Author Topic: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread  (Read 49813 times)

Offline woods170

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The recent Dreamchaser drop-test has led to a discussion with regards to commercial crew companies showing or not-showing all aspects of the work performed on these vehicles.

Everything related to that can be discussed here.

Offline LouScheffer

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #1 on: 10/31/2013 12:26 pm »
A common reaction to the Dreamchaser controversy is "Who cares?  It's their work., and they can release what they want".  However, least 3 groups of people care:

(a) Those who want to know what actually happened.  Did is simply spin around but remain right-side up?  If so, the damage should be confined to the bottom surface. If it flipped, or rolled, or bounced, the damage could be a lot worse.  Obviously this affects schedule, odds ot this machine flying again, etc., all things folks on this forum care about very much.

(b) Those who are concerned about honesty in communication.  Look at the current NSA flap, for example, where they said to congress that they did not "collect" information information on Americans not under suspicion, using a patently bogus meaning of the word collect precisely to avoid the consequences of their actions.  Words matter - compare your reaction if your son or daughter calls and says "I skidded off the road" vs. "I crashed the car".

(c) Those who are interested in corporate crisis management.  There at lots of issues in play here.  If the video does indeed show a skid, but not  a flip, would they have been better off showing it?  Is is better to acknowledge a smaller error to avoid speculation about a greater problem?  What about the court of public opinion vs. wording of the contract?  Etc....

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #2 on: 10/31/2013 12:45 pm »
Well I for one completely understand that attitude.
First of all, certain elements in congress love every opportunity to reduce funding for commercial crew. A public video of a spacecraft crashing dramatically, would give them the a tool to sway the public opinion enough to allow this to happen. For this reason alone, I am glad that SNC did not release that part of the video.
Secondly, part of the commercial crew program is that the competitors invest a significant amount of their own funds into the project. So they will want to maximize the potential return for themselves from this project. On the positive side, this means less cost for the tax payer and it ensures that the companies involved do their best to get things done quickly and efficiently. On the negative side it means that there is an understandable reluctance on the side of the competitors to release anything that could harm their position in the race, or have a negative publicity impact on their company (which is just the opposite of maximizing the return).

Offline bad_astra

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #3 on: 10/31/2013 01:41 pm »
 Let us suppose I own "United Boxed Lunch Company" and I win a contract to supply microgravity meals to the ISS.

Just for fun I occasionally have a camera on  in the Sandwich Testing Room, to placate certain anoraks who are really into sandwichspotting. Once in awhile, a large container of mustard is spilled. We turn the camera off, clean up and when we are ready, we get back to work. We are periodically checked by health inspectors as well as NASA's own contract management personnel to make certain that our boxed lunches fall within guidelines.

But certain parts of the population are upset. "That sandwich belongs to the United States of America! We want to know where the mustard fell, what solvents were used to clean it, and the minutes of the meeting for the Commitee to Prevent Future Mustard Spills. This is a government program and therefore these boxed lunches and the means to go about making them, are just as public as the inner workings of a Navy galley.

Now the United Boxed Lunch Company has other customers, and it has a reputation to protect. It has done its job, and shareholders do not want it to be the sourse of blooper reels on television and "Fail blogs" on streaming media. Likewise they do not want to be part of a congressional hearing on Condiment Contamination when the congressman from the next state over, whose Standard Ham and Cheese did not win the contract, has a pork flavoured ax to grind.

What to do, what to do.

(edited to correct spelling)
« Last Edit: 10/31/2013 01:44 pm by bad_astra »
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Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #4 on: 10/31/2013 02:19 pm »
Let us suppose I own "United Boxed Lunch Company" and I win a contract to supply microgravity meals to the ISS.

Just for fun I occasionally have a camera on  in the Sandwich Testing Room, to placate certain anoraks who are really into sandwichspotting. Once in awhile, a large container of mustard is spilled. We turn the camera off, clean up and when we are ready, we get back to work. We are periodically checked by health inspectors as well as NASA's own contract management personnel to make certain that our boxed lunches fall within guidelines.

