing drop out of the equation. They are a pure bottom-line company dedicated to squeezing as much as possible out of federal dollars while cheaping their own funding input. That's the way they operate. They are pure "Old-Space" and that's the difference between a corporation that has built its future on the unending government teat and the ones that build their futures on what space commerce can become without the government.
That’s the way Boeing Company goes as being responsible to its shareholders and I have no problem with that. If it leaves us with two human rated launchers and spacecraft in case one was to go all “Proton” on us as a recent example...
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Offline Occupymars

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Boeing is watching the funding situation extremely close and have not signed the contract because (1) they had the worst funding situation of the three companies and (2) they do not really have a business plan that works on non-NASA pure commercial business while both SpaceX and Sierra-Nevada have factored in non-NASA business to their business plan. If the funding cuts go thru I expect to see Boeing drop out of the equation. They are a pure bottom-line company dedicated to squeezing as much as possible out of federal dollars while cheaping their own funding input. That's the way they operate. They are pure "Old-Space" and that's the difference between a corporation that has built its future on the unending government teat and the ones that build their futures on what space commerce can become without the government.
That's a bit harsh on Boeing and the other old space companies. At the end of the day put yourself in the shoes of Boeing's top space executive. Your job is to make as much money as possible for the company whatever the mean's and if you don't deliver "the big bucks" then someone else will. Don't blame the companies for being greedy after all greed is what drive's are economy.
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Offline Port

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... Don't blame the companies for being greedy after all greed is what drive's are economy.

yeah and look how good that turned out to be

Online MATTBLAK

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Could it be in the interest of some of the commercial crew companies to have the whole program delayed? To avoid a downselect at a time when only SpaceX is ready to launch crews?

SpaceX is hardly in a position to be ready to launch crews.  I would recommend against turning this into another "anti-SpaceX" conspiracy thread. 

None of this surprises me personally.  Some saw this train wreck coming for years......

You're right; myself and some others said so two and three years ago also - but at best we were told we didn't know what we're talking about and at worst; had our posts deleted :( . For my part I was trying to be politically bipartisan, but perhaps others weren't. But it almost goes without saying that I'm disgusted that Commercial Space is being starved almost as much as NASA (SLS/Orion) is. Not supporting Commercial Crew is somewhat like cutting off one's nose to spite one's face... :(
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Offline Lurker Steve

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Boeing is watching the funding situation extremely close and have not signed the contract because (1) they had the worst funding situation of the three companies and (2) they do not really have a business plan that works on non-NASA pure commercial business while both SpaceX and Sierra-Nevada have factored in non-NASA business to their business plan. If the funding cuts go thru I expect to see Boeing drop out of the equation. They are a pure bottom-line company dedicated to squeezing as much as possible out of federal dollars while cheaping their own funding input. That's the way they operate. They are pure "Old-Space" and that's the difference between a corporation that has built its future on the unending government teat and the ones that build their futures on what space commerce can become without the government.

Each of Elon Musk's companies works directly or indirectly off the government teat, so let's not make that a bad thing. Telsa would not have been profitable last quarter if they weren't selling green energy credits to other manufacturers, not to mention the tax credits that each customer receives. Solar City also lives off those green energy tax credits. SpaceX lives off prefunded CRS flights, and deposits from commercial companies that are still waiting to have their payloads launched.

The United States of America is supposed to be a capitalist country. That means companies are in business to make money. Boeing has capital funds to invest. What is the best investment for their money, CST-100 or a new commercial airliner ? Who says there will be non-NASA business anyway ? "Built it and they will come" is not a great strategy.

Offline yg1968

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The Full House Science, Space and Technology Committee just approved the House's NASA Authorization bill.
http://science.house.gov/markup/full-committee-markup-hr-2687-national-aeronautics-and-space-administration-authorization-act
« Last Edit: 07/18/2013 11:19 pm by yg1968 »

Offline spectre9

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I blame SpaceX.

If they were not playing switcheroo with their rocket which was supposed to launch Dragon Boeing would have dropped out already cutting down on costs.

Now Boeing has an in because F9 v1.1 has taken so long. If it fails (might happen) Boeing will win.

If Falcon 9 v1.1 is successful there's no way Boeing could ever compete on seat price. That's the SpaceX advantage.

