Author Topic: Frustration grows as lawmakers continue to penny pinch commercial crew  (Read 58034 times)

Offline QuantumG

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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.

Giggle. That's the opposite of what happened.
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline yg1968

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

Yes, I know but there was some language in the ASAP report and in the House Authorization bill (which has since been removed) that suggested that cost plus be used for safety reasons. Fortunately, this language no longer appears in any surviving proposal.
« Last Edit: 07/19/2013 02:58 pm by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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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.

Sorry. I wasn't very clear. It's ironic because the appropriation bill is no longer consistent with the Authorization bill which would leave the decision up to NASA. I am guessing that the requirement to use FAR will not appear in the Senate's report to its appropriation bill. This issue isn't yet resolved. I am not sure what happens next. Hopefully, the issue gets resolved in conference.

P.S. Incidentally, maybe ironic isn't the best word. I couldn't think of another one.
« Last Edit: 07/19/2013 12:35 am by yg1968 »

Offline spectre9

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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.

Giggle. That's the opposite of what happened.

Perhaps I'm wrong then.

NASA wants to pay for services that aren't required and the lawmakers don't like payings those bills.

Whichever provider NASA is trying to slow down they're the ones causing the issue which requires more money than lawmakers are willing to provide.

NASA is the problem.

Online docmordrid

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Let's not forget that unless something new happens on the Senate side, the House version and the Senate version will have to be reconciled in a joint Conference Committee. Once in the CC comprimises can be made, or the whole shebang rewritten. Then it would go back to each house for an up or down vote.
DM

Offline dark.blue.nine

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Things aren't quite as bad as the article makes them out to be.  The appropriators, who are the legislators that matter when it comes to budgets, have commercial crew up above $700M in both the House and Senate bills, which is a huge improvement over the $500M funding level provided in prior years:

"Although neither appropriations committee met the White House’s $821 million request for Commercial Crew, both approved more funding than the program has received since its inception. Senate appropriators set a new high water mark with a $775 million appropriation, well above the $489 million the program got in 2013 under NASA’s sequestered spending bill. The House, even in its sequester-level bill, provided $700 million."

http://www.spacenews.com/article/civil-space/36339senate-house-nasa-bills-far-apart-on-funding-close-on-some-priorities#.UeiekSDD9pM

Offline QuantumG

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Perhaps I'm wrong then.

NASA wants to pay for services that aren't required and the lawmakers don't like paying those bills.

Whichever provider NASA is trying to slow down they're the ones causing the issue which requires more money than lawmakers are willing to provide.

NASA is the problem.

I don't think there's really any evidence that a downselect to a single provider at this point would speed up the availability of commercial crew.

What would light a fire under them is declaring that only one provider will be selected and that it will be whoever flies a crew to the ISS first. In other words: a race.

If getting there faster was the goal, that's what they'd do. But I honestly don't see that this is the goal. NASA won't do that on their own, and I don't think Congress understands the situation enough to suggest it.
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline cheesybagel

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The article makes one think that COTS was an initiative of the Obama administration but this was actually funded under the Bush Jr. administration back when Griffin was NASA administrator. As much as I despise Griffin for the Ares debacle credit is due here. What Obama did push for was commercial crew which was considered but not actually funded back then.

Like the article said the major reason for the delay in commercial crew is due to lack of funding. SpaceX basically needs to finish developing their rocket assisted ejection system. Of course if the same safety standards used for Shuttle were applied there wouldn't be a requirement for an ejection system and they could be flying crew right now.

Oh and Falcon 9 v1.0 was perfectly fine for the task. Just because Elon does a continuous push to drive down costs with Merlin-1D doesn't mean Merlin-1C wasn't already profitable as it were. It may seem surprising to people not in leading edge technology sectors but there is no thing like perfect and some things only happen with time. I am pretty sure they do not intend for Falcon v1.1 to be their last iteration towards cost-effective space flight either.

Offline cheesybagel

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If Falcon 9 v1.1 is successful there's no way Boeing could ever compete on seat price. That's the SpaceX advantage.
Last I heard, they were talking about flying the CST-100 on Falcon 9.  It's a real possibility that CST-100/Falcon, or even Dreamchaser/Falcon, will come out on top in the end.  Falcon can succeed in getting man-rated without Dragon also achieving that.

Anyway, I'm not sure I believe that ULA can't compete with SpaceX on price.  It's just that they'd rather not and it puts them in a terribly awkward position to admit that they could if they really wanted to.  They probably can't compete with SpaceX on vehicle price in such a way that they can be highly confident that it will be highly profitable.

I would be extremely surprised if there weren't already Plan B teams on both the Boeing and LM sides of ULA doing at least feasibility studies of their own boost-back stages and reusable uppers.

I doubt SpaceX would be willing to launch CST-100 on Falcon 9. But if Boeing really wants a cheaper launcher Antares has about the same payload. I sort of doubt the solid rocket powered second stage would be up to it but that is like the only problem I can think of.

I think a down select to one vendor is a big mistake. You have a much higher chance to succeed at actually delivering on cost and on time if you have more than one supplier. The optimum situation would be to have three suppliers. Having just one supplier is a really bad idea as can be seen in the progress of Ares vs EELV or COTS.

The highest development risk option is SpaceDev's and the lowest risk SpaceX's with Boeing's somewhere in the middle. But then again SpaceDev's solution is also the most technologically sophisticated option of the three. If I was in charge of NASA I would fund SpaceX and Boeing to get their versions up and running quickly while giving SpaceDev only limited funding to continue refining their vehicle more. I suspect shoveling money to their face wouldn't help them solve their problems any faster. Eventually if the project gets interesting maybe it will get picked up by the private sector or the DoD much like what happened with X-37.

