Author Topic: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract  (Read 32999 times)

Online docmordrid

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #60 on: 10/10/2018 10:32 PM »
>
There might possibly be something wrong with 'this big, this long, this heavy' for a rocket stage.  And the [SLS] core stage produces about the thrust of a F9, using ungodly expensive engines developed in the 1970s. 
>

Just needed to see that by itself, to fully appreciate the enormity of its irrationality.

Disgusting. Just plain disgusting.
DM

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #61 on: 10/11/2018 01:25 AM »
Is this the first test for Jimmy B? Charlie B. is probably going to watch this out of curiosity...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #62 on: 10/11/2018 02:49 AM »
>
There might possibly be something wrong with 'this big, this long, this heavy' for a rocket stage.  And the [SLS] core stage produces about the thrust of a F9, using ungodly expensive engines developed in the 1970s. 
>

Just needed to see that by itself, to fully appreciate the enormity of its irrationality.

Disgusting. Just plain disgusting.
Thrust is higher for hydrocarbon because the engines burn denser propellant.  They have to make more thrust because the propellant weighs more than LH2/LOX for the same energy.  Thus, you can't make comparison claims between RP/LOX and LH2/LOX based on thrust alone.  Total impulse is a better comparison.  I believe SLS core would make three or more times more total impulse than Falcon 9 first stage.  Doesn't everyone on this high quality space tech forum know this stuff? 

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 10/11/2018 03:18 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline edkyle99

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #63 on: 10/11/2018 02:53 AM »
One of the things that should happen as a result of this report is a reassignment of the EUS to another company (like BO) as a consequence of Boeing's poor performance.

That might even be possible, given that BO has taken the politically astute step of setting up shop in Alabama.
Lucky guess,  prescient, or based on non public prior negotiations for EUS that have been going longer than we realized? Who knows... but astute is certainly a good summation.
We've noted for awhile on these forums that the New Glenn second stage is an almost perfect match for the basic EUS requirements, at least in terms of propellant load and thrust.  It remains to be seen if a share like this is possible.  I'm for it.

 - Ed Kyle

Online meekGee

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #64 on: 10/11/2018 02:57 AM »
>
There might possibly be something wrong with 'this big, this long, this heavy' for a rocket stage.  And the [SLS] core stage produces about the thrust of a F9, using ungodly expensive engines developed in the 1970s. 
>

Just needed to see that by itself, to fully appreciate the enormity of its irrationality.

Disgusting. Just plain disgusting.
Until 10 years ago, this was normal.

The system that supports this money machine is a self licking ice cream cone and will not go away easily and certainly not soon.

Billions are wasted by the government routinely on much less useful (and sometimes downright destructive) things, so this doesn't really change the picture much. Those Billions would not have gone into your favorite cause... Instead, they would have ended up in a different, non-aerospace pork project.

So we should chill, even when the project is absurd.

The only near term goal should be to make sure it doesn't actively ruin current efforts... Let it be, and let it eventually die of old age or of embarrasment.






-----
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Online envy887

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #65 on: 10/11/2018 04:40 AM »
>
There might possibly be something wrong with 'this big, this long, this heavy' for a rocket stage.  And the [SLS] core stage produces about the thrust of a F9, using ungodly expensive engines developed in the 1970s. 
>

Just needed to see that by itself, to fully appreciate the enormity of its irrationality.

Disgusting. Just plain disgusting.
Thrust is higher for hydrocarbon because the engines burn denser propellant.  They have to make more thrust because the propellant weighs more than LH2/LOX for the same energy.  Thus, you can't make comparison claims between RP/LOX and LH2/LOX based on thrust alone.  Total impulse is a better comparison.  I believe SLS core would make three or more times more total impulse than Falcon 9 first stage.  Doesn't everyone on this high quality space tech forum know this stuff? 

 - Ed Kyle

Total impulse is not an ideal comparison metric as it does not account for final dry mass. A LH2 stage with the same total impulse will have less delta-v with the same payload, or less payload through the same delta-v, compared to a RP-1 stage.