But certain parts of the population are upset. "That sandwich belongs to the United States of America! We want to know where the mustard fell, what solvents were used to clean it, and the minutes of the meeting for the Commitee to Prevent Future Mustard Spills. This is a government program and therefore these boxed lunches and the means to go about making them, are just as public as the inner workings of a Navy galley.

Now the United Boxed Lunch Company has other customers, and it has a reputation to protect. It has done its job, and shareholders do not want it to be the sourse of blooper reels on television and "Fail blogs" on streaming media. Likewise they do not want to be part of a congressional hearing on Condiment Contamination when the congressman from the next state over, whose Standard Ham and Cheese did not win the contract, has a pork flavoured ax to grind.

What to do, what to do.

(edited to correct spelling)
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Offline notsorandom

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #5 on: 10/31/2013 02:35 pm »
There are good arguments about withholding the full video, both from a business perspective and from a general public image perspective. Though, the argument that these companies should withhold any bad information because there are critical congress people should be a disconcerting argument. If you like or hate Congress it does have a job to do. It has a responsibility to make sure tax dollars are being spent effectively and wisely. Like I said you can agree or disagree that they are doing a good job if it. However that is their job and they can't do it if they are kept in the dark. No company or project using tax money should be beyond review of Congress, no matter what they make, how much people like them, or how bad a job Congress is doing.

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #6 on: 10/31/2013 02:50 pm »
There are good arguments about withholding the full video, both from a business perspective and from a general public image perspective. Though, the argument that these companies should withhold any bad information because there are critical congress people should be a disconcerting argument. If you like or hate Congress it does have a job to do. It has a responsibility to make sure tax dollars are being spent effectively and wisely. Like I said you can agree or disagree that they are doing a good job if it. However that is their job and they can't do it if they are kept in the dark. No company or project using tax money should be beyond review of Congress, no matter what they make, how much people like them, or how bad a job Congress is doing.
Congress is not kept in the dark. Plus, congress should do what you say, but the sad reality is that they are more interested in doing things that are good for their districts and their supporters and means pork projects for their favorite lobbies. They have to sell that to the general public though and such a video would be a perfect tool to do that.

Offline clongton

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #7 on: 10/31/2013 03:07 pm »
Firstly I want to see the whole thing. Secondly, I totally concur with SNC’s decision not to show the whole thing. So why the disconnect?
 
Because what I want is totally irrelevant to the facts on the ground. For example:

The company I work for is financed 100% with federal tax dollars to the tune of billions of dollars annualy and nobody from the general public gets to see anything that I do under any circumstances. So much for “they’re using my tax dollars so I get to see it all”.

There is such a thing as “Need To Know”, not just “Want To Know”. If you genuinely need information that I possess, AND you have the right security clearances, AND have been approved to see my information AND you can demonstrate a genuine NEED to know my specific information then you shall see it. That includes Congress btw. If they need to see it then all they need to do is subpoena the data (required paper trail) and SNC will make it available to a closed door hearing where those on the “Approved” list are the only ones present to see it. The public is not invited.

Once a company, any company, from any nation on earth has declared its internal information to be proprietary, then passing the “Need To Know” test is the only way you’re going to get it. The fact that your tax dollars are funding the event that generated the information is totally irrelevant unless that money came with disclosure statements attached. SNC signed no such disclosure statements so nobody gets to see anything they do unless THEY say so.

That’s just the way it works, everywhere on the planet.