Now commercial crew needs $800m and possibly some sort of commitment to Boeing that they will not be shafted out any time soon.

In my opinion SpaceX cheated by being cagey about what F9 v1.0 was. An underpowered overpriced rocket that was never able to actually compete on the commercial market.

Offline billh

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This will require pursuing all development and certification work beyond the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) base period through Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)-based contracts; making strategic decisions about the number of industry partners to retain in the certification phase; and finding ways to incentivize greater private investment by industry partners in order to reduce the government’s financial obligations for the program.

I'm curious why it would be important to Congress to specify that a FAR contract be used? I'm asking this as a serious question and would appreciate a thoughtful answer. Please don't just bash Congress. Thanks.

Offline Silmfeanor

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I blame SpaceX.

If they were not playing switcheroo with their rocket which was supposed to launch Dragon Boeing would have dropped out already cutting down on costs.

Now Boeing has an in because F9 v1.1 has taken so long. If it fails (might happen) Boeing will win.

If Falcon 9 v1.1 is successful there's no way Boeing could ever compete on seat price. That's the SpaceX advantage.

Now commercial crew needs $800m and possibly some sort of commitment to Boeing that they will not be shafted out any time soon.

In my opinion SpaceX cheated by being cagey about what F9 v1.0 was. An underpowered overpriced rocket that was never able to actually compete on the commercial market.
You've said this before. It wasn't pretty then and it isn't pretty now. Portraying stuff like this in black and white, good vs bad is not a nice way to conduct an argument. It blatantly misleads people into accepting good vs bad when that is a false dichotomy.

Take that to another thread, or make a new one. To blame SpaceX for lawmakers screwing around with the budget and making the wrong choices - in one word, ridiculous.

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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I dont know what to say. I am very frustrated about this situation. I also think that these cuts to commercial crew are not really going to save any money. We will have to pay the Russians hundreds of millions for transporting astronauts to the ISS, after all (instead of maybe getting paid by others to transport their astronauts to the ISS).
I have my suspicions about their real motives behind that and I am sure they are fully aware of the consequences. I hope Obama vetos it.

Offline Go4TLI

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This will require pursuing all development and certification work beyond the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) base period through Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)-based contracts; making strategic decisions about the number of industry partners to retain in the certification phase; and finding ways to incentivize greater private investment by industry partners in order to reduce the government’s financial obligations for the program.

I'm curious why it would be important to Congress to specify that a FAR contract be used? I'm asking this as a serious question and would appreciate a thoughtful answer. Please don't just bash Congress. Thanks.

Because FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations) are how the government buys all goods. It's not pretty and drives up complexity and cost through the paperwork and deliverables required. Ironically, it is this complex in order to show transparency and a good use of tax payer dollars through those paperwork and deliverables.

Offline billh

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This will require pursuing all development and certification work beyond the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) base period through Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)-based contracts; making strategic decisions about the number of industry partners to retain in the certification phase; and finding ways to incentivize greater private investment by industry partners in order to reduce the government’s financial obligations for the program.

I'm curious why it would be important to Congress to specify that a FAR contract be used? I'm asking this as a serious question and would appreciate a thoughtful answer. Please don't just bash Congress. Thanks.

Because FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations) are how the government buys all goods. It's not pretty and drives up complexity and cost through the paperwork and deliverables required. Ironically, it is this complex in order to show transparency and a good use of tax payer dollars through those paperwork and deliverables.

Ok, you're saying that basically, they believe FAR is required to give NASA adequate control to ensure money is not wasted? So that, even if you might wind up spending more dollars because of the extra overhead, you have more confidence at the end you get what you wanted and what you paid for? Ok, that makes sense, given the initial premise of course. Thanks.

Offline spectre9

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You've said this before. It wasn't pretty then and it isn't pretty now. Portraying stuff like this in black and white, good vs bad is not a nice way to conduct an argument. It blatantly misleads people into accepting good vs bad when that is a false dichotomy.

Take that to another thread, or make a new one. To blame SpaceX for lawmakers screwing around with the budget and making the wrong choices - in one word, ridiculous.

NASA will take the blame.

They will protect SpaceX as much as they can.

