Congress, NASA, White House

White House, Washington Times both criticize Senate commercial crew language

It’s rare to get the Obama Administration and the conservative editorial page of the Washington Times in agreement on something. Yet, both have spoken out in opposition to report language in the Senate’s Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill—due to be considered by the full Senate this week—regarding cost and pricing data for commercial crew and cargo providers.

“Requiring private spaceflight contractors to calculate this additional, irrelevant set of numbers would consume thousands of man hours to calculate the complex, esoteric cost-plus system,” argues the Times in its editorial, referring to the “certified cost and pricing data” those companies would have to provide NASA for commercial crew and cargo contracts. Several commercial space advocacy groups have spoken out against the language in the CJS report requiring that information.

The Times editorial also includes a dig at the Space Launch System (SLS). “Launching this ‘Rocket to Nowhere’ will cost taxpayers at least a half-billion dollars every time it lifts off — if it ever does,” the editorial argues. “It’s only fair, and in the long run more efficient, that private firms get a fair opportunity to compete for America’s space business.”

Tuesday morning, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued its Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on the Senate CJS appropriations bill. “The Administration appreciates the Committee’s support for the Commercial Crew program,” it states in the NASA section of the SAP, “but has concerns about language that would seek to apply accounting requirements unsuitable for a firm, fixed-price acquisition, likely increasing the program’s cost and potentially delaying its schedule.”

The SAP also addresses a couple of other issues with the CJS bill. The administration is “concerned,” it states, about the reduced funding for NASA’s Space Technology program, which gets $580 million versus the administration’s request of $705 million. It also criticizes the Senate for specifying that any future Europa mission use the SLS as the baseline launch vehicle, and warns that the Senate’s “proposed approach to a follow-on Landsat mission is not feasible within the bill’s proposed cost cap of $650 million.”

66 comments to White House, Washington Times both criticize Senate commercial crew language

  • Dick Shelby — a uniter, not a divider!

    • Henry Vanderbilt

      Remember, build a golden bridge for your opponent to retreat over.

      But I can’t help it. Chortle!

      I notice too that the Washington Times editorial cites a Reason.com piece by some obscure blogger named Simberg. Congrats!

    • Henry Vanderbilt

      OK, Senator Shelby’s not backing down. He was on the Senate floor speaking around 10:25 am eastern. When he got to NASA, he first talked about $1.7 billion for SLS, then gave a brief nod to funding Station, then launched into Commercial Crew.

      The interesting data there is he’s still pushing for “transparency” via full cost-plus accounting, but he did feel compelled to specifically defend applying that to fixed-price contracts.

      (Not much of a defense, something to the effect that the government need to know full costs to know if it’s getting a good deal and to keep programs under control. If sensible milestones are being properly met at a contract cost a fraction of what the government equivalent would be, where’s the problem?)

      Data point one, he’s feeling the pressure. As G. Harry Stine used to tell me, it’s old fighter pilot wisdom that if you see the other guy’s plane start smoking, don’t stop shooting and congratulate yourself – pour it on till he’s definitely going down.

      And two, he’s specifically acknowledged that Commercial Crew will continue under fixed-price contracts. This is not a small concession to have made explicit; there’s been a serious push for switching to cost-plus every step of the way for years now.

  • josh

    Shelby’s desperate attempt at sabotaging nasa’s only successful hsf program is doa it seems.

  • Go not quietly into the night…

    Shelby nearly pulled this off with “practical” sounding financial verbiage and the help of the OIG Report that came out June 5th, which reads like something Shelby could have written himself.

    The more noise the better chance of getting rid of this.
    Harassed Feinstein and Boxer both yesterday.

  • The GOP is split. The Washington Times is a mouthpiece of the GOP Establishment, which is shrinking to irrelevance. You shouldn’t take much comfort in that. The Tea Party is displacing them.

    Nothing wrong with shining the light of day on the federally funded ‘commercial crew’. What are you afraid we’ll find?

    • Jim Nobles

      “Nothing wrong with shining the light of day on the federally funded ‘commercial crew’. What are you afraid we’ll find?”

