SLS and Orion: October 2017 Archives

SLS rocket advancing, but its launch date may slip to 2020, Ars Technica

"NASA will soon set a new date for the maiden flight of its massive Space Launch System rocket, which will send the Orion spacecraft on a test flight around the Moon. Previously, this flight had been scheduled for 2018, but NASA officials acknowledged earlier this year that the launch date would slip into 2019."

Previous SLS posts

NASA Human Space Exploration: Integration Approach Presents Challenges to Oversight and Independence, GAO

"The approach that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is using to integrate its three human spaceflight programs into one system ready for launch offers some benefits, but it also introduces oversight challenges. To manage and integrate the three programs--the Space Launch System (SLS) vehicle; the Orion crew capsule; and supporting ground systems (EGS)-- NASA's Exploration Systems Development (ESD) organization is using a more streamlined approach than has been used with other programs, and officials GAO spoke with believe that this approach provides cost savings and greater efficiency. However, GAO found two key challenges to the approach:

- The approach makes it difficult to assess progress against cost and schedule baselines. SLS and EGS are baselined only to the first test flight. In May 2014, GAO recommended that NASA baseline the programs' cost and schedule beyond the first test flight. NASA has not implemented these recommendations nor does it plan to; hence, it is contractually obligating billions of dollars for capabilities for the second flight and beyond without establishing baselines necessary to measure program performance.

- The approach has dual-hatted positions, with individuals in two programmatic engineering and safety roles also performing oversight of those areas. These dual roles subject the technical authorities to cost and schedule pressures that potentially impair their independence. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board found in 2003 that this type of tenuous balance between programmatic and technical pressures was a contributing factor to that Space Shuttle accident."

- Previous SLS posts

Keith's note: At the end of this report is a response from NASA HEOMD AA Bill Gerstenmaier. If you want to understand why NASA is clueless as to what SLS/Orion costs, just read this. Small wonder NASA has no idea what things actually cost. The'd rather just mix everything together to make it harder to understand those costs - and they do so deliberately. Tick Tock

"NASA regularly balances available funding with the flight manifest within the context of the Agency's overall exploration objectives. NASA's programmatic decisions are based on optimizing acquisition stratedes and resource allocations (material, people, funding) across multiple missions to ensure efficient implementation of deep space exploration objectives that take several flights to accomplish. NASA believes it has the processes in place to provide stakeholders insight to cost, schedule, and risks that accord with ESD's nature as a multimission space transportation infrastructure. Cost estimates and expenditures are available for future missions; however, these costs must be derived from the data and are not directly available. This was done by design to lower NASA's expenditures. NASA docs not think that structuring acquisition and implementation to ease accounting on a mission-by-mission basis is prudent as it would result in higher overall program costs and is not in keeping with the nature of the program."

Citing safety, NASA panel advises building a new, costly mobile launcher, Ars Technica (link fixed)

"A 2012 report from NASA's inspector general estimated the costs of building a new mobile launcher then at $122 million, but a new structure expressly for the larger Block 1B rocket to be used for the second flight of the SLS rocket would almost certainly cost more. Additionally, If NASA builds a new mobile launcher, the modified one now being configured for the first SLS flight would likely be used just once--a waste of infrastructure that cost perhaps half a billion dollars and more than a decade of development."

- Modifying The Modified Mobile Launcher (2013), earlier post
- Modifying The Modified Mobile Launcher (2013), earlier post
- CEV Mobile Launcher Solicitation (2012), earlier post
- Space Shuttle Program Hands over Launch Platform to Constellation (2009), earlier post
- NASA Awards Contract for Ares I Mobile Launcher (2008), earlier post
- OIG on Ares 1 Mobile Launcher Mods (2007), earlier post
- NASA KSC Solicitation: Construction of Constellation Crew Launch Vehicle Mobile Launcher (2007), earlier post



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This page is an archive of entries in the SLS and Orion category from October 2017.

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