Online docmordrid

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #66 on: 10/11/2018 04:45 AM »


>
There might possibly be something wrong with 'this big, this long, this heavy' for a rocket stage.  And the [SLS] core stage produces about the thrust of a F9, using ungodly expensive engines developed in the 1970s. 
>

Just needed to see that by itself, to fully appreciate the enormity of its irrationality.

Disgusting. Just plain disgusting.
>
Doesn't everyone on this high quality space tech forum know this stuff? 

 - Ed Kyle

/sigh...

Except that wasn't my point, which was they designed it with too few engines. Underpowered. Which is why the  discussion about the SLS core stage actually needing 6 engines.

DM

Online Lars-J

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OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #67 on: 10/11/2018 04:59 AM »
Thrust is higher for hydrocarbon because the engines burn denser propellant.  They have to make more thrust because the propellant weighs more than LH2/LOX for the same energy.  Thus, you can't make comparison claims between RP/LOX and LH2/LOX based on thrust alone.  Total impulse is a better comparison.  I believe SLS core would make three or more times more total impulse than Falcon 9 first stage.  Doesn't everyone on this high quality space tech forum know this stuff? 

 - Ed Kyle

Total impulse is not an ideal comparison metric as it does not account for final dry mass. A LH2 stage with the same total impulse will have less delta-v with the same payload, or less payload through the same delta-v, compared to a RP-1 stage.

Total impulse is also not an ideal metric for a booster stage, due to gravity losses. But don’t worry, I’m sure we can come up with some metric where the SLS core stage is the best ever thus justifying the expense somehow. (If not we can fall back on “but... but... it’s hydrogen!” last line of defense) ;-)

Doing a SHLV the “shuttle derived” way (weak but efficient sustainer stage with boosters) is perfectly valid, but not the only or necessarily the best way. Let’s not pretend it was chosen for that reason, it was chosen to make as much use of Shuttle contractors as possible.

Sadly out of the major SLS contractors, the only one that seems to have their stuff under control is NGIS. Boeing is floundering and AJR seems to be content with getting paid while doing as close to nothing as possible. (Unless you count the occasional test firing of existing RS-25s as a lot of work)
« Last Edit: 10/11/2018 05:02 AM by Lars-J »

Offline Oli

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #68 on: 10/11/2018 05:14 AM »
Those numbers are insane. Boeing will milk SLS until it drops dead.

Offline Star One

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OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #69 on: 10/11/2018 07:13 AM »
In fact I don't think anything substantial will happen to Boeing from this report - the contracts they have will stay, and Congress will keep shoveling money to the SLS program regardless of how poorly the money is being spent, or the lack of need for it's capabilities.

Indeed, consider JWST, the performance of which is perhaps even worse that SLS's to date.  The prime contractor's CEO was hauled in front of Congress recently.  I'm sure there are plenty of ways the CEO would have preferred to spend his morning, but to my knowledge Northrup Grumman has not suffered any harm.

The OIG's report on SLS is just the latest of series of reports identifying problems with SLS, beginning with the prophetic Booz Allen Hamilton report issued before SLS was formally begun.  Previous reports have not even registered with Congress.  Even if Congress's reaction to this report is ten times stronger than to any previous report, Boeing's SLS contract is in no particular danger.

My prediction was correct in that someone always tries to drag JWST into the SLS mess even though they are very dissimilar. Mainly because it is a truly unprecedented technological project which I suspect is not necessarily a description that could be applied to SLS.
« Last Edit: 10/11/2018 07:19 AM by Star One »

Offline woods170

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #70 on: 10/11/2018 08:10 AM »
I don't think that enormous expense of SLS is explained due to unique technological development.
A big part of the schedule slip was due to problems setting up the giant ("world's largest" it was called) core welding machine. 
https://spacenews.com/fix-in-the-works-for-giant-sls-welding-machine/

 - Ed Kyle

Being the "world's largest" wasn't the problem in this case. What was the problem was that the lead-contractor (Boeing as it happens) neglected to issue sufficient requirements regarding the flatness and levelness of the foundation for this machine.

The result was that the machine was installed on a flawed foundation. It leaned just enough to make it completely unsuited for the task it was supposed to do.