      As most people realize this is a shallow and obvious attempt by a corrupt politician to push costs upwards for a competitor to businesses the politician represents.

      If they found anything it would probably be that commercial space is a much better deal for the American taxpayer than the crap that the politician is pushing on the public.

      I think you are just trying to act clever by pretending you don’t recognize this for the political ploy that it so obviously is. You are about as far from being a conservative or a tea party person as anyone who has posted on this forum. I think you are a great big fake.

      • josh

        windy is either a paid shill or a very spiteful, bitter person. or both?:)
        he is posting here either to get some cheap kicks or because that’s his job (if you can call it that).

    • Michael Kent

      “What are you afraid we’ll find?”

      If this provision becomes law what we’ll probably find is that $100 million of the commercial crew budget next year will go to complying with the requirement and serve no other purpose.

      The process is the punishment, as they say.

    • Michael Kent

      Oh, one more thing.

      “The Washington Times is a mouthpiece of the GOP Establishment”

      So now the Tea Party and the Republican establishment have come out against SLS. That leaves its support among Republicans as just a few pork-seeking Congressmen — pretty much the same as its support among Democrats.

    • josh

      the tea party is actually supporting commercial crew. as usual, you got it all backwards, windy. not that the tea party is right on much else.

  • Coastal Ron

    The Times editorial also includes a dig at the Space Launch System (SLS). “Launching this ‘Rocket to Nowhere’ will cost taxpayers at least a half-billion dollars every time it lifts off — if it ever does,” the editorial argues. “It’s only fair, and in the long run more efficient, that private firms get a fair opportunity to compete for America’s space business.”

    Nice to see real business-friendly conservatives stepping up…

  • Andrew_W

    Nothing wrong with shining the light of day on the federally funded ‘commercial crew’. What are you afraid we’ll find?

    You first.

  • In related news, Boeing is threatening layoffs if they don’t get the commercial crew contract:

    http://www.spacenews.com/article/civil-space/40931boeing-preparing-layoff-notices-in-case-of-commercial-crew-loss

    Typical of OldSpace, use jobs as the tool of extortion.

    • Jim Nobles

      Boeing knows they can’t win on the merits of their system. Oh well, many of us never took Boeing seriously anyway. I feel sorry for their engineers though, they were in it to win it. I also feel sorry for Bigelow. If Boeing drops out does that mean Mr. B. is going to wait until Dream Chaser is ready before he launches?

      • Matt McClanahan

        If Bigelow doesn’t want to fly people without transportation redundancy, then yeah, Boeing dropping CST-100 would mean he has to wait for Dream Chaser. But if Dream Chaser isn’t selected by NASA (Which seems likely) then the timeline for Dream Chaser development becomes pretty uncertain. Sierra Nevada doesn’t have any other potential customers for Dream Chaser that’d be able to invest in development, unless something big comes of last year’s ESA/DLR announcements.

      • Why would SpaceX not take up that slack? I don’t think Bigelow cares much who does it, though he’d also prefer redundancy in human LEO access, as should anyone (but Windy)…

        • Jim Nobles

          Bigelow was pretty clear about not wanting to start his rent-a-station business unless he had at least two transportation providers in case something happened to one of them. It’s quite understandable and I assumed that’s why he partnered with Boeing and CST-100 to the extent he did. I believe he and SpaceX already had an understanding.

          Now, with Boeing making quitting noises, I wonder what Mr. Bigelow is thinking.

    • Hiram

      “Boeing is threatening layoffs if they don’t get the commercial crew contract”

      It’s not about OldSpace, and it’s not about extortion. It’s smart management for AnySpace. “It’s just a standard way … to minimize potential business impact.” Quite so. If I were a Boeing stockholder, I’d be expecting this. Now, I won’t comment on the managerial smartness of CST-100. That’s another issue entirely.

      • Coastal Ron

        Yeah, I don’t read too much into this – it’s the big-business way to do things, and Boeing is as big as they get.