SpaceX will not have their name tarnished at all and will come out looking like angels.

Letting SpaceX take as long as they like and giving them as much money as they can is seen as a means to an end.

It's possible that SpaceX will now get their act together and offer seat prices which will be much better than Boeing. That could be a good thing.

Boeing and Atlas V have been purposefully crippled down to the pace of SpaceX. They could've been flying much sooner but there's a perception that they would charge too much which is why NASA was so scared to go that route.

Offline yg1968

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This will require pursuing all development and certification work beyond the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) base period through Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)-based contracts; making strategic decisions about the number of industry partners to retain in the certification phase; and finding ways to incentivize greater private investment by industry partners in order to reduce the government’s financial obligations for the program.

I'm curious why it would be important to Congress to specify that a FAR contract be used? I'm asking this as a serious question and would appreciate a thoughtful answer. Please don't just bash Congress. Thanks.

Apparently, the language was added because of the ASAP's suggestion that FAR (cost plus) contracts are safer than SAAs. But in reality commercial crew detractors in the House added this language because they don't like the use of SAAs and don't want it extended beyond the CCiCap base period. Ironically, this language no longer appears in the House's NASA Authorization bill because Rep. Rohrabacher (a strong supporter of commercial crew and cargo) insisted that it be removed.
« Last Edit: 07/19/2013 12:03 am by yg1968 »

Offline billh

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This will require pursuing all development and certification work beyond the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) base period through Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)-based contracts; making strategic decisions about the number of industry partners to retain in the certification phase; and finding ways to incentivize greater private investment by industry partners in order to reduce the government’s financial obligations for the program.

I'm curious why it would be important to Congress to specify that a FAR contract be used? I'm asking this as a serious question and would appreciate a thoughtful answer. Please don't just bash Congress. Thanks.

Apparently, the language was added because of the ASAP's suggestion that FAR cost plus contract are safer than SAAs. But in reality commercial crew detractors in the House added this language because they don't like the use of SAAs. Ironically, this language no longer appears in the House's NASA Authorization bill because Rep. Rohrabacher (a strong supporter of commercial crew and cargo) insisted that it be removed.

Thanks. And ASAP's safety issue presumably boils down to the transparency and control issue Go4TLI and I were discussing. That all hangs together and sounds reasonable. So even though there may be other, more cynical motives in the mix, their choice of FAR may be nothing more than a preference for taking the conventional approach to avoid risk. 

Offline Go4TLI

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FAR does NOT automatically mean cost plus. That is just a contract mechanism, one of many valid options

Offline yg1968

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This will require pursuing all development and certification work beyond the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) base period through Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)-based contracts; making strategic decisions about the number of industry partners to retain in the certification phase; and finding ways to incentivize greater private investment by industry partners in order to reduce the government’s financial obligations for the program.

I'm curious why it would be important to Congress to specify that a FAR contract be used? I'm asking this as a serious question and would appreciate a thoughtful answer. Please don't just bash Congress. Thanks.

Apparently, the language was added because of the ASAP's suggestion that FAR cost plus contract are safer than SAAs. But in reality commercial crew detractors in the House added this language because they don't like the use of SAAs. Ironically, this language no longer appears in the House's NASA Authorization bill because Rep. Rohrabacher (a strong supporter of commercial crew and cargo) insisted that it be removed.

Thanks. And ASAP's safety issue presumably boils down to the transparency and control issue Go4TLI and I were discussing. That all hangs together and sounds reasonable. So even though there may be other, more cynical motives in the mix, their choice of FAR may be nothing more than a preference for taking the conventional approach to avoid risk. 

Rohrabacher made the point in a hearing last week that the ASAP is used to the traditional ways and that is why it suggested this. But Admiral Dyer has been a commercial crew detractor/skeptic in the past in a number of hearings. So I would take the ASAP's recommendations on the contract mechanism with some cynicism. SAAs have never been used for crew transportation in the past but that doesn't make them less safe.

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Ironically, this language no longer appears in the House's NASA Authorization bill because Rep. Rohrabacher (a strong supporter of commercial crew and cargo) insisted that it be removed.
I dont understand why this is ironic? The commercial crew providers preferred the SAAs and Rohrabacher supports commercial crew.

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