Denial At Boeing Regarding Poor Performance On SLS

Boeing Defense And Space's Leanne Caret: 'We're Owning Our Mistakes', Aviation Week

"Boeing is a bit late on delivering the Space Launch System (SLS), and it was left out of NASA's competition to build a lunar lander. What are you doing to turn those programs around? On Space Launch Systems, I am really proud of the team for the amazing capabilities they developed with the world's largest rocket. She's sitting on the stand at Stennis Space Center. After watching how this team has battled through the COVID crisis, I'm looking forward to having a hot-fire [test] later this year. Early on, we struggled on SLS from an execution phase. There were also different challenges from a funding perspective and other things. Over the course of the last 1.5-2 years, the team has been hitting its milestones and commitments."

Exploration is a team sport, Kathy Lueders, NASA

"Orion is complete and SLS is on track for its last major test later this year before flight. These systems will be integrated early next year and launched together for the first time on an uncrewed flight test around the Moon in 2021 followed by a test flight with crew around the Moon in 2023."

NASA Human Space Exploration - Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission, GAO April 2017

"With less than 2 years until the planned November 2018 launch date for its first exploration mission (EM-1), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) three human exploration programs--Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion), Space Launch System (SLS), and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS)-- are making progress on their respective systems, but the EM-1 launch date is likely unachievable as technical challenges continue to cause schedule delays."

NASA's Management of Space Launch System Program Costs and Contracts, 20 March 2020, NASA OIG

"Each of the major element contracts for building the SLS for Artemis I--Stages, ICPS, Boosters, and RS-25 Engines--have experienced technical challenges, performance issues, and requirement changes that collectively have resulted in $2 billion of cost overruns and increases and at least 2 years of schedule delays. We reported in October 2018 that Core Stage production is the primary factor contributing to overall SLS launch delays due to its position on the critical path and corresponding management, technical, and infrastructure issues driven mostly by Boeing's poor performance. Boeing's software development for the ICPS is also an ongoing concern as final modification of the software cannot be made until NASA finalizes the Artemis I mission requirements. ..."

"... In our October 2018 audit, we reported that Boeing's poor performance developing and building the first SLS Core Stage led to unsustainable cost increases and schedule delays for the SLS Program. We found Boeing officials in prior years had consistently underestimated the scope of work to be performed and the size and skills of the workforce required. In addition, Boeing did not fully understand the requirements necessary to complete development of the stage controller--that is, the command and control hardware and software needed to conduct an important test known as the Green Run--resulting in approximately an 18-month delay of the stage controller system. Further, and in parallel to the stage controller delays, contaminated rocket fuel tubing in the engine section, a misaligned welding machine, inadequate weld strengths, and a tornado at Michoud Assembly Facility (Michoud) resulted in significant delays to the delivery of the Core Stage flight hardware from Michoud to Stennis Space Center (Stennis). We found these and other issues would result in the first two Core Stages and an EUS costing at least $4 billion more than originally planned and falling behind schedule by 2.5 years."

GAO Report: NASA: Assessments of Major Projects, GAO

"In addition, Boeing officials indicated the [SLS] core stage is the largest liquid hydrogen fueled rocket stage ever built and the green run test will be the first time the stage is filled with liquid hydrogen. Contractor officials indicated that one of the top remaining technical risks to the green run test is that the core stage may develop leaks when it is filled. ... According to program officials, Boeing underestimated both the complexity of [SLS] core stage engine section assembly and the time and manpower that would be needed to complete the core stage effort. As a result, the estimated stages development cost has increased by about $1.4 billion and the stages contract effort now exceeds the contract's negotiated cost ceiling."

GAO: Human Space Exploration: Persistent Delays and Cost Growth Reinforce Concerns over Management of Programs, June 2019

"Any issues uncovered during planned integration and testing may push the launch date as late as June 2021."

Hopeful for launch next year, NASA aims to resume SLS operations within weeks, SpaceflightNow, May 2020

"The last official schedule from NASA had the first SLS test launch in March 2021, but managers have said for months that schedule was no longer achievable. After a thorough review, NASA says the first SLS launch -- named Artemis 1 -- is now planned in November of next year [2021]"

Keith's note: This program had already gone off the rails before COVID-19 became a problem - certainly more than 1.5 to 2 years ago. As for "lack of funding" - oh please. Congress often gave SLS/Orion more money than it asked for and cut commercial crew/cargo - and yet commercial crew/cargo are now working - and SLS ... not so much. Here are last week's examples of Big Aerospace denial with regard to SLS/Orion. They are clearly worried that the program is in trouble.

- You Can't Exert National Prestige With A Rocket That Does Not Fly, earlier post
- Lockheed Martin's Flawed Comparison Between Orion and Dragon, earlier post

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on July 6, 2020 1:39 PM.

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