        • Hiram

          “it’s the big-business way to do things”

          It’s the any-business way to do things. In fact, if anything, matrixing engineering staff to other tasks is much harder for a small business. So maybe Boeing could take its CST-100 workers and put them on the 787 line?

          Look, no one is fooling anyone here. When you lose a major contract, you downsize. When Congress cuts investment to commercial space, and won’t support more than one contract, it knows that someone is going to end up downsizing. Dollars to anyone is pretty much just jobs. When there are fewer dollars, there are fewer jobs. The math isn’t hard, and you’re only extortable if you can’t do the math.

          • Coastal Ron

            Hiram said:

            Look, no one is fooling anyone here. When you lose a major contract, you downsize.

            True, but let’s also remember that NASA is co-investing because it wants to help create a new industry capability – crew transportation to LEO. Sierra Nevada and SpaceX seem dedicated to pursuing that market even if it means NASA won’t be a customer.

            So really the observation here is that Boeing, who has more than sufficient internal resources to pursue the commercial crew market without government funding, is not really that dedicated to the long term market.

            And that’s OK, since it’s better to find out today who your real business partners will be for companies like Bigelow, who thought Boeing would be a dedicated partner for the future… I’m sure Bigelow is re-evaluating that relationship now.

            • Egad

              So really the observation here is that Boeing, who has more than sufficient internal resources to pursue the commercial crew market without government funding, is not really that dedicated to the long term market.

              I’m tempted to see this as part of a pattern of behavior by many companies that are choosing to spend available cash on stock buybacks rather than on growing their business.

              http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/12/16/boeing-boosts-stock-buyback-plan-by-10-billion/4044765/

            • Hiram

              “So really the observation here is that Boeing, who has more than sufficient internal resources to pursue the commercial crew market without government funding, is not really that dedicated to the long term market.”

              Might just be that Boeing, in their corporate wisdom, doesn’t really see a long term market at all. At least one that it profitable. More power to Sierra Nevada and SpaceX, but our enthusiasm for them doesn’t make them right. Elon can dream and fail, but Boeing stockholders won’t tolerate that.

              The idea that Boeing could be “growing their business” by shoveling money at CST-100 is a highly theoretical one. The government, for one, doesn’t appear that interested. That’s a strong strike against that strategy. Boeing has other government business that looks vastly more profitable.

              • Art

                Boeing wants NASA to foot the whole bill. They don’t want to invest their company funds…They are still thinking 70′s style in human spaceflight. If they would’ve made the investment in the 90′s to back up the shuttle with a capsule design, they could have spread the development out over 10 yrs & had sole source contracts for crew delivery after shuttle. It would be paying dividends, now. No, they are trying to respond to spaceX the only way they know how. All of their Senior Managers probably need to retire & let some fresh “blood” take over.

    • josh

      fine, lay them off. boeing doesn’t bring anything worthwile to the table. keep spacex and snc and let old space wither and die.

      • Michael Kent

        Boeing doesn’t bring anything worthwhile to the table?
        They’re the only ones in the Western world who have built a manned spacecraft. What could they possibly bring to the table compared to someone who’s never done that before?
        If you want to see Bigelow orbital labs, Golden Spike lunar missions, or manned Mars missions of any kind, the Commercial Crew program must succeed. Success is what Boeing brings to the table.

        • Hiram

          “They’re the only ones in the Western world who have built a manned spacecraft.”

          No one in the western world has built a modern manned spacecraft. Perhaps no one in the eastern world has either. The U.S. is the only country that has put humans on the Moon … long ago. There you have it. No one else should even bother to try. The nice thing about engineering competence is that you can prove it in steps, doing what you’ve never done before. That’s happening with several non-legacy aerospace companies. Success is what brings them to the table.

          You can be sure, by the way, that the competition winners will know where to hire good aerospace engineers! Just follow the pink slips.

          Boeing brings a lot to the table, where the table is about competition. That they bring a lot to the table means the competition will be fierce, and the winner will be especially well qualified. That being said, fierce competition is worth encouraging, and Congressional investment in commercial space doesn’t seem to want to do that.