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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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.
Nonsense! Without competition there is no motivation for improvement or for lowering cost. One main reason for commercial crew was to lower cost. Competition keeps cost down. Monopoly keeps cost up. Basic economics!

Offline yg1968

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The article makes one think that COTS was an initiative of the Obama administration but this was actually funded under the Bush Jr. administration back when Griffin was NASA administrator. As much as I despise Griffin for the Ares debacle credit is due here. What Obama did push for was commercial crew which was considered but not actually funded back then.

I think that Chris was just trying to make the point that under the Obama Administration, cargo and crew needs for LEO were going to be entirely serviced by the commercial crew and cargo program (which made Ares I useless).

Commercial crew was specifically mentioned in the 2008 NASA Authorization bill when Bush was still president (and Griffin was still administrator). But it took a while for NASA to implement it and for Congress to fund it.

Offline SF Doug

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http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2013/07/frustration-lawmakers-penny-pinch-commercial-crew/

Won't post this thread in space policy, to give everyone a say, but please keep it civil.
"Frustration" is in the title of your piece, but not in the body.  Who is frustrated?  I know I am.  I want DreamChaser and Dragon flying to the ISS and Bigelow stations for decades to come (2020 splash of ISS would be...criminal).   I want space tourism.  I want to watch spaceships land on their tails like Rocket Ship Galileo, or slide onto Earth like Buck Rogers.  I want to see all the brilliant maniacs who work for SpaceX and Sierra jumping and laughing and kissing on every launch, docking, and landing.  I want to cry when I hear the first child talk to us from outer space.

Did you mean all of us in the nasaspaceflight.com community are frustrated?  or Spacex, Sierra Designs, and Boeing?  Perhaps you meant all of the hard-working, caring, honest NASA engineers, some my friends,  who are tired of working on projects where success was never a possible outcome. 

So, who is NOT frustrated?  Is there somebody who seeks power or money or the victory of wrong over right who believes that these irrational policies will further their aims?

Maybe they just hate us. 
Golf on Mars! (Beach balls and baseball bats? )

Offline MP99

Quote
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.

ASAP believe NASA will have more control over the safety of the final product this way.

Cheers, Martin

Offline Celebrimbor

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Frustration.  I always think that frustration is a positive, enabling emotion.  Frustration makes you want to change and flat out refuse to give in until something better is happening.

Labouriously working through a tedious calculation on paper, forced someone to consider a machine that could do the calculation for them.  The same emotion has delivered almost every innovation we have today.  Frustration is good.

I was happy to see this website openly expressing frustration in a headline.  Is there enough frustration yet?
« Last Edit: 07/19/2013 07:48 am by Celebrimbor »

Offline woods170

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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.

Giggle. That's the opposite of what happened.

What surprises me is that people still pay attention to spectre9. So far he has blamed SpaceX and NASA. Who's next? The tooth fairy?
« Last Edit: 07/19/2013 08:36 am by woods170 »

Offline Occupymars

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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
Well go to North Korea and see what life is like there without free market's and capitalism which is driven by greed!
« Last Edit: 07/19/2013 08:56 am by Occupymars »
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Offline john smith 19

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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.
I will note that it is Orbital that has fallen behind in CRS and NASA handed them about $300m over and above what they had got from their initial competiton win. Spacex had to fight NASA worries to get a 3 test flight programme down to 2 and convince NASA that they were up to that challenge.

Quote
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.
Assertion. Evidence that Boeing has been slowed down?
Everyone has  been crippled down by the funding Congress has seen fit to hand out.

Your comments seem either very ignorant of history or are those of a troll.

Trolls get ignored.
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline john smith 19

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FAR does NOT automatically mean cost plus. That is just a contract mechanism, one of many valid options
Unfortunately AFAIK FAR25 gives NASA inspectors a lot of power to order changes with major cost implications, potentially to the level of bankrupting a company.

The reply to which is usually, "You want FAR25 nosiness you give us a cost plus contract."

Like the USG ability to unilaterally cancel contracts with no penalty it sounds a great tool to protect taxpayer money, but it's not.

Yes I do know there are other kinds of contract and they can give better results than firm fixed price or cost plus.

But that needs people of good will who are familiar with the options and can apply them. Even FAR25 could get the job done if the companies are focused on delivering the contract, not bulking up the costs.

BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Online Chris Bergin


"Frustration" is in the title of your piece, but not in the body.  Who is frustrated?

The frustration is via the quote from the CSF, who are clearly frustrated. They didn't say that word as a quote, which is why the title doesn't have frustration as in quotation marks.

Online Chris Bergin

The article makes one think that COTS was an initiative of the Obama administration but this was actually funded under the Bush Jr. administration back when Griffin was NASA administrator. As much as I despise Griffin for the Ares debacle credit is due here. What Obama did push for was commercial crew which was considered but not actually funded back then.

I think that Chris was just trying to make the point that under the Obama Administration, cargo and crew needs for LEO were going to be entirely serviced by the commercial crew and cargo program (which made Ares I useless).

Commercial crew was specifically mentioned in the 2008 NASA Authorization bill when Bush was still president (and Griffin was still administrator). But it took a while for NASA to implement it and for Congress to fund it.

As above. Also, it wasn't a "complete history", otherwise we'd be talking 5,000 words just to get to the point.

On this subject, I had a lovely e-mail overnight from someone saying I'm - and here's your quotation marks - a "Limey b-----d c--t" for "sucking Obama's...." and apparently "dissing" SLS  in the article.

Blimey! ;D He clearly didn't read it properly, and apparently missed the 127 SLS articles I've written, which is more than any other site.

(Disclaimer: 99.9999 percent of Americans have always been brilliant towards me).
« Last Edit: 07/19/2013 10:28 am by Chris Bergin »

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