If someone doesn’t like that then they can just go get their own planet where they can sit around in their highly educated armchair and criticize those who have the information (that they don't really need) that don't go out of their way to fulfil their insatiable desire to see everything and be entertained.
« Last Edit: 10/31/2013 03:15 pm by clongton »
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Offline Lars_J

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #8 on: 10/31/2013 03:16 pm »
And lets not put on rose coloured glasses for the past here, either - It's not like every NASA test failure of the past was put on public display either.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #9 on: 10/31/2013 03:29 pm »
I agree that there is a dividing point between what should be shared and what should not be shared.  The world saw Vanguard TV-3 fall back on its pad live.  It saw the trials and tribulations and numerous failures of the Gemini program.  It witnessed STS-51L and STS-107, if not live in replays, and it saw many details and images of their aftermaths, including the investigations that resulted.  It followed Apollo 13 with dread, then with happy relief.   

But the world did not see images of Grissom, White, and Chaffee in their couches after the fire, or of the remains of the Shuttle crews, though we all know that those images exist.  It did not see some of the things I personally witnessed at KSC on January 28, 1986.  There is a line.  On that we can all agree.

The problem, as I see it, is that the line has been moved, and for suspect reasons.  The old NASA would not have been afraid to show what really happened to DreamChaser.  It would show the failure, then move on and celebrate the subsequent hard-earned successes.  Space is hard, remember? 

"Commercial!", "intellectual property!", "ITAR", etc, is a response, but NASA pays the bills and writes the contract.  Those contract rules can require any level of public disclosure that NASA desires, within reason.

I've read headlines, inspired by the video that cuts off when success ends, describing a successful DreamChaser flight.  Really?  Sure, many things went well, but one very important thing did not go well.  Can't we be brave enough to call what happened what it really was?   

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 10/31/2013 03:53 pm by edkyle99 »

Offline Go4TLI

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #10 on: 10/31/2013 03:48 pm »
A common reaction to the Dreamchaser controversy is "Who cares?  It's their work., and they can release what they want".  However, least 3 groups of people care:

(a) Those who want to know what actually happened.  Did is simply spin around but remain right-side up?  If so, the damage should be confined to the bottom surface. If it flipped, or rolled, or bounced, the damage could be a lot worse.  Obviously this affects schedule, odds ot this machine flying again, etc., all things folks on this forum care about very much.

(b) Those who are concerned about honesty in communication.  Look at the current NSA flap, for example, where they said to congress that they did not "collect" information information on Americans not under suspicion, using a patently bogus meaning of the word collect precisely to avoid the consequences of their actions.  Words matter - compare your reaction if your son or daughter calls and says "I skidded off the road" vs. "I crashed the car".

(c) Those who are interested in corporate crisis management.  There at lots of issues in play here.  If the video does indeed show a skid, but not  a flip, would they have been better off showing it?  Is is better to acknowledge a smaller error to avoid speculation about a greater problem?  What about the court of public opinion vs. wording of the contract?  Etc....

(a)  My daughter wants a puppy.  She will likely not get it.  Such is life.

(b)  DC or SNC by not releasing such footage/pictures is hardly guilty of violating constitutional rights or the principles on which this Nation used to stand for.

(c) This is a the worse reason I have seen yet. 

One does not get to know everything they may always want to know.  I really want to know how much you have in your savings account.  Should I know that?  Do you want to tell me?  Move on....

Offline clongton

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #11 on: 10/31/2013 03:52 pm »
It's a different environment now Ed. This is not NASA where the general public owns the information. This is corporate and the rules are different. The corporations own the information, not the public. That’s in all the contracts those companies signed with NASA and NASA agreed to guard all corporate proprietary information. We have all been spoiled over the years by all the free flow of information from NASA but unlike NASA, all this information is proprietary and releasable only as the companies see fit. That goes even for those programs that are financed with public tax dollars so long as those dollars did not have public disclosure clauses attached. In the case of *ALL* the Commercial Crew applicants, there was no such clause. To the contrary, each company was promised that all its data would be held as proprietary. Each company has the legal right to not disclose anything it wants, regardless of funding source.

Those are the rules.