        • Coastal Ron

          Michael Kent said:

          Boeing doesn’t bring anything worthwhile to the table? They’re the only ones in the Western world who have built a manned spacecraft.

          Yes, but that was almost 40 years ago. And knowledge like that is not necessarily resident in companies, but in people, and people can be hired (as Sierra Nevada and SpaceX have proven).

          If you want to see Bigelow orbital labs, Golden Spike lunar missions…

          Neither of them is Boeing either, but smaller private companies that are availing themselves of the taxpayer-funded research done by NASA – and NASA’s charter directs it to provide such research to the private sector.

          Assuming that the only entities that can do something are entities that have already done something is circle logic in any case, and means no one can ever do something unless they have already done it before.

          That’s not how America has done things in the past…

          • Michael Kent

            “Yes, but that was almost 40 years ago.”

            Some manned spacecraft were 40 years ago. Others (SpaceHab, the International Space Station) were much more recent.

            “And knowledge like that is not necessarily resident in companies, but in people…”

            Some knowledge is in people, but much of it is in the institutional knowledge of the organization (best practices, design handbooks, process specs, material specs, etc.) The people who created the 787 were not the same people who created the 707, but there was a direct line of knowledge from the 707 to the 787.

            “Neither of them is Boeing either…”

            I wasn’t implying that Boeing would do those projects directly. I was saying that those projects are dependent on the Commercial Crew program succeeding and Boeing, being the low-risk provider, is the best bet for Commercial Crew sucess.

            “Assuming that the only entities that can do something are entities that have already done something is circle logic in any case, and means no one can ever do something unless they have already done it before.”

            I didn’t assume that only Boeing can do commercial crew. I stated that they have the best chance of completing the program successfully. I suspect SpaceX can also complete the program, but they have a much higher risk of being late and of not completing the program at all.

            To use an analogy, at the beginning of any baseball season, who would you rather put your money on to win the World Series, the Chicago Cubs or the New York Yankees?

            • Jim Nobles

              Michael, I would pretty much agree with everything you said but I don’t think that Boeing is going to be part of the new space paradigm (please forgive the use of that over-used word).

              To me this whole idea of newspace, commercial companies in competition bringing innovation and cost reduction, seemed like a force fit for Boeing. I got the feeling that they were never comfortable with that type of marketplace. It’s not what they’ve become used to and I don’t suspect that they really intended to enter into it. My feeling was that they hoped they could enter it and score some business without having to risk very much.

              I’m not putting them down. I can totally see their point. If they have profit centers that don’t really have much risk it would make more sense to concentrate on those. I’m sorry to see it though because it means a major player in the field won’t even be in the competition. But then, again, I can see their position and I won’t talk bad about them because of their likely decision to drop out. It’s just a shame in my opinion.

              I will say that what really disconcerts me is apparent lack of established companies asserting themselves in this new type of marketplace. Am I to believe that “oldspace” has become so fossilized that it actually cannot adapt to new conditions? I don’t like that idea at all.

              Maybe it’s too soon but I find it a bit frightening that only new visionary or “dreamer” type startups seem to be involved. We need everybody.

              • Dick Eagleson

                Am I to believe that “oldspace” has become so fossilized that it actually cannot adapt to new conditions? I don’t like that idea at all.

                I believe it. I think you do too, really. The evidence keeps piling up and it all points in that direction. I don’t like it either, but denying obvious reality makes no sense.

              • Michael Kent

                “I got the feeling that they were never comfortable with that type of marketplace.”

                Why would you think that? No one has done more commercial space than Boeing. I’d wager they’ve probably done more commercial space than all other companies combined.

            • Dick Eagleson

              To use an analogy, at the beginning of any baseball season, who would you rather put your money on to win the World Series, the Chicago Cubs or the New York Yankees?

              Given that Boeing is currently headquartered in Chicago, I’m not sure that analogy is so apt as you imagine.

              Seriously, though, it’s really a stretch to compare SpaceX to a team that hasn’t won anything big since the last time William Jennings Bryan was running for President.

