Constellation Breakfast Flight Update

Keith's note: According to this NASA JSC Mission Management Flight Request, this flight was charted for passengers to "attend and participate in the Constellation SFA Recognition Event activities". It took off with 11 people who went from JSC to GRC, dropped off 4, and the remaining 7 people flew from GRC to LaRC, had breakfast and then flew back to JSC. Those making the ESMD breakfast run: Dale Thomas, Charlie Stegemoeller, Mark Kirasich, Brenda Ward, Barbara Zelon, Stephanie Castillo, and Sonia Vasquez.

Look at the math. NASA lists this aircraft's costs at $3,191/hr at 6.5 hrs for a total trip cost of $20,741. NASA claims the total commerical cost would have been $22,161.10 and that this use of government aircraft for this trip saved $1,419,60. Yet NASA calculates that the equivalent "commercial air" costs to have been $9,647.50 but then includes in-transit salary costs ($11,114.85). Those salaries are not itemized in the NASA costs i.e. the "variable costs per hour". Are the NASA employee salaries factored in to the hourly costs?

So ... I am not quite certain if it was cheaper to fly these folks around on a NASA jet that costs $3,191 an hour) or on commerical aircraft like everyone else.

Is this a productive use of NASA resources - sending senior program management to meet with their team to tell them that they have done a good job? Of course it is. 99.99% of the folks on Constellation worked very, very hard to make the program work and deserve some recognition. The fault with the program lies with bad management at the top, not with rank and file workers. But is this the most cost efficient way to fly people from point A to B to C? - especially when NASA is being cited (correctly or not) in the media as wasting money on a program (Constellation) that has been cancelled? I am not certain. What do you think?

Either way, one would think that the agency would at least come up with an "apples to apples" method of determining the real cost of things such as this (a chronic problem within Constellation) such that decisions can be made where there is none of the funny math that the government just loves to do. Also, if they did what the rest of the world does i.e. plan ahead, they might find that commercial costs could be reduced.

JSC & LaRC PAO Refuse To Answer Simple Questions About Aircraft Usage, earlier post

And yes, in all fairness, I got a flight on NASA One in 2004. I asked, they said yes. I asked if I had to pay airfare they checked and said no - since the flight was already scheduled for official business. I paid my hotel and food costs. Other reporters have done this too (Columbia aftermath etc.). Was this worth the cost? What do you think?

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on February 7, 2011 10:38 AM.

Using the ISS: Once Again NASA Has Been Left in the Dust was the previous entry in this blog.

JPL Town Hall Meeting - Minus the Town Residents is the next entry in this blog.

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