BTW I also grew up watching live coverage, beginning with the Vanguard failure. I also feel the information flow difference – very much. But it’s a different world now; time to adapt.
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #12 on: 10/31/2013 03:55 pm »
It's a different environment now Ed. This is not NASA where the general public owns the information. This is corporate and the rules are different. The corporations own the information, not the public. That’s in all the contracts those companies signed with NASA and NASA agreed to guard all corporate proprietary information.
Is video of a crash-landing "corporate proprietary information"?  If so, how is video of a not-crash-landing non-proprietary?

 - Ed Kyle

Offline Jim

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #13 on: 10/31/2013 04:08 pm »

Is video of a crash-landing "corporate proprietary information"?  If so, how is video of a not-crash-landing non-proprietary?

Yes, simply because they say so for both cases. 
« Last Edit: 10/31/2013 04:08 pm by Jim »

Offline Jim

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #14 on: 10/31/2013 04:11 pm »

"Commercial!", "intellectual property!", "ITAR", etc, is a response, but NASA pays the bills and writes the contract.  Those contract rules can require any level of public disclosure that NASA desires, within reason.


NASA is not paying all the bills, that is one of the big differences.  But NASA still gets to see the all data but doesn't have the right to release to the public.  Those contract rules are that the contractor controls the release of the information to the public.


This isn't new.  I dealt with this conops of PR for more than 20 years both as a contractor and as a govt employee.  Spacehab followed this MO and NASA commercial launches have been that way for longer.
« Last Edit: 10/31/2013 04:18 pm by Jim »

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #15 on: 10/31/2013 04:24 pm »
As a precedent, has an oversight committee ever forced the release of information that was not a national security matter? Maybe a question for 51D...
« Last Edit: 10/31/2013 05:29 pm by Rocket Science »
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Offline psloss

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #16 on: 10/31/2013 04:40 pm »
Is video of a crash-landing "corporate proprietary information"?  If so, how is video of a not-crash-landing non-proprietary?
They are both proprietary (it's their info) and the company decides what it wishes to disclose/publicize, if anything.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #17 on: 10/31/2013 04:43 pm »

Is video of a crash-landing "corporate proprietary information"?  If so, how is video of a not-crash-landing non-proprietary?

Yes, simply because they say so for both cases. 
"Because they say so" ...  that's my problem right there when it comes to something like a basic overview video.  What corporate secrets are revealed in a long shot when the airframe touches the runway that weren't revealed an instant before?   

 - Ed Kyle 

Offline Lar

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #18 on: 10/31/2013 04:50 pm »
"Because they say so" ...  that's my problem right there when it comes to something like a basic overview video.  What corporate secrets are revealed in a long shot when the airframe touches the runway that weren't revealed an instant before?   
One of the things drummed into me by IBM security training (which I have to take every year, as if I'd forget :) ) has been that it is not possible to perfectly evaluate, in a vacuum, how significant a particular bit of information might be. So saying "I don't see the harm in releasing THIS thing" may miss the fact that it was the missing piece in a puzzle someone was trying to put together.

I can construct scenarios in which that touchdown was the missing puzzle piece for some bad actor to do something. Maybe a competitor, maybe a saboteur.

I want to see that whole vid too, but I get why I am not going to see it until SNC decides to release it. If ever.
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Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: Commercial Crew - Information release DISCUSSION thread
« Reply #19 on: 10/31/2013 04:55 pm »
I think a few people are under the wrong impression, that all of this is paid for by taxpayer money. It is not!
And that alone changes the rules.
Also, a lot of political hick hack was caused every time NASA had a mishap. That usually lead to committees full of politicians that thought they were engineers and other idiots redirecting course and leading to project cancellations. This is one of the reason why many large NASA projects got cancelled in the past 30 years.
If you want to have a successful commercial crew program, you cant have any of that or prices will go up, up, up and you end up with another project that runs over budget and gets delayed for years. Congress has already caused years of delays for commercial crew as it is.

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