              As for Boeing being “low-risk” – their long history of miscues on the 787 program tends to call that very much into doubt. If Boeing had simply been able to execute on 787 as well as they had on 777, they likely would have crushed Airbus when that firm stumbled badly on the A-380 program. Instead, Boeing proceeded to stumble even more egregiously on the 787. Present-day Boeing is not the North American Rockwell of yore. It’s not even the Boeing of yore.

              And Boeing isn’t the New York Yankees of yore either. But maybe it’s closer to being the present-day New York Yankees. They haven’t won a World Series since 2009 and the last one before that was in 2000.

        • Dick Eagleson

          They’re the only ones in the Western world who have built a manned spacecraft.

          No, they didn’t. People, most of them now long-retired or dead did. People who worked for companies that have subsequently been acquired by Boeing. Asserting that “Boeing” did these things is to commit an instance of what Ayn Rand called “stolen value”. It would make about as much sense to say that since “Kennedy” faced down the Russians during the Cuban Missile Crisis, that one of the Kennedy family’s many current weenie scions should be elected president to deal with Putin.

          • I addressed this in the book (which is now available for Kindle), in the context of criticism of commercial “safety” from the ASAP:

            This is largely based on the false perception that organizations have knowledge and experience independently of their employees. When I worked in business development for a government space contractor, I was always amused by the standard section we’d always have to put in our proposals to NASA or the Air Force about our company’s previous experience and heritage, as though the people who’d worked on those programs in the sixties weren’t dead or retired.

            Organizations don’t have knowledge—individuals do. And to the degree that NASA has any knowledge, it is because it has retained employees who have it. But many of those knowledgeable people have instead gone to work for the commercial companies, so there really is nothing “unique” about NASA. But to the degree that there is, it is primarily that, at least with respect to safety, its procedures have resulted in the loss of fourteen astronauts in flight.

            • common sense

              Mostly agreed and experienced first hand.

              Note too that the CEV (10 years ago!!!) was already championed by old hands at NASA and the industry – the supposed knowledge as in unchallengeable knowledge. Some from Shuttle background, a handful (literally) from Apollo. Today, so 10 years later, I am curious to know how many of those old hands are still around.

              Some of this mismanagement of knowledge can be seen in Constellation, a product of ESAS. Clearly few people with any knowledge of such programs came up with that plan, no matter how academically brilliant they might be or have been.

              But there is a significant difference if you are the customer or the contractor. When the contractor knows more than the customer yet the customer dictates the management we end up in a mess. And this is true of any organization. A contractor will not go against the will of its customers if it means loss of contract regardless of whether it makes sense or not. In a good relationship of course a contractor might offer a number of options to its customer to achieve any given goal. However if the customer tells you what to do and does not offer an opportunity for feedback then you get Constellation. Or now SLS/MPCV. Find who the primary customer is and you will know why we rate in such a mess.

              C’est la vie.

            • Michael Kent

              “Organizations don’t have knowledge—individuals do.”

              This is true only for organizations that don’t write anything down. For organizations in the real world, it is flat-out false.

              • Dick Eagleson

                Writing things down is no guarantee that they will subsequently be read. It’s also no guarantee they won’t subsequently be lost or thrown away. You might want to look at Keith Cowing’s many posts over at NASA Watch about the experiences of his and Dennis Wingo’s group in getting back control of the ISEE-3 spacecraft if you want a look at the realities of NASA’s “institutional memory.”

                Rand is right.

              • Michael Kent

                Perhaps that’s why NASA has so much trouble with managing large projects.
                But we weren’t talking about NASA’s ability to write things down, we were talking about Boeing’s. And Boeing obviously does have the ability to write things down.
                Their commercial airplanes group has a steady stream of sought-after products from the 707 to the 787. Their military aircraft group has a steady stream of successes from the Phantom to the Growler. Their satellite group from the early Telstars to the latest all-ion comsats. And their manned spacecraft group from Mercury to the ISS.
                Successful organizations develop their own culture and transfer knowledge across time and people.
                The examples I gave were specific. A new engineer can put a note on the drawing to “Heat treat per process spec XXXXX” and capture decades of institutional knowledge from engineers no longer with the company — perhaps no longer even alive. “Seal fuel tank per Process Spec YYYYY using Material Spec ZZZZZ. Inspect per Inspection Procedure IIIII.” Decades more expert knowledge available to even the greenest new-hire.
                Competent organizations breed success. The failures of dysfunctional organizations shouldn’t be laid at their feet.