And that resulted in the machine being torn down with the foundation being re-done. This time to much improved requirements.

It was a Boeing f*ck-up. And a big one. Expensive as well. And it cost nearly a year to fix.
This mistake, and many, many others made by Boeing is the reason why OIG is so harsh on Boeing.

But with all this said it is amazing that Boeing screwed this one up in the first place. Their aircraft division regularly issues requirements for foundations for heavy machinery that requires extreme limits for flatness and levelness.
Why is it that a company that has the required expertise managed to completely overlook that expertise and make such a blunder?

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #71 on: 10/11/2018 08:54 AM »
<snip>
Anybody other than Boeing might find it difficult to adapt their upper stage avionics to control the SLS core stage and solid boosters. I suspect this might be a problem for Blue Origin delivering an upper stage for SLS, but maybe I'm overestimating the dependence of the SLS stack on the upper stage avionics?

Why would that be a big issue. One of Bezos's business is AWS (Amazon Web Service). All he have to do is developed the avionic software with AWS. Which is more capable than SpaceX in developing software due to the almost unlimited resources available in hardware and human resources.

Online ncb1397

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #72 on: 10/11/2018 09:05 AM »
Quote
To minimize delays tied to Core Stage availability for future missions and to obtain the best value to NASA, we recommended the Agency (7) implement, by October 2018, an acquisition strategy for building additional Core Stages beyond Core Stage 2 that includes consideration for awarding the contract as a fixed-price, end-item deliverable contract with each Core Stage separated into unique task orders.  NASA management concurred with six of our seven recommendations.We consider management’s comments to Recommendations 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 responsive;
https://oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-19-001.pdf

Sounds like NASA is close to procuring more core stages and it is transitioning from cost plus award fee development to fixed price production.
« Last Edit: 10/11/2018 09:05 AM by ncb1397 »

Offline speedevil

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #73 on: 10/11/2018 09:29 AM »
<snip>

My prediction was correct in that someone always tries to drag JWST into the SLS mess even though they are very dissimilar. Mainly because it is a truly unprecedented technological project which I suspect is not necessarily a description that could be applied to SLS.
JWST is comparable because it is viewed as comparable by congress.
The fine details of actual reality of claims of unprecedented technologies is not something they are interested in understanding unless absolutely forced to.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #74 on: 10/11/2018 11:21 AM »
<snip>
But with all this said it is amazing that Boeing screwed this one up in the first place. Their aircraft division regularly issues requirements for foundations for heavy machinery that requires extreme limits for flatness and levelness.
Why is it that a company that has the required expertise managed to completely overlook that expertise and make such a blunder?

As the now vacationing @tripleseven stated repeatedly. Paraphrasing "The Boeing Commercial Airplanes division and the Boeing Defense, Space & Security division are really 2 separate companies."

Offline Proponent

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #75 on: 10/11/2018 01:36 PM »
<snip>

My prediction was correct in that someone always tries to drag JWST into the SLS mess even though they are very dissimilar. Mainly because it is a truly unprecedented technological project which I suspect is not necessarily a description that could be applied to SLS.
JWST is comparable because it is viewed as comparable by congress.
The fine details of actual reality of claims of unprecedented technologies is not something they are interested in understanding unless absolutely forced to.

Yes.  To amplify speeddevil's point, I recognize that the two programs' problems differ in nature.  My point is that even if Congress gets as upset about SLS as about JWST (and I don't think it will), Boeing probably isn't in any serious danger.
« Last Edit: 10/11/2018 01:37 PM by Proponent »

Offline Jim

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #76 on: 10/11/2018 01:38 PM »
Indeed, consider JWST, the performance of which is perhaps even worse that SLS's to date.  The prime contractor's CEO was hauled in front of Congress recently.  I'm sure there are plenty of ways the CEO would have preferred to spend his morning, but to my knowledge Northrup Grumman has not suffered any harm.


NG is not really the "prime" contractor of JWST.  They just make the sunshield and spacecraft.  The telescope was made inhouse at GSFC.