              • Dick Eagleson

                I’ll concede the point that NASA isn’t Boeing. But, as I noted in a previous comment, the Boeing of today is not the Boeing of old either. Compared to prior major all-new aircraft development projects, Boeing screwed the pooch big-time on the 787. They outsourced almost everything, tried to juggle too many balls at once and lost track of many of those they had up in the air. I suppose I should have noted in my previous comment that, in addition to not reading, losing and throwing away previously accumulated knowledge, it is also possible for an organization to mistakenly abandon such knowledge deliberately in the belief it is obsolete and that more modern notions should prevail only to discover their mistake too late. That seems to be what happened to Boeing on the 787 project. They knew how their predecessors had done things, decided deliberately to do them differently and got chopped for it.

  • Andrew Swallow

    If Shelby wants to help the Marshall Space Flight Center he should push for work on the Mars and Moon transfer vehicles. These will be too big to launch on say a single Falcon 9. The Mars transfer vehicle will be so big that it may require 3-4 SLS to launch its parts.

    Start by getting a report out of NASA showing proposed transfer vehicles. Include the number of ground launches for each type of LV plus the extra manned flights to assemble the transfer vehicle in space. Include time and cost estimates. By what date would the SLS need to be certified?

    Engines for the transfer vehicles – existing engines or new designs?
    Note: rockets use different engine designs when flying in the atmosphere and when flying in a vacuum. Different types of fuels are sometimes used. MSFC does engine design.

    • Hiram

      “If Shelby wants to help the Marshall Space Flight Center he should push for work on the Mars and Moon transfer vehicles. These will be too big to launch on say a single Falcon 9. The Mars transfer vehicle will be so big that it may require 3-4 SLS to launch its parts.”

      Yeah, that should assure employment for Alabama six year olds in a couple of decades, if that. Maybe Shelby can get them voting rights, to make them part of his formal constituency. Of course, Congress will have a conniption before it signs the check for a Mars transfer vehicle, anyway. Congress desperately wants the SLS for the jobs that it will create, to build it as a monument. Not for what it might do. Payloads? No way.

      • Tom Billings

        “The Mars transfer vehicle will be so big that it may require 3-4 SLS to launch its parts.”

        Possibly, but if you can cut it into 3-4 parts, you can cut it into 6-8 parts by designing it that way. Then a Falcon Heavy could do the lifting for 1/20th the cost. Shelby also remembers how the Congress killed TransHab in the late 1980s, and banned NASA from spending a dime on Crewed Mars Missions hardware. He realizes that there will never be a US government funded Mars Mission landing humans on that planet. The rest of Congress gets little or no political profit from that.

        “Congress desperately wants the SLS for the jobs that it will create”

        In particular the jobs of long-serving program managers that Shelby’s staffers would be talking to most often. These will retire at a much higher base pay managing a program with 10,000 subordinates than any one of 10 smaller programs with only 1,000 subordinates each. In addition, the political cost to Shelby’s balance of owed favors inside Congress from passing one large program is far smaller than from passing 10 smaller ones.

    • James

      Remember, the NRC report said, like the Augustine Report, that the present expected budgets won’t ever get NASA to MARS. It just ain’t doable without increases to the NASA budget; increases beyond the level of inflation – which NASA isn’t presently getting.

      That being said, where the heck are funds going to come from for Xtransfer Vehicles? No where, that’s where.

      SLS is dead, as is NASA HSF. NASA/White House/Congress can all pretend the emperor is wearing clothes, but he aint.

      • Andrew Swallow

        That being said, where the heck are funds going to come from for Xtransfer Vehicles? No where, that’s where.

        Well managed organisations have separate development and operations budgets. When it has been certified the SLS should leave the development budget and be inserted into one of the operational budgets. The freed up development budget can then be assigned to development of the transfer vehicles.

  • Henry Vanderbilt

    Meanwhile, the Senate this afternoon took a procedural step to allow consideration to begin tomorrow of HR.4660, the CJS Appropriations bill.

    Hard to say what will happen tomorrow – it could be a quick consensus rubber-stamping, but more likely is some hours of debate over details of the rather large bill. Whether the Shelby provision wil come up is anybody’s guess. For those with the patience for it, tune in to C-Span 2, and be prepared to stay awake through a lot of unrelated details and delays.

  • Gary Warburton

    And people wonder why the GOP is losing more and more of the popular vote. These days they`ve become nothing but a joke.

    • This has nothing to do with the GOP. If Shelby were a Democrat (which he used to be, until he couldn’t get elected there as one any more) he’d be doing exactly the same thing. Mikulski is the chair, and she went along with this nonsense.

      Did you notice that this editorial came from the frickin’ Washington Times?

  • josh

    @Kent

    Boeing hasn’t build anything remotely impressive for a long, long time. Dragon v2 is much further along than Boeing’s cheap Apollo replica and has superior capabilities. Cst 100 is a dead end, it doesn’t do anything to advance spaceflight and would likely fail to even reach the launchpad. Old space is incapable of delivering results these days, just take a good look at orion. All they’re good at is operating legacy hardware.

    • Robert G. Oler

      Josh….

      “Boeing hasn’t build anything remotely impressive for a long, long time”

      I’ve read the responses…I would say this

      Boeing hasn’t innovated anything remotely impressive for a long, long time”

      and done it well

      The Dreamliner is impressive and they will fix it…but the teething problems it has had, and the length of them are not impressive if you consider the 707, 747 B-29 or B-17 or….now a great deal of that is how they put the “dream” together…but in the end thats all management…and the company would be on the floor seeking a bailout if it were not for the 737 the 777 and the Tanker program (thats one reason that they have the tanker program)

      I am not impressed much by the Boeing capsule…in large measure my lack of impression is that what I sense in SpaceX is that they are doing something with their Dragon, that they are doing with the Falcon…ie building a product which they intend to market…Boeing is just building really a badly done Apollo replica that lands on the land.

      As for the space station…gee I wouldnt bring that up (you did not) as their success story RGO

      • common sense

        Boeing had entered a spin of improving the 737/747 and 777 to address markets demands. It possibly is a sensible approach since most improvements nowadays lie in percent increase in fuel consumption (engine companies not airframe companies), marginal decrease in drag and advances in avionics/safety. Then there is structures and use of composites which is a very difficult problem to tackle. Go ask Airbus. Or even Boeing’s competitor to the F-35. The 787 is an impressive airplane at times when saving money is prime the fact that they came up with this thing is pretty fantastic.

        Boeing’s capsule on its own is not very impressive because it is a rehash of the Apollo/CEV idea and as originally intended does not require a lot of investment. Yet for Boeing to go after it means people are interested and are able to find cash to do it. Ever tried to get IRAD money in one of those places to do anything outside the support of existing contracts?

        Finally and again, you want all space Boeing and impressive in the same sentence then look at X-37. Not crewed but might be.

        • Art

          The x-37 was paid for by the Air Force. Everything. Boeing is willing to innovate, as long as there are billions of dollars paid by someone else.

          • common sense

            So what? The question was whether Boeing can innovate. And the answer is yes.

            Pointing to SLS or MPCV and saying Boeing cannot innovate is ludicrous. Boeing as any other DoD contractors will gladly spend all the government money they can put their hands on. Why take risks if cash comes your way anyway? 8 crew Orion sir? Yes sir absolutely sir. What now? 6 crew? Aye aye sir right away sir. Okay that’s Lockheed Martin but same goes for any contractor. And if you don’t believe me it means you haven’t worked for one.