Offline Jim

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #77 on: 10/11/2018 01:43 PM »
>
There might possibly be something wrong with 'this big, this long, this heavy' for a rocket stage.  And the [SLS] core stage produces about the thrust of a F9, using ungodly expensive engines developed in the 1970s. 
>

Just needed to see that by itself, to fully appreciate the enormity of its irrationality.

Disgusting. Just plain disgusting.

That is a stupid comparison.

The SLS core is a sustainer.  I. E. almost an upper stage.  Hence, ISP is more important than thrust.  Replacing RS-25 with Merlins would not work. The core would have to carry more propellant mass to lift the same payload.

Bash the SLS all you want, it deserves it and I agree it needs to go away, but do the right way with meaningful comparisons.
« Last Edit: 10/11/2018 01:47 PM by Jim »

Offline Jim

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #78 on: 10/11/2018 01:45 PM »
>
There might possibly be something wrong with 'this big, this long, this heavy' for a rocket stage.  And the [SLS] core stage produces about the thrust of a F9, using ungodly expensive engines developed in the 1970s. 
>

Just needed to see that by itself, to fully appreciate the enormity of its irrationality.

Disgusting. Just plain disgusting.
Thrust is higher for hydrocarbon because the engines burn denser propellant.  They have to make more thrust because the propellant weighs more than LH2/LOX for the same energy.  Thus, you can't make comparison claims between RP/LOX and LH2/LOX based on thrust alone.  Total impulse is a better comparison.  I believe SLS core would make three or more times more total impulse than Falcon 9 first stage. 

Doesn't everyone on this high quality space tech forum know this stuff? 



Exactly.  They are making fools of themselves.
« Last Edit: 10/11/2018 01:46 PM by Jim »

Offline UltraViolet9

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #79 on: 10/11/2018 04:35 PM »
Indeed, consider JWST, the performance of which is perhaps even worse that SLS's to date.  The prime contractor's CEO was hauled in front of Congress recently.  I'm sure there are plenty of ways the CEO would have preferred to spend his morning, but to my knowledge Northrup Grumman has not suffered any harm.

NG has put their entire award fee at risk contingent on JWST mission success.

It would be encouraging if Boeing management did something similar for SLS, putting past and future award fee at risk depending on SLS schedule, cost, and technical performance going forward.

It would be even more encouraging if NASA management applied some pressure on Boeing to accept such an arrangement.

Bill Gerstenmaier's defensive response is not promising. If Gerst cannot lead a change in NASA HSF management culture, then who can?

I don't know.  There's no obvious candidate among the choir of deputies and center directors.  They all sing from the same hymnal that's causing these problems.

And Bridenstine is not going to effect change.  His big move in HSF is entertaining the idea of commercial endorsements that comes around every decade or two.  He's not addressing the program's real issues.

I respect Gerst's management of ISS deployment and operation, but HSF leadership and institution are clearly lacking in development experience.

Similarly, I respect Shannon's career as an operational manager on STS and ISS.  But development is a different beast that requires different skills and knowledge.  (I also question putting the guy who advocated a simpler sidemount solution in charge of a much more complex inline solution, but that's another discussion.)

Someone could be brought in from outside, such as from Aerospace Corp or the military.  But the institutional and political reaction to change tends to eat them alive.  Witness what happened to Steidle.

Change is needed at the top and at other levels, but there's no easy or even workable alternative.

Being the "world's largest" wasn't the problem in this case. What was the problem was that the lead-contractor (Boeing as it happens) neglected to issue sufficient requirements regarding the flatness and levelness of the foundation for this machine.

As the now vacationing @tripleseven stated repeatedly. Paraphrasing "The Boeing Commercial Airplanes division and the Boeing Defense, Space & Security division are really 2 separate companies."

Yes, the fundamental problem of NASA working with Boeing is that Boeing's A-team is not in their government division and that Boeing's B-team is working the military side of their government division.

That leaves NASA with a C-team or worse that generate programmatic mistakes like the foundation for the weld machine that have nothing to do with aerospace engineering.

I witnessed this myself during ISS reviews at JSC in the early 2000s.  Boeing was not sending their best and brightest by a longshot.

« Last Edit: 10/11/2018 05:39 PM by UltraViolet9 »

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