            Do you think SpaceX does it for free? They have investors, stock holders to whom they must somehow answer. Sure it’s not public but if they don’t win Commercial Crew they may just have to IPO. Then we’ll see how different from the others they stay…

            Do you believe Dragon is more advanced than X-37 ?

            Why do you think the AF was willing to pay for it?

  • common sense

    “So really the observation here is that Boeing, who has more than sufficient internal resources to pursue the commercial crew market without government funding, is not really that dedicated to the long term market.”

    Boeing just like any other company is in the market to make money. Large company with several stakeholders cannot act as start-ups. They will invest where there is money to be made according to their business plan. You have to accept the difference between the NewSpace start-ups and the other guys. Considering they are even in the CST-100 is very, very surprising and it mean that some people in there actually are quite committed to this market. It is not about the money/resources they have. It is about making business sense within their organization. And I bet you CST-100 does not make a lot of sense from within.

    “Boeing hasn’t build anything remotely impressive for a long, long time. ”

    That is not true. Space/government: X-37 Aero/commercial: B-787

    Come on people… You are mixing up a lot of stuff here.

    • Hiram

      “That is not true. Space/government: X-37 Aero/commercial: B-787″

      We really don’t have a clue how “impressive” X-37 is. We know virtually nothing about it. Yes, it seems to launch and stay in orbit, and yes, it seems to be capable of autonomous runway landing from space, much as Buran did in 1988. OK, maybe that’s impressive, but very much remotely.

      As to 787s, give me a break. Boeing does vastly more impressive stuff that actually pertains to space.

      Yes, it’s not true that Boeing hasn’t built anything remotely impressive for a long long time, but these are pathetic counterexamples. More accurately, Boeing hasn’t built anything remotely impressive for crewed space flight for a long time. Just like everyone else.

      But I agree that even for a technology powerhouse like Boeing, CST-100 doesn’t make a lot of business sense. NewSpace is built on dreams and fortunes. OldSpace is built on classical business sense.

      • Michael Kent

        “More accurately, Boeing hasn’t built anything remotely impressive for crewed space flight for a long time. Just like everyone else.”

        “Impressive” is in the eye of the beholder, but come on! The International Space Station is pretty darn impressive.

      • common sense

        “We really don’t have a clue how “impressive” X-37 is.”

        Who is “we”? The fact that *you* don’t have a clue does not mean *we* don’t have a clue. And if you have ever been in an aircraft/spacecraft design team that actually created something that flew then maybe you would have a clue. It does not “seem” to launch and stay in orbit!!! What a load of… nonsense. It does launch and stay in orbit or are you suggesting these are somehow photoshopped stories?
        http://www.space.com/25245-secret-x37b-space-plane-orbital-record.html
        Furthermore X-37 was one of the original design for OSP. Which means that if NASA/Congress/WH did not f… up then there would have been a replacement for Shuttle actually flying.

        The 787? Giving you a break???? You may want to dig up a little before these kind of assertions you make. Airbus originally had to redesign their 350 because of the poor technical advances they were going to offer and recently the 350 got kicked out of Emirates, a long time and large customers of Airbuses. You should know that what makes a product impressive is not only the technology (Concorde) but whether it sells or not (Concorde).
        http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aVq1kW3YnljA

        Anyway. Boeing is probably the last of the greats and they still have the guts to go for the CST-100 where the others are doing pretty much nothing commercial.

  • Arnie T

    Does anyone recall when Boeing pouted that if they weren’t given a big enough piece of the CC budget pie they’d pick up their marbles and go home?
    I know they said it, just can’t remember when or where exactly.
    Mixed metaphors I can remember.

  • josh

    So…Boeing is already threatening lay offs in case they don’t win. They’re obviously not willing to continue on their own, unlike spacex. That should tell you everything you need to know. They don’t even believe in their product themselves.

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DgLBIdVg3EM#t=278

    Speaking of “innovating” here…we clearly have not seen the final config of the Falcon9 reusable.

    At least the cows seem to be getting use to it. Channeling the SBD of WW2. RGO

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